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Windows 8.1 Update 1 installation problems continue

Windows 8.1 Update 1 installation problems continue

Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Update 1, a mandatory patch for future security updates, is proving a pain for some users who are unable to install it on their systems despite recent patches.


Microsoft is continuing to address problems with Windows 8.1 Update 1, its first major update to the operating system formerly known as Windows Blue and a mandatory install for anyone who wants to continue to receive security updates in the future.

Released earlier this month, Windows 8.1 Update 1 introduces a number of tweaks and improvements to Microsoft’s flagship OS including user experience enhancements for those who eschew touch-screen interfaces in favour of the traditional keyboard and mouse. While the biggest of these improvements, the reintroduction of the Start Menu which was removed in Windows 7 after its introduction way back in Windows NT 4.0, has been held back for a future release the mandatory nature of Windows 8.1 Update 1 makes it quite literally a must-install for Windows 8.1 users.

Sadly, all is not well with the update. Last week Microsoft was forced to pull the update from WSUS following reports that it would prevent the installation of future updates for corporate users. Now, the company is working to patch additional issues with the update – some of which prevent its installation altogether.

One bug, which presents the error code 0x800f081f during installation, has already seen a patch released on Windows Update; a second patch has been provided for users who are finding that installing Windows 8.1 Update 1 prevents Internet Information Services (IIS), Microsoft’s web server package, from being uninstalled at any time.

Despite these patches, problems with the update still remain. Many users are taking to the Microsoft support forums to claim that, despite the updated patch being released to Windows Update, Windows 8.1 Update 1 still fails to install. A work-around suggested in the forums has been noted by some to improve matters, removing a damaged version of the package so a fresh copy can be downloaded, but others report that the process makes no difference to their systems.

With Microsoft planning on enforcing installation of Windows 8.1 Update 1 by refusing security updates to anyone still on plain old Windows 8.1 starting on the next Patch Tuesday in May, the race is on for the company to fix the flaws and get the update rolled out to all its customers.

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Logitech unveils K830 home-theatre keyboard and trackpad

Logitech unveils K830 home-theatre keyboard and trackpad

The Logitech K830, designed specifically for home theatre use, boasts soft-touch keys for quiet typing and an integrated trackpad where the number pad would normally sit.


Peripherals giant Logitech has unveiled an illuminated keyboard designed specifically for home-theatre PC (HTPC) use, dropping the traditional number pad in favour of a touch-sensitive trackpad.

Dubbed the Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830, which we’ll refer to as the Logitech K830 from now to save wear on our own keyboards, the new device boasts a rechargeable internal battery, illuminated back-lit keys and the aforementioned trackpad to serve as a single-unit solution for pointing and pressing.

More and more consumers want an easy way to access movies, TV programs, music and photos with their PC connected to a TV,‘ claimed Logitech’s Charlotte Johs at the unveiling. ‘Our new Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830 is designed with this setup in mind. Backlit keys and a premium aesthetic that blends into the living room make it a stand-out choice for people with connected TVs.

The Logitech K830 shows a few design tweaks that suggest the company has certainly been considering the requirements of the HTPC and Smart TV enthusiast in its creation: silent-action soft-feel keys reduce typing noise, the integrated backlighting adjusts its brightness depending on ambient conditions and switches off five seconds after you’ve finished typing, and the keyboard’s slim design should make storage a cinch. As with Logitech’s previous wireless products, the K830 uses the company’s Unifying receiver – meaning the K830 can be coupled with a more traditional mouse or trackball while still using only a single receiver.

Logitech has confirmed plans to release the K830 in the US and Europe later this month, with a recommended retail price of €99.99 (around £60, excluding taxes.)

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Microsoft pulls Windows 8.1 Update 1 from WSUS

Microsoft pulls Windows 8.1 Update 1 from WSUS

Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Update 1, a required update for future security fixes, has been pulled from its corporate WSUS distribution service following the discovery of an update-blocking flaw.


Microsoft has withdrawn Windows 8.1 Update 1 from its Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) platform over reports that it causes client systems to ignore future patches, even as it warns that machines without the update will be left behind at the end of the month.

A major update for Windows 8.1, previously codenamed Windows Blue, Windows 8.1 Update 1 adds a number of enhancements and improvements to Microsoft’s flagship operating system. Many of these address criticisms regarding the user experience, which many still claim is weaker than Windows 7 when used on a device without a touch-screen display. Although some enhancements are being held back for future release – in particular the reintroduction of the Start Menu, dropped in Windows 8 in favour of the tile-based Start Screen – it’s considered a major update for the platform.

It’s major enough, in fact, that Microsoft is mandating its installation: computers running Windows 8.1 without Update 1, the company has advised, will cease receiving updates at the end of the month – including critical security updates. Those who want to remain protected, then, are gently encouraged to make sure that the update has been installed before the month is out.

That’s easier said than done for corporate customers, however: Microsoft has pulled the update from its WSUS platform, which allows for distribution of approved software patches within an internal network, following reports of a serious flaw. When installed on a Windows 8.1 system, the computer loses the ability to check the WSUS server for future updates.

Although the flaw only affects servers running encrypted HTTPS connections, which is not the default, but with the latest TLS 1.2 functionality disabled, which is the default, the flaw is serious enough for the update to be removed from distribution. Although it will still be available through Windows Update for home users, WSUS administrators are asked to wait for an updated version to be released; those who have already deployed the flawed update can either enable TLS 1.2 if running WSUS on Windows Server 2008 R2 or disable HTTPS altogether if running on any other platform.

Microsoft has not offered a date for the patch’s rerelease.

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HTC One M8 officially unveiled

HTC One M8 officially unveiled

The HTC One M8


HTC has officially unveiled its latest flagship smartphone the HTC One M8, which replaces last year’s HTC One.

The new phone sports a very similar design to its predecessor but includes plenty of tweaks throughout.

Firstly, the new phone has a new look. Although still largely similar to before, with the premium allure of metal leading the charge, the edges of this phone have been rounded off a little while the touch buttons underneath the screen of the HTC One have been removed.

The finish of the metal back is also new, at least on one of the available colours, with a brushed pattern adorning the darker ‘metal grey’ colour. More conventional anodised silver and gold versions will also be available.

The key new features of this phone are its dual camera and the addition of a microSD slot.

The new camera uses a secondary lens to pick up depth information, which can then be used by the phone to automatically pick out objects in the picture for applying effects. The most obvious application of this will be to create a false bokeh (blurred background) effect for better bringing out the subject of a photo, though other effects such as making the rest of the image black and white will also be available.

The main camera sensor is the same 4-megapixel ‘Ultrapixel’ camera of the HTC One. The rational for this relatively low resolution is that the larger pixels it allows for (2.0 microns compared to 1.1 for most smartphone cameras) allows for better colour accuracy and dynamic range, particuarly in low light conditions.

Its benefits were debatable in last year’s phone – it was slightly better in low light but was outclassed in most other scenarios – so it’s surprising to see HTC stick to such a low resolution when the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 are nearing 20-megapixels.

As for the addition of a microSD card, this will provide a way of quickly and easily transporting data to and from the phone as well as a low cost way to boost its overall storage. The onboard storage is variable but is likely to be 16GB in most shops.

Elsewhere the HTC One M8 is a steady step up from last year’s model with a faster Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 CPU and 2GB RAM. That CPU is a quad core model running at a hefty 2.3GHz.

The display has also increased very slightly in size, from 4.7in to 5in, but its resolution remains at 1080p. It’s an SLCD model so won’t have quite the black level performance of the AMOLEDs used by Samsung but should be better in brighter conditions.

HTC Sense makes a return on the software side of things, though HTC has further reduced its impact on the overall experience. BlinkFeed is now less obtrusive while the Gallery and Camera apps are now kept separate from the main system, which should make for fewer delays in the release of system updates.

The final main improvemnt of the HTC One M8 over the HTC One is a larger battery, with it increasing from 2,300mAh to 2,600mAh. This still trails the Galaxy S5, at 2,800mAh, and Sony Xperia Z2, at 3,000mAh, though.

The HTC One M8 release date and price are yet to be confirmed but expect it to arrive soon and be pricey.

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Double Fine becomes third party publisher with Escape Goat 2

Double Fine becomes third party publisher with Escape Goat 2

The original Escape Goat was launched in 2011. Its sequel only started life as a high-res art experiment.


Indie studio Double Fine has entered the third party publishing game with the release of puzzle platformer Escape Goat 2.

The game, a follow up to 2011’s Escape Goat, originally started life as developer Ian Stocker of MagicalTimeBean was experimenting to see how the first game would look with higher resolution art.

’I never imagined it would come this far, launching along with a nod of approval and publishing support from Double Fine,’ said Stocker.

The Escape Goat series pits players in the hooves of a goat imprisoned in a dungeon for witchcraft and needing to escape.

The last part of the game’s development was completed from the Double Fine offices in San Francisco where MagicalTimeBean was allowed in to use the studio’s resources during the Indie Omega Jam.

‘It’s super rad to be surrounded by other independent developers who are making cool stuff and are passionate about what they are doing,’ said Double Fine senior publishing manager Greg Rice. ’I’m really glad we could help them out and hope we can do this with more developers in the future!’

Double Fine closes the announcement by offering a contact email address for other indie developers to get in touch with the studio and talk about other potential publishing partnerships.

Escape Goat 2 is currently available on Steam, The Humbe Store and Good Old Games with a 10% discount for its launch week. The title is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux systems.

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Find your first tweet: Twitter opens archive for its birthday

Craves first tweet

Crave’s first tweet was all about a CPU cooler.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

I honestly couldn’t remember what my first tweet was about. I joined Twitter back in 2010 and have generated 1,559 tweets since then. Too many to recall them all. In celebration of its 8th birthday, Twitter is making easy for forgetful people like me to discover the very tweet that started the journey. Your first tweet.

Using the site first-tweets.com, you can enter your Twitter username and instantly pull up that intelligent, insightful, and funny first tweet you posted. In my case, it was a deadly dull journalistic inquiry asking to get in touch with a press contact for a restaurant. Scintillating! If I had known I was going to be looking at my first tweet again years down the line, I would have composed something about “Star Trek” crossing over with “Doctor Who,” or perhaps an artfully beautiful haiku.

Fortunately, first-tweets.com doesn’t limit you to your own output. You can check on other usernames as well. CNET’s first tweet in 2009 is all about ATT increasing a bounty on fiber vandals. You’ll find that some of today’s Twitter luminaries didn’t exactly shine in their first outings. Sir Patrick Stewart’s entry is a simple “Hi World.”

Geek star Wil Wheaton, however, fares better. Not only did he sign up way back in 2007, but he tweeted out this message to kick things off: “Trying to figure out if I signed up with ‘wilwheaton’ to prevent some jerk from stealing it, or if some jerk already stole it.” It has style. It has content. It was a portent of great Twitter things to come.

Perhaps my favorite first tweet so far comes from Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak back in March 2009: “Rare massage (for me), then dance practice. No pain, no gain. Awkward but fun, this dancing. I still can’t do Macarena.” That tweet conjures up some delightful imagery.

If you really like your first tweet, you can re-broadcast it from the first-tweets site. I won’t be doing that. Go look at your first tweet and report back. Tell us in the comments if it was a keeper or something you would rather keep locked away in the dusty drawer of your Internet past.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.s first tweet

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. chose his recent Daytona 500 win as his Twitter kick-off.


(Credit:
Screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET)

(Via USA Today)

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Not tonight, darling, I’m online shopping

“Not tonight, darling, I just don’t want to listen to you.”


(Credit:
Amazon/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

I know that Nancy Reagan always encouraged us to “just say no.”

But it’s not easy, is it? Some people can be terribly insistent, nagging even. Some can sulk or get aggressive.

Thankfully, it seems that Americans have found a new way to tell their significant others that they don’t have a significant mood for sex: they say they’re busy online shopping.

You might think I’m making it up. And I might think that people who create these surveys are making it up too.

All I can tell you is that the cashback rewards site EBates commissioned TNS to perform a study among 1,000 American adults that emitted fascinating conclusions.

Some 10 percent of women say they use their mobile devices — and the excuse of shopping on them — to deter their lovers from getting amorous.

But here’s the nugget that might astound even more: 13 percent of men admitted to doing the same thing.

I confess that I hadn’t considered online shopping as a means of expressing emotions toward another person. I certainly couldn’t imagine telling a lover that I wasn’t feeling carnal because I was trying to decide which pair of camel boots to buy.

And you’ll forgive me, I hope, if I mention that survey respondents often seem to have enjoyed a touch too much Bacardi.

But for some people mobile shopping has become the equivalent of the invented headache. It brings with it the luxury of not being forced to take a couple of Advil, in the hope that this will somehow lift your libido.

This splendidly twisted survey, performed between March 14 and 17, further offered that passive-aggressive shopping is also directed at annoying co-workers, annoying people on public transit and, of course, annoying in-laws.

The original purpose of this survey was merely to examine mobile shopping habits. It seems that 45 percent of Americans use their mobile devices to shop — and 10 percent claim they do it daily.

Perhaps these are the 10 percent who stand in front of me at Starbucks desperately waving their phones at the scanner, only to get more reaction out of the whipped cream on their frappuccino.

Tellingly, 49 percent of the respondents in this survey confessed that shopping on their mobile device cures boredom while they’re waiting in line. And 24 percent somehow couple mobile shopping with watching reality TV.

Perhaps Americans are just frightfully confused. (No “perhaps” about it)

In essence, though, what is the difference between sex and online shopping?

In the latter, it’s much harder to haggle.

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Voice is not enough: Motion is key to Android Wear

Forget poetry, the future is wearables in motion.


(Credit:
Motorola)

Google and Motorola rolled out their joint vision of Android Wear, the Moto 360, and the future of wearables on Tuesday. (LG also gave us a taste of its upcoming G Watch.) Based on the few videos and all the information released for developers, it appears that Google’s wearable platform is a fancy port of Google Now “cards” and voice control in a pretty spiffy, new form factor.

While this is the focus of the developer preview out this week, don’t be fooled.
Android Wear will be much more than just some full-faced watches that respond to speech, taps, and swipes. For the past few years now, Google has been telegraphing that it is much more interested in how we ambulate our entire bodies, not just our index fingers and vocal cords.

Last August, I went to New York to get my hands on the much-hyped Moto X. I spent a few weeks with a review unit and then sent it back and moved on to demo the other anticipated Android phones of the season — like the Nexus 5. But when it came time for me to put my money where my mouth was and buy my next daily use device a few months later, I went with the already slightly aged and less powerful Moto X.

What sold me on the
Moto X was its integration of a few features that are almost certainly heading for the Moto 360 and likely other Android Wear devices — touchless control and activity recognition, and the seamless marriage of voice control and contextual awareness that still is not really offered on any other device.

Normally, my Moto X has an “active display” function that pulses on and off to show me the time and any new notifications. I can touch the screen to get more details on new notifications. That is, unless the phone is face down or in my pocket — then it doesn’t pulse on at all to conserve battery life. So, flipping my phone down and then back up is a very easy way to see new notifications with a flip of the wrist.

Hmmm. What other form factor might benefit from responding to such motion?

Get a move on
The Moto X also was among the first phones to take advantage of a new activity-recognition feature that lives in Location Services in Android and can discern if a user is walking, driving, or standing still, among other states. The Android Wear developer preview encourages programmers to become familiar with using activity detection and even geofencing to trigger contextual notifications on wearables. For example, if your phone detects that you’re riding a bike, apps could automatically forward all notifications to the Wear-powered device on your wrist.

If you still don’t think Android Wear is about motion and gestures as much as talking and tapping, take another look at Google’s own introductory video. There’s a rather comical scene in which a woman sprints to catch a plane, and her smartwatch detects the activity and automatically estimates how many calories she just burned; or the woman whose watch detects that she’s dancing and offers to look up the song that’s playing.

This last one in particular took me back to the floors of CES in Las Vegas this year where wearables abounded. Some of the more impressive devices were those that made use of programmable gestures. A small device called Kiwi demonstrated how it can be programmed to perform the same Shazam-like action when the user draws a musical note in the air — this is perhaps a little more intuitive than having to get jiggy with it anytime you’re curious about the title of a song.

And Google has clearly demonstrated that it is interested in merging gestures with contextual awareness as much as it is in getting us to speak to it no matter where we are.

In addition to its work on activity recognition in Android and with Motorola, Google recently bought a small Swiss app developer called Bitspin that is best known for making Timely, an Android app that is really a fancy alarm clock and makes use of — you guessed it — motion detection and gestures. What a, uh, “timely” acquisition that was for Google to make in the months leading up to the reveal of Android Wear.

Android Wear unveiled: LG G Watch and Moto 360 (pictures)

Expect Android Wear to ultimately go even further than simply responding to the flick of a wrist and figuring out if you’re walking or biking. In the full SDK, Google plans to introduce the ability to gather more sensor data. Android APIs currently include support for not just harvesting data from a phone’s accelerometer, but also from a gyroscope, and sensors for temperature, light, pressure, proximity, humidity, rotation, linear acceleration, and even magnetic fields.

That’s a whole lot of context that would be all the more powerful when paired with an arsenal of gestures.

Dick Tracy had part of the equation right — a good wearable needs to be able to be spoken to, but to be truly smart, understanding body language is just as important.

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Corsair Raptor M45 Review

Corsair Raptor M45 Review – Introduction and Features

Manufacturer: Corsair
UK Price: £44.99
US Price: $59.99

The Corsair Raptor M45 is an upgrade to the Corsair Raptor M40, with an improved 5,000dpi sensor. It could also be considered a cut-price variant of the company’s Vengeance M65 model that uses an optical rather than laser sensor. However, while cheaper than that model it still boasts plenty of other features that mark it out from entry level models – this is still a true gaming peripheral.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
When we say this is a low cost version of the M65 we really mean it. The M45 sports essentially exactly the same physical design as that model but rather than the metal base of the M65 here it’s all plastic. This doesn’t detract at all from the mouse’s overall look or feel though. On the desk you’d be hard pushed to tell it apart from its more luxurious sibling and all the surfaces of the mouse that you touch feel solid and have nice finishes. The top has a soft-touch coating while the sides have a textured moulded finish to them, which theoretically aids grip and reduces overall sweaty finger-syndrome.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
Another nice addition is the aluminium scroll wheel. The metal construction doesn’t serve a purpose in terms of adding extra weight for inertial scrolling but it looks the part. The edge is finished with a nice thick and grippy rubber band and the scrolling action has an accurate lightweight feel – perfect for precise weapon selection in FPS games for instance.

Another key feature of this mouse is that it includes a weights system. Three screw-off metal bolts on the underside reveal three tiny metal discs. Each of the bolts weighs 3g and the weights weigh 4g, making for a total possible extra weight of 21g.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
We aren’t generally fans of weights in mice as we tend to find the lighter the better. As such we ended up removing both the weights and the bolts. However one area where we did see some benefit was in photoshop work where the extra stability provided by the higher weight made tracing round fine objects a little easier. Also, some people like extra weight generally and as far as weight systems go this one seems to do the trick nicely.

One area where the M45 actually trumps the M65 is that it has more lights! As well as the indicator bars for the DPI setting, which sit below the scroll wheel in between the two DPI adjusting buttons, the Corsair logo is also backlit. The lighting is single colour but good quality and we like the choice of red and black – it’s the perfect partner to the matching Corsair Raptor K40 keyboard at the very least.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
An interesting little quirk of this mouse is that the cable comes from the left side of the front edge, rather than the middle. This doesn’t seem to serve any purpose for the user but simply is a result of the design and construction of the mouse. The cable itself is 1.2m long, which is plenty, and is fully braided, terminating in a matching red USB plug.

Corsair Raptor M45 Review Corsair Raptor M45 Review - Introduction and Features
The base of the Corsair Raptor M45 has five very large PTFE glide pads which provide a wonderfully smooth mousing action. It glided effortlessly over every conventional mousing surface we tried and the sheer area of padding means the pads should last a while. A nice touch too is that each pad has a little notch next to it for easy insertion of a screwdriver or such for prizing off and replacing the pads. How easy it will be to get hold of replacements is a different matter, of course.

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Blood testing coming to a touch screen near you

Qloudlab says the sensors normally used for finger tracking can also be used for bio-sensing detection of molecules, making blood coagulation testing possible.


(Credit:
Qloudlab)

People with hemophilia, or those taking anticoagulants to help prevent dangerous outcomes such as deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or ischemic stroke, are unfortunately at a higher risk of bleeding easily. To better monitor these patients, health care professionals typically take blood coagulation tests in hospitals and clinics — which can be a real burden both financially and logistically.

But soon, thanks to startup Qloudlab, based in the microengineering lab in Switzerland’s EPFL tech university, these patients may be able to use the touch screens on their phones or other devices to test their blood coagulation, all in the comfort of their own homes — or wherever.




(Credit:

Alain Herzog/EPFL
)

It’s still a blood test, and thus still requires a drop of blood — which sounds unadvisable anywhere near a smartphone, let alone right on its screen. But the tech they hope to demonstrate sometime in 2015 is actually, at least in theory, well contained.

To take the test, the patient will have to press a small plastic sticker that is just a few micrometers thick to the surface of the screen. It’s a microfluidic sticker, which means it’s embedded with minuscule channels that absorb the drop of blood. As the sample passes through the sticker’s microchannels, the blood will come into contact with a molecule that initiates coagulation.

This is where the touch screen comes in. Using the sensors that can determine where it is being touched (i.e. where the screen’s electric field is being disrupted), the screen can detect with incredible precision when and where the blood is moving through those tiny channels across the small surface area where the sticker touches the screen. Though the phone detects this movement as simple touch, the Qloudlab app translates those signals into a blood coagulation reading.

If it works, the tech could be a boon for the patients who will get to regularly test their blood at home and shoot the results off to their docs, and it could lead to other developments medically and beyond that take advantage of the powers of touch screens.

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