Why Can't I Add Bookmarks in Firefox?  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , ,

Q: I cannot add new bookmarks in my Firefox browser. This just started a few weeks ago. Any suggestions? —Harry I.

A: There are a number of reasons this might happen. First, before anything else, make sure you're running the very latest version of Firefox. You can download it from www.getfirefox.com. According to the Firefox knowledge base, an add-on called Bookmark Duplicate Detector can cause this problem. So if you have that installed, remove it.

Another possibility is that the file holding your bookmarks has been labeled read-only by accident. Launch Explorer and navigate to C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Mozilla\FirefoxL\Profiles\randomstring.default. If you're running Vista the location is C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\randomstring.default. Find the file Bookmarks.html in that folder. Right-click it and choose Properties. If the read-only box is checked, uncheck it.

Still not fixed? You may need to reset the local store. Close all Firefox windows, then click Start, click Run, and enter firefox-safe-mode. In the box that pops up, check the option Reset toolbars and controls and click the button Make Changes and Restart. You can accomplish the same thing by deleting the file Localstore.rdf from the same folder where you found the bookmarks file.

I hope one of these techniques solved the problem. If you're still in a bind, though, Firefox's own support site has a page devoted specifically to troubleshooting bookmark problems. (story Link)

Nearly 18 months after it was discovered, Microsoft has finally fixed a hole in the AutoRun function of older Windows versions that allowed viruses to spread via external storage devices.
While it's good to know Microsoft is finally listening to the complaints of the Windows community, the company's delay in applying important patches put our systems at risk unnecessarily.
The old saying about the squeaky wheel getting the grease applies to the manner in which Microsoft prioritizes its product fixes. The more noise customers make, the more likely the problems will be rectified. Most recently, the Conficker worm has been spreading across networks, often entering systems via USB flash drives and other removable media. Shamefully, Microsoft could have — and should have — prevented this massive infection from happening in the first place.
In October 2007, Nick Brown documented in his blog how viruses and worms were entering his network via USB memory sticks. The next month, WS associate editor Scott Dunn explained in a Top Story on Nov. 8, 2007, the fact that Microsoft's suggested settings to disable AutoRun weren't effective. He described the so-called @SYS trick, which allows you to truly disable AutoRun, preventing infected devices from launching their attacks.
Fast-forward to one year ago. Will Dormann and US-CERT (the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) published information on Mar. 20, 2008, confirming that Microsoft's AutoRun advice didn't block threats. The same @SYS workaround that Scott documented was supported by US-CERT in its alert.
In July 2008, Microsoft released security bulletin MS08-038. The patch in this bulletin made it possible for users to control AutoRun properly, but only on Windows Vista and Server 2008.

XP, Win 2K, Server 2003 users left in the lurch

So what happened to the equivalent patch for Windows 2000, XP, and Server 2003? In May 2008, Microsoft had in fact released a patch for these systems, which is described in Knowledge Base article 953252. However, as described in a Jan. 22, 2009, Computerworld article, US-CERT found that the fix for XP/2000/2003 had to be applied manually. Furthermore, Microsoft was not making the patch available automatically via any Windows Update service.
It wasn't until Feb. 24 of this year that Microsoft distributed this patch via Windows Update to XP, 2000, and 2003. This is described in the company's security advisory 967940.
Many home and business PC users rarely deploy patches that aren't available through Windows Update, Microsoft Update, or WSUS (Windows Software Update Services). Add to this the confusing and conflicting information about the AutoRun patch, and it's no wonder the Conficker worm, which exploits AutoRun functionality, made the inroads that it did.
You may be wondering why it took Microsoft so long to distribute for XP/2000/2003 users the fix that permits AutoRun to be properly disabled. One clue may be found in the file versions listed in KB article 967715. The Windows Server 2003 files are dated Feb. 10, 2009. Typically, Microsoft doesn't release a fix for one platform if it's still developing a fix for another platform. This is done to avoid putting one set of customers at risk while protecting others.
That's usually a valid reason to wait before distributing patches. But when you open up the files described in the earlier KB article 953252, you find that all the files in that hotfix date back to mid-2008.
Why did it take an admonition from CERT to convince Microsoft to add this vital fix to Automatic Updates for those versions of Windows? To make things even more confusing, the way Microsoft released the XP/2000/2003 fix at the end of February caused many people to think it was an out-of-cycle security patch.
If this patch had been pushed to all Windows users sooner, much of Conficker's pain might have been avoided.
Microsoft's Feb. 6 TechNet alert makes the problem clear. Among other things, the Conficker worm uses the AutoPlay feature (which is related to but separate from AutoRun) to infect PCs via USB drives and other portable storage devices. This vulnerability occurs even if the systems have installed the update described in Microsoft security bulletin MS08-067. Therefore, the TechNet article recommends disabling AutoRun, saying:

  • "Disable the AutoPlay feature through the Registry or using Group Policies, as discussed in Microsoft Knowledge Base article 953252. Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003 customers must deploy the update associated with Microsoft Knowledge Base article 953252 to be able to successfully disable the AutoRun feature. Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 customers must deploy the security update associated with Microsoft security bulletin MS08-038 to be able to successfully disable the AutoRun feature."

(What's the difference between AutoRun and AutoPlay? AutoPlay associates multimedia file types with specific applications, while AutoRun executes autorun.inf files found on various drives. For more on the distinctions between AutoRun and AutoPlay, see Microsoft's help article on the subject.)
For home users, I'm not yet ready to pull the fire alarm and tell everyone to disable AutoRun. But I do urge you to be very leery of plugging USB flash drives into your system if you're unsure whether they've been used on other computers. Large organizations, however, should consider disabling AutoRun on their networked PCs, considering how hard it's been to stomp out the Conficker worm and others.

How to apply the patches and control AutoRun

If you followed the instructions in Scott's 2007 article to block AutoRun by adding a Registry key, you should remove the key before applying the Microsoft AutoRun patch to prevent any possible interaction. Take the following steps for complete protection:

  • Step 1. Remove the @SYS line from the Registry, if you added it. In Windows XP, click Start, Run. (In Vista, click Start.) Type regedit and press Enter. In the left pane, navigate to and select the following key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows NT \ CurrentVersion \ IniFileMapping \ Autorun.inf
    Press the Del key to remove the key. Close the Registry Editor.
  • Step 2. Install the patch described in KB article 953252 (for Vista and Windows Server 2008) or 967715 (for XP, 2000, and Server 2003).
  • Step 3. For security reasons, it's strongly recommended you disable AutoRun for all devices. In non-Home versions of XP and Vista, use the Group Policy Editor. In XP, click Start, Run. (In Vista, click Start.) Type gpedit.msc and press Enter. In the left pane, under Computer Configuration, expand Administrative Templates.
    In XP Professional, select System in the right pane under Administrative Templates, right-click Turn off Autoplay in the right pane, and choose Properties. Click Enabled, select All drives in the "Turn off Autoplay" box, click OK, and close the Group Policy Editor.
    In Vista Business and higher, expand Windows Components and select AutoPlay Policies. In the right pane, double-click Turn off Autoplay, click Enabled, choose All drives in the drop-down menu next to "Turn off Autoplay on," click OK, and close the Group Policy Editor.
    To disable AutoRun in the Home versions of XP and Vista — which don't have the Group Policy Editor — use the Registry Editor. In XP, click Start, Run. (In Vista, click Start.) Type regedit and press Enter. Navigate to and select the following key:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Policies \ Explorer
    In the right pane, double-click NoDriveTypeAutoRun, enter 0xFF in the "Value data" field, make sure Hexadecimal is selected under Base, click OK, and exit the Registry Editor.
  • Step 4. If you ever need to re-enable AutoRun for a certain system, open the Group Policy Editor (on non-Home versions of Windows) or the Registry Editor (Home versions). Then follow the instructions in KB article 967715 (for XP, 2000, and Server 2003) or 953252 (for Vista and Windows Server 2008) to return AutoRun to its default state or customize its settings. AutoRun can be configured, for instance, to work differently for CD-ROMs than for other media.

Once you've disabled AutoRun, you'll have to use Windows Explorer to access data files on the USB memory devices and optical media you insert in your system. If you load a disc that contains audio or video, you may want to open your favorite media player to run the content. However, this is a small price to pay for the security edge you gain by disabling AutoRun.

by: Susan Bradley  (with thanks)

As the curtain is pulled back to reveal the full glory of Need for Speed SHIFT I spoke with Jesse Abney, game team producer and former Need for Speed star, about the new game. Before I met I took a look at all the questions people have emailed me and picked some of the most popular themes for our chat.

I started by asking Jesse how long the development teams have been working on the game but before he answered this he wanted to talk a little about the main development team Slightly Mad Studios: “They (SMS) are a team who live and breathe driving and cars. This aspect to their personality makes the collaboration that much simpler to manage. They have taken the initiative to build next-gen tech, work with Patrick (Soderland, DICE Co-founder) on unique design elements, and put their passion to play in the creation of this experience.

“The hard core simulation pedigree of Slightly Mad, with more than 25 alumni from the GTR franchise team, in collaboration with Patrick, whose semi-professional racing experience helps deliver an all new Driver Experience to the simulation category. This teamed alongside the presentation and design capabilities of Black Box studio to deliver a new and original design to the Need for Speed legacy.” When I asked Jesse about DICE’s involvement he was quick to remind me about their history of creating such games such as Rallisport Challenge 1 and 2.

SMS have already been working on the game for more than two years, creating a new engine from the ground-up to take full advantage of the high-end tech available on the PS3, 360 and, particularly, PC. The team has been designing the game for most of the past year, researching the racing genre and identifying key design attributes and requirements to shape the gameplay and ensure the technology is there to support it.

When the game was first announced, people emailed me with their thoughts and one of the most regular themes was people thought the game looked like Codemaster’s GRID. I asked Jesse what the team thought to this: “SHIFT is aimed squarely at the race simulation sub-genre but it’s not intended to be a sterile or grinding simulation game. It’s an authentic race experience that keys into the Driver Experience; emulating a true driver’s experience is how we are differentiating ourselves. For example; how does it sound to be behind the wheel of a high performance race car on the starting grid? What does the simulation of G-force look like? How does it feel to misjudge a corner and slam into a wall at 150 or seeing the AI cars making the same mistakes, locking up breaks, blocking competitors or overtaking? These true-to-life aspects of racing are at the heart of the driver experience.”

Speaking of the gaming experience; I noted that Need for Speed has always been a classic arcade racer and wondered why the switch to simulation style gameplay was made this year? “We’ve got a very committed fan base whose interests span not only arcade but also simulation and online racing. We’re now working to service each core group’s interest by tailoring gameplay design more specifically to those styles. Rather than produce an arcade game that doesn’t appeal to experienced racing gamers, SHIFT will provide a fun, but much more challenging, authentic race experience. Nitro will further provide an arcade experience by focusing on the Wii and NFS World Online will give the PC gamers an innovative and fresh online action experience.”

After a few laps of SHIFT we discussed how they’re planning to make the game feel as realistic as possible without taking the fun out of the game: “An authentic race experience is not only realized in the audio and visual effects, but also in the interaction with the AI racers throughout a race. The personalities and actions of every car change throughout every event; cars have rivals, they drive with intent. We want the emotion of an event to begin at the starting grid and be experienced with every battle for position like a gladiator fighting through the field. Our approach to the career design further immerses the player into this experience – having to master each machine and being rewarded for thrilling 8-9th place finishes, as much as the career rewards podium finishes. This aspect is the antithesis to the typical grind experience of simulation racing games.”

Perhaps the most popular addition to the series is the return of the in-car view. Jesse took me through some of the cars to show me the incredible care and attention that’s gone into the artwork and explained how the in-car view works: “Each interior has been modeled to the highest standard possible. When you’re playing with the cockpit view you can move the driver’s head to look out of the window, get a better view in the mirrors or just watch yourself changing gear. We’re also really pleased to be able to bring back the replay camera and post-race presentation mode.”

Speaking of the artwork I asked about some of the rumours that the first SHIFT screenshot was in fact a render but Jesse confirmed it was definitely a screenshot; just like all the shots you’re seeing here: “All images are taken straight from the game without alteration.”

With the emphasis strongly being placed on realism where does this leave customisation – both visual and performance tuning? “Vehicle customisation is a principle tenet of the Need for Speed franchise. SHIFT further connects the player in the driver experience through not only visual but performance-based tuning. Visual customization, both inside the vehicle and out, is available to further pull the player into the individual aspects of the experience. Performance-based modifications to the body will be tunable, as will performance packages and individual parts.”

A lot of the emails I received were asking about the track-based nature of the game and there were questions about the range of tracks people will be able to play in the new game; luckily Jesse was able to offer some more information about the courses: “SHIFT will not only include renowned Formula 1 courses from around the world but also fictional locations such as the London course you see in the screenshot. By doing so we’re able to take creative liberties and offer players a lot of variety in a track layout and create challenging game modes based upon these designs.

I did ask Jesse if he could reveal more about the range of cars available to play in the game but he wasn’t giving too much away: “Licensed cars are another key tenet of the Need for Speed franchise and since SHIFT is rooted in professional racing you can expect a wide range of racing cars. While we won’t go into detail yet, SHIFT car types and liveries are more closely based on reality but there are some franchise firsts and surprises in the works.

Our time ran out and Jesse had to leave for another meeting. Before he left though I was able to ask him one more question, I wanted to know what is his favourite part of the game so far: “The challenge to master each vehicle; tame and bring it under control, to fight through each race, in a battle for every position on the track. Even when I’m ranking ninth in a field of ten the fight to the finish line is very fun. This aspect alone has swayed me from arcade racing fan towards the very fun and rewarding authentic race experience!” Well put and thanks for taking the time to sit down with me today.

So what do you think to Jesse’s answers? Got any more questions you’d like us to ask him or the guys at SMS? Email me at Andrew@needforspeed.com (story Link)

First look at Windows 7 build 7048  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , ,

Windows 7 has come a long way since the Beta 1 bits that were released back in January. Let’s take a look at the latest build to escape into the wild.

Windows 7 build 7048The build I’m looking at here is 7048 and this has the build number of 7048.0.090219-1845, and what’s significant here is the build date stamp, 090219-1845, which translates into 19th Feb 2009, 6:45pm. Compare this to the Beta 1 which has a build date from Dec 2008.

Gallery: Windows 7 build 7048

So, what’s new?

Well, first off you’ll notice from the screen captures than the Send feedbacklink on the title bar of the applications is now gone. This is normal as the code heads towards release candidate stage.

We also have a new raft of icons. Sure, these are cosmetic tweaks, but they do help the look and feel of the OS.

Over the past few days it also emerged that it’s possible to remove IE8 from Windows 7.

Here’s an image showing the entire tree of the Turn Windows features on or off screen expanded (warning, image is quite large).

There’s also a revamped Remote Desktop Application, although there’s no difference in how the application works.

The OS also benefits from many other cosmetic tweaks.

Is this the Release Candidate build? No, it’s not, and the way you can tell is because the UAC flaw discovered soon after Beta was released is still present in this build.

My guess is that the RC build will be finalized second or third week this month, and will be released to the public early April. (story Link)

Under 100$ Great 25 Gadgets  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

It's no secret that consumers are watching what they spend. I, for one, have had to rethink my tech purchases. As much as I'd love a big-screen HDTV and new gaming console, the smarter option (for now) is to keep on top of my mortgage payments and high heating bills.

With the majority of Americans cutting back on their purchases, online retailers are faced with lots of challenges of their own. comScore recently released its 2008 fourth-quarter retail e-commerce sales estimates, and the results aren't pretty: Online retail spending declined 3 percent versus one year ago; that's the first quarter of negative growth since 2001 that comScore has reported. For all of 2008, though, retail e-commerce grew 6 percent to $130.1 billion—but this number represents a substantially lower growth rate than in previous years, comScore reported.

The times sure look dismal, but that doesn't mean you have to miss out on cool tech gear. You probably won't go out and drop a few hundred on a camcorder or netbook, but a $99 digital camera or a $50 speaker system definitely seems reasonable.

So if you're in the market for a new digital camera, MP3 player, or other tech product, and you don't want to spend a fortune, here are our 25 affordable recommendations. All of these tech products were rated 3 stars or better by our PC Labs analysts and editors.

Editor's Note: All listed prices are current as of the date of publication—and apt to change quickly and often.


Casio Exilim EX-Z9Casio Exilim EX-Z9
Editor Rating:
Price: $99.95
The EX-Z9 is an easy-to-use, entry-level shooter that takes terrific daylight shots and continues Casio's tradition of quality video recording in digital cameras.

Fujifilm Finepix J10Fuji FinePix J10
Editor Rating:
Price: $88.95
The 8.2-megapixel Fuji FinePix J10 is an inexpensive camera that's great for beginners. It has an easy-to-use menu system and effective image stabilization.

Creative Vado Pocket Video CamCreative Vado Pocket Video Cam
Editor Rating:
Price: $64
Creative's 2GB Vado pocket camcorder improves on its prototype, the Flip Ultra mini camcorder, with a sleeker and slimmer design and a larger screen.


Samsung YP-S2 : PlayerSamsung YP-S2
Editor Rating:
Price: $29
The Samsung YP-S2 is an excellent alternative to the iPod shuffle. It's small and lightweight, has 1GB of flash memory, and comes with gym-friendly earphones.

With Earphonesiriver Lplayer
Editor Rating:
Price: $99.99
This 4GB iPod nano-esque player is a viable alternative for those not tied to iTunes. It offers good-looking graphics, easy, push-screen navigation, FM radio and recording, and voice recording.

Full SetSlacker Portable
Editor Rating:
Price: $99.99
The innovative Slacker Portable does a good job of letting you take customized Internet radio with you. This 8GB player refreshes music automatically via Wi-Fi, has a huge screen for album art and artist bios, and lets you ban songs you don't like.


Hercules XPS Lounge 2.1 : Full SetHercules XPS 2.1 Lounge speakers
Editor Rating:
Price: $50.99
The Hercules XPS 2.1 Lounge speakers from Guillemot certainly sound as if they cost more than $50. They can handle deep bass even at high volumes (although if you push them to the absolute limit, they will distort). The wired remote looks clunky but has a bass level control, which lets you tailor the sound to your tastes.

Logitech Z-5 : FrontLogitech Z-5
Editor Rating:
Price: $64.99
The bargain-priced Logitech Z-5 speaker set delivers crisp highs and comes with a remote that lets you control your iTunes and Windows Media Player library.


Motorola MotoROKR S9-HD : AngleMotorola MotoROKR S9-HD
Editor Rating:
Price: $90.45
Motorola's well-designed and affordable S9-HD may finally give stereo Bluetooth headsets a good name. It's more comfortable to wear than true in-ear designs and comes bundled with an iPod adapter.

Fatal1ty USB Gaming Headset HS-1000Fatal1ty USB Gaming Headset HS-1000
Editor Rating:
Price: $56.99
The Creative Fatal1ty USB Gaming Headset HS-1000 is a good sub-$100 USB headset, and the virtual surround CMSS-3D, X-Fi Crystalizer, and ambient EAX effects sound great.

Side AngleSennheiser PX100
Editor Rating:
Price: $37.95
With the PX100, you get excellent audio performance for the price. Plus, these comfortable headphones sit on the ear, delivering respectable bass with very little distortion.

Philips SHE9850 In-ear Headphones : SidePhilips SHE9850 In-ear Headphones
Editor Rating:
Price: $82.99
Philips's comfortable earphones certainly aren't bass-heavy, but they offer a reasonable amount of low-end presence. The included shirt clip helps cut out cable thump, too. (story Link)

Sony to Exhibit Fuel Cell and Sugar-Powered Battery  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , ,

Sony_fuelcell.jpgDuring the second quarter of 2008, Sony introduced its hybrid fuel cell prototype that's so small it can fit in the middle of your palm. It was, of course, the mere core material of various devices Sony developed since then. At the FC EXPO 2009 event to be held at Tokyo Big Sight this end of February, Sony will be showing off what became of its fuel cell as well as its intriguing sugar-powered battery presented around October of 2008.

Sony's fuel cell, as was mentioned before, uses methanol as the main source of energy, supplemented by an auxiliary lithium-ion battery. Two fuel cell models exist - a portable external version, complete with a leather lanyard and a USB connection to charge gadgets and an internal model to be used like a conventional battery. Both iterations of the fuel cell can provide a cell phone up to a month's worth of charge. Meanwhile, Sony's updated sugar-powered battery exhibits an increase in output compared to the original version, but retains the same capacity to power devices with glucose-rich materials such as soda. For more pictures and videos of the Sony fuel cell and battery, check out Impress Japan. (story Link)

Windows Mobile 7 Announced for 2010  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , , ,

Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer has recently confirmed that Windows Mobile7 will be available sometime next year. Although no specific data has been set yet, it’s still quite an exciting OS to look forward to. Of course there’s still the version 6.5 to contend with this year with stiff competition coming in from Palm’s Pre, TouchFlow, RIM and even LG’s new S-Class 3D UI.

Nevertheless, Windows Mobile has been around for a long enough time for users to appreciate the various upgrades it’s been through and with the ‘Touch’ generation taking over, I personally can’t wait to see what the 6.5 edition will be capable of doing and how it’ll handle. According to a few reports , WinMo 7 will have a tighter integration with Windows 7 for PCs that should be out come September of this year. The UI itself will obviously be optimized for finger touch and hopefully do away with the stylus altogether is what I’m hoping.

It’s something to look forward to for now. To know more of what Ballmer had to say on the subject click here. (story Link)

Windows XP to compete with Win 7 in netbook market  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , ,

Microsoft will continue to offer Windows XP for netbooks even after it starts selling Windows 7 for the inexpensive subnotebooks, a company executive has revealed.

Neil Holloway, Microsoft International's vice president of business strategy, told ZDNet UK on Thursday that the company expected Windows 7 to be more popular than XP. However, Microsoft will ultimately decide which operating system it will offer for netbooks depending on customer preference, he said.

"Let's see what the market does," Holloway said at Microsoft's Growth and Innovation Day in Brussels. "As we introduce Windows 7 for netbooks, the availability of XP will be less and less. I think, on this one, the market will decide on Windows 7."

The unanticipated success of the netbook market over the past year-and-a-half has forced Microsoft to repeatedly postpone the retirement of Windows XP, mainly because its newer Vista operating system was too processor-hungry to run on the devices.

Holloway's comments suggest that Microsoft will delay the demise of XP even longer. That will effectively bring the ageing operating system into competition with the upcoming Windows 7 Starter Edition, which is aimed explicitly at netbooks and is expected to arrive around the end of 2009 or beginning of 2010.

Although Windows 7 is built on the same underlying architecture as Windows Vista, Microsoft has repeatedly stated that the upcoming operating system is more lightweight than Vista and therefore more suited to netbook use.

Last month, Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said people who buy a netbook with the Starter Edition of Windows 7 will be offered the opportunity to trade up to a more fully featured version of that operating system. Holloway confirmed that this would happen.

"You could have a low-end [Windows 7] netbook or a high-end netbook," Holloway said. "The question is, do you have reduced Windows 7, or the next level up, with more functionality?"

Holloway compared it to the situation with Vista: people will be able to select the version of Windows 7 that suits them, in the same way they can choose the Home Basic edition of Vista rather than the Ultimate edition, depending on their computing need. He added, however, that the offer of a choice of versions of Windows 7 will depend on the outcome of Microsoft's licensing negotiations with netbook manufacturers. (story Link)

Microsoft Testing New Internet Search Service  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

Microsoft Corp is internally testing a new version of its online search service under the name of Kumo.com, a spokesman for the software company said on Monday.
The service is not yet available outside the company, but may eventually form part of Microsoft’s attempt to catch up with Internet search leaders Google Inc and Yahoo Inc.
The new search service was unveiled in an internal memo sent by the head of research at the company’s online services division on Monday, but it did not go into details about features on the new service. (chipbit)

17" Unibody Apple MacBook Pro  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , , ,

Part media center, part workstation, the Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch has been revered over the years by a nation of professional photographers and film editors, not to mention average media folks who can't get enough of this thin-bodied cinematic wonder. When the Apple MacBook Pro 15-inch (Dual Graphics) and the MacBook 13-inch (Aluminum) launched with their "unibody" enclosures—in each case, a heavily promoted slab of aluminum that rids the frame of all detachable parts—a "uni-seventeen-incher" was clearly on the way. The Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch (Unibody) ($2,799 direct) is still the lightest and the prettiest media center laptop to house a maximum-resolution screen, and the changes are significant.

You probably would assume that the MacBook Pro 17-inch (Unibody) is simply a bigger version of the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but leave it to Apple to throw us yet another curveball. Although the elimination of the FireWire 400 port was to be expected, the battery latches—indicative of a removable battery—were nowhere to be found. That's because Apple fitted this rig with a high-capacity lithium polymer battery, which—controversially—can't (or shouldn't) be removed by non-Apple employees. With this new battery, Apple is touting 7 to 8 hours of battery life on a single charge—but that all depends on what you're doing on the machine.

No other media center can even come close to this system's thinness. Its dimensions of 15.5 by 10.5 by 0.98 inches (HWD) make it seem half as thick as either the HP HDX18t or the Sony VAIO VGN-AW190. Apple's unibody aluminum enclosure has gained wide attention. Without question, the MacBook Pro 17-inch (Unibody)'s design is jaw-dropping; what makes it even more impressive is the sense of security its rigid frame provides. Yet Apple has still managed to produce the lightest laptop in its class. At 6.6 pounds, this system is' roughly 2 pounds lighter than the HDX18t (8.7 pounds) and the AW190 (8.4 pounds) and lighter even than the Dell Studio XPS 16 (6.9 pounds), which has a smaller widescreen.

I love it when a screen fills the lid's entire "canvas," leaving barely detectable strips as borders. The 17-inch widescreen is magnificent; it's about as close to an edge-to-edge screen as one can get. The Apple 15-inch (Dual Graphics) and the 13-inch (Aluminum) have thicker borders, so the screens don't fill up their inner lids' full dimensions the way the MacBook Pro 17-inch (Unibody)'s does. Although the new panel is still an LED screen, it's a slight departure from its predecessor's. Apple is claiming a greater color gamut—up to 60 percent greater—for the new screen. Unlike the RGB LED screens (or colored LEDs) that illuminate the Dell XPS16 and the Lenovo ThinkPad W700, the MacBook Pro 17-inch (Unibody)'s screen uses white LEDs. It's a brighter, more sophisticated panel than the one in the previous 17-inch MacBook, more in line with Apple's desktop Cinema displays. Apple offers both glossy and matte (antiglare) screen options. Along with the wider color gamut, an antiglare screen is an important selling point for the MacBook's target audience, especially for professional photographers who need to judge colors on the fly. Though there's only one resolution, it's the highest possible for such a display: 1,920 by 1,200. (story Link)

Apple Rolls Out New Macs  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

Apple Inc said on Tuesday it is updating its iMac and Mac mini desktop line of personal computers with prices starting at $599.

The new line of desktop computers includes a 24-inch iMac with twice the memory size and twice the storage of the previous generation 20-inch iMac, but is priced at the same $1,499. The new iMac line includes one 20-inch PC and three new 24-inch iMacs priced between at $1,199 to $2,199.



The two new Mac Mini desktops measure at 6.5 inches by 6.5 inches by 2 inches and the price starts at $599 to $799. The company also introduced a new Mac Pro desktop PC aimed at business users. The new Mac Pro starts at $2,499, $300 less than the previous Mac Pro. (via chipbit)

Microsoft on Thursday released a lengthy list of 36 improvements it plans to make to the release candidate (RC) for Windows 7, though the company did not provide any details on when that RC might actually be available.

The Windows team separated the updates into nine categories, including the desktop experience, touch, and Windows Media Player.

"There are many under the hood changes (bug fixes, compatibility fixes, performance improvements, and improvements) across the entire dev team that we just don't have room to discuss here, but we thought you'd enjoy a taste of some changes made by three of our feature teams: Core User Experience, Find & Organize and Devices & Media," Chaitanya Sareen, a Microsoft program manager, wrote in a blog post.

What is on tap for the release candidate?

Desktop Experience

Desktop tweaks received the most attention, with 10 expected changes.

Microsoft has incorporated its "Aero Peek" window transparency tool to the ALT+TAB function to give you a better idea of the items you have open on your desktop.

"One can still quickly flip between and cycle through running windows using the ALT+TAB keys, but when more window information is needed Aero Peek will appear," Sareen wrote. "This is triggered by a time delay as you pause while keyboarding through running windows."

The team has also combined the launch and switch function of the Windows Logo button.

With Vista, you can press the Windows Logo button plus a number that corresponds with applications on your taskbar and that application will launch. Now, pressing those buttons will also enable you to switch between programs.  (story Link)

Islamic banks ‘better in crisis’  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in ,

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has called on Islamic banks to take a leadership role in the global economy, amid the financial crisis.

He was speaking at the opening of the World Islamic Economic Forum in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

The forum has brought together political and business leaders from 38 countries to discuss the global economic slowdown.

They will also discuss ways to achieve energy and food security.

Mr Yudhoyono said it was time for Islamic banks to do some missionary work in the West.

Islamic financial institutions, he said, had not been hit as hard as their western counterparts because they did not invest in toxic assets.

Banks run in accordance with Muslims laws on interest payments and the sharing of credit risks are seen by many as fairer than traditional banks, less focused on profit and kinder to the communities they work in.

Demand for Islamic financial products has been growing in the Muslim world for years but Mr Yudhoyono said that many in the West were now ready to learn from them.

Islamic law prohibits the payment and collection of interest, which is seen as a form of gambling.

Transactions must be backed by real assets, and because risk is shared between the bank and the depositor, there is added incentive for the institutions to ensure deals are sound. (story Link)

Windows comes packaged with many tools to find details about the current state of your system. There's Task Manager for discovering the processes that are using your CPU, Resource Monitor for investigating your disk activity, and Explorer for showing the total usage of all your drives. Wouldn't it be useful to have these stats all together in one handy, attractive application?

What's Going On? is a system utility that gives you a one-stop spot for all your system's vital stats. In one window you can find out:

Which processes are accessing your hard drive

Which processes are consuming the most CPU resources

How full your hard drives are

The last time your computer was booted and how long it's been running

The last time your computer was shut down

Your external IP address

Total CPU usage and CPU usage per processor

The percentage or actual amount of physical or virtual memory used

The state of your Internet connection by pinging a remote server

When you launch the program for the first time you'll see a window like this:

What's Going On?: Main WindowBy default the following measures are displayed:

Uptime — how long your system has been running

Boot time — the date and time your system was last started

External IP — the IP address that other computers around the world see you as

CPU Usage — the percentage of CPU usage being used by all your CPUs

CPU Usage Per Processor — the percentage of CPU usage for each processor. For example, a dual-core processor would display two readings

Physical Memory % Usage — the percentage of physical memory currently being used

Virtual Memory % Usage — the percentage of virtual memory currently being used

Top CPU Consuming Processes — displays the two processes that are using the most CPU resources. This can be altered to display up to 10 processes

Drive Usage — shows all of your hard drives and how much space is being used on each one. The bar graph is color coded: Green means plenty of space, yellow means that a drive is filling up, and red means that it's close to capacity.

Top Disk Consuming Processes — displays the top two processes accessing the hard drives the most. This can be altered to display up to 10 processes. (full Story)

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