Unofficial SP4, which is available in a third beta version, is soon to be finalised in a release candidate, according to harkaz, who said in a blogpost this week, "I have already started working on the SP4 RC build."
In his description of the Windows XP service-pack project, harkaz said: "Many users — including me — who won't be able to upgrade their old machines to a newer OS would like to easily install all Windows updates in one convenient package. For this reason, I started working on a Service Pack 4 package."
According to harkaz, Windows XP Unofficial SP4 is a cumulative update rollup for Windows XP x86. It can be applied to a live Windows XP system that has a minimum of SP1 installed. Alternatively, it can be integrated in any Windows XP installation media.
Estimates vary on the number of desktops still running Windows XP. However,Netmarketshare's numbers for July 2014 still give the operating system, first released to manufacturers in August 2001, a 24.82 percent worldwide share, down from 37.19 percent a year earlier.
One of the places from which the unofficial service pack can be downloaded is Softpedia, whose description of the software carries a note of caution: "Please be advised that this package is not released by Microsoft, who does not recommend computer users to install it."
Elsewhere the site says of the harkaz service pack: "If you decide to install this service pack, keep in mind that it's not related to Microsoft in any way and is just an unofficial release that might or might not help you protect a Windows XP computer against vulnerabilities found in the operating system.
"Of course, Microsoft does not recommend anyone to install this, but such a service pack is clearly worth a shot if you're still on Windows XP and you don't plan to upgrade anytime soon."
The service pack from harkaz contains updates for most Windows XP components, including MCE and Tablet PC. Request-only hotfixes have been included, along with Microsoft .NET Frameworks 4.0, 3.5, 1.1 and 1.0 — Tablet PC only.
"You can also scan for POSReady updates, because the POSReady trick has been included. In addition, all post-eol updates for .NET Framework 1.1, 3.5 and 4.0 until May 2014 have been included," harkaz said. "The .NET 1.x, 3.5 versions are automatically installed/updated in live installations as well."
"For enterprise customers, this applies to System Center Endpoint Protection, Forefront Client Security, Forefront Endpoint Protection and Windows Intune running on Windows XP. For consumers, this applies to Microsoft Security Essentials," the company said.
Toby Wolpe is a senior reporter at ZDNet in London. He started in technology journalism when the Apple II was state of the art.
TiVo (TIVO), a company built on making clever cable boxes, is moving away from its roots in a play for people who don’t want to pay for cable at all. On Monday, TiVo announced a new version of its Roamio DVR, the OTA, which costs $50 and can only be used to record broadcast signals coming across the airwaves.
The pitch is that people can control when and where they watch television, because the Roamio pairs with applications on Apple (AAPL) devices. It’s similar to the service that Aereo offered until that company’s legal problems forced it into dormancy. Startups such as Simple.TV also do more or less the same.
TiVo has a reputation for offering an easy-to-use service, and its name recognition likely gives it a leg up. But the Roamio OTA also contains a strange twist for a device targeting those who want to avoid monthly cable bills: It comes with a $15 monthly service fee.
These fees are standard for TiVo’s Roamio line of products. But it’s about twice as much as what Aereo charged. What’s more, a monthly fee is not a requirement for someone who just wants to record broadcast television to watch later. Simple.TV sells a device for $200 that does much of what the Roamio OTA does without a monthly charge. (Quick math: After 10 months, Simple.TV is cheaper.)
TiVo does offer a way out of paying $15 a month: Customers can pay $500 for a lifetime subscription—that’s the lifetime of the media player, not the media watcher. If a customer plans on using the Roamio for more than 33 months, then this deal starts paying off. But it’s not nearly as cheap as it sounds at first.
Summary: There isn't a technical fix for the problem we have with empathy. By Steve Ranger |
We are more than the sum of our search results. We know that about ourselves without being told — how can the fragments of information about us displayed online ever possibly define the complicated, paradoxical, fascinating beings that we are?
And yet we don't apply the same logic when considering other people; we cheerfully judge them based on what we can find in a quick Google search. That means that someone who made a stupid joke a decade ago is still defined by it, or that someone who committed a crime years ago can never put it behind them despite thousands of good deeds which go unrecorded by the internet.
That's because whereas previously embarrassing stories about an individual would have been printed in newspapers and then forgotten (existing only in a yellowing copy of an old paper, or in our own fallible memories), the internet means these stories are visible every time someone searches for their name.
This is what Europe's right to be forgotten tries to remedy — to take the undeserved sting out of these ancient stories. It goes some way towards creating a half-life for information in an age when digital technology allows us to retain everything forever.
There are some very limited scenarios – such as those involving spent convictions which would not have to be disclosed normally – where a right to be forgotten makes sense. But to me, beyond that, it's very hard to see why information which is fair and accurate should be removed from view.
That's because the right to a private life — which right to be forgotten tries to protect — bumps up against some other rights that are necessarily for a fully functioning society, such as the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
While it doesn't reduce a journalist's ability to write a story about someone, the right to be forgotten makes it harder for others to find that story through a search engine, which is of course how most people navigate the web. That raises the question, can you really have freedom of speech if no one can hear what you are saying? Freedom of speech implicitly includes the freedom to be heard, and that's what we could be putting at risk here.
As such, the right to be forgotten is too big and too complicated to leave to search engines (who don't really want to police it) and the individuals who want links removed. Many of the decisions made so far on delinking (some of them later reversed) seem hard to defend. We need a better understanding of the what the right to be forgotten means before we start turning search indexes — our outsourced collective memory — into Swiss cheese.
The right to be forgotten embodies one of the most profound challenges we face. Humans are by design forgetting machines; our fallible grey matter urges us on by helping us to forget old pains, and by preventing us from perfectly replaying happy memories over and over again. But now we have to deal with the consequences of having the capability to remember almost everything for all time.
The search engine provides the information, but we are the ones that make judgements based on it. It's not a failure on the part of the search engine if we judge someone wrongly based on a scrap of information that might be years or decades old. We need to make more informed decisions, not knee-jerk responses to old information.
The problem with right to be forgotten is that it takes that choice away from us. It means we don't have the information to make those judgements at all — right or wrong. We can't make intelligent decisions about how to respond to this information if it's hidden from us. Denial and obfuscation is not the right answer to the challenges ahead.
We need to see our fellow humans as we see ourselves — not as a collection of search results but as confused, inconsistent and changeable human beings. Our failure is not one of technology but of empathy, one that no amount of meddling with the search indexes can fix.
Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic, and has been writing about technology, business and culture for more than a decade
Summary: USIS, which performs background checks for the Department of Homeland Security, revealed that it was hacked earlier this month. The same company vetted Edward Snowden for the government. By Larry Seltzer for Zero Day |
The Edward Snowden revelations have rocked governments, global businesses, and the technology world. Here is our perspective on the still-unfolding implications along with IT security and risk management best practices that technology leaders can put to good use.
USIS says that their internal security staff detected the breach which, experts say, "...has all the markings of a state-sponsored attack." DHS has suspended all work with USIS since the announcement of the breach.
An unnamed DHS official told Reuters that the Department plans to notify the employees that they may be "impacted" by the breach. Research into the breach continues and more records exposures may be revealed.
If the records contain personal information gathered in background checks it may expose some employees to blackmail.
USIS was in the news last year, having done the background check on Edward Snowden for his government work. At a congressional hearing last June into the Edward Snowden case, the inspector general for the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) told the committee that "we do believe there may be some problems" with the reinvestigation of Snowden in 2011.
Larry Seltzer has long been a recognized expert in technology, with a focus on mobile technology and security in recent years
Whether you're concerned about your own car, or are in the market for a new ride, Safercar.gov can help.
Gas prices, oil changes, tire rotations, vehicle inspections: Car owners have enough to worry about without throwing a dealer recall into the mix. But with all the vehicle recalls of late, how can you keep up?
The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today unveiled a free online search tool that helps consumers determine if a vehicle is impacted by a recall.
Whether you're simply concerned about your own car, or are in the market for a new ride, visit www.safecar.gov/vinlookup, where all major light vehicle and motorcycle brands are catalogued.
"Safety is our highest priority, and an informed consumer is one of our strongest allies in ensuring recalled vehicles are repaired," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "Starting today car owners, shoppers, and renters can find out if a specific vehicle has a safety defect that needs to be fixed—using our free online tool."
The new mandate also requires manufacturers to add to their website a vehicle identification number (VIN) search for uncompleted recalls. The data, on which NHTSA's new tool relies, must be updated weekly to ensure efficiency.
Motorists can find their VIN by looking at the driver's side dashboard or door (where it latches when closed). Enter that figure into the NHTSA website, which will return results of an open vehicle recall. If none are available, users will receive a "No Open Recalls" response.
"Just as every single automaker should never hesitate to recall a defective vehicle, consumers should never hesitate to get their recalled vehicle fixed," NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman said. "By making individual VIN searches readily available, we're providing another service to consumers—the peace of mind knowing that the vehicle they own, or that they are thinking of buying or renting, is free of safety defects."
The NHTSA also offers the SaferCar mobile app (pictured), which presents recall and up-to-date safety information, a search of the agency's five-star safety ratings, and the option to subscribe to automatic notices.
Windows 8.1 Update 1 offers some crucial improvements for mouse and keyboard users. Windows will now automatically detect whether your... [Read Article]
Microsoft has been trying to improve the speed at which it releases Windows. Windows 8.1 was the first step in that, offering many improvements just a year after Windows 8 was released. Windows 8.1 Update 1 came even faster after Windows 8.1. With Windows 8.1 Update 1, computers without touch screens will boot to the desktop by default and use desktop applications as their default programs — a huge improvement! There’s also a power icon on the Start screen and title bars in store apps so mouse users can use the system more easily. No more searching for how to shut down Windows 8!
But Microsoft had to make this more complicated. Before its release, they decided to rename Windows 8.1 Update 1 to simply “Windows 8.1 Update.” This is a very silly name — there have been many updates to Windows 8.1. But Microsoft didn’t want to imply that Windows 8.1 would receive an “Update 2″ because they really didn’t know what they were doing.
Update 2 and the Return of the Start Menu
Update 2 was going to be huge. At Microsoft’s BUILD conference, they announced the return of a Start menu to Windows and “Store apps” running in windows on the desktop. Microsoft sources told The Verge and other tech sites that the Start menu would return in August as part of “the second update to Windows 8.1.”
Coming on the heels of Windows 8.1 Update 1 offering better defaults to desktop users, a Windows 8.1 Update 2 offering a proper desktop start menu would have been another massive improvement. Microsoft would have been listening to their customers and addressing the biggest remaining complaint with Windows 8.1.
Here’s the image Microsoft showed off to developers at BUILD in April, 2014:
The debut of Windows 8 didn’t simply bring Windows into the age of touch, it also heralded the arrival of... [Read Article]
Somewhere along the line, Microsoft changed their mind and decided not to release the Start menu to Windows 8.1 users. The Start menu — and other crucial features like the ability to run those fancy new “Store apps” in windows on the desktop — are now scheduled for Windows Threshold. Threshold will probably be called Windows 9 when it’s released.
Why did they push the Start menu back? Well, we don’t really know. Microsoft seems to have accepted that Windows 8′s name is completely tainted. They want to move on as fast as possible to Windows 9 and offer a big, flashy Windows 9 release with huge features like the return of the Start menu. Windows 7 was a polished and fixed-up version of Windows Vista — hopefully Windows 9 will be an improved version of Windows 8.
More cynically, it’s possible Microsoft is holding back the Start menu to Windows 9 so they can charge Windows 8 and 8.1 users an upgrade fee to get it. Traditionally, Windows upgrades have cost $100 or more. At the moment, Microsoft charges $119 to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1. With Windows 8, upgrades were available at $40 — but only temporarily. Microsoft hasn’t announced pricing for Windows 9, so hopefully they won’t do this.
Mary Jo Foley and others have reported rumors that Windows 9 could be free to Windows 8 and 8.1 users, and maybe even Windows 7 users — hopefully it will be. Microsoft probably hasn’t decided yet.
In their blog post on the subject, Microsoft is spinning what happened to Windows 8.1 Update 2 as a positive. They say they’re speeding up the update process — “rather than waiting for months and bundling together a bunch of improvements into a larger update as we did for the Windows 8.1 Update, customers can expect that we’ll use our already existing monthly update process to deliver more frequent improvements along with the security updates normally provided as part of ‘Update Tuesday.’”
This does make sense, but the feature users want most — that Start menu — is now much more delayed. Rather than being available now in August, it’s scheduled for Spring 2015 in a completely new operating system that may require a $100+ upgrade fee. That’s hardly delivering improvements at an accelerated pace!
What Update 2 / August Update Actually Includes
Never mind what we were supposed to get — here’s what Windows 8.1 “August Update” or “KB 2975719″ includes according to Microsoft:
Precision Touchpad Improvements: Options for disabling the touchpad while a mouse is connected, allowing right-click on the touchpad, and enabling double-tap to drag are available in PC Settings on systems with precision touchpads.
Miracast Receive support: Developers can use new APIs to create applications and driers that can function as a Miracast receiver. This isn’t really a feature for end users — it’s an API that allows developers to create a feature.
Minimized Login Prompts for SharePoint Online: There’s now a “keep me signed in” check box for logging into SharePoint Online.
Update and Recovery Settings: The Update and recovery pane in PC settings now displays when you most recently checked for updates and when updates were installed.
Ruble Symbol Update: The update adds support for the Russian Ruble currency.
Out-of-date ActiveX Control Blocking: Internet Explorer will block out-of-date, dangerous ActiveX controls from loading. This should protect people from all those old versions of Javaout there.
Video Capture Metadata for MP4 APIs: Developers of “Store apps” can now use additional APIs to read and write additional metadata on MP4 files.
None of this is very exciting, so it’s no surprise that Microsoft is trying to downplay this update as much as possible. They’re renamed it from “Update 2″ to simply the “August update” or, more specially, the “August 2014 update rollup.” It’s just a bunch of updates being released this month — everyone move along to Windows 9, nothing to see here.
It’s a shame Windows 8.1 users will have to wait until Spring 2015 for a Start menu that Microsoft clearly agrees should be there. But Microsoft is clearly done with Windows 8.1 — they’ll release small updates, but they’re not trying to fix the interface anymore. All that important interface-fixing work will happen in Windows 9. Hopefully we won’t all have to pay another $100 or more to upgrade again.
Designers, CGI experts, and makeup artists combined real-time face tracking with projection mapping to create Omot
The green screens and silly-looking motion-capture suits filmmakers often rely on may be replaced by something much more versatile, and, frankly, mesmerizing.
A team of digital designers, CGI experts, and makeup artists have combined real-time face tracking with projection mapping to create Omote.
The work of Japanese technical director Nobumichi Asai, Omote produces "living makeup"—a breathing, moving human being's face can be transformed into anything you'd like, from a futuristic robot to a woman out on the town.
Inspired by the Japanese Noh masks worn by theatrical actors, Asai wanted to create his own version with with a twist.
So, he laser-scanned his model's face and created a 3D mesh, which, according to CNET, formed the basis for the projection map. Then, placing motion-tracking dots onto the model's face, Asai was able to project animations—some concrete images, some fanciful illustrations.
The effect: digital makeup that moves with the person, never fading or losing its structure.
Of course, as you can tell in the video demonstration below, the technology is not yet perfect; there are moments you can see the camera and projector shaking on the model's face. But it's not hard to imagine the future possibilities.
There is no word from Asai about what he hopes to turn this project into; his theater background could be a good indication of where Omote will pop up next. But as PCMag sister site Geek.com pointed out, the technology is not intended for general use, but rather as a demo product.
Stephanie began as a PCMag reporter in May 2012. She moved to New York City from Frederick, Md., where she worked for four years as a multimedia reporter at the second-largest daily newspaper in Maryland.
Summary:For the past decade, Munich has been the poster child for open-source advocates, who pointed to its successful migration from a Microsoft platform to one built on Linux and OpenOffice. Now, a newly elected government has called in experts to see whether it's time to switch back.
In most of the world, the Year of Desktop Linux never happened. In southern Germany, though, the city of Munich has spent the last 10 years migrating away from Windows and aggressively adopting Linux, OpenOffice (later switched to LibreOffice), and other open-source solutions instead.
The Second (deputy) Mayor of Munich, Josef Schmid, said the re-examination is necessary because of complaints from employees, who Schmid said are “suffering” in the transition. Schmid lost a runoff election for Mayor earlier this year to Dieter Reiter but was named Second Mayor in May as part of a coalition government.
The original decision to kick Microsoft to the curb wasn’t based on costs. Instead, according to a 2008 report from the European Commission, the main motive was “the desire for strategic independence from software suppliers”—including a single very large software supplier based in Redmond, Washington, U.S.A. At the time the original decision was debated, there was no shortage of rhetoric from proponents about Microsoft as a monopolist.
In fact, the original 2003 study projected that the “proprietary solution,” based on Windows and Microsoft Office, would have cost 35 million Euro, or about 2.5 million Euro less than the open-source alternative after accounting for personnel and training costs.
A 2012 report commissioned by the city boasted that the migration had actually saved 11.6 million Euro, including 5 million Euro in hardware upgrade costs required for Windows 7 and licensing costs of 4.2 million Euro for Windows and 2.6 million Euro for Office on 15,000 municipal PCs. The city’s report estimated the costs of personnel and training as identical at roughly 22 million Euro in either scenario.
Microsoft disputed those results with a study it commissioned in early 2013 that reportedly showed the LiMux project costing more than 60 million Euro, compared to the 17 million Euro that the company said a Windows XP and Office solution would have cost. City officials said the report was based on “flawed assumptions.”
There’s no question that Microsoft’s licensing costs add a significant chunk of change to the overall cost of a major government deployment like this one when compared with free-as-in-beer software. But as critics have pointed out, there are substantial costs involved with being the outlier when virtually every other government agency in the country uses Windows.
Sabine Nallinger, who ran for mayor for the Greens, noted that data exchange was especially problematic and didn’t work properly. Schmid agreed, telling Munich’s largest newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, that “Linux is very expensive” because of the need for custom programming.
And getting rid of all proprietary software isn’t realistically an option. That 2008 EC report noted that Munich uses 300 “specialised administrative software packages” to perform its official duties. Although the goal was to replace those proprietary applications with platform-independent alternatives, the reality is that most would probably end up running in Windows inside a virtual machine, which of course requires paying Microsoft a license fee.
And so Munich is back to Square One, with a team of independent experts evaluating the alternatives. “If the experts recommend a return to Microsoft, then it cannot be ruled out,” Schmid said.
Ed Bott is an award-winning technology writer with more than two decades' experience writing for mainstream media outlets and online publications.