Wednesday, November 30, 2011

3 Technology Link

3 Technology Link

Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p

Posted: 29 Nov 2011 05:14 PM PST

Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p

Price Range $1,023.25 – $1,052.93
  • ProsCompact form factor. High build quality. Includes PCI card slot, DisplayPort jack. Easily serviced.
  • ConsNo HDMI, eSATA, USB 3.0 ports. Only one-year warranty included. Uses external power supply.
  • Bottom LineThe Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p defines the enterprise-class desktop, with an easy-to-service yet sturdy chassis. Its Intel Core i5 processor will satisfy your workers for a while.

    The Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p ($1,180 direct) is one of those utilitarian-looking, ubiquitous business desktops that seem to be on the desks of a lot of workers across the United States and around the world. There’s a good reason for that: The Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p (which we reviewed in its Ultra Small Form Factor, or USFF, chassis) is a workhorse that is easy to service, easy to deploy, and ultimately a vital business tool for your office workers. It has a little extra expandability to help with legacy projects that require an old-school PCI card slot, but its modern Intel CPU with built-in graphics means it also looks forward technology-wise. It’s good enough to slot in as our next Editors’ Choice for enterprise-class business PCs, though you can also buy it for medium-sized businesses that are growing.

    Design and Features
    The ThinkCentre M91p’s exterior matches that of the previous Lenovo ThinkCentre M90p USFF($1,158 direct, 4 stars), from its no-nonsense enterprise chassis to its tray-loading DVD drive. Like the M90p, the M91p is easy to open, easy to service, and easy to deploy. These traits, common among enterprise class PCs, are evident in the M91p’s Kensington lock port, blue-colored grab handles for the serviceable parts, quick-swap hard drive, Intel vPro certification, and ThinkVantage utilities to help the IT manager handle company desktops. The system has eight USB 2.0 ports; faster USB 3.0 or eSATA ports are not present. Access ports are limited to the front and back surfaces of the system, which makes it easier to mount under a desk on in a cubby hole. The system uses an external AC adapter, which is less convenient than a standard three-prong cord, but AC adapters are pretty common for USFF systems. There’s a DisplayPort jack on the back, for new business-class monitors, and a VGA port for old-school displays.

    The system has a decent amount of internal room for a USFF PC. The top of the case pops open by pushing a blue tab on the back panel, and the whole chassis opens clamshell-style to present the system’s compact motherboard. It has full-size optical and hard drives, but concedes to using SO-DIMM memory cards for upgrades (SO-DIMMs are more compact than full-sized DIMM cards, and share parts with your company’s laptops). There’s space and a slot for a PCI card, in case your business still uses specialized hardware that doesn’t work with USB. Last but not least, there’s an extra internal SATA port, so you could theoretically put in a SATA-to-eSATA adapter. The build quality feels rock solid, and the system hinges together so well that it’s easy to service. These two qualities are rarely seen together on a business PC. USFF PCs have traditionally been difficult to service, thanks to the cramped quarters inside the chassis. The M91p is laid out so well that a simple replacement should take only seconds, and the more complex motherboard only a few minutes. Ease of serviceability should reduce downtime significantly.

    Because the ThinkCentre M91p is an enterprise-class system, you can order it with a variety of Windows 7 operating systems, from 32-bit Home Basic to 64-bit Professional (like our test unit). The system supports disk images under the Intel Stable Image Platform Program, so you can create a single image for your USFF and tower PCs. Your IT folk can create an image with your site-licensed copy of Office, other apps, anti-malware, and management software preloaded. Our system came with a vanilla software load, including Lenovo’s ThinkVantage utilities, Skype, Office 2010 Starter, and a 30-day trial for Norton Internet Security. Thankfully, most of that software was included only as installer programs, so you don’t have to worry about the programs leaving detritus all over your system if you remove them.


    The basic improvement in the M91p over the M90p is the inclusion of a new Sandy Bridge Intel Core i5-2500S processor in place of the older Clarkdale i5-660. The i5-2500S has the latest-generation built-in Intel HD Graphics 2000, and along with the system’s 4GB of memory, gives the M91p the legs it needs to last your company more than a few years. The M91p took a spritely 1 minute 21 seconds to complete our Handbrake video conversion test and 3:12 to finish our 12-step Photoshop CS5 test. For comparison, the Core i7-2600–powered Dell Optiplex 990 ($1,905 direct, 3.5 stars) is a bit quicker (1:11 in Handbrake, 2:57 in CS5) thanks to its more powerful quad-core processor, though of course it’s quite a bit more expensive. Closer in price and performance is the HP 8200 Elite USDT ($869 direct, 4 stars), which uses the same Core i5-2500S as the M91p, and achieves similar results (1:21 in Handbrake, 3:16 in CS5). Likewise, the M91p’s PCMark 7 score of 2,558 is one of the better ones we’ve seen on a business PC, handily beating the HP (2,190) and in striking distance of the Dell (2,601). This means that the M91p is fast enough to last the four to five years you’d expect from a new business PC.

    The Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p is an excellent USFF PC, with a little expansion room and excellent build quality. It’s certainly fast enough for most office-based tasks short of 3D and other specialized graphics work. Our last enterprise-class business PC Editors’ Choice was the Dell Optiplex 780 Ultra Small Form Factor ($1,484 direct, 4 stars); the Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p is two generations faster on the processor front, and just a smidge bigger. Dell continues that form factor in its Optiplex 790 and 990 lines. The M91p can keep up with the Optiplex 990 configured as a tower, so it’s reasonable to surmise that the M91p will likewise perform much like an Optiplex 990 USFF with similar components. The HP 8200 Elite USDT is a USFF, but it’s less expandable than the M91p (it can’t house a PCI card), it uses more expensive laptop-class hard and optical drives, and its MXM graphics card slot severely limits your discrete video choices. Thanks to its features, performance, good price point, serviceability, and sturdiness, the ThinkCentre M91p replaces the Dell Optiplex 780 USFF as our enterprise-class business PC Editors’ Choice.

    Spec Data

    Type Business, Small Business
    Processor Family Intel Core i5
    Processor Speed 2.7 GHz
    Processor Name Intel Core i5-2500S
    RAM 4 GB
    Storage Capacity (as Tested) 500 GB
    Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 2000
    Primary Optical Drive Dual-Layer DVD+/-RW
    Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
    PCMark7 2558
    Crysis (DX10) (fps) – 1,280 x 720 – Medium – AA/AF= Off/Off 12
    Crysis (DX10) (fps) – 1,920 x 1,080 AA/AF=4X/Off 1
    MULTIMEDIA TESTS – CineBench 11.5 4.32
    MULTIMEDIA TESTS – Handbrake 1:21 min:sec
    MULTIMEDIA TESTS – PhotoShop CS5 3:12 min:sec

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p : Full Set

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p : Front

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p : Drive

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p : Profile

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p : Back

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p : Keyboard

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p

    Lenovo ThinkCentre M91p : Mouse

    (c) 2011

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Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH-I727 (AT&T)

Posted: 29 Nov 2011 05:02 PM PST

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH I727 (AT&T)

Price Range $249.99
  • Pros

Huge, colorful display. Ultra-fast LTE data speeds and dual-core CPU. Good camera.

  • Cons

No voice dialing over Bluetooth. Spotty AT&T LTE network coverage (for now).

  • Bottom Line

The Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket offers blistering LTE data speeds, a massive screen, and very fast dual-core performance.

The Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket ($149.99) is a big slab of Android, but with a twist: It’s one of the first two smartphones to support AT&T’s brand new 4G LTE network, the other being the HTC Vivid ($99.99, 4 stars). We’re giving the Editors’ Choice nod to the Skyrocket, thanks to its faster performance, lightweight design, and vibrant (if not as high resolution) screen, but the Vivid is also a very powerful smartphone—you can’t go wrong with either one.

Design, Screen, and Call Quality
The Skyrocket looks a lot like the Galaxy S II ($99.99, 4.5 stars). It features a matte, slightly textured back panel, black glossy plastic sides. It measures 5.15 by 2.75 by 0.37 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.65 ounces. At least, that’s what Samsung and AT&T both claim. But if you lay the Skyrocket flat on a table and place a ruler next to it like I did, you’ll find it’s actually about 0.42 inches deep. It sticks up noticeably higher than an iPhone 4 I had nearby (which rings in exactly at its quoted 0.37 inch figure). The Skyrocket is still thinner than other LTE devices we’ve tested, though, and it’s certainly lighter in weight.

The massive 4.5-inch, 480-by-800-pixel, Super AMOLED Plus display is as vibrant and colorful as on other Samsung phones; it’s also two tenths of an inch larger than the Galaxy S II’s display. But at this screen size, I’d like to see more pixel density. On the plus side, you can read it outdoors, which was a problem with earlier AMOLED panels, and the gorgeous color and deep blacks really stand out. On a screen this size, you get big keys, so typing on the on-screen keyboard isn’t a problem in either portrait or landscape mode.

The Skyrocket is a quad-band EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), tri-band HSPA+ (850/1900/2100 MHz), and dual-band LTE (700/1700 MHz) device. It also has 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi; it connected to my own WPA2-encrypted network without issue.

There’s no getting around it: LTE is fast. In a series of tests in and around Boston, MA, I saw data speeds ranging from 16Mbps to 25Mbps down, and 12Mbps up. Be aware that AT&T is still building out its LTE network; currently, it’s only available in nine cities in the U.S. When not in an LTE area, the Skyrocket is rated as an HSPA+ 21 device; the Vivid is just HSPA+ 14.4. However, I saw roughly the same real-world HSPA+ speeds with both the Vivid and the Skyrocket, averaging up to 8Mbps down.

The Skyrocket is also a good voice phone. Callers sounded warm and clear through the earpiece, with no background hiss. The only flaw I heard was a faint wash of static around some syllables, but I had to strain to hear it in a very quiet room. Transmissions through the microphone were clear. Calls also sounded fine through a Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset ($129, 4 stars). Voice dialing doesn’t work over Bluetooth, which is a bizarre omission on a top-of-the-line smartphone. The speakerphone went quite loud, but distorted considerably at several of the higher volume settings; you won’t want to use it for long conference calls. Battery life was good at 6 hours and 47 minutes of talk time.

Apps, Multimedia, and Conclusions
Samsung Android phones often have key characteristics, all of which are present here: the four capacitive touch buttons beneath the screen; the pull-down bar at the top that lets you configure the radios; and a lighter overall UI overlay than what you find on HTC and Motorola phones. You get seven customizable home screen panels, most of which Samsung pre-populates with various widgets.

The 1.5GHz Qualcomm dual-core CPU and Android 2.3.5 (Gingerbread) OS make this a totally up-to-date Android device (for now, at least); it should have no problem running most of the quarter million third-party apps in the Android Market. That said, our benchmark results virtually matched those of the Galaxy S II, which contains a 1.2GHz Samsung Exynos processor. The Skyrocket is still very fast, but I had hoped for a noticeable bump in the benchmark results.

Multimedia fans will find much to like here. There’s 16GB of internal storage, plus a microSD card slot underneath the battery cover; my 32GB SanDisk card worked fine. You don’t have to pull the battery to swap cards like you do with the HTC Vivid, which is a big plus. Music tracks sounded full and vibrant through Samsung Modus HM6450 Bluetooth headphones ($99, 4 stars). As usual, Samsung provides a good-sounding set of wired stereo earbuds in the box, which is something we wish other phone vendors would do. The music player displayed huge album art thumbnails when available, and cycled through a series of attractive music-themed graphics otherwise, which was a nice touch. Standalone videos played smoothly and vibrantly in full screen mode, even DivX and Xvid videos, at resolutions up to 1080p. Thanks to the screen size and deep blacks of the super AMOLED screen, this is a heck of a pocket video player.

The 8-megapixel auto-focus camera has a single LED flash. Test photos looked very sharp, with good detail both indoors and outside. There were a few minor flaws: Bright sunlight overwhelmed the sensor in a few shots. One indoor shot was slightly blurry, and the flash didn’t help much in a dimmer room. But for the most part, this is one good camera. Recorded 1080p videos played smoothly at 28 frames per second, but looked a little dull and shaky; there’s no image stabilization, which would have helped. Stepping down to 720p (1280-by-720) bumped the frame rate to an even 30 frames per second, zoomed back out properly, and looked more natural.

The Skyrocket is a powerful phone, and its LTE capability means you’re buying into a future of super-fast data speeds. The HTC Vivid is $50 cheaper, has a sharper screen that’s almost as vibrant, and HTC’s Sense UI layer adds useful enhancements. But the Vivid is heavier, and not quite as fast from a CPU standpoint. The Motorola Atrix 2 ($99.99, 4 stars) lets you hook into Motorola’s interesting array of Webtop-related accessories, and it also has a higher-resolution screen, but it’s not an LTE phone. Finally, we haven’t tested AT&T’s version of the Apple iPhone 4S($199.99, 4.5 stars), though we expect it to be a solid choice. It features a top-notch camera, vast app catalog, Siri voice assistant, and smooth OS. It lacks any kind of 4G, though, and its Retina screen, though sharper, is a full inch smaller than the Skyrocket’s.

Spec Data

Service Provider AT&T
Operating System Android OS
Screen Size 4.5 inches
Screen Details 480-by-800-pixel, 16M color, TFT capacitive touch screen
Camera Yes
Megapixels 8 MP
Camera Flash Yes
802.11x Yes
Bluetooth Yes
Web Browser Yes
Form Factor Candy Bar
Network GSM, UMTS
Bands 850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100, 1700, 700
High-Speed Data EDGE, LTE, HSPA+ 21
Storage Capacity (as Tested) 11.24 GB
Processor Speed 1.5 GHz
Keyboard No
Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH I727 (AT&T)

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH-I727 (AT&T): Front

The Skyrocket features a glass front panel, black glossy plastic sides, and a matte, slightly textured back panel, and measures 5.15 by 2.75 by 0.37 inches (HWD) and weighs 4.65 ounces.
Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH I727 (AT&T)

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH-I727 (AT&T): Angle

The Skyrocket’s massive 4.5-inch, 480-by-800-pixel, Super AMOLED Plus display is as vibrant and colorful as on other Samsung phones; it’s also two tenths of an inch larger than the Galaxy S II’s display.
Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH I727 (AT&T)

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH-I727 (AT&T): Camera

The Skyrocket’s 8-megapixel auto-focus camera has a single LED flash. Test photos looked very sharp, with good detail both indoors and outside.
Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH I727 (AT&T)

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket SGH-I727 (AT&T): Right

There’s no getting around it: LTE is fast. In a series of tests in and around Boston, MA, I saw data speeds on the Skyrocket ranging from 16Mbps to 25Mbps down, and 12Mbps up.
(c) 2011

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Piracy vs. an open Internet

Posted: 29 Nov 2011 04:31 PM PST

To avoid the reach of U.S. copyright laws, numerous online pirates have set up shop in countries less willing or able to enforce intellectual property rights. Policymakers agree that these “rogue” sites pose a real problem for U.S. artists and rights holders who aren’t getting paid for the rampant distribution of their music, movies and other creative works. The question is how to help them. Lawmakers keep offering proposals, but they don’t seem to be getting any closer to the right answer.

The latest, HR 3261, comes from House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, and a dozen co-sponsors. Dubbed the Stop Online Piracy Act, it’s designed to isolate foreign websites that commit or “facilitate” willful copyright infringements by cutting off their funding and shrinking their U.S. audience. In that sense, it’s similar to its counterpart in the Senate, S 968, the PROTECT IP Act, which the Judiciary Committee has approved.

Both bills go to risky extremes, however, in their efforts to stop these sites from attracting an audience. Of the two, the House bill goes further down the wrong path, weakening protections for companies – including those based in the United States – that enable users to store, publish or sell goods online. The change could force such companies to monitor everything their users do, turning them into a private security force for copyright and trademark owners.

Supporters of the bills emphasize the proliferation of pirated content online, which they argue has cost the entertainment industry billions of dollars in sales and thousands of jobs. A new survey by the American Assembly, a public policy forum at Columbia University, found that almost half of the adults interviewed had bought, copied or downloaded bootlegged music or video, including 70 percent of those aged 18 to 29. But it also found that few did so on a large scale, and that legal and low-cost services were drawing people away from illegal ones.

The Senate and House bills would attack rogue sites in several ways, including through U.S. domain-name registrars, Internet service providers, search engines, credit card companies and advertising networks. The bills would allow the Justice Department to seek a court order to seize the domain name of an offending foreign site (if a U.S. company provided it) and require Internet service providers to redirect customers away from it. The order would also compel online payment processors to stop transferring money to the site and online advertising networks to stop providing ads.

ISPs already block sites that send spam and computer viruses, but redirecting users away from sites they’re eager to reach is a bigger challenge. As British Telecommunications is discovering as it tries to blacklist a site popular with illegal downloaders, the Internet is very good at routing traffic around obstacles. Additionally, some top Internet engineers have warned, persuasively, that the data misdirection contemplated by the House and Senate bills would undermine efforts to make the Internet less vulnerable to hackers.

The House bill makes matters worse by seemingly exposing to liability a wide range of social networks, online data storage sites for consumers and user-generated content sites that are shielded today. That’s because of the broad way it defines its reach.

Under Smith’s proposal, a site that merely facilitates infringement on some of its Web pages – for example, by letting users post comments that include links to bootlegged or counterfeit goods – could be targeted, even if most of the activity on the site is legal. So might online companies that deliberately take steps to “avoid confirming a high probability” that at least some users are infringing. That passage seems problematic for sites that could monitor their users but choose not to.

On sites and services such as Facebook, Dropbox and YouTube, infringements aren’t just highly probable – they’re certain. Some portion of the audience for virtually any site that allows users to upload, share or collaborate on content will infringe. But under current law, such sites aren’t liable for what their users do on their platforms as long as the companies abide by certain rules, such as removing infringing content quickly when notified by the copyright holder.

The House bill seemingly renders those safe harbors meaningless, in effect requiring online companies to guard against infringements on pages that users control. And if the technologies they used to police their sites didn’t prevent every infringement, a copyright or trademark owner could ask a court to second-guess their choice and order a different solution.

The potential result is that fewer companies would try to create the next YouTube – that is, the next industry-disrupting approach to communications or entertainment. And there would probably be a chilling effect on speech as sites block some fair uses of copyrighted content just to avoid ending up in court.

Supporters argue that such concerns are overblown and that only egregious infringers will be targeted. As Michael P. O’Leary, a lobbyist for the movie industry’s trade association, told lawmakers, “Legitimate sites are not covered by this legislation.”

But though the Justice Department, given its limited resources, might be expected to go after only the most significant foreign infringers, some litigious copyright owners have already shown a willingness to pursue the little guy. Under the House bill, copyright and trademark holders wouldn’t have to go to court to compel payment processors and advertising networks to cut off an offending site. They’d merely have to send a notice asserting that some portion of the site runs afoul of the bill, with “specific facts that support the claim.” Only if the site sent a counter-notice within five days would the blacklisting be put off until a court could adjudicate.

Although much of Silicon Valley is up in arms about the House bill, there is a clear path to consensus. Lawmakers should craft a bill focused on cutting off funding for foreign sites that really are dedicated to infringement. If they have any doubt that such an approach can be effective, they should consider WikiLeaks. Efforts to block access to the site were an abject failure. Cutting off the company’s ability to collect funds from its supporters, however, has pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy.

(c) 2011

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Facebook settles with FTC over deception charges

Posted: 29 Nov 2011 04:30 PM PST

Facebook is settling with the Federal Trade Commission over charges it deceived consumers with its privacy settings to get people to share more personal information than they originally agreed to.

Facebook settles with FTC over deception chargesThis Oct. 11, 2010 file photo, shows the logo of the online network Facebook, recorded in Munich with a magnifying glass of a computer screen of a laptop. Facebook said Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, it is settling with the Federal Trade Commission over charges it deceived consumers. The FTC had charged that the social network told people they could keep the information they share private and then allowed for it to be made public. The charges go back to 2009.(AP Photo/dapd, Joerg Koch)

The FTC had charged that the social network told people they could keep the information they share private, then allowed it to be made public.

The charges go back to at least 2009, when Facebook changed its privacy settings so that information users may have deemed private, such as their list of friends, suddenly became viewable to everyone.

“They didn’t warn users that this change was coming, or get their approval in advance,” the FTC said.

The FTC said the settlement requires Facebook to get people’s approval before changing how it shares their data.

In a blog post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company has made a “bunch of mistakes.” But he adds that this has often overshadowed the good work Facebook has done. He says Facebook has addressed many of the FTC’s concerns already.

The settlement is similar to one Google agreed to earlier this year over its Buzz social networking service. Like Google, Facebook has agreed to obtain assessments of its privacy practices by independent, third-party auditors for the next 20 years.

Facebook isn’t paying anything to settle the case, though future violations could lead to civil fines.

Zuckerberg said Facebook has created two new executive positions – a chief privacy officer of products and a chief privacy officer of policy as part of its response to the settlement.

(c) 2011

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Twitter buys Android gadget security startup

Posted: 29 Nov 2011 04:28 PM PST

A San Francisco startup specializing in security for smartphones and tablets powered by Android software said it had been bought by Twitter.

Twitter buys Android gadget security startupA San Francisco startup specializing in security for smartphones and tablets powered by Android software said on Monday that it had been bought by Twitter.

Whisper Systems did not disclose the terms of the deal.

“We started Whisper Systems with the goal of improving security and privacy for mobile devices,” the startup said in a blog post at its website.

“Now that we’re joining Twitter, we’re looking forward to bringing our technology and our expertise into Twitter’s products and services,” it added.

Whisper Systems products include encryption, software firewalls, and secure text messaging for mobile devices running on Google’s Android platform.

(c) 2011

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