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Nov 21, 2011

Need for Speed: The Run Review




Need for Speed: The Run System requirements:

MINIMUM PC REQUIREMENTS
OS: Windows Vista SP2 32-bit
DirectX: DirectX 10
Processor: 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Equivalent
Memory: 3 GB
Hard Drive: 18 GB
Graphics card (AMD): 512 MB RAM ATI Radeon 4870 or higher performance
Graphics card (NVIDIA): 512 MB RAM NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT or higher performance
Sound card: DirectX Compatible
Keyboard or Gamepad or Steering Wheel
DVD Rom Drive
Online: 512 KBPS or faster Internet connection

RECOMMENDED
OS: Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
DirectX: DirectX 11
Processor: 3.0 Ghz Intel Core 2 Quad or AMD Equivalent
Memory: 4 GB
Hard Drive: 18 GB
Graphics card (AMD): 1024 MB RAM ATI Radeon 6950
Graphics card (NVIDIA): 1024 MB RAM NVIDIA GeForce GTX560
Sound Card: DirectX Compatible
Keyboard or Gamepad or Steering Wheel
DVD Rom Drive
Online: 512 KBPS or faster Internet connection


The good:
+Cars handle a bit more realistically than previous arcade games
+Graphics look stunning
+Lots of cinematic moments towards the end of the campaign
+Great Challenge Series

The bad:
-Lifeless characters in the story
-A few glitches with the graphics
-Multiplayer is split up into various modes


I grew up with the Need for Speed franchise, first experiencing the racing series with the stunning NFS 5: Porsche Unleashed. After that, I didn’t miss any entry in the series. Sadly, as much as I enjoyed titles like Underground 1 and 2, not to mention the stunning Most Wanted, the newer iterations, like the ill-fated Pro Street or the cheesy Undercover, almost made me abandon the franchise completely.

Thankfully, Electronic Arts managed to avoid sending the long running series down the drain, and allowed new studios longer development times and more creative freedom, which resulted in the franchise taking some rather interesting turns, like with Shift 1 or 2, made by Slightly Mad Studios, or last year’s Hot Pursuit, made by Criterion Games.

Now, the old Black Box studio, which was responsible for many of the older NFS games, is back, with Need for Speed: The Run, a return to story-based experiences that’s using a brand new engine already seen in Battlefield 3, called Frostbite 2, and promises to deliver an adrenaline-filled narrative as well as the same arcade racing experience that made the series a classic.

So, is Need for Speed: The Run miles ahead of its competition or should it pull over to let other games pass? Let’s find out.


Story

I absolutely loved the last three games in the NFS series, Shift 1, Hot Pursuit and Shift 2, largely because they focused just on the pure driving experience, letting you forge your own professional career, in the Shift titles, or explore your cop and racer talents, in Hot Pursuit.

Still, with The Run promising to deliver a pretty interesting story of an illegal race across the U.S. in the vein of the 1980s Cannonball Run movies, the game seemed to at least try and add something meaningful to the series and offer some reason for all the racing you’ll do during its actual stages.

Sadly, The Run falls drastically short when it comes to its narrative. While there are quite a lot of intense moments and stunning set piece moments, especially once you’re in the final stages of The Run, the characters are extremely forgettable.

You play as Jack, a guy who’s in some sort of trouble with the mob, and needs money fast. Luckily, his old time partner Sam, played by Christina Hendricks, offers him the chance to enter The Run, an illegal race from San Francisco to New York.

While it’s a straightforward plot for a racing game, the characters feel lifeless, we don’t find out anything interesting about either Jack or Sam, and, even worse, Jack comes across as a bit of arrogant guy, so you might even end up rooting for the mob until the story ends.

Sadly, not even the bad guys or Jack’s competitors in The Run are detailed, save for a few loading screens with bits of text right before you go up against them in special duels. In case you don’t pay attention, you’re not losing anything significant as most of them are walking, or should I say driving stereotypes, with the likes of spoiled rich girls looking for thrills, former professional racing drivers looking to prove their worth, or a mob guy that just wants to take Jack out of the race permanently.

I don’t want a story like Mass Effect or Skyrim in a NFS game, but The Run tries to amp up its action movie plot while forgetting that its characters have the personalities of cardboard cutouts.


Gameplay

While the story falls short of what it could have been, the gameplay more than makes up for its shortcomings. While at first I was afraid that the Frostbite 2 engine, previously seen in the Battlefield 3 first person shooter, wouldn’t properly support a racing game, The Run proves its versatility.

While the game isn’t as arcade in its car handling like Hot Pursuit, all cars feel good and are a bit more realistic. You won’t be able to pull handbrake drifts as easily as in Hot Pursuit, but with a little bit of practice you’ll soon master most cars from its pretty large roster.

To help players out, vehicles have different handling ratings, going from Easy to Very difficult, so while at first you might be tempted to get a powerful yet difficult car, it’s sometimes better to get a less powerful yet easier to handle vehicle, especially if you need to race through tight city courses. You don’t have a dedicated tuning option, although you can choose various style packs and color options to customize your ride.

The Run’s story mode takes players through all sorts of different settings, from wide open highways to tight streets in and around cities like Las Vegas, Chicago, or New York. You won’t have that many cars to choose from during the campaign, sadly, as you unlock new ones in certain moments, and can only change between by awkwardly pulling into gas stations right in the middle of actual races.

While the campaign won’t impress you with its characters, it does have quite a lot of exciting moments, especially once you start getting close to New York city. There are some awkward design choices, however, like when you need to evade SUVs driven by the mob that keep shooting at your car (which has regenerating health, because why not?).

The first half is also a bit boring, as most of your objectives range from overtaking a certain number of cars, driving through checkpoints to make up time, or battling with other opponents. Thankfully, the police is quickly sprinkled throughout these events to make things more interesting.

Besides the story mode, which is split into chapters, there’s a long and much more flexible Challenge mode, where you go through various locations you already unlocked by playing the campaign and just race to meet certain objectives, much like in Hot Pursuit. This is where The Run really shines, as you can choose from all the cars in The Run and just put your skills to the test.

Opponents are relatively smart and even employ some dirty tricks when you try to overtake them for the first time. The game offers XP for every special move you pull, and overtakes are split into multiple categories, like dirty or clean, depending on if you touch the car in front of you. Some opponents will deliberately run into you while overtaking them so instead of 50 XP, which you get for a clean maneuver, you get just 25 XP.

The behavior of the police isn’t as aggressive or developed like in NFS: Hot Pursuit, as they mostly rely just on ramming into you, attempting 'Pit' maneuvers, driving in front of you and then stopping suddenly, or deploying roadblocks, so they won’t give you serious problems.

What’s more, if you do make mistakes, The Run has checkpoints in each of its race and a replay system that takes you back to the last one instead of forcing you to completely restart a race. This is great in longer events where you need to overtake many opponents throughout lengthy stretches of road.

As a little diversion, there are also on-foot sequences in The Run which, while certainly quite exciting, are controlled only through quick time events, so it might take a few tries before you successfully pass them. Thankfully, there are just a few of these moments, and you’ll soon be back into a vehicle.

Overall, The Run’s gameplay impresses both through fidelity and quality, improving on its arcade predecessors while adding quite a lot of set piece moments throughout the story campaign and a pretty lengthy Challenge series.


Multiplayer

Like previous NFS games, The Run uses the Autolog system to allow players to compare their performances throughout the story and challenge series with their friends, as well as race against each other through various online modes that support up to 16 people.

The actual multiplayer matches are split into several so-called categories, like The Underground, Exotic Sprint, Supercar Challenge, NFS Edition Racing, Mixed Competition, or Muscle Car Battles. These modes just limit what kind of cars and tracks you can use but do make it harder to find matches in your preferred mode.

You can set up playlists and, before each race, there’s a special Bonus Wheel mechanic that randomly chooses what sort of bonus rewards will be given to either the winner, the top three or even all the players, ranging from extra XP to even new cars.

While the categories in the multiplayer do impose some unneeded restrictions, the online mode feels great and Autolog will no doubt make quite a lot of people go back to the campaign or challenge series to best the times set by their friends.


Visuals and Sound

Frostbite 2 impressed us in Battlefield 3 and makes another stellar representation in NFS: The Run, although a few glitches, like some low-resolution textures, may appear in certain moments. Almost all the environments through which the game takes players look great and delight through various details and fine touches. From the sunlight shining through the trees to the snow effects on mountain tracks, you’ll really be impressed by this game.

The terms of sound, The Run will continue to delight players, with another stellar soundtrack that knows when to play licensed songs, different for each location you visit, and when to stick to orchestral music, during set piece moments. The voice acting, as I’ve said, falls short, but the cars sound really good and will certainly make you feel like you’re in their cockpit.


Conclusion

Need for Speed: The Run is a great game, with stunning visuals, polished gameplay, and lots of variety, but disappoints through the story that could have been much more exciting if the characters felt more alive or were explored in a more detailed manner.

Still, with a decent campaign that has plenty of high points, with a top notch challenge series, and a multiplayer powered by Autolog, The Run will no doubt satisfy your virtual racing urges.


GAME RATINGS:
Story: 6/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Concept: 8/10
Graphics: 9/10
Audio: 8/10
Multiplayer: 9/10
Overall: 8/10











More Rumors Suggest Radeon HD 7900 GPUs Will Use XDR2 Memory




Rumors regarding the use of XDR2 memory in AMD's next-gen Radeon HD 7900 graphics cards refuse to die and recently these have been brought once again to our attention by a Chinese website.

According to MyDrivers, AMD will design its Radeon HD 7900-series graphics cards based on the Tahiti core to work with both GDDR5 and XDR2 memory.

Certain higher-end SKUs based on Tahiti will use XDR2, while the more cost effective versions of these GPUs will pack the same GDDR5 memory we all have come to know and love in our graphics cards.

Of course that these rumors are largely unsupported and that they should be taken with a huge grain of salt, but all this talk about Rambus' XDR2 memory surely makes me wonder if there is any truth behind these allegations.

I guess that for now all we can do is wait and see how this one plays out.

SMSC LAN9730 Converts USB 2.0 into 10/100 Ethernet




USB and Ethernet are two different connectivity technologies, used for distinct applications, but it so happens that SMSC decided it was time the latter enjoyed the power efficiency benefits of the former.

SMSC just issued an announcement in which it reveals the LAN9730, a fully-integrated Hi-Speed Inter-Chip (HSIC) USB 2.0 to-10/100 Ethernet device.

HSIC is based on the company's patented Inter-Chip Connectivity (ICC) technology and allows the USB protocol to be delivered over short distances via LAN while still retaining software compatibility with analog USB 2.0.

The primary advantage of this so-called industry's first item is that any device requiring an Ethernet port will consume considerably less power.

“Performance, flexibility in design and power savings are all critical design elements inherent in SMSC’s line of networking solutions,” said Rolf Mahler, vice president and general manager of SMSC’s Networking Solutions group.

“For embedded and consumer applications, this device can leverage our patented ICC technology to reduce power consumption and silicon area compared to a standard analog USB 2.0 interface.”

LAN9730 has an integrated 10/100 physical layer and more than one power management enhancement, like Magic Packet and Link Status Change and Wake on LAN.

It measures 8 x 8 millimeters and has a 56-pin QFN package. It also has a completely lead-free construction and features RoHS compliance.

In other words, it is green not just because of its low power requirements, but also because it uses few hazardous or otherwise environment-unfriendly materials.

Mass production will only start at the end of January, 2012, but qualification samples and evaluation kits exist already.

Routing and placement of network connections anywhere in a developer's system should be more flexible when setting up. Finally, the cost advantage is owed to the use of a single 25 MHz crystal that drives both the USB and Ethernet PHYs reduces developer BOM cost).

Nvidia's Upcoming GeForce 600M-Series GPUs Get Detailed – Report




We all knew for quite some time now that the beginning of 2012 will mark the introduction of a series of new mobile graphics cores from Nvidia that take the 600M-series designation, but now additional details about the specs of these GPUs made their way to the Web.

Nvidia's GeForce 600M notebook graphics card range will be comprised of 13 solutions according to the info provided by ComputerBase, these being split into three series depending on their target market.

The fastest of these were designed to meet the needs of enthusiasts and their code names carry the “E” moniker to suggest their membership to this GPU series.

Nvidia plans to launch five enthusiast notebook graphics cores in total, the fastest of which being the GTX 680M known under the code name of N13E-GTX and featuring a 256-bit memory interface.

The only other Nvidia mobile GPU to use a 256-bit memory bus is the GTX 675M, while the GTX 670M will use a 192-bit wide interface.

The two other chips in the enthusiast range, the GTX 660M and the GT 655M, come as 128-bit parts, which is also the width of the memory bus used by five of the six performance (identified by the “P” moniker) GPUs that Nvidia has planned.

The last two Nvidia GeForce notebook solutions to be uncovered belong to the mainstream sector and are known as the GT 620M and 610M, both of which coming with a 64-bit wide memory bus.

Right now we don't know how many of these solutions are actually new as the lineup will also include a series of rebrands.

Another question sign regards the manufacturing technology used for building these GPUs. Previous reports suggested that all will be built on the 28nm node, but it now seems like Nvidia will also sell a series of GeForce 600M parts based on the 40nm production technology.


AMD Trinity APU Performance Revealed by Leaked Internal Benchmarks




In the first part of 2012, AMD is expected to release its next-generation APUs based on the Bulldozer-derived Trinity architecture and the first internal company estimates detailing the performance of these chips were just leaked online.

The AMD slides made their appearance in the most recent DonanimHaber video bulletin and were captured by the TechPowerUp publication.

While the quality of the images is lacking, they still manage to give us a pretty good idea about the performance of AMD's A8, A6 and A4 series of APUs based on the Trinity architecture when compared to their current Llano counterparts.

In terms of visual performance, judged by running the 3DMark Vantage benchmark, AMD's next-gen APUs seem to be on average 32% faster than the chips they are supposed to replace, while in terms of general performance (using PCMark Vantage) the result is a much more disappointing 13.8%.

The strongest point of the new architecture however seems to be its GPGPU performance as the AMD benchmarks show this can deliver a massive 56.3% performance increase, on average.

AMD's next-generation APU combines either two or four processing cores based on the Bulldozer architecture with a VLIW4 GPU derived from the Cayman graphics used inside the Radeon HD 6900 series.

The computing cores will go by the name of Piledriver and, much like the current Llano APUs, lack any sort of Level 3 cache memory as AMD wanted to increase the die area available to the on-board GPU.

In addition, the chip will also bring support for a series of new instructions sets introduced with the Bulldozer architecture, such as AVX and AES-NI, as well as support for DDR3-2133 memory.

Outside of the improved performance, the Trinity built-in GPU will also bring a new Video Compression Engine and support for AMD's EyeFinity technology.





AMD Radeon HD 7000M GPU Series Unveiled, Specs Included




AMD's Radeon HD 7000-series graphics cores should make their entrance in the market not too long away from now and recently the specifications of a wide series of the mobile version of these GPUs were leaked on the Web.

As it has been reported previously, on the notebook front, the HD 7000-series will be comprised of five different graphics cores addressing the needs of a wide range of users ranging from the low-end to the enthusiast sectors.

Sadly, little is known about the most powerful of these GPUs, based on the Wimbledon, Heathrow and Chelsea designs, apart from a preliminary set of operating frequencies and the memory installed, but AMD's the mid-range and entry-level solutions are a lot better documented.

According to ComputerBase, the publication who got a hold of this info, the Thames and Seymour GPUs will be used by AMD in no less than 14 mobile graphics cores from the Radeon HD 7000 series.

Of these solutions, eight are based on the mainstream Thames core and these are expected to have TDPs ranging from 15 to 25 Watts thanks mainly to the transition from the 40nm process technology to the 28nm node.

The Thames GPU will actually be available in four different versions, dubbed XT, Pro, LP and LE, which will be used to power the Radeon HD 7600M and HD 7500M notebook graphics cards.

Moving to the entry-level Seymour graphics cores, these will be marketed as the Radeon HD 7400-series and all include a 64-bit memory bus.

Unlike its more powerful siblings, Seymour GPUs will be manufactured using the same 40nm process technology as that of the current AMD Radeon HD 6000 GPUs.

It appears that Nvidia will go for a similar approach (paring 40nm and 28nm parts) with their GeForce 600M GPUs, which seems to suggest that both graphics chip makers have troubles with TSMC's 28nm production node.


Asus Transformer Prime Coming Soon to Staples Stores




We got some good news for those of you that have been waiting impatiently to get their hands on the world's first quad-core tablet. Staples has now put its well known “coming soon” stamp on the Asus Transformer Prime. 

Mobile Syrup has spotted Asus' Nvidia Kal-El powered 10-incher on the Staples website right between the original Transformer tablet and the BlackBerry PlayBook.

As many of you surely know by now, Asus has promised to launch the Transformer Prime in December of this year, the 32GB model being priced at $499 (371 EUR), while the 64GB version of the tablet will retail for $599 (445 EUR).

Apart from the Nvidia SoC, the Prime also includes Wi-Fi, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera that can shoot 1080p videos, and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, all packed inside a 8.3mm-thin chassis.

The initial version will run Android Honeycomb, but is upgradable to Android OS 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

PR 1.1 Update for Nokia N9 Now Widely Available




Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia has just announced that a new software update is being pushed out to its Nokia N9 users, the PR1.1 firmware that was made official a few weeks ago. 

The company says that the update has started to make an appearance on devices out in the wild, and that the new features and improvements it packs inside will soon be delivered to more users out in the wild.

The update was already sent to some Nokia N9 devices out there (our review unit received it), and
should land on other devices as well in the coming days or weeks.

Among the main enhancements that the new software update is bound to deliver to devices, we can count the charging and calendar notifications that are now available on the standby screen, as well as music controls added to the lock screen.

Basically, users will be able to control what they are listening to without having to head over to the music player for that.

The release notes for the new update include:

  • Chinese language support.
  • More powerful multitasking with improved memory handling.
  • Faster Mail for Exchange synch, synchronizing only active folders.
  • Noise cancellation, reducing background noise so that callers can hear you better.
  • Swipe down to close apps easily; now on by default.
  • PLUS multiple improvements to the operating system.

Moreover, the new firmware brings on Nokia N9 a series of filters for making photography better than before, including black & white, sepia, vivid, negative and solarize.

Following the update, the MeeGo-based device will offer users the possibility to read NFC tags, not to mention that it provides them with the Swype keyboard for fast typing, as well as with the ability to share images via the Twitter application.

The update was made available for download via the Nokia Software Updater as well, although not all users will be able to see it right from the start. After all, the new firmware is being pushed out in phases.

YouTube's HTML5 Video Player Is on Par with the Flash-Based One




YouTube has been working on its HTML5 video player for more than a year now, but the project has remained mainly experimental. Still, the latest versions now seem rather complete and on par, feature wise, with the regular Flash-based player.

As Google Operating System noted, the HTML5 player is pretty much ready to take over the Flash based one. That said, that probably won't happen any time soon.

Google could decide to start advertising the HTML5 version to users and start offering them the option to switch, but that depends on how stable the player and, importantly, how well browsers out there handle it.

The HTML5 YouTube player is available as an experiment. If you decide to join, all YouTube videos will be streamed via HTML5, except the ones with ads. Of course, whether this works or not depends on your browser.

But if you're using a fairly modern browser there should be no problem. You can always leave the HTML5 experiment, of course.

The HTML5 player looks rather well, in fact, in some respects, it looks better than the Flash based one. It also offers the same functionality, all of the controls are there, you can enable subtitles (close captioning) and there's even full screen support in some browsers.

What's more, you'll also be able to get videos streamed in WebM, Google's open source video format, rather than the usual h.264. WebM videos are available in 480p and even 1080p versions on YouTube, depending on the original resolution of the video.

Google made a lot of noise last year with the release of the WebM video format and it's always been a big proponent of HTML5. But things haven't really changed in the meantime. The HTML5 player is a lot better, but it doesn't seem like YouTube plans to push it to users any time soon.

Ice Cream Sandwich Successfully Ported on HTC Hero, Not Ready for Full Use




After Nexus S and Galaxy S II, another Android smartphone receives an unofficial Ice Cream Sandwich update, the old HTC Hero, also known as T-Mobile G2 Touch.

It appears that the folks over at XDA have successfully ported the Android 4.0 on the HTC Hero, though the ROM is not yet ready for full use due to several bugs and issues.

The XDA team that developed the Ice Cream Sandwich ROM for the Hero claims that the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options are fully supported, but there are some problems with calling / data features.

Some SIM cards may encounter problems connecting to the network. According to the developers, these problems are not related to the phone's radio.

However, the XDA team will probably release an updated version of the ROM that hopefully fixes this calling/data problem.

Inno3D Adds 2GB of Memory to the GTX 560 Ti and GTX 560




Chinese graphics card maker Inno3D has just announced that it has developed a new series of Nvidia GeForce solutions based on the GTX 560 Ti and GTX 560 designs that were both paired with 2GB of video buffer.

Inno3D brought this change to Nvidia's GPUs in order to improve their performance when used for running multi-monitor setups at high resolutions or in games that feature high-quality textures such as Metro 2033 or Shogun 2.

Both graphics cards announced today by Inno3D look extremely similar, although they target slightly different market segments.

Their most distinctive feature is the cooling solution that was designed in-house by Inno3D and relies on several heatpipes from drawing the heat produced by the GPU from its surface and into a heatsink that covers most of the PCB.

On top of the aluminum heatsink stands a large diameter cooler that its PWM controlled in order to adjust its speed depending on the temperature of the GPU.

The rest of the graphics cards seem to follow Nvidia's specifications, including PCB layout, and packs two dual-link DVI ports as well as an HDMI video output.

Sadly, no details regarding the clock speeds of the two models are available at this time. Pricing and availability are also unknown.

The GTX 560 Ti is based on Nvidia's GF114 core and it packs 384 stream processors, 64 texturing units, 32 ROP units and a 256-bit memory bus which connects to 2GB of video buffer.

Its stock clock speeds are set at 822Mhz for the core and 1002Mhz (4,008MHz data rate) for the GDDR5 memory.

On the other hand, the GTX 550 Ti packs 336 CUDA cores, 56 texturing units, 32 ROP units, and a 256-bit memory bus. The GF116 core is clocked at 810Mhz while the 2GB of GDDR5 memory works at 1001Mhz (4,004GHz data rate).

Nokia 801T Spotted in China, Confirmed with Symbian^3




Although Nokia plans to release its new Windows Phone 7.5 Mango devices, the Lumia 800 and 710 in China in early 2012, it looks like another Nokia smartphone has been spotted in the Mainland.

According to the folks over at GSMArena, the unannounced Nokia 801T features dual-more quad-band GSM and TD-SCDMA network support and is expected to be launched in China with Symbian^3 on board.

At least that's what the official specs sheet says. However, there is also the possibility that the official document that leaked recently is old and Nokia will update it ahead of the phone's launch.

If the smartphone will be release with Symbian^3 in the end, Nokia will probably update its software to Symbian Anna or Belle afterwards.

Just by looking at the phone's hardware configuration, one can definitely state that the Nokia 801T is a mid-entry smartphone. Even though there's no mentions on the handset's processor, it appears that the phone embeds ST-Ericsson's low-cost PNX6718 chipset.

Furthermore, Nokia 801T only embeds 256 MB of RAM, and possibly microSD card slot for memory expansion, though this has yet to be confirmed.

On the flip side, the phone sports a large 4.3-inch qHD capacitive touchscreen that supports 16 million colors and 360 x 640 pixels resolution.

Another strong points of the smartphone is the 8-megapixel camera on the back, which features autofocus, dual LED flash, as well as HD video recording capabilities.

Design-wise, the Nokia 801T measures 125 x 65 x 11.5mm and weighs no less than 171g (battery included). The device is a bit on the heavy side due to the fact that it features a metallic case, possibly stainless steel.

There are no additional details about the phone's release date or pricing options, but Nokia may want to go live with this low- to mid-budget smartphone before it debuts its Lumia series in China.


Download Free Ubuntu Desktop Migration eBook




Canonical, through Sonia Ouarti, announced a couple of minutes ago (November 21st) the immediate availability for download of the "Five Golden Rules for a Successful Ubuntu Desktop Migration" eBook.

Written for small businesses and enterprises, this free eBook from Canonical contains about 9 pages with information about how to migrate your desktops and employees to a free and open source desktop environment.

"This new, free ebook will show you why moving to Ubuntu is easier than you think. It's really not the headache that people would have you believe. As long as you stick to five key principles."

The Canonical Desktop team says that this eBook can be used as a workbook to plan a project, and that they are here to help you smoothly and successfully migrate to Ubuntu.

In this free eBook you will discover how to:
· Plan effectively for maximum effect;
· Target the users ripe for migration;
· Identify the apps that save you money and hassle;
· Create the right management flows;
· Pilot your project to get it just right.



Download your free copy of the "Five Golden Rules for a Successful Ubuntu Desktop Migration" eBook in PDF format right now from here.

Intel's 15W Pentium 350 CPU Now Available, Targets Micro-Servers




While most of us won't associate Pentium processors with servers, Intel seems to have another opinion in this regard as it recently made available the Pentium 350 CPU that has a TDP of just 15W and targets micro-server systems.

In March of this year, Intel announced that it plans to ship a series of low- and ultra-low power processors for this type of servers and the Pentium 350 is the first one of these chips to arrive.

As a result of its newly found role, the Pentium 350 resembles much more the Xeon E3-1220L rather than the ULV version of consumer Pentium or Core i3 processors, according to CPU-World.

What this means is that similarly to the 1220L, the new chip includes two computing cores, 3MB of Level 3 cache memory, and support for ECC memory, while lacking an integrated graphics unit.

In addition, the chip also comes with Hyper-Threading enabled in order to process up to four threads simultaneously, a characteristic that no other Pentium CPU based on the Sandy Bridge architecture possesses.

This is however where the similarities between the E3-1220L and the Pentium 350 end as the latter doesn't come with support for the AES-NI and AVX instruction sets, Turbo Boost and Trusted Execution also missing from the specs list.

Furthermore, the Pentium 350 is clocked significantly lower than E3-1220L as its cores run at 1.2GHz compared with the 2.2GHz of its Xeon counterpart.

Despite these limitations, the small 15W Thermal Design Power (TDP), and socket 1155 compatibility should make the 350 a great alternative for HTPC systems or home server use.

Sadly, Intel has no plans of selling this CPU to end-users and will only ship it in micro-servers and other similar products. The pricing of the processor is not known.

Nikon D800 Pictures and Specs Leak, Packs 36MP Full-Frame Sensor




Keenly awaited by many professional photographers out there, Nikon's D800 DSLR was just pictured in a series of leaked images that just made their appearance on the Web together with some of the camera's specifications.

Quite a few changes were brought by Nikon to this professional DSLR when compared with its current predecessor, the D700, and the most important is definitely the addition of a new 36MP full-frame image sensor.

This is seconded by an Expeed 3 image processor, the combo enabling Nikon to offer a 100 to 6,400 ISO range, that can be expanded to 50 – 25,600.

Furthermore, the D800 will use the same 51-point AF system found in the D3s, but this time this will get a new face recognition mode.

The video recording capabilities of the camera were also enhanced to allow for shooting 1080p at 30fps, while for getting 60fps users will have to drop down to a 720p resolution.

The image quality of the videos recorded was however improved, according to Nikon Rumors, and the D800 is expected to top the current D3s in this chapter.

Other features that will make their way in the D800 include a 100% coverage viewfinder, dual memory card slots (most probably CompactFlash and SD), a built-in GPS and an USB 3.0 data transfer port.

Changes were also made to the body of the D800 as this was designed in order to be both lighter and smaller than the D700, but at the same time it received a larger rear display that is said to measure over 3-inches in diagonal.

Nikon's DSLR will be available in two versions, one of these coming with the antialiasing filter removed. No word on availability and pricing just yet, but some older rumors stated that the camera will be launched by the end of November.


RIM Admits Faulty BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930, Working on Software Update




It looks like Research in Motion is having a really bad year. After three days of BlackBerry outage, it appears that some of the company's BlackBerry 7 smartphones are now making the headlines, namely the Bold 9900 and 9930.

Lots of BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 owners have started to complain about a critical issue that renders their devices useless after charging them overnight (or any interval of time that is just as long).

Many carriers that are currently selling these two BlackBerry smartphones reported a high number of returns due to this issue. There is no working solution to this date, so operators were forced to replace all faulty units that were still under warranty.

According to the latest reports, there are users who replaced their BlackBerry Bold 9900 units two or three times after bricking their phones.

One month after the issue was reported for the first time, RIM has finally decided to come forward with an official statement.

Unfortunately, the statement does not come through the usual channels, instead the company confirmed for the folks over at N4BB the existence of the issue: “A limited number of customers have reported an issue where their device does not power on.”

Just like it did with the BlackBerry outage, RIM does not recognize that the problem affects a larger group of customers, and not just “a limited number.”

However, RIM further stated that it is “actively working on a software update to resolve this issue,” even though there's no confirmation about the root of the issue.

Some users on the official BlackBerry Support Forum think that “if the battery drains completely and is then recharged, it short circuits the phone.”

There's no telling when RIM will actually push the update to fix this issue, nor if this software update will successfully correct this critical issue that bricks the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930.

We reached out to RIM for official statements regarding this issue and are waiting for their replies. Stay tuned for more updates on the matter.

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