Plus: How Apple assesses your products for warranty, and the $200 tool that could slow the spread of HIV.
By Jason Imms on April 19, 2013 at 9:34 am
Welcome to the Friday Tech Roundup! Contained herein is a weekly dose of some of the best tech news from across the internet, rounded up for your edification and entertainment. Read on for all the details of the possibility of Windows 8.1 allowing users to boot straight to the desktop, Apple’s warranty assessment guidelines, and the Google Glass technical specifications.
Windows 8.1 may allow users to boot to desktop, skipping Start Screen
For many, the move to Windows 8’s Start Screen has been a major stumbling block, a dark portent signalling Microsoft’s apparently inevitable departure from desktop computing, or something. Well, it seems that all is not lost, aside from perhaps some prematurely jumped-to conclusions. MicrosoftPortal (via WinBeta translation) reportedly broke open twinui.dll in a leaked copy of Windows 8.1 and found code referencing suppression of the Start Screen.
As can be seen in the above screenshot, the ‘twinui-CanSuppressStartScreen’ attribute has been added which at least implies that the Start Screen could be bypassed in favour of the desktop. Whether or not this is true for the final release of Windows 8.1 remains to be seen.
Tech specs of Google’s tech-specs revealed
Now that the first Google Glass units have begun winging their way to developers in the Explorer program, Google have released details on the technical specifications of the product, and the ecosystem that will support it. Glass’ specs (pun intended) are quite close to those of Google’s own Galaxy Nexus, with 12GB of usable memory, Bluetooth and 802.11b/g wifi, a battery that is good for “one full day of typical use,” and a 5MP camera for stills and 720p video. It diverges from the Galaxy Nexus, however with the Bone Conduction Transducer for personal audio, which rests on the Mastoid Process behind your ear and transmits sound to the user’s inner ear by vibrating against the bone.
Some may note the absence of processor details from Google’s Glass tech specs page, which raises questions about Glass’ raw grunt. As it turns out, the point is moot. Very little is actually processed on the device; Glass is designed to be a client for external systems, be they the phone to which the headwear is paired, or external web services.
Vast amount of digital evidence available on Boston bombing is “both a challenge and an opportunity”
In a recent interview over at The Verge, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis is both grateful and daunted by the amount of digital evidence available from members of the public in the wake of the Boston marathon bombings. “We intend to go through every frame,” he says, “This is the most complex crime scene we’ve ever had to deal with.” The crime scene covers about 12 city blocks, most of which is openly accessible to the public. Special Agent Richard DesLauriers of the FBI’s Boston Division agrees, “We are processing all the digital photographic evidence we can,” and asks that “the public continue submitting whatever they have to police.” This digital evidence is then analysed by experts such as the Law Enforcement and Emergency Services Video Association (LEVA) in Indianapolis.
In the wake of the riots that occurred after the Vancouver Canucks lost the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins, Vancouver police received over 5,000 hours of video footage from the public. LEVA then tasked 52 analysts to process the footage, whom in 14 days identified 15,000 criminal acts perpetrated by 300 rioters.
$200 modified DVD drive used to analyse blood for disease, replaces $30,000 predecessor
Researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm have, with little more than some simple changes, turned a regular DVD drive into a $200 blood analysis machine that can complete HIV blood test analysis in just a few minutes, rather than the traditional several days required of the $30,000 specialised tool used to date. ExtremeTech details the necessary changes in their report, which boil down to a replacement light sensor capable of reading blood samples, semi-translucent discs designed to hold the samples, and software that allows the device to communicate with a computer and its operator.
The researchers responsible for the technology hope that the relatively low-cost device will one day be critical in decreasing the spread of HIV in developing countries.
Detailed descriptions of Apple’s MacBook and iPhone warranty assessment guidelines (with acronyms!)
An anonymous reader has provided Tested.com with a detailed outline of Apple’s warranty assessment guidelines for the analysis of MacBooks and iPhones sent in for replacement, including the tools and imagery they and their colleagues use to determine whether or not a fault is covered. The suite of tests employed by Apple Certified Macintosh Technicians (ACMTs) in testing MacBook products consists of four primary analyses: Dent assessment with the Dent Inspection Tool (DIT), inspection of the internal Liquid Contact Indicators (LCIs), and two sets of software diagnostics, the Apple Service Toolkit (AST), and the Apple Service Diagnostic (ASD).
The DIT is a small piece of metal with a rounded 90 degree curve, and a small spike on one side. This tool is lined up against the edges and corners of the MacBook casing to check for egregious dents or misalignment, and the spike is inserted into dents to determine their depth. LCIs are visually inspected to see whether or not they have turned pink after having had direct contact with a liquid. The AST is a simple diagnostic tool to be run in front of the customer which simply checks for the presence of each component in the system, while the ASD is the low-level detailed diagnostic tool for use during off-site assessment. For iPhones, the devices undergo the same LCI assessment, and are then compared to Apple’s Visual/Mechanical Inspection Guide, a series of photos that detail the types of damage that are and are not covered by Apple’s one year warranty.