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Hands-On With Windows 8.1 Preview 505

adeelarshad82 writes "Microsoft launched the preview version of Windows 8.1 at the company's Build conference in San Francisco and early signs show that Microsoft heard the criticisms, and has responded with improvements. The new OS includes a number of changes starting with the return of the Start button and the ability to boot directly to the desktop. However, Microsoft hasn't given up on making the new-style tile and full-screen more usable for all users. If anything, the tile-based Start screen has gotten more flexible, with new smaller and larger tile options. Windows 8.1 also drastically improves built-in search, SkyDrive cloud syncing, mail and Microsoft Music." Microsoft also released a preview of Visual Studio 2013 and .NET 4.5.1, and there's a program that will give developers early access to the PC version of the Kinect sensor. Other tidbits: Windows 8.1 will use a standard driver model for 3-D printers, and it's getting better support for both high-res displays and using multiple displays with different resolutions.

How Bad Is the Gulf Coast Oil Spill? 913

Dasher42 writes "Claims are circulating on the Internet that the Coast Guard fears the Deepwater Horizon well has sprung two extra leaks, raising fears that all control over the release of oil at the site will be lost. The oil field, one of the largest ever discovered, could release 50,000 barrels a day into the ocean, with implications for marine life around the globe that are difficult to comprehend. So, considering that losing our oceanic life, with subsequent unraveling of our land-based ecosystems, is a far more possible apocalyptic scenario than a killer asteroid — what do we do about it?" Other readers have sent some interesting pictures of the spill. One set shows the Deepwater Horizon rig as it collapsed into the ocean. Others, from NASA, indicate that the spill's surface area now rivals that of Florida. The US government has indicated that it intends to require BP to foot the bill for the cleanup. And the Governator has just withdrawn support for drilling off the California coast.

A Broadband Survey That Asks the Right Questions 120

Lauren Weinstein writes "I've just deployed the first ever Broadband Survey under the auspices of GCTIP, which asks questions that the FCC neglected to ask about service types, promised vs. actual broadband speeds, user satisfaction (or lack thereof) with their ISPs and local ISP competition, etc. I'm already finding the detailed comments many persons are leaving on the survey form to be extremely illuminating and with sufficient participation I'm hoping my reports from this data will be useful to the Internet community broadly."

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus