Archive for November, 2009

Boost your performance with ReadyBoost

ReadyBoost helps your computer by giving it more high-speed memory.  If your computer is running low on RAM then it has to kick a lot of applications out of high-speed physical memory to the paging file on your hard drive.  This usually results in a big hit in performance and increased activity on your hard drive. ReadyBoost helps this situation by giving Windows an alternative to having to stick data into the slow paging file on your hard drive. Instead, ReadyBoost uses a USB storage device that is faster than a hard disk. This results in a performance boost because Windows will have a high speed alternative than using the slow paging file on your hard drive.

In order for ReadyBoost to work, it requires a USB storage device that meets minimum performance and space requirements:

  • The device must be at least 64 MB
  • The device must be USB 2.0
  • It has to be able to read at 3.5 MB/s
  • It has to be able to write at 2.5 MB/s

If you are unsure if your USB storage device meets these requirements, just give it a try anyways. To get started using ReadyBoost, follow these steps:

  1. Plug in USB storage device.
  2. Go to Computer and right click on the removable storage device and select Properties.
  3. If your device is compatible, you will see a ReadyBoost tab. Click on that.
  4. Select Use this device and select the amount of space on it you want to dedicate for the ReadyBoost system file.
  5. Click OK and you are finished.

Acer says Windows 7 good for sales


Taiwan’s Acer Inc, the world’s No.2 PC maker, said Microsoft Corp’s Windows 7 operating system launch last month has been positive for year-end PC sales, though the gains were within expectations.

Acer’s CEO said it was keeping its quarterly revenue outlook and maintaining a 15 percent sales growth target for next year.

The market leader in low-cost netbooks, or stripped-down laptop PCs geared for Web surfing, has said it expected sales in October-December to stay flat from the previous quarter and rise 25 percent from the previous year.

“When we saw the features of Windows 7, we already knew that it would be good for demand,” Gianfranco Lanci told reporters on Thursday. “We have no plans to revise.”

No.3 PC maker Dell Inc said it saw a spike in sales thanks to the Windows 7 launch. Hewlett-Packard, the world’s No.1 PC maker and largest supplier of technology products, raised its annual outlook as growth in China helped its quarterly sales.

Acer, which expects 50 percent growth in the global netbook market to 42 million units in 2010, reported a quarterly net profit of $108 million last month, up 14 percent from a year earlier.

It now hopes to become the No.3 PC maker in both Japan and in China by 2011, up from about what it sees as the fifth or sixth place in both markets.

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Install Group Policy and AD Tools on Windows 7

November 26, 2009 1 comment

Group policy and Active Directory are very important in any organization with more than a few computers.  When I loaded Windows 7 on my work PC one of the first tasks I had to do was install the Group Policy Management client (GPMC) and the AD tools such as Active Directory Users and Computers MMC.  The two tools that I need to manage our domain based group policies and AD accounts.  Installing the tools is a little more complicated than a typical download and setup so let’s get started.

First, you need to download the Remote System Administration Tools (RSAT) for Windows 7 fromMicrosoft Downloads. Make sure you download the correct version for your bit version of Windows 7.

x86fre_GRMRSAT_MSU.msu for the 32-bit version of Windows 7.

amd64fre_GRMRSATX_MSU.msu for the 64-bit version of Windows 7.

After you have the file downloaded, double-click on it and click Yes on the Windows Update Standalone Installer screen shown below.

Click I Accept on the license screen and the components will now be installed after a few minutes. Once installed, you will need to turn on the features that were just added.  The install you downloaded did not install the features on your computer, it just added the features to the local repository of Windows features you can turn on or off.

Next, click on the Start Button and type in Turn Windows features on or off and hit Enter.  Scroll through the list and locate Remote Server Administration Tools.  First let’s install the Group Policy Management Client by expanding Remote Server Administration Tools, Feature Administration Tools and then check Group Policy Management Tools.

Now for the Active Directory tools: Under Remote Server Administration Tools expand Role Administration Tools, AD DS and AD LDS Tools, AD DS Tools and check Active Directory Administrative Center and AD DS Snap-ins and Command-line Tools.

Finally, click OK and the new features will be installed.

Now you can run the Group Policy Management client by clicking on the Start Button and typing in gpmc.msc and then hit Enter.  For Active Directory Users and Computers type in dsa.msc and hit Enter.

Sale of Skype finalized

eBay, the online auction giant and owner of the popular Skype software has finally sold Skype and the deal is complete. A message on the official Skype blog from company President Josh Silverman reads:

“Great news – we’ve closed the deal with the new investors. The investor group is led by Silver Lake, and includes Andreessen Horowitz, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), Joltid Limited and our founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis.

The deal valued Skype at $2.75B US, with eBay retaining approximately 33% of Skype, and the investor group led by Silver Lake controlling the remaining 65%.Our journey continues: say hello to the future!”

eBay originally purchased Skype back in September 2005 for $3.1 billion and struggled to find a way to integrate the popular VOIP service into it’s business model. As the auction giant continued to look for ways to utilize the service with their exiting portfolio the value of Skype began to decline.

On September 1, 2009 the company had announced, “Today, Skype begins a new chapter. We’re spinning off from eBay to become an independent company once again”. It remains to be seen if the Skype will become a publicly traded company on the stock market or if there will be any significant changes to the business plan now that Skype has new owners.

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Nokia’s High-end Smartphone Future with Maemo, not Symbian

Finland’s Nokia is still the largest mobile handset manufacturer in the world, but its influence in the high-end (and high-profit) smartphone market is increasingly falling short of competitors like RIM and Apple, in part because Nokia can’t seem to capitalize on features and capabilities consumers want in a smartphone. But Nokia is determined to forge ahead in the smartphone marketplace—and the company is placing its best on the Linux-based Maemo mobile OS, rather than the tried-and-true Symbian OS that has powered most of the company’s devices for years. At a gathering in London, Nokia marketing executives told Maeomo developers that Nokia plans to drop Symbian from its high-end N-series Internet-capable mobile devices by 2012.

Nokia N900

Nokia has been building its high-end devices around the Symbian operating system for more than a decade; however, the company’s new N900 is the first device Nokia has shipped based on Maemo. The N900 is largely viewed as a transitional device to help developers (and even a few customers) make the transition from Symbian to Maemo. Although Nokia has not made an official statement, the company apparently will maintain Symbian on its E-series devices (aimed at enterprise customers) and video-centric X-series devices. Nokia is also promising tools to developers so they can create applications for both Symbian and Maemo, which in turn can be sold though Nokia’s Ovi Store.

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UK Police Lock Up Trojan Computer Virus Suspects

A couple suspected of helping spread some of the Internet’s most aggressive computer viruses has been arrested in the English city of Manchester, police said Wednesday.

Scotland Yard’s electronic crimes unit said a man and a woman, both 20, were arrested Nov. 3 on suspicion of helping spread malicious Trojan computer programs sometimes known as “Zbot” or “ZeuS.”

Police said the viruses are thought to have infected tens of thousands of computers worldwide, and one technology consultant described them as the “most notorious pieces of malware of recent times.”

“This is one of the most frequent families of worms that we encounter,” said Graham Cluley, a technology consultant with the U.K. security firm Sophos PLC. “The ferocity with which it’s been spammed out on occasions has really hit our radar.”

Cluley said the Zbot family of viruses first came to his attention in 2007. Since then it has periodically swept across the Internet, stealing personal information from computers across the world and feeding it back to cyber-criminals. The viruses are commonly known as Trojans because they sneak onto computers and attack it from the inside, harvesting millions of lines of data — including banking information, credit card numbers and social networking passwords.

The viruses spread by sending e-mails or other messages from infected computers, impersonating banks, tax officials, credit card companies or even friends and enticing potential victims to click on a link.

Police said given the amount of information stolen “the potential financial gains to the culprits and losses to individuals and institutions are very substantial.”

Cluley said it was impossible to know just how much money had been lost to the viruses, adding that attacks were ongoing — including two in the past week alone.

It is not clear exactly what role the Manchester pair are suspected of playing in the viruses’ spread. Scotland Yard says the two have since been released on bail and declined to elaborate on their investigation.

Suspects in Britain are rarely identified unless they’ve been charged.

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IE9 to support hardware-accelerated rendering

Microsoft is focusing on speedy graphics rendering for its next version of Internet Explorer.

Internet Explorer 9 will take advantage of a computer’s graphics hardware to better render online images, videos, animations and other graphics, said Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft’s Windows and Windows Live division.

“We think that the hardware you run on should shine through the browser,” he said.

He was speaking at the Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles, where he demoed a few features of IE9. In addition to smoother graphics rendering, Sinofsky showed IE9’s support of new HTML/CSS code that creates rounded borders, for example, on text boxes.

The Internet Explorer team, which Sinofsky said has been working on IE9 for about three weeks, needs to determine how much of HTML5 — the next major version of the universal markup language — to support.

The IE9 prototype already is just as speedy as the other major browsers, he said. By some standards, Internet Explorer 8 performs at least twice slower than Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome and Apple Safari, according to slides Sinofsky showed to the PDC audience.

“We’re getting close to basically being a wash,” he said.

Sinofsky didn’t give any estimates for an IE9 launch date. But considering IE8 was released just last March, it could be a while. The Internet Explorer team has historically worked on a two-year launch cycle.

UK’s first free public Wi-Fi to cover Swindon

Swindon is to become the UK’s first town to offer free public Wi-Fi, with Swindon Borough Council planning to have all 186,000 local citizens covered by April 2010. Council officials have stated that access will be free, although speed upgradeswill also be offered for a fee.

The service which will be called “Signal” will offer free, but limited access, with upgrades to 20Mb available for purchase. Digital City UK, the people behind the £1m project, say that upgrade fees will be “significantly less” than current broadband suppliers.

While other UK towns and cities have trialled free Wi-Fi access schemes, this will be the first time a whole town is going to be covered by free, council-backed access. Around 1,400 secure accesspoints will be fitted throughout Swindon to provide the free wireless Internet access.

“This is a truly ground-breaking partnership which will have real benefits for everyone living in Swindon,” said Swindon Borough Council leader, Rod Bluh.

“Not only will residents in the borough be able to access the internet for free, the council and its partners will be able to use the technology to provide cutting edge services to the areas or individuals who need them.”

According to the BBC, the service will also provide the local council with additional funding. Swindon Borough Council has a 35% share in Digital City UK.

Work will begin on the so-called “Swindon mesh” in December, with a full roll-out expected in April 2010. If successful the scheme could be expanded to other towns and cities across the UK.

Does the Android Marketplace need a desktop client?


Ever since Google and T-Mobile launched the T-Mobile G1 users have been able to connect to the Android Marketplace to download applications both free and paid. The first version of the marketplace felt inspired by the days of command line interfaces with only icons, descriptions and user reviews available.

With the release of Android 1.6 users saw some big changes to the Android Marketplace with a more updated interface. Instead of the black and white interface, users were presented with a graphical interface to view and download the latest and greatest Android application from a host of developers.

But there seems to be something missing from making the Android Marketplace, a full and rewarding experience for users of Google’s mobile operating system. Over the last decade we have seen great changes in the way consumers interact with mobile devices. Apple clearly upped the game with the release of the iPhone and allowing users to quickly download applications in several ways.

But what makes the Apple’s iPhone so different for mobile users? The simplest of answers is the iTunes desktop software. Apple’s iTunes allows iPhone and iPod touch users the ability to connect to the app store right from their personal computers as well as their mobile devices.

Recently Google has teamed up several partners to launch Google Discover Music whereby users can search for artists, albums, songs or lyrics and purchase those songs from their partner sites. This new music service could easily be turned into an Android application by Google and subsequently rolled into a larger desktop application.

So why hasn’t Google developed a desktop interface for the Android Marketplace yet? AdMob, which has been acquired by Google recently, conducted a survey that found that over 90% of users download their iPhone apps directly to the phone rather than through an iTunes. Google may be using this information to plan their next move.

If Google does decide to develop a desktop connection to the Android Marketplace it might be just for the sake of staying up to par with Apple. Google could easily develop a desktop application that would allow users to download movies, music, and applications with the ability to use Google Checkout as a payment system. With the long history that Google has for releasing applications to stay competitive against other software firms, it would come as no surprise if Google decided to release a desktop version of their Android Marketplace.

Google Chrome OS to launch within a week?


Previously said to launch in the fall, rumors are circulating that Google’s Chrome OS will launch within the next week. While Google is mum on the launch of their new OS they have been known to launch projects in beta form ahead of schedule in the past.

It is expected the the first release of Google OS will not run on standard laptop anddesktop computers, but will run on set of Google OS endorsed devices such as select netbooks. Google has previously said they are working with Acer, Adobe, ASUS, Freescale, Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba on the Chrome OS project.

Only time will tell if this release rumor pans out, but if true the next week should be interesting if Google does in fact launch their operating system and how the technology community reacts to the new OS.

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