Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 will be pushed through Windows Update

Windows_update_iconFor the ones that still use Windows 7 on their PC’s, Microsoft decided is time to update their version of operating system with Service Pack 1. You may already have noticed that this pack has been released back in 9 February 2011, but this time Microsoft wants to automatically push the update for all users of Windows 7 through the Windows Update platform. While in the past the update was optional and had to be downloaded manually, from now on the system will automatically download and install it.

As bad as it may sound, actually this decision from Microsoft is a good one. That’s because SP1 contains a collection of security updates for your computer. In case you haven’t installed it yet, now you have to, in order to make your PC much safer than before.

Starting today, the installation will be available for all users that have the Automatic Update enabled. The update will be released gradually over the coming weeks to all customers except the ones from IT services. Any PC managed by Systems Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) or WSUS Server will not receive the update automatically. It has to be rolled out manually.

This move started by Microsoft, is a predicted one, as from April 9, Windows 7 without SP1 will not be supported anymore. In conclusion this step forward is imminent for the home and business users. It is an effort to get everybody on the right path and create a much more secure environment.

download Windows 7 with SP1

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AppleXsoft Photo Recovery for Mac

Recover data from removable media with this must have Mac utility.

mac-images-recoveryKeeping your data safe is a complicated task. You can back up all you want, but if something gets erased, that change may perpetuate to all of your backups and THEN what do you do. Data recovery apps are an important tool to have after a backup program. I’ve looked at a number of different apps, and if you have a Mac, then you will want to take a long hard look at AppleXsoft Photo Recovery. It’s an important data recovery tool for Mac.

AppleXsoft Photo Recovery is an all-in-one digital media data recovery app for Mac users. The software features innovative recovery algorithms that are designed to recover images, documents, video, audio, music or just about any other file that can be written to a digital media device. Its compatible with Memory Sticks, SD Cards, CompactFlash I & II, MMC, SmartMedia, xD Cards, Micro Drives, and PCMCIA cards, etc.

Running AppleXsoft Photo Recovery is simple as inserting your digital media into its reader and running Photo Recovery for Mac. You’ll be able to save your pictures or other data off to another location. Regardless of how the media was destroyed, whether files were deleted, corrupted or the media formatted, Photo Recovery for Mac should be able to recover the data.

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Recovering deleted or missing data is important. When photos get inadvertently deleted, getting them back can be a nerve wracking and harrowing experience. Having an easy to use, simple application like AppleXsoft Photo Recovery for Mac can be a huge plus. The only thing that you have to understand about data recovery is that most data is recoverable unless the space where the file lived is now being used by another file. When that happens the likely hood of your being able to successfully recover your data dramatically decreases, regardless of the app you use to recover the data.

download AppleXsoft Photo Recovery for Mac

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Backup a partition or a disk with ease using AOMEI Data Backuper

Keep your data safe with this important Windows utility.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten burned because I lost a critical file. The number one reason why it happened is because I didn’t have a backup copy stashed somewhere. Having a formal, real back up of your data is important. This is one of the reasons why I decided to give AOMEI Data Backuper a try. It’s a backup utility for Windows PC’s.

AOMEI Data Backuper is a simple Windows tool for creating backup images of individual partitions or entire hard drives. Data Backuper has a clear and simple interface which feels familiar to anyone who’s ever used backup tool before. Its functions are organized across a number of tabs, and the program works as expected.

AOMEI Data BackuperIt also has the extra tools you’d expect. The app includes an option to mount a disc image as a virtual drive. You can then restore an image directly from the program, or create a bootable rescue disc.

Aoemei Data Backuper has a simple, and easy to use interface. The app does exactly what you would expect it to do, without cluttering up its workspace with a bunch of junk. This is a no-nonsense app, so don’t go looking for too much in terms of sophistication. However, if you need to back your data up and keep it safe, AOMEI Data Backuper is a great choice and one that you’ll be glad you have if you bump into problems.

Download AOMEI Data Backupe

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Keep your PC up to date with SUMo

KCSoftwareKeeping your Mac apps up to date is easy.  If you’re using Snow Leopard or later, you’ve got the App Store. If you’ve bought software through it, it tells you when they’ve been updated and helps you get the updates installed.  If you’re not using the MAC App Store, there are other products that do similar things. On the PC side of the world we’ve got SUMo. It’s an app update utility for Windows.

SUMo stands for Software Update Monitor.  It keeps your PC’s apps up-to-date and safe by monitoring the most recent version of your favorite software and then checking for new versions on a periodic basis.  Unlike an app’s built-in auto update features, SUMo tells you if updates are available before you run or need to use your software.

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SUMo is a GREAT app. I’ve been using similar tools on the Mac side and was very please when I found SUMo for my PC’s. I have five of them at the house, and with at least 6 PC users, keeping everything up to date on all of the machines isn’t easy. SUMo makes it much easier. The fact that the app is free, makes this a no brainer and a must have for any and all that PC’s that you have in your house, too.

The app comes with support for more than 20 language translations, and is certain to work on your computer and version of Windows.  If you don’t have SUMo working for you, then you’re clearly missing out.

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Business users reject Windows 8

Win8DVDMicrosoft recently launched the latest version of their Windows operating system, Windows 8, and reports say they have sold an impressive 60 million copies since the October 2012 release. However, reviews of the new product have been mixed to say the least, and the response from the business world has been particularly cynical.

With Windows 8, Microsoft aimed to accommodate the increased popularity of tablets and smartphones. The design updates may look smart, but reviewers have complained that there are many usability issues. MIT Technology Review commented that although the new interface, which Microsoft has optimistically named “Modern,” is “a pleasure to use on phones and tablets,” it “fares poorly” when used on a PC.

The news of usability problems with Windows 8 has spread quickly among business users. The criticisms have damaged Microsoft’s reputation when it comes to operating systems, which is still in recovery from the negative response to 2006’s Windows Vista. Official sales figures state that only 17% of business computers shipped in December 2012 used Windows 8.

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It seems that businesses perceive Windows 8 as an operating system targeted to the needs and desires of consumers, and therefore not a useful update for their PCs. Windows 8 is particularly designed to suit touch screen devices such as tablets and mobile phones. Touch screen is a major consumer trend, but for business users a more practical operating system is a priority. MIT Technology Review summarised: “The touch-based user interface is clearly designed for consuming information and having fun, rather than for doing serious work.”

Windows 8’s Modern interface looks markedly different to what users have come to know and expect from Windows. When the computer is switched on, the user is met with a screen comprising of different sized squares, where they once would have seen the familiar desktop layout, with various icons, wallpaper and a toolbar. The new interface is colourful and appealing for casual computer users, but for businesses where productivity and usability are key, the new look seems more of a gimmick than an innovation.

Windows 8 has received many criticisms for its functional problems, for example technology website The Verge said that its included apps were too basic, and Ars Technica stated that the interface was not intuitive, complaining about a lack of instructions. However, reviewers have also pointed out a number of positive improvements, which have been overshadowed by complains about the interface. The Verge were impressed by Windows 8’s updated Task Manager and the File History and Storage Space features.

With Windows 8, Microsoft has launched an ambitious new product, which has had some very well documented teething problems. For businesses, an operating system with such functionality issues is not a viable option, but in the long-run Microsoft’s bold move into new territory could give them an advantage over their rivals Google and Apple. For now, they will need to work hard to win back their business customers’ valuable loyalty, perhaps with updates or a separate business edition.

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Plants vs Zombies

Destroy zombies and save the world!
pvzEvery now and again, taking a break is a good thing. Playing games can be a big part of that. I don’t play a lot of games, but Plants vs. Zombies caught my eye, and its really a lot of fun. It’s a cool game for Windows machines.

In Plants vs Zombies, you battle 26 different types of zombies with 49 zombie-zapping plants. The PC version features 50 different levels, 20 different mini games, and the zombie-free Zen Garden. If you’ve played the game before, then you’ll be happy to know that it has 20 new achievements and the interactive Zombatar where you can make a zombie of your very own.

In the game, a mob of zombies invade your home, and your only defense is your arsenal of 49 zombie-zapping plants. You can use peashooters, wall-nuts, cherry bombs and more to slow down, confuse, weaken or make mulch of 26 different kinds of zombies before they can reach your front door. Obstacles like a setting sun, creeping fog and a swimming pool add to the game’s challenge.

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Like other popular games on the market today, Plants vs. Zombies is challenging and fun, but also addictive. You can get lost for hours in this game only to realize that the day has passed you by when you come up for air. If you’re looking for something to help you take a break, Plants vs. Zombies is a good choice but don’t dive too deep. You may find out the day has gotten away from you if you do.

download Plants vs Zombies

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Clean, protect and maintain your PC with Ashampoo WinOptimizer 10

box_ashampoo_winoptimizerMaintaining your machine is a must.

In order to keep on functioning correctly and provide an effective service, computers, like any other type of machine, require regular maintenance. Whilst computers come with optimization and maintenance facilities as standard, utilising these can often be difficult, and require the user to have a sufficient amount of technical know-how, while also requiring the time and effort to keep abreast of current technological developments.

Ashampoo WinOptimizer 10 promises to take the sting out of things by offering all manner of customisation tools for your PC or laptop in one simple application. It offers backups, restore points and task schedulers, as well as allowing users to analyse detailed information on hardware and software specifications, such as the space and health statuses of disks and drives. There are a large number of file tools, allowing the user to recover lost or deleted files, remove duplicate files or safely and securely delete files, as well as maintaining internet history and cleaning up the system registry.

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Ashampoo have long been providing essential utilities for computer maintenance, and WinOptimizer 10 continues on that trend. The User Interface is a joy to work with, and takes the hassle out of tuning up your PC. Installation was quick and easy, and the main program was up and running within a matter of minutes. As WinOptimizer continues to grow and develop as a program, so too do the list of features it has on offer, and it comes highly recommended for tweaking, tuning and optimising your machine.

While the free trial has its limitations, some people may be reluctant to fork out $39.99 for the full version, especially when there are numerous free tools and utilities online. Although for ease of use, and having a wide variety of powerful features in one simple to use application, we think it’s a solid choice when it comes to PC optimisation.

Download Ashampoo WinOptimizer 10

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Unlocked Phones and the DMCA

The DMCA

There’s a lot of hub-bub around the whole unlocked phone issue and the DMCA in the States. I’ve broken it down for you here.

There’s a lot of confusion around unlocked phones right now. Recently, the Library of Congress Librarian, who has jurisdiction over expectations in the DMCA removed an exemption related to removing a carrier lock on a cell phone; but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here are a few important factoids around the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA.

  • Put into effect 12-Oct-1998
  • Portions adopted by the EU in the Electronic Commerce Directive 2000. The Copyright Directive 2001 implemented the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty in the EU.
  • Amends Title 17 Copyright Laws in the States and criminalizes the circumvention of DRM protecting copyrighted works.
  • It also criminalizes the act of circumventing of DRM or other controls regardless of  whether or not copyright is actually infringed.
  • Heightens the penalties for copyright infringement on the Internet[citation needed].

When you think of the DMCA, think MP3’s and digital music. That’s what legislators had in their heads when they wrote the law. The whole Napster fiasco had the RIAA spitting nails and they were a powerful enough lobby to get Congress to pull together modifications to copyright law that addressed pirating digital music Well, that and software, which is where the whole locked phone thing comes into play.

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Previously in 2006 and again in 2010, the Librarian of Congress exempted the circumvention of methods around removing the carrier lock in a cell phone’s firmware.  This lock is nothing more than software preventing the use of that phone on a competing wireless network.  As of 27-Jan-2013, it is now illegal to unlock any cellphone purchased after that date without the expressed permission of the device manufacturer, the wireless carrier, or both.

Jailbreaking a device, or removing the lock preventing sandboxing of applications is still permitted.  So, you don’t have to worry about your rooted Android phone/tablet or jailbroken iDevice violating the law. You can still do that for now.

Come back next time and I’ll dive into some of the details around what you can and cannot do, and what many – myself included – recommend you do.

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