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Sep 28, 2011

Direct Download Links For Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview

The next generation of Microsoft's software development IDE suite - "Microsoft Visual Studio 11 Developer Preview" is now available for public downloading via the various links shared at the end of this post, This major new update to the "Visual Studio" adds support for next-generation application development featuring support for .Net Framework 4.5, Microsoft Windows 8, HTML 5, and cloud with enabling developers to target multiple platforms across multiple devices and services.

Download Links:

Fix Windows 8 Explorer Crash / Restart Loop

Microsoft has confirmed an issue with Windows Explorer in Windows 8 that causes the component to go into a crash / restart loop. 

The problem impacts Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3), the first public development milestone of Windows 7’s successor. 

Microsoft has already identified the source of the crash / restart loop and apparently it’s connected to the Metro tiles, even though Windows Explorer is a component of the traditional Windows 8 desktop. 

“If you have application live tiles that use multiple image tile templates, you might encounter an issue that forces Windows Explorer to restart continuously. When this issue occurs, Windows Explorer goes into a loop in which it continuously crashes and restarts,” the Redmond company revealed. 

As some early adopters running Windows 8 might already be aware of, Microsoft has started providing support for the first public preview of the next major iteration of Windows. 

This includes both reports of issues that Windows 8 testers come across, as well as actual fixes. Case in point: KB 2617028

Microsoft is advising early adopters testing Windows 8 who come across the Windows Explorer crash / restart issue to head over to Windows Update and deploy KB 2617028 in order to fix the problem. 

“This issue occurs because Notification Platform crashes when it tries to renew the image file in the cache under certain conditions in which multiple images are requested from the Internet at the same time. For example, if the tile requests an image that is larger than 150 KB, the tile will not render,” the software giant said. 

“This causes a blank tile. If the failure to render is followed by a request that uses an expired HTTP heading to fetch an image, Explorer.exe will be thrown into a continuous loop of crashes.” 

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

Intel Will Add SSD Caching Support to Its P67 Motherboards – Report

Intel is getting ready to add support for the so called Smart Response SSD caching technology to some of its older motherboards based on the P67 Express chipset, although the company said previously this wasn't possible.

According to a report posted just recently by VR-Zone, the Santa Clara chip giant plans towards the end of next month to add support for the Smart Response technology to a series of motherboards based on the P67 PCH (platform controller hub).

The LGA 1155 boards in question are the mid-range DP67BA and DP67DE, two solutions that were released at about the same time with the Intel Sandy Bridge processors.

This move is a bit odd considering Intel stated previously the P67 chipset can't support SSD caching through the SRT (Smart Response Technology).

No information regarding how will this technology be implemented in the P67 chipsets is available at this time.

However, it's extremely likely that SRT support will be introduced via a BIOS update and a series of new drivers.

Right now we don't know if Intel plans to enable SSD caching in other P67 motherboards, but it goes to show how many of the chipset features are just artificial limitations for product differentiation, that aren't based on any specific hardware capabilities.

SSD caching allows users to speed up their storage system by pairing together a solid state disk with an HDD and using the former as a fast cache memory for the hard drive.

Real world testing has revealed that the SRT offers a tangible speed improvement over using just a hard drive, although its has its limitations especially as far as boot times are concerned.

In related news, the end of October should also mark the introduction of the Intel DZ68PL and DZ68AF motherboards based on the Z68 Express chipset.

FeTRAM Memories Will Put RAM to Shame

A patent application is currently pending for a new type of computer memory that could put older RAM (random-access memory) to shame. The novel technology is expected to be considerably faster and less energy-demanding than its predecessor.

Called ferroelectric transistor random access memory (FeTRAM), the new devices rely on using an advanced combination of materials to underly its function. Rather than traditional transistors and other electrical components, these modules contain nanowires and polymers.

According to investigators at the Purdue University Birck Nanotechnology Center (BNC) – the creators of the FeTRAM memories – the unique combination of ferroelectric polymers and silicon nanowires is what allows for such increased levels of performances. 

Ferroelectrics are a class of materials that have the ability to switch their polarity whenever an electric field is applied on them. The team managed to take this property and use it to create an advanced type of ferroelectric transistor, with no current equivalent on the market. 

The transistor encodes “0s” and “1s” by reversing its polarity, the team reports. This is how electronic circuits store binary code data, the very foundation of how computers work. The BNC group was able to create FeTRAM memories that simply work faster than their traditional counterparts.

This technology is in “a very nascent stage,” explains Saptarshi Das, a Purdue PhD student who helped develop the new memories. He is working closely with BNC scientific director Joerg Appenzeller, who also holds an appointment as a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the university.

“We’ve developed the theory and done the experiment and also showed how it works in a circuit,” Das explains. Details of the work were published in a recent issue of the American Chemical Society (ACS) journal Nano Letters, Science Blog reports.

An interesting aspect that FeTRAM technology brings to the table is that it's not a volatile memory. What this means is that the data patterns remain stored within even after a computer is turned off.

Energy tests have shown that it consumes about 1 percent of the electricity necessary to power up a flash memory. “However, our present device consumes more power because it is still not properly scaled,” Das admits.

“For future generations of FeTRAM technologies one of the main objectives will be to reduce the power dissipation. They might also be much faster than another form of computer memory called SRAM,” he concludes. 

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Nanotechnology Research Initiative (NRI) provided the funds needed for this work.

Asus Bang & Olufsen Equipped N75 Notebook Arrives in Europe

The highly anticipated successor of the N73, the 17.3-inch Asus N75 multimedia notebook was finally released in Europe featuring the same Bang & Olufsen ICE Power high-fidelity audio as its predecessor and Intel's second generation Core processors.

The notebook received a redesigned chassis sketched by the same David Lewis who also drew the N73 as well as two display options, a HD+ 1600x900 resolution panel and a Full HD 1080p screen, available with both matte and glossy finishes.

Under the hood, the Asus N75 can be configured with a wide range of Intel Sandy Bridge CPUs from the Core i3, i5 and i7 product families as well as with up to 8GB of DDR3-1333 system memory.

The fast Intel processors are paired with a discrete Nvidia GeForce GT 555M graphics core based on the GF106 architecture which features 144 unified shaders, a 590MHz GPU clock speed, and 1GB or 2GB of 900MHz DDR3 frame buffer.

This also includes support for the Optimus technology, which automatically switches between the integrated Sandy Bridge GPU and the discrete graphics in order to save battery life.

As far as storage is concerned, Asus customers can choose between three 5400RPM and two 7200RPM hard drives ranging in capacity from 320GB to 750GB. 

The standard version of the N75 is configured with a DVD burner, but this can be upgraded to feature a Blu-ray combo drive or a writer.

Apart from the usual connectivity features that find their way in most of today's notebooks, the N75 includes a pair of USB 3.0 ports as well as an HDMI 1.4 video output.

Just like the last year N-series models, the N75 is equipped with a Bang & Olufsen ICE Power high-fidelity audio sound system paired together with Asus' own SonicMaster technology.

When configured with the Full HD panel, a Core i7-2670QM processor, 6GB of system memory and a pair of 640 GB hard drives, the Asus N75 has a recommended price tag of 999 Euros (roughly $1,361 US). (via Laptop Spirit)

Zalman Prepares CNPS12X CPU Cooler for October Release

Korean cooling specialist Zalman, has recently announced the introduction of a new high-performance processor cooler that promises to keep system noise to a minimum while also delivering impressive thermal performance.

The new cooler is dubbed the CNPS12X and resembles a great deal previous Zalman solutions that used an omega-shaped design.

On a closer inspection however, one notices that the CNPS12X is actually a double-tower type heatsink, with as series of ring-like aluminum fin stacks attached to it to resemble Zalman's old-school coolers.

Six direct contact heatpipes are embedded into the base and draw the heat away from the CPU heatspreader and into the aluminum heatsink.

These provide a total air contact area of 9.6 sqaure meters and are cooled by three 120mm fans based on a Zalman design.

In their default operating mode, the fans work at speeds between 950 and 1200 RPM, and produce 25 dBA of noise.

Those who want a more silent computing experience can also put the fans into a special low-speed mode that lowers the RPM to speeds between 850 and 1100, limiting the noise level to 22 dBA.

Zalman CNPS12X is comptible with the current AMD AM2, AM3, AM3 +, FM1 sockets as well as with Intel's LGA 775, 1366, 1156/1155 CPUs, and will also work with the upcoming LGA 2011 motherboards.

According to SweClockers, the massive 1Kg (2.2 pounds) Zalman cooler will become available in three to four weeks and its estimated retail price will be set at 749 SEK including VAT. This translates into about $89 US or €65, after excluding VAT.

Zalman's omega-shaped aluminum fin ring coolers have been extremely popular before the arrival of tower-type CPU heatsinks since they were well renowned for their impressive cooling performance.

Intel Drops MeeGo Name, Introduces Tizen

Intel (proudly?) announced yesterday, September 27th, that it will rename the MeeGo Linux-based operating system project to Tizen.

Here we go again! First it was Moblin, than it was MeeGo, and now it's Tizen, an open source Linux-based operating system for mobile devices and tablets.

Tizen will support the entire category of portable devices, from tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, to netbooks and IVI (In-Vehicle Infotainment) devices.

The Tizen project will be hosted by Linux Foundation, and the entire development process will be completely open, led by a team of people from both Intel and Samsung companies.

Intel says that we can expect a first release of the Tizen project and its SDK (Software Development Kit) in the first quarter of 2012. The first devices powered by Tizen will be available starting mid-2012.

To find out more about the upcoming Tizen operating system for mobile devices, you can check their official website.

Nokia 600, 700 and 701 with Symbian Belle Introduced in India

Nokia India has just announced the upcoming availability of Nokia 600, 700 and 701 Symbian Belle smartphones.

While Nokia 701 is currently available in India for Rs 18,999 (about $390 or 285 EUR), Nokia 600 and Nokia 700 are expected to hit shelves in October for a suggested retail price of Rs 12,999 (about $266 or 195 EUR), and Rs 18,099 (about $371 or 272 EUR) respectively.

All three handset run Symbian Belle, Nokia's latest mobile platform that features a revamped user interface and new features, such as 6 home screens, notification bar, as well as flexible widgets.

Unveiled back in August in Hong Kong, the smartphones made quite an impression at this year's IFA trade fair held in Berlin.

Aside Symbian Belle, the smartphones offer users single-tap NFC pairing, that go along with sharing capabilities and a 1GHz single core processor.

Nokia 600 comes with a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen display with 16 million colors and 360 x 640 pixels resolution. 

The phone measures 111 x 53 x 13 mm and weighs exactly 100g (battery included), which puts it in the medium size range.

Furthermore, Nokia 600 packs 2GB of internal memory, microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB, 2GB memory card pre-installed), as well as a 5-megapixel photo snapper with LED flash and HD (720p) video recording capabilities.

Nokia 700 has similar features but comes with a much better 3.2-inch AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display, based on Nokia's ClearBlack technology. 

The screen supports16 million colors and 360 x 640 pixels resolution and is protected by Gorilla Glass.

Nokia 701 features an impressive 3.5-inch LED-backlit IPS capacitive touchscreen display based on the same ClearBlack technology and protected by Gorilla Glass.

The phone packs 8 GB of internal memory, 512 MB of RAM, 1 GB of ROM and microSD card slot for memory expansion (up to 32GB).

GNOME 3.2's New File Manager, Emperor

It appears that the GNOME developers worked hard to bring a new file manager to the upcoming GNOME 3.2 desktop environment, which will be released later tonight.

The new file manager is called Emperor and will not replace the existing file/desktop manager, Nautilus. Instead, it will be nothing more than a simple two pane file manager written in GTK3.

Inspired by the ever popular Midnight Commander file manager, Emperor is just a "baby" at this time, but soon it will be integrated into the GNOME desktop environment and will feature GIO and GVfs support.

"While it is not yet full-featured, it is complete enough to be useful and has good support for network file systems and automatic mounting of archive files."

"Emperor strives to provide a user interface familiar to users of Total Commander, Krusader, or GNOME Commander." - was stated in the official announcement for the Emperor 0.1 release.

Here's the official website if you want to learn more about about Emperor, GNOME's new file manager.

Asus Intros Ivy Bridge Compatible Motherboards with PCIe 3.0 Support

As a response to all the PCI Express 3.0 compliant motherboards launched by its competitors, Asus has also released a new series of LGA 1055 boards featuring support for this new interface and for Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processors using this socket.

The series will consist of three models, all featuring PCI Express 3.0 connectivity thanks to a series of Asmedia ASM1480 bridge chips to provide the full bandwidth available to PCIe Gen 3 standard even when multiple GPUs are installed.

Speaking of multi-GPU setups, the Asus motherboards come with three PCI Express x16 slots, the first two of these dropping to x8 Gen3 speeds when both are populated, while the latter has only four second generation PCIe lanes routed to it.

Power to the CPU socket is delivered through a newly developed 16-phase digital PWM, while the four DDR3 slots available on the boards support memory up to 2200MHz.

Two USB 3.0 ports were placed I the back of the boards, while two more can be connected by using the available pin-headers.

As far as storage is concerned, Asus' latest creations are equipped with four 3Gbps SATA ports seconded by a maximum of 4 6Gbps SATA ports (in the P8Z68 Deluxe/GEN3 and P8Z68-V Pro/GEN3), as well as with up to two eSATA connectors.

The flagship Deluxe model also features dual Gigabit Ethernet ports, but lacks any sort of video outputs as these are only available in the P8Z68-V Pro/GEN3 and P8Z68-V/GEN3 mainboards. Fortunately, the Deluxe still comes with support for Quick Sync through the LucidLogix Virtu technology.

The rest of the features list is common to all three motherboards and includes Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity, 7.1-channel sound with S/PDIF out and an UEFI BIOS.

All three Asus motherboards should arrive in retail at the beginning of October, and the flagship Deluxe model will have a price tag of about €230 ($313 US). The other two LGA 1155 solutions, the P8Z68-V Pro/GEN3 and P8Z68-V/GEN3, will hit retail for €185 and €160 ($251 and $217 US, respectively). (via HardwareLuxx)

Windows 8 NUI Features May Not Work with Older Drivers

Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) has been available for download for over two weeks now, and although the release is still in pre-Beta stage, early adopters can access it without restrictions. 

At BUILD, Microsoft also offered attendees over 5,000 Windows 8 test devices, to test the OS on next generation hardware. 

The Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC might be the only way for early adopters to see just what Windows 8 has to offer NUI-wise. 

The next major iteration of Windows is tailored to natural user interface devices, letting users leverage multitouch like no other copy of the operating system in history. 

However, it seems that using Windows 8 Build 8102 M3 with existing hardware, be it NUI-capable, might not deliver the same user experience as the Samsung Widows Developer PC. 

According to Microsoft, customers might encounter some issues, especially when attempting to use Windows 8 NUI features. 

“Multitouch features (such as stretch, pinch, or rotate) may not work properly with certain older non-Microsoft drivers,” the software giant said. 

The note provided by the Redmond company also contains the explanation for any eventual problems that testers come across. Existing hardware doesn’t come with the drivers necessary to use all of Windows 8’s NUI features. 

Of course, it’s essentially up to OEMs and to Microsoft to make sure that Windows 8 also shines on older form factors, but this might take a while. 

“There is no workaround at this time,” the software giant informs. This of course means that customers will need to suffer through any potential Windows 8 NUI problems until new drivers are offered by either Microsoft or its OEM partners. 

Those users that played with Windows 7 on NUI capable hardware and that have had the chance of testing the Samsung Windows 8 Developer Preview PC know that the two platforms are in different leagues altogether when it comes to letting users leverage touch for interaction. 

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

XUME Adapters Take the Pain Away from Swapping Lens Filters

If you are serious about your photography, then you must know what a pain it is to screw lens filters on and off, so a company that goes by the name of XUME has developed some ingenious new adapters to come to your aid.

The concept is quite simple and it focuses on transforming ordinary screw-on filters into snap-on ones by using powerful rare earth magnets.

The XUME kit consists of an adapter for the lens of your camera and a holder for each of your filters, and once installed the two magnets found inside these grab each other snapping them together.

The only downside to the Xume is price as the adapter is priced at $33 (€24) while each holder retails $12 (€9), but if you constantly find yourself switching between different filters, these could take a lot of pain out of that process.

XUME's adapters are also available in a kit form, but you won't end up saving too much money by going this route.

Toshiba Debuts Thrive 7'' Tablet with Honeycomb and Dual-Core CPU

Toshiba has just announced a smaller version of its Thrive tablet, which will be available sometime in December. However, the manufacturer has yet to disclose any details regarding Toshiba Thrive 7'' Tablet's price and exact release date.

Even though the original Thrive is nothing short of a fiasco for the company, Toshiba decided to miniaturize its 10-inch slate and have another go in the tablet market.

Toshiba Thrive 7'' Tablet has the same hardware configuration as the bigger slate but comes in a smaller size.

The 7-inch tablet is definitely more appealing thanks to sleek and stylish design. The tablet is only 12mm thick and weighs about 400g (battery included).

The Thrive 7” Tablet is the first seven-inch tablet in the U.S. market to offer a true HD display that when combined with the selection of ports, premium audio, and a better, more robust Android experience make it a great choice for on-the-go consumers looking for a no-compromise tablet,” said Carl Pinto, vice president of product development, Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., Digital Products Division.

Another strong point of the tablet is the 7-inch LED backlit AutoBrite capacitive multi-touch display that support 1280 x 800 pixels resolution.

According to Toshiba, the tablet features the company's proprietary Adaptive Display and Resolution+ video enhancement technologies. 

To make the multimedia experience even richer, Toshiba Thrive 7'' comes with stereo speakers tuned with sound enhancement technologies. 

The device is powered by Android 3.2 Honeycomb platform and is equipped with the same Tegra 2 dual-core processor as the 10-inch tablet.

When it comes to connectivity options, Thrive 7” really shines, as it offers users a selection of built-in ports, including miniUSB, microHDMI and microSD card slot for memory expansion, that go along with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

Other highlights of the 7-incher include a built-in Gyroscope, a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and a 2-megapixel camera on the front for video calling. 

Toshiba Thrive 7'' will be available in two storage configurations, 16GB or 32GB.

Nokia N9 Starts Shipping in Selected Markets, Priced at €480

Unveiled back in June, Nokia N9 received excellent feedback from both users and media. Even though the Finnish company announced that the N9 will be the first and last MeeGo device released, it appears that the consumer demand is impressive.

Unfortunately, Nokia N9 will be globally available, as countries like United States, United Kingdom, Austria or Germany will not be getting the smartphone through standard channels.

The Finnish giant has just announced that N9 is now heading to the shops in selected markets and will be available in three colors (black, cyan and magenta) with and two 16GB and 64GB storage options.

According to Nokia, the 16GB N9 can be purchased for €480 (about $650), while the 64GB model will be available for €560 (about $760) before applicable taxes or subsidies. However, the prices may vary depending on the location and carrier.

“Since we announced the Nokia N9 in June this year, the feedback that it has gotten from discerning and avid smartphone users across the world has been nothing short of fantastic,” said Ilari Nurmi, Vice President of Marketing, Nokia.

One of the strong point of the smartphone is the lack of too many external buttons, as well as the intuitive user interface, which is controlled with simple swipes. 

Although the phone does not features a “home key”, Nokia N9 is delivered with three home views, such as Applications, Events and Live Applications, which allows users to browse through the smartphone's menus more easily. 

"With the innovations in industrial design, user interface, and the Qt developer experience, the Nokia N9 sets the bar for how natural technology can feel, and represents the first in a number of products from Nokia that will be brought to life in similar fashion," concluded Nurmi.

Nokia N9 is powered by a single core 1GHz TI OMAP 3630 processor, complemented by a PowerVR SGX530 graphics processing unit and pack 1GB of RAM.

Other highlights of the phone include a 3.9-inch AMOLED scratch-resistant touchscreen display, support for NFC technology, as well as an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics.

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