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Oct 3, 2011

First Screenshots of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) for Android Spotted in the Wild

Although rumors about the possible release of a BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) application for Android devices leaked more than six months ago, no confirmation has been received from Research in Motion.

However, the first screenshots of the BBM app for Android devices just leaked, courtesy to the guys over at TechRadar.

The screenshots come by way of a Research in Motion (RIM) employee who also stated that the application is in the final stages of testing and will be released by 2012.

In addition, the company plans to launch an iOS version of BBM, which might be released soon after the Android software.

According to the latest hearsay, Android and iOS users may be charged a certain one time or recurring fee in order to be able to use the BBM features.

Nokia SeaRay, Sabre and Ace Windows Phones Get Spec'd

Later this month, Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia is expected to unveil to the world its first smartphone running under Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, and some more info on three such devices has just emerged. 

Apparently, the first Nokia Windows Phones might include the SeaRay, which was already unveiled to the world, along with the recently leaked Nokia Sabre, and the Nokia Ace. 

While no official info on these handsets' arrival on the market emerged for the time being, nor on the hardware they might pack inside, some leaked details on their specs did emerge, showing quite appealing smartphones. 

The Nokia SeaRay, for example, is expected to arrive on shelves with a 3.7-inch AMOLED screen, a Clear Black Display, and with a 1.4GHz application processor packed inside.

Moreover, the mobile phone should include 16GB of internal memory, along with an 8-megapixel photo snapper on the back, with Carl Zeiss optics, auto focus, and video recording capabilities. It would be powered by a 1540mAh battery. 

The Nokia Sabre, a device leaked only recently from Microsoft themselves, is expected to pack a similar display and the same application processor as the SeaRay, but will come with interchangeable back covers.

The mobile phone will include 8GB of internal memory, and should sport a 5-megapixel photo snapper on the back, also with auto focus and video recording. 

As for the Nokia Ace, it might turn out to be the most appealing of the three, featuring a larger, 4.3-inch AMOLED touchscreen display.

The mobile phone also comes with a 1.4GHz application processor inside, as well as with 16GB of internal memory, HSPA+ connectivity, and an 8-megapixel photo snapper on the back. 

The Nokia Ace is said to be set for an US launch too, and might land on the airwaves of AT&T sometime in the first quarter of the next year. 

For the time being, these are only supposed specs of these mobile phones, yet rumor has it that all the necessary info on them might be unveiled at the Nokia World 2011 event, followed by more handsets at MWC next year.

AMD Details Next-Generation Bulldozer Processors in Leaked Slide

Even though AMD hasn't even launched its first processors based on the Bulldozer architecture, the company is looking ahead and has already started designing its next-generation high-performance chips based on this arch, the first details about these CPUs just making their way to the Web.

For now, the processor is known as the “FX Next” and the slide reveals that this is based on the second generation Bullodzer cores, known under the code name of Piledriver.

If this designation sound familiar to you, is because the Piledriver core will also be used in AMD's Trinity APUs which are expected to launch in early 2012.

Compared to the current Bulldzer core, AMD's leaked slide says that Piledriver will deliver about 10% better x86 performance and will also bring support for the Turbo Core 3.0 technology.

In addition to these changes, “FX Next” chips will receive support for the IOMMU v2 technology as well as for a series of new instructions.

This includes the FMA3 instruction set, used for performing fused multiply–add operations, which will also get included in Intel's Haswell processors in 2013.

What's important to note here is that AMD's upcoming FX-Series CPUs already include support for the FMA4 instruction set, which provides more programming flexibility than FMA3. 

However, FMA4 was developed by AMD, so Intel most probably won't include support for this instructions in its chips, which will mean that most software builders will optimize their code for FMA3.

Just like the upcoming FX-Series, the next-generation Bulldozer chips will also be available in different SKUs containing up to four processor modules for a total of eight cores and a maximum of 8MB L2 cache memory.

According to the slide provided by Donanim Haber, AMD is set to retain compatibility with the AM3+ socket and the 900-series chipsets. No release date for AMD “FX Next” processors was provided.

Intel X79 Chipset is $20 (€15) More Expensive than the X58

Those of you that have been keenly waiting for Intel to release the high-performance LGA 2011 platform should get ready to shell out more money out of your pockets as the chip maker has raised the price of the X79 chipset significantly over that of the previous X58.

Intel has reportedly set the price of its upcoming X79 Express chipset for LGA 2011 motherboards somewhere in the region of $70 US (€52), which is $20 (€15) more than what it asked for X58.

If we were to compare the two chipset it becomes clear that the X58 is the more complex part as its comprised not only from an I/O hub but also includes the ICH10R southbridge, while the X79 is a single-chip solutions since most of the traditional hardware logic found inside the chipset was moved into the Sandy Bridge-E processors.

Furthermore, the X79 PCH is about the same size as 6-series chipsets while it doesn't bring any new features compared to its LGA 1155 counterparts.

Initially, the X79 Express was supposed to include no less than 10 SATA 6Gbps with support for SAS drives as well as an additional PCI-Express 2.0 x4 link that directly connected the CPU to the storage subsystem, but these features have been dropped since Intel has been experiencing all sort of issues with the design of the X79 PCH.

As a result, Intel was forced to go instead with the Patsburg-A chipset which comes without any additional SAS ports thus limiting the maximum number of SATA devices that can be installed to six, only two of these working at 6Gbps speeds.

Together with the X79 PCH, Intel is also expected to launch three processors based on the Sandy Bridge-E architecture, the fastest of which being the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition.

The launch date of the LGA 2011 platform wasn't made public by Intel, but leaks suggest both the Sandy Bridge-E CPUs and the first X79 motherboards will arrive on November 14. (via VR-Zone)

Vodafone Germany Lists iPhone 4S

Apple is expected to make an official announcement on its new iPhone models as soon as tomorrow, and some more proof of various device flavor has started to emerge recently. 

Wireless carrier Vodafone Germany has just put on its website the iPhone 4S in two color flavors, namely black and white, which suggests that the operator might be getting them soon. 

Moreover, the company also listed the mobile phone with three different amounts of internal memory, namely 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, showing that Apple is indeed interested in expanding the available options for its users. 

The iPhone 4S model, which is still unofficial for the time being, was seen at Vodafone Germany next to already launched handsets from Cupertino-based vendor, such as iPhone 4, or the older iPhone 3GS. 

Another interesting fact that the guys over at iPhone-Ticker.de discovered on the wireless carrier's website was the fact that the iPhone 4 model will also be released in 8GB flavors. 

Expected to become available in both black and white versions, the 8GB version on the iPhone 4 is set to become the next low-end model from Apple. 

The one thing that is missing from the said list is the iPhone 5, which is also expected to become official in a matter of days. 

The same as the iPhone 4S, the new device was rumored to become official as soon as this month, and might hit the shelves before November is here as well. 

The iPhone 5 is said to mark the actual step forward that we all expect from the next Apple device, while the iPhone 4S would be only a refresh for the iPhone 4. 

One way or the other, it appears that the iPhone 4 direct successor is getting closer and closer to making an appearance on the market, so stay tuned to learn some more info on its availability as soon as details emerge.

AMD to Bundle Battlefield 3 with New Graphics Cards

If you are one of those who have been waiting impatiently for Battlefield 3 to arrive, you should be happy to know that AMD has prepared you a surprise as it seems like some graphics cards from the Radeon HD 6000-series will be shipping with a coupon for DICE's title.

Graphics card manufacturers have for a long time now taken advantage of highly expected game titles by bundling them for free with their video cards and AMD is no different.

According to SweClockers, AMD plans to bundle the latest version of Battlefield with Radeon HD 6870 graphics cards, mainly because of the supply issues faced by the HD 6900 series.

The promotion will be available from a select number of the company's partners and the coupon included can be used for downloading the full version of the game.

Right now, it isn't known when the AMD campaign will begin. Most probably however, this will start after Battlefield 3 is launched on October 27 in order not to interfere with the initial sales on the game.

The Radeon HD 6870 is destined to cater to the needs of the mainstream market and the GPU was launched in October of 2010.

AMD's Radeon HD 6870 is based on the Cayman XT core and it packs 1120 streaming processors, 56 texture units and 32 ROP units as well as a 256-bit wide memory bus that connects to 2GB of GDDR5 video buffer.

This works at 1.05GHz (4.2GHz effective), while the GPU comes clocked at 900MHz.

The card should be enough for running Battlefield 3 at a resolution of 1080p, but users will have to reduce the detail level in order to obtain playable frame rates, as the higher presets require an AMD Radeon HD 6970 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 580 for smooth gameplay.

Windows 8 Shut Down Process Needs Some Streamlining

I have been playing with Windows 8 Developer Preview Build 8102 Milestone 3 (M3) even before it was officially made available for download, and while I fully enjoy the new experiences and innovation from Microsoft, I also see a few aspects of the OS that could be better. 

Close buttons for Metro apps for example, but I’ve already talked about those, so here’s a new one, a streamlined Windows 8 shut down process. 

At this point in the development process shutting down a Windows 8 machine is a tad more complicated than it should be. 

Ahead of anything else, I just want to stress that I’m fully aware that Windows 8 is tailored to always-on devices, such as tablets / slates that come with their own sleep / hibernate / shut down / restart button. 

I’m sure that said button will be heavily used by all customers running next-generation form factors, as Windows 8’s built-in shut down button will lose all relevance. 

I did not miss the shut-down button a single second over the couple of days that I tested the Samsung Windows Developer Preview PC provided by the software giant at BUILD. Not for a moment. 

The device came with a power button which shut down the form factor entirely when pressed for a longer period of time, or that just put Windows 8 to sleep (short-press). 

However, I have since then installed Windows 8 Build 8102 M3 on more traditional devices, both laptops and desktops, and the way they’re configured now, shutting down is a bit of a pain. 

The way it works is that either in Metro or on the classic desktop, users need to hover the mouse over the Windows logo in the bottom left hand side corner of the screen (in Metro just take the mouse cursor there), and the Charms menu will pop up. 

In order to shut down the machine, customers have to click on settings, which brings up the Metro dialog box, even if they’re running in desktop more, and only then, by pressing the Power button will they be able to shut down their computer. 

It’s my best guess that the entire process could be a tad simpler and more intuitive. I should also mention the “learning curb” factor. 

With the introduction of the Metro UI, Microsoft has scrapped the old Start Menu. There’s a huge problem with this move. The vast majority of Windows users expect the Start Menu to be included in Windows, especially after 15 years of leveraging it. 

But in Metro Windows 8 testers now need to use Charms. The Start Menu is also missing from the desktop in Windows 8, where it was also replaced by Charms. Worst yet, pressing the Windows key no longer launches the Start Menu but takes users to the Metro screen. 

A friend of mine left some less technical members of his family alone with his desktop PC, on which he’s testing Windows 8 at home. The machine is set in a dual boot configuration, but it was running Windows 8, not Windows 7. 

Time came for the PC to be shut down. None of the users that had played with it until then, doing some browsing, managed to figure out how to close it down. They ended up calling my friend on the phone to help them shut down the machine, which he did by guiding them to press CTRL + Alt + Del and select Shut Down from there. 

I don’t think that there’s anybody out there that doesn’t agree with me that this process could be less complex and streamlined quite a lot instead. 

I for one used a simple “fix.” I made my way to Power Options in Control Panel and set the power button to shut down the Windows 8 machine when pressed. But I doubt the fact that average Windows users will see such a solution as intuitive.

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

New YouTube for BlackBerry 7 Phones Optimized with HTML5 Capabilities Released

BlackBerry 7 smartphones owners rejoice, as YouTube has just released a fully optimized HTML5 version of its client.

Many changes can be noticed at first glance, just by looking at the app's layout, which now includes touch-friendly buttons.

In addition, the client is now much faster and offers users a higher quality video steaming experience, along with other attractive features that were only available on other mobile platforms, including Android.

Although Blackberry users had access to YouTube videos in the past via its mobile website, this is the first time that the company launches a HTML5 YouTube version for BlackBerry operating system.

However, those who still own a BlackBerry 5.0 / 6.0 smartphone will not be able to take advantage of the latest YouTube version, due to the lower speed of the integrated browser.

iPhone 5 Is Crafted Around iOS 5, iCloud, Packs A5 Chip - Industry Sources

The usual industry sources cited by a Taiwanese publication seem 100% confident that Apple will not only release an A5-based iPhone tomorrow, but that the device will boast WCDMA and CDMA connectivity in separate configurations, much like today’s GSM and CDMA iPhone 4 versions.

Industry publication Digitimes bluntly states that several sources have shared with them some of the hardware specifications pertaining to Apple’s next iPhone, believed to be either the iPhone 5, or a handset dubbed 'iPhone 4S'.

Citing the intel gathered from these sources, the site confidently reports that Apple is poised to use tomorrow’s event to launch an iPhone packing an A5 dual-core processor. The phone is allegedly tailored for iOS 5, the next major version of Apple's mobile operating system.

The handset’s features are also said to be focused on supporting iCloud services.

Finally, the phone will come in two versions, one capable of WCDMA (GSM) wireless, the other, CDMA (Verizon’s thing).

The information comes by way of a report that looks at the potential changes in global market share for the major smartphone platforms in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The primary reason cited in this impending destabilization of the smartphone market is, in fact, the launch of Apple’s next-generation iPhone tomorrow.

Trailing the iPhone 5 as potential grounds shaking factors are upcoming releases from Nokia and Android-handset vendors, the industry sources said.

They added that the launch of a new iPhone and Mango phones combined will cause Android's share in the global smartphone market to fall.

The sources (not necessarily analysts, but the report certainly suggests they are knowledgeable in these matters), specifically noted that they expected Android’s market share to drop to 40-50% in the fourth quarter.

As far as Apple's iOS is concerned, the platform is expected to gain another 5 points to capture 25% of the market. Microsoft's will have only a 5% slice of the smartphone pie, the sources concluded.

Intel Core i3-2332M Upgradeable Processor Spotted

Earlier this year, Intel introduced a new series of processors based on the Sandy Bridge architecture featuring an upgradeable design, and now this lineup has received the addition of a new CPU dubbed the Core i3-2332M.

This new part features the same specs as the current Core i3-2330M, which means that it packs dual processing cores with a base frequency of 2.2GHz, Intel HD 3000 graphics and 3MB of Level 3 cache memory.

However, compared to the i3-2330M, this processor can be unlocked into a more powerful CPU by purchasing a special upgrade card from the Santa Clara-based chip giant.

After the update, the processor will be identified as the Core i3-2394M and will carry 4MB of Level 3 cache, while its base clock speed will be set at 2.6GHz.

The rest of the processors specifications, including SSE4 and Intel 64 instructions support, VT-x virtualization support, and the DDR3-1333 dual-channel memory controller, will be left unaltered by this update. The TDP of the processor is set at the usual 35W.

In addition of spotting this new upgradeable processor, the CPU-World publication also uncovered the upgraded specs of the other chips to be released in this series, including those of the Pentium G632 introduced in early September.

When upgraded, this CPU carries the G694 designation and operates at 3.3 GHz, 600MHz higher than its default clock speed.

No information regarding the price of this processor is available at this time, but most probably this will be confined to the OEM space.

Intel launched its first upgradeable processor a little bit more than a year ago and this was known as the Pentium G6951. Its presence was limited to a small number of systems such as the Gateway SX2841, and users had the option of unlocking Hyper-Threading support as well as some of the disabled Level 3 cache memory.

Asus Crosshair IV Extreme BIOS Adds Support for AMD FX-Series CPUs

Asus has just announced the release of a new BIOS for Crosshair IV Extreme and Crosshair IV Formula motherboards which adds support for AMD's upcoming FX-Series processors based on the Bulldozer architecture.

Asus has announced back in March of this year that select motherboards from their AM3 series will be compatible with FX-Series CPUs using the AM3+ socket.

The list of motherboards with AM3+ compatibility released back then also included the Crosshair IV Extreme and Crosshair IV Formula, which have now received BIOS support for these chips.

Both the Crosshair IV Extreme and Crosshair IV Formula are built around the AMD 890FX chipset, which is paired with the SB850 southbridge.

As a result, the motherboards are compatible with 3 and 4-way CrossFireX configurations, respectively since the Formula provides three PCI Express x16 slots, while its older brother has four such slots.

Storage is provide by six SATA 6Gbps connectors, and the motherboards also features 8-channel high-definition audio (SupremeFX X-Fi in the Formula), a Gigabit Ethernet controller, two USB 3.0 ports and a powered 3Gbps eSATA port.

In addition, the Extreme version also gets support for DDR3 memory up to 2133MHz, Lucid's Hydra technology, two more SATA 3Gbps ports and Bluetooth connectivity.

The CPU is powered by an 8+2 phase VRM and the boards also pack a wide assortment of Asus specific technologies, such as ROG Connect, MemOK! or the TurboV Evo application.

The new BIOS, version 3017, doesn't bring any other features except the support for AM3+ processors, so Asus doesn't recommend the update unless such CPUs should be installed.

The BIOS files for both motherboards are available from download from our website, by following the links listed bellow. As usual, the whole BIOS updating procedure should be treated with extreme caution.

Download links:

EXIF ReName 0.1.10 - Rename Photos Based on EXIF Data

Classifying and organizing digital pictures often involves sorting them by various criteria such as the date they when taken or their file name. With EXIF ReName you can combine these to obtain the optimal categorization.

A task many of us have run into and found it simple at the beginning but it proved to be rather time consuming is cataloging the photos taken with our digital cameras. This is particularly true if you stack a couple of thousands of pictures in a single location and then realize that they were made on many different occasions. That would be a good time to start cleaning the mess and put some order in those chock-full directories.

An important part of cataloging images (or any other type of document) is sorting them by name, an activity for which there are quite a lot of available software programs. In the case of photos, a great asset that has to be exploited is the existence of EXIF data in every single one of them. To use it in your advantage you need an application like EXIF ReName.

As its name suggests, this tool will enable you to modify the current names of your pictures so it will make good use of the exchangeable image file format (EXIF) information. The installation is pretty straightforward so you can have it up and running in no time. More good news you will find when checking the price tag which has a big zero written on it, meaning that you'll be able to enjoy it for free.

The interface is bent on functionality, so great looks are not an attribute, but on the other hand, for this type of apps it would be better to get the job done well in the first place and look pretty later. Also, loading items can be done only with the built-in file explorer, because drag and drop is not supported.

EXIF ReName will use the capture date and time that it extracts from the files and adds them to the photo names. You will notice this when moving on to the renaming options.  The first mode preserves the initial names and puts them before or after the EXIF information, while the other implies you providing a new name to precede or succeed the date and time.

If neither of the above suits your needs, you can forsake adding or keeping names and use only the date and time setting that you will find in the 'Edit' menu. There is yet another way you can process the pictures, but it doesn't involve renaming them, the images will simply be copied to a location of your choice.

This application will allow you to specify the file name pattern by selecting this feature from the 'Tools' menu. You'll have at hand a variety of parameters to customize like separators for folder or file name figures, as well as for date and time, capitalization or lowercase letter usage and even the target file extension.

There is a drawback that will probably not be overlooked by any user and is worth mentioning at this time. It relates to the fact that you can rename only a single type of files in a batch. This means that if you have JPG and BMP pictures, for example, they will require separate processing for every format.

A nice function that can prove very useful for organizing the images is the automatic folder generation that is accessible via the 'Edit' menu. When this is option becomes active, EXIF ReName will create directories named from the year, month and day the photos were taken and store each processed file in its corresponding place.

There's one more goody waiting to be discovered and used in the same menu: a small time stamp editor. You can use it to alter the date and time for any photo with exchangeable image file format information attached to it. This tool even has a button that will imprint the current time when pressed.

When it comes down to the actual processing of the loaded pictures, you'll be happy to see that it takes a few seconds to complete the task and the stress on the system components is minimal. During out tests, the processor usage peaked at 3% while amount of memory needed was fewer than 9 MB.

  • Selecting the file extension of files you can rename 
  • Rename with only date/time 
  • Date/time + the old name (before or after) 
  • Date/time + new optional name (before or after) 
  • Copy the original files with new names 
  • Rename the original files 
  • Changing the EXIF data in image file 
  • Preconfigure extensions 
  • Settings are saved for each user 
  • Select the format of the file name and folder name. Ex. 2009-10-23, 2009 10 23 or 2009_10_23 
  • Automatic folder creation. Folder name from year, month and day of file creation 
  • Easy check for updated version

Download here

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