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Some thoughts on the passing of Windows XP

Windows XP

It may be hard to believe but there was a time when people looked forward to new versions of operating systems. Before Windows XP many PC operating systems were not very good. The developers of applications had to code around problems. Companies wanted their business applications to be more reliable. Over the years operating systems improved.

Before Windows XP Microsoft had two PC operating systems. One was the descendant of Windows 95 the other of Window NT. In the years that preceded Windows XP Microsoft incrementally improved the user interface on the Windows 95 side and the reliability and performance on the NT side. Windows XP was the convergence of the best of both. Before XP Microsoft released a new version of its operating system almost every year. It would be almost 6 years until a successor to XP -- Windows Vista -- hit the market (with a thud). Six years was an impressive accomplishment, but still XP lived on. Windows Vista was not the market success Microsoft expected. Vista introduced too many changes. The market chose to stay with XP. It would be another two years before a true successor to XP emerged in Windows 7.

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AMD AM1 platform now available -- can it compete with Intel's Bay Trail-D?

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As a system builder, I always keep my eyes open for new trends in PC hardware. My latest build is powered by an Intel processor, which is a first for me. Historically, I've always used AMD. The reason being was, at the time, AMD processors delivered both great performance and value. In other words, if you needed to save money, AMD was what you bought.

Unfortunately, AMD fell behind Intel quite a bit in recent years, making the value in its processors questionable. Today however, the company announces availability of its new platform, called AM1, which focuses directly on value and low cost. Will consumers shopping on the low-end choose it over Intel's Bay Trail-D SoC?

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Microsoft OneNote team creates Tony Award-worthy YouTube performance

Broadway

As a Long Islander, I am only a short train ride from Manhattan. And so, I have been to my fair share of Broadway shows. After all, if you are going to live in New York, you might as well take advantage of it.

While musicals on Broadway are commonplace, it is odd to see them come from Redmond, Washington. However, that is exactly what has happened, as the Microsoft OneNote team delivers a Tony Award-worthy YouTube parody of the song "One Day More" from Les Misérables.

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Google stops the hemorrhaging -- patches OpenSSL Heartbleed bug

BandAid

The Heartbleed bug is quite the devastating blow to computer security. The OpenSSL failure has the unfortunate effect of lowering computer users' confidence in SSL. However, the mistrust in SSL is misplaced, as it is only the OpenSSL implementation that is affected. No matter though, the damage is done and the flaw has been available for exploit since 2011.

When the news of the flaw was announced, many people's attention turned to Google. No, the company is not the cause of the bug, but since it controls such a huge part of the Internet, people hoped that its services were unaffected. Sorry people, Google was affected too. However, the company was also quick to patch, announcing the details of such today.

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Will you buy HTC One M8?

HTC One and Friend

In light of Brian Fagioli's review and Friday's official launch, time comes to ask whether or not you will buy HTC's newest flagship, the M8. The name takes away from powerful connotations that HTC One carries. But maybe there is something to M-eight (you know, Mate). Henceforth, I will refer to this magnificent smartphone as The One. For many of you, it will be.

Brian isn't the only BetaNewser testing The One. I have the T-Mobile variant, which unlike his Verizon model carries no carrier branding. Thank you, Pink! Or is that Magenta? Beauty and the Beast is applicable moniker. The smartphone delights the eyes but challenges the hands, because it is so big. Largely the blame belongs to one of the biggest benefits: The front-facing speakers. For comparison, and I kid you not: The entire length of iPhone 5s is about the same as the length of the HTC smartphone's screen. Right, just the display. The One measures 146.36 x 70.6 x 9.35 mm compared to the Apple's 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm.

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Automate login and bypass the lock screen in Windows 8.1

user accounts

I hate waiting for my computer to boot up. My impatience stems from when I owned an XP system that took upwards of five minutes to get to a usable state no matter what I did to try and speed things along. Scarred by that experience I used to leave my system on permanently (just flipping the monitors off when I stepped away), but obviously that wastes electricity. Switching to an SSD, and configuring Windows to boot as quickly as possible, offered a decent solution.

The problem is Windows 8.1 seems to be designed to slow you down. Once your computer has booted up there is a lock screen to clear, then you have to enter your password and log to in your Microsoft account. Obviously Microsoft has done this for security purposes, and that's great. But if you don't share your computer with other people, and are confident no one will have access to your PC, you can configure the OS to bypass both delaying stages and boot straight in.

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Logitech announces HTPC-friendly Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830

feat

Home-Theater PCs (HTPC) are a bit of a dying breed. While many people still build and use them, the rise of media boxes and dongles have rendered them a bit unnecessary. After all, something like a Roku takes up far less space, costs less and uses much less electricity than a full-fledged PC.

However, HTPCs still have their place in some homes. And so, high quality wireless pointing devices and keyboards are still desired by some consumers. Hell, I run XBMC on Raspberry Pi in my living room and have a need in that regard too. Today, Logitech announces a solution for these users, with the Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830.

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Chrome 34 supports responsive images, extends password manager

ChromeIcon

Google has released Chrome 34 FINAL for Windows, Linux, and Mac.

The headline addition is support for srcset, a new HTML attribute which allows web developers to specify multiple copies of a single image, with a range of resolutions. The idea is that the client device then requests the most appropriate version, so you might see a high-res image on your desktop, but a smaller, more bandwidth-friendly copy on your phone.

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Anaplan launches territory planning and quota management for Salesforce

Graph plan sales

Cloud-based business planning specialist Anaplan has launched a new territory planning and quota management tool on the Salesforce1 App Exchange.

Anaplan provides real-time analytics, allowing sales managers to adjust their planning to produce better results.

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These new Samsung Galaxy Pro video ads are awesome

Samsung Galaxy Pro series ad

Unlike other mobile device manufacturers, Samsung gets advertising and it also has the money to afford it. Remember the campaigns that pitted flagship Galaxy smartphones against Apple's competing iPhones? Those serve as a prime example of how effective Samsung can be when it comes to comparing its own products against those of the competition.

Well, Samsung is at it once again. This time around the company is showing its Galaxy Pro series slates against Apple's popular iPads and Amazon's Kindle, in four video ads which, once again, focus on major differentiating features. And Samsung is doing a very convincing job here by tackling the right areas, where its slates have a clear advantage.

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TV DVR: The big killer feature missing from Xbox One

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Aside from a lack of backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games (which is being worked on as I write this), what's the other big reason I am holding off on a first gen Xbox One? A TV streaming & DVR experience that was much talked about in the buildup to launch, but has fallen short in reinventing the way we manage and consume TV content today.

When I first heard about Microsoft's Xbox One plans at E3, I was thinking the same thing so many others probably were: my Tivo (or cable box) days are numbered. But my lofty plans for a simplified entertainment center were quickly killed, when I learned that Microsoft had no plans on replacing your DVR, but merely piggybacking onto it.

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OpenSSL flaw unlocks the internet's 'crown jewels'

Patched heart

If all of your system adminstrator friends are looking worried today it isn't the usual post Patch Tuesday blues, it's because of a bug in something that you may never have heard of, but which almost certainly affects your everyday use of the web.

OpenSSL is a cryptographic library that is used to secure large chunks of the internet. If you use sites or apps that send and receive encrypted data then it’s very likely they use OpenSSL to do it. It's used by open source web servers like Apache as well as by mail protocols including SMTP, POP and IMAP.

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CyberLink PowerDVD 14 adds HEVC support, cloud storage/ sync

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CyberLink Corp has launched PowerDVD 14, the latest edition of its universal media player.

The top-of-the-range PowerDVD 14 Ultra now includes a free year’s subscription to 10GB of space on CyberLink Cloud. There’s new support for syncing media between PC and mobile devices (iOS, Android, Windows 8), while auto-transcoding of videos, photos & music from PC to Cloud should improve performance.

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HTC One (M8): From quality comes Android greatness [Review]

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Smartphones are very personal -- one device cannot fit all. Some people love the phablet craze, declaring enormous devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 as the best. However, others will say it is too big. Even more will decry the fact that it runs Android and not their favorite mobile OS of choice, iOS or Windows Phone.

So, in reality, if a reviewer says something is the best, or perfect, it is the best or perfect for them. For you, maybe it would be a poor choice. But, if you do prefer Android, the nice thing is, those devices come in many shapes and sizes, so you can make your own choice. With all of that said, for me, the HTC One (M8) is the best Android phone available and it is damn-near perfect, save for a few minor gripes.

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As Windows XP expires, Google urges Chromebook adoption

HP Chromebook 11

Support for Windows XP comes to an end today. Despite that, there are still a fair number of customers continuing to run the aging operating system. While those customers may be a bit sad about the demise, not everyone is.

On the heels of my colleague Joe Wilcox touting Chromebook, Google does the same. The company is taking advantage of this situation to lure current Windows XP users over to its Chromebook platform. In fact, the search giant is using the company's own PR against it, stating "even Microsoft admits: it's time for a change". That statement is followed by an image of an aged computer, complete with CRT monitor.

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