30 years of PCWorld, 30 pivotal moments in PC history // thnxz to @loydcase – pcworld.com


 

Talk about longevity. Thirty years ago to this month, PCWorld published its very first print issue, a 310-page magazine loaded with essential news, reviews, and features about IBM PCs and compatible “clones.”

The content inside the March 1983 issue of PC World was exceedingly quaint—even borderline comical, as the images in our accompanying slideshow prove. But once you take stock of PCWorld’s entire 30-year history, you begin to develop a profound appreciation for just how dramatically the PC platform has evolved—and how it has influenced the greater world of consumer electronics, from music players to smartphones to any device that’s connected to the Internet and geared toward social sharing.

We commemorate PCWorld’s 30-year history with a trip down memory lane, calling out the most pivotal PC-related events and product releases that occurred in each calendar year from 1983 to 2012. Keep in mind that these aren’t necessarily the 30 most important PC landmarks of the last 30 years, but rather the biggest highlights in each individual year.

Think we missed something critically important? Let us know in the comments section below!


Full article 🙂

1983

Compaq Portable debuts: Founded during the prior year, Compaq makes its mark on the industry by releasing its first PC—the first luggable IBM-compatible, and a harbinger of the age of mobile computing. Compaq, of course, would become a huge player in the PC industry, only to be acquired by HP two decades later.

1984

PCs Limited starts up: A college student named Michael Dell launches a small business in his dorm room, building custom PCs. His little endeavor is destined to become one of the biggest companies in the industry, getting into printers, servers, and networking gear too.


Full article 🙂

ANN E. YOW-DYSON / GETTY IMAGES

1985

Windows 1.0 ships: After initially discussing Windows in 1983, PCWorld scarcely gives the software a mention in 1985 or 1986. No one predicts big things for this somewhat clunky visual file-management utility, the precursor to full-fledged OS greatness.

1986

Intel delivers the 386…

Full article 🙂

 

Google Chrome: How to make it faster, smarter and better than before // thnxz to pcworld.com – @pcworld Cc/ @awawro @MarcoChiappetta


Power extensions

If you don’t already have the latest version of Google Chrome installed and running properly on your system, take those preliminary steps now. Afterward, open the Chrome Web Store, and you’ll see an overwhelming array of Chrome apps for augmenting your browser with games, music players, and social networks. The extensions we’ll focus on here are designed to make Chrome leaner, meaner and more efficient.

FastestChrome: As its name would lead you to expect, FastestChrome adds a few useful time-saving tools to your Chrome browser. Its features consist mainly of surface-level stuff, such as displaying a pop-up bubble with an explanation of a word whenever you highlight one, and providing the option to look up that word on any of four different search engines (Wikipedia, DuckDuckGo, Surf Canyon, and of course Google.)

FastestChrome automatically loads the next page of a website and shares the definition of any word you highlight in Chrome.

The extension also lets you choose to automatically transform written URL text into clickable links (which makes reading email messages from less tech-savvy friends a lot easier), and its Endless Pages feature automatically loads the next page of a website (think Google search results or an eight-page Vanity Fair article) so you won’t waste precious seconds clicking Next and waiting for the page to load.

Google Quick Scroll: This extension whisks you straight to the search terms you’re looking for on any given website. With Google Quick Scroll installed in Google Chrome, every time you click through a search link, a tiny box containing a preview of the text highlighted in your search result will pop up in the bottom-right corner of your browser. Click that box, and Chrome will take you there without further ado.

Chrome Toolbox: Install the Chrome Toolbox to open multiple bookmarks in a single click, to cache unsubmitted form data so you can avoid retyping it each time you create a new profile, to magnify images and video right from within your browser, and in general to make Chrome twice as useful as it already is.

Experiment at your own risk

To reach Google Chrome’s hidden experimental options, first launch Chrome; then typechrome://flags/ in the address field, and press Enter. You’ll jump to a page containing an array of experimental options, a few of which directly affect browser performance. To see other hidden Chrome menus that you can access via the address field, typechrome://chrome-urls/ in the address bar and then press Enter. The ‘flags’ page is where Chrome parks all of the hidden and experimental options, so that’s where we’re headed.

The hidden ‘flags’ menu in Google Chrome is home to various experimental options that can influence the browser’s performance.

At this is the point, we’d normally offer a disclaimer about messing around with experimental features in an application—but Google has handled that task quite well on its own. The first thing you’ll see when you reach Chrome’s flags options is a huge warning that reads as follows:

Careful, these experiments may bite! WARNING These experimental features may change, break, or disappear at any time. We make absolutely no guarantees about what may happen if you turn one of these experiments on, and your browser may even spontaneously combust. Jokes aside, your browser may delete all your data, or your security and privacy could be compromised in unexpected ways. Any experiments you enable will be enabled for all users of this browser. Please proceed with caution.”

Though the stuff we’ll discuss doing in this article is more likely to cause simple rendering errors or to adversely affect performance than to wreak any major havoc, caution is appropriate.

Full article

Warning: Fake LinkedIn Spam Can Steal Your Bank Passwords

Bogus LinkedIn emails can infect your computer with ZeuS, a password-stealing Trojan. I know, because it just happened to me.

By Dan Tynan, ITworld

Warning: Fake LinkedIn Spam Can Steal Your Bank PasswordsI feel like a complete idiot. I just got taken by a LinkedIn spam that may have just stolen my banking password.

This is not the first time I’ve been an idiot or clicked on something I shouldn’t. But this one could be really bad for me.

Today, spammers using fake Linked-In invitations attacked the Net in a massive way. How massive? According to Cisco Security, at one point today nearly 1 in 4 spam messages was a Fake LinkedIn invite.

Linked-In spam is nothing new — I wrote about it just last month– but this attack was particularly nasty, because it can embed password-stealing malware into your browser without you realizing it.

[ See also: Yes, Mr. Zuckerberg, we do care about privacy ]

My story: I saw several LinkedIn invites in my Gmail spam folder, and stupidly opened one of them inside Google Chrome. I even saw that the links inside the email were not to LinkedIn but to some oddly named third-party site. But curious about what would happen (and stupidly confident that my Kaspersky anti-malware software would protect me), I clicked it. My browser started to launch a new site, then quickly redirected to my home page.

Weird, I thought. I tried it again. Same thing happened. I figured that whatever site it was driving me toward had already been taken down by one of the anti-malware orgs like StopBadware.com, and thought nothing more about it.

A couple of hours later I logged into my banking site to check on my account. No big deal.

An hour after that I received the following email from Cisco Security:


Bogus LinkedIn emails can infect your computer with ZeuS, a password-stealing Trojan. I know, because it just happened to me.

By Dan Tynan, ITworld

Warning: Fake LinkedIn Spam Can Steal Your Bank PasswordsI feel like a complete idiot. I just got taken by a LinkedIn spam that may have just stolen my banking password.

This is not the first time I’ve been an idiot or clicked on something I shouldn’t. But this one could be really bad for me.

Today, spammers using fake Linked-In invitations attacked the Net in a massive way. How massive? According to Cisco Security, at one point today nearly 1 in 4 spam messages was a Fake LinkedIn invite.

Linked-In spam is nothing new — I wrote about it just last month— but this attack was particularly nasty, because it can embed password-stealing malware into your browser without you realizing it.

[ See also: Yes, Mr. Zuckerberg, we do care about privacy ]

My story: I saw several LinkedIn invites in my Gmail spam folder, and stupidly opened one of them inside Google Chrome. I even saw that the links inside the email were not to LinkedIn but to some oddly named third-party site. But curious about what would happen (and stupidly confident that my Kaspersky anti-malware software would protect me), I clicked it. My browser started to launch a new site, then quickly redirected to my home page.

Weird, I thought. I tried it again. Same thing happened. I figured that whatever site it was driving me toward had already been taken down by one of the anti-malware orgs like StopBadware.com, and thought nothing more about it.

A couple of hours later I logged into my banking site to check on my account. No big deal.

An hour after that I received the following email from Cisco Security: Leer más “Warning: Fake LinkedIn Spam Can Steal Your Bank Passwords”

Trojan Forces Firefox to Save Your Passwords

Most security researchers recommend that users tell Firefox not to remember their passwords, since saved ones are so easily extracted by malware.

The Trojan-PWS-Nslog malware discovered by security company Webroot, however, gets around user preferences altogether by actually deactivating the Firefox code that asks if it should save those passwords when the user logs into a secure site.

“Before the infection, a default installation of Firefox 3.6.10 would prompt the user after the user clicks the Log In button on a Web page, asking whether he or she wants to save the password,” Webroot researcher Andrew Brandt explained in a blog post on Wednesday. “After the infection, the browser simply saves all login credentials locally, and doesn’t prompt the user.”

Specifically, the Trojan adds a few lines of code and “comments out” other portions of code from the Firefox file called nsLoginManagerPrompter.js, with the result that all passwords get saved locally without any input from the user.

Clues Left Behind

With that information, the Trojan creates a new account under the name “Maestro” on the infected computer. It then “scrapes information from the registry, from the so-called Protected Storage area used by IE to store passwords, and from Firefox’s own password storage, and tries to pass the stolen information onward, once per minute,” Brandt added.

The Web domain intended to receive the stolen data has already been shut down, but code inside the malware revealed the author’s name and email address, which led Webroot to a Facebook page for a hacker based in Iran who provides a free keylogger creator tool targeting users of Microsoft Windows.

Webroot can easily identify and remove the Trojan from infected machines, it says. To fix the modified Firefox file, users should download the latest Firefox installer and install it over the existing installation. No bookmarks or add-ons will be lost in the process, Brandt said.


By Katherine Noyes, PCWorld

A Firefox Trojan has been found to force the Internet browser to save user passwords and then use those passwords to create a new user account on the infected computer.

Most security researchers recommend that users tell Firefox not to remember their passwords, since saved ones are so easily extracted by malware.

The Trojan-PWS-Nslog malware discovered by security company Webroot, however, gets around user preferences altogether by actually deactivating the Firefox code that asks if it should save those passwords when the user logs into a secure site.

“Before the infection, a default installation of Firefox 3.6.10 would prompt the user after the user clicks the Log In button on a Web page, asking whether he or she wants to save the password,” Webroot researcher Andrew Brandt explained in a blog post on Wednesday. “After the infection, the browser simply saves all login credentials locally, and doesn’t prompt the user.”

Specifically, the Trojan adds a few lines of code and “comments out” other portions of code from the Firefox file called nsLoginManagerPrompter.js, with the result that all passwords get saved locally without any input from the user.

Clues Left Behind

With that information, the Trojan creates a new account under the name “Maestro” on the infected computer. It then “scrapes information from the registry, from the so-called Protected Storage area used by IE to store passwords, and from Firefox’s own password storage, and tries to pass the stolen information onward, once per minute,” Brandt added.

The Web domain intended to receive the stolen data has already been shut down, but code inside the malware revealed the author’s name and email address, which led Webroot to a Facebook page for a hacker based in Iran who provides a free keylogger creator tool targeting users of Microsoft Windows.

Webroot can easily identify and remove the Trojan from infected machines, it says. To fix the modified Firefox file, users should download the latest Firefox installer and install it over the existing installation. No bookmarks or add-ons will be lost in the process, Brandt said. Leer más “Trojan Forces Firefox to Save Your Passwords”

Mobilize 2010: 5 Apps to Watch

It’s all about the apps here at the Mobilize Conference in San Francisco this week. Everywhere you turn app developers are hobnobbing with venture capitalist and the press. After all, this is their opportunity to show off their apps and generate interest in their company and build media buzz.

After soaking up a day full of pitches and demos, we picked a few promising mobile apps that stood out.

Tango for iPhone and Android

Tango, which launched today in both the Apple App Store and the Android Market, is a peer-to-peer video-chatting app that utilizes both your phone’s front-facing and back-facing cameras. So what makes Tango different from other video chat applications out there like Apple’s Facetime or Qik?

First, Tango lets you make video calls from an iPhone to an Android phone over 4G, Wi-Fi and 3G. You can also turn video on and off during a call or pick between a large screen or small screen view of your contact. Tango also automatically detects which of your friends has the app on their phone and creates a specialized list of those contacts within the app. You don’t need to make a profile either; you just install Tango, start it up and you’re ready to make video calls.

We had some hands-on time with Tango and were impressed with its video quality and ease-of-use. We’ll take a closer look at Tango and write up a review in the next few days for our Android App Guide.


At GigaOm’s 2010 Mobilize Conference in San Francisco, we got a first look at some intriguing new apps.

Mark Sullivan and Ginny Mies, PCWorld

It’s all about the apps here at the Mobilize Conference in San Francisco this week. Everywhere you turn app developers are hobnobbing with venture capitalist and the press. After all, this is their opportunity to show off their apps and generate interest in their company and build media buzz.

After soaking up a day full of pitches and demos, we picked a few promising mobile apps that stood out.

Tango for iPhone and Android

Tango, which launched today in both the Apple App Store and the Android Market, is a peer-to-peer video-chatting app that utilizes both your phone’s front-facing and back-facing cameras. So what makes Tango different from other video chat applications out there like Apple’s Facetime or Qik?

First, Tango lets you make video calls from an iPhone to an Android phone over 4G, Wi-Fi and 3G. You can also turn video on and off during a call or pick between a large screen or small screen view of your contact. Tango also automatically detects which of your friends has the app on their phone and creates a specialized list of those contacts within the app. You don’t need to make a profile either; you just install Tango, start it up and you’re ready to make video calls.

We had some hands-on time with Tango and were impressed with its video quality and ease-of-use. We’ll take a closer look at Tango and write up a review in the next few days for our Android App Guide.

Leer más “Mobilize 2010: 5 Apps to Watch”

12 Ways the Tech Industry Is Screwing You (and How to Fight Back)

You can’t install the apps you want on your smartphone. You can’t play the movies you bought on your PC. You can’t even walk into a store without getting upsold, enrolled, restocked, and recalled. Welcome to the world of tech in 2010, where your phone doesn’t work–and companies tell you that “you’re holding it wrong.”

Just because you venture into the tech marketplace with a credit card in your hand doesn’t mean you deserve to get screwed. Check out these 12 ways that the tech industry is pulling a fast one on you–and learn how to fight back.
Ridiculous Restocking Fees

Bought a laptop and realized it wasn’t for you? No problem, you can return it within 30 days–that’ll be $150, please.

Restocking fees are an easy way for vendors to make a tidy profit from a consumer’s buying misstep. The rationale for such fees may be to discourage cheapskates who have no intention of keeping a device from buying it, using it for a short time–say, for the length of a vacation–and then returning it; but the practical result is that you can get slapped with a fee ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent of the purchase price just for the privilege of returning a gadget you’re not happy with.

For example, Best Buy charges 10 percent for iPhone returns; 15 percent for opened laptops, projectors, digital cameras/camcorders, and GPS systems; and 25 percent for any special-ordered item. Amazon.com, Sears, and Newegg all charge a 15 percent restocking fee for computers and electronics, though each vendor’s specific rules vary–for example, Sears charges only if the returned item doesn’t include the original packaging, whereas Newegg dings you for anything you return after opening it.

Take the restocking fees into consideration before you buy. It’s illegal in some states to charge a restocking fee without notifying you in advance, but the notification could be buried in the return policy on the back of your receipt, so ask a salesperson before you swipe your credit card. You might discover that the $5 you save by buying a product from a particular vendor could be negated by the $50 it charges as a restocking fee. Buying a gift? Get a gift card if there’s any chance that the recipient might want to return the item you’re tempted to choose.


Whether you seek out cutting-edge tech gear or keep to a strict budget, the tech industry has ways to nickel-and-dime you out of your hard-earned cash. Here’s how to fight back.

Patrick Miller, PC World

You can’t install the apps you want on your smartphone. You can’t play the movies you bought on your PC. You can’t even walk into a store without getting upsold, enrolled, restocked, and recalled. Welcome to the world of tech in 2010, where your phone doesn’t work–and companies tell you that “you’re holding it wrong.”

Just because you venture into the tech marketplace with a credit card in your hand doesn’t mean you deserve to get screwed. Check out these 12 ways that the tech industry is pulling a fast one on you–and learn how to fight back.

Ridiculous Restocking Fees

Bought a laptop and realized it wasn’t for you? No problem, you can return it within 30 days–that’ll be $150, please.

Restocking fees are an easy way for vendors to make a tidy profit from a consumer’s buying misstep. The rationale for such fees may be to discourage cheapskates who have no intention of keeping a device from buying it, using it for a short time–say, for the length of a vacation–and then returning it; but the practical result is that you can get slapped with a fee ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent of the purchase price just for the privilege of returning a gadget you’re not happy with.

For example, Best Buy charges 10 percent for iPhone returns; 15 percent for opened laptops, projectors, digital cameras/camcorders, and GPS systems; and 25 percent for any special-ordered item. Amazon.com, Sears, and Newegg all charge a 15 percent restocking fee for computers and electronics, though each vendor’s specific rules vary–for example, Sears charges only if the returned item doesn’t include the original packaging, whereas Newegg dings you for anything you return after opening it.

Take the restocking fees into consideration before you buy. It’s illegal in some states to charge a restocking fee without notifying you in advance, but the notification could be buried in the return policy on the back of your receipt, so ask a salesperson before you swipe your credit card. You might discover that the $5 you save by buying a product from a particular vendor could be negated by the $50 it charges as a restocking fee. Buying a gift? Get a gift card if there’s any chance that the recipient might want to return the item you’re tempted to choose. Leer más “12 Ways the Tech Industry Is Screwing You (and How to Fight Back)”

What’s Behind Craigslist’s Self-Censorship?

potential 17 state attorneys general in court.

Strategic Ploy?

Craigslist’s adult services shutdown might be a ploy to draw “attention to its fight with state attorneys general over sex ads and to issues of free speech on the Internet,” according to The New York Times. If that’s the case, Connecticut State Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal told the Times he won’t be taken in by it. “If this announcement is a stunt or a ploy…they would be in a sense be thumbing their nose at the public interest,” Blumenthal told the Times.

The fact that Craigslist has put a censored banner where the site’s adult services section used to be certainly suggests Craigslist was interested in drawing attention to the issue. There are also many reports that Craigslist earns about one-third of the site’s revenue from adult services listings. The implication being that it needs to draw attention to this fight just to survive financially.

Craigslist’s earnings numbers are based on estimates from groups such as the classified advertising consultancy Advanced Interactive Media Group. AIMG says adult services will be about 30 percent of Craigslist’s estimated $122 million in revenue for 2010.


Ian Paul, PC World

What's Behind Craigslist's Self-Censorship?Craigslist left everyone guessing why the site decided to close its adult services section on Friday by replacing the steamy destination with a “censored” banner. The online classifieds Website took action without releasing a statement and has so far refused comment. Craigslist’s adult services section housed sexually explicit ads for escorts, masseuses and similar content. The move comes after 17 state attorneys general pressured the site to stop displaying its adult services section.

Without a definitive answer, Craigslist’s abrupt move has left others to fill in the blanks about the shutdown. Some say it’s a protest meant to draw attention to the site’s first amendment rights. Others wonder if it isn’t a strategic ploy to appease advocacy groups and law enforcement. It is also possible Craigslist simply doesn’t have the wherewithal to face off against a potential 17 state attorneys general in court.

Strategic Ploy?

Craigslist’s adult services shutdown might be a ploy to draw “attention to its fight with state attorneys general over sex ads and to issues of free speech on the Internet,” according to The New York Times. If that’s the case, Connecticut State Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal told the Times he won’t be taken in by it. “If this announcement is a stunt or a ploy…they would be in a sense be thumbing their nose at the public interest,” Blumenthal told the Times.

The fact that Craigslist has put a censored banner where the site’s adult services section used to be certainly suggests Craigslist was interested in drawing attention to the issue. There are also many reports that Craigslist earns about one-third of the site’s revenue from adult services listings. The implication being that it needs to draw attention to this fight just to survive financially.

Craigslist’s earnings numbers are based on estimates from groups such as the classified advertising consultancy Advanced Interactive Media Group. AIMG says adult services will be about 30 percent of Craigslist’s estimated $122 million in revenue for 2010. Leer más “What’s Behind Craigslist’s Self-Censorship?”

The Most Dangerous Jobs in Technology

In the world of information technology, some professions are particularly perilous. Whether you’re risking psychological stress or your very life, these fields aren’t for the faint of heart. Some people in these roles thrive on adrenaline, climbing thousands of feet to fix communications towers. Others risk only emotional damage, getting paid to consume disturbing Internet content.

Workplace deaths in the United States have dropped in recent years, along with the employment rate. In the developing world, though, certain countries have a long way to go before some technology-related working conditions can be called humane.


In the world of information technology, some professions are particularly perilous. Whether you’re risking psychological stress or your very life, these fields aren’t for the faint of heart. Some people in these roles thrive on adrenaline, climbing thousands of feet to fix communications towers. Others risk only emotional damage, getting paid to consume disturbing Internet content.

Workplace deaths in the United States have dropped in recent years, along with the employment rate. In the developing world, though, certain countries have a long way to go before some technology-related working conditions can be called humane. Leer más “The Most Dangerous Jobs in Technology”

Update the Firmware On Your HDTV, Camera, Smartphone, PC, and More

Software updates aren’t just for PCs any more. Here’s how to fix bugs and add new features to your existing hardware with a few easy patches.

Loyd Case, PC World

These days, most of your electronics have miniature computers built-in: Home-theater gear, handheld devices, phones, and even appliances now have embedded smarts in the form of a microprocessor, memory, and software. And just like computer software, firmware–the software that runs on your gadgets–needs periodic updating.

Believe it or not, many new gadgets aren’t 100 percent complete when you buy them. Though a spiffy electronic toy may perform its basic functions, some of its promised features may be absent or incomplete. And to keep up with ever-changing kinds of content, your devices may require software enhancements to give old hardware new features.

To avoid antagonizing customers who might spend hundreds of dollars on a cool piece of hardware only to find a few months later that it no longer worked, manufacturers design much of their gear to allow updates. You won’t be able to get every feature of the latest and greatest product via downloadable updates, but firmware revisions can make your old equipment run faster and crash less often.
What Is Firmware?

Firmware is software stored in persistent memory–usually either flash memory or programmable, rewritable ROM (read-only memory)–that’s built into the device. Unlike apps loaded into your PC’s RAM, firmware doesn’t get erased when you power the system down. Firmware may store just the basic software needed to start up the system–like a PC’s BIOS–or it may store the entire operating system and applications suites, as with smartphones.


Software updates aren’t just for PCs any more. Here’s how to fix bugs and add new features to your existing hardware with a few easy patches.

Loyd Case, PC World

These days, most of your electronics have miniature computers built-in: Home-theater gear, handheld devices, phones, and even appliances now have embedded smarts in the form of a microprocessor, memory, and software. And just like computer software, firmware–the software that runs on your gadgets–needs periodic updating.

Believe it or not, many new gadgets aren’t 100 percent complete when you buy them. Though a spiffy electronic toy may perform its basic functions, some of its promised features may be absent or incomplete. And to keep up with ever-changing kinds of content, your devices may require software enhancements to give old hardware new features.

To avoid antagonizing customers who might spend hundreds of dollars on a cool piece of hardware only to find a few months later that it no longer worked, manufacturers design much of their gear to allow updates. You won’t be able to get every feature of the latest and greatest product via downloadable updates, but firmware revisions can make your old equipment run faster and crash less often.

What Is Firmware?

Firmware is software stored in persistent memory–usually either flash memory or programmable, rewritable ROM (read-only memory)–that’s built into the device. Unlike apps loaded into your PC’s RAM, firmware doesn’t get erased when you power the system down. Firmware may store just the basic software needed to start up the system–like a PC’s BIOS–or it may store the entire operating system and applications suites, as with smartphones. Leer más “Update the Firmware On Your HDTV, Camera, Smartphone, PC, and More”

Sony Introduces New Cameras With Translucent Mirrors

Sony announced three new camera models on Monday, including two that feature a new translucent mirror technology. The three new cameras are the a55, the a33, and the a560.

Sony Alpha a55 and a33: Translucent Mirrors for Faster Shooting

The a55 and a33 are similar cameras, with the same sized APS-C CMOS sensors (23.5×15.6mm) and design. The higher-end a55 has a larger megapixel count, faster Speed Priority continuous shooting mode, and built-in GPS capability.

What’s most notable about these cameras is that both the a55 and a33 will have a translucent mirror that allows light to pass through directly to the camera’s sensors. Since the mirror no longer has to lift in order to capture an image, the camera can take photos much faster. That means a smaller camera body, higher continuous shooting rate, and continuous auto focusing, even while the camera records an image or video.

The 16.2-megapixel a55 can shoot 10 fps (frames per second) in Speed Priority mode or 6 fps in Continuous Shooting mode. The 14.2-megapixel a33 can shoot up 7 fps in Speed Priority mode and 6 in Continuous Shooting mode.


Heather Kelly

Sony announced three new camera models on Monday, including two that feature a new translucent mirror technology. The three new cameras are the a55, the a33, and the a560.

Sony Alpha a55 and a33: Translucent Mirrors for Faster Shooting

The a55 and a33 are similar cameras, with the same sized APS-C CMOS sensors (23.5×15.6mm) and design. The higher-end a55 has a larger megapixel count, faster Speed Priority continuous shooting mode, and built-in GPS capability.

What’s most notable about these cameras is that both the a55 and a33 will have a translucent mirror that allows light to pass through directly to the camera’s sensors. Since the mirror no longer has to lift in order to capture an image, the camera can take photos much faster. That means a smaller camera body, higher continuous shooting rate, and continuous auto focusing, even while the camera records an image or video.

The 16.2-megapixel a55 can shoot 10 fps (frames per second) in Speed Priority mode or 6 fps in Continuous Shooting mode. The 14.2-megapixel a33 can shoot up 7 fps in Speed Priority mode and 6 in Continuous Shooting mode. Leer más “Sony Introduces New Cameras With Translucent Mirrors”

Technology’s Biggest Myths

Expensive cables are better! Defragging speeds up your PC! Refilling ink cartridges ruins your printer! We put these and nine other claims to the test to find the truth behind tech’s tallest tales.

Patrick Miller, PC World

Illustration by Keith NegleyAs it turns out, Windows Vista really wasn’t all that slow; and no, your PC probably won’t fry if you open it up without wearing a wrist strap. Thanks in large part to the Internet, the tech world is teeming with lies, half-truths, and misinformation. We’ve dug up some of the Web’s most notorious nuggets of conventional wisdom to see which hold up to scrutiny and which are merely urban legends.

Of course, there’s often a grain of truth in even the most fanciful myth. That’s why we provide a handy-dandy set of numbered warning signs to indicate how accurate each of these myths is, with 1 being True and 4 being Outrageous–a complete fabrication. After all, they say numbers never lie.
The Claim: Vista Is Slower Than Windows 7

When Windows Vista came out, it soon acquired a reputation for being slow and a resource hog. Once Windows 7 arrived, people were quick to tout it as the speedy, slim operating system that Vista should have been.

We conducted performance tests on a handful of laptops and desktops using both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Vista and Windows 7, shortly after the latter OS was released. While results varied across configurations, a few trends stood out. Windows 7 raised WorldBench 6 scores from 1.25 percent to almost 10 percent (but most often in the vicinity of 2 to 3 percent); it also resulted in much faster disk operations (in Windows 7 our Nero disc-burning software tests ran twice as fast on an IdeaPad laptop, and 2.5 times as fast on a Gateway laptop), and in slightly longer battery life (the IdeaPad lasted only an extra minute; the Gateway got an extra 15 minutes).

While Windows 7 did seem to speed things up somewhat, a few tests actually showed some slowdown. Applications launched more slowly across the board (the most dramatic change was a 2.7-second Photoshop CS4 launch in Vista turning into a 9.6-second launch in Windows 7), and the Gateway laptop saw a slight increase in startup time (39.6 seconds in Vista; 43.6 seconds in Windows 7).

As it turns out, the “snappy” feeling Windows 7 engenders has to do with Registry tweaks and minor changes to the window manager that make the OS feel more responsive, even though it isn’t that different.

The verdict: Windows 7 is faster, but not by as much as you may think.


Expensive cables are better! Defragging speeds up your PC! Refilling ink cartridges ruins your printer! We put these and nine other claims to the test to find the truth behind tech’s tallest tales.

Patrick Miller, PC World

Illustration by Keith NegleyAs it turns out, Windows Vista really wasn’t all that slow; and no, your PC probably won’t fry if you open it up without wearing a wrist strap. Thanks in large part to the Internet, the tech world is teeming with lies, half-truths, and misinformation. We’ve dug up some of the Web’s most notorious nuggets of conventional wisdom to see which hold up to scrutiny and which are merely urban legends.

Of course, there’s often a grain of truth in even the most fanciful myth. That’s why we provide a handy-dandy set of numbered warning signs to indicate how accurate each of these myths is, with 1 being True and 4 being Outrageous–a complete fabrication. After all, they say numbers never lie.

The Claim: Vista Is Slower Than Windows 7

When Windows Vista came out, it soon acquired a reputation for being slow and a resource hog. Once Windows 7 arrived, people were quick to tout it as the speedy, slim operating system that Vista should have been.

We conducted performance tests on a handful of laptops and desktops using both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Vista and Windows 7, shortly after the latter OS was released. While results varied across configurations, a few trends stood out. Windows 7 raised WorldBench 6 scores from 1.25 percent to almost 10 percent (but most often in the vicinity of 2 to 3 percent); it also resulted in much faster disk operations (in Windows 7 our Nero disc-burning software tests ran twice as fast on an IdeaPad laptop, and 2.5 times as fast on a Gateway laptop), and in slightly longer battery life (the IdeaPad lasted only an extra minute; the Gateway got an extra 15 minutes).

While Windows 7 did seem to speed things up somewhat, a few tests actually showed some slowdown. Applications launched more slowly across the board (the most dramatic change was a 2.7-second Photoshop CS4 launch in Vista turning into a 9.6-second launch in Windows 7), and the Gateway laptop saw a slight increase in startup time (39.6 seconds in Vista; 43.6 seconds in Windows 7).

As it turns out, the “snappy” feeling Windows 7 engenders has to do with Registry tweaks and minor changes to the window manager that make the OS feel more responsive, even though it isn’t that different.

The verdict: Windows 7 is faster, but not by as much as you may think. Leer más “Technology’s Biggest Myths”

The Tragic Death of Practically Everything

Microsoft, Firefox, Facebook, the Mac–they live on in our hearts.

Harry McCracken

Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson is catching flack for the magazine’s current cover story, which declares that the Web is dead. I’m not sure what the controversy is. For years, once-vibrant technologies, products, and companies have been dropping like teenagers in a Freddy Krueger movie. Thank heavens that tech journalists have done such a good job of documenting the carnage as it happened. Without their diligent reporting, we might not be aware that the industry is pretty much an unrelenting bloodbath.

Here’s a moving recap of some of the stuff that predeceased the Web. Warning: You may need a handkerchief.

Internet Explorer, as you’ll recall, died in 2004.


Microsoft, Firefox, Facebook, the Mac–they live on in our hearts.

Harry McCracken

Wired Editor in Chief Chris Anderson is catching flack for the magazine’s current cover story, which declares that the Web is dead. I’m not sure what the controversy is. For years, once-vibrant technologies, products, and companies have been dropping like teenagers in a Freddy Krueger movie. Thank heavens that tech journalists have done such a good job of documenting the carnage as it happened. Without their diligent reporting, we might not be aware that the industry is pretty much an unrelenting bloodbath.

Here’s a moving recap of some of the stuff that predeceased the Web. Warning: You may need a handkerchief.

Internet Explorer, as you’ll recall, died in 2004.

In 2005, the Macintosh suffered a trauma which inevitably led to its death earlier this year.

Linux absolutely, positively died in 2006.

Leer más “The Tragic Death of Practically Everything”

15 Things Every PC User Should Know

Whether you’re a grizzled tech veteran or an uninitiated newb, here are 15 essential facts and tricks that you ought to know.

Patrick Miller

Think you know tech? If you don’t have a handle on every single one of these 15 tech facts, habits, and efficiency tricks, you’re not living up to your potential.

1. Don’t double-click everything. Windows 101: Double-clicking is how you open items in Windows. It’s not how you open links in your Web browser, click buttons in dialog boxes, or do pretty much anything else–and if you reflexively double-click, you might accidentally zip right past something important or submit a form twice. If you don’t need this reminder yourself, chances are you know someone who does.

2. Use slashes and backslashes in the appropriate situations. Let’s get it straight: / is a slash (or forward slash, if you must), and \ is a backslash. Backslashes are conventionally used for Windows file paths (C:\Program Files\Whatever), while slashes are used for Internet addresses (http://www.pcworld.com/howto.html).

3. Record the exact error message. When your PC crashes, it’ll usually try to tell you why it is doing so–albeit with a string of numbers and letters that you won’t understand. Write the message down in its entirety (or take a screenshot, if possible) so you can later plug it into Google or give it to your tech support agent. If your PC didn’t provide an error message, go to Action Center (in the Control Panel) and see if it shows up under ‘View archived messages’ or ‘View problems to report’.


Disk Cleanup; click for full-size image.Whether you’re a grizzled tech veteran or an uninitiated newb, here are 15 essential facts and tricks that you ought to know.

Patrick Miller

Think you know tech? If you don’t have a handle on every single one of these 15 tech facts, habits, and efficiency tricks, you’re not living up to your potential.

1. Don’t double-click everything. Windows 101: Double-clicking is how you open items in Windows. It’s not how you open links in your Web browser, click buttons in dialog boxes, or do pretty much anything else–and if you reflexively double-click, you might accidentally zip right past something important or submit a form twice. If you don’t need this reminder yourself, chances are you know someone who does.

2. Use slashes and backslashes in the appropriate situations. Let’s get it straight: / is a slash (or forward slash, if you must), and \ is a backslash. Backslashes are conventionally used for Windows file paths (C:\Program Files\Whatever), while slashes are used for Internet addresses (http://www.pcworld.com/howto.html).

3. Record the exact error message. When your PC crashes, it’ll usually try to tell you why it is doing so–albeit with a string of numbers and letters that you won’t understand. Write the message down in its entirety (or take a screenshot, if possible) so you can later plug it into Google or give it to your tech support agent. If your PC didn’t provide an error message, go to Action Center (in the Control Panel) and see if it shows up under ‘View archived messages’ or ‘View problems to report’. Leer más “15 Things Every PC User Should Know”

5 Amazing Windows UI Tweaks

Want to wow people with your PC? Here’s how to spice up your tech life with widgets, wallpaper, and multitouch screens.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PC World

Chances are, your PC is pretty tame–you have a beach-scene wallpaper, the default Windows 7 Aero theme, and a standard-issue Dell keyboard. But you don’t have to settle for the ordinary. It’s time to mix things up with a few easy ways to make everybody say “Wow.”

Though we can’t give you the oh-so-cool Minority Report interface, we can give you a few tips on how to spice up your tech life–with a widget here, a wallpaper there, maybe even a touchscreen or two–and impress your friends with a new look.


Image representing Windows as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
Want to wow people with your PC? Here’s how to spice up your tech life with widgets, wallpaper, and multitouch screens.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, PC World

Chances are, your PC is pretty tame–you have a beach-scene wallpaper, the default Windows 7 Aero theme, and a standard-issue Dell keyboard. But you don’t have to settle for the ordinary. It’s time to mix things up with a few easy ways to make everybody say “Wow.”

Though we can’t give you the oh-so-cool Minority Report interface, we can give you a few tips on how to spice up your tech life–with a widget here, a wallpaper there, maybe even a touchscreen or two–and impress your friends with a new look. Leer más “5 Amazing Windows UI Tweaks”