Aug 11, 2009

Devs start your engines, Windows 7 RTM Code Pack Released

Now that Microsoft has officially signed off on the Windows 7 RTM build and has released it to MSDN/TechNet subscribers, it's time for some API code so developers can start developing applications for Windows 7.

Microsoft today released the Windows 7 RTM Code Pack 1.0, available to the general public.

Microsoft's Charlie Calvert, Community Program Manager for the C# group said, "The Windows® API Code Pack for Microsoft® .NET Framework provides support for various features of Windows 7 and previous releases of that operating system. The Code Pack has reached version 1.0 and has been published on Code Gallery."

Developers familiar with the Code Pack will glad to hear that Shell Search API support has been added, Drag and Drop functionality for Shell objects has been added, support for Typography and Font enumeration DirectWrite APIs have been created, as well as support for Direct3D and Direct2D interoperability.

Microsoft also noted that the following individual features are support in this release:
  • Windows 7 Taskbar Jump Lists, Icon Overlay, Progress Bar, Tabbed Thumbnails, and Thumbnail Toolbars.
  • Windows 7 Libraries, Known Folders, non-file system containers.
  • Windows Shell Search API support, a hierarchy of Shell Namespace entities, and Drag and Drop functionality for Shell Objects.
  • Explorer Browser Control.
  • Shell property system.
  • Windows Vista and Windows 7 Common File Dialogs, including custom controls.
    Windows Vista and Windows 7 Task Dialogs.
  • Direct3D 11.0, Direct3D 10.1/10.0, DXGI 1.0/1.1, Direct2D 1.0, DirectWrite, Windows Imaging Component (WIC) APIs. (DirectWrite and WIC have partial support)
  • Sensor Platform APIs
  • Extended Linguistic Services APIs
  • Power Management APIs
  • Application Restart and Recovery APIs
  • Network List Manager APIs
  • Command Link control and System defined Shell icons.
You can download the API, requirements, help files, and more here.

Apple Tablet - The story continues

The rumors regarding Apple's plan to manufacture a tablet computer have been circulating for a very long time now. However, it seems that these rumours finally have some tangibility; we should be expecting a release in the next couple of months.

This news has always been spattered with controversy as some people are welcoming the device and others slamming it as flawed. Whatever the stance, the success of the device remains to be seen. Wired Magazine's UK website sheds a little more light on the subject today by providing predicted pricing guidelines for the awaited addition to the Apple family.

Though typically with Apple releases many rumors appear and it becomes hard to sort out any truth. According to one of Wired's analysts, the Apple tablet will not be arriving in the near future, instead well into next year.

"Last week we spoke with an Asian component supplier that has received orders from Apple for a touchscreen device to be fulfilled by late [calendar year] 09," Munster wrote in a report. "This data point underscores our thesis that a tablet will likely launch in early 2010." This new information throws the cat amongst the pigeons once more, so what we are left with is yet more speculation and only mock predictions as to what the device will look like.

The general consensus at Wired is that the device will be a direct competitor to the Amazon ebook empire; other speculations as to the nature of the device have also been voiced. Wired's analyst, Munster, made his predictions for the device back in may.
  • The device will most likely be a larger format iPod Touch, measuring between seven to ten inches
  • The tablet will be used primarily for web surfing, e-mail and digital media
  • Pricing should be between £300 and £450, positioning the tablet between an iPhone and a MacBook
  • A carrier will probably subsidise the device, which will include a 3G modem
Yet more confusion regarding the Apple tablet. It seems that 2010 might be the year of the tablet as there are yet more rumours regarding Dell, Intel, HTC, and Nokia working on tablet devices along with TechCrunch who is working to get out its Crunchpad touchscreen tablet.

Internet Download Manager 5.18 Beta Released

Internet Download Manager (IDM) is a tool to increase download speeds, resume and schedule downloads. Comprehensive error recovery and resume capability will restart broken or interrupted downloads due to lost connections, network problems, computer shutdowns, or unexpected power outages. Simple graphic user interface makes IDM user friendly and easy to use.Internet Download Manager has a smart download logic accelerator that features intelligent dynamic file segmentation and safe multipart downloading technology to accelerate your downloads. Unlike other download managers and accelerators Internet Download Manager segments downloaded files dynamically during download process and reuses available connections without additional connect and login stages to achieve best acceleration performance.

  • Added processing of site names in foreign languages
  • Added support of Unicode characters for download descriptions and file names
  • Updated IDM icon
  • Improved recognition of server bugs. For example when proxy servers send incorrect data under certain conditions
News source: Official website
Download: IDM 5.18 Beta

Facebook acquires FriendFeed for an undisclosed sum

News has broken today that social networking giant, Facebook, has acquired the website FriendFeed, a company which has had a rather strong influence on many of the commonly-used features that Facebook provides. TechCrunch initially reported the story, and they're doing their best to try and get more details. So far we've seen press releases from both companies.

FriendFeed said that they have accepted Facebook's friend request, and have provided a bit of clarity for current users of the site. As it stands, everything will operate normally, and any news related to the website will be posted here. FriendFeed say that any future plans that they conclude on with Facebook will be openly shared with the community, and the API for the website will remain operating as normal too.

This is certainly quite good for Facebook, considering the team of 12 employees at FriendFeed. They have a range of ex-Google workers, including one Paul Buchheit, the man who was behind Gmail, and also led the way with advertising for the company. According to Facebook's press release, Bret Taylor, a co-founder of FriendFeed, said, "Facebook and FriendFeed share a common vision of giving people tools to share and connect with their friends. We can't wait to join the team and bring many of the innovations we've developed at FriendFeed to Facebook's 250 million users around the world." Buchheit added, "As we spent time with Mark and his leadership team, we were impressed by the open, creative culture they've built and their desire to have us contribute to it. It was immediately obvious to us how passionate Facebook's engineers are about creating simple, ground-breaking ways for people to share, and we are extremely excited to join such a like-minded group."

Expect to see more announcements on this soon.

New Windows Live Wave 4 services spotted

The first few details about the next iteration of Microsoft's set of Windows Live software and services, known as Windows Live Wave 4, are beginning to emerge. Two new services, Windows Live Documents and Windows Live Devices, are currently undergoing testing within Microsoft.

Windows Live Documents will replace the existing Office Live Workspaces service, which provides users with online access to their documents and facilities for sharing work with others. The current online applications will be replaced with the free offerings of the new Office Web applications - lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote which allow users to create, edit, and share Office documents though a browser.

In an attempt to simplify and improve user experience, Office Live merged with Windows Live earlier this year meaning that all the current Office Live services will eventually be delivered through Windows Live. Windows Live Documents is thought to store your files through SkyDrive, which already acts as the storage for services such as Windows Live Photos.

This screenshot of an internal testing website by and shows the two new services added to the standard Windows Live header. It also shows that the link to Windows Live Events has been removed as the service is set to "retire" next year.

Windows Live Devices looks like it will replace Live Mesh, a service that synchronises files between different devices and an online storage space. The features look pretty much the same, such as synchronisation and remote desktop access, and should be available by downloading some software to your PC, Mac or mobile phone. The new software may be in the form of an updated version of the Windows Live Sync software and the online storage space - currently known as your Live Desktop - may be replaced by Windows Live SkyDrive.

LiveSide point out that digital photo frame tool Windows Live FrameIt is expected to be integrated with the rebranded service as well. Along with the Office Live team, the Live Mesh team also moved into the Windows Live Group earlier this year.

Images courtesy LiveSino and LiveSide, click to enlarge.

Windows Live Documents and Windows Live Devices will join the line up in October when public beta testing is expected to get under way. The final release of Wave 4 is expected around the same time as Office 2010 launches, in Q1 of next year.

Aug 10, 2009

Mozilla delivers first alpha of Firefox 3.6

Mozilla announced on Friday the availability of Firefox 3.6 Alpha 1. This alpha comes just two months after the release of Firefox 3.5 and is the first of several developer previews. Codenamed Namoroka, after a national park in Madagascar, Firefox 3.6 is expected to be finalized and released later this year.

Namoroka uses the new Gecko 1.9.2 rendering engine which is also still in testing. The alpha includes several speed improvements to the javascript engine, and potential speed and responsiveness upgrades to the entire browser. Also Lifehacker is reporting that Tab Previews, a feature that was removed in the final beta of Firefox 3.5 has been added and includes a simple guide to activate this functionality. The latest alpha also includes some tweaks to CSS and supports multiple background images.

As always with an alpha, this release is recommended only for those truly on the bleeding edge. Mozilla is warning that only developers and testers download this latest alpha. If you haven't been scared away yet, check out the Mozilla Developer Blog for links to Alpha 1 in Mac OS, Linux or Windows flavors. Mozilla also welcomes any feedback, especially bug reports, and more information on submitting reports can be found at the Developer Blog as well.

Windows 7 upgrade chart available

Microsoft has made available the official Windows 7 Upgrade chart, via allthingsd which indicates which previous versions of Windows are available for an in-place upgrade to Windows 7, and to which version they can upgrade.

You can view the chart below:

As you can see from just a glance at the chart, it's relatively confusing. Windows 7 offers no direct upgrade path from XP, which was announced very early on in the Windows 7 development life cycle. Very specific upgrade paths from other versions of Windows Vista exist also. You can perform a "Custom Install" which is pretty much a clean install, but you have the option to install Windows 7 to another disk without overwriting data.

Bloggers from around the web, such as Ed Bott of ZDNet and Joe Wilcox of Betanews, have lashed out at the chart, pointing out that there are a number of flaws in the chart. He points out that it is over simplified, and that for users who want to upgrade from 64-bit flavors of Windows, it will be a completely different story.

Ed has created his own version of the chart, which can be found here, which makes the chart easier to understand, and reduces the chart size by half, to 14 cells.

Windows 7 will be generally available on October 22nd, and is now available on Technet and MSDN for subscribers.

Microsoft: What we do with a bug report

Today, Microsoft published a blog on their official "Engineering Windows 7" blog, that discusses how Microsoft goes about dealing with bugs - specifically the so called "showstopper" bug that was reported around the web, and here at Shaz3e last week.

The blog post discusses in detail the processes used to process major bugs at Microsoft during software development lifecycles, and is written by Steven Sinofsky himself. He says in the post 'Pretty quickly, I started getting a lot of mail personally on the report. Like many of you, the first thing I did was try it out. And as you might imagine I did not reproduce both issues, though I did see the memory usage" and that he was not the " ...first Microsoft person to see this. The file system team immediately began to look into the issue."

The post goes on to explain that Microsoft does take the problems seriously, "I did want folks to know just how seriously we take these issues. Sometimes blogs and comments get very excited. When I see something like "showstopper" it gets my attention, but it also doesn't help us to have a constructive and rational investigation. Large software projects are by nature extremely complex. They often have issues that are dependent on the environment and configuration. And as we know, often as deterministic as software is supposed to be sometimes issues don't reproduce. We have a pretty clear process on how we investigate reports and we focus on making sure Windows remains healthy even in the face of a changing landscape. With this post, I wanted to offer a view into some specifics but also into the general issue of sounding alarms.", explained Steve.

The post offers a great insight into how Microsoft does it's processing of bug reports and "major" bugs that are floating around the internet on major news websites and is an interesting read into how the team deals with these sorts of problem. Steve also politely points out where all the hype and fuss about the "showstopper" bug was, and how important it was that people didn't panic, and that they realized Microsoft treated it seriously.

Windows 7 has been Released to Manufacturing (RTM) - and is currently available on MSDN/Technet and will be Generally Available on October 22nd, worldwide.


10 Professional Looking Wordpress Themes

Despite the huge availability of Wordpress themes it is somewhat difficult to find professional looking ones. Recently I was searching through the many theme collections on the Internet and it was not before a couple of hours that I managed to find valid ones. Below you will find the result of my research, 10 professional looking Wordpress themes, enjoy!

View demo | Download

darkzen theme
View demo | Download


View Demo | Download

subtlezen theme
View Demo | Download

vistalicious wordpress theme
View Demo | Download

Decker Theme
decker wordpress theme
View Demo | Download

Blue Sensation
bluesensation wordpress theme
View Demo | Download

StudioPress Red
studiopress red theme
View Demo | Download

passionduo blue theme
View Demo | Download

green tech theme
View Demo | Download

One of the first Microsoft store locations spotted

An image of one of the very first Microsoft stores currently being built has surfaced on Maximum PC.

We've previously reported that the first Microsoft store locations would be in both Arizona and California. The picture shown below is from the Scottsdale, Arizona location, with a second store in Mission Viejo, California currently in the works. Both locations are planned to open this fall.

While there are plans to open more stores in the United States, Microsoft is planning to expand its stores globally as well. Microsoft stores are set to open in major European cities such as London.

Recently, the Microsoft store logo has been revealed, and documents were leaked revealing the possible layout of the store. However the company has said that those designs were early prototypes and that the plans were not finalized yet.

Aug 9, 2009

Windows 7 Box Art Themes & Wallpapers

I have just updated my Windows 7 Wallpapers and Windows 7 Themes Gallery with the following additions.

Windows 7 Box Art Themes for Ultimate, Professional and Home Premium editions.

Windows 7 Box Art Wallpapers for Ultimate, Professional and Home Premium editions

Installation Instructions: Double click the downloaded .themepack file to install it. These themes will only work on Windows 7.

For more, visit the entire Windows 7 Wallpapers & Windows 7 Themes Gallery.

Download: Windows 7 Box Art Themes | Windows 7 Box Art Wallpapers

Aug 8, 2009

Microsoft providing feedback on HTML 5 editor's draft

Though the creation of the new HTML standard, HTML 5, has been mostly up to four of the big players in the browser world (Apple, Mozilla, Opera and Google), it appears that Microsoft has become more active as of late. CNET reports the news, detailing that Adrian Bateman, Internet Explorer Program Manager, has sent a letter to the World Wide Web Consortium, with Microsoft's thoughts and queries on the current editor's draft.

In the letter, found here, Bateman stated that, "As part of our planning for future work, the IE team is reviewing the current editor's draft of the HTML5 spec and gathering our thoughts. We want to share our feedback and discuss this in the working group. I will post our notes as we collect them so we can iterate on our thinking more quickly. At this stage we have more questions than answers, but I believe that discussing them in public is the best way to make progress." Additionally, Amy Barzdukas, general manager for Internet Explorer, said, "The support of ratified standards (that Web developers) can use is something that we are extremely supportive of. In some cases, it can be premature to start claiming support for standards that are not yet in fact standards."

HTML 5, as you know, brings a whole bunch of excellent new features. If you're under the impression that Microsoft has done added none of them, then you're wrong; the Redmond-based company is accountable for ContentEditable, a feature in the new standard, which "lets elements of Web pages be edited in place by people using a browser" according to CNET. To add to this, the latest version of IE, version 8, supports the DOM Store, Ajax Navigation, Cross Document Messaging and Cross Domain Messaging, all HTML 5 components.

It's excellent to see the software giant getting more involved with the standard, as Internet Explorer is by far the most dominant browser on the market today; with that force behind HTML 5, it'll make for a much better experience for users and web developers.

Patch Tuesday: Five critical for August 2009

Microsoft has issued an advanced security bulletin for August 2009 with five of the nine bulletins marked as "critical" and four are labelled as "important". These five critical patches are to patch remote code execution and the other four fix elevation of privileges and Denial of Service (DoS), where a hacker (or hackers) could allow Internet worms inside your computer without the use of user interaction.

The nine patches being released on Tuesday will fix flaws in a number of Microsoft products. The following software is at risk:
  • Microsoft Office XP
  • Microsoft Office 2003
  • Microsoft Office 2000 Web Components
  • Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006
  • Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003
  • Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration Server 2004 and 2006
  • Microsoft BizTalk Server 2002
  • Client for Mac
  • Microsoft .NET Framework
Microsoft will issue patches on Tuesday, August 11, 2009 for the following Windows operating systems:
  • Windows 2000 Service Pack 4
  • Windows XP Service Pack 2 and Service Pack 3 *
  • Windows Server 2003 (32bit, 64bit and Itanium-based systems)
  • Windows Server 2008 (32bit, 64bit and Itanium-based systems)
  • Windows Vista *
  • Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Service Pack 2 *
* Includes both 32-bit and 64-bit architecture

The updates will require the machine to be rebooted after installation.

Official theme support now integrated in Google Chrome 3.0

The latest developer build of Chrome now includes an official option to install themes into Google Chrome. It was reported earlier this week by Emonx that Google is preparing to launch a theme gallery. It looks like this has happened with the release of build

The option is offered under "Personal Stuff" and has the option to "Get Themes". Pressing the button redirects you to a webpage, that shows a whole array of new themes for Chrome.

Applying the theme is as simple as pressing the "Apply Theme" button below the chosen theme, and a ".crx" file is downloaded. A restart of Chrome is not required to apply the theme. To get this option, Chrome must be installed, and you must be in the "Developer" build channel.

The release of this feature to the developer build channel indicates that a lot of work has been done, but there is still a lot to come. It seems to be very efficient and stable, and may progress to the main public builds in the near future.

Google Chrome is Google's flagship browser, based upon the Web Kit rendering engine, and touts the most minimal interface, and fastest browser start times.


Google Chrome Released

The Windows beta channel has been updated to to fix some theme's related performance regressions.

This release contains an updated new tab page, a revised omnibox, and themes support.

You can install the current Beta channel release from

Anthony Laforge
Google Chrome Program Manager

Download: Google Chrome

Logitech release new gaming mouse: the Logitech G500

When Logitech released the G9 mouse, a big fuss kicked up in regards to the design and appearance of the mouse, with a lot of people disliking the square, hard shape of it. Now, Logitech have introduced their latest mouse, which aims to get loyal customers that stuck with their much loved Logitech G5s when the Logitech G9 was released, to consider an upgrade.

The Logitech Gaming Mouse G500 is, in Logitech's words, "the successor to the classic Logitech G5 Laser Mouse," and has a new look, higher maximum dpi (dots per inch), as well as onboard memory. As is the norm with Logitech gaming mice
, the dpi can be bumped up and down on the fly, but unlike the G5, the G500 can go all the way up to 5700 dpi.

There's the usual weight cartridge which slides into the bottom of the mouse, allowing for the mouse to be fine tuned depending on how heavy the user likes their mouse to be. Interestingly, the new appearance looks very much like a cross between the G5 and the G9, and that applies to the features too: the scroll wheel looks very similar to the G9 one, except that the scroll wheel on the Logitech G500 has a button just below it that allows the scroll wheel to switch from click-to-click scrolling to free scrolling, something the G5 didn't offer.

Ruben Mookerjee, director of product marketing for gaming at Logitech, said "as more and more people make gaming with family and friends the new night out, Logitech continues to push the envelope with the Logitech G-series."

"If you're getting serious about gaming – or have already seen the light – then the best way to dive ever deeper into the game is by putting the G500 mouse in your good hand."

However, whether or not the new look and features on the mouse will be enough to persuade gamers to upgrade remains to be seen.

You can check out the full range of features, and some more pictures, at the product page.

Windows 7 now available on Technet and MSDN

Microsoft has officially released Windows 7 RTM (Release to Manufacturing) available for download via Technet and MSDN, however, users must have a valid subscription to either web site.

Today's release is only available in English, and other languages will be released on October 1st. Users can now download an ISO image of Windows 7 directly from Microsoft with a unique serial key. The ISO images of Windows comes bundles with Home, Premium, Professional, and Ultimate edition in either 32bit or 64bit. The download varies in size depending on which architecture you download:

Windows 7 in 32 bit: 2385.99 MB
Windows 7 in 64 bit: 3075.30 MB

Windows 7 Starter is also available for download for users via Technet and MSDN. Users may experience some slow down during the download due to heavy bandwidth usage as consumers try to get their hands on the next major release.

Only four weeks earlier, Windows 7 was officially signed off on and went to RTM status. Consumers who do not want to wait can register for a Technet or a MSDN account to get their hands on Windows 7.

Starting tomorrow, Volume License customers with an existing Software Assurance license will be able to download Windows 7 RTM in English via the Volume License Service Center. Volume License customers without a SA license will be able to purchase Windows 7 through Volume Licensing on September 1st.

The final release of Windows 7 will be available in stores as of October 22, 2009.

Aug 6, 2009

Download and try Google Android OS Live on PC

Android is Google’s mobile operating system running on the Linux kernel. It is available on T-mobile G1 and many other upcoming models. Now, you can try the features without actually owning a mobile with the OS. Live Android is a LiveCD disc image of the Google Android operating system that can run on your PC and experience the OS. Follow below steps to get started. official how-to page.

Download the LiveCD or LiveUSB from

Burn the image to a disc, reboot your computer and get into BIOS and set CD ROM as your first boot device if it isn’t or You can try without even rebooting your computer in a virtualization application like VirtualBox or Microsoft Virtual PC

tip: download and install patch for mouse and power manager base here

Completely uninstall and cleanup any Antivirus or Antispyware

Most of the AntiVirus, Antispyware or any security software integrate deeply into the system and uninstalling them isn’t an easy task and certain elements are left over. Often, installing new antivirus clashing with the existing install or any new virus detection issues. AppRemover is a software that enables the complete uninstallation of security applications such as antivirus and antispyware from your computer very easy even when you forgot the administrator password.

You can check out the list of supported software here.

It supports hundreds of antivirus and antispyware applications. It works on Windows 2000, 2003, XP (32 / 64 bit), Vista (32 / 64 bit), 2008, Windows 7

Download AppRemover.

Download Latest PicPick Tools Portable imaging software

PicPick tools is free portable all-in-one software for which features a powerful capture tool, image editor, color picker, color palette,magnifier, pixel ruler, protractor, crosshair, whiteboard and etc. It has a very simple intuitive interface. Just download and start the software or setup in the startup. It’ll reside as a tray icon and is accessible when required.

PicPick tools image capture features support for Full Screen (Support for Dual Monitors), Active Window, Window Control (Scroll a page automatically), Region, Fixed Region , FreeHand, Repeat Last Capture .

While the Image editors features support for adding effects like selection opacity, blur, sharpen, brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, flip, rotate and etc.

Download PicPick tools

Microsoft acknowledges Linux threat to the Windows client

Microsoft has acknowledged for the first time, that linux is a direct threat to the Windows client, naming Red Hat and Canonical (Primary sponsor of Ubuntu) as competitors to it's Windows client business in it's annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

As stated in the filing by Microsoft, "Client faces strong competition from well-established companies with differing approaches to the PC market, competing commercial software products, including variants of Unix, are supplied by competitors such as Apple, Canonical, and Red Hat."

The acknowledgment of this points out that linux has finally gained ground, and that it now puts up a viable fight against the Windows client. Microsoft is attributing this to the growing trend of netbook PC's - ultra low-powered notebook pc's that are mainly used to surf the internet.

Microsoft notes that Linux has gained what Microsoft tries to attribute as "some acceptance" as an alternative OS to Windows, in particular in "emerging markets" where "competitive pressures lead OEMs to reduce costs and new, lower-price PC form-factors gain adoption." Microsoft also makes mention in the report that Linux was originally not a viable desktop OS competitor for Windows, but now has become one.

The report goes on to point out that even it's own OEM partners, including Hewlett-Packard and Intel are now providing support for Linux, something which was previously unprecedented.

Rob Helm, director of research for the direction of Microsoft wrote: "Netbooks opened Microsoft to the possibility that some other OS could get its grip on the desktop, however briefly, now it's alert to that possibility going forward." Helm also mentions that "Microsoft would like the netbook to go away and be replaced by lightweight laptops -- ones with long battery life that cost enough to justify running full Windows on them".

Before this report was filed, Microsoft only noted viable competition from Red Hat to it's server business - the Windows Server family, in it's yearly reports.

Microsoft's previous Windows client release, Windows Vista was too resource heavy for netbook PC's and was not used, but instead, Microsoft's 8 year old desktop OS, Windows XP was widely used on netbook PC's, for it's speed and stability. With Windows 7's release on October 22nd, will come a SKU geared specifically towards "low powered" notebooks, called "Windows 7 Starter Edition".

KDE 4.3.0 Released

KDE Community Delivers Incremental Innovations With New KDE 4.3 Release

KDE 4.3 (Codename: "Caizen") Delivers Incremental Innovations to the Free Desktop Users and Software Developers

4 August, 2009. The KDE Community today announces the immediate availability of "Caizen", (a.k.a KDE 4.3), bringing many improvements to the user experience and development platform. KDE 4.3 continues to refine the unique features brought in previous releases while bringing new innovations. With the 4.2 release aimed at the majority of end users, KDE 4.3 offers a more stable and complete product for the home and small office.

The KDE 4.3 Desktop

The KDE community has fixed over 10,000 bugs and implemented almost 2,000 feature requests in the last 6 months. Close to 63,000 changes were checked in by a little under 700 contributors. Read on for an overview of the changes in the KDE 4.3 Desktop Workspace, Application Suites and the KDE 4.3 Development Platform.

Desktop Improves Performance And Usability

The KDE Desktop Workspace provides a powerful and complete desktop experience that features excellent integration with Linux and UNIX operating systems. The key components that make up the KDE Desktop Workspace include:
  • KWin, a powerful window manager that provides modern 3D graphical effects
  • The Plasma Desktop Shell, a cutting-edge desktop and panels system that features productivity enhancements and online integration through customizable widgets
  • Dolphin, a user-friendly, network- and content-aware file manager
  • KRunner, a search and launch system for running commands and finding useful information
  • easy access to desktop and system controls through SystemSettings.

Below you can find a short list of improvements to the KDE Desktop Workspace.
  • The Plasma Desktop Shell introduces a new default theme, Air. Air looks much lighter and fits better with the default application theme. Plasma also has seen large performance improvements. Memory usage has been reduced, and animations are smoother. Activities can now be tied to virtual desktops, allowing users to have different widgets on each of their desktops. Furthermore, Plasma has improved upon its job and notification management. Running jobs are grouped in a single progress bar to prevent the popup of too many dialogs. Animations are used to signify that jobs are still running by smoothly sliding dialogs into the systemtray and animating the notification icon. Smaller changes in Plasma include fully configurable keyboard shortcuts and more extensive keyboard navigation, the ability to create a plasma widget when you drag or copy content on the desktop and many new and improved Plasma widgets. The folderview widget now allows the user to peek into a folder by hovering it and the new Translatoid widget translates words and sentences right on your desktop using Google Translate. Furthermore, KRunner made its plugin features easier to discover by having a 'help' button showing the syntax of commands in the result area. Actions also have a small configuration allowing for example to start applications under another user account.

Web integration in KDE 4.3

  • The file manager Dolphin shows small previews of files within a folder and video thumbnails to help the user identify items. The trash can now be configured from the Dolphin Settings menu, and various configurable limitations on the trash size help make sure the disk does not fill up with deleted files. The menu which is shown on a right mouseclick on a item is configurable and the configuration dialog in general has been redesigned to be easier to use. The new network:/ location shows other computers and services on the network (currently limited to those announced by DNS-SD/zeroconf protocols, more will be supported in future versions).

  • Further refinements to the workspace tools make it easier to work with your computer. A faster SystemSettings introduces an optional treeview for the configuration and several improvements to settingsdialogs. New effects like 'Sheet' and "Slide Back" and better performance in KWin make window management more smooth, while integration with the Plasma themes creates a more consistent look. Klipper, a tool which keeps a history of things copied to the clipboard, can now act intelligently on the content. It automatically determines a list of applications which can handle a object copied to the clipboard and allows the user to start them right away.

Applications Leap Forward

A great number of sophisticated applications are provided by the KDE community which take full advantage of the powerful KDE Application Framework. A selection of these applications are included in the KDE Software Distribution, divided up by category into various Application Suites. These include:
  • KDE Network Applications
  • KDE Multimedia
  • KDE Graphics Tools
  • KDE PIM Suite (for personal information management and communication)
  • KDE Educational Applications
  • KDE Games
  • KDE Utilities
  • KDE Software Development Platform

Together they form a comprehensive set of desktop essentials that run on most modern operating systems. Below you will find a selection of improvements to some of these Application Suites.
  • The KDE Utilities have seen many improvements. Among other things, KGpg, the privacy tool used for encryption and signing files and emails integrates Solid for detecting the availability of a network connection and has improved its key import dialog. Ark, a file compression and decompression application now supports LZMA/XZ, has improved support for zip, rar and 7zip and works better with drag'n'drop. KDELirc, a frontend for the Linux Infrared Remote Control system (LIRC), has been ported to KDE 4 and is included again. Okteta, the KDE hex editor gained a checksum tool, a filesystem browser sideview and a bookmarks sidebar. Lokalize, the KDE translation tool, introduces support for scripts, new fileformats and the translation of ODF documents.

  • The KDE games now use a similar Egyptian-style theme in many of the games. KGoldrunner introduces a new game, "Curse of the Mummy" and improves gameplay with more accurate pause, resume and recording and replaying of games. KMahjongg introduces 70 new user-submitted levels and a new game, KTron, has been introduced. Some games introduced new features like the Vaporizer action in Killbots and a better AI in Bovo. Thanks to work on file loading and saving the state of scalable images many games start and run faster.

  • The KDE Personal Information Management applications have seen improvements in various area's like performance and stability. Instant messenger Kopete introduces an improved contact list and KOrganizer can sync with Google Calendar. Kmail supports inserting inline images into email and the Alarm notifier gained export functionality, drag and drop and has an improved configuration.

Some Egyptian themes

  • In case something goes wrong with a KDE application and it crashes, the new Bug Report Tool will make it easier for the user to contribute to the stability of KDE. The bug report tool provides a three-star rating of the quality of the data it gathered on the crash. It also gives hints on how to improve the quality of the crash data and the bug report itself while guiding the user through the process of reporting. During the Beta cycles for this release the new bug report tool has already proven itself by the increased quality of bug reports.

Platform Accelerates Development

The KDE community brings many innovations for application developers to the forefront in the KDE Application Development Framework. Building on the strengths of Nokia's Qt library, this integrated and consistent framework has been crafted in direct response to the needs of real-world application developers.

The KDE Application Development Framework helps developers create robust applications efficiently by streamlining the complexity and tedious tasks usually associated with application development. Its use by KDE applications provides a compelling showcase for its flexibility and utility.

Liberally licensed under the LGPL (allowing for both proprietary and open source development) and cross-platform (Linux, UNIX, Mac and MS Windows), it contains among other things a powerful component model (KParts), network transparent data access (KIO) and flexible configuration management. Dozens of useful widgets ranging from file dialogs to font selectors are provided and the framework also offers semantic search integration (Nepomuk), hardware awareness (Solid) and multimedia access (Phonon). Read on for a list of improvements to the KDE Application Development Framework.

  • The KDE 4.3 Application Development Framework introduces the beginnings of Social Desktop integration, bringing the worldwide Free Software community to the desktop. Offering an open collaboration, sharing and communication platform, the Social Desktop initiative aims to allow people to share their knowledge withouth giving up control to an external organisation. The platform currently offers a DataEngine for plasma applets supporting aspects of Social Desktop.

  • The new system tray protocol developed in collaboration with the Free Desktop initiative is a long-overdue overhaul of the old systray specification. The old systemtray using small embedded windows did not allow for any kind of control by the systemtray over its contents, limiting the flexibility for the user and application developer at the same time. While the new systemtray supports both the old and new standard, application developers are encouraged to upgrade their applications to the new specifications. For more information check this blog or find more information on TechBase.

  • The Plasma Desktop Shell introduces a Geolocation DataEngine using libgps and HostIP which allows plasmoids to easily respond to the location of the user. Other new DataEngines provide access to Akonadi resources (including mail and calendar), Nepomuk metadata and keyboard state besides the various improvements to existing DataEngines. Read about using and discovering DataEngines on TechBase.

  • The KDE Application Development Framework introduces a PolicyKit wrapper making it easy for developers who want their application to perform privileged actions in a secure, consistent and easy way. Provided are an authorization manager and an authentication agent, and an easy library for developers to use. Read here on TechBase for a tutorial!

  • Akonadi, the Free Desktop PIM storage solution has been deemed ready for more widespread usage. Besides the availability of the DataEngine for plasma, application developers are encouraged to have a look at the TechBase page if their application needs access to or store chat logs, email, blogs, contacts, or any other kind of personal data. As a cross-desktop technology Akonadi can provide access to any kind of data and is designed to handle high volumes, thus allowing for a wide range of usecases.

Social desktop and other online services in action

More changes

As mentioned, the above is just a selection of the changes and improvements to the KDE Desktop Workspace, KDE Application Suites and KDE Application Development Framework. A more comprehensive yet still incomplete list can be found in the KDE 4.3 feature plan on TechBase. Information about applications developed by the KDE community outside of the KDE Application Suites can be found on KDE family webpage and on the kde-apps website. The Marble developers from the KDE Edu team have released marble 0.8 with KDE 4.3 and compiled an extended visual changelog on their website.

WindowBlinds 7 - Beta 2

WindowBlinds is an application that lets users change the look and feel of Windows XP, Vista, and now Windows 7 by applying themes (also known as skins). This latest beta release introduces a wide range of improvements and features over earlier betas.

This beta 2 update includes:
  • Live previews. See the changes you make in settings in real-time
  • Completely new user interface which includes grab and throw scrolling, reflections, and a simpler layout.
  • Improved Windows 7 support
  • Improved skin coloring (see video)
  • Improved sub-style selections, and skin search
WindowBlinds 7 Beta 2 is available for download via Stardock's Impulse for Object Desktop subscribers. Purchase WindowBlinds 6 now, and you will get the upgrade to WindowBlinds 7 for free when released!

Link: WindowBlinds
Screenshot: New UI
Screenshot: Skin coloring

¡Hola iTunes! Apple launches iTunes music store in Mexico

Apple announced Tuesday the official launch of the iTunes Music Store in Mexico. The store launches with a full catalog of several million songs priced at 12 pesos ($0.91) with most albums priced at 120 pesos ($9). Gift cards will also be available at several Mexican retailers in denominations of 200 ($15), 300 ($23), and 600 pesos ($45).

The store comes over six years after the original launch of the iTunes Music store in the United States. All tracks, like in the US and abroad, are DRM free, available in iTunes Plus+ AAC format encoded at 256kbps. "The iTunes Store in Mexico is off to a great start with music from all of the majors and hundreds of indie labels," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Internet Services.

The store also features Music Videos, priced at just 24 pesos ($1.80). Music is available from all major record labels including several independent artists and labels. Podcasts are also available featuring several mexican shows such as Televisa, MVS TelevisiĆ³n and Grupo Reforma. Notably missing from the store are TV shows and feature-length movies which are still unavailable in most international countries. Most interestingly, iPhone owners in Mexico have had access to only the iTunes App Store since the iPhone 3G launch last year. Mexico now becomes the first and only Latin American country thus far with an iTunes Music Store.

The store officially launched on August 4, 2009 and interested users can find more information at


Microsoft store logo revealed

post by Long Zheng from istartedsomething shows that the logo for the Microsoft store has been revealed, and was filed last week by Microsoft at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The logo, shown below, bears a strong resemblance to the Windows logo, and according to Zheng's post, it's "registered to cover a multitude of goods and services including retail store services and online retail services featuring computers, computer hardware, software, computer games, computer peripherals, portable music players and accessories, personal digital assistants, cell phones and accessories, video game consoles and accessories, webcams, books, clothing, back packs, messenger bags, computer bags and novelty items".

Back in late July, documents were leaked revealing possible Microsoft store layout plans. However, the company said that these plans were early prototypes and were not finalized.

Mac OS X 10.5.8 Released

Not too long ago, Apple released their update for Leopard, bringing it up to version 10.5.7. This update brought many bug fixes and optimizations, as there's no point adding new features with Snow Leopard on the horizon. Whilst the Apple community expected this to be the last update before the aforementioned operating system release, the Cupertino based computer company suddenly began distributing builds of a new patch, 10.5.8. Today, however, Apple has quietly added the final product to Software Update, making it available to all Leopard users.

The patch notes state the following:
The 10.5.8 Update is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Leopard and includes general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac, as well as specific fixes for:
  • Compatibility and reliability issues when joining AirPort networks.
  • An issue that could cause some monitor resolutions to no longer appear in Displays System Preferences.
  • Issues that may affect Bluetooth reliability.
If you're not one for Software Update, we've included download links below. Let us know how the update goes!

Download: Mac OS X 10.5.8 Update
Download: Mac OS X 10.5.8 Combo Update
Download: Mac OS X Server 10.5.8 Update
Download: Mac OS X Server 10.5.8 Combo Update

Aug 5, 2009

Windows 7 RTM contains a rather nasty chkdsk bug

Windows 7 RTM, which will be distributed to MSDN/TechNet and technical beta testers tomorrow, contains a nasty memory leak when the chkdsk command is initiated.

The bug occurs when the CHKDSK /R command is initiated on a non-system volume. Memory usage of the chkdsk.exe process soars until the system is using over 90% physical memory. In some cases this will cause the system to become unresponsive and unstable.

Some are calling the bug a "show stopper", whilst others (Randall Kennedy) claim it could derail the Windows 7 launch. It's worth noting that Kennedy claimed in November 2008 that Microsoft had delayed the Windows 7 beta to early 2009, even though company officials always stated this was the case. In other words, take his words with a pinch of salt.

Is this a show stopper? No not really. Yes the memory leak is bad but it's a process that is used so rarely that Microsoft would mark this as minor in terms of bugs. There are unconfirmed reports that Windows VP Steven Sinofsky has claimed this is a controller issue and can be fixed with updated drivers, something that Microsoft can push out with Windows Update. In an unverified blog posting, Sinofsky states "In this case, we haven't reproduced the crash and we're not seeing any crashes with chkdsk on teh (sic) stack reported in any measurable number that we could find. We had one beta report on the memory usage, but that was resolved by design since we actually did design it to use more memory. But the design was to use more memory on purpose to speed things up, but never unbounded — we requset (sic) the available memory and operate within that leaving at least 50M of physical memory."

It's worth noting that this bug also affects Windows Server 2008 R2, an operating system that potential customers would be more likely to use the chkdsk tool on. We have asked Microsoft officials for an official statement on the issue and are awaiting their reply.

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