2011 - NEWS ARCHIVE
For a link to the latest Firefox download visit:
Scientists and engineers at the University Of Illinois, USA have developed a circuit that is able to heal itself when damaged. The process sees metallic microcapsules (as small as 0.01mm) pasted to the surface of the circuit; if the circuit is physically damaged the microcapsules break open and leak a highly conductive (eutectic gallium-indium) material which repairs any cracks and restores the circuit. If this was not impressive enough then the fact that the whole repair process is almost instantaneous should raise a few eyebrows. The uses of this type of technology are far reaching, not only extending the life of devices but making them more rugged in the process.
There has been a marked increase in ‘Ransom-ware'. This is a form of mal-ware that infects a system, rendering it unusable, and then asks for a payment to release the system. Unfortunately, even if a user pays the demand (which you should never, ever do), the system is not released and remains infected. One such recent scam claims to be from the ‘Met Police’ indicating a fine for use of illegal material, with the message claiming the user has accessed ‘Child Pornography’ and emails with a ‘terrorist’ background. As with all these types of issue, make sure your system has a fully working anti-virus application, and is kept up-to-date with the latest Microsoft updates (not to mention Java and Adobe Flash/Reader as applicable), as these measures will have a positive effect on overall system security and significantly reduce the possibility of being infected with ransom-ware in the first place.
The Glitch has been in existence for 7 years now and I hope people are still finding the site useful. As always, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have visited the site and a special thank you to those who purchased items via The Glitch, your continued support is very much appreciated. If you haven't posted a message in my Guest Book, then please feel free to do so, all comments are welcome. If you have any suggestions for improvements to the site then please feel free to use my contact page. The Glitch wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy, prosperous New Year!
Java is not a product that is installed by default in Windows, but it's sometimes required by other software products that need to utilise it, and so you might be prompted to install it. This is where the problems starts, once Java is installed you must keep it up-to-date to maintain system security. Un-patched versions of Java represent a real security risk and so it's highly recommended you ensure your version of Java is updated (Control Panel -> Java and look for the ‘Update’ button). But it’s not just current versions of Java that need 'updating' that cause security issues, Legacy versions are also a significant risk and these should be removed completely, the only version of Java you should have installed on your system is (at the time of writing) Java 6 Update 30.
Some computer devices such as routers and network switches, software packages and on-line services are developed with a certain amount of security built-in, some will come with a predefined ‘default’ user name and password to gain ‘initial’ access to the product, but unfortunately many users forget to change these default credentials and leave their products open to possible abuse. Many people are unaware that anyone can quickly and easily find these default credentials just but searching the internet for the relevant product manuals/guides. Another major issue is that people select easy to guess passwords (too simple), which is almost as bad as not changing them from the defaults in the first place. So next time you purchase a new device/appliance, software package or on-line service, check to see if it has any default credentials that should be changed, and instantly improve your security in the process!
The New Year will see an important change in the way Microsoft pushes out updates to it's Internet Explorer (IE) browser. Currently users are prompted for updates to IE, but Microsoft will soon change this to an automatic process that doesn't interact with the user. The consensus of opinion is that this is a good move by Microsoft as many users become concerned by software install prompts; many are simply afraid of installing the wrong thing and end up not installing important security updates. Other browsers such as Google’s 'Chrome’ have been using this model for some time. Microsoft have hinted that major browser revisions are still likely to prompt for a user install, but this is an important first step in removing some of the guess work from users and in doing so help them maintain system security.
Earlier this year Western Digital released the worlds first 3TB (3,000GB) 3.5" hard drive; since then Seagate has brought out the worlds first external 4TB (4,000GB) hard drive and now Hitachi has released their very own 4TB Deskstar 5K4000 internal 3.5" hard drive. If these capacious drives are still not enough to satisfy your storage needs then the news that 5TB hard drives are already in final development will no doubt be good news. But a word of warning, large capacity (2TB+) hard drives are all well and good, but be aware that you can't boot a Microsoft operating system with a hard drive larger than 2.2TB, unless you are installing a 64-bit version of Windows Vista or Windows 7 and have a motherboard that uses the latest EFI/UEFI BIOS technology.
QR Codes (Quick Response Codes) can be thought of as barcodes on steroids, they are (unlike traditional bar codes) able to represent a relatively large amount of data (up to 7,089 numerical characters) in a small area, and get their name due to the speed in which said data can be read. QR codes were developed for the automotive industry to track parts in vehicle manufacturing, but more recently they have been adopted by product marketing firms and the entertainment industry as a way to convey information (such as website addresses) to smart phones and other mobile devices using a suitable QR Code reader application. Unfortunately there are signs that QR Codes are being abused, with deceitful individuals affixing bogus QR Code stickers over legitimate ones which, when scanned, send users to unsafe websites containing malicious code or mal-ware, so be cautious what you scan in the future!
The government has promised change after a recent report was published about the way ICT (Information & Communication Technology) was being taught in UK schools. The report indicated that the current ICT curriculum fails to inspire or stimulate pupils in to wanting to develop all but the most basic computer skills. With the UK still very much thought of as 'a hub' for software development, the report sited, in particular, the lack of any real programming skills being taught, showing just how little significance the UK's ICT schooling has. The report went on to state that if the UK hopes to maintain it's strong standing in the software industry it needs to start making changes now, or it will end up with a nation of digital illiterates!
There has been a marked increase in 'Phishing' attacks over the past month, with customers from big name companies such as Virgin Media, Google and Microsoft XBox Live suffering the consequences. A Phishing attack will attempt to acquire information such as usernames, passwords and payment details, by masquerading as a known entity. This type of attack can sometimes be as simple as an email purporting to be from a well-known service asking you to verify your details, this email might contain a link that redirects you to an almost identical version of the legitimate site, duping you into entering your security details. The answer, as always, is to try and stay vigilant.
Hard drive prices remain high in the aftermath of some of the worst flooding in Thailand's history. Most of the main hard drive manufacturer's fabrication plants are based in Thailand, which are still running at limited capacity due to a shortage of components and damaged equipment. Hard drive prices have tripled due to limited stocks and unpredictable delivery dates, and this is now having a knock on effect on PC prices. PC Manufacturers are now having to increase system prices due to the increased hard drive costs. It is predicted that these costs will remain high for some time, with some suggesting that hard drive production may not return to previous rates until the end of next year at the earliest.
Apple has decided to recall all iPod
Nanos, purchased between September 2005 and December 2006,
due to the possibility of battery malfunction. The issue
only effects 'first generation' iPod Nanos, which in rare
cases can overheat. Apple has stated it will exchange,
free of charge, all eligible devices; so if you think your
device might be one of those effected you should first
double check it's serial number with Apple's website. Apple
goes on to indicate that it could take up to 6 weeks for a
replacement device to arrive.
To check your serial number and for more information visit:
While other banks and building societies make a mess of their IT updates and upgrades, it seems the 'Nationwide Building Society' is showing them just how things should be done. The 'Nationwide' started a £1bn IT update in 2008, and has, so far, gone on to deliver a new state-of-the-art data centre, new internet banking site and new mortgage system, not to mention improved on-line security with two-factor authentication. What is even more impressive is that these updates bring together all their recent acquisitions of other building societies, integrating them fully. If this was not impressive enough then the fact that all these 'mile stones' have been achieved with nominal interruption to it's customers, should raise a few eyebrows. Nationwide hope to complete their company wide IT overhaul within the next two years, with the ambition to deliver the UK's most modern banking system.
The conspiracy theorists are having a field day over the sheer quantity of issues our banks seem to be having with their computer systems recently. Although most people appreciate that Banks are always going to be a target for hackers, some are beginning to speculate that recent system changes are in fact desperate measures, hastily executed, in an attempt to maintain system security. In October The 'Bank of Scotland' admitted that all their online banking issues seem to stem from their parent group 'Lloyds' updating and migrating their systems. Then 'HSBC' had issues with their ATM and internet banking and now 'RBS' and 'NatWest' are having similar issues after 'system upgrades'. I'm amazed these companies seem to be so Avant-garde with such critical systems, why the risks and dependencies were not properly managed is just staggering!
Hard drive prices soar in the aftermath of some of the worst flooding in Thailand's history which has seen hundreds of lives lost and many thousands more displaced. Thailand is the location used by most of the main hard drive manufacturers; their fabrication plants are now having to close, or are running at limited capacity due to a shortage of components and staff. Hard drive prices have doubled over the last week, with further increases likely, due to limited stocks and unpredictable delivery dates. Unless you are absolutely desperate for a new hard drive my advice is to wait a few months while this appalling situation improves. The Glitch's thoughts are with the Thai people at this difficult time.
It seems that HTC has made some, less than ideal, changes to the Android operating system running on a number of their handsets. The issue stems from HTC adding what they have called ‘Logging Tools’ to their handsets, but in doing so left a security vulnerability that could give a rouge application access to data stored on the handset, including email addresses, phone numbers, SMS data and even GPS location data, just by allowing said application access to the internet. Open source software is generally a very good thing, but HTC have failed to fully control and test their updates, and in doing so, exposed one of the pitfalls of open source software.
Hackers have again attacked Sony; with Sony having to temporarily suspend some of it's users, after unauthorised access was gained to around 90,000 accounts. Sony was criticized for not acting swiftly enough last time their systems were compromised, but it seems they have reacted promptly on this occasion. Sony was also quick to point out that no payment card details were at risk during the unauthorised activity, with all affected accounts now being sent email notifications requiring passwords to be reset before being reactivated. An initial investigation seems to suggest this attack was based on information gleaned from a previous security breach.
RIM (Research in Motion) has been struggling, for an number of days, to fully restore it's BlackBerry service across Europe, Asia and Middle East, with it's customers becoming increasingly frustrated with the situation. The issue seems to have stemmed from a failure of one of their core switches (used to pass messages through the Blackberry system), and the subsequent failure of their backup switches, which have not performed as designed. Poor communication has also seen little in the way of information being passed back to Blackberry customers, something that will no doubt further damage RIM’s ailing market position.
BT is often berated for it's slow network speeds, but this is slowly changing with the introduction of it's fibre based services, collectively known as 'BT Infinity’. BT is currently rolling out it's Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) service, which offers a standard speed of up to 40Mbps, a significant boost for many; but it doesn't stop there, as BT hopes to double their standard fibre speeds to around 80Mbps sometime in 2012. If this was not enough then BT are also just starting to roll out their Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP) service, which will initially provide around 100Mbps downloads, but should scale to offer speeds of up to 300Mbps in the near future. Importantly, BT are committed to offer these new services at a level that the consumer is able to afford, with many customers seeing little or no difference in their package costs when they upgrade; this is in sharp contrast to some of it's competitors.
Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs has sadly
passed away, aged 56, at his home in California; he was
diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003 and had been
battling with the condition for almost 9 years. Many
consider Steve Jobs as a visionary and trailblazer, with
some even likening him to a modern day ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’,
but whatever your view there’s no denying his impact on the
worldwide technology market. He will be remembered for many
innovations that have enriched people’s lives, including the
Macintosh computer (first consumer system to use a graphical user interface), iPod
(pioneering media player), iPhone (some say it's the ultimate smartphone) and the iPad (the tablet revolution began with
Apple). And let’s not forget Steve Jobs also had a massive
impact on the animation industry when he formed 'Pixar', which was responsible for producing
the first totally computer generated animated movie 'Toy
went on to produce some of the most successful feature films
of all time, including 'Finding Nemo', 'Wall-E' and 'Up'.
I leave you with a quote from Steve Jobs "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful … that's what matters to me."
Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011)
After much anticipation Apple have
finally released details of their latest iPhone, the iPhone
4S. It seems that my previous article about the
iPhone was on the money, with the iPhone
4S getting an improved processor in the form of Apple's A5
CPU and a much improved camera in the form of an 8MP device
(utilising a backside illumination sensor) able to record
1080p HD video. Battery life has also been improved, along
with support for faster HSPA networks running at
14.4Mbits/s. Memory size gets an inevitable boost with the
debut of a 64GB version, joining the 32GB and 16GB versions.
As is often the case Apple will release a new version of it's iOS operating system (iOS 5) a couple of days before the
release of the new iPhone, packed with around 200 new
features. The iPhone 4S will be available in the UK from the
14th October, with iOS 5 being available for download on the
For more information visit:
Microsoft have been actively scanning and terminating 'Xbox Live' accounts that show signs of illegal activity for some time now, but it seems they have been getting it wrong recently. Although Microsoft have indicated that only a handful of consoles have been wrongly identified, it has taken the significant step to reverse all console bans that were instigated between the 29th August and 9th of September. This seems to suggest the issue was more widespread than Microsoft is willing to admit. Microsoft have indicated they will compensate any wrongly identified users, with a free 3 month Xbox Live subscription, and £20 worth of Microsoft points. Some users even purchased new consoles as the only way around the ban, (due to the fact that Microsoft's enforcement policy ensures that all on-line activity for the Xbox console concerned is terminated), but these people will be given a refund, as long as they have proof of purchase and get their old console tested for compliance.
Amazon's Kindle e-book reader has proved to be a great success, but it's about to be joined by a new product, the 'Kindle Fire'. What makes the 'Kindle Fire' very different from the original Kindle is that it's got more in common with a tablet device than an e-book reader. The 'Kindle Fire' has a 7" Multi-touch 1024x600 resolution full colour (169ppi) screen, 8GB of internal storage and is WiFi enabled. Battery life is said to be good, lasting up to 8 hours. Amazon has ensured that the 'Kindle Fire' is closely tied to it's on-line services, allowing users to quickly and easily download ebooks, magazines, music and video. The 'Kindle Fire' goes on sale on the 15th November 2011, but will only be available in the U.S. initially; and with a relatively small price tag of $199 it's sure to be a big seller. It's hoped that European distribution will follow soon after the U.S. launch, although no firm date has been defined.
Microsoft's Windows 7 has been very
popular with over 450 million copies sold world wide; this
is a clear signal to Microsoft that people like the
operating system. But things move on and Microsoft's new
operating system 'Windows 8' (still in development) will
debut a very different user interface called ‘Metro’ that
stems from it's new mobile platform ‘Windows Phone
7’. For tablet and many mobile users this new interface will
be seen as a huge improvement over the standard Windows
desktop interface, but is it relevant for your average
laptop or desktop system. Even Microsoft are not that brave,
they know that a Windows operating system that doesn’t
support standard Windows features will have limited appeal,
so Windows 8 will still have a standard Windows desktop
For more information on Windows 8 visit:
DigiNotar is a Dutch based certificate authority who issues (amongst other things) digital certificates to allow companies to securely authenticate users over the internet. But it seems DigiNotar has suffered a significant security breach with over two dozen of their Certificate Authority (CA) servers being compromised. This is pretty serious and places doubt in any certificate the company has issued; in fact it's so serious that many organizations (including Microsoft, Google, Mozilla to name but three) have already defined all DigiNotar certificates as untrustworthy. What is also beginning to concern governments and organizations alike is the growing evidence that suggests that Iran is at the center of the attack.
Many people complain about how slow their systems startup and shutdown, but this could soon be a thing of the past with Windows 8, with Microsoft making significant progress in these areas. By utilising multi-core processor technology and a new hybrid hibernation mode, it is said that Windows 8 will be between 30% and 70% faster at booting than Windows 7. But even Microsoft know that an Operating System needs fully shutting down from time to time, so you will still be able to perform a full shut down if required. Some of Microsoft’s testing has been done using SSDs (Solid State Drives) which are inherently fast, so we will have to wait to see just how impressive these new boot times are, especially when compared to more traditional hard drives.
A Turkish hacking group calling themselves ‘TurkGuvenligi’ have attacked two accredited ICANN domain registrars. 'NetNames’ and 'Ascio' were both infiltrated using a classic SQL injection attack; the hacking group then proceeded to append their own DNS servers to their systems and redirected almost 200 websites to a holding page stating “Hacking is not a crime”. It seems some high profile website names were affected including, Vodafone, National Geographic, UPS, The Daily Telegraph and Acer. But it’s important to understand that the websites of these companies were not hacked, just the companies that hold their domain name registrations. All the websites affected now point to their appropriate site addresses again, but 'NetNames' and 'Ascio' will now have the tough job of explaining what went wrong!
It wasn't that long ago that Microsoft released Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), but it seems it's successor (IE10), is already taking shape. Some of the features we can expect to see in IE10 will be faster page rendering, further security enhancements and support for many more of the latest HTML5 and CSS3 web standards. It's also believed that IE10 will get an Office 2007/2010 'ribbon' style menu. For all those who are interested, Microsoft have created a platform preview which allows you to download an early development version of Internet Explorer 10 to get a taste of what's to come...but a word of warning, this pre-release software represents an incomplete product and as such should not be considered for mainstream use.
For a link to the IE10 platform preview
In a strong case of déjà vu, it seems that an Apple employee has, inadvertently, left a prototype of the, yet to be released, iPhone 5 in a Tequila bar in San Francisco. It was only back in April 2010 that a prototype iPhone 4 was left in a German Beer Garden in Redwood City, California by another Apple employee, so this is becoming an all too common occurrence for the company. The iPhone 5 is not due to be available until later this year, with October being sited as the most likely release date, so this prototype has unquestionably made a premature appearance. It's said that the device was found by a member of the public and later placed on Craigslist for $200, a sign that the new owner had little or no idea of the value of the handset. Apple has suggested that the prototype was practically priceless, and that they are now devoting significant resources in an attempt to retrieve the device.
Beyond Oblivion is a New York-based
start-up company that is hoping to offer a new type of
digital music service; Boinc (currently in Beta) could
change the face of music streaming for ever. What makes
Boinc so different to the likes of Spotify is Boinc will
allow you to download and share as much music as you want
without any download charges, monthly fees or
advertisements. It sounds too good to be true, but you do
have to purchase a one-off license that lasts for the
lifetime of your system or device. Currently Windows, Mac,
and Android devices will be supported with an iOS
application in the pipeline; critically Beyond Oblivion is
still yet to reveal it's license price structure.
For more information visit:
It was a significant day when Bill Gates stepped down as Microsoft's CEO in 2000, but it now seems that another major figure in the IT industry is to stand down with Steve Jobs resigning as Apple's CEO. Although no official reason for his departure has been given, many speculate that Steve Jobs recent ill health has played a considerable part. The good news is that he won’t be leaving the company entirely, but will continue as ‘chairman of the board’; and this is important, as many people still see him as the principal innovator at Apple whose ideas over the last 15 years have helped the company grow into the global giant that it is today.
It was back in November 2010 that TalkTalk was given it's final warning by Ofcom over it's continued breach of regulation. Ofcom made it very clear that TalkTalk (which includes Tiscali UK) would face significant fines, if they didn't resolve their billing problems. Eight months on (and although TalkTalk have improved their billing system) many issues still remain. This has lead Ofcom to issue TalkTalk with a £3 million fine for ‘Wrongly Charging Customers’. This may seem a little on the hash side, but when you consider that over 65,000 customers have been incorrectly billed over the last 18 months, then the fine makes much more sense. Ofcom have stated that "a financial penalty was required to reflect the seriousness of the breach of the rules and to act as a deterrent to other telecoms companies".
In a surprise move Apple has brought legal action against Samsung to stop distribution of their latest product the Galaxy Tab 10.1. Samsung's latest tablet does look very 'Apple esk'; apparently even the configurations, prices and packaging are very similar, but many are puzzled by the injunction. While we can understand Apple's irritation, there are other similar looking tablet devices already on the market, and this raises questions over the decision of the German District Court to grant the injection in the first place. Saying this, Samsung has made it clear that they fully intend to defend their own intellectual property rights and have vowed to overturn the courts decision.
After social networking was blamed for helping rioters organise looting and violence in London, it seems it's now playing a much more positive roll by helping people get together to cleanup the streets of London. On Twitter 'riotcleanup' is helping define times and places for people to turn up and help out in anyway they can. In fact technology seems to be working against the perpetrators with sites such as http://catchalooter.tumblr.com/ helping identify the perpetrators, CCTV, cops with cameras, even the general public with mobile phone footage are all being used to identify the people involved, such is the determination of the police and community at large to bring these people to justice.
Virgin Media have announced plans to set up a totally free, city wide, Wi-Fi network for London. It will cost Virgin Media several millions to install, and provide a stock speed of 0.5Mb/s totally free to anyone who is able to connect. Although this isn't a particularly amazing headline speed, you have to remember this is totally free with no strings attached...saying this Virgin Media subscribers will be able to access said Wi-Fi at a more respectable 10Mb/s. Unfortunately Virgin Media has not indicated when this network is likely to be rolled out, but one thing is for sure, the likes of BT (who already own many thousands of Wi-Fi hot spots in the city) will be keeping a very close eye on them!
Net neutrality is all about making sure all internet information (traffic) is treated the same. The idea, in principle, is fantastic as it confronts, head on, organisations and governments who either actively block content or create biased networks that skew people’s perception of the World Wide Web often for financial or political gain. But there's a different side to ‘Net Neutrality’ which has concerned many and that’s to do with ‘Quality of Service’. If all internet traffic is given the same priority then the likes of P2P (Peer To Peer) connections and VoD (Video on Demand) services will quickly eat away at available bandwidth reducing network speeds. ISPs continue to invest in high speed broadband links, but until the UK has a network infrastructure that can support unrestricted access, ISPs will need to control data flow using technologies such as traffic shaping, to ensure overall service quality does not suffer, but even these technologies will need to be monitored to ensure ISPs do not abuse them!
Yes, you did read the title correctly, it seems that Adobe has decided that, if you can't beat them, join them. Adobe's Flash has long been the core of many a media rich website, but Flash based website development has always required specific, specialized tools to generate, and hasn't had the best press when it comes to security. But it seems Adobe is now hedging it's bets when it comes to web standards and has recently released something called 'Edge'. Adobe's 'Edge' is powered by a combination of HTML5 and CSS3, and allows media rich content without the need for Flash. Although Adobe's 'Edge' is still in it's early development stages, it will (unlike Flash) run on any browser (without the need for a plug-in) and also work with Apple's iOS platform...an important consideration for any developer!
For more information and a link to the Adobe 'Edge Preview'
click the following link:
In a land mark case the UK's High Court of Justice has ruled that BT must block access to a website called 'Newzbin2'; a site known to aggregate copyrighted material. This decision is right for many reasons, ultimately it's illegal to infringe copyright, but censoring individual websites will only ever reduce the problem, just as fining private individuals did, but neither of these actions will ultimately have any real impact on the issues of piracy. Interestingly enough 'Newzbin2' was a subscription only site, indicating that people are willing to pay...maybe the Hollywood film studios have something to learn from this site!
It seems we are going to have to wait until 2012 for Intel's new 'Tri-Gate' or 3D transistor based processors. These new chips will be based on an all new 22nm process, Intel's smallest yet; previously indicated for launch in late 2011. The 'Ivy Bridge' architecture promises many improvements on Intel's current 'Sandy Bridge' based processors, including a significant improvement in performance (around 20%), a DirectX 11 based graphics core, with a 30% improvement on the previouss integrated GPU and support for PCI Express 3.0 interconnects and there's even talk of quad-channel DDR3 memory controllers. All this technology takes time to perfect and Intel must be keen to get things right, especially after the recent issues with their latest 6 series (C200) chipset.
Weak passwords could soon be a thing of the past for Microsoft's Hotmail service, as they prepare to set in motion a new feature that will stop users from creating simple passwords. Microsoft's email service is a favorite target for brute force attacks; this is where common passwords are bombarded at the service until accounts with weak passwords are guessed. Initially new accounts and anyone who changes their password will be required to select a more complex password, but ultimately anyone who has an existing account that uses a weak password may well be asked to change it. In another welcome move Microsoft is also putting into place a system that allows users to report hacked or compromised accounts; these small but important changes should help Hotmail's email security significantly.
The iPhone continues to sell well with Apple shifting over 20 million handsets during the second quarter of 2011, this means that Apple is now selling more smartphones than Nokia (who's overall market share fell to under 24% for the first time). Continued, strong iPhone sales are great news for Apple, especially when you consider the imminent release of their new iPhone in the next month or so, which is bound to boost sales. But Apple has always been more than a smartphone manufacturer, and so the news of new versions of the MacBook Air (A light weight laptop) and Mac mini (A small form factor PC), along with a new 27" monitor will be welcomed by many. If this wasn't enough Apple also unveiled the latest version of it's OS X 'Lion' operating system, who's price is said to be a paltry £20.
Even though Windows 8 is still a little way off Microsoft has already indicated that it will continue it's current trend for either declining or unchanged system requirements. This move should ensure Windows 8 runs well on any current Vista or Windows 7 system (assuming driver compatibility). The idea of declining requirements is further supported by the fact that Windows 8 is able to dynamically adjust itself depending upon the processing power of the device it's running on; this, in turn, indicates that Windows 8 should even run well on lower powered devices, such as netbooks and tablets. Microsoft's Windows 8 is currently defined for release in the latter part of 2012.
Security updates form an important part of keeping any operating system safe from viruses, spyware and other web nasties. So when Microsoft announced April 2014 as the cut off date for security updates for Windows XP, they basically announced the end of the operating system. It's a fact that Windows XP is not as secure as it's more modern counter parts (Vista and Windows 7), and knowing that Microsoft will cease security updates will only make things worse. Don't get me wrong 2014 is still some time off yet, but anyone who is still using a computer system (especially on-line) that is based on Windows XP should seriously consider upgrading or changing to a Windows 7 (or newer) operating system within the next couple of years, or potentially face serious consequences, due to an inadequately protected system.
This isn't the first time Microdirect has got themselves into serious financial troubles (previously in 2008). Although their website is still up and running (at the time of writing), their choice of products seems to be much reduced, and there are now reports that their Manchester store has stopped taking card payments. Microdirect (like Mesh) could yet be saved; but failing this they will serve as yet another example of a computer reseller that was unable to cope in the current economic climate. Saying this, I can't help but wonder how they have got themselves in the same financial situation as they did just a few years ago!
The latest Firefox browser
from Mozilla is now available to download, but if your
expecting a whole new interface and loads of new features
then you're going to be disappointed. Much of the work on
Firefox 5 has concentrated on improvements in security and
stability, in fact it is said that Mozilla has packed 1000
updates into this release, including new privacy options. I
can't help questioning why Mozilla is so keen to release a
whole new version which essentially contains mostly bug
fixes...but then again maybe I'm being a little mean,
ultimately you will have to make up your own mind!
For more information and a link to the latest download visit my Browsers page
No, this is not something tasty to eat, it's all about RIM's Blackberry business, and it's associated fall in share price. Back in mid February RIM's share price was pretty healthy at almost $70, but now it's more like $25 due to a revised forecast that product shipments would be significantly lower than previously predicted. Much is being blamed on the time it's taking RIM to launch new products, in a market that is fast moving at the best of times. It is doubtful the RIM will disappear, but if they are to remain competitive and want to hold onto their market share, they will now have to greatly improve the speed at which they develop their products and more importantly how quickly they get said products onto the shelves.
'Anonymous' are a group of hackers that have taken it upon themselves to target companies, organizations and government bodies that try to suppress freedom of speech/information. This relatively new form of hacking is often referred to as 'Hacktivism', but ultimately it's just as another form of 'Cyberattack'. The authorities will never see beyond the illegal act of hacking and it's only a matter of time before 'Anonymous' take their actions too far, thus they are surely on a path to destruction. It's only a matter of time before the ring leaders are caught with another 35 supports being arrested just this week; saying this 'Anonymous' would have everyone believe that they have no real leaders or structure, but this is never the case as there are always more significant figures in every group of activists.
World IPv6 Day was organized by the 'Internet Society' (ISOC) and involved 434 internet companies over a 24 hour period in a global-scale trial of the next generation Internet Protocol. IPv6 is a new 128bit hexadecimal based address system that will eventually replace the current 32bit numeric system; this is needed because the current IPv4 address pool is now becoming exhausted due to our ever increasing need to connect internet enabled devices. Companies such as Google and Microsoft said that 'World IPv6 Day' basically passed without incident and that it was a great success. Although this is good news, much more work will be required over the coming months before users can start to be issued IPv6 addresses, least of all because IPv4 and IPv6 addresses are not compatible with each other and to all in intense and purpose represent two separate internets!
Mesh Computers have gone into administrator after 25 years in the computing industry. It's always sad to see one of the better computer manufactures go under, but the administrators (MacIntyre Hudson) have already found a buyer for Mesh in the form of 'PC Peripherals' a distributor of computer components. 'PC Peripherals' have taken over control of the Mesh website and is now trading under the Mesh name. Although this is little comfort for all those waiting delivery of previously ordered Mesh computers, it will hopefully mean that the Mesh brand will continue in some form. Only time will tell if the new owners will be able to produce systems with the same overall quality as those previously offered!
It seems Sony's systems have, once again, been compromised, with many people now asking whether Sony can be trusted to keep it's customers data safe. This time 'SonyPictures.com' has been hacked by using a simple SQL injection attack. It's shocking that a company such as Sony has allowed it's system to fall prey to a common vulnerability which really shouldn't have been present. The resultant breach saw 1 million user accounts accessed along with many millions of Sony music codes and coupons. And to make things even worse, none of this information was encrypted, with Sony choosing to store all it's customer data in pain text. The last Sony data breach was appalling, this new breach is even worse; trust in Sony was already low but this latest fiasco will no doubt cause many more customers to look elsewhere for their entertainment!
Microsoft acquired Skype (the popular, free internet video chat client) in early May for £5 Billion, the largest sum Microsoft has ever paid for a company. Skype's CEO (Tony Bates) will now become president of Microsoft's Skype division, and work has already begun integrating Skype into Microsoft's 'XBox' and 'Windows Phone 7' platforms as well as Microsoft's 'Outlook' email client. Many feel that Microsoft has paid too much for Skype (especially when you consider Skype is in serious debt at the moment), but the integration of Skype into many more Microsoft products will enable more users to communicate and collaborate using the worlds most popular real-time, social communications platform. On a less positive note Skype will now need to focus on reliability and stability, as another bout of service outages and system issues have caused more problems for it's users recently!
Microsoft has been showing off a new version of it's Windows Phone 7 operating system. Code named 'Mango' it is said to contain around 500 updates, with multi-tasking and integration of IE9 finally making there way to the platform. Windows Phone 7 uses something called 'Live Tiles' to display information, and these are said to be more dynamic and able to display more varied information in the 'Mango' update. Other improvements include speech-to-text and text-to-speech, linked inbox (so you can see multiple email accounts in one place) and broader integration of social network sites. All these new features sound great, but it seems you're going to have to wait a while to get your hands on it, as no explicit release date has been specified other than sometime in the autumn!
June approaches, and rumour has it that Apple may use their forthcoming 'Worldwide Developer Conference' (WWDC) in San Francisco to showcase their latest iPhone. If the rumour mill is working properly then we shouldn't expect too much from this new handset, rather than a full redesign, it's suggested that we will see an upgraded iPhone 4, maybe called the iPhone 4S (much like the iPhone 3S before). The main improvements are likely to be with it's processor, with most sources suggesting it will contain Apple's latest A5 processor (like that found in the latest iPad), an improved camera and an alteration to the main antenna to improve reception. The iPhone 4S is expected to be made available sometime in September.
The theft of copper is on the increase, with companies who deal with everything from copper pipe to copper cables, being effected. Copper is currently worth well over £5k a tonne, so it's no wonder it's become a popular target for thieves. But technology is finally catching up, with 'SmartWater' now being used by many companies to identify their goods. 'SmartWater' is a forensic solution that is assigned a chemical code which is unique and so specific to a particular company, it is also incredibly difficult to completely remove once it has been applied to a product. This makes it very easy for the police to trace the origin of a product if it's suspected as being stolen. In fact police and local authorities are now stepping up spot checks at recycling centers, because of the easy with which items can be identified, with significant fines being dealt out to any center found handling marked products. In fact prosecutions for copper theft have started to increase significantly since 'SmartWater' was introduced.
Fujitsu (Japanese Electronics Giant) has announced that they intend to create a 'rural' fibre broadband network, providing super fast internet to millions of households that are currently suffering some of the poorest bandwidth in the UK. Fujitsu, in collaboration with Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Cisco, plan to provide every customer with a 1Gbit/sec link to the internet, using a full Fibre-To-The-Premise (FTTP) implementation in the majority of cases. Fujitsu were quick to point out this will only be possible if Ofcom carries out it's own plan to allow third-parties access to BT's infrastructure. Even though it might take Fujitsu years to complete this project, it still represents new hope for thousands of small towns and villages up and down the country who are unable to get decent broadband, because BT is unwilling to invest, maybe now BT will re-think it's current strategy!
Computer security experts are warning people to be very cautious when following links to information about the death of the Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin-Laden. It seems cyber-criminals are already exploiting the headline news, creating links that profess to provide downloads of newly discovered images or videos of Bin Laden, that in reality only serve up malware. With rouge links already being discovered on Facebook, and other social networking sites, many experts are recommending that people limit their searches to the better known news sites, when trying to gain information about the dead Al-Qaeda leader, as this should significantly reduce their exposure to the flood of new malware.
In 2008 AMD sold off their chip fabrication facilities dividing their processor design and manufacture processes; many believe this was a bad move which has slowed AMD's processor innovation. Intel, on the other hand, has kept it's chip design and fabrication processes closely tied together, and this has given Intel the scope and control it needed to bring processor improvements to the market more quickly. Intel's latest development is it's 'Tri-Gate' or 3D transistor, a transistor that's no longer flat, but has fins that increase it's surface area making it more conductive and more efficient. Crucially, this technology will be accessible very soon, and will début in the form of Intel's new 22nm (Nanometer) 'Ivy Bridge' chips, later this year. The 3D transistor is an important break through, allowing Intel to make not only faster chips but more power efficient chips as well.
Sony made headline news this week when it suffered a massive security breach of it's 'PlayStation' Network, (which holds the personal details of almost 80 million users). Even though Sony shut down it's gaming network, the moment the system violation was discovered, it failed to notify the public immediately only disclosing the issue several days later. This has not only incensed many people, but damaged Sony's reputation, in fact Sony's share price has dropped significantly since this whole issue began. But this is only the start for Sony, with many countries currently investigating the data theft with an eye on legal proceedings if it's deemed Sony's actions were tardy or inadequate. Sony is all too aware of the damage this data breach is having on it's customers and business as a whole and so they were quick to offer, all eligible customers, 30 days free premium 'PlayStation Network' membership with free downloads, once they finally get their gaming network back up and running again.
Just weeks after well known hard drive manufacturer Western Digital announced they were soon to acquire the hard drive division of Hitachi (for $4 Billion), Seagate have now revealed that they are to purchase Samsung's (faltering) hard drive business for an undisclosed amount. This acquisition should see Seagate's market share jump to around 40%, which helps close the gap with Western Digital's current 50%. Interestingly enough neither of these main stream manufactures have invested heavily in Solid State technology until now; with both Hitachi and Samsung being large 'NAND flash' suppliers, (the chips used to make Solid State Drives), it can now only be a matter of time before Western Digital and Seagate branded Solid State Drives (SSD) start to appear.
The Hubble Telescope (named after the astronomer Edwin Hubble) is 21 Years old this month. Hubble was launched back in April 1990 by Space Shuttle Discovery, and it's changed the way we view the universe ever since. In 2009 Hubble's future looked uncertain, but a servicing mission allowed Hubble to continue it's amazing discoveries until at least 2014. To celebrate it's 21 years in space, NASA has released a particularly impressive image of a spiral galaxy (nicknamed 'The Rose'), that lies in the constellation Andromeda, using it's now famous Wide Field Camera.
For more information visit:
In a U-turn that has surprised many, Oracle has now made it clear that it no longer wants anything more to do with the OpenOffice project. In fact they have discarded the whole project and left it's future to the open-source community. This move in it's self is not a bad thing, no one is more qualified to continue the development of an open-source, office productivity suite than the open-source community, but it does show how right it's original developers were, when many of them jumped ship to form LibreOffice a few months back. Clearly Oracle's support was found wanting and the reasons for this are now all too clear. Once the dust has settled we will see what happens next, hopefully this will spur a unification of OpenOffice and LibreOffice.
When Spotify first appeared on the internet I have to say I was quite impressed, it heralded the start of free streaming music for all; unfortunately Spotify, over time, has slowly squeezed it's free users until there is very little left for them. It's a great shame that from the 1st of May free users will only be able to play 10 hours of music a month, and only be able to play the same track 5 times in total. I think this is a bad move (especially the limit on the number of times a track can be played) and it has spurred me look around for an alternative. Interestingly enough Spotify seems to have some serious competition and their disdain for their free users could not come at a worse time, with the likes of 'mflow' and others now offering a similar, totally free, service.
A group of international scientists, along with representatives from both major industry and governments has recently got together to discussed the effects a major solar event would have on the worlds communications and electrical infrastructure. The last solar event occurred way back in 1859 when the only form of communication was the telegraph and even then significant failures and system malfunctions were reported. It doesn't take too much to imagine the impact such a solar storm would have on our modern day internet and mobile communications networks, not to mention our almost total reliance on the electrical grid. The conference concluded that no one could predict the actual severity of such an event, but that it would happen within the next couple of years and so some kind of early warning system would be needed to hopefully allow sensible defensive measures to be taken, to reduce the damage a significant solar event would have on our 21st Century infrastructure.
In one of the biggest data breaches in American history, cloud-based email marketing firm Epsilon were recently compromised. Epsilon handles many millions of email adverts, every day, for a whole host of big named US based companies including the likes of Chase, Kroger, Kraft Foods and the Hilton Hotels group. Customer names and email addresses were accessed and ultimately stolen, although Epsilon were quick to stress that no financial information was retrieved by the hackers. Sadly this does highlight another important issue that cloud-based companies face, and that's one of security, if you're going to place all your eggs in one basket, it better be one of the most secure baskets ever made!
Many users are happy with Microsoft's 'Windows 7' operating system, and there's no doubt it's a vast improvement over Windows Vista, but that's not slowed Microsoft's continued development of the platform; in fact an early version of 'Windows 8' (final name to be verified) is already being distributed to OEMs (HP and Dell to name two). Little is currently known in relation to new features that Windows 8 will bring, but one significant change comes in the form of a special (additional) version that will run on the low-power ARM (Advanced RISC Machine) architecture, where RISC stands for Reduced Instruction Set. This is a significant move considering all versions of Windows to date have been written for x86 CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computer) based architectures only. This diversification of Windows should see the platform appearing on a whole new class of low-powered devices. A Beta version maybe released as early as September this year, which, if true, indicates a late 2012 launch for Windows 8.
Earth hour is in it's fifth year, and support is growing year on year. To show your support and that you care about climate change, just switch off as many of your electrical devices as you can on Saturday 26th March at 8.30pm, for an hour. You can see how each area of the UK compares by visiting the 'Earth Hour Map', this shows a league based on the percentage of population signed up. Don't forget to peer out of your window, at your neighbors during earth hour, to see who's not showing their support!
To sign-up and see how your area is doing visit:
After many years of discussions it seems the creation of a domain for adult material is now assured with ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) recently approving the use of a .xxx domain. Some disagree with this move saying it will ghettoise the content, others say the domain legitimises the content, and although I can understand both of these points, I still believe this was the right decision. Anything that gives people more control over content is a good thing, and the idea that parents can filter out a whole mass of inappropriate material just by blocking a single .xxx domain is a step in the right direction. Currently there is no mandate for existing adult sites to move to the new domain, but I can see a time when this might also happen!
It seems that Google updated it's Chrome browser recently, but in doing so introduced a bug that causes Adobe Flash based websites to stop responding. Chrome version 10, which introduced sandboxing for Flash, seems to have a critical flaw which causes it's Flash plug-in to crash, especially when multiple instances of Flash are running at the some time. Google software engineers are currently working on a fix for the issue, but have stated that it could take a while due to the complexities of the problem. Interestingly enough, there have been reports of Mozilla's Firefox browser also crashing when multiple Flash sites are visited, it seems IE9 is looking better and better every day!
There are no words that can truly describe the horrific events that have befallen the Japanese people over the last week, and everyone I talk to is shocked by the extend of the disaster and lost of life, and although this is the real concern for us all, there is another problem looming that directly affects us all. Japan's significance in the global market is vast and anything that causes Japan to slow or even stop supplying goods will have far reaching repercussions world wide. And this is never more true that for the IT industry, as constrains in the supply of various computer products and parts are already being felt. As product supplies dwindle over the next few weeks, experts tell us to expect significant price increases, and with supplies (understandably) only improving slowly this situation may continue for a number of months to come.
Click Here for a link to the new IE9 Download.
Hundreds of French government computers have been hacked in a sustained cyber attack targeting 'internationally sensitive' G20 related documents. For over two months French computer experts have been investigating the significant breach in security which involved more than 12,000 computers being checked and updated. Information gathered so far suggests that a least some of the documents stolen were redirected to sites in China, but no suggestions have been made that the Chinese authorities were the instigators of the crime at this time.
It was back in May 2010 that I
last wrote an article
'LightPeak' technology, and although 'LightPeak' is
still under development, Intel have produced a spin-off
product based on the technology, that does not use fiber-optics, but instead
standard copper interconnects. This change in
specification makes the
interface cheaper to produce, but importantly still very
fast. Now named 'Thunderbolt' the interface make USB 3.0 look
slow by comparison with a theoretical transfer rate of 10Gb/s, which is at least twice
as fast as USB3.0. Demonstrations bare out this performance with multi-gigabyte files taking just a few seconds to transfer, while
multiple, simultaneous, 1080p
HD videos play without a single frame being dropped; an impressive feet
by any measure. Apple's
latest MacBook Pro is one of the first systems to sport
the new interface, but generally Thunderbolt enabled devices
are still scarce at this time.
For more information visit:
The latest mini-ITX based systems are small, but although they are compact they are defiantly not tiny, especially when you compare them against the millimeter sized computer developed by the University of Michigan (Seen left, against a one pence piece). At just over one cubic millimeter it is minuscule by any measure; it can be classified as a computer as it manages to squeeze an ultra low power microprocessor, memory, battery, solar cell, wireless capability and pressure sensor into it's tiny form. What is equally impressive is that it only uses 5.3 Nanowatts of power when active. The device was created to be an implantable eye pressure monitor for Glaucoma patients, but the scientist who created the Millimeter computer say the possibilities are almost endless. Nanobots here we come!
There has been a lot of speculation over
the specification of Apple's latest iPad (the iPad 2), so
it's good to see the final product at last. Although the
iPad 2 keeps the same 9.7" (1024 x 768 pixels) IPS LED
screen as the original iPad (which is a great screen
anyway), Apple have now added a 1Ghz Dual-Core custom
'A5' processor for much improved system performance and
faster graphics. It also now has two cameras, one front
facing (VGA Quality) camera and one back facing (720p HD
Quality) camera, which means 'FaceTime' (Video Chat) comes
to the iPad. Battery life remains at around 10 hours. All
this has been achieved while reducing it size, now just
8.8mm in thickness, and it's weight (just 600g) but
importantly the pricing remains the same. All in all
this represents a nice update to the iPad, no massive wow
factors, but enough to keep the competition at bay.
UK availability is currently planned for the 25th March.
Even though Internet Explorer's market share has been declining recently, this does not seem to have affected interest in it's new IE9 browser, with both it's 'Beta Release' and more recently the 'Release Candidate' receiving a surge of attention. In fact the 'Beta Release' was downloaded more than 20 million times, while the 'Release Candidate' was downloaded over 2 millions times in it's release week. This is a strong indication that Internet Explorer still has a very strong following, but sadly many unconstructive things have been said about Microsoft's IE9 browser, mostly by the competition, but the real true is that these comments come at a time when Microsoft have improved their internet browser significantly and it seems the competition are getting a little twitchy.
URL stands for 'Uniform Resource Locator'; a globally recognized syntax to define and identify the location of a particular resource/site on the Internet. Companies such as Google have been offering a shortened URL service for a while now, and although it's a useful way to represent a long website address, it does have a significant downside. The trouble with shortened URLs is that, by their nature, they disguise the real address of the resource you are being sent to, making them a prime target for abused. Unfortunately this type of URL abuse is now on the increase, with Google's 'Goo.gl' services being targeted by criminals to create false links that take users to locations they did not intend to visit, often infecting the users system with Malware in the process. So be extra vigilant when clicking on shortened (disguised) URLs.
Microsoft have finally released Service Pack 1 for Windows 7. You should find it available via 'Windows Updates' over the next few days, and although I have stated this before, it is worth repeating, that there will be no new features in SP1, just all previous updates, bug fixes and any incremental updates and improvements made to Windows 7 since it's original release. Even if you have a fully updated Windows 7 installation, it is still recommended that you install the official service pack 1 as this will ensure all previous updates have been applied correctly and are functioning as expected.
For a link to the standalone installer visit my Operating Systems page.
It seems Apple's foreign ethics are under question after they seemed to do very little when 137 Chinese workers at a factory in Suzhou (which makes iPhones and iPads), were hospitalized due to poisoning. It turned out the poisonings was due to the use of a chemical cleaning agent called Hexyl Hydride (n-hexane), which is known to cause nerve damage. Although this cleaning agent is now no longer used at the factory, many workers are still suffering illness related to the chemical exposure. Apple seems to simply be pointing the finger at Wintek (the factory owner) but it seems to me Apple should have a more significant role to play in helping it's workers with these long term health issues. It is a sad day at Apple when the well being and on-going care of their factory workers is being ignored, lets hope Apple comes to it's senses and does more for these people.
Many people seem to think that cloud computing is the best thing since sliced bread; centralise everything on-line and save lots of money, but few people stop to consider the down sides to the cloud environment. Every cloud provider wants to sell you their amazing infrastructure and all the cost saving benefits that it brings, but what they don't want you to know is what can happen when things go wrong. In fact there are a number of high profile cases of serious service outage and data lose due to the over reliance in cloud computing. In late 2009 a group of T-Mobile servers failed, taking out over a million of thier 'Kickstart' customer's, their personal information was never recovered. JournalSpace's servers were totally decimated by a disgruntled employee destroying 6 years of data. Blizzard Entertainment's servers were taken out due to one bad server update causing over 500,000 customers to lose connectivity for more than 24 hours. Local power issues caused Valve's 'Steam' servers to fail, and the list goes on. Cloud computing is a great idea, but it's not without it's serious issues; great in theory but not in practice...total reliance on a single resource is never a good idea!
In August last year OCZ indicated that they would be scaling down their DRAM products, but in a new announcement OCZ have now indicated that they will, in fact, be leaving the DRAM market altogether. Some might not be too surprised by this sudden exit, as the performance memory market is a little saturated these days, and there are now a number of other well respected DRAM manufacturers out there. There is no doubt that OCZ have, over the last 10 years, produced some great DRAM products and as a result of this they will be missed. But the good news is that OCZ are not leaving the sector altogether, as they have stated they will be concentrating on their lucrative, high performance, SSD (Solid State Drive) products instead.
After another significant drop in it's share price, there was no doubt that Nokia needed to do something quick to turn things around. Many would agree that one of Nokia's biggest stumbling blocks is it's continued reliance on the outdated Symbian operating system, but all this is about to change with Nokia announcing a huge deal with Microsoft to offer Windows Phone 7 as their primary platform for their smart phones. This move, along with some new handsets, is just the sort of radical sake up that they need. Lets hope this decisive move will finally start to change things around for Nokia.
The internet, as we know it today, began to develop in earnest in the 1980s and ever since then our information traffic and storage requirements have grown exponentially. Back in 1986 there were only 5,000 hosts accessing the internet, but this ballooned to well over a million hosts by 1992 and by 2000 there were 1 billion indexable pages of information available. By 2004 internet traffic hit one million Terabytes, that's 1 Exabyte (EB). But by 2007 (globally) we could access almost 300 Exabytes (EBs) of information and in 2009 we sent almost 500 Exabytes of information around the globe with an estimated 25% of the Earth's total population connected to the internet. It's now predicted that by 2013 IP traffic could hit 660 Exabytes that's almost two-thirds of a Zettabyte (ZB) of information a year, with some suggesting that even this is a conservative estimate at best!
It was back in October last year that the Release Candidate (RC) of Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) was made available. This in itself indicated that the full public released should follow soon, and sure enough Microsoft have now stated that SP1 is on track for a late February release. There will be no new features in SP1, just all previous updates, bug fixes and any incremental updates and improvements made to Windows 7 since it's original release. It does seem a shame that Microsoft has not seen fit to add a little something extra in SP1, but as new features seem thin on the ground in other recently released service packs, it doesn't really come as a big surprise either!
ACS Law (a firm of solicitors that was dealing with illegal file-sharing cases in a less than professional manner) has ceased trading, along with their only client MediaCAT. It is remarkable that both firms should close at exactly the same time, and I'm not the only one to think this. It seems their closure has raised a number of significant questions as to whether either company was legitimate and more over whether their cases were even genuine. Even though ACS Law had tried to drop all of their illegal file-sharing cases, lawyers for the defendants wish the cases to continue so that they can now claim for damages. The owner of ACS Law is now being investigated by the 'Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal'.
Intel has discovered a design flaw in it's latest 6 series (C200) chipset, which has been developed in conjunction with it's new second generation Core i (Sandy Bridge) processors. The problem seems to be with the chips used to control Serial-ATA (SATA) devices which have been found to degrade over time, this in turn impacts the performance of Hard Drives and other connected SATA devices. Intel has resolved the problem and is already shipping a new chip, unfortunately, although Intel caught the problem quickly, it has not stopped thousands of products being shipped with potentially faulty chipsets. Saying this the fault would only become apparent after a couple of years use and only then in a very small percentage of chips (5%-15%); but Intel is already working with manufacturers, OEMs and retail partners to ensure a replacement program is put in to place quickly.
It was back in early September last year that Microsoft release it's first Beta of Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), and even then it seemed to be a feature complete, usable application. Four months on and Microsoft have just announce the imminent release of the IE9 Release Candidate (RC). As I have stated before Release Candidates are an indication of a mature product, and so we can gauge that IE9 is that much closer to a final release that first thought. This is good news for Microsoft as they, more than ever, need to prove they can delivery a great browser and IE9 looks to satisfy this goal perfectly.
ACS Law is a firm of solicitors that have been sending out letters to illegal file-sharers on be halve of their client MediaCAT; but due to significant issues that seem to surround the way in which the firm is conducting these cases, a senior Judge has suggested that all further correspondence cease until the firm gets it's act together. In fact the judge has threatened to officially ban the firm from sending out any more letters, stating that the firm was currently 'Flirting with Abuse of Process'. It is important to catch prolific illegal file-sharers, but not at the cost of the legal process, this is unhelpful to the copyright owners and damaging to the legal process. But I still can't help but wonder weather we should not perhaps be targeting the original 'Uploaders' of the illegal content (which are apparently very few in number) and not the resultant 'downloaders', this way you remove the problem at it's source...or is that too logical!
Following on from the release of it's application for Apple iPhone users, BT has now developed an application that allows Apple iPad users access to their network of WiFi hot spots. As with iPhone users this service is limited to BT Internet account holders, as a valid BT Internet user name and password are required. The application is said to contain a handy mapping function to make it easier to locate BT's WiFi hot spots and to make access as simple as possible; it's available for immediate download via Apple's iTunes.
Intel will very soon release a new processor range, codenamed Sandy Bridge. Sandy Bridge (formerly Gesher) is Intel's second generation 'Core i' processor micro-architecture. It's based on a 32nm fabrication process, and brings a number of improvements over the previous generation that will allow significant performance gains; add to this their inherent higher clock frequencies and you end up with one of the most impressive CPUs that Intel have produced to date. It's also Intel's first processor to have a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) in the processor package itself (rather than bolted on afterwards) which shares the main processors LLC (Last Level Cache). This is not your standard integrated Intel HD graphics as Intel have finally implemented a significantly improved graphics chip to boot. The downside to all this new technology is the need for a new LGA1155 processor socket, thus a new motherboard will be required if you want one of these new CPUs. But on a more positive note, Sandy Bridge pricing looks set to be very competitive!
Keep an eye open for these new processors on my CPU page soon.
If you are a regular reader of my news pages, you will already know that the new internet protocol IPv6 is a subject of some interest to me, mostly because of the general lack of attention it's getting from the industry (this is not another non-event like Y2K). The transition to IPv6 is critical as it will ensure we can all continue to use the internet when IPv4 addresses finally run out (which is soon). To this end some of the big named websites have decided to join forces and move their domain names to IPv6 addresses for 24 hours on the 8th June 2011. This day has been named 'World IPv6 Day', simply because it will allow the industry to test it's IPv6 compatibility and security almost as if the change over had happen for real; if nothing else it should help raise awareness and give people a taste of what will happen if they don't take IPv6 seriously and give it the attention it requires!
has released a new version (second edition) of it's free
anti-virus software 'Security Essentials'. The good news is
that it's still as easy to use as ever, with an uncluttered
and easy to understand user interface. Under the hood the
protection has improved, and Microsoft have ensured
'Security Essentials 2' doesn't hog system
resources, which is something some of the latest anti-virus
applications (AVG 2011) could learn from. Security Essentials 2
is another good anti-virus product from Microsoft and I recommend upgrading your
previous version as soon as you can. It's worth noting that due to it's frugal use
of system resources 'Security Essentials 2' is a good choice for anyone who has an
older/less powerful system.
For a link to this latest version visit my Anti-Virus page.
There has been a significant increase in the use of smart phones and media players over the last couple of years and it's this change that is being blamed for the subsequent rise in street crime. Many of the latest portable gadgets are expensive and it's this that has apparently fueled an increase in muggings and street robberies. The Police's advice is very simple, keep your gadgets away from public view, and don't draw unnecessary attention to them. Personally I like to vigorously wave all my gadgets to all who pass me by; so it looks like I will have to alter my behavior in the future! To quote Gollum's Lord of the Rings "Keep the precious safe".
latest innovation in Solid-State Drives (SSDs) is built around their 34nm NAND
Flash memory chips and utilizes a PCIe mini-interface that supports
standard SATA commands.
Measuring just 50.8mm by 29.8mm and weighing in at a mere 10 grams, the Intel
310 series SSDs are even smaller and lighter than the tiny 1.8" hard drives
produced by the likes of Toshiba. Reads speeds of up to 200 MB/s indicate that
access performance is very good and comparable with many standard SSDs,
but a write speed of 70 MB/s is a little disappointing for a
solid state drive; faster than
most conventional hard drives, but some compromise was
perhaps inevitable. Intel is
hoping these new devices will be popular with the growing ultra-small form factor and Tablet PC
market, but with stiff competition from numerous other
manufactures of small SSDs they will have their work cut out
For more information visit:
seems OpenOffice's future is in the balance after most of
it's current development team decided to up sticks and form
a new group under the name 'The Document Foundation'.
Trouble has been brewing ever since Sun Microsystems was
purchase by Oracle back in 2009, (Oracle does not have a
very good track record when it comes to supporting open-source
software), with many being concerned over Oracle's on-going
commitment to the OpenOffice project and with little to
re-assure the group otherwise, they did what they felt was
necessary to ensure the survival of their project. Time will
tell whether Oracle can convince them that they are indeed
committed to 'OpenOffice'; but for now we have a new
open-source Office Productivity suite named 'LibreOffice'.
For more information visit my 'Office Applications' page.