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Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

CubeDesktop imitates Compiz Fusion even more closely, costs money

Posted by Yaser on April 23, 2008

Remember Compiz Fusion, the special effects plugin system from the world of GNU/Linux that brought heaps of cool shiz like cube workspaces, wobbly window movements, and raindrops? I’ve probably mentioned it somewhere before. Well thanks to the publicity Compiz Fusion gets, envious Windows users go around creating look-a-likes.

CubeDesktop seems to be the most recent addition to this plethora of clones. The website doesn’t mention it, but it imitates Compiz Fusion disturbingly closely – down to the control panel itself, with 32×32 icons found on a grid with labels on the side. It has the standard cube, as well as a Mac OS X Leopard-like workspaces display which is found in Compiz Fusion as the “expo” plugin. It also has a whole bunch of flipping and rotating workspace views, which are pretty similar to the cube apart from the fact that they look slightly different.

The software also has a “Window Exposer”, much like the one found on Compiz Fusion, except it failed to work on my computer so I will not comment further on it.

The speed is alright, although it definitely can’t compare to Compiz Fusion – yet. I had to switch off a few effects (well, actually, a lot) to make the thing run at a decent pace – and even then it would cause iTunes to momentarily freeze whenever activated. Not good.

And why am I giving free publicity to these expensive pieces of software? Because they are essentially proof-of-concepts. I mean, the creators can advertise all they want about how they “boost your productivity”, but realistically, they probably reduce your productivity. The important thing is that they prove that these effects can actually be achieved on Windows, and hopefully, after a few more release cycles, these clones will be useful enough to actually, as aforementioned, “boost your productivity”.

Annoyingly, CubeDesktop costs money – 9.95 euros, which, at the current exchange rate, is 16.8667851 Australian dollars – cheaper than DeskSpace, another cube thing, but hey, there’s always Yod’m, and then again Compiz Fusion gives it to you for free. After the jump for screenshots. Read the rest of this entry »

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steve jobs sends pointed email to macbook pro owner, poor customer service

Posted by Yaser on March 31, 2008

Recently the owner of a MacBook Pro that had suffered water damage contacted Apple to find about repair costs. When they were informed that it would cost $300 just to have his MBP looked at with no guarantee of whether or not it could even be repaired that wasn’t quite what they wanted to hear.

This [so far] nameless customer decided to email Steve jobs at sjobs@apple.com and said this:

Dear Steve Jobs,

I wanted to write and express my concern about some recent problems that I have had with Apple Care. This week, my MacBook Pro unfortunately sustained water damage. I understand this is entirely my fault but it is still something I would like to get fixed. After three or four calls I was finally able to get a straight answer. While I was happy to get a straight answer, I was not at all happy with the answer. It is very worrisome to me that the only way to get my computer fixed is to pay almost $300.00 up front with no guarantee that this will fix the problem. I was horrified to learn that their is no system to assess the problem and bill once all damage is known. I am reluctant to put money into a problem that could easily grow. I have had three Apple computers in a row. I love using them but I am not sure if my replacement will be one. I feel powerless in the situation and the whole experience has turned me off of the Apple company.

Sounds like a pretty reasonable email…nice tone of voice, the customer wasn’t blaming Apple for not making their laptops water-proof–nothing like that.

The response that this customer claims to have received was as follows:

This is what happens when your MacBook Pro sustains water damage.They are pro machines and they don’t like water. It sounds like you’re just looking for someone to get mad at other than yourself.

Steve

Is it real? As far as I know, yes it is. Poor customer service? Yes, that too.

If it is legit and is in fact from Steve, is anyone really surprised? Its not like he hasn’t acted like an ass/jerk/whatever word you’d prefer in the past and he’ll certainly do it again.

[Via CrunchGear]

Posted in Apple, Computers, Tech | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Blu-Ray cracked by Slysoft, rips pouring from air

Posted by Yaser on March 23, 2008

The recent massive increase in amount of Blu-Ray rips has an obvious reason: cracked protection BD+. A Caribbean firm called SlySoft claims to have broken the copy protection technology used on some Blu-ray discs designed to prevent video content from being copied and pirated. SlySoft has long sold a product called AnyDVD which is a utility that disables a DVD’s Content Scramble System (CSS) copy protection technology. Once a DVD’s copy protection is disabled, you can copy its content using one of several third-party programs. Now the company SlySoft is upping the DRM-busting ante with a new version of AnyDVD HD 6.4.0.0 ($47) that promises to crack Blu-ray disc copy protection.

The copy protection cracked by SlySoft is called BD+. According Macrovision, the company that owns the rights to the BD+ technology, the copy protection has been adopted by “more than 20 companies including major CE manufactures, motion picture studios, as well as The Blu-ray Disc Association.” It’s likely that Macrovision and the Blu-ray Disc Association will knock heads and thwart SlySoft’s crack of BD+. In fact SlySoft representatives have publicly stated the it’s not only likely but probable that the BD+ copy protection technology could be tweaked to prevent Blu-ray discs from being cracked. DRM-cracking technology has long been a thorn in the side of Hollywood anti-piracy fighters. Despite the Motion Picture Association of America’s efforts to crack down on DVD-ripping and despite U.S. copyright laws that make it illegal, sales of software that bypass DVD copy protection continue online and at retail stores. While this may be a sad day for MPAA, it’s a much welcomed breakthrough for the scene.

Source: Pc World

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TeraDisk to have 1TB Capacity

Posted by Yaser on March 10, 2008

It is called the TeraDisk and it is really small, like a ordinary CD/DVD. But it’s really huge in terms of space. 1 TB (1000 GB). How can this be done? The process is easy (or not). All existing optical media record data on semitransparent layers. A regular CD has 1 layer and a Blu-Ray disk has up to 8. The reason nobody can add more layers on a regular CD/DVD/Blu-Ray disk is because when the light passes through these layers it becomes distorted and by the time it reaches the final layers it becomes almost impossible to read/write on the disk.TeraDisk achieved the 1TB limit by using 200 layers, each storing 5GB of data. So basically the data support stay the same (TeraDisk will be made out of the same plexiglas like material used in other disks) but the write/read laser technology is completely new. They say it’s going to be cheap and it will be available for the public in 2010.

For more info on how this is done visit here or here.

drive-optics-diagram-large.JPG

 

Source: The Tech Don

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Hackers Cut Power From Cities

Posted by Yaser on January 19, 2008

Criminals have been able to hack into computer systems via the Internet and cut power to several cities, a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency analyst said this week.

Speaking at a conference of security professionals on Wednesday, CIA analyst Tom Donahue disclosed the recently declassified attacks while offering few specifics on what actually went wrong.

Criminals have launched online attacks that disrupted power equipment in several regions outside of the U.S., he said, without identifying the countries affected. The goal of the attacks was extortion, he said.

“We have information, from multiple regions outside the United States, of cyber intrusions into utilities, followed by extortion demands,” he said in a statement posted to the Web on Friday by the conference’s organizers, the SANS Institute. “In at least one case, the disruption caused a power outage affecting multiple cities. We do not know who executed these attacks or why, but all involved intrusions through the Internet.”

“According to Mr. Donahue, the CIA actively and thoroughly considered the benefits and risks of making this information public, and came down on the side of disclosure,” SANS said in the statement.

One conference attendee said the disclosure came as news to many of the government and industry security professionals in attendance. “It appeared that there were a lot of people who didn’t know this already,” said the attendee, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak with the press.

He confirmed SANS’ report of the talk. “There were apparently a couple of incidents where extortionists cut off power to several cities using some sort of attack on the power grid, and it does not appear to be a physical attack,” he said.

from PCWorld.com

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Microsoft unveils Office 2008 for MAC

Posted by Yaser on January 16, 2008

Microsoft used the Macworld conference on Monday to release its much-anticipated Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac software suite. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant promises the new suite will offer a unique and feature-rich Mac-like solution to Mac users for their personal, home office and business office needs. Han-Yi Shaw, lead program manager for Word in Microsoft’s Mac business unit, said the developers had four key goals in mind when developing the suite: discoverability, simplicity, professional output and compatibility. He added it was also important to Microsoft to create a product that would be Mac-like in its touch and feel.

Three different versions of Office 2008 for Mac are now available. The core suite is Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage, plus Microsoft Exchange Server support and Automator tools, at $539.95 for the full edition and $319.95 for upgrades. Microsoft Office 2008 for MacHome and Student edition includes up to three licenses for $199.95. And for the professional enthusiast, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac Special Media edition is $629.95, or $379.95 for the upgrade. Much like last year’s release of Microsoft’s Office 2007 for Windows, the Mac edition boasts a new user interface developers promise will be more intuitive for end users,along with an abundance of new features and capabilities. The only thing which needs to be fixed is obviously the price – I don’t know many people willing to pay so much for software…

Source: PC World

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Apple unveils ultra-thin MacBook Air

Posted by Yaser on January 16, 2008

Apple's MacBook AirLooking to build on the success of its iPod and iPhone devices, Apple Inc. introduced several new products including an ultra-thin laptop computer, dubbed the Macbook Air, and a much-anticipated online movie rental service. The new Apple notebook computer’s major attribute is its sleek profile: it’s about three-quarters of an inch thick and weighs three pounds. The Macbook Air features a full-sized keyboard, a 13-inch screen, a built-in camera, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, all powered by an Intel Corp. dual core chip. Appearing on stage at the company’s Macworld expo, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said the computer, which he called “world’s thinnest notebook,” will cost $1,799 and is scheduled to ship in about two weeks. Ultramobile notebooks represent about 6% of the 270 million notebooks expected to the sold this year. Apple may benefit from good timing. Asus International Ltd.’s recently introduced Eee PC has topped sales charts at Amazon.com and is usually sold out at retail stores.

Apple’s CEO also launched the computer maker’s much-anticipated online movie rental service and unveiled an updated Apple TV device that will let viewers bypass their computers and rent movies directly from their widescreen TVs. Mr. Jobs said iTunes users can rent new-release movies to watch over their computers, iPods or iPhones for $3.99 for a 30 day period. Older titles will rent for $2.99 for the same time period. The service has the support of all major Hollywood studios including Walt Disney Co., Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, Sony Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, News Corp.’s Fox, Lionsgate and New Line, Apple said. Mr. Jobs also disclosed Apple had sold more than four million iPhones worldwide in the 200 days since the company’s trend-setting smartphone was launched. Is this going to be an another year of big success for Apple? or not?

Source: Zdnet, Macworld, WSJ

Posted in Computers, Tech | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Hector, Europe’s Fastest Super Computer

Posted by Yaser on January 16, 2008

Supercomputer that could help answer some of science’s biggest questions will be unveiled on Monday. With the power of 12,000 desktop PCs, the mammoth machine called HECToR is the fastest computer in Great Britain and one of the most powerful in Europe. It can make 63 million million calculations per second, allowing scientists to conduct research into everything from climate change to new medicines. The purpose-built machine is housed in 60 wardrobe-sized cabinets in the University of Edinburgh’s advanced computing center near the Scottish capital. After years of development, Chancellor Alistair Darling is due to attend the official launch ceremony for the 113 million pound machine.

HECToR will enable us to do research that we simply could not do in any other way,” said Jane Nicholson, of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the public body which acts as the project’s managing agent. “We want to push forward the boundaries of knowledge.” Researchers will tap into its power to study ocean currents, build tiny parts for advanced computers and make warplanes less visible to radar. Other projects include research into superconductors, combustion engines and new materials. Scientists working in fields ranging from cosmology and atomic physics to disaster simulation and health care will also use the computer. HECToR, which stands for High-End Computing Terascale Resource, was made by the U.S. manufacturer Cray Inc.

Source: Reuters

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Dangerous rootkit collecting data on rise

Posted by Yaser on January 13, 2008

Security experts are warning about a stealthy Windows virus that steals login details for online bank accounts. In the last month, the malicious program has racked up about 5,000 victims – most of whom are in Europe. The malicious program is a type of virus known as a rootkit and it tries to overwrite part of a computer’s hard drive called the Master Boot Record (MBR). Once installed the virus, dubbed Mebroot by Symantec, usually downloads other malicious programs, such as keyloggers, to do the work of stealing confidential information. Most of these associated programs lie in wait on a machine until its owner logs in to the online banking systems of one of more than 900 financial institutions.The Russian virus-writing group behind Mebroot is thought to have created the torpig family of viruses that are known to have been installed on more than 200,000 systems. This group specialises in stealing bank login information. Security firm iDefense said Mebroot was discovered in October but started to be used in a series of attacks in early December. Between 12 December and 7 January, iDefense detected more than 5,000 machines that had been infected with the program. As it installs through security holes in Microsoft Explorer, it’s just another reason to use Firefox or Opera…

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ASUS Splits Into Three Companies

Posted by Yaser on January 5, 2008

ASUSASUSTeK Computer Incorporated (or Asus as they’re commonly called) has long been a favorite motherboard manufacturer for PC enthusiasts building or upgrading their own computers. Most recently they struck gold with their Eee PC line of small, inexpensive laptops.

There’s a lot more to Asus than just motherboards and tiny laptops, though, and to help build the company they have decided to split the company into three different units:

Asus will make only Asus-branded computers.

Pegatron will handle OEM, motherboards, and component manufacturing.

Unihan will handle cases, modules and other non-PC manufacturing.

Posted in Computers, Tech | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »