Windows 10 vital to US Air Force preparedness

The US Air Force is under strict orders to upgrade all its computer systems to the most secure version of Windows 10. It’s easy to forget (or turn a blind eye) to the fact that some of the world’s most crucial information systems are operating on Windows. Consider how frustrating it is when that OS won’t do something it is programmed to do and you’re ready to throw your laptop against the wall. Now imagine that same situation but on a Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. The fact that the USAF is also the specialized armed service in regard to cyberwarfare highlights how important this issue actually is.

However, compatibility issues have stricken a large number of machines in the USAF, meaning a huge US Department of Defense purchase order is likely coming soon to replace computers that can’t operate Windows 10. Apparently, the popular Microsoft OS is not compatible with some of the USAF’s existing network, which of course could lead to potential cyber threats. The Air Force has until March 31, 2018 to migrate completely to Windows 10, otherwise compromised systems will be barred (or “quarantined”) from the Air Force Network. This could be costly for the military, with the DoD having to dip into its half-trillion dollar budget.

Windows 10 operates on an estimated 600 million computers worldwide. It is important for the USAF to upgrade its systems to reduce the threat of hacking, which older operating systems are more susceptible to. For example, the infamous WannaCry attack of 2017 was particularly brutal on the thousands of computers used by the UK’s National Health Service, which still mostly relied on Windows XP at the time.


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Engineering School attempts to overcome ‘memory wall’

The School of Engineering and Applied Science recently received $27.5 million in funding to help solve a growing problem in technology — segregated memory and processing data centers in computers. The Center for Research in Intelligent Storage and Processing in Memory, the program name for the University’s efforts, aims to create integrated memory and processing systems, redesigning traditional hardware and software.

Since 1945, when renowned computer scientist John von Neumann established the basic framework of computer architecture, data storage and processing mechanisms have remained separate. Now, however, processing advancements progress at a much greater speed than ones for data memory and transfer. This so-called “memory wall” has created a bottleneck, as processors mine data faster than it can be stored and delivered for analysis. In other words, because processors work at a higher speed than memory centers and circuits, they sit idle as they wait for more data to be retrieved from storage.

“It is increasingly inefficient for processors to actually get to the data that they’re computing on,” said Kevin Skadron, chair of the Department of Computer Science and the head of CRISP. “Our goal is to attack this bottleneck and tightly integrate the processing and the data. That means tightly integrating the memory, the processors [and] the physical storage.”

Skadron also commented on the widespread implications of CRISP, citing real-world applications such as mining genetic data for cancer markers, currently hindered by the inability to quickly transfer large packets of data for processing.

“We’re using several applications, you know really big data, grand-challenge type of applications to help guide our research and make sure that the solutions we come up with are really effective,” Skadron said. “This is going to be relevant for any data-intensive application, where accessing the data becomes a bottleneck, so really the whole space of what you might consider big data computing — big data in medicine, business analytics [and] national security, etc.”

CRISP is part of a larger initiative spearheaded by the Semiconductor Research Consortium, which brings together universities, technology companies and government agencies to tackle some of the most pressing technological issues of today. The Joint University Microelectronics Program, a program within the SRC, received numerous proposals for virtual centers to examine critical microelectronics challenges in 2017, but selected only the six top universities — including the University — for a portion of the $200 million dollar award.

Over the next five years, the University will look to test various hardware and software strategies in order to eliminate the barriers between memory and processing functions, destroying the memory wall that causes the delay between data storage and evaluation.

“The center will really be looking to ‘pull the computers back,’ we call it, all of the different layers to make sure that not only do we come up with good hardware solutions, but that we come up with new software support so that it doesn’t get harder for programmers to write their code,” Skadron said. “Identifying the most promising computer architecture is really an essential first step, because so much else depends on which directions that looks likely to go.”

Mircea Stan, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering with extensive experience in constructing energy-efficient 3-D chips and circuits, will focus primarily on the physical components of CRISP’s new approach.

“The impact, if we are successful, is that you are going to have computers work faster and more efficiently, while at the same time consuming less energy and generating less heat,” Stan said. “…By raising the memory wall that’s inherent in the way computers are designed and built now-a-days, the goal is really to bring memory and processing closer together in both a physical sense, but especially in a logical way. That way, there isn’t such a fixed demarcation.”

In addition, students will have opportunities to participate in CRISP. The grant will fund approximately 12 new doctoral students and provide content for research and classes on both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Craig Benson, dean of the Department of Engineering, emphasized the importance of faculty and students working as a team on the project as well as its scope.

“With our faculty and our students, we are right in the middle of developing this next generation of knowledge and technology for this area, which is in the center of everything we do today,” Benson said. “Our students and our faculty are going to be responsible for developing that science that drives the future of the technology.”


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The Formula for Success is Simple: Fast, Functional & Desirable

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There are several popular television shows dedicated to the resurrection of classic cars, including Wheeler Dealers, FantomWorks, and Car Fix to name a few. Each of these shows has a similar plot. The host mechanics find a classic car wasting away in a dirty barn, tow it to the garage and completely rebuild it so the vehicle looks better than the day it rolled out of the factory. The mechanics consistently do three things to each vehicle they rebuild. They make it faster by dropping in a brand new engine; they make it more functional by modernizing key features such as the suspension and disc brakes; and they make it more desirable by updating the interior and giving it a gorgeous new paint job.

There are many parallels to this simple success formula among PCs as well. Everybody wants a fast computer that improves their productivity, fits their personal workstyle, and is something they’re proud to use in front of their customers or at the local coffee shop. Today at CES, we’re introducing a refreshed lineup of Latitude notebooks and 2-on-1s that are much faster, more functional and surprisingly small and beautiful.


The addition of new 15W dual-core and quad-core 8th Gen Intel® Core™ vPro™ processors deliver a significant performance uplift to our Latitude portfolio. With more processor cores, any multitasking or multi-threaded workload will see better performance. Adding cores and threads is like adding new express lanes to a highway. In the commercial space, it makes a noticeable difference when IT is running encryption, malware scans and other background apps to secure and connect employees.

These updated processors also make these systems lightning fast. In fact, when the first round of benchmark tests on the new Latitude 7390 2-in-1 came back from our lab, the engineers told me they were seeing 59% faster system performance on SYSmark 2014 SE. Finding that hard to believe, I asked them to go back and re-run the test using SYSmark 2014 instead. A couple of days later they came back to me and said, “Andy, we re-ran the tests and got a much different result. We’re now seeing 72% faster performance!”  And those results are consistent across the entire portfolio when comparing systems based on Intel’s 8th Gen U-series processors vs. previous 7th Gen processors.


We’ve also integrated some really cool innovations throughout the lineup to help improve the functionality of the products and deliver an amazing user experience. For example, the new 7000 Series notebooks are Dell’s smallest and lightest commercial laptops. The series offers a new Full HD super low power panel for long battery life, new active steering antenna for up to 155% faster WiFi performance at peak levels and new embedded touch display with anti-glare reduces weight and cost.

For many on-the-go professionals, having a battery that lasts all day without recharging is crucial. There are days where we rush between meetings without a break or end up on a plane with no power outlets. That’s when battery life is most important. On most laptops and 2-in-1s, the display consumes the most battery life. Coming in the spring of 2018, the Dell Latitude 7490 Notebook will be available with a new Super Low Power (SLP) display that offers the same Full HD resolution but only requires 50 percent of the power to drive it! Preliminary battery life tests show up to 22 hours of battery life on a Latitude 7490 notebook with the SLP panel (5+ hours longer than the same product using a standard Full HD panel). This is achieved by utilizing low power LED technology that draws 1.84-1.99W of power as opposed to 3.8-4.6W using the standard Full HD panel.

The Latitude 7490 also offers new Active Steering Antenna technology. Exclusive to Dell, this WiFi technology chooses from four different radio wave patterns to find and lock into the optimal choice for your work environment. This adaptable and automatic signal optimization technology results in a major performance jump in range, speed and connection reliability, and is a major boost for devices living on the fringes of a network or separated by several walls within a building.


Not only will you be extremely productive with these new Latitude systems, you’ll also be very proud to carry them wherever you go. They are small, portable and employ a variety of attractive materials including 40T carbon fiber weave, machined aluminum and magnesium alloy to make them extremely light and durable. Our 2-in-1s also feature unique hinge designs that that allow the devices to be operated in multiple modes to improve collaboration with colleagues and presenting to customers. The hinges also reduce the product’s overall “z-height” allowing the product to be opened fully while working on an airplane or other constrained space environment. No more cracked displays because the person in front of you decided to lean their seat back to take a nap!

Many of our product design choices are a result of listening to customer feedback. Through our design-to-value process, we look at market insights, customer feedback and competitive intelligence to shape our product portfolio. We keep these considerations top of mind when directing the design of our commercial products to satisfy the needs specific to the business audience. For example, customers told us that first-generation detachable 2-in-1s were top heavy and awkward to set up when returning to their desks. So now the Latitude 5290 2-in-1 comes with a built-in auto-deploy kickstand that allows the user to set up the device with one hand. It’s a simple fix, but makes it easier for corridor warriors to move around the office and work seamlessly between a desk, meeting and presentation setup.

No Compromises

Finally, there are a few more critical elements we wrap around all of our commercial products to ensure customers are satisfied. We’ve invested millions to ensure we deliver the most secure and manageable products backed by the industry’s most comprehensive support. Dell is the only major PC manufacturer to have a line of business dedicated to data and endpoint security and the only tier one vendor offering customers a single source for purchase and support of hardware.

Business owners seeking the ultimate in security and manageability look no further than the updated Latitude 5000 Series Notebooks. These are Dell’s most feature-rich, versatile and productive commercial notebooks and offer run times up to 22 hours and an environmentally friendly build. They’re also the world’s most secure series of laptops and feature optional multi-factor authentication including touch fingerprint reader, contacted FIPS 201 Smart Card Reader, and contactless smart card reader with Control Vault 2™ FIPS 140-2 Level 3 certification.

How, where and when people work continues to evolve. Employees want the latest devices that fit their needs, deliver security and enable them to be productive whenever and wherever they want. Dell is committed to helping businesses transform to meet those needs. Technology is not only a productivity enabler, but also a way to attract and retain the best talent. Ensuring your workforce has the latest fast, functional and desirable mobile products will enable them to reach their full potential.

Our new lineup of Latitude solutions are now available, and I cannot wait to hear your feedback on how much more productive you’ve become once you’ve tried them. The Dell Latitude 7390 2-in-1 starts at $1149; Dell Latitude 5290 Series 2-in-1 begins at $899; Dell Latitude 5000 Series starts at $779 and Dell 7000 Series starts at $1049. All devices are available starting January 9, 2018.


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How do I transfer SPSS software from laptop to computer? Do I need to re-purchase the license?

Hi there

I have SPSS Statistics 24 on my company laptop. We need to have this software transferred to a different computer.

Please could someone provide some advice that I can pass onto our IT team in terms or re-purchasing the license that we originally bought to have SPSS on the laptop, so that we are able to ‘move’ it to the computer?

Many thanks


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