Freeware of the Moment- Network Magic

Network_magicI have a lot of computers, printers and PDAs on my home network and have been looking for a program with a good interface for interacting with that network.  It is hard enough keeping everything running as it is and a utility like this would make it easier to see what is going on with one of the computers upstairs.  Network Magic is a program that lets you view and manage your entire network from a single screen.  Connecting and disconnecting devices is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse, and Network Magic will repair "broken" network connections too.  Shared folders can be configured and manipulated from within the program, too.  The program is available as a free beta so I don’t know if they will eventually start charging for it down the road but, hey, live for the moment, right?

Understanding spyware and malware

Spyware and malware (malicious software) are insidious problems to have as they can use your resources, network bandwidth and spy on your activities without you even being aware it’s happening.  Whenever I help a friend or family member with their computer I always find at least one spyware program on it, and usually a number of them.  To combat malware it is important to understand the problem and to be aware of the options for dealing with it.  Ars Tecnica has an excellent article that explains the different forms of malware and what you can do about it.  If you want to know what’s up with your computer you should read the article and then install Microsoft AntiSpyware.

AMD Turion- 64 bit mobile chip competes with Pentium M

AMD is finally getting serious with the mobile CPU segment with the announcement of the Turion, a 64 bit answer to Intel’s Pentium M.  The Turion is based on the same architecture as AMD’s Opteron and Athlon 64 processors and should give notebook computer makers an alternative to the expensive Intel chipset.  The press release provided no word when the Turion will start appearing in notebooks nor how the price will compare to the Pentium M.

(via infoWorld)

Move over PC Cards, here comes ExpressCards

PC Cards are the workhorses of the mobile professional using a laptop, offering ways to do such diverse things as add a cellular modem, add WiFi or Bluetooth, and a host of other things.  The standard has evolved over the years to become a rock solid performer in a small package.  C/NET is reporting today that the next standard is moving forward to replace the PC Card form and we should start seeing OEMs begin adopting this new standard, the ExpressCard, rather soon.  In typical computing standards the new ExpressCard will be half the size of PC Cards yet offer twice the speed, and the smaller size means lower costs to OEMs who are always looking for a way to remain competitive in such a cut-throat business.  Six to ten notebooks that incorporate the ExpressCard slot are expected to start showing this month with a number in production by the end of the year.

Third party wireless access point firmware

Many people are happily using a wireless access point or router in the home or office that lets you tap into your broadband internet connection and serve it up for multiple users at your location.  WiFi allows high speed internet sharing while offering firewall protection at the same time.  Anyone who has been using one of these devices for any length of time at all can attest to the importance of keeping the AP or router firmware upgraded as manufacturers often correct problems with these upgrades.  What most people don’t realize there is also third party firmware that can be obtained for the most common APs and routers for an annual subscription fee.

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Recycle those old laptop hard drives

Kct_driveYou have an old laptop that finally died on you so do you just junk it?  Kevin Tofel says "no way!" and gives step by step instructions for removing the hard drive and putting it into a USB drive enclosure.  It’s a win-win situation as you get to use the extra hard drive with any computer that has a USB port and you get access to the information that is stored on the laptop drive.  Check out the article to see how easy (and cheap) this is to do yourself.  He’s put lots of photos demonstrating each step in detail to clearly show how to do this.

Sumicom S625 when you need a tiny computer

Sumicom_s625If you are into car modding or home automation you might be interested in the Sumicom S625.  Sumicom makes full computers that are roughly the size of a CD drive provide the benefits of a full computer.  The S625 can handle either a Pentium M or a Celeron processor and has USB 2.0, firewire and onboard Ethernet connectivity capability.  These little jewels are perfect for adding computing power to your auto, boat or home projects.

(via engadget)

CELL technology exposed- move over Intel

IBM, Toshiba and Sony announced in 2001 a joint effort to develop a computing core that would allow for mass simultaneous task execution.  The three companies are spending billions to make this new computing platform a reality and today jointly announced their plans to bring this technology to market.  The three industry giants are planning to produce the CELL processor and use it to run next-generation computers, game consoles and high definition televisions.

Sony said it would launch home servers and high-definition televisions powered by Cell in 2006 and reiterated plans to use the microchip to power the next-generation PlayStation game console, a working version of which will be unveiled in May.

Toshiba said it planned to launch a high-definition TV using Cell in 2006.

IBM  announced plans to first use the chip in a workstation it is developing with Sony, targeting the digital content and entertainment industries.

Specifically, the companies confirmed that Cell is a multicore chip comprising a 64-bit Power processor core and multiple synergistic processor cores capable of massive floating point processing. Cell is optimized for compute-intensive workloads and broadband rich media applications, including computer entertainment, movies and other forms of digital content.

Other highlights of the Cell processor design include:

  • Multi-thread, multicore architecture.
  • Supports multiple operating systems.
  • Substantial bus bandwidth to/from main memory, as well as companion chips.
  • Flexible on-chip I/O (input/output) interface.
  • Real-time resource management system for real-time applications.
  • On-chip hardware in support of security system for intellectual property protection.
  • Implemented in 90 nanometer (nm) silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology.

Additionally, Cell uses custom circuit design to increase overall performance, while supporting precise processor clock control to enable power savings.

(Joint press release)