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Microsoft currently has two types of Surface – a 10.2-inch model and a 12 incher – and there has been speculation that tomorrow’s event could see the unveiling of an even larger model, maybe as large as 14 inches.But that’s pretty unlikely, in this hack’s opinion. Adding a third model introduces too much complexity, and it’s by no means clear that people want to be lugging around something of that size and pay more than a high-end laptop price for the privilege.Instead, it’s more likely that we’ll see a series of hardware upgrades for the existing line. So faster processors, better USB, maybe an improved camera and/or battery, and an improved stylus. Redmond really wants a chunk of the graphic design market with the Surface, even developing a custom version of Photoshop for it, and an improved stylus would help with that.The other possibility on the hardware front is a new version of Microsoft’s Band, its fitness tracker cum not-so-smartwatch hardware platform. The Band has been selling in reasonable numbers (particularly among Microsoft staff), but the original hardware is now rather long in the tooth and could do with an upgrade.

I’d expect to see a new Surface PC as well as a flagship phone, probably sporting Continuum function, said Michael Silver, distinguished analyst at Gartner told The Reg.Not withstanding the message it sent to the market in June, Microsoft is still investing in Windows Phone. I can’t say it’s important to consumers and only to a small portion of organizations, but it still could find a niche.There are also a number of other things that could come up on Tuesday, either in the launch conference itself or in briefing sessions afterwards.Microsoft has been making a fair amount of noise about its Xbox platform of late, and we may be seeing some changes to the platform. New hardware is unlikely, but there may be some software tricks up Redmond’s sleeve.That Xbox will run Windows 10 is no secret, but the extent to which Microsoft is going to integrate the operating system into the gaming console isn’t totally clear yet. The company has already talked about shared streaming of games across devices, but there could be a significant smartphone tie-in as well.New console hardware, in either the console or the games controller, has also been rumored, But that’s less likely; it’s a bit early in the product development cycle to be mucking about with the guts of the main console, and the control pad is pretty good as it stands.

Caption Competition The witticisms keep flooding in for our biblical-looking chap, who provided divine inspiration for a great collection of captions from readers.All the entries were given a chance at winning the Western Digital Black 6TB hard drive that’s up for grabs. There were quite a few regular contributors in the top 10.
i steal your leccy getting in two captions, not bad for nearly 300 entries. Last week’s winner, Tromos, came close to making it a double with Moses took all the tablets, so I had to settle for a laptop.
Adam Jarvis: Keeps defaulting to booting into Linux. Do I look like a Linux fan or something?
adnim: Hold on a minute dad, just let me finish this level.
Andrew Jones 2: Hold on Dad, someone is wrong on the internet and I must correct them.
Evoflash: Mass storage? does it keep the sermon too?
Frumious Bandersnatch: The Bible never explained what Jesus actually got up to in his 40 years in the desert.
i steal your leccy: Halo or carpentry…Halo it is.
i steal your leccy: NOOO, i DON’T want to install the ASK Toolbar!!
lek: Even with following guides on the internet, Jesus never could get that Vulcan greeting right.
Phil O’Sophical: Noah wants a private cloud? I’ll show him clouds.
But the winner is :bigp2: Nope, still not getting it. Can someone come over and explain pointers to me?

The truth is no one is ever going to be able to explain pointers – you just have to experience it for yourself, which sets the right religious overtones. Bigp2 will get the deity of the Western Digital range of drives aimed at the desktop market: the newly launched 6TB Black, the fastest of the lot.This is the top-of-the-range WD drive with a 128MB cache, sustained data rate of 600MB/s, StableTrac to cope with vibrations caused from the sub-woofer in a hardcore gaming system, and dual processors.The drive has a SATA interface and the well-established Ramp Load technology which parks the heads off the disk surface to prevent stiction, and Advanced Format Technology which uses eight 512 byte logical sectors in one 4096 byte physical sectorPlease try to keep it SFW, but applicable to the content. If you want to be considered, please don’t hide as an anonymous coward, and if you win we’ll need a UK mailing address. We’ll look at how many upvotes comments get and then ignore that and pick the one we like anyway. If you want to find out more about the drive, you can check out the Western Digital website, and if you fall into the I never win anything or are just pants at captions you could always buy one. Or you could just go to look to see how cheap we are with our prizes.

Review If you want a top-notch Android tablet and keyboard package, buy the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet. It’s very good. But at £499 it’s also very expensive. If money is tight, Asus can now offer you a superficially not dissimilar package for two hundred quid. That £300 saving suggests some major compromises, so is the Asus a bargain alternative or just a cheap knock-off?Tablet and dock for £200 is a good deal, but how has Asus saved £300 over the Sony equivalent?
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. The ZenPad has a 10.1-inch screen display with an 800 x 1280-pixel resolution. That equates to 149dpi. In an era when £100 will buy a Tesco Hudl tablet with a crisp 273dpi, 8.3-inch screen and budget smartphones costing little more boast 5-inch 720 x 1280 294dpi panels, the ZenPad’s display can sometimes look rather fuzzy.In other ways, the ZenPad’s IPS screen is more on the money: colours are vibrant, viewing angles are robust and contrast levels impressive. The screen cover is made from good old Gorilla Glass and has an effective oleophobic coating.

The screen is a bit low-res but covered in Gorilla Glass. Cameras front and back but both are pretty awful
The second bit of bad news is in regards to the SoC inside the ZenPad 10. It’s one of Intel’s new Silvermount x3 “SoFIA” (for (S)mart (o)r (F)eature phone with (I)ntel (A)rchitecture) Atom components. Called the C3200 it’s a Wi-Fi-only version of the C3230RK and consists of a quad-core 1.1GHz processor, Mali T450 GPU and 2GB of RAM.Actually, I wouldn’t swear to that 1.1GHz bit. That’s what the information supplied by Asus says. According to Intel the chip can run at 1.2GHz, while according to all the test apps I installed the best it can do is 900MHz. This underclocking is most likely tinkering by Asus to extend the battery life.Intel SoC is a bit of a mongrel. Co-developed with Rockchip and made in TSMC’s foundry, performance is nothing more than adequate
The C3200 is odd in other ways too. It was co-developed with Rockchip and is actually made by TSMC (using a 28nm process) rather than Intel. And it has an ARM Holdings-designed GPU. Its mongrel, budget origins are reflected in some pretty humdrum benchmark results.

The AnTuTu app returned an average score of 22,000 which is low by modern standards. 3DMark’s Ice Storm test was similarly unflattering: the score of 4,600 is about what you’d expect from a Snapdragon 615-powered device.Graphics benchmark scores are nothing to hold a parade about but games such as Real Racing 3 and Modern Combat 5 will run
Synthetic bench test results to one side, the ZenPad still managed to play games like Modern Combat 5 and Real Racing 3 smoothly and the UI never felt less than fluid, even if not lightning-fast. There were no overheating issues to report either.In spite of US Presidential wannabe Hillary Clinton being one of the world’s most recognisable names, hackers were so slack they only managed to get five phishing emails into her now-famous personal email server.

The Associated Press calls the too-lazy-to-live attackers “Russian-linked”, but that’s just because if the Democratic White House hopeful had “clicked on the attachments”, her PC may have been infected, and opened a backdoor to one of the attacker’s three command and control servers – one of which was in Russia.The AP didn’t find time to mention the other two countries. The newswire has the self-awareness to observe that this whole revelation “doesn’t necessarily mean Russian intelligence or citizens were responsible.”Apparently, the malware-laden mails were analysed back in September 2011, a month after black-hats attackers hackers utterly inept losers slipped Hillary the malicious messages disguised as speeding tickets.You know the ones, the ones that everyone gets. Everyone gets malware-booby-trapped spam. Not just important people like Hillary. Everyone. It’s spam. Horrible spam.The AP piece quotes campaign spokesman Nick Merrill as saying: “We have no evidence to suggest she replied to this email or that she opened the attachment. As we have said before, there is no evidence that the system was ever breached. All these emails show is that, like millions of other Americans, she received spam.”

Although Clinton’s email address isn’t public, it had somehow found its way into the hands of miscreants, but unsurprisingly it doesn’t seem to have been used by more intelligent hackers for similar attacks.The trove of Clinton emails released on Thursday in the US under Freedom of Information laws also include a complaint by the State Department’s then policy chief Anne-Marie Slaughter griping that the technology the department had to use was “so antiquated that NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively.” These are the notes used at a Tech Unplugged event in Amsterdam on September 24, and they present a scenario in which data center disks could stop spinning. Is it a sensible scenario? Read on.I try and connect the dots in the industry, the dots being the myriad individual events that happen and which I write about on The Register. I see pictures of the industry that can be made by connecting these dots together. This session is about one way of connecting these dots; a way that points to the death of disk in the data center.

Let’s see what dots are involved and how I connect them, and then you can decide if it seems reasonable.Remember punched cards; the original way of storing digital files and getting them loaded into a computer’s volatile memory? They were followed by paper tape, and then by magnetic tape – which is still in use for some backups and for archiving – but is thought too slow for online storage of primary and secondary data.It was replaced by disk, much faster at random access and good enough at sequential data reads.Well, disk speeds have been capped at 15,000 rpm while capacities have risen and risen, so the basic IO rate from disk has barely moved, while servers have become multi-core, multi-socket, and virtualized – meaning they want data delivered through a fire-hose and disk can’t keep up.Disks‘ slow delivery of data is opening a door for flash to enter the data center because it delivers data faster.Disk technology is developing to boost capacity while access performance is barely getting a look in.We have hybrid notebook disks with a flash cache inside the disk enclosure, but these are not very popular, users preferring to have SSDs instead of slightly accelerated disks. SSDs are so much faster than spinning drives. So much more power-efficient and lighter, too, that it’s becoming normal for laptop computers to use them instead of disks.

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