Friday Tech Roundup (19 April 2013): Windows 8.1 could allow you to skip the Start Screen

Windows 8

By 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 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.

10 comments (Leave your own)

That DVD blood reader thing is awesome, seriously good work by the people involved.


I really wish people wouldn’t jump on this nonsense about booting to desktop. There’s no evidence that twinui-CanSuppressStartScreen has anything to do with booting to the desktop. It is far, far more likely to be related to kiosk-mode (as in disabling the start screen on public kiosk-like machines to stop people from screwing around with the machine in ways they shouldn’t be).

If this turns out to be a boot-straight-to-desktop feature, I will eat my hat. Regardless, please put away your jump-to-conclusions mat.


If this turns out to be a boot-straight-to-desktop feature, I will eat my hat. Regardless, please put away your jump-to-conclusions mat.

Careful about hat eating comments, people take them very seriously around here lol



I would love to take that bet, but I don’t own even a single hat! How about I proffer this sandwich? Or, more likely, a sandwich that I will make prior to the closure of our wager.


Classic Shell.

Install it – WIndows 8 UI turns into Windows 7 UI.

Problem solved.



Better yet, don’t install Win 8, keep your money for next version of Windows – rememberinbg to always skip a cycle when it comes to MS operating systems ;)

Serioulsy though, having an option to turn the “stuffed” screen off without thrid party software or mods would make me consider it.



Better yet, don’t install Win 8, keep your money for next version of Windows – rememberinbg to always skip a cycle when it comes to MS operating systems ;)

Serioulsy though, having an option to turn the “stuffed” screen off without thrid party software or mods would make me consider it.

*Shrug* I got it at the cheap upgrade price.

There is nothing wrong with Win8 – it isn’t a case of the usual skip a gen MS logic. It boots faster, runs just as nicely as Win7 and I haven’t had a single issue with it in ~6 months of use. It isn’t Vista.

The only downside is the touch gui but as I said that is easy enough to fix.

I wouldn’t buy a new PC/Laptop with a downgrade just to avoid WIn8.


mikeh01: Better yet, don’t install Win 8

Yeah well, some people are buying new systems, not upgrading from 7. Point taken though, there’s not much point in upgrading from 7 right now. And seriously, it’s not that hard to install classic shell if the start menu is that important. I still don’t get how proficient users still use the start menu for anything apart from program search and run, for which there are shortcuts. It’s a pretty slow way to run a program or change a setting.

Google Developers:
Each step in human technological advancement provides improved methods for the distribution of cat photos. Project Glass is no different.

So that’s their motive. Well played, Google.



Thing is I think it’s a dangerous assumption to assume Microsoft are going to do a full 180 and go “oh sorry we fucked up, you can have your desktop oriented OS back now!”.
I can only see Microsoft getting more entrenched in their tablet imitation. That said, I like Windows 8, but I don’t think the future looks too bright.

Also, even if this prediction is right, who really cares? It takes a whole half a second to get out of the start screen.



Better yet, don’t install Win 8, keep your money for next version of Windows – rememberinbg to always skip a cycle when it comes to MS operating systems ;)

Serioulsy though, having an option to turn the “stuffed” screen off without thrid party software or mods would make me consider it.

While it is rather true that MS have a great OS, crap OS cycle. If you own Win Xp, get Win 8 if you own Win 7 keep Win 7.

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