Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2012 - 01:27 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ubuntu, sputnik, software, programming, linux, dell, computing
Dell recently announced that it is turning to an open source Linux OS to craft a developer focused operating system. Enabled by Dell’s incubation program (and accompanying monetary funding), the pilot program – named Project Sputnik – is based on Dell’s XPS13 ultrabook and the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS OS.
The Project Sputnik program will run for six months. Its goal is to create the ideal hardware and software platform for software developers. Currently, that means using Dell’s XPS13 laptop and a customized version of the Ubuntu 12.04 Linux OS. The team behind the initiative are working closely with Canonical (Ubuntu developers) to put together a custom Ubuntu image with stripped down software, custom drivers, and only the software packages that developers want.
The team wants to make it easy for software programmers to get a hold of the programing languages and environments that they need to do their jobs. It will have integration with GitHub for coding projects as well.
In the video below Barton George, Director of Marketing for Dell, talks about the Project Sputnik program and how they hope to craft a laptop aimed directly at developers.
It is an interesting program, and I hope that it does well. You can find more information about Project Sputnik and how you can get involved at the Dell website.
Subject: General Tech | May 31, 2012 - 03:37 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, windows, software, release preview, operating systems, microsoft
Update: The Windows 8 Release Preview is now official. You can download the ISO images here. If you are following our installation guide, you will need to use the following CD Key to complete the installation: TK8TP-9JN6P-7X7WW-RFFTV-B7QPF.
According to The Verge, Microsoft fans will be getting a nice surprise tomorrow when the company releases the Release Preview of its upcoming Windows 8 operating system. What was first set to debut in early June, sources are indicating that Microsoft will officially release it tomorrow–a week early.
The Release Preview is Microsoft’s third official build for public consumption, following the Developer and Consumer previews respectively. This build is said to include hints at what the aero-less desktop will look like (though users won’t see the full UI changes until the final retail build) as well as built-in Adobe Flash in the Metro UI version of Internet Explorer. Although I can’t say I’m thrilled about the many changes in Windows 8, I’ll still be downloading the new Release Preview to give Microsoft another chance to make me like Windows 8 (hopefully they can). If you do download it, don’t forget about our Windows 8 Virtual Machine installation guide.
Will you be checking out the Release Preview?
In other Windows 8 news:
- Microsoft Taking out DVD Playback (codecs) in Windows 8
- Windows Media Center a Pro-only paid add-on
- Dell tablet running Windows 8 news
- Install Windows 8 In a Virtual Machine
Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2012 - 12:55 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows, software, photoshop, mac, editing
Adobe, the company best known for its popular prosumer photo and video editing suites and Flash player recently released a free beta version of its upcoming Photoshop CS6 photo editing software. Available for both Macintosh and Windows, the downloads are now up for grabs and should be good until the final version of Photoshop CS6 is released (later this year). The company also released a video demonstration of Senior Creative Director Russel Brown showing off several of the new features in CS6. The big new features of CS6 include the new Content Aware Move (and Fill), improved crop, new blurs, RAW 7.0 support, and adaptive wide angle lens correction. The video below shows how the new features work to enhance photos.
The Photoshop CS6 Interface
I downloaded the 64-bit version for Windows and tried out the new features. The first thing I noticed is that the tool tips seem a big buggy and can take a few tries to get them to show up. Also, in the Video Mr. Brown clicks on the Content Aware Move tool on the left but in order to actually get to it, you need to right click on the move icon as the default left click action is not for the Content Aware option. After I figured that out -- and this may indeed be common knowledge for Photoshop users, but was not for someone used to GIMP and Paint.net -- I found that the new features were pretty cool and it ran fairly quickly on my system. I would like to see the icons be a bit larger but otherwise the interface was snappy and while I stumbled at some points I think it has more to do with being used to how my usual photo editors work rather than an inherent problem with Photoshop’s interface.
I have to say that the Content Aware tools are pretty neat, and in no time I had a fleet of Corgi puppies running around the yard! And the Content Aware Move tool allowed me to move the corgis around without needing to go back and try to clone the grass back in (which I've never been too good at, heh). Granted this is something that was do-able in the past but it required quite a bit more work! It is not perfect, but it is pretty darn good for an automatic process. I was not able to test out the improved RAW support, however. The video demo made the feature look cool and I’m sure people will find it very useful. The adaptive wide angle feature further will be very useful for correcting the fish eye effect and other distortions with minimal effort. The ability for it to pull lens profiles from metadata to assist in correcting the distortion is pretty neat.
The downloads weigh in at 1.7 GB for the Windows .zip and 984 MB for the Mac .dmg file respectively. The Windows download also includes both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions. Both downloads are available here. The beta further includes both CS6 and CS6 Extended features, though the extra features will only be included in the Extended version when the retail version is released.
Russel Brown shows off new features in Adobe's Photoshop CS6.
Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2012 - 06:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: opswat, software, mse, antivirus
OPSWAT, a company founded in 2002, has released it's latest quartlerly report on software market share. The new report indicates that as of March 2012, the free Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus application has made the biggest gains in users this year.
Microsoft Security Essentials is a free antivirus program developed by Microsoft that has been on the market for just over 2 years (since September 2009). Despite not having the best detection rates, it is a program that is non-intrusive and lightweight on resources. Because of the automatic updating (via Windows Update) and being essentially "set it and forget it," it has garnered quite the following from tech enthusiasts that use it on their computers along with a bit of common sense browsing to stay safe. In addition, it makes for a good choice for family members as it is easy to install and requires little maintenance along with not costing any money. Also, If you have a friend or relative that refuses to pay for AV yet also refuses to stop visiting certain areas of the web, having some kind of free antivirus is better than nothing!
Specifically, the Microsoft software has managed to snag 10.08% of the worldwide antivirus market, putting it under the three big A's of antivirus: Avast with 16.26%, Avira with 11.65%, and AVG Technologies with 10.96%. Close behind Microsoft is ESET antivirus with 10.06%. Microsoft has increased their worldwide market share to 10.08% from 7.27% a year ago. They are further ahead of Symantec who holds 9.97% of the market.
|Trend Micro, Incorporated||2.22%|
In terms of the North American market, Symantec actually pulls ahead of Microsoft, and holds the number one position at 16.09%. Microsoft then holds the second position in North American market share with 14.92%. The MS software saw big gains from last year, moving from fourth position to second position and 9.94% to 14.92% respectively. AVG holds third place at 13.22% while Avast has 11.96% of the North American market and fourth place. You can see the remaining top 10 vendors' market share in North America below.
|Trend Micro Incorporated||3.10%|
Drilling down beyond vendor market share to the specific programs' market share Microsoft Security Essentials holds 14.58% of the North American market as of March 2012. Also, MSE holds 9.96% of the worldwide market in March 2012. In terms of ranking, the individual software that is MSE is is number one in North America and second place worldwide. Microsoft Security Essentials holds 14.58% in North America and 9.96% globally, putting it just under AVAST! Free Antivirus which is the number one AV product worldwide with 11.91% of the market. These numbers are a bit more telling, as they indicate Microsoft is doing pretty darn well with their AV program, and it is really helping them (market share wise) to have just one main SKU/program in their lineup.
Interestingly, their report indicates that the top 10 antivirus makers hold the great majority of the market with 87.46% of worldwide market share. Of the top 10 (listed in chart 1) global AV vendors, only Trend Micro is a new addition at number 10 thanks to overtaking PC Tools with a total of 2.22% market share. The top 10 has further gained more of the total market compared to last year. In 2010, the top 10 vendors held 86.57% of the market, and they now hold 87.46%. Individual product wise, the top 10 companies' applications hold 64.94% of the worldwide market and 63.08% of the North American Market (this is for specific programs only, while the previous total numbers are for top 10 AV companies as a whole).
Further, OPSWAT states that the free offerings continue to dominate the charts with the most number of installations and market share. In North America, they identified 81 antivirus companies and 257 antivirus software applications. Globally OPSWAT detected 87 vendors and different programs. That makes the fact that the top 10 vendors hold approximately 87% of the market even more impressive. More information on the recent OPSWAT report is availabe in the PDF format here.
In a recent press release, the Linux Foundation added four new members, one of which is a big deal in the graphics card industry. In addition to the new members of Fluendo, Lineo Solutions, and Mocana is the green GPU powerhouse NVIDIA. According to Maximum PC, there is talk around the web of the company moving to open source graphics drivers; however, NVIDIA has not released anything to officially confirm or deny.
The Linux Foundation's Logo
Such a move would be rather extreme and unlikely, but it would certainly be one that is welcomed by the Linux community. Officially, the Vice President of Linux Platform Software Scott Pritchett stated the company is "strongly committed" to delivering quality software/hardware experiences and they hope their membership in the Linux Foundation will "accelerate our collaboration with the organizations and individuals instrumental in shaping the future of Linux." Further, they hope to be able to add to and enhance the user and development experience of the open source operating system.
The three other members to join the Linux Foundation specialize in multimedia software (Fluendo), embedded system development (Lineo Solutions), and device-agnostic security (Mocana) but the green giant that is NVIDIA has certainly stolen the show and is the big announcement for them (which isn't a bad thing that they joined, it is kind of a big deal to have them). Amanda McPherson, VP of Marketing and Developer Services for the Linux Foundation wrapped up the press release by saying that all of the new members "represent important areas of the Linux ecosystem and their contributions will immediately help advance the operating system.”
NVIDIA has generally enjoyed good support on the major Linux distributions, but now that they are a member here's hoping they can further improve their Linux graphics card drivers. What is your take on the Linux Foundation's new members, will they make a difference?
Subject: General Tech | January 12, 2012 - 04:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xbox, windows, voice, software, PC, microsoft, kinect, gestures
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced at the Consumer Electronics Show that on February 1st, the new Kinect sensor for Windows would become available for purchase. In addition to the new Kinect for Windows sensor hardware, Microsoft is releasing an official SDk or Software Development Kit. Having the SDK installed on a Windows operating system will be required in order to use Kinect software applications. Currently, there are no (Microsoft official) consumer applications using Kinect; however, official hardware and an official SDK will surely spur software development.
Microsoft is confident that the launch of the SDK and specially tuned hardware will spur development of software. According to MSNBC, the company is working with over 200 companies to develop software applications for Windows using Kinect. Microsoft's partners include Toyota, Mattel, American Express, and United Health Group. These corporate partners seem to indicate that initial Kinect applications will be designed for consumers to use in a business setting, say on a sales floor of car dealerships, at hospitals, or point of sale devices (maybe American Express is planning a "card swipe" application where holding the card up to the Kinect can be used to purchase items. Software for consumers to use at home is also likely in the pipeline and users will see them in the future.
Due to the Microsoft Kinect for Windows sensor not being subsidized by Xbox 360 games and accessories, the PC version is $100 more than the Xbox 360 version, and will retail for $250 USD. Amazon currently has the device (for pre-order) here for a whole penny less at $249.99.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2011 - 12:25 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, tablet, software, kal-el, hardware, Android
With Asus’ previous tablets being a success, the company has decided to push forward with four new tablets that are slated to debut next year. The new tablets will join the ranks of the Transformer and soon to be released Transformer Prime tablets under the Asus Eee Pad lineup. Of the four new devices, two tablets will be running Google’s Android OS (Operating System) while the remaining two tablets will run Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS.
The two tablets running Android are slated for release in the first quarter of 2012. While Asus has not released any specific hardware specifications, they will likely be powered by the quad core Nvidia Kal-El ARM processor like the upcoming Asus Transformer Prime (or the Kal-El’s successor).
On the other hand, quarter 3 of 2012 will see the release of two tablets running Windows 8. Interestingly, Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors are also supposed to launch in 2012, which would make for a nice match of technology. Whether we'll see Ivy Bridge powered tablets; however, will depend on how soon Ivy Bridge launches and how quickly Asus can turn around and roll out a product designed around it.
The marketing speak in the above slides indicates that at least the marketing department is excited about the prospect of what they have dubbed hero products. They are striving to win mind share and achieve a “perfect” product. Whether they will achieve that or not remains to be seen; however, having more Windows 8 tablets isn’t a bad thing! More information can be had here.
Are you still holding out for your “perfect” tablet, and if so what are you looking/waiting to see from a tablet?
Subject: General Tech | November 1, 2011 - 07:58 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: webOS, software, hp, hardware, computers
In a move by HP that is becoming less surprising by the day, the company has reconsidered (yet again) its position on WebOS and will be keeping WebOS hardware and software around for the foreseeable future (or at least until their next announcement).
Although several tech sites reported last week that WebOS would soon be getting a final nail in the coffin and abandoned by HP, Vice President (for the Personal Systems Group) Todd Bradley stated the exact opposite sentiment in an interview recently.
3 heads of a dragon all going different directions... sound familiar HP?
Specifically, Mr. Bradley appeared on the television show Bloomberg West to talk about the company’s plans to keep the PSG (Personal Systems Group) part of the company. When questioned about WebOS, he stated that the various reports on HP shutting down the WebOS division were “unfounded rumor(s).” He further stated that HP is in fact continuing to invest in WebOS software and WebOS hardware. You can see a video of the full interview here (fair warning: the video is set to auto-play on the site).
Speaking of WebOS, Best Buy has recently snagged Touchpads while HP itself has depleted its inventory. Unfortunately, Best Buy is only willing to sell the HP Touchpads to customers who also purchase a HP or Compaq laptop or All-In-One computer, at least if you want a reasonable price on the units. More information on that can be found over at Maximum PC.
Any bets on how soon it will be before HP changes directions yet again and I have to eat my words?
Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2011 - 09:56 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: software, pdf, open source, mozilla, firefox, browser
One of the most useful features in Google’s Chrome web browser is the built in PDF reader. It is a feature that I use almost every day, and although I keep an install of Firefox’s Aurora browser as a backup I have yet to return to using Firefox as my main browser since first checking out Chrome.
For now though, the team has released PDF.js as a browser extension for the open source browser. In addition to the extension download, the source code is available on GitHub for anyone to view and edit.
PDF.js displaying a Dell service manual in PDF format.
As it is now, the PDF.js add-on rather basic, but is definitely off to a good start. You are able to navigate by sections or page thumbnails accessible by a mouse-over pop-up menu on the left of the window. Along the top are buttons for previous and next page, navigating to a specific page, zooming in and out, downloading, printing, and searching the PDF document.
During some informal testing using a 94 page Dell service manual in PDF form, scrolling was smooth enough until hitting a new page upon which there was a bit of lag. Navigating to specific pages was rather quick, however.
The PDF reader is off to a good start and I may have one more reason to switch back to Mozilla’s browser soon enough. What do you guys and gals think about built in PDF support, is it something you find useful during your daily browsing? If you're interested in checking it out for yourself, the extension is available for download here. Simply download this "pdf.js.xpi" file and install it (choose the Firefox or Aurora executable for installation if Windows does not assign the .xpi extension to Firefox automatically) using Firefox. Now navigate to a PDF file on any webpage to have it automatically open using PDF.js.
Subject: General Tech | August 16, 2011 - 09:05 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: software, mozilla, firefox, browser
A new bug report on Mozilla's Bugzilla website indicates that the versioning of the popular web browser will be hidden from the users in future builds. Specifically, bug 678775 was posted late last week by Asa Dotzler, and addresses the version number on Firefox's About page. The bug report recommends removing the specific version number in favor of a more general phrase such as "Firefox checked for updates 20 minutes ago, you are running the latest release," according to Asa. Firefox would then, ideally, check for an update whenever the About window was opened, to keep the update message current and the user running the latest build.
The current Firefox About page where version numbers are still listed.
While the specific version number will be removed from the About page, users would still be able to dig into the browser's less well known areas, such as the about:support configuration page, to see it.
On one hand, Firefox's new rapid-release schedule will make versioning a less efficient method of, well, versioning; however, the About page of an application has traditionally been the spot to find the version number, and removing the version number from what is essentially a version number information page seems counter productive. Firefox will likely be on version 7 before the end of the year, and considering version 5 was just released in June, the argument that version numbers are getting out of hand has some merit. With that said, a simplified message to users that they are, in fact, running the latest version is a good thing to implement, but does it necessitate no longer displaying the version number?
Personally, I enjoy knowing the specific version number of the applications I run, but I'm curious what you guys think; should the version number be buried?