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Disaster recovery

Drama in NYC as data center temp passes 100 degrees

There’s real-time drama unfolding at one of the data centers operating at 111 8th Ave. in NYC, a Google-owned building that occupies a full city block. Read more…

Android

Exclusive: Inside Android 4.2’s powerful new security system

We’ve talked plenty about the new features in Google’s Android 4.2, but one of the most significant changes to the software is something you might not notice: a powerful new security system built right into the platform. Read more…

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Operating systems

Windows 8 cheat sheet

Windows 8 presents a radically new interface to users, but never fear: Our comprehensive guide will help you find your way around the new OS and make the most of its features. Read more…

 

Smartphone Slow? It’s Not the Network, It’s NAND Flash

While users and experts typically point to processor chips and wireless network connectivity as the culprit of poor smartphone performance, storage is more of an issue, according to researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and NEC Corp.

The researchers tested top selling 16GB embedded flash memory cards in several Android smartphones and found performance over WiFi declined an average of 100% to 300% across mobile applications.

In one flash memory test, performance dropped more than 2,000%.

“A good chunk of time for users is spent waiting for websites to load … [and for] applications to load,” said Hyojun Kim, a Ph.D. student in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech.

And, while waiting for apps to load is annoying, a more nefarious impact of poor flash performance is that it depletes a smartphone’s battery.

Kim, lead author of the report, Revisiting Storage for Smartphones , discussed the research at the Usenix Conference on File and Storage Technologies here this week.

Kim said wireless network performance has kept pace with most of today’s mobile applications, as have the single and dual core CPUs being used in today’s sophisticated smartphones. What hasn’t kept pace is the bandwidth of NAND flash, he said.

“Why would anyone want to see a 20-second wait time on their phone, particularly if the network is not the problem,” he said.


SAN JOSE — NAND flash memory in smartphones can significantly blunt the performance of web browsing, email loading, games and even social network sites Facebook and Google+, researchers say.

While users and experts typically point to processor chips and wireless network connectivity as the culprit of poor smartphone performance, storage is more of an issue, according to researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and NEC Corp.

The researchers tested top selling 16GB embedded flash memory cards in several Android smartphones and found performance over WiFi declined an average of 100% to 300% across mobile applications.

In one flash memory test, performance dropped more than 2,000%.

“A good chunk of time for users is spent waiting for websites to load … [and for] applications to load,” said Hyojun Kim, a Ph.D. student in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech.

And, while waiting for apps to load is annoying, a more nefarious impact of poor flash performance is that it depletes a smartphone’s battery.

Kim, lead author of the report, Revisiting Storage for Smartphones , discussed the research at the Usenix Conference on File and Storage Technologies here this week.

Kim said wireless network performance has kept pace with most of today’s mobile applications, as have the single and dual core CPUs being used in today’s sophisticated smartphones. What hasn’t kept pace is the bandwidth of NAND flash, he said.

“Why would anyone want to see a 20-second wait time on their phone, particularly if the network is not the problem,” he said. Leer más “Smartphone Slow? It’s Not the Network, It’s NAND Flash”

13 Windows 8 features worth knowing about

The Ribbon interface

A few years back, Microsoft shocked the world by completely overhauling the interface of its popular Office 2007 applications, replacing the familiar menu and toolbar system with something it called the Ribbon, which groups features and tools into separate collections. This controversial change angered many longtime Office users, while others found the new interface more efficient to use once they’d gotten used to it.

Now the Ribbon is making its way into Windows 8. You’ll see it in Windows Explorer, where it provides an easy way to check file attributes and sort files. The Ribbon interface pops up in unexpected places, too, such as the new Hyper-V management app. (For users who don’t like it, the UI can be disabled with one click.)
Windows 8 Explorer with Ribbon
The Ribbon interface is prevalent in Windows Explorer.

“At this point, Microsoft can call the Ribbon UI a success,” says Silver. “Most average users will probably find that the Ribbon helps them with tasks they’ve been unsure about previously. For power users, most of the skills they have for manipulating files and such will still work.”

But King isn’t so sure. “Some businesses believe worker productivity suffered from having to learn new commands and processes in Windows 7 and Office 2010,” he says. “This feature could actually inhibit businesses migrating to [Windows] 8.”

Verdict: Overall, the Ribbon is a plus for home and business users alike — especially since it can be turned off easily.
Wi-Fi Direct support

Here’s a feature that might not make headlines, but still holds promise: Like Android 4.0, Windows 8 natively supports Wi-Fi Direct. This emerging peer-to-peer technology uses a standard 802.11n Wi-Fi signal for network transmissions over short distances, but there’s no need for a router — it lets your Wi-Fi devices communicate directly with each other.

Wi-Fi Direct could usher in an age of interconnected devices in which your tablet sends data to your alarm clock, or maybe a smartphone communicates with a smart appliance in your kitchen.

Brian Fino, managing director at Fino Consulting, says Wi-Fi Direct is an important step in building connected intelligent applications. The more devices there are that support the technology, he says, the more robust software can be built to create a user experience that takes advantage of the direct connection.

Verdict: Wi-Fi Direct offers handy close-range peer-to-peer sharing, but it’s too soon to tell whether the technology will catch on.


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Windows 8 will introduce a slew of interesting features, but will they benefit you?

By John Brandon

Computerworld – Upgrades, system migration, support headaches — IT folks are probably dreading the next major Windows rollout. Yet Windows 8, which is scheduled to move to the beta stage in late February and will likely launch in the fall, does offer several compelling new features for both IT and end users.

Windows 8 Metro interface

The Metro interface (See slideshow).

By far the most talked-about aspect of Windows 8 is the Metro interface. Designed for touchscreen computers and tablets, and built to use HTML5 and CSS3, Metro ties into Internet apps like SkyDrive and Flickr. As with Windows Phone 7, you can swipe to navigate through tiles showing live Web info like stocks and news as well as more traditional apps.

But Pund-IT analyst Charles King questions whether businesses will really see benefits from Metro, saying it is mainly just a new paint job over the existing Windows interface. “Metro is yet one more interface for employees to learn and get used to,” he says. “In the current economic environment, businesses will consider that more of a nuisance than a benefit.”

Some features in Windows 8 are of clearer business value, say King and other industry analysts. After spending a few months getting to know the developer preview release, I’ve scouted out 13 less-discussed features and talked to experts to get their take on whom, if anyone, these features will benefit.

Fast boot-up

No finger-drumming here. In my tests, the preview build of Windows 8 booted in six seconds, an all-time record on my decked-out Digital Storm ODE desktop system. The previous boot time on the same machine running Windows 7 was approximately 90 seconds. It’s possible that the fast boot is due to the developer preview’s slimmer build, which lacks all of the bells and whistles of a full OS, but Microsoft has promised significantly faster boot times in Windows 8, which could make staring at logos on startup screens a thing of the past.

Booting up and resuming from sleep is already fast in Windows 7, says Gartner analyst Michael Silver, but making the boot time even faster is still a benefit. This will be particularly advantageous, Pund-IT’s King adds, for technical folks who reboot their computers often — for example, after installing apps — or for mobile workers who need to routinely power down a device to save battery life and then boot up quickly.

Verdict: If early speeds carry over to the shipping version, it’s a win for everybody… Leer más “13 Windows 8 features worth knowing about”

Loaded with cash, Facebook may take on Google

Computerworld – With Facebook now flush with cash, the social networking phenom has the muscle to better duke it out with tech industry heavy-weight Google.

But while the investment of $500 million from Goldman Sachs and a Russian investor could do a lot to validate the business behind social networking, the question remains as to what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should do with this new financial muscle and industry clout.

While opinions vary as to what Zuckerberg’s next step will be, most agree that the 26-year-old entrepreneur and billionaire shouldn’t lose focus.

“Facebook needs to avoid the dangers that come from being big and having a lot of cash,” said Augie Ray, an analyst with Forrester. “There can be the temptation to throw a lot of money around exploring different ideas, but Facebook needs to continue to focus on the unique core value drivers it has around personal sharing, relationships and communications.”


Analysts warn CEO Mark Zuckerberg not to lose focus

Computerworld – With Facebook now flush with cash, the social networking phenom has the muscle to better duke it out with tech industry heavy-weight Google.

But while the investment of $500 million from Goldman Sachs and a Russian investor could do a lot to validate the business behind social networking, the question remains as to what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg should do with this new financial muscle and industry clout.

While opinions vary as to what Zuckerberg’s next step will be, most agree that the 26-year-old entrepreneur and billionaire shouldn’t lose focus.

“Facebook needs to avoid the dangers that come from being big and having a lot of cash,” said Augie Ray, an analyst with Forrester. “There can be the temptation to throw a lot of money around exploring different ideas, but Facebook needs to continue to focus on the unique core value drivers it has around personal sharing, relationships and communications.”

Leer más “Loaded with cash, Facebook may take on Google”