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All posts tagged "computers"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The New and Improved Microsoft Security Essentials!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Microsoft Security Essentials was first released in September 2009 and is our award-winning no-cost light weight anti-malware service. It’s designed to help address the ongoing security needs of PCs running genuine Windows – helping keep people protected from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software."

I must admit that I currently use Microsoft Security Essentials as my default choice for my Windows based computers. While there are many choices out there, both at a cost and for free, I have found Microsoft's solution to be fairly lightweight and unobtrusive. However, it did seem a bit lacking, acting much like a traditional anti-virus solution one would get five years ago. Their newest beta appears to have changed that, putting it more in line with current generation "Internet Security" solutions. I am disappointed that it only integrates with Internet Explorer and not other browsers, but it is not surprising. As this is a beta, it has not been widely deployed yet, though I am hoping that it will not be a hog when it gets released for real. What is important for you in your anti-virus/trojan/malware/phishing software? Yes, there are some of you who do not use any, but for those that do, do you put thought in what you pick, or does a brand name do it all for you?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Old And Busted Pentium 4 Tech Against New Hotness Atom CPUs

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:30 PM,2649.html

"Does it make more sense to purchase a cheap Atom-based computer or to recycle and/or continue to use an existing Pentium 4 machine? Both run at decent clock speeds and come with 512 KB of L2 cache. Both can be considered above average if you have modest performance expectations. And both have a comparable transistor count: 55 million for the Pentium 4 (based on the Northwood design) and 47 millions for the Atom 230."

I am sure that one can pick hairs about the differences between the two different CPUs and that the benchmarks Tom's Hardware has made do not mean much. I personally think they do. First, I'm surprised at how far we have come in that Intel has come out with a CPU that uses a fraction of the power of a Pentium 4, admittedly an easy task, but still give comparable performance at a low cost. Second, I do think it has shown how much computing has stagnated over the past 8 years. With the wide adoption of netbooks and to a lesser extent, nettops, they perform no better than 8 year old computers. It does say that we are probably entering an era of diminishing returns for computing, since netbooks seem to be just enough for a lot of people, but it also means that we have this lower barrier that will stick with us for years to come, possibly limiting what we can do with computers in the future. Of course, even then, I will not admit that I have one or two Pentium 4 computers still running. Anyone still using their old computers? Any problems in using them in the "modern" world?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New CPUs and Prices from Intel

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:30 PM

Alright, so I am a little late on this one, but Digitimes has some interesting rumours, and the one that really caught my eye was the i7-950 getting a huge discount. Makes me thinking whether it was just a slightly higher clocked but overpriced i7-930 to begin with.

There's also the hex core i7-970, but at that price of US$885 in bulk quantities, I think I'll keep my money thank you very much. As usual the highest end is low on value; stick to something like a quad core i7-860. Hit the link to find out more.

Monday, July 12, 2010

When One OS Is Not Enough For Your Computer

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"The new 2.0 release of the application comes with a slew of changes, the most notable including Windows 7 support, bootable ISO images, and adding bootable USB drives to the bootloader. It's well worth a look if you're setting up a dual-boot configuration."

Some of you out there seem to think that in order to get the best of all OSes, you have to install all the OSes. Virtual machines may provide an option, but that is not good enough for you. You want all of your operating systems to run on bare metal. EasyBCD might just be a handy tool for you to have then. While I suspect anyone who goes through a dual-boot process has enough savvy to modify a bootloader without extra tools, it is probably nice to have an easy program so you do not have to muddle through arcane files buried deep in the computer. I just find it ironic that it only supports Windows, instead of the triumverate that is Linux, OSX and Windows.

Friday, July 9, 2010

First You Get The Power Supply, Then You Get The Computer

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM,2658.html

"On the other hand, power supplies are often forgotten in offices and for everyday multimedia applications. Truth be told, compact and mid-range PCs don't require a high-performance power supply. However, investing in a high-quality power supply can pay off in several ways."

I have to agree with Tom's Hardware that for most people, power supplies are considered secondary to most other components in a computer. When buying a computer, everyone, even some who want to play games on high powered video cards, look at the specs of video cards, CPUs, memory and hard drives, but hardly ever the power supply. For what is essentially the heart of the computer, I have seen a good power supply make a huge difference for stability and its ability to manage less than ideal power conditions. Cheap power supplies can easily fry themselves, and parts of your computer along with it, when the power goes out. Of course, that would never happen since everyone uses a UPS, right? Right?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Russell Kirsch: Pixels With Variable Shapes Are Better Than Square Ones

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM

"Did you know that we're only 53 years removed from the very first digital image? .... [B]ack in the monochromatic 1950s,... Russell Kirsch became the first man to create a digital picture, by scanning in a photo of his baby son. Now, half a century wiser, Russell is back to apologize for introducing that cursed square pixel into our lives, and to try to remedy all the jagged little edges we've been seeing on our screens ever since."

For those of us in the USA, July 4th is when we look back to the birth of our nation. This seems a natural time, therefore, to look back at the birth of a technology that impacts nearly all of our daily lives: digital imaging, for which Russell Kirsch is given credit (history buffs should read "SEAC and the Start of Image Processing at the National Bureau of Standards" for a summary). Engadget's brief post includes a copy of the first digital image Russell created in 1957, along with recent images that illustrate the difference between traditional square pixels (above, left) and the variable shaped pixels (above, right) that Kirsch now promotes. But for an understanding of Kirsch's proposal, the interested reader must refer to his 2010 paper, "Precision and Accuracy in Scientific Imaging," wherein he explains the usage of his 6 x 6 pixel mask, and demonstrates that increased precision (as represented by more pixels) does not always equal increased accuracy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

They Say That Backing Up Is Hard To Do

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"The team behind Redo Backup can't argue that their tool is the most comprehensive on the market, but they can argue that it's the easiest to use. Boot up with a Live CD or Live USB copy of Redo Backup and you're only a few clicks away from backing up your system—or restoring it if your hard drive went to the great data center in the sky."

Backing up should be a mandatory part of your computing regimen and there are a wide range of options available to do so. However, as easy as Redo sounds, I do have to question one major part of how it works: Using a Live CD or USB drive. Backups should be easy to do, and while a Live CD with a simple wizard sounds like a great idea, it means that a person has to either pop in a CD, or plug in a Flash drive and restart their computer. I know of very few people willing to go through that kind of a break in their routine in order to do backups. If they can provide a way for the backups to be done in the background while a person is still working away, and use the Live CD or USB drive for restoration purposes, they might just get a few more customers.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Squeeze Every Last Minute Of Your Battery

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"If you've got a laptop with a really old battery that drains in a few minutes after a full charge, there's not much you can do to make that old thing last much longer—you'll probably want to replace the battery before you do anything else. For everybody else, these tips can help you keep your battery working at peak efficiency."

The quest for longer battery life is eternal. Manufacturers post rosy figures but those are under ideal conditions with limited use. In the real world, battery life tends to be much shorter, and it gets shorter as time goes on. Lifehacker has posted some tips, some of which are well known, but some which are less common. They provide a good read, and every little suggestion helps. Sadly, despite all the efforts you go through, batteries will eventually die and fail to hold a meaningful charge. Of course, the way things are, you will probably want a new laptop by the time that happens!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Microsoft Antitrust Case: 10 Years Later

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 06:00 PM

"It was 10 years ago this week that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered Microsoft split in two as a remedy for abusing its Windows monopoly. That judgment was tossed out on appeal, but the eventual antitrust settlement has had plenty of repercussions. From crapware to insecurity, here's ... what 10 years of antitrust regulation has really accomplished."

Columnist Ed Bott, at ZDNET.COM, finds four "significant developments" that he thinks have resulted from the now over 10-year-old United States v. Microsoft antitrust case. Two of these are mentioned in the above summary (increased "crapware," and decreased security); read his article for the other two, along with additional interesting thoughts, including his assessment of the three technology companies that exercise "effective monopolies" in specific market areas. For more background on the case, the Public Broadcasting Corporation's Online NewsHour makes a good reference - or you can go directly to the source: the US Department of Justice "Current Case" site, which shows eleven case related documents in 2009 alone! In theory, this was a major antitrust settlement: How well did it work? (Are "we" - the computing public - better off because of it?) Do you agree with Ed Bott's assessment of the fallout?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hitachi-LG HyDrive Combines SSD with Optical Drives

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:00 PM

"Put simply, the HyDrive is a standard form factor optical drive (DVD burner or Blu-ray will be available), but there's a 32GB or 64GB SSD... tucked below. When this gets stuffed within a laptop, you're immediately able to access an optical drive, an SSD (for your operating system and critical launch applications) and a spacious HDD...."

Image Credit: Engadget

I am not certain that a 32GB - or even a 64GB - hard drive could really be considered as "spacious" these days, but this does seem like an obvious pairing of technologies, especially for the laptop market. Hitachi-LG is a joint venture that specializes in OEM products (no direct sales to consumers), and the first HyDrive equipped laptops are not expected until August 2010. Read the full article on Engadget for additional details, including a link to the official press release, which promises some enticing benefits for the current design, along with faster units, with greater storage, by mid-2011.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Long Live the PC!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"Dell said each user will have many devices, each geared for a specific task. "Some are better for carrying with you. Others are for consuming content, others are better for creating content." This runs counter to the idea that a smartphone or other mobile device will eventually become the multi-function computer of choice for work, communication, social networking and entertainment."

Despite what some CEO at a major computer manufacturer might say, I still hold firm in my belief that the smartphone will replace most of the functions of a PC for consumers. Sure, an iPhone or Nexus One cannot effectively help you do major video edits, or crunch large spreadsheets, but it allows people to consume with a very light amount of work. I am of the opinion that most people are happy just snapping and sharing photos, twittering their lives or looking up the price of a concert ticket. And of those things, I do not think a full fledged PC is necessary. I say this while admitting that I could never live like that. Needing to work with spreadsheets, code and TPS reports, I still have a workstation with multiple monitors that they will have to pry from my cold, dead hands. I think that Michael Dell does have one point though. Things do seem to be shifting towards specialized devices, each providing its own interface for information in the cloud. I just wonder what impact this will have on the people who do not have a persistent Internet connection.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Toshiba May Release Super Fast Charging Laptop

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"I have been following the rumors of a new Toshiba ultra-portable laptop with great interest. Not because it is super thin and light — what has me excited is the Super Charge Ion Battery (SCiB) it’s reported to use. This is significant as these batteries supposedly can be 90% charged in a mere 10 minutes. Think about that for a moment. If you could charge your notebook battery in 10 minutes it could change the way you work while mobile."

A laptop that could be charged in ten minutes is great. However, I think it could have some other consequences. First, it would probably encourage people to deep drain their batteries more, meaning that batteries will need to be replaced more often. Second, I am positive that people will complain that 10 minutes is still too long. That being said, I would really like to see this technology applied to cell phones. In my experience, I have seen friends and colleagues have their phones run out of power much more often.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Building PCs for Fun and, uh, Fun!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM,2601.html

"Before you start picking parts, a builder should clearly understand the machine's intended function. General purpose systems that deal with tasks like 2D games, Internet browsing, and document creation will obviously have modest hardware requirements. In contrast, high-end 3D gaming systems require better graphics, better cooling, and a larger power supply."

The the fundamentals of how to put a PC together has not really changed for decades, some aspects, like standards and specifications do change. I would venture to say that in general, cobbling together a computer is much easier today than it has ever been. Over the years, more and more functions have been integrated into the motherboard, meaning there are fewer parts you have to deal with in a standard configuration. Putting together a computer is a useful and informative exercise. While lots of people are content to treat PCs as magical boxes that give us access to Farmville, or wait until the worst moment to crash, knowing what goes into a computer and how it works is a great way to stretch one's mind. Does everyone have their "PC Builder" badge yet?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dual-core Atoms to Save the Netbook Industry

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"Otellini said that Intel was on track to introduce a dual-core Atom processor this quarter. He was vague on details, however, and did not specify whether the upcoming dual-core Atom would be for netbooks or small desktops. Intel already offers dual-core Atoms for entry-level desktops, and a dual-core chip could provide a much-needed speed boost to netbooks, which have been described as underperforming at times."

This is a bit confusing. There are dual-core Atoms out there, yet Intel believes that launching dual-core Atoms will help sales. Maybe they mean dual-core Atoms that have the same power and heat characteristics as single core Atoms. If that is the case, then that is exciting news! Of course, with Microsoft's restrictions on certain versions of Windows 7, the dual-core netbooks would be a bit more expensive, but they are already there! Netbooks certainly are "good enough" for a lot of tasks, but I welcome more power if it does not, or only marginally compromises its battery life and design. A dual-core Atom would go a long ways towards preventing netbooks from stuttering when a runaway process takes over. It looks like netbooks are not going gently into the good night!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Floppy Keeps Selling and Selling

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:00 PM

"However, Verbatim, a UK manufacturer which makes more than a quarter of the floppies sold in the UK, says it sells hundreds of thousands of them a month. It sells millions more in Europe. "We've been discussing the death of the floppy for 14 years, ever since CD technology first started coming on strong," says Verbatim spokesman Kevin Jefcoate."

The memories the 3.5" floppy elicits are wonderful and date me. There is a generation to whom floppy disks are as archaic as 8-track tapes and vacuum tubes. In their heyday, they were capacious and useful, much like flash drives are now. They also were so cheap that passing them around and giving them away was of little concern. I suspect that in the personal computing world, floppy disks are largely dead thanks for flash drives and the cloud. It is for specialized applications that they are still around. Certain equipment that have a life span of decades, instead of years, still use the disks, and as rugged as these things are, they do need replacing once in a while. I am glad they are mostly gone though; their transfer speeds are agonizingly slow. Anyone who still uses them better stock up! There is no telling when the other manufacturers will stop making them entirely!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Peek Into the Upcoming HP Slate

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 05:30 PM

"Each develops a gadget that Apple does not spare those who come after announcing that they have a replacement. Just as there are a lot of iPod Killers (still waiting) and iPhone Killers (Hello?), now has been the range of IPAD Killers. Case to light, the HP Slate. We had a short in our hands."

The review, in Spanish (translation through Google here), looks at a pre-production HP Slate, so I would take some of the comments with a grain of salt. The one thing I do take away from it is that HP seems to have considered the Slate a netbook sans keyboard, which I believe to be a mistake. It seems that after years of tablets, both convertibles and slates, manufacturers should be aware that a different interface is what is needed, and this is where competition against the iPad needs to be made. I am reminded of the lesson that Microsoft learned with Windows CE and then the PocketPC OS/Windows Mobile. When Microsoft first came out with Windows CE, they mirrored the Windows 95 interface which failed horribly. Then they tried what is seen up to Windows Mobile 6 which still has its limitations. The form factor dictates a different interface. As it stands, it looks like the HP Slate will be a disappointment. Anyone still interested in getting one?

Friday, April 16, 2010

HP Mini 5102 Review

Posted by Jon Childs in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 PM

"There are netbooks and then there's the HP Mini 5102. Or at least that's always been our impression of the 10-inch business and education targeted laptop, since it isn't every day that you see what's supposed to be a secondary system with a 7,200rpm hard drive, durable aluminum chassis, spill resistant keyboard and capactive touchscreen options. Or you know, a $415 starting price. The Mini 5102 doesn't fall into the same class as those $299 netbooks -- considering our review unit rings up at $668 and all -- but does the extra dough really pay off in a noticeably better shrunken computing experience? We've been on a mission to find out just that over the last few days, so hit the break for our full review."

Engadget has a fairly in depth review of HP's Mini 5102 netbook. It is certainly top of the line for a netbook, but I can't imagine the market for people willing to pay $600-700 for a netbook is too large. During a recent sale I was able to get 2 Dell Mini 10s for less than the price of one of these. The touch screen display seems a little gimicky to me, and Engadget seems to agree stating "we'd be lying if we told you we put our fingers to the screen more than a total of ten times in our week of reviewing the netbook". Overall, a very nice computer, but probably a little too expensive for the netbook market.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

New VIA VX900 Chipset To Support 1080P

Posted by Jon Childs in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 06:00 AM

"VIA Technologies is talking up its VX900 chipset, and promising that its new "media system processor" (MSP) will offer silky-smooth 1080P playback when paired with a VIA Nano 3000. "VIA's trail-blazing VX900 will bring welcome relief to those pining for the best view of HD video online," said Richard Brown, Vice President of Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. "The VIA VX900 represents the most complete solution for HD digital content consumption on the market today."

VIA is promising to demo the chipsets and boards at Computex to be used in netbooks and nettops. The included video is quite impressive. The chipset can handle 1080p video at 80Mbps without any stuttering at all, while never using more the 50% of the CPU. It could make for a really nice netbook. Unfortunately, there is not a ton more info available (such as price) so we will have to wait a while to see if this really can be a competitor to the current top of the line netbooks.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Video Unboxing of the HP Mini 5102

Posted by Jon Childs in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:30 PM

"The HP Mini 5102 is the latest business and education-focused netbook from Hewlett Packard. It has a higher starting price than most netbooks, at $399 and up. But it also comes with a number of features that you won't find on most netbooks"

The HP Mini 5102 is definitely a top of the line netbook, but if the one you really want is going to cost $600-800, I can't imagine there is going to be a huge market for it. Given that you can get a decent 13" laptop for that price I don't really see this as worth the cost. I guess if portability is your ultimate concern it may be worth it, but personally I would just buy a small laptop.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Seagate's BlackArmor PS 110 Portable USB 3.0 Drive

Posted by Jeff Deneen in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM

Product Category: Portable Storage Device
Manufacturer: Seagate
Where to Buy: Seagate; newegg.
Price: $179.99
System Requirements: ExpressCard/34 USB 3.0 card; Power Dongle; USB Cable


  • Form Factor;
  • Back-up software included;
  • USB 3.0 Speed;
  • Capacity.


  • Until you have USB 3.0 in your laptop, you have to use an ExpressCard/34 card.

Summary: This is one of the first USB 3.0 Portable Drives to hit the market. Having half a terabyte in your hands is great, especially if you are a road warrior. The Seagate BlackArmor drive delivers speed, capacity, and portability in a solid, user friendly, package that provides for a complete system recovery in the palm of your hand or enough video for a weeks' worth of trade show video demos. It is a valuable addition to any traveler.


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