In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: If You Want It Done Right, Do It Yourself
2. Today's Top Story
- Readers Chime In On The Greatest Software Ever
- What's Your Favorite Software Ever?
- 5 That Almost Made The List Of Greatest Software Ever
- Poll: What's The Greatest Software Ever?
3. Breaking News
- Microsoft To Fix Patch That Crashes IE
- Boeing Dumps In-Flight Internet Access Service
- Atomic Switch Could Yield Higher-Density Memories
- Symantec Patches Bug That Allows Remote Control
- Movidis Unveils Server With 16-Core CPU
- Red Hat, Novell Spar Over Xen's Readiness
- Dell Ships First Replacement Batteries
- Google Coy Over Use Of Facial-Recognition Technology
- Apple In 'Pod' Fight
- Despite Dell Recall, Li-Ion Batteries Seem Irreplaceable
4. Grab Bag
- Old Records Go In, CD's Come Out (NY Times)
- A Nation Divided Over Piracy (Wired)
- Waging War Against Click Fraud (BusinessWeek)
5. In Depth: Reviews And Personal Tech
- 10 Free Ways To Keep Your PC Safe
- Safety First: Five Firewalls For Your Desktop PC
- How To Build A High-Class Media PC With Antec's Fusion Media Center Case
- Best Bits: Perpendicular Versus Horizontal Drive Technology
- Review: Apricorn's EZ Upgrade For Notebooks Makes Hard Drive Swaps Simple
- Review: JotSpot's 'Less Nerdy' Wiki Still Needs A Little Work
6. Voice Of Authority
- A Tale Of Two Trademarks
7. White Papers
- Online Banking And Consumer Confidence
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription
Quote of the day:
"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers." -- Pablo Picasso
1. Editor's Note: If You Want It Done Right, Do It Yourself
One of the minor irritations of life today is the amount of software junk that is delivered with a new PC. You know the deal: You bring home your brand-new machine. You place it on your desktop with reverent hands, looking forward to booting up a machine absolutely clean of viruses, spyware, adwarea machine whose Registry is pristine and free of anything that will slow this sucker down.
You plug it in. You turn it on. And you feel your blood pressure rise as you stare at a desktop full of "helpful" icons that indicate your machine has been loaded with scads of cripplewarecourtesy of the manufacturer's various business partners, who hope that you'll try out their wares and buy the full, working version.
The result? The next hour on your wonderful new machine is spent cleaning it up: uninstalling the financial app that doesn't import any of your existing files, the image editor that seems geared to the understanding of a 5-year-old, and the music player that urges you to upgrade every five minutes ... It's a mess.
One way to avoid this kind of mishigas is to build your own PC. This not only gives you exactly the machine you're looking for without all the unwanted extras, but it offers you the chance to really learn what makes a computer tick. Bill O'Brien, a friend and colleague from way back, e-mailed me about a week ago to tell me that he'd just assembled his ideal media PC using a sexy new case from Antec and had written up a blow-by-blow. He had been planning to put the article on his blog, but I could get first dibs on it if I wanted.
Yeah. I wanted.
The result is How To Build A High-Class Media PC With Antec's Fusion Media Center Case, which details (in Bill's inimitable voice) what he decided to put in the case and how well all the components worked together. In the end, he's got a media PC that does the job, and does it exceedingly well. It's got the hardware he wants, the software he wants, and it's even got a nice big volume knob so Bill no longer has to grab for the mouse when the neighbors call to complain.
If you're a True Geek, you'll also have to check out Bill's examination of the speed difference between SATA drives with horizontal and vertical recording schemes: Best Bits: Perpendicular Versus Horizontal Drive Technology. And then there's Eric's Hall's examination of how to get a "skinny" version of the Windows XP Recovery Console onto a custom CD so that you can recover from, say, a corrupted system boot record. All very useful stuff for those who know their bits and bytes.
Building and maintaining a really sharp PC takes time, and you don't want to have to deal with interruptionslike employees, or your Uncle Phil, calling to tell you about a worm that they accidentally picked up while surfing through their favorite stamp-collecting sites. You may want to point them to Preston Gralla's rundown of 10 Free Ways To Keep Your PC Safe. You could learn something newand you'll get links to some effective (and free) security software, anonymizers, and other useful stuff. You could also send them to Serdar Yegulalp's review of Five Firewalls For Your Desktop PC, which examines the five best-known software firewalls from McAfee, Microsoft, Symantec, Trend Micro, and Zone Labs.
(Incidentally, if you've used a lesser-known firewall that blows away anything produced by these guys, let me knowwe're thinking of a follow-up and would welcome suggestions as to great firewalls we may not know about.)
So what is the moral of this particular story? That there are no real shortcuts where technology is concerned. If you need a PC right now, this minute, you can go online, choose a machine, type in your credit card number, and get a PC shipped overnight to your officebut you're going to have to deal with the unwanted software that it comes with. (Including, if you're a Linux fan, Microsoft Windowsbut let's not go there right now.) If, on the other hand, you are particular about exactly what components and software sits in your desktop case, and you've got the tech smarts to do it, you can still build your own.
What do you prefer? When you need a new PC, do you build your own, or do you have other things to do with your time? Let me know at my blog post.
Readers Chime In On The Greatest Software Ever
Our article on the Greatest Software Ever stirred many reader responses from a variety of sources, including one from a writer who has a picture of himself next to the machine that cracked the Nazi codes.
Movidis Unveils Server With 16-Core CPU
The server, which was showed off at LinuxWorld, has a 64-bit processor, is reportedly low-power, and has an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller and encryption.
Red Hat, Novell Spar Over Xen's Readiness
Novell contends Red Hat's warnings that Xen isn't ready are a marketing ploy aimed at Novell's recent release of its Xen-enabled SUSE Linux Enterprise 10 platform.
Apple In 'Pod' Fight
Apple Computer joins Google in seeking to prevent the "genericization" of the name of a flagship product.
Despite Dell Recall, Li-Ion Batteries Seem Irreplaceable
Experts say it's probable that a battery alternative won't be available for years. Instead, users will have to settle for changes in the computer design, such as revamping components, particularly microprocessors, to run cooler and demand less power.
Identity theft is on the rise across the globe. Learn how your peers are protecting customer data and managing privacy issues in the InformationWeek/Accenture Global Information Security survey.
Do You Access Our Content From A BlackBerry Or A Treo?
Many of our readers do, and we want to ensure that you get the best experience in using our content. So we've created a PDA-friendly version of our news content, with similarly streamlined content pages, that should make the PDA experience a good one. Check out our latest enhancement.
A Nation Divided Over Piracy (Wired)
Sweden has faster broadband with deeper penetration than just about anywhere in the world. That, combined with the techno-friendly attitude that pervades Scandinavia, allowed file sharing to root deeply in practice and popular culture.
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5 Top Federal Initiatives For 2015As InformationWeek Government readers were busy firming up their fiscal year 2015 budgets, we asked them to rate more than 30 IT initiatives in terms of importance and current leadership focus. No surprise, among more than 30 options, security is No. 1. After that, things get less predictable.
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.