Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nikon officially announces D3 and D300, lenses

Alright, Nikon's two new flagship DSLRs are officially announced. (Better images coming right up.) Here's what you need to know:

  • 12.1 megapixel, full-frame friggin sensor! (23.9 x 36mm) Finally. ISO up to 6400
  • 3-inch VGA live view LCD
  • Two (count 'em, two!) CompactFlash card slots for overflow, backup, or copying
  • New EXPEED image processor
  • 9fps in full frame, 11fps in DX crop; 51 point autofocus (with "3D focus tracking")
  • HDMI out with optional cable
  • $5000, November release
  • 12.3 megapixel DX (1.5 crop) sensor
  • 3-inch VGA live view LCD
  • New EXPEED image processor
  • 51 point autofocus
  • $1800, November release
  • AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED
  • AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
  • AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR
  • AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR

Four Tips For Increasing Wireless Network Security

Passwords aren't enough to protect home wireless networks, and they're particularly poor security choices for networks of larger organizations, according to a University of Maryland assistant professor.

Michel Cukier, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and affiliate of the A. James Clark School of Engineering Center for Risk and Reliability and Institute for Systems Research, said that many users who link to an organization's network from home do so through their own unmanaged wireless networks. He released a paper Wednesday explaining the risks and outlining steps that wireless users can take to increase security.

"If these secondary connections are not secure, they open up the entire network to trouble," Cukier said in a prepared statement. "Unsecured wireless access points pose problems for businesses, cities, and other organizations that make wireless access available to customers, employees, and residents. Unsecured connections are an open invitation to hackers seeking access to vulnerable computers."

Cukier said there are several steps that wireless network owners and administrators can take to improve security and discourage "parasites" trolling for access and unsecured connections.

First, he suggests limiting the strength of wireless networks so they cannot be detected beyond the walls of a home or office. Cukier advises disabling the Service Set Identifier broadcasting. SSID is a code attached to packets on a wireless network. It identifies each packet as part of that network and allows all wireless clients within range to spot the network. When it's disabled, it's more difficult for unauthorized users to spot the network.

Cukier said that regularly changing encryption keys may increase network protection. He said Wi-Fi Protected Access should be used when possible, because Wired Equivalent Privacy can be decrypted with special software.

Cukier said that MAC addresses can also increase protection if the wireless access point is set up to only accept connections from a known MAC address.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-H3: an 8 megapixel, 10x zoomer

For parents looking to capture and re-live their children’s back-to-school memories, Sony is introducing a super-zoom digital camera small enough to carry to any school activity.

The new 8-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-H3 camera has a powerful 10x optical zoom lens for those close-up shots you don’t want to miss, and yet features a super compact form so you can take the camera along anywhere.

The model features high-definition component output, putting a high-resolution spin on the family slideshow. By connecting the new camera to any HDTV set with Sony’s VMC-MHC1 high-definition component cable (sold separately), families can see their digital photos the same way they watch their favorite TV shows – in full 1080 HD resolution. The camera is equipped with a built-in slide show function so you can view photos, complete with transitions choreographed to your choice of programmed music clips or by adding your own.

When the camera is connected to a new Sony BRAVIA® television, photos are optimized for television viewing with Sony’s new “Photo TV HD” mode. This mode brings the look of actual printed photography to the television set, reproducing high-quality digital photos by fine-tuning image parameters, like sharpness, gradation and color specifically for photographs.

Designed to Capture Great Photos

The DSC-H3 model includes a variety of features to ensure parents can document their kids’ activities, from football games to dance recitals and spelling bees. To begin, the new camera features a powerful Carl Zeiss ® 10x optical zoom lens, which makes it ideal for capturing every expression when shooting little stars from the audience. It also includes a long-range flash that lights up subjects farther from the camera. For group shots, moms and dads will appreciate the model’s face detection technology. It identifies up to eight faces in the camera’s 2.5-inch LCD screen, and automatically adjusts for correctly exposed, sharp photos.

To capture every touchdown, the high-zoom camera also includes Sony’s advanced sports shooting mode, which combines high shutter speed shooting and intelligent continuous auto-focusing. The camera will quickly focus on fast-moving subjects by predicting where they will be in the frame. This technology also helps to reduce shutter lag -- the time it takes for the camera to focus and shoot.

To reduce chances of blurry photos, the H3 model incorporates Super Steady Shot® optical image stabilization that minimizes blur caused by camera shake. This is an important feature when shooting at slow shutter speeds at full zoom. The unit’s high sensitivity (up to ISO 3200) will also capture well-exposed, natural-looking photos, even in challenging low-light conditions.

Equipped with Sony’s Dynamic Range Optimizer, originally developed for the Alpha digital SLR system, the new camera can analyze captured image data, and instantly determine the best exposure and tonality of each picture before JPEG compression. Other helpful in-camera functions include red-eye correction and photo retouching effects with filters.

The Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-H3 camera will ship next month for about $300. Additional accessories will include wide and telephoto conversion lenses, filters, batteries, travel chargers, sports packs and cases. The VMC-HD1 high-definition component cable is currently available for about $40. All can be purchased online at, at Sony Style® retail stores (, at military base exchanges, and at authorized dealers nationwide. Pre-orders begin on Aug. 23 at

Flash Beta Version for Linux, Windows And Mac

There is a new beta of the Flash Player Update available. That's right: the beta is even available for Linux (same time as Windows and Mac). Download it here.

This beta is affectionately named Moviestar due to these key new features:

  • H.264 video
  • AAC audio
  • Hardware-accelerated fullscreen video playback (new for Linux in this beta; Win/Mac had it in previous beta)

Yep-- fullscreen hardware acceleration during video playback using OpenGL/GLX on Linux, where available... and functional. If you find that it does not work right, you can disable hardware acceleration using the "Settings..." menu from the right-click context menu. Oh, and file a bug with hardware details, video card driver version, GLX version, that sort of stuff.

If you have any questions about the new audio/video stuff, check Tinic's thorough blog post on the matter.

I would also like to hear if anyone is still experiencing the click bug (where no events are triggered in response to mouse clicks).

Microsoft launches Tafiti - Search and Silverlight experiment

Tafiti, an experimental demonstration site that combines Live Search with Silverlight has just been launched. Its described as follows:

Tafiti, which means "do research" in Swahili, is an experimental search front-end from Microsoft, designed to help people use the Web for research projects that span multiple search queries and sessions by helping visualize, store, and share research results. Tafiti uses both Microsoft Silverlight and Live Search to explore the intersection of richer experiences on the Web and the increasing specialization of search.

Search results are presented in the central column, with the right hand "shelf" available to save result you are interested in via drag and drop. The carousel on the left hand side allows you to cycle through the search results you wish to view (Web, Images, RSS etc) and these too can be saved if you wish. The results you have favourited can then be shared via Windows Live Spaces.

Tafiti also features a tree view, allowing users to visualise the search results in a more "Web 2.0 / tags" kind of way. The tree can be thinned as required by dragging the slider across the bottom. Definitely a neat feature but how useful it is I'm not quite sure.

Go give Tafiti a try and let us know what you think. Do you see any features you'd like Microsoft to integrate in its Search 2.0 offering?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Warning! Gmail users beware, fake upgrade emails

Important FYI update for any Gmail users. If you receive the following email in your Gmail account, do not follow the embedded link. With the recent announcement of Google paid Google storage upgrades, the following phishing emails will undoubtedly become more and more the norm.

Dear Gmail customer
From now if you need more than 2 GB of space use this invitation and upgrade your account to 100 GB of space also you can register one free domain name via this invitation
your account upgrade will done after 24 hours
your invitation code is:…/
Thank You
Gmail Support Department

The email From: address is However, the "Mailed-by:" domain is The link redirects to a website which looks very much like Gmail.

If did follow the link and entered your Google Account username and password, immediately visit Google’s Account Management [] to change your password.

Restarting Windows Without Restarting Your PC (Vista or XP)

A modern PC with Vista Home Edition takes about one and a half minutes to boot. An oldermachine with XP is about the same. That’s 30 seconds for the PC itself (the BIOS) to boot up, plus a minute for the Windows operating system to boot. Sometimes, you need to reboot Windows (e.g. when installing new software), but there is no need to restart BIOS, too. However, the default is to reboot both. (That’s called doing a “cold boot,” rather than a “warm boot.”) There’s a trick that works on both XP and Vista to get it to do a warm boot instead, thus saving you 30 seconds per cycle.

The trick is to hold down the SHIFT key when invoking the restart.

Windows Vista: Select Start, then hover over the right arrow that is to the right of the padlock icon until the pop-up menu appears that contains “restart” as one of it’s choices. Hold down the SHIFT key while clicking on the “restart” choice.

Windows XP: Select Start. Select “Shut Down…”. Change the drop-down combo box under “What do you want the computer to do?” to “Restart”. Hold down the SHIFT key while clicking on the “OK” button.
Restarting Windows XP

Microsoft Hotfix Request

Hotfix Information

A Hotfix is a single package that includes one or more files that is used to address a very specific customer problem with a product. A supported Hotfix is now available from Microsoft, but it is only intended to correct the problem that is described in the previous mentioned article. Only apply it to systems that are experiencing this specific problem. This Hotfix may receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next service pack that contains this Hotfix.
Warning: These Hotfixes have not gone through full Microsoft regression testing. Specifically, these Hotfixes have had targeted testing which does not include testing in combination with other Hotfixes. You are encouraged to only install the specific Hotfixes needed to address the problem you have. Please carefully review the associated KB article for each Hotfix you install to verify that this is the fix you need and that there are no known compatibility or installation issues. NOTE: If additional troubleshooting or issues arise, you may need to create a separate service request. The usual support costs will apply to additional support questions and issues that do not qualify for the specific update in question.

To obtain this Hotfix, please submit your request via this form to Microsoft Online Customer Service and Support – you should expect to receive a download link via email from Microsoft within 8 business hours.

Get the request form here:;en;1410&WS=hotfix

Blogger posts Vista SP1 fixes

The owner of a blog dedicated to software patches has posted online more than 100 fixes he said are expected to be included in Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1), Microsoft Corp.'s first major update to its latest Windows client OS.

Ethan Allen, owner of the The Hotfix blog and Web site, has posted a preview and information center for SP1, a site that includes many of the software patches Microsoft will include in the package, he said.

Allen works as a software quality assurance manager at a company in Bellevue, Washington, and said he received the fixes from someone close to Microsoft who has access to the technology.

Sources close to Microsoft confirmed Monday that it is currently testing SP1. However, the company itself officially has yet to announce a definite date for the software pack's release other than saying it will be out in the second half of 2007 close to the next release of Windows Server, code-named Longhorn. Microsoft also has been mum about specific details on what fixes will be included in update.

According to Allen, SP1 will include device driver and software compatibility technology that many users had hoped would be available in the OS from the start. Among them will be support for third-party USB and Firewire devices such as digital cameras, in particular products from Sony Corp. that have been having compatibility problems with Vista, Allen said.

There also will be patches to improve the TV playback and other Media Center capabilities in Vista, as well as to repair inconsistencies with the power management functions such as sleep and hibernation modes, he said.

What will be noticably missing from the service pack, however, are updates to Vista security, Allen said. "What's most surprising is there are hardly any security fixes at all," he said, adding that Vista is already more secure than any previous version of Windows

A complete listing of patches that should be included in SP1 can be found on the Vista SP1 preview site, and Allen said he will be adding more as he gains access to them.

Microsoft typically releases service packs, or collections of software patches, for major software products within a year of a product's first full release to fix the software's initial glitches. Many products often have least two service packs, and Microsoft is expected to have a third service pack for Windows XP sometime this year.

Allen, a former Microsoft employee, has already posted on the Hotfix site patches that he expects will be a part of Windows XP SP3, although Microsoft has never confirmed that Allen's patches are valid.

Although the official word from Microsoft for Vista SP1's release date is the second half of 2007, Allen said he suspects the release will be timed closely with the busy holiday shopping season in November and December.

"I think what Microsoft is trying to do is patch this thing up so by Christmas time when everyone is starting to go out and buy their machines, Vista will be more compatible with applications and products out there," he said.

Vista originally was supposed to be available during the 2006 holiday buying season but Microsoft had to push up the release until Jan. 30, 2007.

Windows XP SP3 Released To Small Group

Coming in at less than 350MB, the service pack includes fixes for over 900 reported problems, some of which have already been resolved with post-Service Pack 2 hotfixes.

For the hardcore build string collectors, this build is tagged 5.1.2600.3180 (xpsp.070718-2058) (Thanks again C).

Given the close proximity of the two betas we guestimate both 'packs will be released simultaneously. We'll let you know if we hear of a more solid release date.

Update from WinBeta: We've come across a few screenshots that were provided to us a few minutes ago (~11:00pm PDT, Aug. 6th) that claim to be from Vista SP1 and XP SP3. Note that the themes for some of the screenshots are modified and are not the actual themes from XP SP3 or Vista SP1 (specifically all the XP SP3 screenshots and the last Vista SP1 screenshot).

Some additional info for Vista SP1 is that it has yet to be delivered as a standalone update to testers and is being delivered only as the full ISO for the moment. Claimed ISO sizes are 3.07GB for the 32-Bit edition and 4.3GB for the 64-Bit edition. The rather large ISO sizes may be explained by debug code for this early phase of testing or it may be related to additional drivers (not sure on this one). Also claimed is that most of the files carry the 6001 build tag as seen in the screenshots and that very few files contain the older 6000 RTM build tag.