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Mozilla Countering Firefox Update Fatigue with Silent Updates, Add-on Compatibility

Throughout 2011, Firefox users have seen their browser's major version number go up very 6 weeks or so, something that was unheard of, in the years before, when it could take years for a major version number increase. Mozilla was obviously inflating version numbers for better market placement with other browsers that have crossed version 9x (such as Chrome, MSIE, and Opera). With Firefox already at version 11, Mozilla wants to slow down with the version number game, which caused "update fatigue" among users. Apart from keeping track of their browser's version number, users that have important add-ons installed, stay away from updates because major version number changes break the add-ons.

Mozilla wants to counter update fatigue with a two pronged approach. Firstly, it will change the way browser version numbers affect add-on compatibility. With Firefox 11, any add-on that's compatible with Firefox 4+ will just run, without compatibility issues. Add-ons disabled by older versions of the browser will now resume working. Next up, Mozilla will introduce completely silent updates, which get downloaded in the background, and don't notify you about restarting the browser to apply updates. You'll never notice when your Firefox reaches version 9001.Sources: TheNextWeb Insider, Mozilla

Microsoft Preps Six Updates for Next Week

Another Patch Tuesday is closing in fast and it's going to bring us six fresh updates from Microsoft. According to the Redmond-based company, the incoming patches - one rated 'Critical', four 'Important' and one 'Moderate', will resolve seven vulnerabilities that could lead to remote code execution or denial of service attacks.

The list of software targeted by Tuesday's patches includes Microsoft Windows, Visual Studio, and Expression Design. The updates will become available on March 13 at about 10:00 am PDT (5:00 pm GMT).

NVIDIA Updates Fourth Quarter Revenue Expectations

NVIDIA today announced that it expects revenue for the fourth quarter ending Jan. 29, 2012, to be lower than the company's previous outlook provided with its financial results for the third quarter ended Oct. 30, 2011. Revenue is now expected to be $950 million, plus or minus 1 percent, compared with original expectations of $1,066 million, plus or minus 2 percent, provided on Nov. 10, 2011.

The global disk-drive shortage caused by the flooding in Thailand had more impact on the mainstream GPU segment than anticipated. Shipments by some PC OEMs were reduced. And the higher prices of disk-drives constrained some PC OEMs' ability to include a GPU in their systems.

Crucial Releases Firmware Update for M4 SSDs, Fixes BSOD Issues

Over last weekend, Crucial released a new firmware update for its M4 series SSDs, which aims to fix several blue screen of death (BSOD) issues that users are facing. Crucial's investigation into the BSOD complaints revealed that a bug in the older firmware caused the drives to become unstable after 5,184 hours of operation. After that, every hour the previously-rock-stable drives cause BSODs. The firmware update only applies to drives connected to SATA hosts, and not SAS expanders. Crucial is still working on a firmware update for drives connected via SAS expanders.

DOWNLOAD: 0309 Firmware Update for Crucial M4

HP Printer Firmware Vulnerability Fixed: Opportunistic Lawsuit's Lost Opportunity?

Three weeks ago, we brought you news that researchers had apparently found serious vulnerabilities in the firmware of HP printers that can allow hackers to cause the fuser to overheat and almost make the paper inside catch fire. HP dismissed these claims as exaggerated, but said that they would look into it. Three days later, we reported that some enterprising New Yorker called David Goldblatt sued HP, alleging that he would not have bought their printers had he known about this problem beforehand, which seems a bit unlikely when you consider that HP is the number one printer brand by a mile. Now HP have released patches for these vulnerabilities and issued the following press release:

New Google+ Update Brings Circle, Pages, Photos and Notification Improvements

Google has kicked off this week by initiating the roll-out of a new update for Google+, one that brings some highly-desired features while also improving those already available. First up, Google is adding a slider to every Circle so people can choose how much information from that Circle reaches their main stream. This basically allows users to limit the updates going to the stream, making it more focused on things of greater importance (less spam for everyone).

Notifications are also getting a boost thanks to the arrival of 'sneak previews' and the ability to see the +1's and shares received by posts. As for Photos, they can take advantage of a redesigned Lightbox which allows for 'improved navigation, enhanced comment legibility and better overall utility'. Photo tagging has also been improved and is now faster and easier.

AMD Bulldozer Threading Hotfix Pulled

Since we reported on the AMD Bulldozer hotfix, The Tech Report reports in an updated post, that the Bulldozer threading hotfix said to improve performance of the processor, has been pulled:
We've spoken with an industry source familiar with this situation, and it appears the release of this hotfix was either inadvertent, premature, or both. There is indeed a Bulldozer threading patch for Windows in the works, but it should come in two parts, not just one. The patch that was briefly released is only one portion of the total solution, and it may very well reduce performance if used on its own. We're hearing the full Windows update for Bulldozer performance optimization is scheduled for release in Q1 of 2012. For now, Bulldozer owners, the best thing to do is to sit tight and wait.
It will be very interesting indeed to see how this much maligned processor benchmarks after the fully developed patch is released. It's true, actually attempting to download the hotfix and agreeing to the licence terms, at the moment, one is lead to a page that shows it as unavailable.

AMD 'Bulldozer' gets an Update from Microsoft.

Today Windows updater may have brought "Bulldozer" users a little surprise. A hotfix that increases the AMD flagship processors performance. As this "hotfix" is bleeding edge news any benchmarks have yet to be seen but this confirms Windows 7 was in fact hampering “Bulldozer” from performing at 100% in all prior benches. What percentage it was previously performing at has yet to be determined. Here is a small snippet from the Hotfix release notes.
This article introduces an update that optimizes the performance of AMD Bulldozer CPUs that are used by Windows 7-based or Windows Server 2008 R2-based computers. Currently, the performance of AMD Bulldozer CPUs is slower than expected. This behavior occurs because the threading logic in Windows 7 and in Windows Server 2008 R2 is not optimized to use the Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT) scheduling feature. This feature was introduced in the Bulldozer family of AMD CPUs.
You can download the Hotfix here.

Futuremark 3DMark 11 Updated to v1.0.3

Futuremark today released an update for its 3DMark 11 benchmark suite that's built to put today's and tomorrow's DirectX 11 GPUs through their paces. Although this is a relatively minor update, Futuremark recommended that all existing users update to this version for reliability. It packs the following changes:
  • Bullet physics library updated to version 2.79 to improve compatibility with future CPUs and GPUs.
  • For most systems containing multiple GPUs, for example integrated graphics and an additional discrete graphics card, the user can now select the GPU to be tested using a new option on the Help tab.
  • Improved error handling and user messages for the most common compatibility issues.
  • SystemInfo component updated to version 4.5 for improved compatibility with current and future hardware.
  • New "More" tab with information about other Futuremark products and services.
DOWNLOAD: 3DMark 11 v1.0.3 Update | Full Installer

Battlefield 3: Massive PC Only Update Released

It looks like developer DICE has been doing a lot of listening to its customers, as the large number of complaints over in-game glitches has produced an almighty patch, fixing just about everything, including the kitchen sink, while making lots of little tweaks to improve gameplay and the user interface. On top of that, the patch is PC only for now as the console versions are taking "a bit longer due to [the] console certification process".

Bugfixes include such goodies as a "Black Screen" fix for an issue occurring on some PC Configurations; spawn protection improvements; increasing the damage from the 44 Magnum slightly; sharing your profile and stats with new Battlelog functionality; profile integration with Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and lots more. The full list appears below.

MW3 Cheaters: 1600 Banned And Counting

In news, that will be sweet music to the ears of honest gamers, InfinityWard has been busily banning cheaters who exploit loopholes and coding errors in the game to get one over others. The figure is currently around the 1600 mark and rising, as InfinityWard's community man Robert Bowling posted on Twitter: Any attempt to cheat, hack, or glitch in #MW3 will not be tolerated. 1600+ bans issued. Updates in works. Please cont. to report offenders. He then added: We are doing mass bans on PC as well while we work on updates. He has promised that a hot fix is in the works for multiple glitches that have been reported.

Now, while cheating is wrong, it can also be an incredibly fun, but guilty pleasure. So, is it really all the cheater's fault, when opportunities like this are laid at there feet? It's like giving someone a cake and telling them not to eat it. Perhaps the program code should have been more bug free in the first place, too?Source: CVG

AM3+ Processor Support BIOS Updates Available for Several MSI Motherboards

Leading international mainboard and graphics card maker MSI released the mainboard BIOS with full AMD AM3+ 8-core CPU support for download today. Enthusiasts that own one of the listed mainboards1 can now download the update to support the latest AMD AM3+ 8-core CPUs (B2 Stepping). For those planning to purchase a new mainboard, if the box is labeled with "Supports AM3+ CPU with New BIOS," the mainboard will support the powerful AMD AM3+ 8-core CPUs out of the box. Enthusiasts that have purchased a mainboard that is on the list of compatible mainboards can update the BIOS themselves to support the latest AM3+ 8-core CPUs. Also, new in this BIOS update is official support for MSI's proprietary ClickBIOS II system optimization tool for all AMD 900 mainboards. The graphical UEFI BIOS provides mainboard-level support, and exporting OC Profiles to USB drives offers unparalleled convenience.

Firefox in Warp Zone, Updated to Version 7.0

A little over a month after releasing Firefox 6.0, and quickly following it up with two minor updates (6.0.1 and 6.0.2), Mozilla released its next "major" version, Firefox 7.0 into the release channel. It is now clear that Mozilla Firefox is playing catch-up with other popular web-browsers in some sort of a version number game. The three year old Google Chrome is already into version 14, with version 16 already in the dev channel.

While Firefox users will not be in for a different user interface (it's bad to drastically change it from time to time), Firefox 7 does seem to come with several under-the-hood changes. To begin with, the Windows version features a brand-new rendering back-end that speeds up Canvas, a tweaked Sync system that instantly syncs changes to bookmarks and saved passwords, support for text-overflow: ellipsis, compliance with the Web Timing specification, WebSocket protocol updated from version 7 to 8, and improved support for MathML. The only UI change is that the protocol of the page loaded is hidden. The full URL will be copied when you copy the address in the bar. Firefox 7 is launched for all platforms it's available in: Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android.
DOWNLOAD: Mozilla Firefox 7

AMD Streams in Catalyst 11.6b Hotfix Update

AMD today released the second hotfix update to Catalyst 11.6, which provides immediate fixes to bugs found with the previous hotfix. Catalyst 11.6b Hotfix update fixes a BSOD error noted when connecting a HDMI and DisplayPort based display to an AMD Radeon HD graphics card running on Catalyst 11.6. It also fixes random screen flickering noted when idling, as well as a mouse pointer corruption issue found with older Catalyst releases. Apart from this, it packs the key feature of Caralyst 11.6a Hotfix, support for AMD A8-3800 and A6-3600 series accelerated processing units.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Catalyst 11.6b Hotfix Update

FurMark Updated to Versions 1.8.5 and 1.9.1

The enthusiast community's favourite trial-by-fire for graphics cards, FurMark, has been updated to versions 1.8.5 and 1.9.1. Its developers maintain two branch versions of the program, since version 1.8 is popular, and 1.9 is the latest, bleeding-edge in the suite of stress test routines it has. FurMark is an OpenGL-based 3D graphics hardware stress-testing and benchmarking program. Its stress-testing functions are widely used to test stability of overclocked graphics hardware, and is dreaded by GPU manufacturers.

Version 1.8.5 is a maintenance release, which packs improved score submission, an updated number of window resolutions available, and improved graphics hardware detection using an updated ZoomGPU code. The FurMark 1.7 mode is removed. A bugfix filters the spikes in temperature graphs. Minimizing the window now can't be done in full-screen mode. Version 1.9.1, on the other hand, adds support for new AMD and NVIDIA GPUs with updated detection code, supports GPU-Z 0.5.1 and GPU Shark 0.5.1; added a workaround for a bug in AMD Catalyst GLSL compiler, which led to wrong lighting of the furry donut.



DOWNLOAD: FurMark 1.8.5 and 1.9.1

Futuremark Updates 3DMark 11 to Version 1.02

Futuremark today released an update to 3DMark 11, a popular benchmark suite for DirectX 11 graphics hardware. The new version 1.02 brings with it an updated Bullet Physics library that supports new and upcoming CPUs and GPUs, and an updated SystemInfo component that can detect new hardware. Basic Edition users now get access to display scaling controls. There are a number of feature improvements for Professional and Advanced editions, including fixed wireframe mode for the Combined test with NVIDIA hardware, and load/Save result dialog remembering the last used folder. With Professional Edition, the correct watermark is always displayed when benchmark is launched from command line; and command line loop switch with single test now loops without reloading. 3DMark 11 1.02 is available both as a 17 MB patch that updates previous versions to 1.02, and the full 295 MB installer.

DOWNLOAD 3DMark 11 v1.xx to v1.02 patch | 3DMark 11 v1.02 installer

Lenovo Announces ThinkCentre M91p for Businesses

Lenovo today announced the ThinkCentre M91p desktop designed to give large businesses the highest levels of performance, security and manageability. Available in tower, small form factor and eco small form factor versions, the desktop is designed for speed and performance with technologies including SATA III, USB 3.0, Lenovo Enhanced Experience 2.0 and support for four monitors as well as security and manageability with the latest Intel Core vPro processors.

“We’ve packed the new ThinkCentre M91p desktop with the latest performance technologies, like Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, to give users and IT departments a noticeable difference in the way they work,” said Tom Shell, vice president, ThinkCentre Desktop Marketing, Lenovo. “Now PC users can quickly open and save data, view graphics and video faster and stream work across four monitors.”

Futuremark Intros 3DMark v1.01 Update

Futuremark today introduced the first major update to 3DMark 11, the company's latest 3D graphics benchmark. The update introduces some critical stability improvements that's general to all variants of 3DMark 11, and a few fixes specific to some variants. To begin with, the 3DMark v1.01 fixed a bug with the SystemInfo component that prevents the Physics and Combined tests from running; crashes related to absence of DirectX 11 API and .NET; an updated SystemInfo component, etc.

DOWNLOAD: 3DMark 11 v1.01 Update

A complete list of changes follows:

AVG Update Cripples Windows

Yesterday an update to the popular antivirus suite AVG left many users computers unable to boot. After rebooting, as requested by the AVG updater, Windows crashes while trying to load certain AVG drivers. The error message reads "STOP: c0000135 The program cannot start because %hs is missing from your computer". Since the culprit drivers load even during safe mode there is no way to boot Windows. AVG recommends using the AVG rescue disc located here. After booting from the disc users should use midnight commander to rename their AVG folder, usually located at C:program files (x86)AVG, to any other name and then booting windows normally. However, any bootable flash drive or CD with an OS that can access NTFS file systems can be used to accomplish this task. I used a bootable Ubuntu flash drive.

Xigmatek Asgard and Asgard II Cases Updated with New Windowed Side-Panel

The popular Xigmatek Asgard and Asgard II enclosures, with their classic , discreet design and exquisitely understated looks, along with a long list of useful features which have proven themselves in the market, are now available with windowed side panels. Each of the successful Asgard and Asgard II versions are now available with the x-shaped windows pre-installed.

Both the Asgard and the entire Asgard II range of enclosures continue to be very popular. The combination of useful features, elegant looks and attractive price remain unattained in the case market. Xigmatek has responded the steady demand of these enclosures and will now be offering the Asgard and all three versions of the Asgard II with a modified side panel featuring their signature x-shaped window. For those who want to upgrade their normal Asgard or Asgard II, this side panel will be available for purchase separately.

TechPowerUp GPU-Z 0.4.3 Released

TechPowerUp rolled out a new version of GPU-Z, the popular graphics sub-system diagnostic utility. Version 0.4.3 comes with a load of new features and stability updates. Highlights include full capability to monitor voltages on the GeForce GTX 480, a new method of voltage monitoring which extends support for many ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards, support for the upcoming GeForce GTX 465, GT 320M GT 335M, ION variant, GT 340, Tesla C2050, Tesla M2050, and other Quadro series GPUs, new display languages including Spanish and Hungarian, among other stability updates.

DOWNLOAD: GPU-Z 0.4.3

Change log follows.

NVIDIA SLI Profile Update 3 Released

The third in its series of SLI profile updates, NVIDIA further expanded the list of games that benefit from its SLI multi-GPU technology, while improving support for some games that are already supported. This release comes over a month after its previous release. The software adds and updates to the driver's SLI Profiles. SLI support is added for the following games:
  • Borderlands
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
  • G-Force
  • FIFA Soccer 2010
  • League of Legends: Clash of Fates
  • NHL 2009
  • Order of War
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 2010
  • Race On
  • Star Trek: D-A-C
SLI support is improved for the following games that already support it: Champions Online, and Dragon-Age: Origins.
DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA SLI Profile Update 3

EVGA Precision and GPU Voltage Tuner Updated

EVGA released timely updates to two of its frontline performance control software utilities, the Precision overclocking and monitoring tool, and GPU Voltage Tuner. Version 1.8.1 of the EVGA Precision adds support for newer NVIDIA GPUs, an updated OSD component, among other interface updates that enhance usability. The following are details as listed by EVGA:
  • Added NVIDIA GeForce G210, GT220 and GT240 series graphics cards support.
  • EVGA On-Screen Display Server has been updated to version 3.5.0. Floating injection address hooking technology, which has been introduced in the previous version, is now disabled by default and can be enabled via the "Stealth mode" option in the server's properties.
  • Added hotkeys cross-links checking, Precision no longer allows defining the same hotkey for two different actions at the same time.
  • Added "Browse" button to "Screen capture" tab to allow users to change target folder for screenshots.
  • Added inegration with external overclocking stability testing applications.
The EVGA GPU Voltage Tuner got its update to version 1.1.2.2 in the form of support for EVGA's new GeForce GTX 285 Classified graphics accelerator. Registered EVGA users (registration is free) can download both the utilities from the EVGA website.

Team Fortress 2 Sniper/Spy Update Released

The TF2 Spy/Sniper Update is now available via Steam. To celebrate the launch and give players a chance to try the new content, Valve is hosting an extended TF2 Free Weekend. In addition, the game is being offered at 50% off its regular price on Steam. Both the sale and Free Weekend are on now. For more information, please visit Steam Games.

Details of the Sniper/Spy Update are as follows:

Maps
  • Added new map, Pipeline. Pipeline is the first map in a new game mode named payload race, which uses two carts in each map instead of only one like traditional payload maps
  • Added new arena map Sawmill
  • Added new arena map Nucleus
  • Added new community payload map Hoodoo
  • Updated Dustbowl to fix not being able to jump into the window in the first building of the second stage

Microsoft to Test Windows 7 Update System

Having propagated Windows 7 RC to a sizable amount of users, Microsoft has created an ideal environment to test the operating system's update system. To test it, Microsoft will release up to ten mock updates this week, starting from Tuesday. The updates do not affect the system in any way, except that they are used by Microsoft to test how the update system itself is able to deal with the various kinds of updates to the OS and its components, in various scenarios generated by people's different hardware configurations and software environments.

These however, won't be the first updates Windows 7 RC received so far. On May 7, Microsoft released a critical-update that fixes an important stability issue with the 32-bit version of Windows 7 RC. Most mock-updates will install automatically. A certain mock-update will also test a notification feature. This particular update will not install automatically, but rather the user will be prompted to install it (which is what is being tested). To decline from testing the updates, users must toggle Automatic Updates to a setting other than what the OS recommends. Under the hood, the mock-updates simply replace system files with their exact duplicates that are downloaded, hence the system isn't affected in any way. Tests such as these will help Microsoft come up with a much more stable OS when it finally releases.Sources: WindowsTeamBlog, PC World
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