Friday, December 11, 2009


The big boys in the computer industry want you to continue thinking the way you are. The major desktop computer manufacturers thrive on consumers lack of knowledge and old ideas about desktop computers and computer hardware to drive sales of new desktop computers.

It works in their favor to keep these myths alive, because their business depends on it. So what are they?

Myth 1: You need top of the line computer hardware

Maybe some years ago this might have been true with older computer hardware, but times have changed. When computers were much slower than they are now, the latest version of any computer hardware increased speeds noticeably and allowed new possibilities from your desktop computer.

Those increases from computer hardware no longer yield such a huge increase in performance. With the basic uses of the desktop computer set and been in place for a while now, speed increases no longer result in real world benefits for most desktop computer users.

What was great computer hardware last year is still good enough now.

Myth 2: Computer hardware is the domain of Geeks

When personal computing was coming into its own, you really did need to be a Geek to know what was happening. For those old enough to remember, imagine life without Windows and hacking away at the command line, as used to be the case. Some still do, but I wouldn't want to do that again.

Desktop computers are such commonplace that the basics of computer hardware can be understood and researched with the minimum of hassle. The ball is on the consumers side of the court. You no longer need to be a geek, just a little knowledge that is now readily available.

Myth 3: A faster desktop computer will speed up the Internet

Possibly. If you are running 5-year-old computer hardware this might be the case. But the real reason for the increase in speed is usually not the computer.

Internet speed is related to your connection speed. If you have a dial up connection, it's going to be quite slow. When you upgrade your desktop computer and they throw in a cable internet, or DSL package the improved speed is from the faster connection, not the computer. Both cable and DSL can offer more than 10 times the speed of a dial-up connection. The computer has little to do with it.

Myth 4: To speed your computer up, upgrade!

New computer hardware is a very obvious way to speed things up. Even I have gone for new parts purely for this reason.

But it's definitely not the only way.

Various factors play into overall speed. On a purely physical level, upgrading memory is still a fantastic way to get things to move along a little faster. But apart from this the main things that slows things down on the programs and other stuff you have on the computer.

Over time, as more programs are put on and taken off and changed, things get left behind, and things get forgotten. When your computer starts, many things get loaded into memory and each one of those takes that little bit more of the computers resources. When you switch to a new program and don't remove the old one, the older one will still use resources.

Myth 5: Big brands are the best

Big brands essentially piece together a computer. They pick and choose the pieces to make a computer package. They also choose some software, give a warranty and then sell it to you.

Dell computer company has become well known for its customer service. This is the best part about Dell computers. The downside is there are limited choices. They pick what goes into the computer, which are often quite expensive parts. They are motivated by the suppliers to put more recent parts into their computers, keeping the prices at the same level and maintaining the "to get more, pay more," mentality.

You don't have the power of these big guys, but you have something more. Choice.

Your pick of parts for your desktop computer will allow you to put together something completely tailored to your needs. Put the money where you need it most, into the computer hardware that makes the biggest difference to you, and in the end getting a desktop computer you will fall in love with, rather than despise.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

XP: Biggest threat to Vista?

SEATTLE: Microsoft Corp's operating systems run most personal computers around the globe and are a cash cow for the world's largest software maker. But you'd never confuse a Windows user with the passionate fans of Mac OS X or even the free Linux operating system.

Unless it's someone running Windows XP, a version Microsoft wants to retire. Fans of the six-year-old operating system set to be pulled off store shelves in June have papered the Internet with blog posts, cartoons and petitions recently. They trumpet its superiority to Windows Vista,Microsoft's latest PC operating system, whose consumer launch last January was greeted with lukewarm reviews.

No matter how hard Microsoft works to persuade people to embrace Vista, some just can't be wowed. They complain about Vista's hefty hardware requirements, its less-than-peppy performance, occasional incompatibility with other programmes and devices and frequent, irritating security pop-up windows. Afro Afro

For them, the impending disappearance of XP computers from retailers, and the phased withdrawal of technical support in coming years, is causing a minor panic.

Take, for instance, Galen Gruman. A longtime technology journalist, Gruman is more accustomed to writing about trends than starting them.

But after talking to Windows users for months, he realized his distaste for Vista and strong attachment to XP were widespread.

"It sort of hit us that, wait a minute, XP will be gone as of June 30. What are we going to do?" he said. "If no one does something, it's going to be gone." Sad

So Gruman started a Save XP Web petition, gathering since January more than 100,000 signatures and thousands of comments, mostly from die-hard XP users who wantMicrosoft to keep selling it until the next version of Windows is released, currently targeted for 2010.

On the petition site's comments section, some users proclaimed they will downgrade from Vista to XP — an option available in the past to businesses, but now open for the first time to consumers who buy Vista Ultimate or Business editions — if they need to buy a new computer after XP goes off the market.

Others used the comments section to rail against the very idea that Microsoft has the power to enforce the phase-out from a stable, decent product to one that many consider worse, while profiting from the move. Many threatened to leave Windows for Apple or Linux machines.

Microsoft already extended the XP deadline once, but it shows no signs it will do so again. The company has declined to meet with Gruman to consider the petition.Microsoft is aware of the petition, it said in a statement to The Associated Press, and "will continue to be guided by feedback we hear from partners and customers about what makes sense based on their needs." Gruman said he'd keep pressing for a meeting.

"They really believe if they just close their eyes, people will have no choice," he said. In fact, most people who get a new computer will end up with Vista. In 2008, 94 percent of new Windows machines for consumers worldwide will run Vista, forecasts industry research group IDC. For businesses, about 75 percent of new PCs will have Vista. (That figure takes into account companies that choose to downgrade to XP.)

Although Microsoft may not budge on selling new copies of XP, it may have to extend support for it. Al Gillen, an IDC analyst, estimated that at the end of 2008 nearly 60 per cent of consumer PCs and almost 70 per cent of business PCs worldwide will still run XP.Microsoft plans to end full support — including warranty claims and free help with problems — in April 2009. The company will continue providing a more limited level of service until April 2014.

Gillen said efforts like Gruman's grass-roots petition may not influence the software maker, but business customers' demands should carry more clout.

"You really can't make 69 percent of your installed base unhappy with you," he said. Some companies — such as Wells Manufacturing Co in Woodstock, Ill. — are crossing their fingers that he's right. The company, which melts scrap steel and casts iron bars, has 200 PCs that run Windows 2000 or XP. (Windows 2000 is no longer sold on PCs. Mainstream support has ended, but limited support is available through the middle of 2010.)

Wells usually replaces 50 of its PCs every 18 months. In the most recent round of purchases, Chief Information Officer Lou Peterhans said, the company stuck with XP because several of its applications don't run well on Vista.

"There is no strong reason to go to Vista, other than eventually losing support for XP," he said. Peterhans added that the company isn't planning to bring in Vista computers for 18 months to two years. If Microsoft keeps to its current timetable, its next operating system, code-named Windows 7, will be on the market by then

Windows Operating Systems and Physical RAM in excess of 3GB

With many Windows users installing now more than 3GB of physical RAM, this is increasingly becoming an issue members have to deal with and come to terms with. We tested theWindows operating systems indicated below.

Test System Specifications

Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40 GHz 4 MB L2 Cache
ASUS P5B Deluxe WiFi/AP
2 X 1024 MB OCZ GOLD PC2-6400 DDR2 800 MHz (Non-ECC)
2 X 1024 MB Transcend PC2-6400 DDR2 800 MHz (Non-ECC)
NVIDIA GeForce 7900 GS 512 MB DDR3

Windows XP Professional X86 (32-Bit)

Even with SP2 Windows XP just does not have the capacity to use more than 3GB or physical RAM. There are boot.ini and application switches which permit certain applications to do so. In terms of the operating system itself though, this limitation prevails no matter what boot.ini switch one uses.

With Memory Remapping enabled in the BIOS (allows full identification of more than 3GB by the BIOS), the operating system is unable to use beyond 2GB of RAM

Disabling Memory Remapping (has the effect of limiting the BIOS identification of RAM to 3GB) lets the OS use more than 2GB of RAM, but limited to a maximum of 3GB

Windows Server 2003 Enterprise SP1 X86

Windows Server 2003 Enterprise SP1 X86 with RAM remapping set to Enabled in the BIOS it has no issues at all reading the full 4GB.

With remapping Disabled, it reverts back to 3GB simply because the BIOS only reflects 3GB with that setting. The 512 MB RAM GPU causes no issues at all and is read with its full RAM available.

Windows XP Professional X64 Edition

Windows XP Professional X64 Edition also has no issues. This screenshot is before any driver installation but the same applied after all drivers were installed. I mention the drivers because I've been reading on other forums that drivers can use address space and thereby reduce the amount of RAM identified, but this seems not to have impacted on Windows XP Professional X64.

Windows Vista Ultimate Edition X86 (32-Bit)

Windows Vista Ultimate RTM X86 with memory remapping enabled, in other words with exactly the same hardware and settings as were used for Windows Server 2003 Enterprise X86 and Windows XP Professional X64 does NOT have the ability to read more than 2GB of RAM

When memory remapping is disabled though, 3GB of RAM show up

The fact that Windows Server 2003 Enterprise X86 and XP Pro X64 with the same settings (Memory Remapping Enabled), were able to show and utilize all 4GB of RAM, indicates to me that this is a Software/Operating System limitation in Window Vista Ultimate X86.

Windows Vista Ultimate Edition X64 (64-Bit)

Here's Windows Vista Ultimate X64. As with Windows Server 2003 Enterprise X86 and Windows XP Professional X64 Edition, it has no problems running 4GB of physical RAM:

Other Windows Vista x64 Editions

Large memory support for other editions of Windows Vista X64 was not tested. HERE is information provided by Microsoft about them.

Hardware and BIOS Limitations

Despite claims by some motherboard manufacturers that the chipset used supports 4GB or more of physical memory, it has been found that is not always the case. All memory controller chipsets don't have the ability to map more than 3GB. Motherboards with a BIOS which does not provide an option to "Remap memory", generally do not have that ability

A glimpse into Windows future

There have been rumours floating about what all Microsoft's next operating system will have.

However, most of these have been mere speculations. For the first time this week Microsoft publicly demoed Windows 7 at D: All Things Digital conference in California. The high point of the new OS, called Windows 7 presently, is the "multi-touch" interface.

Other than, the touchy feely look, the demo also showed a user manipulating photos, browsing a map and playing an onscreen piano with simple one and two-finger taps and gestures.

Windows 7 is likely to hit the market in late 2009 or early 2010. Here's looking into all the new additions that are likely to form part of Windows 7.

Windows 7 will be made for iPhone-like touch-screen applications, an alternative to the computer mouse. This means that users will be able to control the next version of Microsoft Windows with touch controls.

Microsoft showed a new application called "Touchable Paint" that lets a user paint with their fingers, as well as software to organise photos or navigate maps by touch.

Company Chairman Bill Gates framed the new feature as an evolution away from the mouse. The ability to use touch to give users fingertip control of their screens could help revolutionise how computer desktops and mobile phones are controlled and would be an alternative to existing mice, keyboard and pen-based user controls.

Microsoft is seeking to one-up Apple, which made touch-screen software central to the success of its iPhone mobile device, which combines computer, phone and Web features and has sold around 6 million units in its first 11 months.

With Windows 7, Microsoft hopes to create a more life-like photo experience. As per the demo, new photo applications developed for Windows 7 will allow users to arrange and examine photos as they would on a table.

It will also allow users to write, rotate or zoom them. There also seems option of 3D slideshow, grid and scatter views

Another feature is the mapping app that seems to have modified from the Microsoft's Surface, a device for interacting with large tabletop computer displays, team's own Concierge application.

Like Concierge, it calls up data from Windows Live Local and Microsoft Virtual Earth.

Sessions of Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference, scheduled for October, also throws some light on the new operating system.

As per the session details, Windows 7 will enable users to advance the graphics capabilities of their applications while carrying forward existing investments in their Win32 codebase, including GDI and GDI+.

New enhancements to DirectX will help Win32 applications harness the latest innovations in GPUs and LCD displays, including support for scalable, high-performance, 2D and 3D graphics, text, and images.

In a blog post earlier this week, Microsoft's Chris Flores said that Windows 7 will be an evolution of the Vista kernel and one of our design goals for Windows 7 is that it will run on the recommended hardware we specified for Windows Vista and that theapplications and devices that work with Windows Vista will be compatible with Windows 7 .

According to another session at the conference, a single application will help reduce mobile battery life (presumably in laptops and other mobile devices) by up to 30 per cent.

Windows 7 will provide advances for building energy-efficient applications.

The session write-up says: "In this session we will discuss how to leverage new Windows infrastructure to reduce application power consumption and efficiently schedule background tasks and services."

According to a session on Web services, Windows 7 will introduce a new networking API to support building SOAP based Web services in native code. It's likely to have native support for running virtual hard disks, specifically disk images in Microsoft’s own VHD format.

Courtesy: Indiatimes News Nework

Top 10 Nations by Average Internet Speeds

At the end of 2008, approximately 19 per cent Internet connections around the world were at speeds greater than 5 Mbps - a 21 per cent increase over the average global connection speed at the end of 2007.

This is according to the State of the Internet report, a quarterly study by Akamai Technologies, the US-based Internet content distribution giant. The State of the Internet report tracks average connection speeds for countries around the world.

Check out the top 10 nations in terms of average Internet connection speed.

1. South Korea
South Korea rules supreme when it comes to Internet connection speed and broadband connectivity. It is the world's No.1 with average connection speed of 15 Mbps, ten times the global average!

During 2008, South Korea's rate of quarterly change appeared to be locked into a cyclical pattern, with quarterly decreases being recorded in the first and third quarters, and increases seen in the second and fourth quarters.

For the whole year, South Korea saw a modest 7 per cent rise in their levels of high broadband adoption. South Korea is also ranked first in terms of high broadband connectivity with 69 per cent connections above 5 Mpbs.

2. Japan
Japan ranks 2nd in terms of Internet connection and high broadband connectivity. Japan ranks 2nd in terms of high broadband connectivity. About 54 per cent of the connections in Japan are above 7 Mbps.

3. Hong Kong
Hong Kong ranks third with an Internet connection speed of 6.9 Mbps. The country ranks fifth in terms of high broadband connectivity with 38 per cent of the connection above 5 Mbps.

4. Romania
Romania is at the fourth position with a Internet connection speed of 5.7 Mbps. The country ranks third in terms of high broadband connectivity with 45% of the connection above 5 Mbps.

5. Sweden
Sweden is at the fifth position with a Internet connection speed of 5.6 Mbps. Sweden ranks fourth in terms of high broadband connectivity with 39 per cent of the connection above 5Mbps.

6. Switzerland
Switzerland has bagged the sixth position with an Internet connection speed of over 5 Mbps. The country however does not figure in the top ten list of countries with high broadband connectivity.

7. Netherlands
Netherlands ranks 7th with an Internet connection speed of 4.9 Mbps. The country ranks 7th in terms of high broadband connectivity with 28 per cent of the connections above 5 Mbps.

8. Belgium
Belgium is at the 8th position with an Internet connection speed of 4.7 Mbps. The country ranks sixth in terms of high broadband connectivity with 31 per cent of the connection above 5 Mbps.

9. Slovakia
Slovakia bags the ninth position with an Internet connection speed of 4.5 Mbps. The country does not figure among the top ten in terms of high broadband connectivity.

10. Norway
Norway ranks tenth with an Internet connection speed of 4.5 Mbps. The country ranks fifth in terms of high broadband connectivity with 38 per cent of the connection above 5 Mbps.

United States is at the 17th position with an Internet connection speed of 3.9 Mbps, up approximately 8 per cent from the average connection speed for the first quarter of 2008.

In terms of Internet connection speed, China is way behind leading economies with an average Internet connection speed of 833 kbps.
India has been ranked at a dismal 115th among 223 countries in terms of average Internet connection speeds. India has an average Internet connection speed of just 772 Kbps compared with the global average of 1.5 Mbps.