Microsoft Security Essentials Alert!

To all users who are using Windows XP, there has been talk that Microsoft will stop updating and supporting their free anti-malware software — Microsoft Security Essentials. April 8, 2014 is the magic date that will end anti-malware and engine to Windows XP. Microsoft has been pushing people to upgrade from XP to one of the three newer operating systems they have developed: Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Microsoft says that running a anti-malware an unsupported system is not a good solution against threats. They encourage using software that is supported and updated to ward away this virus infested world.

When anti-malware software is updated, it will recognize the newest viruses and can remove them off the system. The world of viruses is expanding, sadly, and there are new ones that are developed every day. Microsoft recommends updating to newer software that will be updated regularly, using modern technology, and checking for security updates. If you are dead set on using Windows XP, there are third party applications that can be paid for and used. Microsoft Security Essentials is a great resource for protection against viruses because it’s nicely integrated into the system and is a very lightweight client.

As tough as it might seem, upgrading to a new operating system if you choose to go that route, is really not as bad as you may think! Things will work just as well, if not better on newer technology and a modern operating systems. Microsoft Security Essentials is used by PMX Computing, so our recommendation is upgrading to stay protected. The computer world, in regards to viruses and malware is expanding and it’s important to stay updated!

Android 4.4 — Something a little sweeter

Google has always had a sweet tooth when naming their Android operating systems. Names such as Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, HoneyComb, Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, and now Kitkat only prove their love of sweets. Google likes to pair new Android versions with a new phone; this phone is the Nexus 5. Kitkat is visually stunning and integrated with Google more so than ever before. Google has improved on the design, performance, productivity, hangouts, and phone dialing within the operating system.

The design of Android Kitkat is much brighter, cleaner, and crisper than before. The status bar up at the top and the navigation buttons are transparent which allows some applications and wallpaper to show through. Some applications will also give a gradient from a grey/black to the transparency. Applications that encompass the screen have become smoother, but Google has used this feature sparingly. Buttons and pop-ups are more subtle and feel less robotic to the user. The overall look of Android hasn’t changed, but it flows better, has more of an intuitive interface, and fonts have been improved. It’s a softer, cleaner, sweeter Android.

Google has made Android 4.4 all about, who-else but, Google! The Launch screen can be accessed with a swipe from the home screen to the leftmost screen. “Okay Google” is the hot phrase to use if you want to ask Google to do various tasks: save a note, set an alarm, search for a restaurant, etc. The voice commander only works in the Launcher and unfortunately you cannot train it to respond only to your own voice. Google has improved on voice recognition algorithms by 25 percent — voice to text has become more accurate and if it gets it wrong, the user can tap the word to replace it. Searching has also become much better and will bring up websites that might interest the user based on location. The application drawer is just a scrollable list of applications you have on your phone, simple as that. To make it a widget you have to do a long press and you can drag-drop onto the screen of your choice. It’s intuitive! Wallpapers work like this as well. The Nexus 5, best sports these upgrades, and sadly they are only available for this model. The Nexus 5, is the the best representation of Kitkat.

Google integrated MMS and SMS with Hangouts, totally replacing the core text messaging application from Android. Upon set up the user must “tie” their SMS / MMS messaging to a Google account. If you have multiple accounts, you must remember which you have threaded it to. Although, this integration isn’t flawless — SMS/MMS and Google Hangout conversations are not in the same tab. They have segregated these types of messages, unlike what iMessage and webOS have done (by keeping it in the same tab/window.) Google does promise that they are working on integrating these two communications together into one. Hangouts does have icons for phone messaging and hangout messaging notifications.

Dialing with Kitkat has become quick and intelligent. Google has developed an algorithm to list your top calls, and your top recieved calls — these are listed when when the user accesses the dial pad. They also have made it so that users can use T9 to dial or search through contacts. Users can also search for local businesses using Map databases. This is especially neat because it also shows the picture associated with the business in your call log. This is great because when a business calls you, you don’t ignore the logged number. These features that have been added really jazz up the core phone application.

Kitkat has brought file organization and office productivity to a new and cleaner level. Kitkat has QuickOffice pre-installed; QuickOffice is cleaner and looks more integrated with the rest of the operating system. Along with Notes and Downloads, they both look cleaner and they are much easier to navigate. Attaching files with File Picker has also become quicker and easier to understand. File Picker is also integrated with Dropbox, Google Drive, and other office applications. Printing from Kitkat is more functional. The user can print to Google Print services, an HP printer, or even to a PDF. Even the littlest features here show that Google is striving to make Kitkat a “real” operating system. The core email application has been made up to look more like Gmail — meaning they have sliding panels, swipe to delete, and other Gmail features. Overall things have become cleaner and more intuitive.

“Project Svelte” is what Google is calling the Android 4.4’s capability of running on lower-end hardware. This definitely is a big change… and a very sweet change. Kitkat can run on 512MB of RAM, Google shrunk the size of the operating system. Google has also made Android’s memory management a priority by letting developers enable a “low memory” mode when they are working on applications on lower specification phones. In other performance developments, the keyboard has been improved to be much more accurate with touch, along with the overall touch input. The future of confectionery has arrived. Go ahead, take a bite!

Console Wars: Is it worth is to upgrade this Christmas?

(Xbox One vs Playstation 4)

This holiday season brings about the tough decision between purchasing a Microsoft Xbox One or a Sony Playstation 4 – “There can only be one!” Most people have picked sides with what company they want to stay with, but there is a small portion that enjoy both consoles. Each console has their upgrades and changes, so it can be hard to chose which is best suited for your interests.

Sony’s Playstation 4: Gorgeous Gaming

The PS4 rings up to be $400, has a 500GB built-in hard drive, 8 core CPU, and a AMD Radeon graphic card. We of course can’t forget the DUALSHOCK 4 controller, which has now been optimized. This newly engineered controller still keeps the same feel of the older DUALSHOCK 3, but has some changes: a touchpad in the center, grips and elevation on the analogue sticks, a light bar on the backside, the triggers have concave insets to comfort your fingers, and small but powerful speakers embedded within. The PS4 can be coupled with a Playstation Camera, which in turn will work together with the light bar on the controller. This feature will provide motion / position sensing, and controller orientation.

The Playstation menu has always been very clean, homely, and very user friendly. The customizable menu allows for quick access to recently played games and allows the user to stay connected with their friends. Updating software and installing downloadable content for games has become minimalistic instead it’s snuggled right on the home screen instead of buried behind menus. Are you away from your beloved console? Well now you can still be connected to purchase and download games for your PS4 through a new Playstation Network app for your iPhone and Android smartphone.

Gaming with PS4 is much more powerful than before. The new processor and graphic card make a big difference with performance. Crystal clear 1080p resolution make games breathtakingly realistic and looks amazing on a massive flatscreen. New PS4 games will take advantage of the new light bar and touchpad on the controller: in shooting games the user can use the touchpad to flip between weapons. That 500GB hard drive will be filled with games that are automatically installed as soon as the user slips in the game’s CD. Although, each game could be about 30 GB, so you must keep an eye on the hard drive space. The new PS4 has made it quick and easy to delete and reinstall games to alleviate this potential problem.

Sony’s Playstation 4 is a concrete console solely made for a better gaming experience: it’s all about the games!

Microsoft’s Xbox One: Media Masterpiece

The Xbox One price tag will read $500 and contains 500GB of hard drive space, 8GB of RAM, 8GB of Flash Memory, has a 8 core CPU, and has been upgraded specifically for media entertainment. The Xbox operating system has evolved to look more like the Windows 8 operating system, and the way it works is very similar. A key feature that Microsoft is integrating with daily use and gaming is the Kinect webcam, which comes when you buy the console. The Kinect has some neat features of it’s own: gesture recognition, speech recognition, and people recognition. Hand movements that the camera can recognize will bring you through different menus and select applications, although this component can be faulty. Talking to your Xbox might sound crazy, but with the proper commands it will do as told: starting up the Xbox “Xbox: ON”, navigation through menus, and selecting applications or games are just some of the things the voice recognition will do. People recognition is a component that will turn on the Xbox when a user walks into a room, which can be a slight inconvenience if the user is just popping into the room quickly. There is more than one feature for “people recognition” included with the Xbox One. It’s used in Microsoft’s fitness game which can help track the user’s health, muscle activity and heart rate while exercising with the Xbox. The developers at Microsoft are exploring and engineering new ways to use the Kinect to its full advantage.

Another cool new media usage that Microsoft engineered is combining the cable box with the Xbox, creating a media hybrid and making it easier to get to your live television. They wanted to make it easier on the user. Now the user doesn’t have to switch inputs to access the cable anymore! Although, Microsoft didn’t integrate DVR services so if you rely on your DVR, it would be best if you kept your Xbox and cable box separate. Xbox One is still capable of gaming. Xbox’s famous controller, which has gotten great review on control level, hasn’t changed too much except for the directional pad movement and design. To play a game, users must have it installed onto the hard drive, but the system will allow for game play while downloading. The Xbox One has leveled up when it comes to graphics: things are much cleaner, clearer, and more realistic.

Both Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 have their upgrades and are both amazing systems. Bottom line: if that special someone is more of a gamer, go for a Playstation 4. If they are more media driven, go for a Xbox One. Happy Gaming!

Athos: Body Monitoring

The Future of Exercising

During your workout have you wondered: “What muscles am I working?” “How much energy am I using?” “Are my muscles getting worked too much or too little?” “What’s my oxygen intake and heart rate?” The anatomy of a workout and these questions motivated two University of Waterloo students to develop new exercising/body monitoring technologies. This breakthrough technology is called Athos.

The two students got $3.5 million in funding from Social Capital that went to development. Researching body, science and monitoring, they found that the most effective way of tracking muscle movement was through electromyography, EMG. The technique and technology will pick up electrical signals that muscles produce. This is normally monitored by electro sensor pads that stick to the skin and gives way to biological processes that can be manipulated for muscular rehabilitation purposes.

Athos doesn’t stick to your skin. Athos is a lightweight Under Armour type garment that will do all this extensive monitoring (compression long sleeve, and bike short/leggings.) The fabric will take muscle data that is sent to the main module that is located on the arm for women and the chest for men. This main module is called the “core” and clicks into the garment. All information that is generated in the “core” is transmitted to the mobile app to display muscle output, heart rate, oxygen intake, and breathing. The core also contains 3-axis accelerometer and a 3-axis magnetometer that provide information on orientational awareness, 2 LEDs to indicate status, Bluetooth 4.0, and a 10 hour battery. The real processing technology is kept a secret. This garment is sweat, water, and sport drink resistant.

The software is graphical. It displays different colors on the body to portray what muscles are working, over working, not working, or underworking. The mobile app will also display the important numbers and will give you tips on what should be tweaked for a better workout. The application will give you personalized workout feedback to what kind of activity you are doing and other information given. Athos wants you to take care of your body and not over exhaust it, but also get the best possible output.

Although Athos won’t be ready for your athletic someone on your gift list for the holiday season, it will be out in spring 2014. It is being sold for $99 per garment and the “core” is $199. The future in exercise and anatomy monitoring is coming fast with new technologies and ideas developing!

Mac Pro: Redesigning the Desktop

For the Mac lover in your life

Describe a computer. Most of the population would start by saying “It’s a box with…” Now they must rethink the definition. Apple has invented a new geometric shape that has never been seen in the computer world — a cylinder. The slim cylinder look isn’t the only thing that was redesigned — Apple’s Mac Pro hardware specifications have been optimized to deal with a larger workload.

Apple’s new technical specifications were designed around engineers and digital designers. There are two Mac Pros they are offering, one being more powerful than the other and differs in price about $2,999. The standard Mac Pro starts at $3000 and includes: Intel Xeon 3.7 GHz Quad-Core Processor with 10MB cache, 12GB DDR3 ECC RAM, two AMD FirePro D300 Graphics Cards, 256GB Solid State Drive. The $3,999 Mac Pro includes more high-power hardware and specifications: Intel Xeon E5 3.5GHz 6-core processor with 12MB cache, 16GB DDR3 ECC RAM, two AMD D500 Graphics Cards and a 256GB Solid State Drive. Both models can be optimized to the customer’s liking (adding RAM, bigger SSD, choice of screens) and both have standard input/output ports: 4 USB, 6 Thunderbolt 2, Dual Gigabit Ethernet, and a HDMI. This is one very powerful and tiny computer.

Is the price discouraging? It shouldn’t be. Previous Mac Pros have had start prices like this one. Some say that this generation of Mac Pro is generous in price. Keeping in mind that this generation of Mac Pro was designed with engineers and designers in mind, the powerful GPUs is a selling point for these machines. Time is money when developing and pushing out products.The GPU works along with the high end CPU that will render, process, and manage tasks with stunning speed. Saving and retrieving information is much faster with the SSD that Apple has placed within this tube. Overall this machine, with a new tubular look, is breaking new speeds within a tiny case. With speed comes heat and this new case is optimized for temperature regulation. Sucking air into the tube and dispersing it throughout the motherboard: constant airflow is key. A genius, impressive, Robust machine.

Apple has minimized amazing technology and has made it impressively effective and fast, is it on your holiday list?