News Bits: The End of Windows XP, The Heartbleed Bug’s Impact, Logitech’s Living-Room Keyboard, and Nvidia Updates

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The editors at Notebook Review are excited for the return of our weekly “News Bits” feature! This weekly roundup is where you’ll find the notebook news of the week that you crave.

windowsxpWindows is Dead, Long Live Windows!

On Tuesday, April 08, 2014, Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP. The venerable operating system’s final updates have been sent out, Microsoft Security Essentials is no longer available for download for it, and a little pop-up notification will alert users on the 8th of each month that they should switch to a new system. Users are encouraged to upgrade to a new operating system or computer to avoid security risks and viruses.

Windows XP was originally released to manufacturers on August 24, 2001. Many enterprise users and governments still rely heavily on the operating system, as reception to its successor, Windows Vista, was less than amazing (to say the least), and why fix what isn’t broken? Though Microsoft has been warning users for a long time about the end of technical support for the OS, it is sometimes hard for large organizations to make IT switches that large, especially when many programs have not been updated for later versions of Windows.

Several governments including that of England and the Netherlands have actually paid Microsoft hefty sums to keep updates coming specifically to them until a switch can be made, though whether this will ever occur or the zombie husk of XP will continue to limp on forever remains to be seen.

If you are looking for a new Windows PC to upgrade to, check out our Buyers Guides!

heartbleedHeartbleed Shakes the Internet

This week brought about a shocking revelation about a security flaw in OpenSSL, a popular data encryption service used across the internet. The bug, dubbed the “Heartbleed Bug” provides hackers the ability to access your data that has been transferred via OpenSSL as plain text. This includes usernames and passwords, personal and credit card information, such as what you would input via Google, Yahoo or Facebook. While the flaw was only recently discovered, it has been in place for about two years, and early estimates suggest that over 66% of the internet could have been affected.

The flaw was discovered by a security researcher at Google, and has devastating impacts to the security of the internet. The bug can be used to not only steal single pieces of information like a credit card number (albeit in vast amounts), but they can also steal encryption keys, which are used to convert plaintext to cipher text. With these keys, hackers can intercept future data from affected sites as well without establishing secure connections, meaning that even future data can be compromised unless the keys are changed.

The OpenSSL team has already fixed the software, (a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, so to speak), but users are still urged to change all passwords for their information, including email, banking, and social sites once the new version of SSL is implemented on sites. Most major service providers have or will be instituting changes in the coming weeks to mitigate the impact of the bug, so keep an eye out for updates.

Will time heal the heart that hath bled, as Lord Byron wrote it would? We shall see.

More information on the bug can be found here.

illuminated-living-room-keyboard-k830TV Remotes, Meet Your Successor

Picture yourself in your living room. Your laptop is hooked up to the TV with one of those fancy HDMI cables, Game of Thrones is starting to stream from HBO Go (because who pays for actual cable anymore?), and suddenly… you need to pause the stream. What do you do? Get up, walk over to your computer, press pause? That takes time! Your popcorn just dinged, and you don’t want it getting soggy in the bag while you walk over and fiddle with your laptop! This is a problem, one which computer accessory makers Logitech may have found a solution to.

The Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830 is designed specifically to enhance your connected TV experience. The keyboard features brightly backlit keys for dim light, a built-in trackpad, a rechargeable battery with an advertised 10-day lifespan, and a whopping 10 meter range to its wireless USB micro-connector. While it may not be a true smart TV remote, the plug-and-play device may prove useful to couch-surfers of all varieties, be they at work or at play. With the K830, there will be no dropping your mouse down the side of the couch again, no fumbling with a remote control that doesn’t really integrate with your computer, and best of all, no need to go over to your computer anymore until you’re ready to disconnect from the TV. Your popcorn awaits.

More information on the K830 Living-Room Keyboard is available at Logitech’s site.

shieldNvidia’s DirectX 11 Drivers Improved, and SHIELD Is Better Than Ever (No, Not Marvel’s SHIELD)

On Monday GPU leaders Nvidia released their newest driver for enhancing the efficiency of DirectX 11. The 337.50 Beta driver offers up to a 71 percent increase in performance across multiple gaming titles, as it affects the DirectX drivers directly, and many popular PC titles utilize the library. DirectX 11 will be used by developers through the end of 2014, when DirectX 12 games will likely start appearing. All DirectX GeForce GPUs (including Nvidia’s Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell lines) will offer support for DirectX 12.

Alongside this news, Nvidia announced an upgrade to their SHIELD mobile PC-gaming platform’s new GameStream technology, currently in beta. GameStream allows players to stream PC games to the handheld device, using their home desktop or notebook’s GPU to process the graphics. GameStream features wake-on-LAN technology, which will wake up a user’s desktop when it is connected to via the Shield, allowing users to stream while away from home. SHIELD also will be getting the newest Android OS “KitKat” to allow it to play mobile games. Nvidia’s new Gamepad Mapper interface will also offer players the chance to map touchscreen game controls to the SHIELD’s buttons. Also, to celebrate this new update, they are offering the SHIELD for only $199 until the end of April, so if you’re interested in trying game streaming technology, it’s cheaper than ever.

More on these updates can be found in Nvidia’s news room blog release

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