[AI] PC NEWS (not latest)

Sanjay ilovecold at gmail.com
Fri Aug 13 04:43:42 EDT 2010


VIRGIN MEDIA PLANS 100Mbps BROADBAND
Super-fast broadband service to roll out this year
Extends 200Mbps broadband and FTTH trials
Virgin Media has announced plans to start rolling out 100 megabits per
second
(Mbps) broadband by the end of 2010.
The ISP said the service, which uses a fibre-optic cable network, will allow
a
music album to be downloaded in just 5 secs, an hour-long TV programme in 31
secs and an HD film in 7 mins 25 secs.
"There's nothing we can't do with our fibre-optic cable network, and the
upcoming launch of our flagship 100Mbps service will give our customers the
ultimate broadband experience," said Virgin Media's chief executive officer,
Neil Berkett.
Virgin Media will begin rolling out the service at the end of this year,
continuing into 2011.
The ISP didn't reveal pricing details or which geographical areas would get
access to the service first, but it did say it had "identified several
locations".
Virgin Media's current fastest package offers download speeds of 50Mbps and
costs from ukp28 per month. There are no download limits, and customers get
a
free wireless router, online storage space and internet-security software.
The
50Mbps service was rolled out following a 2008 trial of 100 customers in
Ashford, Dover and Folkestone.
"There's no denying that customers want faster speeds, but they also want
broadband providers to actually deliver the headline-grabbing speeds they
advertise," said Michael Phillips, product director at
Broadbandchoices.co.uk.
Faster broadband trials extended
Virgin Media also revealed plans to extend its trial of a 200Mbps broadband
service, which began in Kent last May, to Coventry.
The company has vowed to try to increase the number of people able to access
super-fast broadband by using telegraph poles to extend the reach of
fibre-to-the-home (FTTH). Residents of Woolhampton in Berkshire
participating
in the telegraph pole test will get download speeds of up to 50Mbps, said
Virgin
Media. The goal is to see whether using telegraph poles is a viable option
to
extend the coverage of fibre-optic broadband, particularly to rural areas.
The cost of digging and laying cables to bring fibre-optic to rural areas
can
become prohibitive. Using telegraph poles is a way to get around that, said
Annelise Berendt, an analyst with Point Topic.
The trial started in March and is scheduled to run for around six months.
The ISP has identified more than one million homes in the UK that could
benefit
from broadband deployment over telegraph poles.
Fifteen European countries have already reached fibre-optic broadband
penetration of 1 percent or more, but the UK is not among them, said
broadband
lobby group FTTH Council Europe. France reached the 1 percent mark at the
end
of 2009; Germany and the UK must now ramp up efforts to do the same as soon
as
possible, said the group.
Unlike other European governments and local authorities, the UK has so far
taken
a hands-off approach to financing the rollout of fibre-optic broadband. But
this policy is now starting to change, Berendt said.
Currently, the five European countries with the highest penetration are
Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Slovenia and Estonia.
SIX-CORE INTEL CHIPS TARGET GAMERS
Intel has demonstrated its first six-core processor for desktop PCs, the
3.33GHz
Core i7 980X Extreme Edition.
The company said the new chip is faster and more power-efficient than its
previous gaming processors. Based on a new architecture, the processor
includes
more cores and will be capable of running 12 threads simultaneously. This
makes
it ideal for gamers, 3D artists and video content creators.
"It's so fast that it's pushing new graphics cards to process 3D graphics
even faster," said Kelt Reeves, CEO of PC maker Falcon Northwest. "It's the
best CPU I've ever seen."
In testing we saw marginal improvements over its predecessor, the Core i7
975.
In Unreal Tournament 3 (1920x1200, 'High' settings), the Core i7 980X
produced 159.9fps, a 2.8 percent improvement on the Core i7 975's score of
155.4fps.
This extra processing power will come at a cost, however. Although Intel
hadn't announced pricing at press time, German retailer Alternate was
advertising the chip for 1,099 (ukp990).
IE 9.0 PROMISES SUPER-FAST WEB SPEEDS
Microsoft unveils Platform Preview Boosts rendering speeds and banishes
resource-hogging plug-ins
Microsoft has provided a public preview of Internet Explorer (IE) 9.0. It
claims the new browser will speed up performance by using a computer's
graphics processor (GPU) to boost rendering speeds for text and graphics.
IE 9.0 isn't close to completion, but you can test drive a 'Platform
Preview' of the software at bit.ly/cuvE3V.
Microsoft is touting IE's speedy performance and its much-improved support
for
web standards. The browser's strongest attribute may be its adherence to
HTML5, a major revision of the web's core programming language that's still
under development. HTML5 will allow IE 9.0 and other browsers to move beyond
resource-hogging browser plug-ins, such as the ubiquitous Adobe Flash, to
display multimedia content online.
Since the Platform Preview isn't a compete browser, it's too early to draw
any conclusions about IE 9.0's interface; there's no back button, for
instance, nor an address bar. The preview primarily presents web developers
with a tool to test their sites and see how they can implement HTML5's
capabilities. A new Platform Preview will be released every eight weeks or
so,
said Microsoft.
Microsoft has provided a few demos that spotlight IE 9.0's improved handling
of JavaScript, its HTML5 capabilities and its support for
hardware-accelerated
graphics. These are simple demos, such as flying images ( above), map
zooming,
an HTML5 T-shirt designer and GPU-powered falling balls. You need to
download
and install the Platform Preview to check them out.
The preview is compatible with computers running Windows 7 or Vista.
Vista users will also need to install IE 8.0 and the Platform Update for
Windows
Vista, an OS upgrade that allows Vista to use some Windows 7 technologies.
The
Platform Preview will work on both 32bit and 64bit operating systems,
despite
itself being available only as a 32bit x86 version.
Windows XP users are sadly out of luck, since the GPU-powered graphics rely
on
display driver enhancements first introduced in Vista.
British Library launches online archive of 6,000 UK websites
Copyright issues mean only 1 percent of the UK's eight million websites will
be archived by 2011
The British Library has launched an online archive of UK websites. Some
6,000
websites already have their pages stored, in categories such as '2010
General
Election', which holds the websites of MPs, and 'Credit Crunch', a
collection initiated in 2008 that holds records of high-street retail chains
that went bust during the recession.
The archive was unveiled by Margaret Hodge MP, minister for culture and
tourism,
alongside the British Library's chief executive, Dame Lynne Brindley, who
said
the project demonstrates the importance and value of the nation's digital
memory.
Brindley said the archive would aim to create a record of the "major
cultural
and social issues being discussed online", and to "avoid the creation of a
digital black hole in the nation's memory".
But she lamented the current legal framework, which insisted that copyright
was
required to archive even free websites, and would allow only 1 percent of
all
free UK websites to be collected by 2011 at current rates. The UK is
currently
home to eight million websites.
Bluetooth 4.0 spec on the way
The Bluetooth 4.0 wireless specification could start to appear in headsets,
smartphones and PCs by the fourth quarter of this year, according to the
Bluetooth Special Interest Group.
The new specification allows Bluetooth to be used in lower-power devices
than
before, including watches, pedometers and other gadgets that run on
coin-cell
batteries, said Michael Foley, executive director of the Bluetooth SIG
standards-setting organisation. Existing versions of Bluetooth could only go
into devices with triple-A or larger-capacity batteries.
Netbooks boost computer sales
Gartner has raised its worldwide PC shipment forecast for this year,
predicting
growth of 20 percent compared with 2009. The increased expectation is partly
driven by growth in demand for portable PCs.
Gartner predicts that PC shipments will total 366.1 million in 2010,
compared to
305.8 million in 2009. "The PC industry will be overwhelmingly driven by
mobile
PCs, thanks to strong growth in both emerging and mature markets," said
research
director George Shiffler.
Google acquires Picnik image browser
Google has acquired Picnik, a web-based app that lets you import and edit
photos
within a browser. According to product management director Brian Axe, Google
"will be working hard on integration and new features".
Picnik integrates with Google's Picasa, Yahoo's Flickr and Photobucket.
NEW SCREEN ELIMINATES 3D GLASSES
Stereoscopic image sent to 64 positions around the screen
Singapore-based Sunny Ocean Studios demonstrated a new type of 3D screen at
the
CeBIT IT show in March. By projecting a 3D image directly towards a viewer's
eyes, the display removes the need to wear special glasses.
Traditionally, users had to wear special glasses that separate images for
the
left and right eye to create a 3D effect. The image separation is done by a
panel consisting of tiny lenses that sits in front of the screen.
The basic technology isn't new, but it's a definite improvement over
previous attempts that projected the image to a single spot in space, with
the
lone viewer needing to be in that 'sweet spot' to see anything other than a
blurred image.
The panel developed by Sunny Ocean Studios can be fitted to a standard
display,
sending out a stereoscopic image to 64 positions around the screen.
"Normally you have just five or eight or nine viewing angles, but with 64
it's
very easy to catch a 3D effect," said managing director Armin Grasnick.
A similar panel has been developed by German maker SeeFront, but it projects
an
image to a single point. However, that point can be moved around and, by
watching the viewer with a camera, the system makes constant adjustments to
the
image so that it follows the viewer's head movements.
Both technologies are more complex than those coming to market this year
but,
judging from the reaction at CeBIT, they could be worth keeping both eyes on
in
years to come.
Alex laptop simplifies everyday computing tasks
Broadband Computer Company joins SimplicITy in designing PCs for novices
A new laptop aims to make it easier for novice PC users to get online, send
emails and keep in touch with friends and family.
The Linux-based 15.4 inches-screen Alex ( welcometoalex.com) comes
preinstalled
with office and image- editing tools.
Broadband Computer Company charges users a ukp39 monthly fee for two years
for
the Alex laptop. This includes telephone support, software updates and
broadband access. Broadband is supplied by Southampton-based ISP Murphx.
The Alex package is also available for an upfront charge of ukp399, plus
ukp9.99
a month for the broadband subscription.
Also sold as the Clevo M760T, the laptop runs Ubuntu and comes with a USB
password-protected access key. Computer accessories, including a printer,
are
also offered, while a suite of applications is reportedly in the works for
those
who want to add more features and functions.
Alex is the second computer targeting novices to be launched in the UK in
six
months. In November, ex-'Blue Peter' presenter Valerie Singleton helped
launch a range of PCs specifically designed for older users and
technophobes.
The SimplicITy computer (discount-age.co.uk) runs the Linux Mint operating
system (OS) and comes in two desktop versions. A laptop version will also be
available shortly. The team behind the SimplicITy computer point out that
the
OS and apps are all free, as are updates and upgrades to future versions.
Free BBC iPhone app offers World Cup live
A free BBC application will enable iPhone owners to watch live World Cup
football matches on their handsets. The app, which will be launched in May,
will also offer viewers clips of every goal on-demand.
The Beeb is also working on a version for BlackBerry and Google Android
handsets.
TalkTalk upgrades network to 24Mbps
TalkTalk has announced that it's installing gigabit ethernet fibre-optic
cabling between all exchanges, ensuring all its customers can receive
broadband
speeds of up to 24Mbps. The ISP said the upgrade to its network would ensure
every customer gets the fastest speed possible on their line.
"We are all aware of the frustration that comes from a congested internet -
jittery BBC iPlayer programmes, slow gaming performance and web pages that
take
an age to load," said the ISP.
MOGmusic-streaming servicetohitUK
US-based music-streaming service MOG will be made available to the UK in the
second quarter of this year. The service, which was launched in the US in
December, has a catalogue of seven million tracks that span the four major
labels - Warner Music Group, EMI, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal
Music
Group - plus hundreds of independent labels.
The $5 (ukp3.20)-per-month All Access package lets you listen to unlimited
music, create playlists and read more than 1,000 music blogs covering
everything
from pop to jazz.
MS OFFERS FREE OFFICE 2010 UPGRADES
Purchase Office 2007 before 30 September to be eligible for a free upgrade
Customers who purchase a copy of Office 2007 between now and 30 September
will
be entitled to a free upgrade to Microsoft's soon-to-launch Office 2010
suite
for free.
Office 2010, the next version of the company's productivity suite, will
feature a number of new features, including Web Apps - web-based versions of
the key productivity apps that let you open, view and edit documents.
Under the Microsoft Office 2010 Technology Guarantee Scheme, anyone who buys
and
activates a copy of Office 2007 or who purchases a new PC with the software
preinstalled before the 30 September deadline will be able to download the
new
productivity suite. For business users, Microsoft's suite will be available
in May; consumers will have to wait until June for the official release.
Students and teachers who purchase discounted versions of Office through
Microsoft's education offering and home users who buy second-hand licences
for
the software using auction sites such as eBay will be excluded from the
scheme.
A boxed copy of Office 2010 Home and Student, which includes a three-user
licence for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, will cost ukp109.
Office 2010 Home and Business, which adds Outlook to Home and Student's
features list and can be used on two PCs, will cost ukp239.
The company's top-tier product, Office 2010 Professional, also includes
Publisher and Access, and costs ukp429 for a two-PC licence.
Rural group's anger at fibre-optic broadband focus
Final Third First campaign hopes to reduce Britain's digital divide
A group of rural business organisations is lobbying the government to focus
on
rolling out 2 megabits per second (Mbps) broadband in the countryside,
rather
than super-fast connections in cities.
As part of its Digital Britain report, which was published last year, the
government revealed plans to ensure everyone in the UK has access to an
internet
connection with a minimum speed of 2Mbps by 2012. Rolling out
next-generation
100Mbps broadband connections was also listed as a priority.
Upgrading the UK's ageing copper network to fibre-optic cables looks set to
be
paid for by a 'broadband tax', which could see Brits with a telephone line
forced to fork out ukp6 per year.
The ukp1bn raised by the tax will be put into the Next Generation Fund and
allocated by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK).
However, the Final Third First Group, which includes the Country Land &
Business
Association (CLA) and Broadband Britain, wants the government to focus on
ensuring rural areas have 2Mbps internet connections before beginning the
roll-out of super-fast fibre-optic networks in the UK.
The group said that many of the UK's rural areas currently have access only
to
dialup connections.
"Those living in areas known as 'the final third' still receive no proper
access to broadband, putting them at a severe disadvantage," said Dr Charles
Trotman from the CLA.
"I don't think the government has dismissed rural communities - I just think
that it doesn't understand rural issues."
RESEARCHERS CREATE 3D FIREFOX BROWSER
Built-in browser technology could bring 3D graphics to the masses
A research group plans to release a version of Firefox with a 3D graphics
viewer
built-in. This could open the door to more interactive web pages.
Several gaming companies offer plug-ins that allow the browser to display 3D
graphics, but the new technology removes the need to install one. According
to
Philipp Slusallek, a professor at Saarland University, this could make 3D
graphics available to a wider audience.
There are two ways to generate a 3D image for a 2D screen: rasterisation and
real-time ray tracing. What the researchers have done is develop faster
software for performing real-time ray tracing, which is also aided by
today's
faster processors, Slusallek said.
The developers have integrated that real-time ray tracing technology, called
RT
Fact, into Firefox and Webkit, the rendering engine for browsers such as
Apple
Safari and Google Chrome. The images are then described using XML3D, part of
the HTML programming language, and the browser can natively render the 3D
scene.
"With the integration of HTML, every web programmer can directly apply their
entire knowledge to 3D," Slusallek said.
During a demo at the CeBIT trade show in March, Slusallek showed how a
Wikipedia
entry on Venice can be adapted with integrated that real-time ray a 3D
graphic
of one of the city's a 3D graphic of one of the city's palaces. "You can
stand on the balcony and actually look at Venice from the top floor,"
Slusallek
said.
The researchers were planning to release a version of Firefox with RT Fact
as we
went to press, although whether it would be made available under the Firefox
brand was yet to be confirmed.
RT Fact was also developed by the German Research Center for Artificial
Intelligence and the Intel Visual Computing Institute at Saarland University
in
Germany.
Turn to page 86 for our 3D: the next dimension analysis.
Forensic bank app searches computers for malware
Flashlight's log reports aid fraud investigators in tackling new malware
Security vendor Trusteer's has unveiled a product designed to allow banks to
remotely investigate their customers' PCs if they suspect they have been
hacked.
The Flashlight service enables security experts to quickly identify what
types
of malicious software customers are encountering in order to build better
defences, said Mickey Boodaei, Trusteer's CEO.
Currently, if a bank wants to see if a customer's PC is infected, the
machine
usually has to be taken to a lab, or the hard disk has to be copied.
Flashlight detects malicious software on the computer and can send a report
along with a copy of the suspicious program. This way, new malware is
quickly
discovered and tackled, said Boodaei.
If a customer contacts the bank and explains that they believe themselves to
be
the victim of fraud, the bank will instruct them to install Flashlight. If
the
browser has been tampered with, the fraud investigation team will request a
log
report. This will be analysed while the customer is on the phone.
Flashlight can also send other data, such as details of a PC's operating
system, the version number of installed applications and whether antivirus
software was up to date at the time of the infection.
Flashlight is an add-on for the company's Rapport security software,
although
both products can be used independently of one another. Rapport is currently
offered by about 50 financial institutions in the UK.
Catch up with BBC, Channel 4 and Five TV shows on SeeSaw
More than 3,000 programmes broadcast on the BBC, Channel 4 and Five are
being
offered online through a web-based TV service called SeeSaw ( seesaw.com).
The
service, which uses technology from the now defunct Project Kangaroo
venture, is
free but peppers programmes with 60-second adverts that can't be skipped.
SeeSaw is currently in negotiations to offer US content on the site.
Govt invests ukp4.3m in tackling fake goods on the web
The government is investing ukp4.3m to help stop internet fraud. A cyber
enforcement team that aims to eradicate ticket and fake-goods scams online
is
being set up following research by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) that
found
73 percent of Brits have received a scam email in the past year.
The OFT also said that cyber criminals raked in ukp3.5bn last year from the
unsuspecting web users who were duped.
Symantec offers free URL-checking software
Symantec has made its URL-checking software, Norton Safe Web Lite, available
for
free. The software, which is a version of a function found in Norton
Internet
Security and Norton 360, checks links displayed in search results from
Google,
Yahoo and Bing, alerting you to any that may be unsafe to visit.
Norton Web Safe Lite can be downloaded from Norton's Beta Center at
bit.ly/15meJk.

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