Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Skyrim creation kit: Modders' delight

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim needs no introduction to the computer gamers as by now it's considered to be one of the best RPGs ever made. Many avid followers of this genre have been waiting for a long time, 5 years to be more precise, to relive the magic created by Bethesda Studios. The developers had a very difficult task in their hands- to make a worthy sequel of what many regard to be the most popular action RPG franchise of all times. But when Skyrim launched in November, 2011, it not only met the expectation of gamers worldwide but for many also set the bar for free-flowing RPG excellence, just like its acclaimed predecessors. The internet is flooded with reviews (like this one) that can't praise the game enough and would've given a feel of being biased if not for the seer number of such reviews!

Friday, February 24, 2012

VIA EPIA motherboards: Quad-core solution in mini-ITX form factor

Remember VIA? The only other company that provides x86-compatible microprocessors and platforms except Intel and AMD? Yes, although VIA is no longer considered to be a force in the mainstream PC (desktop/laptop) arena, it has managed to survive in other market segments like the embedded devices. Many tend to forget that the viability of x86 based solutions extends beyond performance computing and that there is large market of industry specific devices, namely- digital signage, kiosk, sales automation and media application devices etc. VIA is a major player in this market and delivers efficient, affordable products. VIA technology's latest offerings are two new mini-ITX mainboards, named EPIA-M900 and EPIA-M910 respectively, which are additions to the already existing EPIA series of mainboards. Mini-ITX is an Interesting choice for form factor as this is not your usual ATX or micro-ATX motherboard, but looking at the targeted market of embedded sectors- this pretty much makes sense. More interestingly VIA offers a choice of combining its own quad-core E-series processors, which scale up to 1.46+ GHz and have 4MB L2 cache, with these boards.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Microsoft India store got hacked: Bad news for many reasons

In a somewhat bizarre and embarrassing turn of events, it is reported that the Microsoft Online Store in India got hacked by a group of Hackers with its online users database in jeopardy. On 12th of Feb, visitors to that site was for a shock when they saw the main page was displaying a masked face (Anonymous style!) on a dark background, instead of the usual weekly offers! The hacker group responsible for this calls itself "Evil shadow Team", an outfit we haven't very much heard of before. It seems like the owners of the website have regained control since but the site itself is still out of service as at the time of this writing. Anyway, what is of greater concern is that the whole user database including e-mail addresses, user names, pass-words or even physical addresses got compromised in the process. The hacker group claimed that the user database was in form of plain text (!!), not encrypted or secured by other security measures thus making it an easy prey. This is not only embarrassing for Microsoft but also asks questions about methods deployed in maintaining and safekeeping of the site.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

AMD's plans for future: A new AMD? (Part 2)

So now that we've a overview of the current scenario, it's time we delve deeper into the matter. The challenges that AMD faces right now are different in nature as some are related to its own technical capacity and execution, while others are more generic. We should not expect any revolutionary solution for these generic ones as AMD is not the only company facing them. The recent growth in mobile computing industry is a good example, as many believe it to be a threat to personal computing as we know it.Gone are the days

Monday, February 13, 2012

AMD's plans for future: A new AMD? (Part 1)

Last week AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) held its Financial Analyst Day (FAD) which is basically an annual event to assess, analyze and provide information about the company and its strategy in various market sectors. Generally there are lots of financial tidbits presented and discussed in such an event which are of no concern to the common user, unless of-course one is a stockholder or investor. It's the technical side that attracts people like us because this is where we get glimpses of future products and technologies. Lots of eyes were on this year's FAD and how AMD tackles issues like desktop performance, graphics integration and mobile computing. Finally we've got some very interesting information in our hands and we'll try to analyze those.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Windows XP: Still an OS to recon with

Things are always in a constant state of evolution in the world of personal computing and the speed at which every piece of software, hardware and device evolves is simply mind numbing. Very few can withstand the test of time here and those which can, become milestones of the industry. Microsoft's Windows XP is definitely one of those iconic figures. Earlier we told you about Internet Explorer 6 and how it still endures in many computers world wide and now some latest reports show that Windows XP is still a dominating force in the desktops. According to the numbers shown by this market analyst firm, Win XP enjoys a healthy 47.19% of the total desktop market as of January, 2012. Surprisingly enough, Microsoft's latest and greatest Windows 7 follows behind with a total of 36.40% of the market share while Widows Vista trails even further behind with only 8.22%. We've got another statistics in our hand though which shows Win 7 and Win XP to have 46.1% and 32.6% of the market share respectively, however it's unclear whether this stat consists only of the desktop market or the entire PC market. Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear- Windows XP is still considered as one of the mainstream operating systems by many users across the globe and with good reasons. Unlike IE 6, Win XP still gets official support from Microsoft and will continue to do so until April 14, 2014- a rather long support streak for a decade old operating system. This support includes security updates and patches. Thanks to that, Win XP is not as vulnerable to modern threats as it should be considering its age. Reliability is another plus for XP, built on Windows NT kernel this this venerable OS is considered as one of the most stable version of windows till date. In fact a desktop PC with Win XP can perform most of the everyday tasks we expect from our PC and also it is less demanding on the hardware. One can boot into XP with something like a low power Atom CPU and only 1GB of RAM without any problem and still have all the Windows functionality. XP also has a 64 bit version which can accommodate for more than 4GB of physical memory. If you can manage without advanced features like Aero and WEI, you will be fine with XP. Gamers on the other hand are better served by Win 7 or Vista simply because of Direct-X support. While you can still play Direct-X 9 titles without any issue in an XP machine, if you're looking for DX 10/10.1/11 features you have no way but to upgrade your OS.

Overall Windows XP had a great run and we expect this to continue even further as many users worldwide are simply hardware limited. Many organizations and institutions, that still run XP in their systems, might be concerned with the cost of necessary system upgrade that comes with an OS upgrade. Compatibility of some legacy software might be an issue with some users though there is the "Windows XP mode" feature present in Win 7 for those kind of scenarios. With said that many users are already migrating to a newer version of Windows as we speak and with Microsoft dropping support for XP in 2014, this trend will become more prominent in future. But for now Windows XP is still Good Enough!