Archive for June, 2012

Windows 8’s Metro UI has gotten its fair share of negative press since even before the Developer Preview came out, with a lot of the hate directed towards the lack of that oh-so-familiar Windows Start button. Why’d you have to go and remove the Start button, Microsoft? Yesterday, an MS executive delivered one possible answer: People used it a lot less in Windows 7 than in previous versions of the operating system.

“When we evolved the taskbar we saw awesome adoption of pinning (applications) on the taskbar,” Microsoft principal program manager Chaitanya Sareen told PC Pro. “We are seeing people pin like crazy. And so we saw the Start menu usage dramatically dropping, and that gave us an option.”

We sure do a lot with our taskbars, so hearing that makes a bit of sense. Sareen also says that more people are starting to use keyboard shortcuts to bypass the Windows 7 Start menu, which seems a bit less likely, as normies (like your mom and grandmom) are rarely observed rocking keyboard shortcuts in the wild.

Do you think that the combination of shortcuts and taskbar pinning is really as widespread and often-used as Sareen makes it sound?

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That high profile, open-and-shut international case the U.S. government has against Megaupload is starting to look like it might not be quite so open-and-shut after all. Today, New Zealand Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann found that the warrants used to raid Kim Dotcom’s mansion were insufficient and invalid — and she says that the Megaupload server data taken by the FBI was taken illegally.

TorrentFreak reports that the New Zealand Attorney General’s office claimed that the transfer to the FBI was legal, as it only involved data rather than the physical servers themselves, which stayed in the AG’s posession. (Wait! Isn’t the whole Megaupload case about the legality of intangible data?) Winkelmann rejected that argument and instructed the NZ AG’s office to return all cloned drives and other copies of the Megaupload data, including any provided to the U.S.

Judge Winkelmann also said the search warrants issued for the raid were too vague and non-descriptive, failing to detail the crimes Kim Dotcom and crew were accused of. That resulted in the seizure of pretty much everything in the house. Additionally, the judge thinks the raid may amount to illegal trespassing and illegal search-and-seizure by the NZ police.

A senior, independent NZ High Court lawyer is now tasked with reviewing the evidence collected during the raid. Whatever the lawyer finds irrelevant to the charges will be returned to Kim Dotcom and not passed along to the U.S. government for review.

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Playing around with operating systems in their beta stages can be problematic when it comes to driver support, as Windows 8-rocking gamers can no doubt attest; the graphics card beta drivers released for the various Previews haven’t exactly been bug-free. Those error-rife days may be in the past for GeForce owners now that Nvidia has released new WHQL-certified drivers for the Windows 8 Release Preview.

Don’t try using the drivers with any other operating system, however. Nvidia very clearly states that the 302.82 drivers shouldn’t be used with other OSes, including Windows 7 and Vista or even past iterations of Windows 8. Feature-wise, the new drivers are a bit sparse. A bunch of the aforementioned bugs found in the various Windows 8 beta drivers have been squashed, and 3D Vision support was enabled in the Nvidia Control Panel.

The 302.82 drivers support pretty much every desktop Nvidia graphics card out there, though the notebook GPU support is a bit spotty. You can read up on the scarce nitty-gritty details in the release notes or download the 32-bit and 64-bit drivers over at Nvidia’s download center.

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Asus brings plenty of experience to the tablet building scene, and so it was probably an easy choice for Google to task the company with constructing its Nexus 7 device, which was unveiled yesterday at the Google I/O conference. One thing Asus didn’t anticipate, however, is that Google can be a pretty demanding boss. Just ask the engineers involved with making the Nexus 7 a reality.

“Our engineers told me it is like torture,” Asus Chairman Jonney Shih told AllThingsD in an interview. “They ask a lot.”

For starters, Google only provided Asus with a four-month window to build a working and presumably bug-free product. Asus also had to figure out how to keep costs down so that Google could sell the Nexus 7 for $200. To make it happen, Asus had to keep throwing dozens of engineers into the mix of what was a around-the-clock development cycle, with Google peering over its shoulder at every step of the way.

Giving credit where credit’s due, Google’s Andy Rubin acknowledged the intense pressure Asus was under.

“I don’t think there would have been any other partner that could move that fast,” Rubin told AllThingsD.

Rubin went on to explain the motivation behind the Nexus 7, which is that the Android tablet market just isn’t at a place Google would like it to be. To get things where they need to be, Google is essentially selling the Nexus 7 at cost through its Google Play store, with the hope that consumers will buy into the ecosystem. It’s the same strategy Amazon employs with its Kindle Fire tablet, which has been wildly successful to this point.

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As the dog days of summer approaches, Sprint is getting ready to officially launch doggone fast 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service in five U.S. cities on July 15. Those cities include Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, and San Antonio. Sprint says its initial rollout will cover millions of people, and by the end of 2013, the wireless carrier aims to have 250 million people covered with a nationwide 4G LTE network in place.

“While other carriers are simply rolling out their version of a 4G LTE network, we are rolling out an all-new network that will also significantly improve the 3G and voice experience over time – at no extra charge to the customer,” Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said in a statement.

Hesse added that he’s “pleased with the progress” of the program so far, which will not only introduce 4G LTE access, but “significant enhancements” to Sprint’s 3G service by way of better signal strength, fewer dropped calls, faster data speeds, expanded coverage, and all-around better performance.

Sprint will continue to offer an ‘Everything Data’ plan for $80/month that includes unlimited data, texting, and calling to and from any mobile phone.

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