Thursday, December 21, 2006

Tom's Hardware Guide How To Build A PC Part 3: Putting It All Together

Tom's Hardware has been at the forefront of the technology industry for years. They offer some of the best reviews and how's to guides that are available on the web today. And this article is no different. This is a great three part guide for those beginners out there wanting to get their feet wet and try a new build.


Final assembly is usually the least time-consuming part of a build. Component selection {part 1} may require days of consideration, and finding the "best" seller {part 2} can take up the better part of a day, but plugging connectors and inserting screws shouldn't take more than a couple hours, even for the most inexperienced builder.

An average person familiar with a few simple hand tools could assemble a complete system in less time than it takes to read this guide, but figuring out what he or she may have done wrong could slow things down significantly. Phobias aside, you're unlikely to damage your hardware or yourself if you follow a few very easy precautions, and we hope this final segment will eliminate hours of post-build troubleshooting.

First Precautions

Nothing creates a sinking feeling more effectively than damaging a component before the build is finished. Major concerns include electrostatic discharge, dropped parts, and breakage caused by force fitment or scratched circuits.

Electrostatic Discharge

An accidental electrostatic discharge (ESD) could destroy a component, a fact that's caused many building guides to exaggerate this danger. In all truth, few experienced custom PC builders take more than the most basic precautions against ESD; even when it does occur, it's likely to follow the component's ground plane rather than zap its most sensitive parts.

The most basic precaution is to occasionally touch a ground, such as a large metal office desk or the metal case of a plugged-in system, to discharge your body. Additional ESD risks come from the use of carpeted workspaces and extremely dry environments, so another level of protection may come from the use of an antistatic mat under the chair and a humidifier for extremely dry rooms. Grounded wrist straps are an over-the-top method of protection rarely used outside of production environments, yet the extra-cautious will attain peace of mind when wearing one.

Fallen Components

It seems easy to prevent in theory, but damage from falls is a far more likely cause of broken components than the previously mentioned ESD. Hard Disk Drives are often dropped during installation and other parts can be easily knocked from a desk. Reducing drop distance is as easy as moving work away from the edge of a desk, and reducing damage from parts getting knocked to the floor is as simple as leaving them in the box until they're ready to be installed.

Assembly Damage

Most components require a small amount of force to seat the connector, but a few don't. We'll cover the specifics for each part as we install it.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006

From exploding laptops to corporate spying to Rocketboom's bust, a review of the year's gaffes and blunders.
Dan Tynan

It was a year where the world's biggest software company had to admit its flagship operating system was going to be delayed--yet again. And the number one PC manufacturer was caught spying on reporters and board members.

In 2006, turning on your laptop was an adventure in flammability. Of course, lots of government and corporate officials didn't have to worry about their notebook bursting into flames--they'd already lost theirs--along with the personal records of millions of Americans.

Surfing the Net you stood a good chance of being hoaxed by an actress pretending to be a lonely teenager or a blogger in the employ of the planet's largest retailer. If you subscribed to AOL, your searches might have been shared with the rest of the Web. And if you did anything stupid, somebody with a video camera and a YouTube account was probably there to broadcast it to the world.

Here, then, on the following pages we humbly offer our nominations for the biggest tech mistakes of the year. (And if you notice any errors in this article, please--keep them to yourself.)

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Hackers work around Vista's activation feature

Spoofed software activates corporate edition of new OS, pirates claim
Nancy Gohring
IDG News

Hackers are distributing a file that they say lets users of the corporate version of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Vista operating system get around the software's antipiracy mechanisms.

Windows Vista must be "activated," or authorized by Microsoft, before it will work on a particular machine. To simplify the task of activating many copies of Vista, Microsoft offers corporate users special tools, among them Key Management Service (KMS), which allows a company to run a Microsoft-supplied authorization server on its own network and activate Vista without contacting Microsoft for each copy.

The software, Microsoft.Windows.Vista.Local.Activation.Server-MelindaGates, lets users spoof that KMS process, allowing them to activate copies of the enterprise editions of Vista, its creators say. The hacked download can be found on various file-sharing sites.

Microsoft's official KMS offering is available to customers with 25 or more computers running Vista. The machines activate the software by connecting to the KMS server and must reactivate every six months.

KMS is not the only option that enterprises have for volume activation of Vista: They can also call Microsoft by phone or connect over the Internet to activate the software.

The MelindaGates hack, which uses the name of the wife of Microsoft co-founder BIll Gates, allows users to download a VMware image of a KMS server, which activates Windows Vista Business/Enterprise edition, its creators claim.

Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment on the hack.

Vista is the first Windows operating system that requires volume users to activate each product. The new activation processes are aimed at reducing piracy.

One security expert said he isn't surprised that KMS has been cracked and noted that the MelindaGates hack offers some insight into piracy.

"This also shows how piracy is not just about kids swapping games," said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure Corp. "The only parties that would need a KMS crack would be corporations with volume licensing."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Browser Smackdown: Firefox vs. IE vs. Opera vs. Safari

Four experts go head-to-head (to-head-to-head) to defend their Web browser of choice in an opinionated free-for-all.

Scot Finnie, Dennis Fowler, Preston Gralla and Ken Mingis

People may be passionate about their favorite sports team, but if you really want to get them fired up, ask what Web browser they use.

There's the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" crowd who tend to stick with the browser that's included with their operating system -- Microsoft's Internet Explorer on Windows and Apple's Safari on the Mac. There are the "I've just gotta be me" folks who prefer lesser-known browsers, such as Opera from Opera Software. And there are the "live free or die" open-source true believers who champion Mozilla's Firefox above its commercial counterparts.

Then there are those people who simply demand the best browsing experience there is. They'll defend their favorite browser to the death because they think it kicks all the other browsers' butts in terms of elegance, features, security and so on. But if a better option comes along, they'll happily switch and speak out just as loudly for their new browser of choice. At Computerworld, we fall into this camp, always looking for the Next Great Browser

In terms of market share, the winner is obvious. Most estimates show Internet Explorer commanding between 80% and 85% of the browser market, with Firefox trailing at somewhere between 8% and 13%. Safari is the third most popular browser, with approximately 2% to 4% market share, followed by Opera and AOL's Netscape, with around 1% each.

But in terms of quality, there's no clear winner right now. For years, Internet Explorer lagged far behind the competition in both features and security, but the October launch of IE7, a fairly radical overhaul of the aged browser, has brought it up to par with the rest. Almost simultaneously, Mozilla released Firefox 2.0, a less ambitious update that nevertheless made some important and well-thought-out improvements.

Meanwhile, Safari (currently in Version 2.02) and Opera (in Version 9.02, with 9.1 on the way) have been quietly improving and innovating away from the spotlight. Thus, for the first time in years, the top browsers are roughly equal. (Note: We chose to leave Netscape out of our browser roundup. In our testing, we found it too buggy and unstable for serious consideration.)

So which browser should you use? Which is really best? To help you decide, we asked four power users to do battle in support of their chosen browser: Scot Finnie for Firefox, Preston Gralla for Internet Explorer, Dennis Fowler for Opera and Ken Mingis for Safari.

Each expert is positive that his browser is the best and will try his hardest to convince you of that. These are not rational, disengaged reviews; these are opinionated essays meant to sway your point of view.

When you've read all the arguments and looked at our side-by-side comparison of features, you make the call by voting in our best browser poll. You can also drop us a line and let us know what you think; we'll use the best responses in a follow-up article.

Read the full article

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Looking for a Smartphone? Read This First!

Mary Branscombe
December 5, 2006 10:26

What Is A Smartphone Anyway?

All the smarts you need to buy a phone with the power of a computer, not a computer masquerading as a phone.

Phones these days can do a lot more than just phone calls and text messages and you don't have to sacrifice the numeric keypad to get the extra features. There are plenty of powerful PDA phones and we'll be looking at the best of those in another article, but when you want a phone that looks like a phone and works like a phone as well as doing more, look for a smartphone.

Although the term smartphone is also used for PDA phones like the Palm Treo, BlackBerry and the many Windows Mobile Pocket PC devices, here I will look at keypad-driven smartphones like the Motorola RAZR and BlackBerry Pearl, Windows Mobile smartphones from HTC and Samsung and Symbian smartphones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson and LG (the new LG JoY).

There are three main smartphone operating systems: Windows Mobile Smartphone, Symbian and Motorola's Java-based OS. There are other smartphone operating systems such as Blackberry's OS for the Pearl. These tend to be the products of one company. Here are some Symbian-based smartphones.

Rule number 1 of 4:A true smartphone is extensible and there's a wide range of extra software to install.

Rule number 2 of 4:Generally, that a phones comes from a specific vendor is no guarantee that it is a smartphone.

Rule number 3 of 4:It is the operating system that makes a smartphone a smartphone.

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Tom's Hardware How To Build A PC, Part 2: Choosing the Right Vendor

Tom's Hardware has been at the forefront of the technology industry for years. They offer some of the best reviews and how's to guides that are available on the web today. And this article is no different. This is a great three part guide for those beginners out there wanting to get their feet wet and try a new build.

Let's Make A Deal...

So you've followed our advice, assessed your usage patterns and come up with a list of suitable component types. Then you read reviews and found the exact manufacturer and model you want for each part. When you weren't sure, you even questioned the members of our Forumz. And now you're ready to make the big purchase.

With so much money on the line, you want to make sure the transaction goes smoothly, of course. Cruising through the building process you suddenly slam on the brakes: where is all this stuff going to come from?

Experienced builders often have a favorite source that they will recommend exclusively, but their reasoning might not apply to your circumstances. Each type of seller has strengths and weaknesses, and even hazards to avoid. Among these are the "big box" computer shops, smaller local stores, online vendors large and small, and even auction sites. Each varies in terms of the selection, convenience, cost and support they offer.

Purchasing Convenience

Online Merchants

Not everyone has the time or inclination to shop. Fortunately, buying online starts with easy site-to-site comparisons and ends with the parts being delivered right to your door. Customers no longer need to battle traffic driving between stores or make special trips to other parts of town - or even to other towns entirely - to find everything on their lists.

Vendor search engines such as MerchantHound compare prices on a huge selection of parts from such popular sites as Directron, Newegg, TigerDirect and ZipZoomFly, but often miss a few specialty parts. Online specialty stores such as EndPCNoise, and FrozenCPU provide less common parts, and locating competing sources is as easy as entering the specific part name into a generalized web search engine such as DogPile. This may require filtering through dozens of "hits" to obtain a short list of sellers, but that takes only a few extra minutes.

Local Stores

Buying locally eliminates shipping time, and avoids any potential inventory screw-ups that might further delay the shipment. While local variety is less than the web offers, national chains focus on popular items that meet the needs of most buyers. Smaller locally-owned shops may specialize in lower-volume parts, but finding the right one could be difficult.

In addition to instant-purchase gratification, local stores offer the convenience of display samples. This hands-on approach allows one to feel the action of keyboard keys, check out the weight and fit of a mouse or game controller, and examine the visual quality of displays. Seeing an item in person also allows one to more easily judge its visual impact, something simple photos and measurements don't always convey.

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Tom's Hardware Guide How To Build A PC, Part 1: Component Selection Overview

Tom's Hardware has been at the forefront of the technology industry for years. They offer some of the best reviews and how's to guides that are available on the web today. And this article is no different. This is a great guide for those beginners out there wanting to get their feet wet and try a new build.

Welcome To Your Next New System

Even though the computer industry's primary constant is change, there are still some more "constant constants" to aid builders in component selection. Tom's Hardware Guide has been a primary resource, covering the latest technologies for over ten years. Our community Forumz members have answered individual hardware questions for nearly as long, both sources working to prevent common mistakes that might ruin a project.

Before any parts are selected, a builder should clearly understand the machine's intended function. General purpose systems that deal with such tasks as 2D games, Internet browsing and document creation, will obviously have modest hardware requirements. In contrast, high-end 3D gaming systems will require better graphics, better cooling and a larger power supply. Special applications, such as 3D model creation and home theater PC use, should also be considered - these tasks require specialized hardware.

Next Page

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Get Vista & Office for Free, Just For Watching Webcasts

Want a free copy of Windows Vista and Office 2007? Got a few hours to kill? More like 6 hours to be exact. If you don't mind jumping through a few hoops to get it Microsoft is offering up free copy's of Vista Business or Office 2007 Pro just for watching a couple of Microsoft propaganda videos.

All you've got to do is register at Power Together, and "participate in at least three (3) qualifying web casts and/or virtual lab sessions within 30 days of registration," and then, 6-8 weeks after that, you'll apparently get a real, licensed DVD in the mail. Skeptical yeah I was too, I didn't really want to throw 6 hours down the tubes for nothing. But I've seen the post on several well known sites as well as on Microsoft's own Channel 9 blog by Mark Brown, a Microsoft developer and platform marketing employee, who confirms that this odd website is his doing.

These webcasts aren't really meant for the average user, more so for programmers and the sort and they are dull and rather boring even to a technophile like me . Personally I was bored after the first one, which by the way was the shortest of the three I chose at a mere 54mins. However if in the end it means a freebie copy of the latest great Microsoft has to offer then what the heck, lets try it out.

**Please not the site is very slow today from experiencing high traffic, I recommend waiting a day or two to allow for some of the congestion to subside**

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Devastating mobile attack under spotlight

By Peter Judge, Techworld

All mobile phones may be open to a simple but devastating attack that enables a third-party to eavesdrop on any phone conversation, receive any and all SMS messages, and download the phone's address book.

The attack, outlined by a German security expert, would amount to the largest ever breach of privacy for billions of mobile phone users across the world. But it remains uncertain exactly how easy and how widespread the problem could be thanks to a concerted effort by mobile operators to muddy the issue while they assess its extent.

The official response of the mobile phone operators when asked about the threat is that the attack is phoney. But despite three days of inquiries by Techworld, none have provided any evidence that there is an adequate defence to it. One operator told us all its security experts were at a meeting in Denmark, although, oddly for mobile company employees, they were also incommunicado.

Wilfried Hafner of SecurStar claims he can reprogram a phone using a "service SMS" or "binary SMS" message, similar to those used by the phone operators to update software on the phone. He demonstrated a Trojan which appears to use this method at the Systems show in Munich last month - a performance which can be seen in a German-language video.

Phone operators use SMS messages to make changes to their customers' phone without user intervention. These changes can vary from small tweaks to an overhaul of the phone's internal systems. Hafner claims however that phones do not check the source of such messages and verify whether they are legitimate, so by sending a bogus message he is able to pose as a mobile operator and re-program people's mobiles to do what he wants.

"I found this on a very old Siemens C45 phone, and then tried it on a Nokia E90 and a Qtek Windows Mobile 2005 phone," said Hafner. "None of them authenticated the sender of the service SMS. We could not believe no one had found this possibility before us."

On all these phones, Hafner was able to launch an example Trojan called "Rexspy", which he says ran undetected. Rexspy copies all SMS messages to the attacker, and allows the attacker to eavesdrop on any phone conversation by instructing the phone to silently conference the attacker into every call.

However, Hafner's demonstration does not constitute proof - it was done with his own phones, which could have been prepared. Known software such as Flexispy does the same job as Rexspy, but has to be installed manually on a phone. Hafner has also refused to provide Techworld with a demonstration, claiming that he does not want the code put into the wild. Hafner has also put out a press release about his alleged discovery which heavily pushes his company's products.

Although unproven, Hafner's claim is simple to understand - as are the obvious security steps with which operators could prevent such an attack. Despite this, the operators have refused to discuss their strategy to prevent such an attack.

"We have been aware for some years of the potential for SMS's of all types to be subverted, and we are confident that have all the necessary measures in place to counter any such attack through our network," said a Vodafone spokesman who then declined to discuss what these measures are.

A spokesman for the GSM Association was equally unforthcoming: "It is impossible to tell from the information provided whether the claims are theoretically or practically possible or not. The GSMA's Security Group will look into the claims as a matter of course."

Orange said in a statement: "We take the security of our customers communications very seriously and are investigating the claims made by SecurStar regarding the capabilities of this Trojan Horse. Pending the outcome of this investigation, we are unable to comment on the validity of the specific claims that SecurStar have made. We can confirm that we have no evidence to suggest that any of our customers have had the security of their voice or SMS communications compromised using the mechanism SecurStar claim to be used by 'RexSpy'. Should our investigation show that there is any validity to the claims of SecurStar, we will take action to ensure that our customers are protected."

As those familiar with the details of the Watergate affair in the 1970s will recognize, the responses fit the classic pattern of a "non-denial denial".

"The telephone should ask who is sending a service SMS, and the operators should change the way they are sending these messages and put in signatures," said Hafner. The operators we have spoken to have refused to say whether they did this or not.

All operators have been keen to point out however that such an attack would be illegal. The GSMA warning that "if this were demonstrated in the UK it would be a serious criminal offence, which could be prosecuted under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 for over the air interception".

Hafner's eavesdropping Trojan is just a sample of what could be done, he says. It could cover its tracks by using a free number for the conference calls. "There's a further step I haven't demonstrated, but the Trojan has full access, so I can extract the contact details from the address list," said Hafner. "If I wanted, I could decide to reproduce service the SMS to all your contracts. This would transform the Trojan to a virus."

Security experts are skeptical, and question Hafner's motives: "Our experts believe that service providers should be able to block service SMSs coming from any unauthorized location because the communication would have to go through the official communication centre," said Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos.

SecurStar makes encryption software to scramble voice calls made on Windows Mobile phones, to prevent eavesdropping."It seems to me to be questionable that [SecurStar] would actually write a Trojan in order to market their product," said Theriault.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Madness on Black Friday isn't worth it

Michelle Singletary
The Washington Post

The madness has begun.

One man was shot when he refused to give up his wallet while standing in line to buy the new Sony PlayStation 3. Other shoppers across the country were crushed in the rush to buy the video game console that Sony shipped in limited supply to stores last week.

The ugly vignettes from the front lines of holiday shopping give a sense of what has become a holiday ritual. Change the toy or game or consumer item but the result is the same - shoppers get a little wild in their quest to either be the first to get something or get deep discounts.

And few days of the year offer a better picture of that rowdiness than Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Nearly a third of respondents - or an estimated 62.7 million adults - will go shopping sometime on Black Friday, according to a Consumer Reports holiday shopping poll. Black Friday traditionally is viewed as a time when retailers go from being in the red (unprofitable) to being in the black (profitable). During the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, many people will leave the company of their friends or families to go shopping, while others will bring the kids along and make hitting the stores a part of the holiday entertainment.

Although Black Friday signals a hallelujah for retailers, it doesn't for me. I want no part of a mall or any retail store from Thanksgiving Day to the Sunday afterward. But if Black Friday excites you, here are a few things you should know:

* The best bargains aren't necessarily on Black Friday. Retailers heavily market the day after Thanksgiving as the time you should get up and out to the stores before sunrise to be the first in line to get the best sales. Black Friday is frequently referred to as the busiest shopping day of the year.

But it isn't.

Last year, Black Friday did not even rank in the top five busiest holiday shopping days, according to a report issued recently by MasterCard Worldwide. The busiest shopping day is either Christmas Eve or the Saturday before Christmas. You have 31 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas to shop. The discounts aren't going anywhere.

* The early bird doesn't always get the worm. Black Friday has turned into Frustrating Friday for an increasing number of shoppers. That's because many stores offering deeply discounted items have only a limited number of those items on hand. So many shoppers go home frustrated. But the retailers still win. Once shoppers are in the stores, they'll likely buy something even if they don't find what they got up so early to purchase.

* That 10 percent discount can cost you. Retailers really put on the full-court press to get shoppers to sign up for their store credit card, often offering a 10 percent discount on that day's purchase or purchases. But don't do it. I know. It's hard to resist. Let's say you are buying a high-priced item for $1,000. You reason you can save $100, which is a pretty penny. But let's look at what that store card can cost you. First, credit cards offered by retailers typically carry a high interest rate - 20 percent or higher. And the stores are well aware that people promise to themselves that they will pay the bill off as soon as it comes in January. But many don't.

So let's say you can't pay off that $900. Cardholders now are typically required to pay at least 1 percent of their balance plus the interest charge. Under that scenario, with an interest rate of 20 percent your first minimum payment would be $23.85 with a starting balance of $900 (I didn't include a sales tax). Pay just the minimum and you end up with $1,108.32 in interest charges over 12 years. Puff. There goes your $100 savings.

OK, so what if you don't take 12 years. What if you find the money to make a lump-sum payment on the item but not until after making minimum credit-card payments for 10 months? In that case, you would have paid $143.54 in interest during the 10-month period.

And what if you do pay it off come January? Well, signing up for another credit offer can lower your credit score.

* Watch out for those no-interest/no-payment-for-six-months-or-a-year deals. Only the most disciplined of consumers should take advantage of these schemes. If you are just one day late in paying off the balance as part of a no-interest/no-payment offer, you will be hit with back interest, which is typically 18 percent to 20 percent or more. Lots of folks don't realize that the interest starts accumulating from the date of purchase, not when the interest-free period ends.

Respondents to the Consumer Reports' poll estimated they would spend an average of 13 hours shopping during the holidays. Retailers are giving people more and more time to buy.

A few retailers - CompUSA and BJ's Wholesale Club, for example - have abandoned the tradition of closing on Thanksgiving and are opening their doors. Other stores don't think customers can wait for sunrise to shop on the Friday after Thanksgiving, so their doors will be unlocked at midnight.

Perhaps, just so people can really shop with ease, retailers should have sleepovers. Sections of the store could be redesigned with private rooms with nice comfy beds and showers so their customers won't even have to go home.

Think I'm mad? It's only a matter of time.

© Washington Post Writers Group

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

FireFox Password Vulnerability Found

Severe Firefox vulnerability uncovered
By Percy Cabello

A vulnerability in Firefox handling of saved passwords has been announced today. The vulnerability allows Firefox to autofill saved credentials no matter where they are being submitted.

As shown in a test case attached to the relevant bug, as long as similar forms are published in the same web site credentials are retrieved. Robert Chapin, the original reporter, encountered this vulnerability while surfing around, the popular social web site. He visited a user’s profile and was prompted there with a web form resembling MySpace’s typical log on form. Since the form was hosted at MySpace, Firefox autofilled the fake form. A glitch in the fake web form alerted Chapin and saved him from a, somewhat trivial in this case, identity theft.

Users must me aware and act cautiously. Double check autofilled forms and don’t submit credentials from atypical locations, specially where another user may have edited the content such as a web forum post, user profile.

However if you prefer to stay in the safe side of this issue, you better disallow password saving in Firefox:

  • In the Tools menu, select Options…

  • In the Security page, uncheck Remember passwords for sites

I checked other browser and found that SeaMonkey 1.0.6 has the exact same behavior, which is no surprise having so much in common with Firefox. Internet Explorer 7 doesn’t automatically fills the fake form in the test case, but lists the credentials as if it was the real one. Opera 9.02 Wand, its password management tool, correctly differentiates them and doesn’t autofill the fake form.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

ResellerRatings launches new hot deal site

Dealighted.Com, launched this week. Created by the founders of and ResellerRatings , Dealighted.Com is a hot deal site which sifts through all new deal discussions posted to other top deal sites such as; Slickdeals, Fatwallet, Anandtech, and GottaDeal. Then the most liked or "hottest" threads are reported which keeps you from having to search several sites and hundreds of other deals just to get to the good ones.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

$20 off a $50 pay-pal purchase

This offer is available to new and current pay-pal customers so there is no need to open a new account. Persoanlly I think this deal will be best used at some of the merchant partners such as or others. A complete list can be found by clicking here!


Receive free shipping when you make a purchase using your PayPal account from a participating merchant. Participating PayPal merchants will be displayed on the PayPal Holiday landing page starting 11/23/06. Offers may be limited to shipments within the 48 contiguous United States. See merchants' websites for additional terms & conditions.

Receive a $20 USD Cash Rebate by registering for this Cash Rebate offer on and purchasing items in a single online payment of $50 USD or more using your PayPal account. To qualify for this offer, purchases must meet the following requirements: 1. Purchases must be made on, or on merchants' sites in the US or Canada. 2. and purchases must be made through the eBay checkout flow via the eBay website and must not be made through the PayPal send money tab. 3. Purchases must be made between 11/23/06 12:01 PST and 12/31/06 11:59 PST. The following transactions are excluded from this Cash Rebate offer: Send Money transactions, payments to Personal Accounts, eBay payments made to Personal accounts, donations, Text to Buy and payments for services. The Cash Rebate will be deposited into the participants' PayPal accounts within 6 to 8 weeks after 12/31/06. Limit one registration and one $20 rebate per person and/or PayPal Account.

Offer available for a limited time. Offer is limited to US and Canada registered users. PayPal conversion rates apply. PayPal account must be in good standing prior to and throughout the offer period to qualify.

PlayStation 3 debuts in North America, demand high

Some buyers will have a fun weekend, many won't
Martyn Williams November 17, 2006 (IDG News Service) -- A week after it first appeared in Japan, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s PlayStation 3 console went on sale in the U.S. and three other countries today.

The console is likely to have immediately sold-out. Many stores stopped taking reservations weeks ago and the device is already selling for more than $2,000 on the eBay Inc. online auction site. That's about three times its U.S. retail price of $599.

Demand for the console is high because Sony is short of the blue-laser diode that sits at the heart of the console's Blu-ray Disc drive. Without the diode, the console can't be completed and problems starting up production of that part pushed Sony to scale back the launch.

There were supposed to be about 2 million PlayStation 3 consoles ready for the worldwide launch, but that figure was slashed to about 500,000 units.

It's not clear if Sony managed to even ship that many. The company said 100,000 of the consoles would be in Japanese stores for last weekend's launch but data from a recognized local gaming magazine said the PlayStation 3 sold-out on launch day with 88,400 units.

There were reports of sporadic violence across the U.S. and Canada, where it also launched, as people waited in line to snap up one of the consoles. The most serious reported incident happened in Putnam, Conn., where a man was shot while waiting for the console to go on sale. The man apparently confronted two armed men who were trying to rob those in line, according to news reports.

Dozens of police were called to Boston's Copley Place Mall after security guards lost control of a crowd of about 400 people today, The Boston Globe reported in its online edition, and a 19-year-old man was injured after running into a pole while racing others to get a place in a queue outside a Wal-Mart store in Wisconsin, said the Associated Press.

In Ottawa, Canada, one man was arrested for being intoxicated after a fight broke out at 2 a.m. Friday among people waiting for a game store to open, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

The console also went on sale in Hong Kong and Taiwan today. It will hit Europe and Australia in March 2007, according to Sony's current plans.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Review: Zune's fascinating potential

Microsoft's media player is sometimes compelling, and largely incomplete
David Haskin

Looking at Microsoft Corp.'s much-discussed, just-released Zune as just another media player misses the point. The player itself has its virtues, but it is clearly only one part of Microsoft's effort to replicate Apple Computer Inc.'s wildly successful iPod/iTunes media ecosystem.

While Apple has sold millions of iPods, their real value to Apple is how tightly intertwined the devices are with the iTunes music service and iTunes software. If you own an iPod and want to download music, you must use iTunes, which has sold more than a billion tracks in its relatively short life.

The Zune, which was released today, isn't yet a compelling enough device to pull many customers away from the iPod. But if you look at Zune in combination with the Zune Marketplace online store and the software that connects the device with the store, Microsoft's effort is more compelling. It's still a work in progress, but in a few ways it already equals and even surpasses the iPod/iTunes juggernaut.

Beautiful interface

Zune is, overall, a competent 30GB player that is particularly attractive in some areas, misses the target in others and strikes out entirely with one of its most visible features.

To start with the positive, Microsoft succeeded at something no other media player vendor has: It has created a graphical user interface that is, subjectively, as compelling as the iPod's. To do that, Microsoft took a minimalist approach, offering relatively few options but giving users fast, easy and eye-catching access to media.

The main menu offers the top-level options such as access to music, videos, images and FM radio (which is one of the few features the Zune has that iPod doesn't). To move through the list, you press the up and down arrow buttons in the circular central controller, then press the larger button in the middle to accept the option.

If you select music, for example, a list of all CDs appears on-screen with additional options, such as switching to a list of artists or genres, that are displayed horizontally at the top of the screen. You use the right and left arrow keys to cycle through those options. The end result is that you can move through a specific path of options a bit faster than you can with an iPod, which requires you to cycle through more separate screens. 2 pg3

Monday, November 13, 2006

Make Money Fast? Site Pays Bloggers For Product Reviews

By Antone Gonsalves, is offering bloggers up to $250 for reviews of advertisers products or Web sites. And, as part of a promotional offer, the company set aside $25,000 to pay bloggers to review itself.

"The $25,000 is almost used up, and we want to keep the promotion alive, so we're probably going to extend it," said Andy Hagans, president of ReviewMe,, on Friday.

The Web site launched on Thursday, and within 24 hours had lined up more than a thousand bloggers to review products in categories ranging from autos and books to real estate and sports, Hagans said.

ReviewMe joins privately held PayPerPost, which launched in July, in playing broker between advertiser and blogger. Among the differences in the two sites is that advertisers with PayPerPost dictate the kind of review or write-up they want. ReviewMe, on the other hand, requires that bloggers be allowed to write responsible reviews based on their honest opinion.

ReviewMe also requires bloggers to disclose that their reviews are paid for, while PayPerPost encourages the practice. PayPerPost, based in Orlando, Fla., has been criticized for not requiring disclosure.

ReviewMe pays bloggers from $20 to $250 per review, based on the reach of their blogs. To determine that, ReviewMe uses metrics gathered from online news aggregator Bloglines, blog search engine Technorati, and Web traffic tracking service Alexa. Bloggers are rejected if they don't meet a minimum requirement that ReviewMe doesn't disclose.

"If the blog doesn't meet a general threshold of at least having a significant amount of readers, than it doesn't have much value for the advertiser," Hagans said. "And even though the three measurements are inexact, it's better to get the numbers from third parties, rather than from bloggers, since they're prone to exaggerate."

Bloggers who cross the bar are placed on a list that advertisers browse in looking for a reviewer, who must agree to write a minimum of 200 words. Hagans believes advertisers will be served just as well by positive and negative reviews, because the latter will provide constructive criticism.

"No one is trashing advertisers, and they're still getting buzz in the blogosphere," Hagans said. "It's a low cost way to get feedback from people in your industry."

All reviews are checked to make sure they discuss the right product and meet the word requirement before they are posted. Advertisers are billed after the review is on the blog.

ReviewMe was in development for six months before the launch. The site was owned by Text Link Ads, which was recently bought by MediaWhiz Holdings.

49 Million U.S. Adults Notified Of Data Breaches

By Antone Gonsalves,

An estimated 49 million U.S. adults have been told over the last three years that their personal information has been lost, stolen, or improperly disclosed, a research firm said Friday.

Most of the notifications came from government agencies and financial institutions, according to a national survey conducted by Harris Interactive in October. While many of the respondents didn't believe there was any harmful result of the data breaches, a small but significant number thought they may have seen some damage.

More than one in five adults surveyed said some organization had notified them that their personal information was improperly disclosed. Among those adults, 48% were notified by a government agency, 29% by a financial company, and 12% by a commercial company. Other organizations that had made notifications included educational institutions (6%) and health-care facilities (5%).

Fully 81% of adults notified of trouble perceived nothing harmful happening as a result, Harris said. The remaining 19%, or 9.3 million people, believed they suffered harm. Within that group, 78% said either merchandise was charged in their name, or some kind of fraud was committed that cost them money. The remainder said cash was taken from their bank accounts, a credit card was taken out in their name, or someone posed as them to receive a government benefit or service.

Much of the damage suffered by victims was caused by friends and family, stolen wallets or purses, pilfered information from mailboxes or trash containers, and insider theft of personal data by employees of organizations, said Alan Westin, the Columbia University professor who helped design the survey.

Nevertheless, enough people were harmed through mistakes by businesses, government, and other types of organizations to warrant stronger data security measures to retain the trust of customers, members, and citizens, Westin said in a statement.

Spyware Threat Marches On

By Matt Hines
November 13, 2006

Despite having technology and procedures in place to prevent and remediate attacks from spyware, many companies still have difficulty stopping the threats, researchers report.

According to a new study published by Ponemon Institute, based on interviews of over 500 North American IT security professionals, a resounding majority of workers admit that their companies are still plagued by problems related to spyware.

Some 47 percent of respondents to the survey indicated that their companies are incapable of removing spyware from their networks once attacked, with 35 percent saying their employers cannot prevent many spyware infections in the first place.

Only 19 percent of study respondents indicated that their companies were effective at defeating spyware, with 40 percent of respondents claiming that their firms are able to ward off spyware attacks with frequent success, according to Ponemon, based in Elk Rapids, Mich.

Spyware programs typically attempt to hide inside computer systems in order to track users' Internet habits and provide data to advertisers. In addition, spyware is increasingly being built with the goal of stealing personal information so that the data can be used to commit identity fraud. Business are also dealing with a growing number of spyware programs that steal sensitive corporate data to sell off as valuable intellectual property or to demand ransom payments for the information's return.

According to the Ponemon report, organizations' failures to block and remove spyware cannot be blamed on a lack of effort. In fact, some 83 percent of study respondents said their companies had full-time anti-spyware initiatives in place. However, many of those initiatives appear consist only of attempts to improve workers' computing habits, or the use of anti-virus software to address the issue, as only 24 percent of representatives of those companies said they use security applications specifically designed to stop spyware.

Part of the problem in containing today's increasingly sophisticated spyware, including attacks in the form of rootkits, is that many firms believe that they have already sufficiently defended themselves, said Larry Ponemon, chairman of the research company and author of the report. While many packaged anti-virus products have added anti-spyware capabilities, those tools may not be doing enough to stop the attacks, he said, yet business executives do not appear to see the logic in bringing additional anti-spyware tools in-house.

Of the respondents who said their companies do not have stand-alone anti-spyware technologies in place, 39 percent said they believe their companies are not vulnerable to spyware attacks, with 26 percent saying that manual procedures remain adequate to detect or prevent spyware infections. Another 23 percent reported that the detection of spyware was not a priority for their companies' senior management, while 11 percent said such tools were too expensive.

Of the technologies being used to fight spyware, 48 percent of respondents said they are only using software that seeks out the attacks at the desktop level, while another 18 percent are using only network-based defenses. Only 21 percent of the companies involved in the research said they are using both types of applications, with 13 percent using no spyware-specific protections at all

Another serious problem is that many laptop computers become infected while outside of protected corporate environments. Without near-constant scanning this will allow the most sophisticated programs to slip through the cracks, Ponemon said.

Some 98 percent of companies with anti-spyware technologies in place listed firewalls as their primary line of defense in the survey, which is extremely problematic since most of today's attacks are written explicitly to exploit security vulnerabilities in firewall products, according to Ponemon.

"Several years ago when the spyware program was first widely publicized we saw a lot of firms spending money on tools to fight it, and a lot of those companies have not looked at spyware as a unique problem again since that time," Ponemon said. "We also see a challenge where many companies are viewing adware and other crimeware as unrelated issues, but the methods used by attackers have obviously brought all these elements together, and spyware has become much harder to stop."

Despite the lack of action on the part of these companies to block spyware, 64 percent of respondents to the survey said they do view spyware as a serious concern. By comparison, only 33 percent of IT workers surveyed said that adware was a serious threat.

Some experts have predicted that the inclusion of anti-spyware technologies in Microsoft's next-generation Windows Vista operating system, due out before the end of November, will cripple the market for providers of stand-alone applications. However, Ponemon said the findings of his report indicate that there very well could be a strong market for the products, as spyware attacks continue to arrive in more varied and complex formats.

"I think there will still be a market, even if we do see some consolidation in the anti-spyware space driven by Vista," he said. "The platform approach that integrates anti-spyware with other security technologies is likely the best model for end users going forward, but it's pretty clear that there is a long way to go in terms of convincing people to adopt the tools that are already out there."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New version of Firefox available for download

Release Candidate 3 is finalized; work starts on Firefox 3.0

The latest release candidate for the Firefox Web browser is posted for free download.

For the Mozilla Foundation and the Firefox community, the posting of Release Candidate 3 (RC3) is a huge milestone because it represents the final code for the long-awaited Firefox 2.0 browser.

"If there are no showstoppers, RC3 will be it" and will become the final version of the Firefox 2.0 release, said Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering for the open-source Mozilla Foundation.

The first release candidate for Firefox 2.0 was available Sept. 26, while the second was released Oct. 6 as developers sought additional input and bug reports from users.

And even as Firefox 2.0 approaches its debut, work is already under way on the next full version of Firefox 3.0.

To help create Firefox 3.0, the development team assembled a Firefox Feature Brainstorming Web page on the Firefox community wiki last week, where developers and beta users can add comments about features they would like to see in upcoming versions of the browser. Similar wiki pages were available to users who wanted to give input about features in Firefox 2.0, but the latest brainstorming wiki page will help formalize new-feature requests for all future versions of the browser.

"Anybody who has a good idea and wants to participate" can enter their comments on the wiki page, Schroepfer said. "We're just looking for as wide a range of feedback as people want to give. We've generally tried to solicit ideas in the past. It's part of how we work in general."

As the release of Firefox 2.0 approaches, the release date for the next version, Firefox 3.0, is undetermined.

"It's pretty far on the horizon at this point," Schroepfer said of Firefox 3.0. "I'd be thinking [about a release] late next year."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Startup Co. Plastic Jungle Offers Gift Card Exchange

A new Web gift card exchange could shake up the gift card space, with cards selling to consumers for less than face value and retailers getting the gift that keeps on giving: previously unavailable data on who is using these cards.

Trying to address the hundreds of millions of dollars lost each year in gift cards that are never redeemed, Plastic Jungle, of Fresno, Calif., has created a Web gift card exchange with a twist: The company is selling valid gift cards for less than the card's face value, which could have a significant impact on retail gift card sales.

Plastic Jungle CEO Tina Henson said the company plans on partnering with major retailers, to help them reduce accounting losses from unredeemed gift cards.

"Home Depot had $43 million gift cards that were unredeemed and more than two years old," said Henson. "It just goes on their books as a liability because they're not able to show it as revenue until it's been redeemed."

The way it works is consumers go to the site and fill out some forms (the current site doesn't ask much but that's going to change by mid-October), and they can then sell whatever gift cards they have for something in the range of 65 to 75 percent of the card's remaining value. The site charges a flat fee of $3.99 for each gift card listed, regardless of value, and all transactions are processed through PayPal.

Consumers can also purchase gift cards and pay about 90 to 95 percent of the card's remaining value, with keeping the difference, Henson said. This would allow consumers to purchase, for example, a $100 Home Depot gift card for $90.

The actual percentages paid and received will vary based on supply and demand, Henson said, adding that some gift cards are simply more popular than others and therefore demand a higher percentage. What are the most popular gift cards? Those from Home Depot, Wal-Mart and Target. The least popular? Barnes & Noble and Borders.

Henson speculated on a few reasons for those popularity differences, but thought a key reason are that those booksellers happen to still use expiration dates (two years for Borders and one year for Barnes & Noble), which is going to be phased out as states—and the feds—crack down on gift card expiration dates.

Beyond those specific retailers, Henson said, the most popular gift card categories are restaurants and department stores, while the least favorites are toy stores and bookstores. Why are toy store gift cards so unpopular? "Children can't use a gift card," Henson said, and adults are hesitant to give toy store gift cards to other adults, even adults who need to purchase a lot of toys.

Today's larger retailers are experimenting with a wide range of different uses for gift cards, with Subway experimenting with merging loyalty cards, gift cards and payment cards.

Security issues are another concern, with e-commerce gift cards posing particular security and fraud challenges, and some retailers are experimenting with adding a secondary identification number on the card, à la traditional payment cards.

One potential advantage for retailers working with Plastic Jungle is a wealth of CRM (customer relationship management) data. Today, gift cards are plastic marketing frustration because the person who buys the card is not the person who will use it, so correlating usage data with the purchaser's identity is worthless.

"Right now, retailers are selling blind because the whole product is designed to be given away," Henson said. "We're going to be able to gather that data and see who is actually using the cards and—more importantly—who doesn't want that card."

Initial data to be collected includes age, income level, gender, name, address and related demographic data, she said, but other data points—such as asking why consumers are turning in a particular card—could be added shortly.

The company, which now employs "fewer than five" full-time workers, is also making a plea for charitable contributions with small dollar amounts left on gift cards, Henson said. "Often, people will use almost their entire gift card amount at a store, but then have a little money left on the card," she said. "These low-balance cards typically get forgotten and go unused, but now people can donate them to worthy causes. All those less-than-$5 cards can add up to a great deal of help."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Windows Vista RC1 now available to general public

Early today, Microsoft opened the doors to all comers who would like to test Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 (RC1). Testers can access the 2.52GB of data that makes up the next version of Windows either via download or on a DVD that will be sent in the mail.

To initiate either process, would-be testers should visit the Vista Get Ready page and click the "Get Vista RC1" link.

Before today, only previously registered members of the Microsoft's Customer Preview Program (CPP) -- the 1.5 million people who accessed Vista Beta 1 in the same fashion earlier this year -- were given access to RC1. Although Microsoft hasn't officially announced the number of new CPP registrants it will allow for RC1, some Microsoft executives had previously estimated that the number would reach an additional 1.5 million testers.

For those of you wishing to download Vista you will need to have a windows live login ID and password and they will provide you witha new cd key on the download page. Make sure to copy it down and keep it somewhere safe.

Please note that Vista is beta software meant for testing only. There are still several bugs and compatability issue and several companies have yet to release drivers for their components. I do not recommed installing this as your main operating system. Once you do install Vista there is no way to roll-back to your old OS so it is best to install it on a seperate partion or hard drive.

Those who request the DVD to be mailed to them will be required to sign in with a Microsoft PassPort (not called Windows Live) e-mail address, answer some demographic questions and pay $5 in the U.S. for media and postage. Delivery will take two to four weeks.

Windows Vista is due out by early next year.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Dell Unveils First AMD Desktop

NEW YORK—Dell is about to take the wraps off of its first AMD-processor-based desktops.

The PC maker will begin taking orders for its new Dimension e521 and c521 desktops, which will offer AMD's Sempron, Athlon 64 and dual-core Athlon 64 X2 chips, on Sept. 13.

The desktops, designed for consumers and small and midsize businesses will begin shipping in volume several days later, company executives said.

The new desktops—themselves part of a cadre of new desktops the Round Rock, Texas, PC maker company introduced for businesses and consumers on Sept. 12 at its Technology Day, here—are part of a broader effort by Dell to broaden its product line in 2006.

Dell, which had long been an Intel-only shop, made the jump to AMD because it has been convinced that customers wanted AMD chips and also that AMD itself is on good standings in terms of technology and manufacturing capacity.

"Today we're pulling the covers off of our first Dell products using AMD processors," Michael Dell, the company's chairman, told analysts and reporters at Dell's Technology Day. "More and more customers are asking for AMD-based products."

But at the same time, "AMD has demonstrated the ability to deliver technology customers want today and in the future," he said. The chipmaker "meets Dell's requirements for capacity and quality."

Dell is adding the AMD-based products as part of an effort to better meet customer's needs, a strategy it calls Dell 2.0. It joins a growing number of companies that are offering business desktops with AMD chips inside them.

Lenovo Group, for one, has unveiled a new AMD-based ThinkCenter, while Hewlett-Packard will offer the HP Compaq Business Desktop PC dc5750, which also offers AMD's chips. Both are aimed at larger-sized businesses.

Dell has not yet announced an AMD-based OptiPlex desktop for larger businesses. However, Dell is widely expected to offer such as desktop.

Dell's Dimension C521, which is a basic slim tower desktop, will start at $329. Its Dimension E521, which offers more options for things such as security, multimedia and the ability to expand to dual optical drives, will start at $719, Dell said in a statement.

Dell is also offering a new Dimension E520 with Intel's Pentium D and Core 2 Duo processors.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

TechWeb's Dual-Core CPU Buyer's Guide

The truth is that core 2 duo is not for everyone. As you can see from the article there are some great older cpu's {even last years model cpu's} that can be found at a great price, making them a great option for the budget builder.

Tom's Hardware has a great interactive chart for comparing most if not all of the cpu's listed in the article.

If you've been sitting on the fence trying to decide whether to jump into the dual-core market, dither no more. Not only have the prices of dual-core processors come way down in the past year, but performance has been kicked up several notches. In May, AMD refreshed the high end of its Athlon line, and in July Intel introduced its long-awaited Core 2 Duo (formerly codenamed Conroe) chips -- the first desktop processors in its new "Core" microarchitecture.

"Now is a great time to buy," said Chris Walker, Intel's director of desktop CPU marketing. Sure, Walker's got some skin in that game -- Intel is intent on a successful launch for its new Core 2 Duo lineup. But from a consumer perspective, he's correct. The Core 2 Duo introduction touched off a price war between Intel and AMD. The upshot is that the latest chips from both vendors are far less expensive than they were only a short time ago, and many older dual-core processors are available for what amount to bargain prices.

In terms of the technology, both Intel and AMD have made significant strides since our last CPU buyer's guide, published in August 2005. Intel has updated the venerable NetBurst architecture used in its Pentium processor family with Core and Core 2 Duo. AMD has introduced its new AM2 socket, which effectively doubles the processor-to-memory bandwidth by adding support for DDR2 RAM.

To give you the information you need to make an informed decision, we've corralled all the processor specs into a comprehensive buyer's guide. As in last year's guide, we've covered both the Intel and the AMD lineups. Our emphasis is on dual-core -- soon, pretty much everything will be dual-core. Indeed, Intel expects to ship 10 million of its new dual-core chips within the next few months.

However, we're also listing a complete crop of single-core chips. Before you pooh-pooh such CPUs, remember that they offer the biggest bargains going if your PC usage steers away from gaming and multimedia in favor of everyday computing tasks such as e-mail and Web browsing.

For easier reading, we've separated the processors into four categories: performance dual-core CPUs, mainstream dual-cores, "bargain" dual-cores, and single-core CPUs. Along with descriptions of the chips, we bring you specs and the prices you can expect to pay in handy quick-reference charts.

Performance Dual-Core Processors

AMD Processors:
Athlon 64 FX-62, Athlon 64 X2 5000+
Intel Processors: Core 2 Extreme X6800, Core 2 Duo E6700, E6600, E6400, E6300

The conventional wisdom is that cutting-edge processors are largely for "enthusiast" users such as gamers, who demand the utmost in raw, uncompromised performance from their PCs. More recently, multimedia has been added to that mix. If you're editing movies and music, or simply using your system to watch a bunch of video streams, the fastest processors will enable your applications to avoid those annoying, unintentional pauses that are sometimes a prelude to a lock-up.

Despite the ongoing processor price war, when it comes to the ne plus ultra of dual-core performance, you're going to pay a fairly outrageous price. We're talking north of $1,000 for the top Intel offering and around $900 for AMD's best.

Only you can decide whether the bragging rights of owning one of these chips is worth its high price. It's always nice to have the best. On the other hand, remember that there's a much wider array of dual-core choices now available than was the case last year. Now, the combination of Intel's slew of recent introductions and price cuts on slightly older but by no means obsolete processors means that, this year, you can get some pretty good mainstream dual-core CPUs without paying through the nose.

Still, the best dual-cores money can buy are indeed good. Intel's Core 2 Duo processors, introduced in July, are widely considered to be the best-performing desktop CPUs around. They've won rave reviews from the likes of Tom's Hardware and TweakTown.

Not that AMD, which has as its top offering the Athlon 64 FX-62, has anything to apologize for. That CPU earned widespread kudos after it came out in May, and was, until Core 2, the top desktop chip.

Meet The CPUs

Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800:
Because Intel and AMD continually one-up each other, no single chip can lay claim to being CPU performance king for very long. Nevertheless, right now, the new Core 2 Extreme X6800 can confidently be said to reside at the top of the heap. (Here's a list of recent reviews.)

For hobbyists intent on pushing their home-brew PC to the limit, the X6800 appears to be more amenable than most CPUs to overclocking -- the technique through which users push a chip well past its manufacturer's quoted clock speed. (The 2.93-GHz X6800 has reportedly been clocked as high as 3.75 GHz.)

At a street price of $1,100, it's not cheap. (Intel's list price for the X6800 in high-quantity "trays" sold to OEMs is $999.) There were also availability concerns following its introduction in late July, with some anxious gamers complaining they couldn't get systems. However, with Intel promising that the Core 2 family will have its fastest ramp-up ever, those concerns are abating.

AMD Athlon 64 FX-62:
AMD's top-of-the-line dual-core offering, the Athlon 64 FX-62, is no slouch either. It was king of the performance hill until the Core 2 Extreme came along, and it's still a worthy processor. Like all Athlon 64s, the 2.8-GHz, dual-core chip features an integrated memory controller. Putting the controller alongside the two CPUs, rather than in a separate area of silicon, enables faster memory access since data doesn't have to traverse a traditional front-side bus.

The FX-62 ushers in AMD's new AM2 socket, which upgrades the integrated memory controller to work with faster DDR2 RAM. The socket also brings support for AMD's virtualization technology to the desktop.

For home-brew experts who aren't content with the stock chip, it can be overclocked to 3.1 GHz. Best of all, the processor can be snapped up for around $900.

If you covet an FX-62 but can't quite come up with the cash, the 2.6-GHz FX-60 might be the way to go. It's officially an "end-of-life" part, meaning AMD is no longer making it, but many retailers still have stock on hand. It currently retails for around $600.

Intel Core 2 Duo E6700, E6600, E6400, E6300: Here's where setting the performance line among dual-cores gets tricky. After you factor price into the equation, it gets more difficult still. True, all four of Intel's Core 2 Duo "E" CPUs are slower than the Extreme X6800. However, the E6700, at 2.66 GHz, is only 9 percent slower than the X6800. Yet it sells for a street price of around $570 -- only a little more than half the price of its higher-end cousin. That's clearly a solid price/performance value proposition.

The pokiest of the four, the 1.86-GHz E6300, is 37 percent slower than the top of the line, but at a street price of a scant $196, it's approximately a third the cost of the E6700.

As for additional positives, all four of the Core 2 Duo "E" processors have the same fast front-side bus as the X6800 and all are amenable to overclocking as well.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+: Is the phrase "high-end bargain" an oxymoron? If it's not, the Athlon 64 X2 5000+, introduced in May alongside the FX-62, might just fit the bill. The second-place processor in AMD's lineup is plenty fast: It's clocked at 2.6 GHz and has a dual, 1MB L2 cache. Like the FX-62, it uses the new AM2 socket, which supports fast, DDR2 memory.

As is the case with all of AMD's dual-cores, the 5000+ uses the company's HyperTransport interconnect to communicate between the processor cores and I/O subsystems. The bus is clocked at 2000 MHz, and in peak operation HyperTransport can deliver up to 8.0 GB/sec of total system bandwidth.

The 5000+ is very popular right now, and in incredibly short supply. That's both because it's intrinsically a great chip and because it's seen as a good alternative to the Core 2 Duos. Those two reasons have pushed up the street price of the 5000+ beyond the $301 list price set by AMD to as much as $325 -- still not a lot to pay. That price is even more impressive when one considers that AMD's top X2 model last year -- the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ -- was slower at 2.4 GHz, didn't support DDR2 memory, and sold for a whopping $1,100.

I used the 5000+ in my recent "Build A Dual-Core PC" project. Subjectively speaking, it's extremely fast. (That's not just my opinion -- my multimedia-savvy teenage daughter concurs.)

On the downside, although it has a thermal rating of 89W (compared to 125W for the FX-62), it seems to runs hotter than I had hoped. AMD's Cool'n'Quiet driver is available to downshift power usage when the extra juice isn't needed.

If you're in the market for a high-end dual-core, it's also worth keeping in mind that AMD is planning to freshen its X2 line before the end of the year. An Athlon 64 X2 5200+ is in the works. It'll have the same 2.6-GHz clock speed as the 5000+, but will double its L2 cache complement from 2 x 512KB to 2 x 1MB.

Mainstream Dual-Core Processors

AMD Processors:
Athlon 64 X2 4600+, Athlon 64 X2 4200+
Intel Processors:Pentium Extreme Edition 965, Pentium Extreme Edition 955, Pentium D 960, 950, 945, 920, 915

The difficulties in setting clear boundaries among dual-core processors become even tougher when you get to the "squishy middle" of the performance landscape. That's where the CPUs don't have the heft of the Core 2 Extreme or the FX-62, but aren't the clear bargain-basement parts you get with older, first-generation chips.

Accordingly, I've christened these devices "mainstream dual-cores." These include the meaty middle of AMD's Athlon 64 X2 line and Intel's Pentium 9XX series. The latter, also known as the Core Duo line, was Intel's top dual-core family before the new Core 2 Duos came along.

While these processors won't satisfy uber-geeky gamers, they will perform sufficiently for the vast majority of users. We're talking people who run office productivity applications along with the heavy Web surfing that's become pretty much the norm, encompassing everything from MySpace social-networking to YouTube video-viewing. I categorize such usage as heavier than the so-called "everyday" basic computing, which can be handled by cheaper, low-end dual-core and single-core processors.

Most important, the mainstream dual-cores run more than sufficiently fast to enable you to upgrade your PC to Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system, without any hiccups, when that OS comes along next year.

Meet The CPUs

Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 965 and Pentium Extreme Edition 955:
Like an academically advanced child who's overshadowed by a sports-star sibling, these two processors have gotten short shrift in the hubbub surrounding the Core 2 Duos. Both "Extreme" CPUs are members of Intel's 9XX family. However, they were introduced less than six months before the Core 2 Duos, so they didn't get much time to shine.

Their main negative is that they use Intel's original "bolted together" dual-core design. This places two separate single-core CPUs next to each other on a single silicon die. It's far less elegant than the from-the-ground-up dual-core architecture used in the Core 2 Duos. Nevertheless, the 965 and 955 are solid performers. More important, now that they're effectively obsolete, you can get good deals (see price chart).

The Extreme Edition processors are based on the longtime NetBurst architecture used in most Pentiums. However, they add support for Intel's Hyper-Threading and hardware-assisted Virtualization technologies. The former makes it easy to run multiple threads, which means better multitasking performance. The latter, which was largely unsupported in Intel's first dual-core chips, lets users run whole operating systems and apps in separate partitions, turning one physical CPU into a couple of virtual processors.

However, it's important to note that while many users will take advantage of Hyper-Threading, they're unlikely to do much with Virtualization because it's not widely utilized by desktop operating systems.

Both the 965 and 955 are made using Intel's advanced 65-nm semiconductor fabrication process, upgrading them from the 90 nm used for the earlier 8XX line and putting them on par in that regard with the Core 2 Duos.

Intel Pentium D 960, 950, 945, 920, 915:There's little to say about the rest of the Pentium D 9XX line that doesn't already apply to the Extreme Edition 966 and 955. The family is filled out with five SKUs ranging in clock speed from 2.8 GHz to 3.6 GHz.

All support HyperThreading and Intel's Virtualization technology. The decision to go with a 9XX will rely largely on price. Unfortunately, the prices of the 9XX series are caught in a something of a pincer. Beneath them are the 8XX chips: not as good, but a heck of a lot cheaper. Accordingly, if you're really budget-constrained, you'd probably be better off looking at, say, the 805.

Above the 9XX in terms of performance is the new Core 2 Duo line. The two entry members of that family -- the E6300 and E6400, at around $196 and $243, respectively -- may be wiser choices, since they're not much more expensive than the 945, 950, and 960 cousins (see price chart). The 2.8-GHz 915, at $146, is a good compromise, combining mainstream dual-core performance with accessible pricing.

In a bid to pare down its huge array of dual-core SKUs, Intel in mid-August issued a notice that it would stop selling the 3.0-GHz Pentium D 930 and the 3.2-GHz 940 by the end of the year. Those processors are still available at the time this article is being posted -- both the 930 and 940 can be obtained from online retailers for around $200 and $210, respectively. However, for that money, you'd do just as well buying an entry-level Core 2 Duo.

One last factor to consider in your choice of processor is the cost of the motherboard you're planning to plug it into. While both the Core 2 Duo and the 9XX parts use the same Intel 775 socket, the Core 2 Duos require a motherboard equipped with the proper Intel core-logic chipset and updated firmware. While a 9XX motherboard can be had for around $100, figure you'll pay around $250 for one able to handle the newer processors.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ and 4200+: These two CPUs highlight the ongoing shift in the dual-core landscape. Last year, the 4600+ was included in our highest category -- performance processors -- among several other thousand-dollar chips. The 4200+ was listed as a high-end offering. Today, the 2.4-GHz 4600+ and 2.2-GHz 4200+ remain as solid as ever, but now they fall firmly in the middle of the dual-core pack.

But, boy, are these chips cheaper now. The X2 4200+ is available for $199, the 4600+ for $256. As David Schwarzbach, AMD's desktop product manager, puts it: "With the new pricing, we now have proven dual-core performance at affordable prices that are within reach of a larger portion of the market."

One other difference to note is that this year the two chips are being made in versions for the newer AM2 socket, which supports DDR2 memory. Older versions for the 939 socket have been "end-of-lifed" by AMD.

Bargain Dual-Core Processors

AMD Processors:
Athlon 64 X2 3800+
Intel Processors: Pentium D 805, 820

Our final dual-core category is something of an accident of history. Because Intel recently introduced its third generation of dual-core processors with the Core 2 Duos, but is still making some first-generation 8XX-series parts, the latter are now dirt cheap.

As for AMD, its low-end dual-core isn't outmoded technologically, but it's positioned as an entry-level offering and priced accordingly. If you want to run Vista on a dual-core -- and that's something you'd be strongly advised to do -- you can't get into the market any cheaper than with one of these CPUs.

Intel Pentium D 805, 820:True, the 2.66-GHz 805 and 2.8-GHz 820 are fabricated in Intel's older, 90-nm process technology and have smaller L2 caches than their 9XX cousins (2 x 1MB versus 2 x 2MB). Other than that, however, there's no significant difference. Though the more advanced 65-nm process used with the 9XX would lead one to assume that they're better on power consumption, the 805 and 820 do okay on that score, with a 95W thermal design power spec. Yet, at street prices of $93 and $120, respectively, they're the cheapest dual-cores around.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+:The 3800+ boasts the same 2000-MHz HyperTransport bus as its higher-end 5000+ sibling. With a 2.0-GHz clock and 2 x 512KB L2 cache, it's also got nothing to be ashamed of, spec-wise. However, at $162, it doesn't quite bring up the bargain-priced rear of the market the way the low-end Intel 805 and 820 do

Single-Core Processors

AMD Processors:
Athlon 64 3800+, 3500+, 3200+; Sempron 3600+, 3500+, 3400+, 3200+, 3000+
Intel Processors: Pentium 4 670, 661, 660, 651, 641, 631, 524, 521; Celeron D 356, 355, 352, 351, 350, 346, 345, 341, 340, 331, 326

When it comes to single-core CPUs, there's an embarrassment of choices. Accordingly, buyers should choose carefully. Intel and AMD say that their better single-core processors will do just fine with Windows Vista. However, I strongly recommend that prospective Vista users seek out a dual-core device. On the other hand, if your computing needs are mainly limited to so-called "everyday" tasks such as e-mail and Web browsing, and if you're budget-constrained, a single-core processor is a viable option.

Because financial considerations are likely to loom large among single-core buyers, I've divided the single core processors into two groups: faster single-cores and low-end processors. The former includes the Intel Pentium 4 6XX and Pentium 4 5XX series, and AMD's Athlon 64 family. The latter comprises Intel's Celeron Ds and AMD's Semprons. I really would prefer to call the two groups "orphans" and "dirt-cheap CPUs," but that might made certain vendors unhappy.

Unfortunately, "orphans" is an apt term for many members of Intel's 6XX series. Take the single-core, 3.6-GHz Pentium 4 660, which was a listed as a high-end processor in last year's buyer's guide. However, selling at $401 today, it's largely a relic, since you can get a dual-core CPU for a lot less money. That may be why some of the higher-end single-core SKUs seem either to be in short supply or aren't promoted much by boxed-processor retailers. One might also venture a guess that Intel will eventually winnow some of these processors from its product line, as it did recently with some of its superfluous dual-core models.

With dual-core rapidly maturing, the real remaining attractions among the single-cores are those best suited for everyday PC use. That's where the "dirt-cheap" CPUs come in. It's hard to argue with paying $31 for a 2.53-GHz Celeron D 326. That's a good way to go if you're buying a PC for a high-school student, new-to-computing parent, or dyed-in-the-wool business user who's unlikely to venture into funky new multimedia applications.

Faster Single-Cores

Intel Pentium 4 670, 661, 660, 651, 641, 631, 524, 521:
Once Intel's flagship line, the Pentium 4 6XX family still delivers solid performance, ranging from a 3.8-GHz clock and 2MB L2 cache for the 670 down to a not-unimpressive 3.0 GHz with the same beefy cache for the 631. However, the 631 goes for around $176 at online retailers and the 670 -- if you can find it -- is a stratospheric $605.

The 5XX series preceded the 6XX, and is fabricated using older 90-nm technology. These processors are rapidly fading from the scene. Still shipped as boxed (retail) processors are the 2.8-GHz 521 and the 3.06-GHz 524. The 524 is generally available for $140; the 521 is harder to find. Some vendors still have residual stock of the 517, which exists only as an OEM part and is street-priced at $125. Again, I suggest you avoid these models in favor of a dual-core processor

AMD Athlon 64 3800+, 3500+, 3200+: Note that these models aren't Athlon 64 X2s -- "X2" denotes dual-core. These are plain-old single-core Athlon 64 designs, which were among the first desktop processors to implement AMD's groundbreaking 64-bit architecture.

The single-core Athlon 64s make a bit more sense price-wise than some of their Pentium 4 6XX competition. Perhaps that's because the scrappy semiconductor competitor fields fewer processors overall than Intel. A 2.0-GHz Athlon 64 3200+ lists for only $81. The top-of-the-line 2.4-GHz 3800+ sells for $120.

Low-End Single-Cores

Intel Celeron D 356, 355, 352, 351, 350, 346, 345, 341, 340, 331, 326:
Here's a nomenclature no-no to remember: The "D" after "Celeron" does not put these parts in the same class as the Pentium D. These Celerons are low-end, single-core processors -- not dual-core devices. Note also that this family is divided up between Intel's Socket 775 and its rather aged Intel 478 socket. If you have the right motherboard, it doesn't much matter which one you get, since both types use a rather slow 533-MHz front-side bus.

The Celeron D 340, 345, and 350 use the 478 socket. The three CPUs also don't support Intel's 64-bit EM64T instruction set extensions. The Celeron D 326, 331, 341, 346, 351, 352, 355, and 356 are all socket 775 and do support EM64T.

If you're insistent on going single-core, and if your computing needs really are limited to everyday tasks, probably nothing fits the bill better than this family. Along with the aforementioned 2.53-GHz Celeron D 326 going for a scant $31, you can get a 2.93-GHz 340 for $40 or a 3.2-Ghz 350 for around $50. My suggestion, though, is to stick with the two most modern members of the family: the 3.2-GHz 352 and 3.33-GHz 356. Those two are the only Celeron Ds that have the added advantage of being 65-nm parts; the others use the older 90-nm process. They can be purchased for $69 and $74, respectively.

AMD Sempron 3600+, 3500+, 3400+, 3200+, 3000+: What is it with low-end processor names? "Celeron" sounds too close to "celery" for my taste. And "Sempron," which seems to have been chosen to connote the Marine slogan semper fi (always faithful), instead makes me think "simp," for simple. Which, like their Celeron competitors, they essentially are.

Like the Celerons, the Semprons come in versions spread among two different sockets: AMD's older 754 or its new, DDR2-supporting AM2. The Semprons also boast a faster system bus and use less power than the Celerons; however, most of the Semprons cost slightly more. The least expensive is the 3000+ at $61. (That chip runs at 1.8 GHz in its Socket 754 version, 1.6 GHz in AM2.) The family tops out with the $110, 2.0-GHz Sempron 3600+.

Quick Reference: CPU Specs & PricesAmid the slew of recent dual-core introductions as well as intense competition between AMD and Intel, prices for many processors are changing more frequently than in years past. Prices of older models -- both dual- and single-core -- are dropping. However, some of the newest Intel parts are in tight supply and command more than the manufacturer's list price.

Accordingly, the prices on this page are our subjective assessment, drawn from the vendor's list price and the street prices of the top online sellers, of what you're likely to pay for a processor in a single-quantity purchase as of September 1, 2006. These prices are subject to change and will likely drop over time.

We've also included the top specs on this page. You can find more detailed specifications for the companies' entire processor lineups on the AMD site and the Intel site, respectively.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Flock Web Browser Brings FireFox To Life

Flock adds some of the most popular tools from social networking sites such as Photobucket, Flickr, Blogger and MySpace. Tools such as shared bookmarking and a blogging interface would facilitate sharing of information while the Firefox rendering engine would handle internet browsing to ensure accurate, standards-compliant rendering. Novel idea, no? Incorporate interfaces to common community-oriented services such as and flickr into a browser built on Firefox and you have an innovative approach to how the internet browser is used.

Photos stored on either Flickr or Photobucket are integrated directly into the browser with a drop down menu just above the browser window that allows horizontal scrolling. The toolbar also comes with a built in search feature, for finding photos fast and easy, and a favorites bookmark folder that saves bookmarks of your favorite friends or relatives. Photos can be uploaded to these accounts by dragging them into the browser or by using the uploader. The photo uploader is packed with features such as image cropping, rotating and resizing. As well as features to choose or create folders for Photobucket.

Photos in the toolbar can be added to any web page that accepts html (a comment area on a blog, for example) by dragging the photo directly into the web page. This is a great feature for anyone sharing photos on sites such as Myspace, Facebook or LiveJournal. This is the single most compelling reason (for me) to start using Flock on a daily basis.

Apart from photos, you are given the ability to make blog posts over your blog through your Flock without having to visit to the blog website of yours. You can post your new blogs directly from Flock which is faster. Blog posts can be created from a sidebar called Shelf that acts as a repository for blogging content, such as photos and text; items on the Shelf can be dragged into place on the blog post.

Web Snippets
I cannot tell you how cool I find the web snippets feature to be. In short the web snippets feature is a drawer that, when exposed can have highlighted text or images dragged to it for later reference. I often find myself spending hours researching a product, reading papers, viewing images, etc and previously had an open text document and a ton of screen shots saved to the desktop. The web snippets feature not only saves a reference to the location of the original picture or text, you can drag photos from the drawer directly in to Photoshop for manipulation. My three major improvements to this interface would be the ability to save “sessions” of the drawer as a means to organize material, an export feature for the drawer so I could output everything to a directory, and a larger version of the image or text when rolled over as the current size of icons in the drawer render the images somewhat indistinguishable from one another.

In addition to the lovely features provided above Flock can also be enhanced with extensions featured on the Flock site (site designed by Bryan Veloso of Avalonstar). While not all of me favorite FireFox extension work with Flock I've found most of them do. One down fall I see so far is the lack of themes for Flock you are stuck with the standard theme which isn't bad but I prefer a more customized toned down look. Overall I find Flock to be a great new product the features of which are community-oriented and implemented in a beautiful interface. If you haven’t yet tried it I definitely recommend that you do.

Friday, September 01, 2006

New beta out for Firefox 2.0

Mozilla Corp. has released a new test version of Firefox 2.0, which will be the next major version of its popular open-source browser.

Firefox 2.0 Beta 2, released Thursday at about 3 p.m. Pacific time, features an improved user interface and a limited version of the phishing protection feature that Mozilla is developing for the browser. More information is available at the site.

Beta 2 also comes with improved search capabilities, a spellchecker for Web forms, and jazzed-up tabbed browsing capabilities.

This second beta release will probably be the last beta version of Firefox 2.0. Developers are now planning to ship a nearly final "release candidate" edition of the browser on Sept. 19, with the finished product going out the door by the end of October.

Mozilla had been hoping to have Firefox 2.0 finished by September, but that date was pushed back recently to give developers more time to squash the growing list of bugs in the beta code.

Both Mozilla and Microsoft Corp. are rushing to finish major updates to their browser software. Late last week Microsoft posted the first release-candidate version of Internet Explorer 7, and it is expecting to ship the final version of the next-generation browser by year's end.

Research company estimates that about 13 percent of Web surfers now use Firefox. The Netherlands-based company pegs IE users at 83 percent.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Thinking of Buying a new Conroe Core 2 Duo

You might want to wait till after Christmas!

Intel to release quad-core processors in November
Originally posted on

High-end enthusiasts will have a new toy to wish for come the wintery months. For those looking toward the sky for the high-end performance up there, Intel will have a single-chip answer that is sure to offer lots of processor bang: a true four-core processor available in time for the holidays. Kentsfield, Intel's code-name for its quad-core desktop chip based on the Core 2 architecture, was originally slated to arrive sometime in the first quarter of 2007; however, due to Intel's fast product ramp and validation process on its 65 nm line of products, we will be seeing this chip as early as November.

AMD's alternate quad-core solution will also be available around that time, but its chip will consist of two physical chip packages, each with a dual-core chip connected through HyperTransport on a dual-socket motherboard. In contrast, the chips from Intel will be true quad-core single-socket chips. For many enthusiasts this could be a winner. On the alternate side, when AMD releases its quad-core chips, the 4x4 platform can have the dual-core chips replaced with quad-cores to make an instant 8-core machine.

We seem to be getting to the point where you'll either buy for performance, or if you don't you'll have options to choose from. Each has different merits depending on where you place value.

Is AMD finished? It's still on 90 nm with some 65 nm woes.

Read more at eWEEK, and post your thoughts below.

Wired vs Wireless Networking: What's right for you?

Over the past several years we've seen a greater emergence of multiple PC's in a single family home. Typically you'll find a home PC for Mom and Dad, a PC for the kids to play games and in more and more cases a laptop used for business purposes. All this creates a greater demand for home networks either wired or wireless. With this great demand you often find the question asked is wireless right for me, and what about security. In more and more cases we find consumers opting to go with wireless networks, but that might not be the best choice for your specific needs.

Is a Wired, Wireless or Wireless/Wired Network Best For You?

The truth is if you are using outdated products then no matter what you need to upgrade. Outdated hardware such as wireless B routers are a major security risk. The wireless B standard uses something called WEP encryption which is surprisingly easy to break, allowing would-be hackers easy access to your network. The cost of the upgrade to the newer wireless G standard is well worth the added security. However before going out and buying that new wireless router you need to know your options and decide which option best suits your needs.

A quick guideline:
  • If you are mainly using desktop computers, a wired network is likely to be your best bet. In most cases it is easier to have cable ran from room to room than to buy a wireless router that may or may not spread signal coverage throughout the entire house. Keep in mind that if you have a large house it is likely that your router will not cover the entire house creating the need buy more hardware.
  • If you have two or more laptops, or if you prefer the portability of carrying your laptop from room to room then you will likely want a wireless network. However this doesn't mean you need to use wireless cards in all your PC's. Typically you'd want to setup your PC's as wired and use only your laptop's wireless capabilities.
  • If you share a lot of files with other people in the house: example transfer files from your laptop to your desktop or from one desktop to another desktop. Then you will want to have a wired connection. Wired connections always run faster and transfer files faster across the network. This doesn't mean they will access the Internet faster just that they will connect faster to other computers connected to your network.

Key points to keep in mind when going wireless
  • Many routers and network cards are un-reliable. Make sure you read the reviews before making a decision on your wireless components and don't skimp. Usually the cheaper parts are just that cheaper, and offer a limited range.
  • The range of the signal is greatly affected by objects in and around your house. Things like concrete walls, large furnishing and appliances will all limit your coverage area.
  • Your wireless signal is affected by other wireless signals as well. Not just cellular phones, but microwaves as well as other routers in your area can cause connection issues. A big problem is with newer cordless phones. Most of them run at the same freq.{2.4ghz} as your wireless router and they will interfere with each others signal causing you to either loose phone calls or drop your Internet connection.
  • Signals can be easily intercepted and even with the best security your signal is still being transmitted and can be intercepted.
  • Overall cost can be a major concern. Wireless routers currently cost $50+ for a decent router and $30+ for a network card. While decent wired routers typically are much cheaper and most computers come with onboard network adapters.

A few wireless marketing myths to avoid
Do not buy into the marketing hype of "super G" "turbo-G" or "speedbooster". They simply are not any faster nor are they any better than regular wireless G. It is also best to stay clear of "pre-N". Manufactures may boast greater range and faster speeds but as of yet pre-N has not been approved as an industry standard.

The cons of being hard wired
  • You are limited in mobility, basically you are wired to one room unless you wire terminals through out the house.
  • Wires are very unsightly. Even if you have terminals in every room you'll still have a cord running from your computer to the wall.
  • Portability may be a major concern. Your connection is limited to the rooms you have pre-existing wires in. With a wireless connection your connection goes with you anywhere in the house and in most cases a limited range outdoors.
  • Wireless hands down beats out wired in terms of convenience. With a wired network you'll have to worry about running wires throughout your house. Usually this means crawling around in tight places, or having a technician come out and do that for you.

The final call
There are going to be many more factors to consider mostly your current hardware and software as well as the size of your house and your particular needs. It is best to consider all the factors before ruling out one or the other.

If you do decide to go wireless please make sure you have your network secure
I'll be creating an easy to use guide to network security shortly however here are a few tips. Typically you can make all the following changes by typing one of the following in your browsers address bar or
  • Secure your wireless router or access point administration interface. Your router has a log-in ID that you need to change to something specific for you.
  • Enable WPA encryption instead of WEP. WEP is better than nothing but to date WPA and WPA-2 have been unbreakable.
  • Disable remote administration, most routers have the ability to be remotely administered via the Internet. That's means almost anyone anywhere could potentially find and access your router. As a rule, unless you absolutely need this capability, it's best to keep remote administration turned off. (It's usually turned off by default, but it's always a good idea to check.)