Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Installing The Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Earlier today Microsoft released their Windows 8 Consumer Preview, showcasing many of the changes of the company's new operating system. If like me you are chomping at the bit to take it for a test drive but aren't sure what the best way of installing it will be I'll give you a few options and suggestions below.

No matter which option you choose you'll need to enter this product key: NF32V-Q9P3W-7DR7Y-JGWRW-JFCK8. So write it down and keep it handy!

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Fresh Install

Doing a fresh install is typically the best, easiest and most effective way of testing out new software. You won't have access to all your old files and folders but at the same time you won't have to worry too much about any incompatible products, software ect. The downside is in order to do a stand alone fresh install you'll need a secondary drive or to completely erase your current drive. There is the option of dual-booting, however that too has its downsides.

Doing a fresh install of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview is fairly easy. To begin with as mentioned you'll either need to completely format your old drive or use a secondary hard drive. From there you'll need to grab the install media. Microsoft has given you two great options.

Option 1 - Download and install the Windows 8 Consumer Preview Setup. This will take a few minutes to scan your current system and install and make sure everything is compatible with the new OS. After the scan is complete you'll see a list of items that may or may not work. This will include software and hardware. Since you are doing a fresh install you'll need to re-install all your software so that isn't a big deal. However, if there are hardware issues you'll need to decide if its nothing too important. If not you can continue on. The scanner will prompt you to download the installer files it think s are best for your setup.

Note: It took several attempts for me to get through the setup process. First it didn't want to complete the task of getting the install key. Then it didn't want to download the installer. I suspect this is due to high demand and user traffic.

Option 2 - Directly download the ISO files. With these all you'll need to do is burn the images onto installation media, such as a DVD or USB bootable flash drive. The easiest way to convert an ISO file to a DVD in Windows 7 is to use Windows Disc Image Burner, you can use whatever DVD software you want its really up to you. On a PC running Windows XP or Windows Vista a third-party program is required to convert an ISO file into installable media—and DVD burning software often includes this capability.

Another option is the USB/DVD download tool provided by the Microsoft Store. This will allow you to create a bootable USB drive.

With either option installation is a snap. You'll need to be able to boot from the disk, or USB drive. So you'll need to restart your computer, enter the bios and change the boot order to DVD, or USB. These options will vary depending on your computer so check the manual before beginning. If you have a fresh drive you can proceed with the install as normal. Windows has simplified installation over the years so we won't go into that. If not and and you need to format the drive you can do that direct from the setup. Just make sure you don't choose the option of an upgrade. You'll need to select custom or advance installation.

You can then choose to format and partition your drive as you see fit. Just note if you have several partition and are using one or two for backup you don't want to format those. Just the one you want the operating system on.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview Via Virtual Machine

Due to screen resolution restriction of the new user interface and many of the features available in the preview Microsoft is suggesting that you do not run the preview in a virtual machine. That doesn't mean it won't run, just that some of the features might not work as well as expected. We tested the install on two VM's and had mixed results.

With VirtualBox, not matter what settings we used, we could not get the operating system up and running. This really wasn't a surprise as I saw several people mention issues with the developer preview. I got an endless boot cycle over and over again and could never get past it. This could be a hardware issue with out test setup or it could be the software. Either way we couldn't get it running We'll try some test at a later date and post back the results.

For now VMWare Player gets the nod. We had some issues at first but we got things worked out and here's what you'll need to know.
  1. Go here and download the ISO version of the Windows 8 Consumer Preview you want to run. I suggest using the 32bit version at it was easier to get up and running
  2. Then follow this link and download the latest version of VMWare Player
  3. Once installed launch the software and check for any possible updates. I just downloaded everything, but you likely don't need to.
  4. Click create new virtual machine - here you will have the option to use an install disk or use the ISO file you just downloaded. Select installer disk file and navigate to the folder the ISO file is located in.
  5. Once you have the right file click next. Here you'll see the option to select the guest operating system, you want to select other and then select other from the drop down menu. DO NOT select Windows. You will not see Windows 8 listed there and using any of the other options didn't work!
  6. Click next and name your VM, any name works
  7. The next screen brings you to disk capacity, select at least 20 Gbs and I prefer using a single file
  8. On the next screen click the "customize hardware" button. Here you need to make a few changes. Select memory and increase the total to at least 2 Gbs. You may also need to change your network adapter settings. More on that later.
Now you should be all set. Click finish and let VmWare Player launch and do its thing. If all goes well you'll see a standard looking Windows Setup and instal page. You'll need to enter this product key: NF32V-Q9P3W-7DR7Y-JGWRW-JFCK8. Everything from there should be self explanatory.

Dual-Booting Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows 7

Note: You may run into a few issues related to doing a dual boot setup. If you do please refer to the bottom of the page and the steps we took to get things up and running

When setting up a dual-boot effectively you are setting up two operating systems side by side on either the same drive, with separate partitions or an active secondary drive. This is great because you can keep your existing version of Windows all while having the option to checkout the new Consumer Preview. During start-up a dual-boot setup will give you the option of selecting either the older install, in this case Windows 7, or the newer install of Windows 8.

The two operating systems do not run simultaneously, nor do you share applications. However you can still access files on one or the other. The down side is that if there is the need to remove Windows 8 for some reason you'll then need to make some changes to the boot records which can lead to some headaches.

To setup a dual-boot with Windows 8 Consumer Preview and Windows 7 or Vista you'll need the following steps:

  1. Download the Windows 8 ISO files (linked above), you'll then want to create a stand alone install DVD
  2. Make sure you have a partition with at least 20 Gb on your Windows 7 drive. If you don't have one but you have enough space you can use a tool like GParted to create a second partition. A second option would be a secondary drive.
  3. Once those steps are complete you'll need to restart your PC and change the boot order so that you can boot from your new DVD rather than your hard drive.
  4. Booting from your Windows 8 install DVD you'll want to go through the initial Windows setup just as you were doing a fresh install
  5. When asked if you want to update or do a custom/advanced install make sure you click advanced install. This will give you the option of doing a clean install on either a second partition or hard drive.
  6. Be very careful here! Make sure you are selecting an empty drive or partition and not the one with your current install. If you make that mistake you'll overwrite all the information and you most likely won't get it back!
From here the installation process should be fairly self automated. Setup will proceed to install all the Windows 8 files just like any other normal Windows install. Upon competition of the installation your computer should reboot and will boot directly into the new Windows 8 setup screen.

Now this is where we ran into some issues!

We found out that Windows 8 totally overwrites the boot records and does not include the option to boot to Windows 7. This had us a bit stumped at first but we found a work around that worked. Unlike our Windows 7 disk the Windows 8 disk did not have the start-up repair option. At least we didn't see it. So I grabbed my Windows 7 install DVD, booted it up and ran the startup repair. This located both the Windows 7 boot records and Windows 8 boot records and did an automatic repair for me.

When you reboot it will boot to Windows 8 and you'll see a screen that says attempting recovery. Once its done you'll reboot again and again you'll see a Windows 8 startup screen but you should then see a prompt for either operating system.

A second work around my be running the Windows Bootrec.exe tool. We didn't try that, but it should work none the same.

Microsoft Releases The Windows 8 Consumer Preview

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview (a pre-beta build) is now officially live on Microsoft's servers and ready for the masses to download and test out. The Consumer Preview will feature most, if not all of the 100,000 code changes and feature updates that we'll see in the new operating system.

The new OS will bring a ton of improvements including Metro which will feature an entirely redesigned UI, less painful Windows Update process, faster boots, decreased OS resource consumption, and improved file transfers, a streamlined upgrade process for the initial installation and switching to a primarily online sales distribution model.

The system recommendations for the Consumer Preview include:
  • 1 GHz or faster processor
  • 1 GB RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • 16 GB available hard disk space (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver 

One new element to Windows 8 is the requirement that Metro style applications have a minimum of 1024x768 screen resolution, and 1366x768 for the snap feature. If you attempt to launch a Metro style app with less than this resolution (e.g. 800x600, 1024x600) you will receive an error message. For this reason MS is suggesting that you do not run the preview in a virtual machine. For now they are suggesting a full install. You can upgrade from the Developer Preview or directly from Windows 7, or install a fresh clean installation. I recommend the later, with a dual boot option just in case there are issues.

You can download the Consumer Preview starting now at

For more details checkout the following posts from Microsoft:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Apple Event Coming March 7th, Is An iPad 3 Inevitable

Apple fans should know by now that they shouldn't count there eggs, or well iDevices, before they hatch. Apple does things on their terms and inspite of months of speculation even when an event is scheduled until the official announcement is made they are the only one that know for sure what is coming. Case in point the iPhone 4s announcement

That said, it appears as though the wait for a new iPad may soon be over. Several sites and news sources are reporting the receipt of and invitation to an event on March 7 in San Francisco, where it’s said Apple will be releasing the third generation iPad.

The invitation features the picture below, clearly showing an iPad screen and the caption “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

There are many rumors and speculation about what the new device will provide. Most experts believe the iPad 3 will feature a higher-resolution screen, a faster processor, perhaps even Apple's first quad-core and more internal memory. There is also speculation well see better cameras and a few other features to "boost" performance over the current iPad 2.

Even wilder rumors suggest we might see a smaller version of the iPad. Perhaps something in the 7 inch range. Or something that comes in with slightly less performance and a cheaper price tag.

For now its really just all speculation. If the supposed iPhone 5 event has taught us anything its that we really never know what Apple will have up their sleeve!!

Google Offering Up To $1million In Rewards For Chrome Exploits At CanSecWest

Google may come under fire for many things but you have to admit when it comes to security of its browser they tend to put their money where there, well security is. The company has continually showed its willingness to pay up when it comes to bugs, exploits and hacks, consistently extending funding for the Chromium Security Rewards program.

This year Google wants to go even further. At the upcoming CanSecWest security conference, Google will once again sponsor rewards for Google Chrome exploits.  The aim of the program is simple: Google feels they have a big learning opportunity when working with security researchers and receiving full end-to-end exploits. Not only can the Google team then fix the bugs, but they can studying the vulnerability and exploit techniques used by security teams to can enhance mitigations, automated testing, and sandboxing. This enables us better protection for end users.

To up the ante, and of course provide some extra incentive for researchers to share their exploits, Google has upped the ante from their standard reward program and past bonuses given at CanSecWest. This year they will directly sponsor up to $1 million worth of rewards in the following categories:

  • $60,000 - “Full Chrome exploit”: Chrome / Win7 local OS user account persistence using only bugs in Chrome itself.
  • $40,000 - “Partial Chrome exploit”: Chrome / Win7 local OS user account persistence using at least one bug in Chrome itself, plus other bugs. For example, a WebKit bug combined with a Windows sandbox bug.
  • $20,000 - “Consolation reward, Flash / Windows / other”: Chrome / Win7 local OS user account persistence that does not use bugs in Chrome. For example, bugs in one or more of Flash, Windows or a driver. These exploits are not specific to Chrome and will be a threat to users of any web browser. Although not specifically Chrome’s issue, we’ve decided to offer consolation prizes because these findings still help us toward our mission of making the entire web safer.

There will be multiple rewards offered per category, up to the $1 million limit, on a first-come-first served basis. There is no splitting of winnings or “winner takes all.” Google will require each set of exploit bugs to be reliable, fully functional end to end, disjoint, of critical impact, present in the latest versions and genuinely “0-day,” i.e. not known to us or previously shared with third parties. Contestant’s exploits must be submitted to and judged by Google before being submitted anywhere else.

This is a new program for Google, who withdrew their sponsorship from the annual Pwn2Own contest over concerns that contestants are allowed to enter Pwn2Own without having to reveal the full exploits to software vendors. Full exploits have been handed over in previous years, but it’s an explicit non-requirement in this year’s contest which Google felt was unacceptable.

Chrome will still be on the list of Pwn2Own targets, which also includes Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox. However, there won't be the bonus bounty offered last year.

Motorola Offers Business Users Up To $200 To Switch To Android

Motorola Mobility wants professional consumers – or “prosumers” -- to make the switch to an Android powered device and they are offering you cash back to do so.

Motorola has announced a new program targeting the enterprise level consumer and business users. The company will be offering up to $200 cash back for a consumer’s old device when a Motorola Business Ready smartphone is purchased. In addition, Motorola Mobility will be offering the MotoAssist™ IT service to give business users access to IT professionals who can help set up accounts, transfer contacts seamlessly, and even work directly with corporate IT departments.

The new program went live this afternoon at Businesses and consumers looking for more information about the company’s Business Ready devices will find resources at, including information on the company’s Business Ready product portfolio, security and software features, numerous support resources, and industry case studies.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Future of Online File Sharing

One of the biggest stories in the online world so far in 2012 has concerned the shutdown of Megaupload, the file sharing and online storage service. This popular website was founded by Kim Dotcom and was accused of fostering copyright piracy and closed very suddenly.

Image courtesy

Megaupload worked around a simple concept: users could upload files and store them on the site's servers. These files could then be accessed by anyone registered to the service and subsequently downloaded. While this kind of free file sharing model allows for the exchange of ideas between professionals, it also opens up the way for copyright material to be accessed by users without the permission of the owners of the content. The site's closure does go a way to stop internet piracy, but the impact of the loss of Megaupload will be felt in many areas of the web, especially for those who legitimately used the service, for file backups.

Companies that offer or use cloud computing services will need to have a rethink their business model as 2012 progresses. Businesses will want to consider cloud computing services that operate differently to Megaupload to avoid unwanted legal implications.

Just how legitimate users view online storage services is set to change, too. The major concern for legitimate users, is that this case high lights how files stored online could easily be lost if something similar occurs again. Such users may reconsider whether they trust storing their files online.

Other websites are undertaking substantial changes to the way in which they operate in light of the case. Both Filesonic and Fileserve are examples of file sharing services that have altered how they work. Both of these services now require that a user be the original uploader in order to download any specific file, meaning that both websites are more about online storage than online file sharing going forward.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mozilla Launching A Cross-Platform Web App Store

Application developers looking to branch out from the mobile or desktop market take note. Mozilla, the founders of Firefox, is currently working on the Mozilla Marketplace. A new marketplace for developers to submit their HTML5 and JavaSrcipt based Web apps.

The goal, as Mozilla see's it, is to have a platform-agnostic approach which allows these apps will be able to run on any HTML5-capable device. Meaning developers could create one application to run on anything from an iPhone to a PC.

”The Web is the largest platform in the world. We are enabling the Web to be the marketplace, giving developers the opportunity to play on the biggest playing field imaginable,” said Todd Simpson, Mozilla’s Chief of Innovation. “By building the missing pieces, Mozilla is now unlocking the potential of the Web to be the platform for creating and consuming content everywhere.”

The Mozilla Web Apps platform will feature:
  • The Mozilla Marketplace, the first operating system- and device-independent market for apps based on open Web technologies like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS.
  • New Mozilla-proposed APIs that advance the Web as a platform and will be submitted to the W3C for standardization.
  • A new identity system for the Web that puts users in control of their content, tying apps to the user and not the device or platform.
The Mozilla Marketplace will open for developers to submit Web apps at Mobile World Congress next week and will open to consumers later this year. For more details you can check out the Mozilla Developers Network

Read more:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Apple's App Store About To Pass 25 Billion Apps Downloaded

Apple's App Store is closing in on yet another major milestone soon to be reaching the 25 Billion Downloads mark. As with previous major milestones the company is celebrating the achievement by awarding the person who downloads Apple's 25-billionth app – or submits an alternate entry form immediately after the 24,999,999,999th app download (more on this later), a gift card to the App Store worth a total of $10,000.

Apple has unprecedented success with their App store surpassing major milestones at record rates. Assuming the 25 billionth download hits sometimes this month, that would mean that Apple will have added a total of 15 billion apps to its count between now and just over one year ago when the company similarly celebrated their 10 billionth app downloaded. This also means it has taken the company a mere three years to go from 1 billion downloads the the record tally of 25 billion.

The 25 billionth download contest

As usual Apple wants to add a little flair and fanfare to the milestone. So the company has setup another contest page with the all familiar download counter. Currently we are sitting on roughly 24,520,040,000, with thousand ticking off every few seconds.

The contest holds the same rules as the first several. Be the luck downloader to snag the 25 billionth app and you win. There is an alternate entry method but those that don't read the fine print might mistakenly think that means enter now.

In what has to be the oddest set of alternate entry rules I've ever seen or heard of, Apple is requiring the alternate entry winner be received immediately after the 24,999,999,999th app is downloaded. Considering the download counter displayed is for illustrative purposes only and not a real-time tracker we are all blindly entering so I guess it really does level the playing field. It just seems odd to expect such great timing.

Run A Full Ubuntu Desktop From Your Android Smartphone

The guys over at Canonical, or as we know them the mad scientist behind Ubuntu our favorite Linux distro, have developed a new Ubuntu Android add-on that will allow you to turn your smartphone into a desktop style PC.

The line between smartphones, tablets and other hand held devices and a traditional PC are certainly being blurred these days. Our phones are gaining more and more power allowing them to function more like a traditional computer than a phone. The team as Canonical plan to use that power to gives users the option of leaving the desktop out all together. Powering a monitor and keyboard straight from your Android based phone.

"The processors at the heart of smartphones are approaching the power of low-end laptop processors, so we use the horsepower to power a desktop experience," said Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth. "If you link your phone to a computer monitor and keyboard, then the phone can drive a full desktop session."

The new software, which is being called Ubuntu for Android, works as an add-on to the traditional Android mobile operating system. When a user's Android phone is docked to a screen and keyboard, the software will launch a full desktop environment based on the Ubuntu Unity shell. Android and Ubuntu, both being based on the same Linux kernel, will run side-by-side sharing information across both uniformly. Users will see unified system with the same contact list, address book, calendar, settings, photos and social media passwords to make the entire experience seamless. You'll even be able to make calls and texts while using the Ubuntu desktop utilizing Ubuntu's message indicator.

For now the system won't run on just any Android phone. After all you do need a bit of raw power to run both shell's at the same time. Here are the current phone requirements:
  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or higher
  • Dual-core 1GHz CPU or higher (multi-cores required)
  • Video acceleration: shared kernel driver with associated X driver; Open GL, ES/EGL
  • 2GB storage for the OS disk image
  • 512 MB RAM
  • HDMI video out with secondary frame buffer device
  • USB host mode

The OS is currently only available to OEMs at the moment, alas Canonical plans on showing the new system off at Mobile World Conference so I'm sure we'll see more details coming and if there is a lot of interest me might even see a consumer version.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Windows 8 Goes Retro With New Logo

Microsoft has revealed the newest Windows logo confirming earlier reports that the company was indeed planning a major redesigning of the company's logo for Windows 8.

In a post on the Blogging Windows web site, Sam Moreau, the Principal Director of User Experience for Windows, said that the company had a number of goals in mind when creating the Windows 8 logo. He stated the while the company felt the Windows logo was "a strong and widely recognized mark when we stepped back and analyzed it, we realized an evolution of our logo would better reflect our Metro style design principles and we also felt there was an opportunity to reconnect with some of the powerful characteristics of previous incarnations."

The light, baby blue if you would, will change colors when you change your desktops coloring. Microsoft says "the logo changes to reflect you, it is a “Personal” Computer after all."

The third party design company Pentagram assisted Microsoft in the creation of the new Windows 8 logo. Microsoft is expected to unveil a consumer preview of Windows 8 at Mobile World Congress later this month dramatically redesigned logo and all.

Google Caught With Hand In The Safari Cookie Jar

It looks like Google is at it again. This time they have been caught with their hands in the Safari cookie jar (pun intended). The search giant has been hit with another FTC complaint, this time alleging Google's ads are circumventing default privacy settings in Apple's Safari browser and installing tracking cookies.

The Consumer Watchdog advocacy group today submitted a letter to the Federal Trade Commission ask them to investigate whether Google violated a previous privacy agreement with the FTC by tracking cookies in a way that circumvents privacy settings in the Safari web browser. At the heart of the complaint is the a study by Stanford grad student Jonathan Mayer detailed in two articles in the Wall Street Journal. (1 - 2)

Once You Know, You Newegg
Mayer's study showed that Google, along with fellow advertising companies Vibrant Media, Media Innovation Group and PointRoll, utilized a code that intentionally circumvented Safari’s privacy feature. The code used an exceptions in Safari's cookie blocking rule which blocks all third party cookies with the exception of when you interact with an advertisement or form in certain ways. Once there is user interaction Safari allows those third party sites to set a cookie even if you aren’t technically visiting the site. Google’s code, which was placed on certain ads that used the company’s DoubleClick ad technology... took advantage of this loophole.

Google's response so far is that this was purely an unintentional side effect blaming Safari functionality rather than a malicious plot by Google to spread cookies.

In a statement sent to Arstechnica, Google's Senior VP of Communications and Public Policy, Rachel Whetstone, stressed that the advertising cookies did not collect any personal information, that they were an unintentional byproduct of Google adding new functionality for signed-in Google users on Safari, and that Google has now disabled these particular advertising cookies.

The full Google statement reads as follows:
"The Journal mischaracterizes what happened and why. We used known Safari functionality to provide features that signed-in Google users had enabled. It’s important to stress that these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.

Unlike other major browsers, Apple’s Safari browser blocks third-party cookies by default. However, Safari enables many web features for its users that rely on third parties and third-party cookies, such as “Like” buttons. Last year, we began using this functionality to enable features for signed-in Google users on Safari who had opted to see personalized ads and other content--such as the ability to '+1' things that interest them.

To enable these features, we created a temporary communication link between Safari browsers and Google’s servers, so that we could ascertain whether Safari users were also signed into Google, and had opted for this type of personalization. But we designed this so that the information passing between the user’s Safari browser and Google’s servers was anonymous—effectively creating a barrier between their personal information and the web content they browse.

However, the Safari browser contained functionality that then enabled other Google advertising cookies to be set on the browser. We didn’t anticipate that this would happen, and we have now started removing these advertising cookies from Safari browsers. It’s important to stress that, just as on other browsers, these advertising cookies do not collect personal information.

Users of Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome were not affected. Nor were users of any browser (including Safari) who have opted out of our interest-based advertising program using Google’s Ads Preferences Manager."

Google, who is already under the watchful eye and scrutiny of the FTC, could face violations of a previous settlement with the FTC. This may lead to fines of up $16,000 per violation, per day. At this time it's unclear how many times Google may have circumvented the do-not-track protections on the Safari browser, but needless to day its not something they want to face.

OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion Won't Support Older Macs, Will Be Download Only

Owners of older Macs and Macbooks that are eying the newest version of Mac OS X take notice your system might not have made the cutting block for Apple's new operating system. While the list of supported machines has not been publicly published (yet) by Apple, TUAW is reporting a developer source that has said OS X 10.8 will not run on several of the company's older PCs and laptops.

The anonymous sources tells TUAW Mountain Lion will only run on the following Macs:
  • iMac (mid 2007 or later)
  • MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or later)
  • MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or later), (15-inch, 2.4/2.2 GHz), (17-inch, Late 2007 or later)
  • MacBook Air (Late 2008 or later)
  • Mac Mini (Early 2009 or later)
  • Mac Pro (Early 2008 or later)
  • Xserve (Early 2009)

Anything produced earlier than those machines will not be able to install OS X 10.8 from the Mac App Store. The list of those getting the axe include the original MacBook Air and all pre-unibody plastic MacBooks*, iMacs from 2006, pre-June-2007 MacBook Pros, pre-mid-2007 Mac minis, the original and 2007 Mac Pro, and Xserves from 2006 and 2008.

* TUAW says: those MacBooks, which still feature the legacy pre-unibody case design and were manufactured in early- to mid-2009, are supported in Mountain Lion because they feature an NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics card instead of the integrated Intel GPUs in their predecessors.

Dropping legacy support is nothing new for Apple they seemingly do it at ease and with almost every new release something else gets axed. In 2009, Snow Leopard made the biggest, and what most would call the most controversial, move by dropping support for all PowerPC Macs. In 2011, Lion dropped support for Macs that didn't have 64-bit Intel Core 2 Duo processors, which included most of the first-generation Intel Macs.

In addition to dropping support for older Macs Apple is said the be dropping support for any and all install media. This includes DVD, USB drives ect. Unlike with Lion which featured both the option to download the installer or buy (a heavily over priced) USB drive Mountain Lion will only be delivered as a downloadable install. According to Pocket-lint Apple says this is because there was so little interest in the USB option anyway: “It was an interesting test, but it turns out that the App Store was just fine for getting the new OS.”

Pocket-lint has also confirmed that Apple plans to realigned its development schedule to now bring OS X updates every year. Meaning users will see faster incremental updates being pushed out to the Mac App Store.

There’s no word yet on what the update will cost (OS X Lion is currently sold for just $29.99 in the US and £20.99 in the UK), but we do know that it will be available exclusively from the Mac App Store and Apple has slated the release for later this summer.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Follow The Web’s Hottest Real-Time Trends With msnNOW

Microsoft, via MSN has launched a new service dubbed msnNOW, which allows users to track real-time details on what is trending around the web.

msnNOW provides up-to-the-minute updates on breaking news, trends, and social conversations via popular social media sites Facebook, Twitter, and the company's search service Bing. The site utilizes and editorial staff and what Microsoft is calling "exclusive technology" that identifies what trends and topics are heating up on the Web, enabling it's staff members to continuously update the site with fresh content related to what has been identified as hot topics.

“msnNOW is really about keeping consumers in the know about the hottest topics on the Web,” says Bob Visse, general manager for MSN and the person who will lead the new service’s overall direction. “We’re using technology we built that analyzes all the social signals from Twitter, Facebook and the Web as well as search signals that come from Bing.”

msnNOW provides the following:

  • Breaking trends. Up-to-the-minute coverage on breaking trends from across the Web, with the option to sort by areas of interest, including entertainment, sports, lifestyle, stories of the day and finance.
  • Variety of sources. Coverage on and insight into the hottest social trends happening on Facebook, Twitter, and Bing.
  • Anywhere access. Access via PC, mobile, tablets, Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to join the conversation anytime and from anywhere.
  • Biggest movers. Keep track of the day’s most buzzed-about and discussed topics from millions of analyzed tweets, comments and searches, and see if it’s on the way up or on the way out.
  • Topic pages. A closer look at a topic, including a summary of why it’s trending, recent videos and images, and related tweets, public Facebook posts and information from Bing, MSN and the Web.

The dashboard is broken down into several segments with several different viewing options. You have an updated view of biggest movers which shows the top 10 hottest trends with real time updates. There is an option to review the top ten in 5 min increments for the past 2 hours. Below you'll see the option of viewing panels with subjects from 6 categories:

ALL - encompasses pretty much everything out there that might be trending now
FAME - tends to be more celebrity focused
SWEAT - is all about sports and sports related celebrities
CASH - trends towards business money money and more money
SOUL - for those that are looking for more lifestyle oriented trends
WIRE - for news I guess it seems open to interpretation
Sadly there is nothing directly related to subjects we'd like to see mainly tech, gaming or movies.

Here you'll what is being called an "info snack" page handpicked topics from the msnNOW editorial team described as "hundred-word nuggets". The are curated pages detailing the trending topic.

For more details you can checkout the site itself or Microsoft's press pages:

Apple Reveals Developers Preview Of Mac OS X 10.8 "Mountain Lion"

Today Apple announced the availability of the developers preview of Mac OS X 10.8, dubbed "Mountain Lion," a new upgrade for Mac customers which will be widely available late this summer.

This new release of OS X marks the ninth major release of Apple desktop operating system, which now brings over a 100 new changes to the Mac's desktop operating system and integrates many of the popular apps and features from the company's iOS mobile operating system.

Mountain Lion introduces Messages, Notes, Reminders and Game Center to the Mac, as well as Notification Center, Share Sheets, Twitter integration and AirPlay Mirroring. Mountain Lion is the first OS X release built with iCloud in mind for easy setup and integration with apps.

What's new in Mountain Lion

On the outside not much looks new. You'll see the familiar OS X user interface, icons ect. It's what is on the inside that matters most. Apple claims a 100 new features, many of which are minor updates or changes. For now it looks like Apple isn't offering a full look at the features the new OS will have when it ships but is instead focusing on 10 features that it will launch with that the company deems the most important.
  1. iCloud
  2. Gatekeeper
  3. Game Center
  4. Messages (formerly know as iChat)
  5. Reminders
  6. Notification Center
  7. Share Sheets
  8. AirPlay
  9. Twitter integration
  10. Localizations to OS X aimed at Chinese users

To the iCloud

Mountain Lion's major focus is all about cloud computing integration and the use of Apple's iCloud service. iCloud was initially released back in 2011 as a way for iOS users to store, share and sync things like music, photos, applications, documents, bookmarks, reminders, backups, notes, iBooks, and contacts with their iPhones or iPads.

Mountain Lion uses your Apple ID and iCloud to automatically set up Contacts, Mail, Calendar, Messages, FaceTime and Find My Mac. The new iCloud Documents pushes any changes to all your devices so documents are always up to date, and a new API helps developers make document-based apps work with iCloud.

Gatekeeper Security

The developer preview of Mountain Lion also introduces Gatekeeper, a security feature that helps keep you safe from malicious software by giving you complete control over what apps are installed on your Mac.For Windows users think of it as User Account Control on steroids. The security software allows you to choose to install and run apps only from the Mac App Store and apps that have a Developer ID or you install all apps from anywhere at anytime.

Getting the messages

Apple has chosen to replace their iChat application with the new Messages app found in iOS5. The new program allows users to send unlimited messages to any Mac, iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch running iOS 5. You can send and recieve high-quality photos and videos as well as attachments, contacts and locations. You can even launch a FaceTime video call and bring the conversation face-to-face. The new app also supports AIM, Jabber, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk. Lion users can download the beta software right here.

But wait there's more

We've only covered a few of the major changes. For a more in-depth look at the developer preview of Mountain Lion, I suggest checking out some of our favorite sites to see what they have to say.

The preview release of Mountain Lion is available to Mac Developer Program members starting today. (Sorry we don't have a direct link for the download yet but I'm working on it)  Mac users will be able to upgrade to Mountain Lion from the Mac App Store in late summer 2012.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

UPS Confirms Tracking Website Outage

Update: As of 7PM PST UPS has reported that some of the functionality of the tracking and shipping applications have been restored but they are still working to resolve all of the issues.

UPS is reporting widespread technical problems affecting tracking and processing of packages. While the details of the outage are not available UPS spokesperson Susan Rosenberg said, "The outages are not affecting the movement of trucks or any other part of the operation."

They have been adding occasional updates via Facebook and Twitter with the latest details being that the UPS team is continuing to work on the issues experienced with their online customer systems.

For the latest updates follow UPS on Twitter and Facebook.

AT&T Says Wireless Data Usage Doubles Yearly

AT&T has recently released their year end statics and the numbers show company has faced yet another doubling of user data consumption.

In his blog post, John Donovan, Senior Executive Vice President—AT&T Technology and Network Operations, said "Running year-end numbers that show the same result as previous years is typically a sign of stability. But when the year-end numbers show a doubling of wireless data traffic from 2010 to 2011 – and you’ve seen at least a doubling every year since 2007 – the implications are profound."

Over the past five years, AT&T’s wireless data traffic has grown 20,000%. The increase in smartphone usage and more sophisticated feature packed applications like Siri are the primary reason behind this steady increase of mobile data. Siri alone is said to nearly double the data usage on the iPhone 4s.

The trend is a global phenomenon not isolated to AT&T, as also detailed by Cisco today with the release of their annual Visual Network Index forecast. AT&T has said they are addressing the challenge by investing to drive service improvements expecting to invest about $20 billion again in 2012 with a focus on wireless, including more 4G LTE deployment, the roll-out of distributed antenna systems in key venues across the U.S. and adding even more AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Apple May Be Blocking non-iPhone 4S Devices Running Siri

Users of the Siri hack that allows the virtual assistant service to be used on none iPhone 4S' have begun reporting issues with their service. This may mean that Apple has found a new way of blocking the hack, which the company undoubtedly wants to do.

A recent report via the iDownloadBlog suggests that Apple has added a new SetActivationToken to the requirements for establishing a Siri connection, and this has caused issues for those trying to use 3rd party servers.

For now it looks like this may be a localized issue, with many readers responding that they've had no issues at all. Still others have said they've seen similar issues arising.

There is a workaround already in place. Hackers who are running into the new problems can simply delete the file (located in var/mobile/Library/Preferences/). This will purge the older blocked server list and should remedy the situation.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Zynga Board Games May Be In The Works, But Will You Buy Them?

Popular online game developer Zynga has announced an agreement with toy manufacture Hasbro to license and sell "wide ranging product lines" based on Zynga's most popular social games, including FarmVille, CityVille and Words With Friends. The big question now is will you buy them?

Beginning later this year Hasbro will be making a variety of toys and board games using Zynga's brands, with the first products expected to be released in the coming Fall. There will also be co-branded merchandise (we are thinking shirts, game cards, and possibly dolls similar to what we see with Angry Birds).

The questions for me is how well will these real-world offline games transfer over and will people actually want to buy and play them?

Hasbro in the past has shown great success transferring some of our offline favorites like Monopoly to online games. However, most of those games are built around a typical gaming board. With the exception of Words With Friends none of Zynga's other games are conducive to offline board style play. Even then Words With Friends is essentially a cloned version of Hasbro's own Scrabble game which seemingly gained much if its success due to its social aspects.

Actual games aside we are likely to see many other possibilities such as Lego-esque FarmVille playsets, Zynga Poker card game sets, CastleVille the RPG from the Dungeons and Dragons creators, and even items like MafiaWars action figures.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Google Will Pay You Up To $25 To Track Your Chrome Browsing Habits

Google has launched a new project aimed at trying to make its services better, and it is willing to pay users for their help.

A new project called Screenwise offers selected "panelists" up to $25 in gift cards simply for adding a browser extension that will share with Google the sites you visit and how you use them.

To take part you have to be 13 or older, have a Google Account (or sign up for one), and be ready to use the Google Chrome browser . If selected, Google requires you install a Chrome browser extension that allows it to monitor/track which sites you are visiting. The actual information collected is not detailed but they will likely be tracking almost everything you do. This might even include mouse movement and where you hover and click on each page as well as what areas of a page you are focused on at any given moment.

For now it looks like registration has been put on hold, but it is suggested that anyone interested keep an eye on the Screenwise Website as more details will be posted soon.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Google Finally Launches Chrome For Android

It may sound a bit odd to say, but today Google has officially announced the launch of the Chrome web browser for Android devices.

Google’s Chrome browser and Android mobile operating system may have gone public in the same year but they haven’t shared cross compatibility until now. Chrome for Android is a beta which for now is limited to Android 4.0 devices.

The new software looks and acts much like the desktop version and because its connected to a users Google sign-in, users can get their personalized browsing experience transferred directly to their phone. That means you can see open tabs and synced bookmarks from the desktop version transferred over to Android.

Chrome is now available in Beta from Android Market, in select countries and languages for phones and tablets with Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Facebook IPO Finally A Reality

Facebook has officially filed for its initial public offering (IPO) today paving the way for the social media giant to become a become a public company. The move is expected to raise between $5 billion and $10 billion in stock offerings.

The publicly available version of the SEC filing does not give a proposed date for the IPO and Facebook has not yet released its expectations for the initial stock price.

What Facebook's IPO means for you

Facebook becoming a publicly traded company might be great news for the sites founder Mark Zuckerberg and its investors but what does it mean for the users? Well it could go either way. Facebook will come under greater public scrutiny, and it's likely to face intense pressure from investors to keep growing its business each quarter. This means we could see more major changes, more advertising, development of other features or just about anything.

Investors will want more way to monetize the site so we'll likely see several changes as to what we'll be able to do on the site. Much like MySpace we may see a built in music player, video player and/or other applications that allow on site purchases. Well also likely see changes in how Facebook uses our user data to make money.

Facebook will almost certainly improve the mobile experience for users. We'll likely see more mobile advertising, even perhaps highly targeted ads for users checking into local businesses.

For now any speculation on possible changes is just that, speculation. One thing is for certain however, Facebook had better take notes from other social media sites that have come before it and not make the same mistakes. Users that don't like changes like the new timeline feature might not like any further potential chances and might very well leave the site behind.