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Sep 22, 2011

NFC Capable Yale Door Locks : Future Of Automated Locking Systems

With widespread support for Near field communication (NFC) on all future smartphones and mobile operating-systems like iOS, Android and Symbian - the technology is soon going to be the next big innovation apart from the "Mobile Wallet" it was was originally developed for. Thanks to NFC technology a leading door-lock manufacture "Yale" has already unveiled there automated locks, soon users will be able to open their locks simply by holding a smartphone near the lock. 

Yale has developed the technology named "Mobile Keys" allowing users to load electronic keys onto their smartphones securely, allowing them to unlock these NFC locks with right permissions. A video demonstration of these smart-locks is available after the jump.


Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 2 Released, Synaptic Removed

A few minutes ago, the second and last Beta version, as well as the last development release, of the upcoming Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) operating system was made available for testing by the Ubuntu developers. As usual, we've grabbed a copy of it in order to keep you up-to-date with the latest changes in the Ubuntu 11.10 development.

What's new in Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 2? Well, Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 2 includes newer kernel packages based on the stable Linux kernel 3.0.4 upstream release, the newly released GNOME 3.2 Release Candidate desktop environment, LibreOffice 3.4.3, Mozilla Firefox 7.0 Beta 6, and Mozilla Thunderbird 7.0 Beta 3.

Starting with Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot), Canonical will provide a DVD ISO image that will be considered an extension to the usual CD image. The DVD will contain all the supported translations (language packs) and popular applications, such as The GIMP, Inkscape, PiTiVi, and a complete version of the LibreOffice open source office suite.

Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 2 comes with lots of bugfixes, especially for Unity and Compiz, as well as new features, such as a new music lens for Banshee, nicer LightDM theme, improved Unity 2D and full support for Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and other script languages.

Last but not least, OneConf has been added in Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 2 to keep your installed apps in sync across computers. To activate it, go to "File -> Sync between computers..." option in Ubuntu Software Center.

Synaptic Package Manager and PiTiVi have been removed from Ubuntu 11.10, but their are still supported and available for installation in the default software repositories.

What's new in Kubuntu 11.10 Beta 2? Well, this second Beta release of the upcoming Kubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) operating system, is built on top of the newly released KDE Software Compilation 4.7.1. The new KDEPIM 4.7 suite is also there, including the amazing Kmail 2 mail client and the Amarok 2.4.3 audio player.

Kubuntu 11.10 Beta 2 also includes the Muon Suite 1.2, which contains a set of utilities for installing and managing applications. Muon Suite 1.2 is composed of Muon Software Center and Muon Package Manager, for browsing and installing apps.

What's new in Xubuntu 11.10 Beta 2? Well, this second Beta release of the upcoming Xubuntu 11.10 is pretty much the same as the first Beta release. The GIMP is still there and it hasn't (yet) been replaced with gThumb, as was supposed to.

On October 13th, 2011, Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) will become the fifthteenth release of the Ubuntu operating system. See you again in three more weeks (October 13th), for the final and stable release of the upcoming Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) distribution.

The Oneiric Ocelot Release Schedule:

June 2nd, 2011 - Alpha 1 release
July 7th, 2011 - Alpha 2 release
August 4th, 2011 - Alpha 3 release
September 1st, 2011 - Beta 1 release
September 22nd, 2011 - Beta 2 release
October 13th, 2011 - Final release of Ubuntu 11.10

Remember that this is a beta release and it should NOT be installed on production machines. It is intended to be used for testing purposes only. Please report bugs to the Ubuntu Bug Tracker.


Ubuntu 11.10 Beta 2



Kubuntu 11.10 Beta 2


Xubuntu 11.10 Beta 2


Xperia arc S Coming Soon at Three UK

Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S, one of the latest smartphones that Sony Ericsson unveiled to the world with the Google Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system on board, is expected to arrive on shelves at Three UK in the near future. 

The mobile phone carrier has already added the new device to its coming soon page, with an October release window attached to it, offering users the possibility to register for receiving updates on when the new handset will become available. 

The new smartphone builds on the success of this year's Xperia arc, which was unveiled to the world at CES in January with a large 4.2-inch touchscreen display, and with one of the slimmest bodies a mobile phone packs. 

The new device features a series of improvements over the predecessor, starting with a faster CPU, and going all the way to updated applications and new software and features packed inside. 

The handset sports the same display as the Xperia arc predecessor, but packs a 1.4GHz application processor. It also comes with an 8MP camera, microSD memory card to expand the available storage space, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and the usual set of sensors included with a smartphone.

“With a lightening-fast 1.4GHz processor the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc S gives you games, apps, videos and HD entertainment without the wait,” Three UK notes on its website.

“Everything looks great on the huge 4.2" Reality display which has Sony Mobile BRAVIA Engine for crisp, clear images. 

“And with an 8.1 megapixel camera with HD video you’ll be able to take perfect pictures and top-quality movies. There’s also a Sony Exmor R sensor which means you’ll be able to shoot even in low light.”

Sony Ericsson has brought its new Xperia arc S smartphone at the IFA 2011 show in Berlin in early September, where we had the chance to spend a few moments in its company.


Intel Sandy Bridge-E Overclocking Detailed

In mid-November, Intel is expected to launch its first desktop chips based on the high-performance Sandy Bridge-E architecture, which are expected to bring a boost in CPU power but also improved overclocking capabilities when compared to today's second generation Core processors.

From the information available at this point in time, Intel's initial lineup will be comprised of three processors, dubbed the Core i7-3820, i7-3930K, and i7-3960X.

We already detailed the specs of these CPUs in a series of previous articles, so we are not going to focus our attention on this aspect right now, but what's important to note is that the two latter chips come with an unlocked CPU multiplier, while the former lacks such a feature.

In the case of LGA 1155 processors, this would severely limit CPU overclocking, as the BCLK frequency can only be adjusted by less than 10% resulting in an unimpressive performance gain.

Fortunately, this isn't the case with Sandy Bridge-E, since these processors, outside of BCLK and CPU multipliers, have also introduced a feature called reference clock ratio (RCR).

This is a special multiplier that affects the CPU and memory frequency, but doesn't touch other things such as the SATA and USB buses like BCLK does.

What this basically means is that overclockers have more freedom in increasing the processor operating frequency without affecting the overall stability of the system.

According to BitTech, Intel will make available three such ratios in its upcoming Sandy Bridge-E processors, namely 1.00x, 1.25x and 1.66x.

In order to find out the settings they have to apply to reach a certain overclock, enthusiasts will have to go through quite a bit of math, but basically the final CPU multiplier and BCLK settings will be determined after dividing the targeted processor frequency to the clock ratio selected (a more detailed explanation is available on the AnandTech website).

As a conclusion, one can say that the new overclocking method used by Intel for Sandy Bridge-E is quite a bit more complicated than what we were used to see in Nehalem-based CPUs, although it would definitely make the ride more fun.


BlackBerry Curve 9360 at T-Mobile on September 28th

Wireless services provider T-Mobile has just announced that they will be releasing the BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone before the end of this month in a black flavor, and that a merlot version of the device will be made available starting with October 12th. 

T-Mobile business customers can already pre-order the new mobile phone, yet the handset will not go for sale via T-Mobile retail stores until September 28th, when it will also arrive at select dealers and national retailers nationwide. 

The wireless carrier did not offer info on the price tag the new device will sport when made available, but it is expected to go for around $79.99 (around 60 Euros) with the signing of a two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate.

“Today, T-Mobile announced the upcoming availability of the BlackBerry Curve 9360, which combines powerful new BlackBerry features with an attractive price point. The new BlackBerry smartphone will be available in two stylish color finishes - black and merlot,” the carrier said. 

The handset runs under the new BlackBerry 7 OS from Research In Motion and is capable of offering a great experience to all users, including a much better Internet browsing courtesy of the new BlackBerry 7 Webkit-browser included with it. 

The mobile phone features a 2.4-inch display, complemented by a full QWERTY keyboard and a navigation track-pad, as well as a faster application processor when compared to the previous Curve models.

The new device sports a 5-megapixel photo snapper with support for video recording, as well as WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity capabilities, and a microSD memory card slot so that users could expand the available memory inside the phone. 

Moreover, RIM packed the handset with the latest release of BBM (BlackBerry Messenger), as well as with other applications and games, and with the ability to download and install even more of them via the BlackBerry App World. 

“The new BlackBerry Curve is designed to address a large and important segment of the global mobile phone market where customers are looking to upgrade their existing feature phone or existing BlackBerry Curve with an affordable, easy-to-use, full-featured and socially-connected smartphone,” T-Mobile explains.


Gigabyte Has Its Own Mini-ITX AMD Llano Motherboard to Show

Announced together with the rest of the company's FM1 solutions for AMD A-Series accelerated processing units, the Gigabyte A75N-USB3 motherboard is getting ready to reach retail as a near final version of the board was just pictured on a Japanese Website.

Just as its name implies, the board is built around the high-end AMD's A75 fusion controller hub (FCH).

This is paired together with two full-size DIMM sockets supporting up to 16GB of system memory as well as with a PCI Express x16 expansion slot.

On Gigabyte's board. the PCIe slot is seconded by four SATA 6Gbps ports, that are driven by the A75 FCH, which also provides native support for quad USB 3.0 ports. Gigabyte has decided to route these to the rear I/O bracket.

This means that an USB 3.0 pin-header isn't available on-board, so users who own a case with frontal USB 3.0 connectivity have to purchase a special adapter for making them work.

Also on the rear I/O bracket, the Gigabyte A75N-USB3 packs jacks for 5.1 channel audio, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit LAN port, an eSATA port, a digital S/PDIF audio connector as well as HDMI, DisplayPort and DVI video outputs.

Like most other solutions built by Gigabyte, the A75N-USB3 also adopts the Ultra Durable design, which means that it comes with all solid capacitors as well as other high-quality components meant to improve its lifespan.

No details regarding the availability of the A75N-USB3 were made public at this time, but the motherboard has already been listed for pre-order by some online retailers.

In Europe, the Gigabyte A75N-USB3 should sell for around €100 ($134 US), which is about what the competition asks for its own A75 solutions. (via VR-Zone)


Windows 8 PCs with UEFI Secure Boot Could Lock Linux Out

Although he acknowledges that there’s nothing to panic about yet, Matthew Garrett, mobile Linux developer at Red Hat, posted a blog post designed to raise some concerns over the possibility that Linux might be locked out from Windows 8 PCs because of the new UEFI secure boot feature. 

One of the new security mitigations introduced into Windows 8 involves bulletproofing the startup process, in an effort to fend off threats such as rootkits, and similar malware. 

This is done by only loading components that are correctly signed by Microsoft as Windows 8 is booting.

Here is how Microsoft details the secured boot feature of the next major iteration of Windows:

“Secured boot stops malware in its tracks and makes Windows 8 significantly more resistant to low-level attacks. Even when a virus has made it onto your PC, Windows will authenticate boot components to prevent any attempt to start malware before the operating system is up and running. 

“If the component isn’t correctly signed by Microsoft, Windows will begin remediation and start the Windows Recovery Environment, which will automatically try to fix your operating system.”

Secure boot is an aspect of the evolution of the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface, involving the integration of signing keys directly into the system firmware. 

Code running on a machine with UEFI secure boot will need to also be signed with the same keys as the system firmware by the manufacturer of the computer. 

According to Garrett, Microsoft considers secure boot enabled by default as a requirement of the logo program for Windows 8 PCs. 

“The two alternatives here are for Windows to be signed with a Microsoft key and for the public part of that key to be included with all systems, or alternatively for each OEM to include their own key and sign the pre-installed versions of Windows,” he notes.

“The second approach would make it impossible to run boxed copies of Windows on Windows logo hardware, and also impossible to install new versions of Windows unless your OEM provided a new signed copy. The former seems more likely.”

Garrett stresses that a logoed OEM Windows 8 PC with UEFI secure boot will not boot generic copies of Linux, and there are a dime a dozen of those. 

While Linux distributors could just as well sign their versions of the operating system, the very licensing of the platform creates some issues. Bootloaders under GPLv3 and GPLv2 simply won’t do, because the licenses imply that the vendors share the signing keys. 

With OS kernels becoming part of the bootloader, they’ll also need to be signed. And even in the eventuality that devs sign their own code, they still need to work with manufacturers to have the keys included into the system firmware. 

“There's no indication that Microsoft will prevent vendors from providing firmware support for disabling this feature and running unsigned code. However, experience indicates that many firmware vendors and OEMs are interested in providing only the minimum of firmware functionality required for their market. It's almost certainly the case that some systems will ship with the option of disabling this. Equally, it's almost certainly the case that some systems won't,” Garrett added.

Personally, I don’t think that Windows 8 PCs with UEFI secure boot will block users from installing, booting or running any operating system thy want, including Linux. 

I welcome the new bulletproofed boot process of Windows 8 and I think that it will have a great impact on increasing the level of security for end users. At the same time, I’m confident that Linux will still continue to boot on new computers worldwide even after Windows 8 is launched. 



Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) is available for download here.

Eee Pad Slider ASUS Tablet Finally Starts Selling

ASUS had a great success with the Eee Pad Transformer tablet, and it might or might not see a similar level of orders for the Eee Pad Slider, an even newer tablet that finally arrived.

The Eee Pad Slider tablet from ASUS is one of those items that sparked many discussions and reports over the past few months.

Even the way it got delayed only served to add fuel to the fire, so there is little doubt that availability will now cause great ripples.

Indeed, the tablet has become available for order, as made clear by the official promo page that ASUS set up here.

The main characteristic of the slate is the fact that, unlike most of its peers, it does not lack the physical keyboard component.

Instead, it most certainly has a slide-out model, which stays behind the main body and only comes out when needed, at which point it also works as a stand of sorts.

That said, there is one disadvantage to this, though the Corning Gorilla glass protective panel also contributes to it.

Simply put, the Eee Pad Slider is heavier than many of its peers, weighing a total of 906 grams, about a third more than Samsung's Galaxy tab 10.1 or Apple's iPad 2.

Then again, the weight won't be too great an impediment for people who travel, since they usually bring a pack of some kind along anyway.

As for the actual specs, they are fairly standard, with Android 3.1 OS (Honeycomb), an NVIDIA Tegra 2 SoC at the heart and 1 GB of RAM (random access memory) backing it up.

Either 16 GB or 32 GB of flash storage exist, leading to prices of $479 (350 Euro) and $579 (423 Euro), respectively (the European prices will probably be higher than what the exchange rates show though).

Other features include the aforementioned Gorilla Glass, an IPS display (178 degree viewing angles), two cameras (5 and 1.2 megapixels back and front, respectively), Supreme SRS Sound and a battery life of up to 8 hours.


Apple iPhone 5 Event Scheduled Tuesday, October 4, Sources Say

Apple is set to unveil its next-generation iPhone early next month, in a typical Apple event that will see Tim Cook take the stage for his first product launch as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer.

Sources familiar with the situation are telling All Things D that Tuesday, October 4 is the day Apple plans to hold its next media event.

These sources specifically said that the company had chosen October 4 for the launch of the iPhone 5.

To be noted that the WSJ-owned blog previously reported Apple would hold a press event in October, not in September as originally rumored.

Sources close to the blog also said that although Apple will be unveiling its fifth-generation iPhone at the event, it will not be available physically for another few weeks following the announcement.

This falls in line well with the company’s modus operandi. Previous Apple events stand as testimony that Cupertino always ensures a product launch goes as smooth as possible.

If anything, putting a time gap between the launch and the actual, public release of the device can only help build up even more hype.

Up until now, product launching was Steve Jobs’ thing. Not anymore since August 24, when the iconic Apple chief resigned from his CEO position.

With the iPhone 5 almost confirmed now, the spotlight is on Tim Cook.

Literally, since the man will take center-stage for his first significant product launch.

Some have actually voiced concerns that Tim Cook’s true value as CEO will only truly reveal itself when the man will be faced with having to launch a new product for the company. That time has come.

However, just like Jobs, Tim Cook will be aided by his fellow executives in showcasing every important feature of the new iPhone.

So expect everything to go smooth on October 4 (if the event date is eventually confirmed), as usual.


Nvidia Tapes Out Its First 28nm Kepler GPUs – Report

Nvidia is getting ready for the introduction of its first graphics cards based on the 28nm Kepler architecture and the company has recently taped out its first SKUs to be based on this design, according to a recent report to hit the Web.

The two cores are known under the code names of GK117 and GK107, and SemiAccurate reports these are both entry-level graphics chips.

The GK117 was the first of the two to arrive and, according to sources cited by the above-mentioned Website, is described as a hybrid between Fermi and Kepler which lacks an integrated display controller.

This is a rather odd occurrence as the code-name Nvidia used points out to a rather small core, so this can't be a Tesla GPGPU solution. The most likely explanation is that GK117 is a test chip for the 28nm Kepler architecture.

Moving to the GK107, the code name points to a GPU that should address the markets and price segments currently covered by GF108 and GF106.

If the information uncovered by SemiAccurate turns out to be indeed true, it seems like Nvidia may be in a bit of a pickle as it won't have any high-performance solutions based on the Kepler architecture ready in the first quarter of 2012.

In electronics design, the “tape out” term is used to describe the final result of the design cycle of a chip and means that the integrated circuit can be sent to the foundry for manufacturing the first physical samples.

These will then go through a number of spins as the design is further refined to eliminate any potential flaws that made their way into the integrated circuit.

This is usually a pretty lengthy process, so if Nvidia doesn't face any problems with the A0 silicon of the GK117 and GK107, these should become available sometime in April of 2012.

Kepler is the code name used by Nvidia to refer to its next-generation graphics processing unit architecture, which introduces a series of new technologies meant to improve the GPU's ability to process data without the help of the system's processor, while also delivering improved graphics performance.


Intel Sandy Bridge-E Xeon E5 CPU Prices Unveiled

About two months back, we published the specifications of three new Xeon E5 processor models Intel is expected to release in the not so distant future, and recently we have come to find out the prices of these Sandy Bridge-E chips targeting the server market.

The specifications of these CPUs will be nearly identical with those of the Core i7 consumer models that Intel is expected to launch in mid-November, so the retail prices are also quite similar.

As usually, there is a small increase associated with server processors, but this isn't as large as expected, topping out at just $81 (roughly 59 Euros) with the Intel E5-1660, which is priced at $1080 compared to the $999 Core i7-3960X (789 vs 730 Euros).

Despite the different markets targeted, the specifications of these processors are identical as they both come with six processing cores with Hyper-Threading support, 15MB of Level 3 cache and 3.3GHz base clock speed.

Moving down the line, we get to the $583 (426 Euros) priced Xeon E5-1650 that includes much the same specs as its older bother, but has the its L3 cache size reduced to 12MB, while the base frequency was also lowered by 100MHz.

The last chip to get prices from the upcoming Xeon E5 line is the Xeon E5-1620. This is the only Sandy Bridge-E CPU to be detailed until now that carries only four processing cores and 10MB of L3 cache, but comes with a 3.6GHz core speed.

Pricing for this chip was set at $294, or about 215 Euros, making it an interesting solution for entry-level workstations requiring high amounts of system memory.

All these three Xeon E6-1600 series processors have a TDP of 130 Watts and are compatible with socket LGA 2011 motherboards.

Just like their desktop counterparts, the CPUs released in the Xeon 1600-series will feature HyperThreading, Turbo Boost technology, AVX and AES instructions, and VT-x / VT-d / VT-c virtualization. 

The release date of the Xeon E5 processor line is not yet known. The chips were initially expected to arrive in Q4 2011, but recent rumors suggest Intel has delayed their launch to Q1 2012. (via CPU-World)


Intel's Upcoming Core i7-3960X CPU Gets Overclocked to 5.5GHz

If rumors are true, in a little less than two months time Intel will launch its first desktop processors based on the high-performance Sandy Bridge-E architecture and recently an overclocker has taken an engineering sample of such a CPU to 5.5GHz from the stock 3.3GHz.

The chip used for these overclocking tests was none other than Intel's top of the range LGA 2011 processor, the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition.

When working at its default settings, this six-core chip with 15MB of Level 3 cache has a base clock of 3.3GHz and a maximum Turbo Boost speed of 3.9GHz, so going to 5.5MHz represents quite a significant frequency increase.

In order to achieve this feat, the overclocker had to use dry ice for cooling the Intel CPU and to increase the core voltage to 1.572V, as reported by CPU-Z, during these tests.

The chip's OC potential using only air-cooling was also put to the test, and during this attempt it managed to achieve a respectable 5GHz with a slightly lower voltage that on DICE.

After both of these overclocks, the Intel processor had its performance tested in the single-core SuperPi benchmark where it managed to finish the test in less than 7 seconds when working at the faster clock speed. 

Before judging this result, please keep in mind that the CPU was an engineering sample chip, so its performance as well as overclocking potential could change until it gets officially launched.

Together with the Core i7-3960X, Intel will introduce two other Sandy Bridge-E chips, the Core i7 3930K and the Core i7-3820, the first one of these coming with six computing cores, 3.2GHz base, and 3.80GHz Turbo clock speeds, while the latter uses a quad-core design.

Intel's first LGA 2011 desktop processors are expected to make their debut in mid-November and pricing for the Core i7-3960X will be set at $999, or 999 Euros depending on where you live. (via XtremeSystems)






How to Remove the Hated Blogger Lightbox

A couple of days ago, Blogger introduced a Lightbox style feature for blog photos. While it may be a few years after Lightbox was trendy, it's an attempt to modernize the aging blogging service.

However, Blogger first rolled out the feature and then made the announcement. Blogger has tens of millions of blogs, so this alone was guaranteed to cause outrage.

But the feature was also rather buggy. Some photos failed to load at all. For some blogs, it broke existing Lightbox scripts or other customizations.

Yet another complaint was that users had no simple way of viewing photos at their full resolution, a bad move especially for dedicated photo blogs.

"Thanks everyone for the feedback, I'll take this discussion back to the team and see what we can do to make the feature more flexible," a Google employee said in response to a Blogger help thread related to the feature.

"If you haven't already, providing a detailed explanation of this lightbox is not ideal for your blog will help us understand all the use cases here. Our ears are open!," he added.

All in all, the launch wasn't well received. Thankfully, Google is listening and it will likely make the feature optional enabling users to disable, if they want to.

Google hasn't confirmed anything, but it seems a likely scenario. But this won't happen overnight. Luckily, there is a fix that you can implement right now, as long as you don't mind rolling up your sleeves and manually editing your blog's template.

What you need to do is to add the script below, which disables the Blogger Lightbox script, to your blog.

To do this, go to the Blogger dashboard, click on the title of the blog you want to add the script to, then select Template from the left sidebar.

You'll notice the "Edit HTML" button, click that too. You'll get a warning about the dangers of manually editing your template, click proceed.

Then, simply paste the script below anywhere in the <head> section of the template

<script type='text/javascript'>
  //<![CDATA[
 function killLightbox() {
 var images = document.getElementsByTagName(
 'img');
 for (var i = 0 ; i < images.length ; ++i) {
  images[i].onmouseover=function() {
   var html = this.parentNode.innerHTML;
   this.parentNode.innerHTML = html;
   this.onmouseover = null;
  };
 }
 }
 if (window.addEventListener) {
 window.addEventListener('load',killLightbox,undefined);
 } else {
 window.attachEvent('onload',killLightbox);
 }
 //]]>
 </script>


Windows 8 Dual Boot and Advanced Options Demo

Boot has evolved considerably in Windows 8 compared to the traditional Windows startup process, delivering a new level of performance, an enhanced user experience as well as a new set of options. 

In the video embedded at the bottom of this article, Billie Sue Chafins, senior program manager lead, Windows User Experience Team, demonstrates what dual boot looks like on a next-generation NUI form factor, and goes on to showcase a number of advanced options. 

Since Windows 8 was built with natural user interfaces in mind, it was only fit to equip the operating system with touch interaction capabilities, enabling users to leverage the soft keyboard even before during the boot process. 

“We know that some of you love to customize your machines by changing OS settings, booting from a physical device, or performing boot troubleshooting in Windows RE. You are not only getting a seamless experience every time you boot, you’re also getting a beautiful, touch-first experience even if you are someone who wants to look under the hood,” Chafins stated. 

Even when it comes down to selecting the platform to startup in a dual boot configuration, customers will have at their disposal a high-fidelity, immersive UI which they can touch. 

The same UI, sporting the same capabilities will be available as they navigate through the advanced options at their disposal as a part of the Windows 8 boot process. 

“We did a thorough inventory of all the advanced features available and designed an experience that gives a consolidated view of the functionality you may want before entering the OS. Unlike in previous versions of Windows, the advanced boot options in Windows 8 can be reached easily, are simple to navigate, and look and feel harmonious,” Chafins added. 

Essentially, what the software giant did was to dig up functionality buried into the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) store and bring it to the surface, saving users the trouble of turning to bcdedit for even the simplest changes to the boot process.

In the video below, Chafins will also demo troubleshooting in Windows RE, and the steps needed to launch command prompt and starting to use it. Again, the soft keyboard is sufficient, customers don’t have to connect any other peripherals. 

“We recognize that many of you boot to devices, for example, to a bootable USB stick. Today, this requires entering the BIOS boot options menu which could be under one of many Function keys, depending on the hardware/firmware vendor,” Chafins said. 

“But with UEFI firmware, the OS can call back into firmware to enumerate the BIOS boot options. This means that advanced boot options that were formerly only available from BIOS menus will be available alongside the Windows-provided functionality.”

Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) is available for download here.

Google Earth 6.1 and Google Earth Pro 6.1 Are Now Available

Google has announced the release of the latest update to Google Earth. The latest version, Google Earth 6.1 comes with a few new features that should make managing saved maps easier and also enhance the Street View experience.

The professional version of Google Earth 6.1 comes with a longer list of updates and new features.

"If you’re like me, your growing collection of maps in the My Places panel is getting a bit unwieldy. Every time I find a great new map or upload a new GPS track, it gets a little harder to find things," Peter Birch, product manager at Google, explained a common problem.

"With this release, we’ve added a couple of new features to help you clean house a bit and find things more easily," he explained.

It's nothing groundbreaking, but you can now sort saved maps alphabetically. The search box was also made easier to find, you can start typing the name of the map you're trying to find and it will be highlighted in the My Places section.

"We’ve now added even more Street View features, including better zoom control through the slider tool and a wider field of view similar to Google Maps," Birch added.

Street View was added in Google Earth 6.0 and the latest update brings even more features. You can control what you see better and you can also move from one place to another a lot easier, just click on the area you want to see, just like in Google Maps.

Professional users have even more to look forward to. Google Earth Pro 6.1 adds an improved print layout enabling users to add more info to the printed maps, such as scale bars and directional arrows.

The latest update for professional users also comes with an easier way of creating video tours from Google Earth 3D imagery. It's also easier to use Google earth in an enterprise environment thanks to better support for proxies and encrypted connections.


Download here

AMD FX-Series Prices Leaked, FX-8150 Sells for $245 (178 Euros)

With less than a month to go until the release of AMD's FX-Series processors, all the secrets surrounding these CPUs have now been unveiled, as the pricing of these chips was recently leaked together with their official release date.

Just as other rumors have announced, the AMD FX-Series processors will arrive in about a month from now, on October 12 to be more exact.

The initial processor lineup will include at least three models, the highest performing of these being the FX-8150, which Donanim Haber has found out will retail for $245 US, or about 178 Euros. This places the high-end Bulldozer CPU right between the $216 Intel Core i5 2500K and the $317 Core i7 2600K. 

Specs wise, the FX-8150 packs eight computing cores with a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and a maximum Turbo frequency of 4.2GHz as well as 8MB of fast Level 3 cache memory.

Many of these specifications are also shared by its smaller brother, the FX-8120, but this chip has to settle with a slower 3.1GHz base and 4.0GHz Turbo operating frequencies.

Pricing for the FX-8120 has been set at $205, making it just as expensive as the non-K version of the Core i5-2500.

Moving to the third CPU to get priced today, the FX-6100, this will come as a direct replacement for the current Phenom II X6 1100T and will be listed at $175.

Later this year, AMD is expected to add to its FX-Series lineup new quad-core models from the FX-4100 range, which rumors suggest will be followed by a family-wide refresh in the first quarter of 2012.

All the AMD FX-Series processors listed above include a dual-channel DDR3-1866 memory controller, 8MB of Level 3 cache and are compatible with motherboards using the AM3+ socket.


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