Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Smoke? Apple Won't Honor Your Warranty

Smoke? Apple Won't Honor Your Warranty

If you're a Mac owner and you're thinking about taking your computer in to have some repair work done, you better think twice is you're a smoker. If recent incidents are any indications, smoking isn't just hazardous to your health, it's also hazardous to your Apple warranty.

Recently, a few Apple customers in different parts of the country were told the company wouldn't provide repair service on their Macs due to the fact that the computers had been exposed to cigarette smoke. Residue found inside the computer was called a biohazard and health risk. In both cases, both customers still had plenty of time left on their official warranties.

Though they didn't make a formal statement, Apple says its stands by the decision and they say their repair centers have the authority to make their own decisions. They even cited OSHA rules which include the dangers of being exposed to nicotine. However, Consumerist.com points out that several computer materials are also on the hazardous materials list, including sucrose, calcium carbonate and talc.

While the policy is certainly understandable, Apple's warranty information says absolutely nothing about cigarette smoke and this seems slightly unfair to customers who assume they will be able to get service on their expensive computers. And as Yahoo.com points out, how much smoke exposure is too much? "If a technician doesn't like cigarette smoke and your computer smells a bit smoky, it probably won't get serviced," the website's Tech department points out and they are probably right.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IBM Computer is Like a Human Brain...Sort of

IBM Computer is Like a Human Brain. Sort of

At the Supercomputing Show in Portland, Oregon, IBM researchers announced that they are much closer to making a computer that can simulate the human brain. According to the researchers, they've reached a couple of major milestones in the project. One is performing the first real-time cortical simulation of the brain that goes beyond that of a cortex. The other is the development of an algorithm that maps the connections between cortical and subcortical areas in the brain, using IBM's Blue Gene super computing architecture.

The IBM researchers, working in collaboration with scientists from Stanford, the University of Wisconsin, Cornell, Columbia University Medical Center, and the University of California at Merced, would like to ultimately make a computer that can evaluate and act on data just like a human brain. The computer would also use similar amounts of space and energy as our brains do.

"Learning from the brain is an attractive way to overcome power and density challenges faced in computing today. As the digital and physical worlds continue to merge and computing becomes more embedded in the fabric of our daily lives, it's imperative that we create a more intelligent computing system that can help us make sense of the vast amount of information that's increasingly available to us, much the way our brains can quickly interpret and act on complex tasks," said Josephine Cheng, a Fellow and lab director of IBM Research-Almaden.

The research is part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiative called Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Eletronics (SYNAPSE). DARPA recently awarded the researchers $16.1 million for Phase 1 of the project. The cortical simulator was run on the Dawn Blue Gene/P supercomputer at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The supercomputer has 144TB of memory and 147,456 processors. The algorithm, which is called BlueMatter, allows scientists to experiment with mathematical hypotheses about how brain structure affects function when combined with the cortical simulator.

The researched say that as the amount of critical data and information continues to rapidly grow, businesses will have to find ways to adapt and make quick decisions. This "brain-like" computer will pull together information to help businesses come up with accurate, fast, and logical responses to data they receive.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Smallest USB drive on the planet": Wink.

They claim its the worlds smallest USB drive. And it very well could be, Wink is only about an inch long and 0.1 inches thick. It may be small, but it holds a lot of memory, the tiny drive comes in 2GB, 4GB, 8GB and 16GB sizes.

Its so small that it even has a loop at the top to attach it to a keychain or a chain around ones neck. Something that small is almost guaranteed to get lost if its not attached to something. Its also water-proof and shock resistant.

The thing about this that's making the most news, isn't its micro size, but this banner on the website:

Its a pretty good idea, if you ask me. But I'm guessing Sarah's camp will find out about it eventually and it will be taken down.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Adobe Flash potentially puts most computers and users at risk

According to researchers there is a flaw within Flash that allows hackers to launch silent attacks on websites and users. Adobe hasn't tried to hide the fact that it is true and has suggested that its up to site designers to make sure they design their sites in such a way to prevent the attacks.

"The magnitude of this is huge," said Mike Murray, the chief information security officer at Orlando, Fla.-based Foreground Security. "Any site that allows user-uploadable content is vulnerable, and most are not configured to prevent this."

The problem lies in the Flash ActionScript same-origin policy which is designed to limit a Flash object's access to other content only from the domain it originated from, added Mike Bailey, a senior security researcher at Foreground. Unfortunately, said Bailey, if an attacker can deposit a malicious Flash object on a Web site -- through its user-generated content capabilities, which typically allow people to upload files to the site or service -- they can execute malicious scripts in the context of that domain.

"This is a frighteningly bad thing," Bailey said. "How many Web sites allow users to upload files of some sort? How many of those sites serve files back to users from the same domain as the rest of the application? Nearly every one of them is vulnerable."

The problem is that Adobe and security companies are trying to get the word out, but web application designers and programmers aren't listening. A few of the major sites that have actually locked down their servers to protect their users include Microsoft's Windows Live Hotmail and Google's YouTube, but sites like Google's Gmail and even some Adobe sites, still remain vulnerable. The researchers say the likelihood of an attack on Gmail is still very small, its also a very real possibility.

The only current defense users can employ against such attacks is to stop using Flash, or failing that, restrict its use to sites known to be safe with tools such as the NoScript add-on for Mozilla's Firefox, or ToggleFlash for Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

"The best mitigation is to not use Flash," argued Murray, "but we know that that's impossible for most users, since Flash is so widely used on the Web."

"Almost everyone using the Internet is vulnerable to a Web site that allows content to be updated inappropriately," said Murray. "That's not hyperbole, it's just fact. This has the potential to affect any social media site, any career site, any dating site, many retail sites and many cloud applications. That's why this attack is so serious. End users would never know they got exploited."

The best suggestion would be to get the news out about the vulnerability and hope that Adobe gets a patch to fix the problem before the slight flaw turns into a major headache for everyone.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Dell's Inspiron Zino HD

dell Inspiron Zino HD mini PCIt seems that European countries always get things us Americans want before we do, especially in the technological market. That is certainly the case with Dell's new Inspiron Zino HD mini PC. This mini PC is available already over in Ireland and even in the UK, which is driving us Americans just a little bit crazy with envy.

Now when we say that this is a mini PC, we actually mean it is a mini PC. The thing is small coming in perfectly square at 7.8" by 7.8". But just because it looks small doesn't mean it doesn't come with some incredible hardware. You can customize the heck out of this little guy and there are a ton of options. You can choose from either an AMD Athlon Neo X2 6850e, AMD Athlon X2 3250e, AMD Athlon 2850e or AMD Athlon 2650e processor to start off with. Then choose an operating system from either Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit or Professional 64-bit, Windows Vista Home Basic 32-bit or Home Premium 64-bit or Ubuntu Linux 9.04. Upgrade your memory to as much as 8GB of 800MHz DDR2 SODIMM with either 160 GB, 250 GB, 320 GB, 500 GB, 750 GB or 1 TB of 7200 rpm SATA II hard disk space.

Among this is the optional 8x DVD +/- RW and DVDRW/BD-ROM disc drives and the choice of an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200 or ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330 graphics card. All mini PCs come with the Conexant CX20561 2.1 Channel sound card and Broadcom BCM57780 10/100/1000 or Mini PCle WLAN card(802.11 b/g or 802.11 a/b/g/n). The Inspiron Zino HD comes with a plethora of ports as well. On the front of the PC are two USB 2.0 connectors, one headphone connector and one 4-in-1 memory card reader. On the back there is one microphone connector, one line-out connector, one VGA connector, one RJ45 connector(10/100/1000), two USB 2.0-compliant connectors, two eSATA connectors and one HDMI connector. In addition to all of these ports there is on Mini PCle WLAN Card(802.11 b/g or 802.11 a/b/g/n) expansion slot.

The Inspiron Zino HD as a USFF form factor with dimensions measuring 7.8 inches(197mm) tall, 7.8 inches(197mm) wide, 3.4 inches(89mm) deep and weighs 3.35 pounds(1.6kg). It has either a 65 watt with UMA or 75 watt with MXM Graphics card power source and Kensington Lock security. The Zino HD also has one 3.5" HDD drive bay, one 12.7 mm trayload ODD drive bay and two available Memory DIMM slots.

While this mini PC is completely customizable, Dell has already gone and created three different models for you already on their website. The first model has an AMD A64 2650E 1.6GHz 512k processor, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system, 2048MB dual Channel DDR2 800MHz [2x1024] memory and 320GB (7200rpm) SATA hard drive. This model will run you around $433. The next model has an AMD X2 3250E 1.5 GHz 512k processor, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system, 3072MB Dual Channel DDR2 800MHz [1x2048 + 1x1024] memory and 500GB (7200rpm) serial ATA hard drive with a $785 price tag. The final model comes with an AMD X2 6850E 1.8 GHz 512k processor, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit operating system, 6144MB Dual channel DDR2 800MHz [1x2048 = 1x4096] memory and 1TB (7200rpm) SATA hard drive with a $1,124 price tag.

What is going to catch people's eyes first is the colorful customization options you have for the shell of the PC. The Inspiron Zino HD mini PC comes with 10 interchangeable color and design shells to further your customization desires allowing you to make a truly unique piece of equipment. Despite which way you decide to take your Inspiron Zino HD mini PC you are sure to have an amazing computer. It's small size allows you to easily store it anywhere you want and still have tremendous amounts of spare space on your desk and its specs are enough to make anybody happy. But you are going to have to wait a little bit until it actually comes out in America, unless you want to go to Ireland or the UK to get one that is.


Dell's Inspiron Zino HD is now available here in America, and just 24 hours after its release across the way in U.K. and Ireland. You can now pick up your very own colorfully customized Inspiron from Dell with prices starting at $229.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New Trends: Computers Give Up CD Drives for Touch-Screens

New Trends: Computers Give Up CD Drives for Touch-Screens
A recent Associated Press report points out that personal computers are changing rapidly. It has definitely been a year of "out with the old and in with the new" as far as computers go. Laptops and Desktops are missing familiar components, slimming down and gaining lots of cool, new, unique features. Despite the popularity of gadgets such as the iPhone, PCs are still at the heart of the digital world and will likely stay that way for a while to come...even if they look and act a little differently.

One noticable change in the world of new computers is the lack of drives. Optical drives that play CDs and DVDs have been an important part of computers for over a decade. Whether you're watching a movie, listening to music, or installing software, the drives have been part of almost everyone's daily computer usage. Apple started getting rid of drives about two years ago when it first introduced the MacBook Air. Even though that wasn't a mainstream computer, due to its $1,800 pricetag, it was the start of what looks to be a popular trend. Netbooks, which are used mostly for web-browsing, start at $250 and are growing in popularity.

People are using their little laptops to download software, music and movies, while enjoying the convenience and price. The availability of Wi-Fi and cellular internet service combined with services that let you store files online are making the need for drives almost obsolete. Of course, there are the die-hard DVD watchers and CD burners who are not yet ready to give up those drives, but the lack of drives in many computers, particularly laptops does often lead to a lighter price and a much lighter load.

These days, people are also tending to purchase less powerful computers and this is another reason netbooks are becoming more popular. Everyone's been inside a retail establishment and listened to a salesperson rattle off a list of processors, graphics cards, gigabytes of memory and sizes of hard drives, but unless you're a hard-core gmer or a professional video editor, all of that stuff isn't really necessary. People are looking for computers that let them browse the web, email and use word processing applications more than anything right now.

Computer manufacturers aren't just competing with each other these days, they're also having to stand up to smartphone manufacturers, as well. People want to be connected 24/7 it seems and it's easier for that to be possible via a cell phone. "Smarbooks" are being created - think a smartphone-like device that is closer to the size of your laptop than your cell phone, and computer companies are starting to focus on laptop appearanes. Colors, patterns, themes, designs, shapes, and materials are all considered to be an important part of computer manufacturing lately, allowing users to treat their computers more like fashion accessories than tools. People also want thin and light computers that are easier to carry.

And finally, touch-screens are becoming a popular computer trend. Ever since the iPhone was developed in 2007, multi-touch has become more prominent in today's technology. The recently released Windows 7 includes support for a number of multi-touch applications and companies such as Dell and HP are designing software that allow you to browse everything from the web to your music library with your fingers instead of a mouse. And while experts say the touch-screen won't replace the mouse and keyboard, it will most likely become just as important.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

It's a Great Time to Buy a Mac

It's a Great Time to Buy a Mac

People are generally pretty defensive when it comes to whether they prefer a Mac or PC, but still, there are some people on the fence, debating making the jump to a new Apple product. Well, according to some experts, there's no time like present to invest in a new Mac. Last week, Apple released several new products, as well as updating several of the old ones.

So, which Macs got updates? Well, the Mac Mini got a little refresher. Now you have a new option to choose two hard drives with no optical drive. And the MacBook is now built out of a durable unibody enclosure. It also now features a new non-removable, long-lasting battery (7 hours of estimated life). The bottom is also now made out of a non-slip material.

As far as new products go, the new Magic Mouse is hot. It's an average Apple desktop mouse combined with a trackpad like you would find in a laptop. It allows desktop users to perform the same finger gestures as laptop users can and for that reason, Apple calls it the "world's first Multi-Touch mouse."

The new iMacs have new, bigger screens (21.5" and 27" models) but they are also IPS panels, which are considered by many to be the top LCD panels. But it's little luxuries like this that have allowed Apple to become such a computer giant. And while the new monitor size, alone, is reason enough to get excited, it's got new upgrade options including including a Quad Core CPU, up to 16 GB of RAM and up to 2 TB of disk space.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TV Could Come to iTunes

itunes tvSo the big question here is…would you pay $30 a month to watch TV through iTunes?

This is Apple’s most recent endeavor to further expand their world-wide utilized program iTunes. They have been pitching this new idea to a variety of TV networks during the past few weeks. The company is trying to rally support for a service that would provide a monthly subscription that would bring users a variety of TV programs via the easy to use iTunes multimedia program that over a 100 million customers already use.

Apple has said that they would like to be able to offer this service sometime early next year, but as of right now, there is no news of any programmer that has made a definite commitment to the company. It is suspected that if anyone commits to Apple the first would most likely be Disney. In the past, Disney has been ready and willing to support Apple and iTunes in their endeavors. In 2005, Disney CEO Bob Iger was the first to sell their programming via a la carte downloads through iTunes. Also, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is the largest shareholder in Disney stock.

Now there are several reasons as to why this may be difficult for Apple to work out. Different cable networks are not going to want to jeopardize their relationships and subscription fees with cable providers such as Comcast. Programmers are also afraid that the iTunes TV subscription could affect the advertising revenue. Even if iTunes didn’t offer TV programs until after their initial air date, there is still the risk that ratings would drop.

Past these factors, I’m sure that Apple is looking at how TV and movies over the Web is definitely on the rise. Netflix already offers a service with streaming movies and TV shows while also continuing disc-by-mail subscription service. iTunes and Amazon offer movie rental services, and YouTube is attempting to start up the same thing. Hulu is also trying to work out the details of a paid service that would offer rentals, downloads, or subscriptions.

So when considering all the facts, what Apple is trying to do is simply keep up with the times. TV and movies over the Web is a growing field that I would be shocked if Apple does not become involved with in the very near future. The question of the matter is…how quickly can they get the service set up and will it really take off like Apple believes? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, and for now we’ll have to depend on our other sources to watch our favorite shows.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Lenovo Unveils Six New Windows 7-Friendly Computers

Lenovo Unveils Six New Windows 7-Friendly Computers
Lenovo's new computers aren't just Windows 7-friendly, they also include Enhanced Experience software that improves system boot and shutdown times. Three new laptops, the IdeaPad U150, U550 and Y550P, and three new desktops, the IdeaCentre B500, K300 and H230, were introduced by the company last week. Each one runs Intel processors ranging from the Core 2 Duo hips to the Core i7 PC processor.

The Enhanced Experience software comes from a Lenovo collaboration with Microsoft. It includes multimedia tools that produce quality graphics and maintenance tools that improve data recovery and back-up, as well as anti-virus protection. It boots Windows 7 up to 56% faster than Windows XP and Vista and shuts down in as little as five seconds.

The new laptops range from high performance to slim and light. The Y550P features the Intel Core i7 processor and Nvidia discrete graphics. The 15.6 inch screen is Lenovo's most powerful laptop and it will set you back $1,149. The U150 is only half an inch thick and weighs under three pounds, with a 11.6 inch, high definition display. Its only $585, supports up to 8 GB of system memory and features an Intel Core 2 Duo processor. The U550 is considered the most mainstream of the laptops. For $650, you get a 15.6 inch display that runs the Core 2 Duo chip, a built-in DVD drive, and an integrated fingerprint reader.

As for desktops, the IdeaCentre B500 is an all-in-one system that features an Inteo Core 2 quad-core processor, discrete graphics, up to 8 GB of system memory and and 1 terabyte of storage. For $649, the computer comes with a 23 inch screen, JBL-brand integrated speakers, and a remote. The K300 is a tower desktop. It features a Core 2 quad-core processor, RAID-configured hard drives, and Lenovos power control switch that makes it possible to adjust power level for energy efficiency for maximum power. This one starts at $499. The H230 starts at $449 and is meant to appeal to customers looking for customization.

Lenovo isn't the only company releasing new Windows 7-compatible computers just in time for the holiday season. Acer, Gateway, Sony, and Hewlett-Packard also have new PCs on the market.