Holiday stuff …

November 21st, 2008

That time of year when we bring trees indoors, put up lights and foil, and generally eat and drink too much is just around the corner. It's also the time of year when I'm inundated by requests for gift lists and tech gift ideas.

Well this year, rather than take my usual scatter-gun approach to this most important to topic, I've decided to put together a whole raft of posts for ZDNet covering Holiday gift ideas from different angles.

So far, I've published two posts:

Both these lists are crammed with great hardware upgrade ideas, ranging from a $1,000 Core i7 processor, to $15 RAM modules!

Here's an excerpt:

As of Monday this week, the high-end processor list is dominated by Intel's new Core i7 range of processors.

Core i7 component gallery

The Core i7 processors represents a new era in architecture for Intel. Gone is the LGA 775 socket, instead replaced by the larger Socket LGA 1366.

The Core i7 processors currently come in two flavors and three clock speeds:

  • Core i7 920 2.66GHz | Street price: ~$320
  • Core i7 940 2.93GHz | Street price: ~$600
  • Core i7 965 “Extreme Edition” 3.2GHz | Street price: ~$1,070

With the Core i7 Intel has also reintroduced Hyper-Threading, giving the desktop CPUs the power of eight virtual cores. You also get the brand new X58 chipset and support for DDR3.

How can I put how powerful the Core i7 processors are in context? Well, let's put it this way. the lowest speed Core i7 (the 920) is faster in almost every benchmark than the previous CPU speed-king, the Core 2 Extreme QX9770.

I'll be posting more lists over the coming days, so stay tuned!

November’s Patch Tuesday

November 11th, 2008

Two patches from Microsoft this Path Tuesday:


  • Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-069
    Vulnerabilities in Microsoft XML Core Services Could Allow Remote Code Execution (955218)
    This security update resolves several vulnerabilities in Microsoft XML Core Services. The most severe vulnerability could allow remote code execution if a user viewed a specially crafted Web page using Internet Explorer. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.


  • Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-068
    Vulnerability in SMB Could Allow Remote Code Execution (957097)
    This security update resolves a publicly disclosed vulnerability in Microsoft Server Message Block (SMB) Protocol. The vulnerability could allow remote code execution on affected systems. An attacker who successfully exploited this vulnerability could install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. Users whose accounts are configured to have fewer user rights on the system could be less impacted than users who operate with administrative user rights.

Loads of Windows 7 screenshots

November 8th, 2008

You asked for them, so here they are ... a load of Windows 7 screenshots, in no particular order. They'll give you a bit of a feel for Windows 7.

If you want to see more, check out three Windows 7 galleries I posted on Hardware 2.0:

Windows 7 pre-beta screenshots | Windows 7 install/IU | Windows 7’s troubleshooting tools gallery


08-11-2008 17-59-00  08-11-2008 17-59-15

08-11-2008 17-59-18  08-11-2008 17-59-31

08-11-2008 17-59-36  08-11-2008 18-00-46

08-11-2008 18-00-56  08-11-2008 18-01-11

08-11-2008 18-01-37  08-11-2008 18-05-15

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WPA partially cracked, not the end of the world … yet!

November 6th, 2008

You might have read today that the WPA WiFi encryption protocol has been broken. However, it's not the end of the world ... yet.

Basically, what the researchers have managed to do is crack the TKIP protocol. this doesn't get access to the data being transmitted wirelessly, but it certainly brings that into the realm of possibility at some point down the line.

So, what can you do? Well, if your hardware supports WPA2, then go in that direction, because that protocol is still safe ... for now.

What I’ve been doing this weekend – Far Cry 2

October 27th, 2008

I know, I know. Far Cry 2 (like Crysis: Warhead) is loaded with restrictive DRM, and I know that ultimately I'm only renting the game, but I couldn't help picking up a copy of the game. To be honest, I've had it on pre-order since well before the whole DRM brouhaha happened (I think I've had it on pre-order with Amazon since the beginning of the year).

Now, after a few hours of game-play under my belt, I'm quite happy with the purchase. I'm not going to give you a review of the game (Google is your friend there) but I will say that it's an immersive and quite addictive. I'm not sure if it lives up to all the hype that it generated initially (the weather system doesn't seem an awful lot more advanced that in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the 50 sq KM map feels smaller than I thought it would, and some of the side games feel a little repetitive) but I think that there's a good 100+ hours of fun there, plus fun repeating missions and going through the whole game at a harder level.

Far Cry 2

Is it worth $50? Yeah, I guess it is, especially when compared to a trip to the movies or a night out.