Monday, April 23, 2012

HARDWARE - Intel 13 Quad-Core!!!!

"13 Quad-Core Intel Ivy Bridge Chips Expected" by Ian Paul, PC World 4/23/2012

Intel's new Ivy Bridge chips are expected Monday, promising significant improvements in speed and power usage plus built-in USB 3.0 support all wrapped in a smaller package compared to Intel's current Sandy Bridge chips.

The first wave of Ivy Bridge chips will reportedly include 13 quad-core processors designed primarily for desktops. Dual-core processors meant for Ultrabooks, such as Intel's Cove Point concept device, and other hardware will roll out "later this spring," according to a BBC report.
Tri-gate Transistors

The BBC forecast is in line with Intel announcements such as one last Wednesday that the first round of Ivy Bridge chips aren't for Ultrabooks. The new chips are also the first to use Intel's new 22-nanometer manufacturing process as opposed to Sandy Bridge's bulkier 32nm design. To give you an idea of how small 22nm ,is Intel says you could fit 100 million 22-nanometer transistors on the head of a pin (about 0.05 inches in diameter).

Ivy Bridge transistors are also different from those on previous chips thanks to Intel's new tri-gate technology. Instead of cramming flat, two-dimensional transistors onto each processor, Ivy Bridge chips have 3D transistors that use a small fin rising up from the silicon surface. Intel previously said the new transistors will allow its chips to be up to 37 percent faster than previous processors. However, the BBC quotes Intel Vice President Kirk Saugen claiming the first round of Ivy Bridge chips will improve performance and power efficiency by 20 percent compared to Sandy Bridge.

Intel's hardware partners are reportedly working on more than 300 mobile products, according to Saugen, and more than 270 different desktop devices (including many all-in-ones) using Intel's Ivy Bridge microarchitecture. That may be good news for Mac ,fans who are hoping to see new Ivy Bridge chips in upcoming all-in-one iMacs since the new processors may not be coming to MacBooks right away. Servers packed with Ivy Bridge-based Xeon chips are also expected before the summer. Details about upcoming Windows desktops packed with Ivy Bridge processors could come Monday or later in the week.

Intel's Ivy Bridge launch in late April comes after reports that a manufacturing delay would set the launch back to as late as June.

Cute video

Thursday, April 19, 2012

WINXP - Corrupted Icon-Cache UPDATED

At work there was a WinXP Pro SP3 system that had the wrong icon for C:

After much hair-pulling I found the cause was the user had placed Setup.exe AND an Autorun.inf file in the root. This caused the C: icon to change to the icon for Setup. Deleting both files from the root was the main fix, but had to also fix the Icon-Cache file.

Also, the Icon cache can be corrupted by other causes that the one above.

IMPORTANT: The Icon-Cache is NOT actually needed! My home and work WinXP desktops to not have one and they work just fine.

Here's how to get rid of the need for the Icon-Cache:

You disable the offline file replication in Windows XP

Open My Computer, select [Tools], [Folder Options], [Offline Files] tab, then UNCHECK the Enable Offline Files check box.

(click for better view)

Here's how to rebuild your Icon-Cache if you have wrong desktop/Favorites icons:

Rebuild the Icon-Cache file by deleting it
  1. Delete the hidden file Iconcache.db

  2. WinXP each user has their own file
    C:\Documents and Settings\User-Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Iconcache.db

    Win7 and Vista, see

  3. IMPORTANT - Close down all explorer.exe processes using the Task Manager
  4. (Or else it will create a faulty file during logoff/restart)

  5. Use the Task Manager (CTRL+SHIFT+ESC) to launch the explorer.exe again
  6. (Or press CTRL+ALT+DEL to perform a restart/logoff)

  7. When the Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) starts again, it will recreate a correct Icon-Cache file

Also note that Icon Phile, mentioned in previous article, will work for changing individual Desktop Icons. It also includes a tool to rebuild the Icon-Cache.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

COMPUTERS - Data Privacy and Cyber Security

"How Will FCC's Google Street View Fine Shape Data Privacy Rules?" (1 of 2) PBS Newshour 4/16/2012


RAY SUAREZ (Newshour): And to two stories about Internet privacy.

First: the latest on a government investigation of Google's collection of personal data that started with taking pictures and ended up gathering a lot more.

Google's Street View, launched in 2007, was part of the company's ambitious plan to photograph and map the entire world right down to street level. But it turned out that Street View vehicles were collecting more than just visual images. Their antennas also picked up personal information from local Wi-Fi networks, including Internet usage history and passwords.

In May 2010, Google publicly acknowledged it had done so, but insisted that any such data collection was accidental. The Federal Communications Commission began investigating. And, on Friday, it fined the company $25,000, the maximum penalty available, for obstructing the investigation.

In its report, the FCC said, "Although a world leader in digital search capability, Google took the position that searching its employees' e-mail would be a time-consuming and burdensome task." The FCC found Google did indeed collect personal data, but it cleared the company of charges that it had acted illegally.

The search engine giant challenged the finding that it failed to cooperate. Instead, it issued a statement that said, "We provided all the materials the regulators felt they needed." European regulators have also investigated the company for similar reasons. Last year, the French government fined Google about $140,000.

MAN: You're now exploring a neighborhood in our full-screen mode.

RAY SUAREZ: In the meantime, those who would rather not see their homes on Street View do have an alternative. The company provides users the option of graying out images to meet privacy concerns.

The FCC report generated plenty of questions over the past 48 hours about what Google did.

We ask some of those now with two people watching this case, Jeffrey Rosen, a professor of law at the George Washington University and legal affairs editor for The New Republic, and David Bennahum, the chief executive of Punch Media, a news and entertainment network for iPads.

"Preventing a 'Cyber-Pearl Harbor'" (2 of 2) PBS Newshour 4/16/2012


JEFFREY BROWN (Newshour): And now to our second look at privacy online and a story about protecting computers from cyber-attacks.

NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden reports.

MAN: Utahans' Social Security numbers, names, addresses, birth dates.

TOM BEARDEN: Nine hundred thousand people had their names, addresses, and Social Security numbers stolen when the Utah Health Department's server was hacked. This kind of thing happens more often than most people realize: Web sites taken down, high-tech secrets stolen, intellectual property rights violated, and individuals swindled.

But Douglas Maughan says there's much more at stake than just crime. He heads the Department of Homeland Security's Cyber Security Division.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

GAMES - Video Games As Art

"'The Art of Video Games' at the Smithsonian American Art Museum" PBS Newshour 4/4/2012

"The Art of Video Games" at the Smithsonian American Art Museum is one of the first exhibitions to explore the 40-year evolution of video games as an artistic medium. Featuring 80 games and 20 video games systems, starting with the Atari VCS in 1976 and ending with today's Sony PlayStation 3, the exhibit walks through the tremendous advances in design, technology and storytelling.

Last year, the museum invited the public to help select the video games to be included in the exhibition. From a list of 240 games chosen by guest curator Chris Melissinos, who worked with the museum, game developers, designers, industry pioneers and journalists, more than 3.7 million votes were cast (by 119,000 people in 175 countries) to choose the 80 games.

Art Beat talked to Melissinos about the exhibit, which runs through Sept. 30.

So why exactly are there are video games in an art museum?

Chris Melissinos: The answer in my opinion is very simple. Video games are an amalgam of what we consider to be traditional art. Within video games we see illustration, narrative, sculpture, painting, music, poetry, and all of these things conspire to create a form of art whose output is greater than the individuals parts. It is has never been a question that video games would be in art museum; it was at what point would we see them. And here we are today.

Who then are the artists? What kinds of skills or talents go into making this art form?

Chris Melissinos: When we look at video games, depending on the era, the term artist could be defined in different ways. In the earliest form of video games, the programmer was typically not only the programmer but the artist and the designer and the musician and the coder, and would even do the artwork on the boxes of these particular games. Today, video games, because of their complexity, because of their ability to tell very large, grand stories, we may see teams of artists and designers and developers of 200 or more working toward the goal of a single vision. So much like you would see a very large movie by Steven Spielberg -- it was not just Steven Spielberg who created the movie. There are other artists and people with vision who were in concert with Steven to bring those forward. It is not that different for the largest and most expansive video games that we see today.

So many of the people that are creating video games today are just like you and me. They are everyone. They are everywhere. I think the democratization of tools have allowed for the platforms for game development to exist at the hands of just about anyone. And while many game developers may not be a household name yet, there certainly some who are. So designers like Shigeru Miyamoto, anybody who grew up playing Mario in any of its forms could probably tell you who Shigeru Miyamoto is. So, again, while we do not have necessarily the artists as front and center of the experience that people have in their home, they are certainly present and there many more than people believe.

In an art museum you see different kinds of art. There is realism, expressionism, abstract art, surrealism and on so. Within the genre of video games, are there different kinds of art that you see?

Chris Melissinos: Within video games one may discover many different types of traditional art. From surrealism in games like "Myst," to woodcarving and painting such as in "Okami," to abstract art to photo realism. You can take a look at the earliest games, because the technology was so limited and the power of those platforms were so anemic, that the developer had to work in very abstract terms to convey the mystery of the story that they wanted to impart. Which meant that the player had to go ahead and bring their imagination to fill in the void, to fill in the gaps the technology did not provide for the narrative to occur. You can find just about every form of traditional art reflected in video games today.

What is the relationship between the artwork, or the video game, and the person who plays the game?

Chris Melissinos: Video games become art through distinct voices. The first voice of a video game is that of the author, the artist or the designer. They have a story that they want to tell the world. The second voice in games is that of the game itself. How it presents itself to the player, the mechanics of that game, the possibility of space that the game provides to the player. But it becomes art in the playing of the game and that's where the third voice, the voice of the player comes in. Because what video games allow to occur is a narrative arc that retains the authority of an author or a storyteller, but allows us as players to laterally explore the environment, to pull bits of the game out that are personal to us, that are important to us and thereby creating a unique form of art for each individual person who plays.

What makes one game more artistic than another? What are the qualities that stand out?

Chris Melissinos: In my opinion, the term art is a very subjective term. It means something very different to anyone that tries to apply it to works of beauty and in their life. My definition is quite serviceable for myself, which is quiet simply to say if you can discover an author's intent in the work that you are observing and find personal resonance with that message, then it transcends the medium to become art. So it's very difficult to say which games are art, which games are not art. It will be different for everyone that observes it. This exhibition does not attempt to draw a line in the sand and say video games are art. I leave that for you to decide whether or not you believe video games to be art in your life.

One of the main differences of having video games in an art museum is the interactive aspect. You can't touch a painting, but you can play a video game.

Chris Melissinos: One of the things that you can expect in visiting an exhibition like this is to be fully engaged in the experience. The art is in the playing. That is when video games transcend just the medium to become art. It was important to engage the visitors in this exhibition and allow them to go ahead and project themselves into the games that they've enjoyed playing. So we have games that allow you to sample an era, that did something different to propel video games forward, to propel design change, to make people think differently about video games within their era. We also provide materials that help to illuminate the artists' intent, to illuminate the story that may be behind the veneer that may not be so apparent when you first played it at home.

How did you pick the games and the game systems?

Chris Melissinos: What I wanted to do was illustrate the impact that video games have had as an art form in American culture over its 40 year existence. I couldn't create an entire historical compendium of every machine and every game that spans those 40 years, so what instead we picked 20 systems that really stood as anchors within their respective generations, ones that the public would most identify with. Through those 20 systems we demonstrated four games of particular genres that then showed the evolution of the form of art over time. Instead of just picking 80 games, which would have been my favorite 80 picks over 40 years, I decided to make sure that we had the voice of the public represented. This is not just about my love of gaming and the art form, but about the United States' and the world's love for the form as well.