by KellyR

     Do you prefer to use a Mac, Windows PC, or do you use both? Or maybe you function better with Linux? What type of user are you?  In the past few years, we have seen a steady decline in the PC market because of the introduction of many tablets, but the PC isn’t dead yet as we begin to see the momentum in PC sales return. Which machine should you purchase? We look at the advantages, disadvantages, and differences between PC, Mac, and of course a quick look at Linux.
     As far as functionality, compared to the PCs, Apple’s Mac computers can be just as useful for artists and producers in animation, video, audio, and graphic productions. For example a number of major films were edited with Apple’s Final Cut Pro such as Cold Mountain (2003), Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Corpse Bride (2005), Social Network (2010), and many others. On the other hand, as far as OpenGL support, Apple seems to be lacking in this department. It took a while for Mac to have better OpenGL support, but finally Apple’s Mavericks finally supports OpenGL 4.1, which is still an old version compared to Linux and Windows users. Since this change in OpenGL 4.1, many users have seen an increase in graphics performance compared to the older versions of OSX. For example, Diablo III and Starcraft II can now operate at 60fps at max settings on a Mac compared to the older versions of OpenGL 4.1, where the graphics performance was restricted. Some benchmarks compared Windows vs Mac using the same hardware and Windows still out preformed.  While it may be true that Mac OSX is behind Windows in gaming graphics, a Mac is still five times more stable than Windows in gaming. Windows still has been the preferred system for gamers through the gaming platform called Steam. Valve developed this social and gaming platform that was co-founded by Gabe Newell in 1996.
     Some of the advantages that the Mac has over the PC are Apple’s easy to use operating system, their design, syncing across devices, customer service, and a “false sense of security” that it doesn’t get viruses or malware. A great example of Apple’s easy to use operating system is connecting your computer to public WiFi. MacDonald’s has a pamphlet on connecting to their Wifi with a Mac in a few easy and frustration free steps. Microsoft’s Windows instructions, on the other hand, have several steps with multiple diagrams to show how it is done. The same is the case with installing a printer, deleting a program, backing up your whole computer, and many others. Apple makes OS X function without needing to comprehend what is going on underneath the hood. One of Apple’s best advantages is their innovative design for battery life, structure, cooling, and a small footprint. Apple’s MacBook Air in combination with OS X, the lightweight laptop will last 12 hours on one charge. In addition, Apple’s teardrop design for their laptops, desktops, and other iOS devices gives it a smooth and lightweight look. The new Mac Pro design offers a small footprint, but powerful hardware with dual GPUs, PCIe flash storage, high performance Thunderbolt 2, the next generation Xeon processor, up to 64GB of RAM, and most importantly it supports 4K monitors. The Xeon E5 processor has the options of 4,6,8, or 12 processing cores, which is a lot of power for such a small footprint. Lastly, Apple has included more graphics processing power by having dedicated 2GB, 3GB, or even 6GB VRAM for the AMD FirePro workstation-class GPU. What is most impressive is that you can edit 4K videos while rendering videos and still connect 3 4K monitors.
     On the other hand, while Apple does have very impressive hardware, what happens when something breaks? When the motherboard, processor, or RAM fails in the Retina display MacBook Pro or the Mac Pro? For the price to have it replaced you could almost purchase a new machine which is what Apple wants you to do; purchase a whole new computer when something breaks. Apple has even gone as far as to solder the RAM to the motherboard, making it impossible to upgrade or switch out the RAM. Many users have the ability to replace or upgrade their own motherboard, RAM, or processor in their PCs with ease but Apple makes this difficult to upgrade anything. Some users create Hackintoshes, which are essentially the same hardware without all the aesthetics. This allows the end users to get under the hood and upgrade their components year-to-year without issues. There are several types of users out there. Some users are Apple fans who don’t really care what is underneath the hood, can afford to have Apple repair their machines every couple of years, and love the Apple design. There are groups of users, such as the “PC Master Race” that put together all their components themselves and install the operating system whether it is Mac OSX, Windows, or Linux.
     Linux is open-source and has some common ground with Mac OSX since they both are originally derived from UNIX. The Linux terminology is different: the folders are referred as directories, the administrator account is the root account, the command prompt is the Terminal (as it is in Mac OSX), and my computer is called the file manager. Linus Torvalds originally created Linux. Linux is more than an operating system; it is an interface. An interface is a platform between computer hardware, programs, and the end user. Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux all have a kernel, which is the core of the operating system. The kernel is the bridge between the computer hardware and the application. The big difference between Windows, Mac OS, and Linux is the fact that Linux is more flexible and more configurable. Many different organizations such as GNU, Xorg, KDE, XFCE help run the many programs on Linux. Linux development is based on the fact of asking users’ for their input on the functionality of Linux. Linus Torvalds found Linux in 1991 with his own kernel and some GNU programs and posted to the public and other computer programmers on how to improve what he started. At this point developers started writing drivers for the Linux interface. This is what makes Linux so great: it develops and grows from its users. As an operating system is it stable, has a variety of programs, and runs very well as a network server since is rarely has any down-time compared to Microsoft Windows. Linux can even run as a server for a year or more without rebooting. Most importantly Linux can be used to cut costs after installing on a PC instead of purchasing server packages from other companies.
     As explained before Linux is a kernel and drivers inside another kernel. If you are looking to get into Linux, there are many distributions you can choose from such as Ubuntu and Debian. Unlike Windows, Linux doesn’t use file extensions because it uses "execute bit". This tells Linux whether to run the file and doesn’t depend on the file extension to tell it what to do. In addition, most versions of Linux have a Project Manager, which connects to online databases of programs written especially for Linux. Another essential feature of Linux is automation. Many developers and programmers write commands for automated tasks that can run in the background. The reason that automation has more flexibility is the fact that devices and drive partitions are represented as files.
     Overall if you have a deep understanding of Linux and can build your own system, you can run an affordable system or server on your own without problems. Compared to Microsoft Windows, you can go even further under the hood and upgrade certain programs as you see fit. What type of user are you? Once you understand how Linux operates, the sky is the limit.

Source(s): http://arstechnica.com, www.linux.org, http://linux.wikia.com/
 
 

by Matt S.

     On Tuesday, July 15, 2014 Google revealed that it would be launching ‘Project Zero’ which would include a team of researchers working in real time. Once a software bug is found online, Google’s secret team will report it to the vendor and file the vulnerabilities in a public external database for discussion. Will it be useful or will it attract hackers to a source of bugs on the web? Google proposes that ‘Project Zero’ will help find vulnerabilities before anyone else does. Is this really a marketing ploy?
     Criminals and intelligence agencies normally exploit these vulnerabilities around the Internet but Google plans to help get these problems fixed. Chris Evans, a member of Google’s security research team wrote, “People deserve to use the Internet without fear that vulnerabilities out there can ruin their privacy with a single website visit. We are going to try and focus on the supple of these high value vulnerabilities and eliminate them.” Project Zero will essentially prevent software bugs from happening before they actually occur. How Google will pull this off? It plans to use 100% of their time and resources to protect and make the Internet security better.
     Why is Google doing this? Google has attempted to increase their security since Edward Snowden’s spying events. In addition, Google has encrypted its links to prevent the NSA from spying on the Google user information. However the real question is will Google be able to find software exploits before they happen? The only way to do this is to erase the buggy code as its created, which they call “bug collisions,” the same tacit that hackers use. What hackers do is string together computer codes, which are several lines of code that are vulnerable and then execute that code to bring down a computer’s defenses. In order to render a hacker’s attempt useless you would essentially just have to bring down one part of the code and the entire attack fails. This strategy will hopefully help Google make the Internet a safer place for everyone to browse.               

Source(s): www.scmagazine.com , www.forbes.com , www.wired.com, www.mashable.com

 
 
by BrianC

THE INTERNET IS IN DANGER! POST YOUR COMMENTS:  FCC.GOV/COMMENTS

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      When you access the Internet you access information that is free, non-restricted, and accessible at the same speeds. This may all change very soon. The FCC plans to move forward to change the way we use the Internet. This would allow some Internet giants such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable to charge an extra fee to provide better and faster access to certain websites that they have restricted to normal users. Net neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers should treat all data equally. The FCC plans to initiate a plan that will utterly destroy net neutrality and this is why you need to protect your right to access what you want, when you want it, and how you want it on the Internet. This would allow the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to control which website’s data moves the fastest, who has access to what content, based on who can pay the most.  
     Imagine you are accessing a website and a screen pops up that blocks you from accessing the website because your ISPs is controlling what you have access to and they want you to pay a fee to access the restricted content. This means that if the government does not take action soon the day of accessing the open Internet may be over, as we know it. How can you protect your free and open Internet? The FCC has invited, yes invited, you to comment about the change of Net Neutrality by   going to this link: www.fcc.gov/comments. I will understand if you leave this article RIGHT NOW and post your angry comments to the FCC to tell them why this is a BAD idea.
     Why fix something that isn’t broken? The FCC wants new rules for a two-tier system to charge tech companies to send information faster to consumers. These two tiers would be a fast lane for high paying companies and an extremely slow lane for everyone else. As John Oliver says, “NO. This cannot happen.” This could mean that ISPs giants could alter how and the speed they view the Internet. This would allow ISPs to slow down Internet speeds to get more money out of their customers, which they have already attempted (as mentioned in John Oliver’s example of Netflix and Comcast).  In another example, in 2007 Comcast blocked customers’ access to BitTorrent and other peer-to peer filing sharing. This is wrong on many levels. Yes, it is true that there are files online that people are sharing illegally online peer- to – peer on Bittorrent, but who is Comcast to prevent access to Bittorrent and other peer to peer filing sharing that are not illegal? In 2012, the FCC fined Verizon for charging its customers for using their phones as a mobile hotspot. This change that the FCC is proposing will destroy the streamline of innovation of startups on the Internet such as the beginnings of Mark Zuckerberg and many other future prodigies. We cannot let this happen.
     Why is it that NOW the FCC wants to change net neutrality? It might have something to do with the Obama administration on May 2, 2013 (confirmed November 2013) picking Tom Wheeler, as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Tom Wheeler was a top lobbyist for cable and wireless companies and guess what? Now he is regulating it. Many companies (Google, Amazon, Netflix, Ebay, Facebook), activists, even other members of the FCC are speaking out on why this shouldn’t happen by supporting Net Neutrality. It is not a coincidence that Tom Wheeler would propose violating net neutrality for only one group to benefit: the wireless and cable companies.
     This change in net neutrality would cause a domino effect in not only in startup companies, but also and most importantly in education. Libraries now are starting to become digital and online and it is necessary to maintain the status quo. A change in net neutrality would have an insurmountable impact. Net Neutrality is what helps make the library an equal access resource. “In a nutshell, network neutrality strikes at the heart of library core values of intellectual freedom and equitable access to information,” said Larra Clark, the American Library Association’s director of network programs. Larra Clark continues to say that the FCC ruling “will have an enormous impact on our culture, our education achievements and our national competitiveness for decades.” Director of public policy initiative for the Association of Research Libraries, added, “As more an more content is made available in a primarily digital form, maintaining an open internet is critical.” The effect of the FCC moving forward with violating net neutrality we could see a cost of higher education rise due to the fact of the ISPs’ paid prioritization. We already have problems with education in different socioeconomic backgrounds and this change in net neutrality would further that gap.
     Everyone loses in the end except for the ISPs who would have all the control. We have already started to see the beginning of a monopoly of Internet providers as Comcast attempts to acquire Time Warner Cable. If the FCC succeeds in changing net neutrality ISPs will indeed have all the control of information to consumers and most importantly information to education. So far there are only 647,000 comments to www.fcc.gov/comments. This will change the Internet forever. The INTERNET NEEDS YOUR HELP! The first round of comments ends TOMORROW JULY 15, 2014! KEEP COMMENTING: www.fcc.gov/comments.  Don’t stop commenting. The free Internet is in DANGER!

Source(s): www.eff.org , www.techcrunch.com , www.fcc.gov , www.ACLU.org , www.insidehighered.com

 
 

by RyanZ

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       It is starting to be that time of year again where Apple releases their next iPhone: The iPhone 6. What will it be this year? Jon Ive has designed an iPhone that is made completely of glass. Apple plans to release most of their product line of iPhones, iPads, and iMacs made completely out of glass.
       Apple recently has been able to patent a method of building all iOS Devices, monitors, and TVs with a flawless design made entirely of glass. How? Apple has found a way to adhere glass structures together and retain the internal circuit-board. It will be durable and lightweight and will include the sapphire glass to prevent damage to the phone. Instead of being a completely glass build, Apple proposes mending together pieces of glass structures. Sources say that it may released this fall 2014 along with a new housing of all iOS devices, monitors, and TVs. 

      Will this be durable enough for the iPhone 6? Surprisingly, Apple and Jon Ive still continue to be innovative as Apple continues to push forward without losing momentum.

What will Apple think of next?


Source(s): TechRadar, AppleInsider, iHelp

 
 

by BrianC

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        Every year we share and store more and more data electronically. We share our lives on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Plus, you wonder what is the current state of digital privacy? Can we even keep our digital life private anymore? The state of digital privacy has evolved since the dawn of the Internet. We start to store more information digitally on all our devices. There is a war for digital privacy, are we beginning to see that we are losing?
         Google a couple of years ago announced that it is integrating user information on multiple search engines such as Gmail, YouTube, and many others in an effort to personalize searching. So keep in mind that literally everything that you post to the Internet will be hard to remove because it is not temporary or private.
         Some people believe that once you encrypt a file that is protected from anyone forcing you to reveal its contents. This may be true to a certain extent. Generally, courts cannot force defendants to decrypt their computer files because it is a violation of the 5th Amendment, however if the police have a reason to believe that the incriminating evidence is there then the 5th Amendment no longer applies. According to DailyTechwhip.com, there was a case in Massachusetts where the Supreme Court ordered the defendant to decrypt the file. The defendant did boldly challenge, “no one is going to get to it,” and mention there was a decryption key. DailyTechwhip.com states, it is true that the ruling does seem a bit hazy since it may infringe on digital privacy rights. It is questionable due to the fact that the government knows there are encrypted documents but they do not know what they contain. 
         There is, however a recent victory for digital privacy. In Riley v. California there is a new digital privacy protection against the government’s argument to search a cell phone without a warrant. In the American Civil Liberties Union article, Steven R. Shapiro, the legal director stated that, “The quantity and quality of information that most of us now carry on our digital devices necessarily changes the way we think about privacy. The Court understood that its decision in Riley reflects the importance of preserving our fundamental values in a world of rapid technological change.”
         Under George W. Bush, we may have started to see the attrition of the digital privacy after the Patriot Act was passed, however this has changed. The Obama Administration wants Congress to reform the NSA by ending the government’s collection of people’s phone records. Recently, the House passed new limits of NSA surveillance, which is a victory for digital privacy. This is not just to stop the NSA and CIA’s collection of phone records; this includes stopping collection of personal online information and access into all the digital devices. The message is clear: Americans want their digital privacy back and don’t want to be spied on anymore.

Sources: Document Cloud, Ars Technica, American Civil Liberties Union

Image credit: ‪webpractices.wordpress.com, ‪www.cloudwards.net

 
 

How to clean your computer properly- Matt S.

      Heat is one of electronics worst enemies. Whether you are over-clocking or putting off cleaning that huge dust bunny jumping around your electrical components, heat is bad news bears for your desktop computer. Computer desktop temperatures can range from 95 to 176 degrees Fahrenheit. Yikes! Enthusiasts who over-clock are mostly concerned with heat so they use after-market CPU air coolers such as Noctua and Corsair. In order to battle heat there are other mediums that computer builders use: water and oil. Many companies such as NZXT and Corsiar make water-cooling, while many custom computer builders make oil filled systems. Heat slowly causes damage to the internal components to the point of no return.  Some people never clean their computers internal components, which is a perfect way to block cooling fans and decrease airflow. You paid good money for your PC, so lets make it last.
   Your computer is made up of several components: central processing unit (and cooler), temporary storage (RAM), permanent storage (HDD or SSD), sometimes a discrete graphics card, power supply, optical drive, and most importantly the motherboard. The reason I list the motherboard last is to emphasize its importance. It is the backbone of your computer system and next to the hard drive storage it is usually the first component to go bad. So take care of your motherboard. Its best practice to keep the internal part of your desktop computer clean every once in a while by using compressed air can to blow out the dust from CPU and case fans. What else can you do? Our simple steps can help extend the life of your computer.
    First you will need to check any obstructions in your case filters, which you can check for outside the case. A little compressed air might help blow out some dust. Next you will need to open the case, so make sure you turn off the power supply and unplug the computer. Inside the case you can go to town on the compressed air, cleaning out all the dust that has accumulated around the CPU fan and motherboard. If you have room you can add more case fans in order to increase your airflow. Heat rises, so generally the flow of air starts at the front of the case at the bottom and flows up as the air heats up.
    Next, make sure you remove all dust from the CPU fan or heatsink.  You can even go as far as to unplug the CPU fan from the motherboard, unscrew the mounts, and carefully pry the CPU fan from the CPU. It may be difficult to remove because of the thermal paste, which transfers heat from the CPU to the heatsink. You can use a small alcohol swab to remove the previous thermal paste and reapply thermal paste (about the size of a grain of rice) using a plastic card. Do not to apply too much thermal paste, this can ruin your CPU. If you have room you can re-mount an after-market CPU cooler instead of the stock fan and this will help keep your CPU and the rest of the system cooler. Lastly, make sure you clean your discrete graphics card. If your graphics card is working over-time, so to speak, it may be time to upgrade.

     If you are an over-clocker you might direct the heat that best cools your system. For example Azza, a computer case manufacturer, has built the traditional case upside down (Azza 9000 and Azza GT1). This way all the components that generate all the heat are at the bottom. Since heat rises, the heat will naturally be removed from the system and with some great case fans it will optimize removal of all the heat.