The Glitch - A Friend in Computing

The Glitch was conceived during 2004, and started out simply as a site to assist people with computer problems. Today the site has grown considerably and has become a one-stop shop for many aspects of modern computing and communication


2006 - NEWS ARCHIVE


December

AMD 4x4

With the release of Intel's quad-core processor, it was only a matter of time before AMD brought out something similar, but have AMD rushed out  a poorly conceived  design just to keep up with Intel.

Well the Intel chip was a single CPU whereas AMDs 4x4 solution  is in fact two separate CPUs (basically two Opteron 2000 dual-core CPUs) fitted to a specially designed motherboard. But there are a few problems;  these CPUs are very power hungry with a thermal design power (TDP) of well over 250W (twice that of Intel's quad-core), and although they are fast, the Intel chips are faster, add to this the need for a special motherboard, twice the ram of a normal system (each CPU needs it's own system memory), a power supply unit that would heat a small room (1kW PSU), a total cost that even makes an Intel quad-core system look sensible and you start to see what I'm talking about !

No one will buy this type of setup over a better performing, cheaper Intel quad-core based system. If AMD want to overtake Intel and rule the roast again, they are going to need a radically new chip design and soon.


Million Dollar Domains

Some site names can be very desirable, to the right person, with domains changing hands for absurd amounts of money. A Russian entrepreneur has just bought www.vodka.com for 3 million dollars, this sounds like a lot but is dwarfed by www.diamond.com and www.business.com which went for well over 7 million dollars each, and even these seem almost trivial when www.sex.com reportedly went for well over 12 million dollars.

I wonder how much I would get for www.theglitch.co.uk.
Shall we start the bidding at....say 12 million....no....anyone....no....


Happy Birthday GlitchThe Glitch is '2' A Dancing BananaA Dancing Banana

It has been exactly two years since I started 'The Glitch' website. Thank you to all those who have visited the site, and to those few individuals who have given me feedback. I would also like to say a special thank you for all the kind words posted in my Guestbook again this year. Thank you for all those who purchased products via The Glitch website, my aim, as always,  is to offer excellent products, at some of the best prices on the web.   Merry Christmas everyone !


Playstation 3 sold for 2000

It has been reported that a Sony Playstation 3 has sold for almost $4000, that's over 2000. The console was purchased  on eBay shortly after it's launch in America.  Playstation 3's have been selling like hot cakes on eBay with several hundred passing through eBay so far, more disturbing is that the average selling price was almost 1,400.  Considering the retail price of a Playstation 3 should be around 500 to 600, many people have been paying well over the odds, just to the one of the first to own the console.  Latest reports suggest that Sony's Playstation 3 should arrive in the UK sometime in February.


Nintendo Wii is out

The Nintendo Wii (pronounced wee) has now been released, and has been an initial success with stocks of the console already running very low in most stores. The Wii is different to other consoles as Nintendo has made user interaction top of the agenda, with the introduction of unusual wireless controllers (Nunchuks) rather than concentrated on high quality graphics and super powerful processing capability.  That's not to say the Wii graphics or processing are rubbish because they are both very good.  For those interested in purchasing you get the following items for your 180; a Wii console & stand, Remote control, Nunchuk controller, Sensor Bar and AV Cable, you also get Wii sports which is a collection of 5 games.

For more information visit:
http://uk.wii.com/


XBox 360 gets 1080p output

In a clever feat of firmware jiggery pokery, the latest XBox 360 updates allow the console to output full 1080p video over its VGA connection, allowing any compatible television/monitor to display the highest possible HD resolution. Other improvements in the update include a number of general bug-fixes and improved handling/support for wireless controllers. So watch out for the update the next time you log into XBox Live.


Allofmp3 will be taken down

As reported earlier this year, it was only a matter of time before Allofmp3 would be removed totally from the web. As soon as Visa and Mastercard crippled the site by refusing to process any further card payments to them, the site was doomed.  Now Russia  has agreed to remove Allofmp3 from the Web, mostly due to increased international pressure over intellectual property rights (IPR).

But it's not just Allofmp3 that will be closed down as Russia has now agreed on a far-reaching commercial agreement that commits them to taking strong action against all forms of piracy and counterfit and unlicensed goods.


BT Vision Launched

BT have finally launched their TV over broadband service. Existing BT broadband customers will be able to initially, use the service free, without any monthly subscription charges.  You will require a BT set-top box (worth 200) to be able to access the content, but this is being offered free-of-charge by BT, for anyone who signs up to an 18 month contract on one of BT's 18 a month broadband packages. BT has said that customers can either subscribe to specific content or pay-per-view, but either way, their prices will be lower than any of their rivals.

For more information go to:
http://www.btvision.bt.com/


New Glitch website launched

After weeks of work the New Glitch website is up and running, due to the sheer size of the site, and work involved not all of the sections are active. Most notably a large portion of the hardware section is still missing, but this will be rectified very soon. Please bare with me until the site is totally complete, it was too difficult to try and keep both the old and new sites running. I hope you like the new, more professional look to the site, please have a look around as I have lots of new software and hardware offers....enjoy !


November

CN-21 Now Live

The national roll-out of BT's 21CN (21st Century Network) has started. This represents a massive step forward for BT as it brings on-line its fully digital, next-generation IP-based network. Parts of South Wales are to be the first to benefit from this new network, with the rest of the UK to follow over the next few years.  Voice, broadband and multimedia services will all benefit from the new network with improvements in speed, cost and service content.


XBox 360 HD DVD Drive Hot News

You can now pre-order an HD DVD drive for your XBox 360.  For as little as 130 you can immerse yourself in the next generation of DVD technology. Due to be launched on the 8th December the player will offer stunning video with up to 6 times the resolution of DVD, not to mention that it works seamlessly with your XBox.


Microsoft targets Phishers

Microsoft has helped bring almost 100 criminal proceedings against suspected Phishing gang members. With 129 active lawsuits Microsoft is taking a significant lead in the fight against Phishing. Phishing attacks are quickly becoming a real issue for computer users, with Phishing members using what is called blended attacks to maybe steal a users information and then use this to gain access and infiltrate systems while using worms and viruses to do maximum damage.


Low power FM Transmitters to be Legal

As of 8th December 2006 you can legally use a 'low power' FM transmitter to allow you to tune your mp3 players into unused FM channels on your car stereo. Until now these small transmitters were illegal due to legislation stating that they would interfere with normal FM broadcasts. But technology has moved forward and the new breed of low power FM transmitters have such a short range and such improved filtering that you would have to park you car on top of a radio mask to interfere with even the weakest of broadcasts. Something worth noting is that only transmitters that have a CE mark will be deemed legal.


Intel Quad-Core available

It may be in short supply at the time of writing, it is certainly not cheap, but Intel's new 'Core 2 Quad' is undeniably the new king of desktop processors. Retailing at around 700 (for the current 2.66Ghz QX6700 version), it is definitely not going to end up in many systems any time soon, but if you want the ultimate in performance you are always going to pay a premium.


On-line bank fraud up

In the first six months of  2006 on-line banking fraud cost the industry over 22 million, an increase of more than 50% on last year. One factor for this increase is the dramatic increase in Phishing attacks, but its not all bad news, as the figures for on-line card fraud have actually decreased significantly. This improvement has been attributed to the introduction of 'Chip & Pin' and systems like 'Verified by Visa' and 'MasterCard SecureCode'. The financial industry is still doing more, with some banks now trailing 'two factor authentication' technology, giving its customers a further level of security, this should drive down banking fraud significantly.

A large percentage of on-line fraud could be avoided, with many of those who do get into problems, lacking the basic knowledge to steer clear of deceptions. If you are concerned about fraud visit the following link that will help you keep you personal information safe.

For more information visit:
http://www.cardwatch.org.uk/default.asp?sectionid=3&pageid=96


AVG 7.5 Anti-virus software released

Version 7.5 of AVG has just been released and those good people at Grisoft are still offering the package free as long as it is for private, non-commercial, single home computer use only. Enhancements include a much improved user interface, improved virus detection, Vista compatibility and smaller installation and update files.

If you are still using an older version of AVG you have until 15th January 2007 to update, failure to do so will result in your anti-virus software not being updated.

To download the latest version, visit my anti-virus software section


Vista and Office 07 Release Dates Hot News

I have it on good authority that the new operating system from Microsoft, Windows Vista, should be available very soon. The business versions of Vista should start to ship on the 30th November 2006 and the consumer versions on the 30 January 2007. The new version of Microsoft's Office (Office 2007) should also start appearing in late November.


Met Office Supercomputer

The Met Office's requirement for computing power is massive, to this end back in 2004 it had one of the most sophisticated supercomputers in Europe, when it unveiled it's new NEC SX-6 system. Then in 2005 it was decided that this was not enough and further upgrades were made, but only a year later and there's still not enough processing capability to compile all the information the Met Office needs. This has driven them to consider upgrading again, this time so that they can attempt to answer, more accurately,  some of the pressing questions about climate change and its effects. One thing I can predict (without the need of a supercomputer) is that it will more than likely be one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world !


Media Player 11

Microsoft has just released an update to one of it's best known applications 'Media Player'. Media Player 11 is the latest version of Microsoft's multimedia player. Designed for Windows XP SP2 or higher this new application comes with a raft of improvements including a much improved user interface, enhanced searching, audio fingerprinting> for ripped audio files that have no information and significantly improved compatibility with devices and music services. Like all new major updates to Microsoft products, you will be required to validate your version of Windows, before you will be allowed to install it.

For more information visit:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/default.mspx


Express Upgrade to Vista

Until March 2007 Microsoft is allowing a number of PC suppliers to offer coupons to customers who are purchasing a new XP computer and would like to upgrade to Windows Vista when it is finally released by Microsoft next year. These coupons will eventually allow customers to either get a free, low cost or half price Vista operating system. There are many factors affecting the type of coupon being offered, including vendor, current Windows XP version installed and geographic location. So if your about to purchase a new computer and you are interested in getting Windows Vista, then keep your eye out for any special Vista coupons being offered by your supplier.


October

Windows Defender Released

Microsoft's Windows Defender (an application to detect spyware) is finally out of Beta, and has now been released as a complete product. The final beta, Beta 2 is due to expire on the 31st of December 2006, so make sure you update your copy before then. Microsoft is currently also offering 2 free support incidents for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 for all those who install the new version. You will need to go through the Microsoft validation process before you will be allowed to download. 
One final thing worth noting is that this new version does not support Windows 2000, as Microsoft's main-stream support for 2000 is to cease very soon.

For more information visit:
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx


Orange outage

10% of Orange customers lost their broadband connections on Monday (16th), that's around 100,000 households. This was due to a significant fault with the equipment controlling the Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) network, which took several days to completely rectify. It was reported that only 50% of those customers affected were back on-line by mid-week, leaving 50,000 customers, at that time, still without a service.


IE 7 Released

It has been 5 long years since Microsoft released a fully new version of it's popular internet browser 'Internet Explorer' (IE). Internet Explorer 7 has now been released and should soon be available for download via 'Microsoft updates' or by following the link below. There are many new features including a revamped interface, tabbed browsing, improved page/font rendering, instant RSS feeds & anti-phishing filters. It is generally recommended that you upgrade to the new version because of the improved security features. Microsoft feels that a 5 year gap between browser releases is too long and has already started work on the next version of IE.

For more information visit:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx


YouTube gets house in order

In the US YouTube is defined as an 'Online provider', thus protecting it from the consequences of content that is uploaded by its users. But now that Google own it, and seek to make revenue from it, it will cease to come under this title and thus be liable to copyright laws. Google is putting it's house in order and now has Universal, Warner Music Group and Sony BMG on their side, allowing Google to legally store copyrighted material owned by these companies, in return these companies will receive a small share in YouTube. Google has also recently remove more than 29,000 video clips of television shows, movies and music videos posted on the site without the permission of the copyright holders, (mostly from Japanese TV stations).


MySpace takes on YouTube

Myspace (owned by Rupert Murdoch), is another free service (like YouTube) that allows users to, amongst other things, upload, view, and share video clips and photos. But MySpace has been very busy updating its service and has now added a host of improvements for its users, including much improved video handling. Google (who purchased YouTube), is not sitting idle, and is already actively signing up companies to provide new content for their newly acquired business. Time will tell which of these giants will become the preferred social networking interface.


Free UK Calls form SkyPE

Until the 31st of December 2006, SkyPE (the voice over IP software provider) are offering free calls to UK landlines for six months (qualifying call numbers must start with 01 or 02 and can only be made within the UK). You will need to download their software and register with SkyPE, you will also need to purchase at least 10 of Skype Credit and have a broadband connection, to be able to take advantage of  this offer.

For more information visit:
http://www.skype.com/campaigns/talkforbritain/


200GB Laptop Hard Drives

Common 2.5" laptop hard drives sizes range from 40GB up to 100GB, with 120GB devices now appearing and 160GB drives due on the shelves soon, but Fujitsu has developed a 200GB laptop drive. Due to be released before the end of the year, this SATA (serial ATA) device, has a modest spindle speed of 4,200RPM, it also only consumes 2.2 Watts under load. The only major issue facing Fujitsu is that this new drive is a little higher (12.5mm) than a standard laptop drive (9.5mm), so it may not fit into all Laptops.


NTL 'Quad' Play

It was not that long ago that the likes of NTL, Sky and BT were offering 'Triple Play' options with different combinations of TV, Broadband, telephone and mobile. But with the recent purchase of Virgin Mobile it was only a matter of time before NTL were going to be able to offer 'Quadruple play', that's TV, broadband, telephone and a mobile service in one package. They won't be alone for long as BT is close to releasing it's new TV over broadband service called 'BT Vision' allowing BT to offer it's own 'Quadruple' service.


YouTube bought by Google

YouTube is a incredibly popular, free video sharing web site which lets users upload, view, and share video clips. The site was created a little over 19 months ago and has now just been bought by Google for 1.6 billion dollars (in shares). It has been calculated that YouTube accounts for 60% of all videos viewed on the web. With as many as 60,000 videos being uploaded daily, I can believe it ! What's in it for Google, well with such a large audience they really can't go far wrong. They may well introduce new content, perhaps adding professional content, they will more than likely extend their ads system to include YouTube, the potential for revenue is vast.


Vista Anti-piracy

Microsoft will soon release the first versions of it's new operating system 'Windows Vista'. Microsoft is keen to make Vista far harder to pirate than XP and has put together a new raft of security measures to try to protect its new investment. As with XP you will have 30 days in which to activate your copy of Vista, but unlike XP, Vista has been designed to inform users immediately if they do not have a genuine copy. Keys are now terminated on-the-fly for copies of Vista that are stolen, abused or pirated, speeding up the process of making hooky copies of Vista invalid and nag screens are used to continually inform customers that they are using non-genuine software. Finally additional functionality and security enhancements will be revoked from copies of Vista that are deemed non-genuine....I just hope they get it right !


HP gets into Voodoo

HP is to buy VoodooPC, the high-end gaming PC manufacturer, for an undisclosed amount. VoodooPC is a Canadian company that has been in business since 1991, building bespoke customised PCs for the enthusiast market. In a move that mirrors Dell's acquisition of Alienware in March, HP intends to keep the VoodooPC brand name, along with all current marketing, sales, support and system development.


Firefox flaws

Microsoft's Internet Explorer is not perfect, but at least Microsoft does actively & continually released patches to try to maintain IE's security. Mozilla's Firefox (an alternative internet browser) was safer, having better built-in security than IE. But, as predicted, Mozilla has not been able to maintain it's secure browser. Due to a number of reasons many Firefox flaws remain unpatched, with more vulnerabilities being found regularly the list of threats is now reaching unreasonable levels. The latest Javascript vulnerability has even been described as "impossible to patch". Sounds like the Fox needs to be put down for its own good......oow, did I just say that .... lol


Sony in mass battery recall

Sony's battery issues are much larger than first thought, with Sony now advising almost all of it's clients using their batteries to return them for replacement. This could represent more than 7 million batteries worldwide. The over-heading issue noted by Dell and Apple last month, now seem to be a fault effecting almost all Sony batteries. Sony has since altered the way it manufactures it's batteries and has stated that, due to new procedures, it is now highly unlikely that this issue will occur again. If you are concerned about your battery, my advice is to visit your laptop manufactures website for further details.


eBay to be Sued

eBay is under mounting pressure to tighten it's controls on the goods it allows to be sold though it's auction site.  It is already facing lawsuits from a number of fashion houses and jewellers, all seeking damages from eBay for allowing counterfeit versions of their goods to be sold. If these lawsuits are successful eBay could have to pay damages totalling more than 40 million.


September

Xbox 360 HD DVD

Microsoft's Xbox 360 will soon be accompanied by a HD DVD player. Due to be first released in Japan, (No date is currently available for the European release), the player along with a firmware update for the console will allow users to display 1080p high-resolution movies/games to any compatible TV/display. Microsoft also hopes to have up to 100 new Xbox games ready for Christmas, which will more than double the current number of titles available.


Google Earth Updated

Google has updated its much used 'Google Earth' application, there have been a number of improvements, most notable to the speed at which the maps are rendered and the addition of time stamped images so that you can see the changes to areas at different points in time. There are many more additions to Beta version 4, so if your interested visit:

http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html


New Apple iPods

Apple has been busy developing their iPod range, first there's the new iPod Nano, sporting a thinner design and brighter display. It lasts up to 24 hours on one charge and comes in one of five different colours. Next there's the new standard iPod, physically just a little bit bigger than the old iPod, but now comes with between 30GBs and 80GBs of storage and the battery lasts up to 20 hours. Finally there's the new, tiny iPod Shuffle, that conveniently clips on to your cloths when in use. At only 1.62inches long and a weight of half an ounce, you will probably almost forget you are carrying it.

For more information visit:
http://www.apple.com/itunes/


Windows Vista RC1

Microsoft has just made available, for download, the latest beta version of their Vista operating system. RC1 (Release Candidate 1) is to be one of the final offical version before its scheduled release early next year. This latest beta is said to be the most complete and stable version yet and Microsoft recommends that all those currently using older beta versions should update immediately.

For all those who are currently considering an install of Vista, check out Microsoft's 'Upgrade Advisor' tool first by visiting:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/upgradeadvisor/default.mspx 

For more on the Vista RC1 download visit:
http://download.windowsvista.com/preview/rc1/en/download.htm


PS3 delayed until March 2007

Europe and so the UK will now have to wait until 2007 before any, official, versions of Sony's PS3 are made available. This is basically due to the limited availability of 'blue laser diodes' required to manufacture the all important Blu-ray disc drives used by the PS3. In November Sony will deliver a limited quantity of PS3's to Japan, followed by a much large quantity to North America, but Europe will see no official units until March 2007. Sounds like it could be another eBay Christmas shopping spree for many UK residents, just be careful you don't get caught up in any scams !


Toshiba boasts reliability

Toshiba is so confident about the reliability of it's latest laptops, that it is willing to put it's money where it's mouth is ! Toshiba has said that it will offer a  repair or replacement, and a full refund on any Laptop that goes wrong in the first 12 months. Well done Toshiba for having such confidence in your products.  At the time of writing only the Satellite Pro A120 or Tecra A8 are covered by this special warranty. Still, I think that other manufacturers could learn a thing or two from Toshiba !


Acer service woes

Acer are well known for their range of value Laptops and TFT monitors, but all is not well with it's service centres, with reports that large numbers of customers are having to wait several weeks for repairs, (some have even waited as long as 4 months!). As you would no doubt agree these delays are unacceptable. So in attempt to protect my customers from such headaches, The Glitch will not, until further notice, be listing any more Acer products, unless expressly asked. SurprisedAngrySad


Samsung PRAM

No, the memory manufacturing giant has not joined forces with Mothercare, PRAM stands for 'Phase-change Random Access Memory' and has been sited as the next big thing in flash memory. It is said to be over 30 times faster than traditional flash memory, and has a 10x greater operational life, this is mostly due to the ability of the memory to rewrite data without the need to first erase it. But don't expect to see them in commercial products just yet, as they are not expected to hit the shelves until late 2007.


Google news archive search

Google has launched it's new 'News archive search'. It has been developed to provide an easy way to search and explore historical news archives that stretch back almost 200 years. Apart from searching for specific events or people, you can also get an historical overview by selecting the 'timeline' option, which shows selected results from relevant time periods.

For more information visit:
http://news.google.com/archivesearch


Craft Corner at Three C's

The Glitch is proud to announce the completion of a new website for 'Three C's'. The project was to produce an information site for crafting products sold at their shop, to this end I developed and designed their 'Craft Corner at Three C's'.


Apple Battery Recall

It seems that Dell are not alone with their battery woes, Apple is now recalling 1.1 million Sony made batteries used in their iBook and PowerBook laptop computers. Battery models effected are A1061, A1079, A1078 and A1148.

Like Dell, Apple now have a Battery exchange program, for more information visit:
http://www.apple.com/support/batteryexchange/2006/faq/


21CN moves nearer

21CN stands for '21st century network' and is British Telecoms (BT) new all digital network. It's an Ethernet-based infrastructure designed to put BT at the forefront of technology, vastly improving their voice, data and video communications. Cardiff will be the first area to be upgraded and assuming all goes well, the rest of the UK will follow, but don't expect things to improve just yet as the planned national roll out has been set for early 2008 ! 


Vista release on track

The expected release date of Microsoft's new operating system 'Windows Vista' was said to be the 30 January 2007 and to all intent and purpose this is looking very likely. The last, official beta version, Release Candidate 1 (RC1) has now been made available to beta testers and should be available to a much wider group very shortly. With Office 2007 also sited for release at the same time, Microsoft has a lot to do before January !


Job cuts at Intel

Intel has not been doing so well of late, with it's profit levels down by 40% this year. But the chip giant is not sitting around wallowing in its own misfortune, Intel is going through a change, a big change. Intel knows its got a winner on it's hands with the new 'Core 2 Duo' processor and is doing everything it can to stay on top and ahead of the competition. It has already sold off big chunks of its less profitable businesses and is unfortunately now going to shed up to 10% of it's workforce, in a bid to make a leaner and meaner Intel.


More Blu-ray movies

There is no question that HD-DVD has the edge on picture quality, but it seems that Blu-ray has been given another healthy boost with 75 more film titles having been ear marked for release on the format. Although this currently makes 80% of high-definition titles Blu-ray, it is too early to speculate on which is the true dominate format, as production of HD-DVD titles will also start to increase as high-definition becomes more widespread.


August

Intel Quad Core, soon

Just as we are all trying to get used to the speed of Intel's fantastic, new dual core 'Core 2 Duo' CPU, news of Intel's next new processor is starting to emerge. Code named 'Kentsfield' this quad core processor could be available before the end of the year and will be capable of processing speeds hither to unheard of for a desktop processor. It seems that the crown for fastest desktop CPU will now only be worn by the 'Core 2 Duo' for a relatively short time. 'Kentsfield' is also likely to give AMD yet another head ache, as AMD will continue to play catch-up for the foreseeable future. As to the final name of this new Intel chip....well your guess is as good as mind, maybe 'Core 2 Quad' or 'Core 4 Duo' !


Sony Mylo

Mylo, derived from "my life online", is a new kind of wireless device from Sony that is able to play music and videos, display photos, surf the web, instant message, VoIP and more. This eye-catching device comes with a small slide out Qwerty keyboard, 2.4" TFT screen, 1GB of flash memory, supports Sony's memory stick duo for additional storage, and of course has built-in 802.11b/g wireless connectivity. Battery life is also said to be good at up to 45 hours.

For more information visit:
http://www.learningcenter.sony.us/assets/itpd/mylo/prod/index.html


No more Googling .... oops

I reported in July that Merriam-Webster's open dictionary has defined Google, as a verb, well it seems that Google has had enough and is now trying to stop any further 'genericidation' of their name. Publishers who now persist in using such terms as 'to google' or 'googling' will be sent 'cease and desist' notifications. The problem is one of trademark protection, if Google allows these terms to be used in everyday verbiage, then other companies could start to use Google's name with out any fear of legal ramifications, with the defence that the name has become so generic that it can no longer receive copyright protection.


Dell Battery Recall

Dell is recalling a large number of laptop batteries, due to fears that, under rare conditions, they could overheat and in extreme circumstances pose a possible risk of fire. Only six instances of overheating have been reported, but Dell is taking no chances and is recalling more than 4 million batteries that were sold between 1 April 2004 and 18 July 2006. Customers are being asked to visit a special site to determine if their battery is affected and order a free replacement.

For more information visit:
http://www.dellbatteryprogram.com


Google ID

Did you know that the search engine 'Google' stores a unique ID on your computer when you visit their site! This allows Google to collect information on users surfing habits and enables them, amongst other things, to compile usage reports. To stop Google from gathering this information and identifying your specific surfing habits you need to remove the Google unique ID stored on your computer.

G-Zapper is a program that will help you, for more information visit:
http://www.dummysoftware.com/gzapper.html


AMD has change of heart

It seems that logic has prevailed and AMD will not be dropping the ATI brand name. In a change of heart, AMD has decided that the ATI branding is actually quite a good thing, and something that they should not throw away after all. I think most people could have told them that !


AMD to ditch ATI branding

In a move that has surprised a large number of people, AMD is to ditch the ATI brand name completely. AMD purchased ATI last month for almost $5.4bn, but I don't think even ATI thought AMD would kill their brand name off. As the new owners AMD can obviously do what they like to ATI, but many people think that it is a big mistake to drop the ATI name. Everybody knows when you are choosing a graphics card it is between ATI and nVIDIA, with the ATI name lost, people may just assume nVIDIA is the only name in graphics left.


Fuzzing

Fuzzing is a term used to describe a methodology for software testing. It is basically used to present all sorts of random input data to applications in attempt to find  weaknesses and bugs. There are a large number of software testing tools available, that use these techniques to help enhance software security and stability, mostly used in large software development projects. But now hackers are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) software testers that also use these techniques to find hither to undiscovered application vulnerabilities. Experts are convinced that this is the main reason why so many vulnerabilities are being reported now and are concerned that, if the current rate continues, software vendors may find it difficult to patch their software quick enough. 


Core 2 Duo mobile

Intel has been very busy of late, not only has it released it's new 'E' series, Core 2 Duo processors for desktop computers, but by the end of August they should have released their  mobile versions of the CPU. Code named 'Merom', but known as the Core 2 Duo 'T' series processor, shares the same architecture as the desktop version and should prove to be another very fast chip from Intel. The range starts with the T5500 running at 1.67GHz and goes all the way up to the T7600 running at 2.33GHz. If these mobile processors are as good as the desktop versions then Intel will be practically unstoppable, with AMD struggling to keep up with Intel in almost every processor class.  


eBay & PayPal users Phished most

It seems that eBay and PayPal users are most likely to suffer from Phishing, with 75% of all attacks being targeted at them. Phishing is a growing threat, and eBay & PayPal users are prime targets because of the popularity, and global nature of these companies. Phishing most often takes the form of an email which will try to get the recipient to visit a fraudulent website that looks, to all intent and purpose, to be the real thing. In reality the site is being used to harvest the users information, thus allowing the Phishers to steal the users identity and banking details.

'The Glitch' has covered this type of threat before, you only have to look at the right-hand side of my 'Home Page' for some basic advice on Phishing. But for additional advice there is a new resource available from the 'Anti-Phishing Working Group' (APWG).

For more information visit:
http://www.antiphishing.org/consumer_recs.html


AMD price drop

AMD has cut the price of it's desktop processors by more than 50%. AMD had little choice but to slash it prices due to the release of Intel's impressive new desktop processor the 'Core 2 Duo'. AMD has had the edge on Intel for some time now, but the tables have turned with the Intel 'Core 2 Duo' being a notably faster and more powerful processor, not to mention much cheaper. AMD have been significantly out-classed and will no doubt respond to Intel's new offering, but with such a large step forward by Intel, don't expect AMD to catch up until some time next year !


July

500GHz CPU

IBM have been showing off again, this time with a hybrid silicon-germanium (SiGe) based CPU running at 500GHz, yes 500GHz. They were able to run at these enormous speeds by cooling the chip down to a chilly -268C using liquid helium. It seems these speeds are possible because the hybrid silicon-germanium CPU can attain much faster speeds when cooled down to very low temperatures. Of more interest is that IBM state that this hybrid CPU can run at 350GHz at room temperature which, if true, would make all other processors look very, very slow. If this was not enough, IBM are also working on a design that may well attain 1000GHz or 1THz (One Terahertz)........OMG !


Microsoft confirms Argo project

Microsoft has confirmed the existence of their Argo project, and that later this year they will be releasing a portable music device and digital music service under the brand name 'Zune'. They have also indicated that additional multimedia devices will follow, but would not elaborate further.


Dell profits down more than 30%

Dell is the worlds largest computer manufacturer, so when it's profits drop significantly it sends shivers down the 'PC industries' backs. With Dell shares now reaching a new 6 year low, it seems Dell is finally having a hard time keeping up with the current PC market. Dell has been a blazing success for a number of years but is now blaming 'aggressive pricing in what is a slowing market' for their decreasing profits. But don't read between the lines too soon, there's plenty of fight in the old dog yet. 


Elonex bought by Afic

Elonex (PC manufacturer) who went into administration last month, has been bought by consumables supplier Afic (Applied Film Industries Company) for an undisclosed sum. Elonex started to struggle when the government decided to scrap the 'Home Computing Initiative' scheme, this was at a time when Elonex was heavily investing  in Research and Development, a combination that was to prove fatal. Afic has decided to kept on all remaining staff members and has big plans for the company's future. 


AMD buys ATI

In a surprise deal AMD (CPU manufacturer) is to buy ATI (graphics processor manufacturer) for almost $5.4bn. AMD has said it intends to fuse their technologies with ATI's, creating new processor configurations that serve both CPU and GPU needs. This combination should create some exciting products, but as always, we will have to wait a while before we see the fruits of this union.


Microsoft Argo

I have been reading snippets and rumours about this project for a couple of  months now, but there does now seems to be some substance to it, it seems that Microsoft is/has developing/developed a range of handheld media devices under the project name Argo. It is too soon to known for sure, but there is talk of some kind of digital music device, with multimedia capability (i.e. an iPod clone/killer), but also maybe a handheld games console as well. So we will have to wait a little longer before anything definite is known, rest-a-shored 'The Glitch' will keep you informed. Wink


Sony still considering PlayStation DRM

You would think that Sony would have learned its lesson by now, but it seems they are still considering a very aggressive DRM system for they new PlayStation 3 console. If this new DRM is adopted it would lock discs to a specific console, preventing them from being used in any other console. This would mean that you would no longer be able to borrow games from your mates, or enjoy a game that your friend has brought round for you to try or play together. You could not swap games or buy games second hand, it could also mean if you console goes wrong you would have to buy all your games again. As you can clearly see, it would be the height of stupidity for Sony to go ahead with this type of protection and would probably mean the demise of the PlayStation 3 before it got off the ground.SurprisedSad


2007 Microsoft Office system (Beta 2)

Microsoft has made available a beta 2 release of their latest office productivity software named '2007 Microsoft Office system'. The beta release contains all the functionality of the regular release, but is not the final product. Registration is required to download the software.

For more information visit:
http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/getthebeta.mspx


Microsoft fined 200 million

The European Commission has fined Microsoft almost 200 million for failing to comply with it's current anti-competition ruling. Microsoft is to appeal against the fine, insisting it has fully complied with all the demands made, but Microsoft could now face additional daily fines of approximately 1.6 million if the dispute continues. The ruling centers around Microsoft releasing additional technical information about it's Windows operating system to allow rival firms to write more compatible coding.


Social networking dangers

The phenomenon of 'social networking' has grown rapidly over the past few years, with millions of children and teenagers joining in so that they can meet new people. But all this communication does comes with certain risks, it seems that paedophiles and other unsavoury characters have also cottoned on to this very popular pastime and are using it as a way to 'groom' children and young adults. The government has recently formed CEOP (The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre), and it is currently reviewing these online environments in a bid to make it safer for young people to use. They are being backed by the likes of Microsoft, AOL and charities like the NSPCC. So a word of warning such sites as MySpace and Bebo are great, but be careful what information you release about yourself, keep yourself safe !


Ricoh reads all optical formats !

Ricoh has developed a new laser system that allows it to read all current optical formats, which include Blu-ray, HD DVD, DVD and CD standards. The device is based around a single laser system that uses a 'diffraction grating' to adjust the laser beams to strike the surface of the disc in the correct way, for each format. All going well Ricoh should have a winner on it's hands, as most people will want the widest compatibility possible and what better way than being about to read them all. Ricoh hopes to have this new laser system in devices before the end of the year.


Google a verb ?!

Yes it was bound to happen sooner or later, Merriam-Webster's open dictionary has defined Google, as a verb (or to be totally accurate a transitive verb). Its origins are stated as: "Google, trademark for a search engine: to use the Google search engine to obtain information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web". With inflected forms being detailed as Googled & Googling. I don't know whether Google's owners are going to be happy that their trade mark name is being made in to an every day word, I will have to do a bit more Googling to find out !Happy


Internet Explorer 7 final beta released

A new, updated (beta 3) version of Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 7 is now available to download. Microsoft has stated that this will be the final beta with only a release candidate version due before its general release. This new beta fixes a number of bugs and security issues, and also adds additional functionally to the browser. If you are currently using an older beta of IE 7 it is highly recommended that you download this updated version, remembering to uninstall the older version first. 

For more information visit:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx


Lightning warning for mobiles

First it was radiation, now its lightning fears. It's a well known fact that the more conductive an item is the better it will channel electricity, so it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that mobile phones conduce electricity very well indeed. Getting struck by lightning is never a good thing, but interestingly enough it's rarely fatal (something to do with the high resistance of human skin), but conductive materials, like mobile phones, that are left close to the skin will channel the electricity into the body and do serious damage often resulting in death. A massive number of people keep their mobile phones on them every day, so when you hear that a large number of people have already either lost their lives or sustained serious injury as a result, it's worth considering popping your mobile in your bag/briefcase next time your in a thunder storm !


No WinFS for Vista

WinFS was to be a totally new new method of storing and organising information in Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system (to replace the old files and folders hierarchy), it was based on relational database technologies and was supposed to provide a more flexible way of accessing and grouping data files. It now seems doubtful that WinFS will find it's way into Windows Vista any time soon, Microsoft would only say that the technology may appear in next version of SQL Server software set to appear sometime in 2007.


June

Are you a Netaholic ?

Do you spend too much time online, interacting with a virtual world instead of the real world. Don't get me wrong there are many good things on the web worth spending time on, but be careful you don't end up spending your whole life there, at the expensive of your friends and family. Are you a Netaholic ? Do you forget to eat because you're too busy surfing the net ? Do you start surfing early in the morning only to find yourself still there when it's lunch time ? There are far more Netaholics than you think, so use the internet wisely, limit yourself. Now stop reading this article and go outside and enjoy yourself in the real world, go and get some sun on that lily white skin !


Channel 4 Online

Channel 4 now offers simultaneous broadcast and on-line streaming of almost all of its TV schedule.  This now enable viewers to stream the live broadcasts to their computers, with only bought-in programs and films being excluded due to license restrictions. Channel 4 is the first broadcaster in the UK to offer this type of service, adding to it's already available video on demand service.


BT Total

You may have already seen advertised BT's latest broadband offering. BT Total represents BTs vision of home communications in the 21st century. It Consists of BT's new 'Home Hub' device and BT's Fusion package. It enables you to surf the web at up to 8Mbps, make internet voice calls and video calls, it also allows you to use any compatible mobile phone to make calls through home lines when within range. This combination of technologies puts BT in a strong position, enabling them to offer its BT Broadband, BT Talk and later BT Vision services in one fully integrated environment. BT could be onto a winner !

For more information visit :
http://www.bt.com/broadband/bb_info.jsp?s_cid=FURL-broadband


Bill Gates takes a further step down

Bill Gates is the world's richest man with an estimated $50 billion fortune, he founded Microsoft back in 1975, and run Microsoft for some 25 years, until in 2000 he made the decision to step down as CEO and became Microsoft's 'chief software architect'. Now Gates is to take a further step away from Microsoft, and has disclosed that he intends to become a 'non-executive chairman', by 2008. so that he can concentrate on his charity work. Bill Gate's foundation gives around 1 billion dollars to charity projects and good causes around the world, every year.

'The Glitch' is a good cause, what about me Bill.......I don't think he's listening !


Elonex down but not out yet !

Founded in 1986, Elonex has been one of the longer standing suppliers of IT supplies and services. Although the company is now in administration, Deloitte and Touche, (the appointed administrators), are very hopeful that the company can be sold as a going concern. They have also stated that existing warranties will be honoured, and that things were basically running as normal for the time being....called me a cynic, but I don't think I will be buying a PC from them at the moment !


Countries sensor the web

In a disturbing trend, it seems that a large number of countries now sensor the internet by blocking sites they feel don't see things their way. China, Iran, Morocco, Cuba,  Zimbabwe, Belarus, Burma, Nepal, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria are just a few who now actively sensor the internet. Whether it's to do with democracy, human rights, woman's rights, independence or just general freedom of speech all these countries feel the need to stop their citizens from accessing what they feel is 'inappropriate' content.


Support ends for Windows 98 & ME

As of the 11th July 2006 Windows 98, 98SE and Windows ME will no longer be supported by Microsoft. No further security updates will be made available for these platforms, this is in line with Microsoft's Lifecycle Policy. All existing support documents will still be available for the time being. So if you have not made the move to Windows XP yet, now is the time to consider an upgrade !


Vista Customer Preview Hot News

Microsoft has, for the first time,  made the Beta 2 version of it's new 'Windows Vista Ultimate Edition' available to the general public, under it's Customer Preview Program. As always, if you decide to go ahead with the download, there are certain risks involved, especially when installing a Beta version of an operating system. It is not recommended that you install it on your main computer, unless you are a highly experienced user. If you have an old computer lying around, that is capable of running Vista, then The Glitch recommends that you install it on that rather than your main machine, thus removing any possibility of rendering your main system unusable.

For more information go to: (Warning large download size of up to 4.4GB)
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/preview.mspx


BPI defines 'fair usage'

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), has stated that people should seek 'authorisation', before they rip their music CDs to their hard drives,  iPods or indeed into any other form, stating that without this 'authorisation', it is illegal to do so. The RIAA has taken a very hard line on 'fair usage'.

Thankfully the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) has taken a much more sensible view, and that is, as long as you are copying music you own, for your own personal use, then this will be seen as acceptable use, but copying music for any other purpose is illegal and would leave you open to prosecution.


Solid-State Devices (SSD)

Back in September 2005 I reported that high capacity solid-state memory could become a real alternative to hard disks drives in the not too distant future. Well that vision is about to come true, with both Sony and Samsung set to release Laptop computers fitted with SSDs (Solid-State Devices). Sony looks like it will be first to the market with a machine sporting a 32GB SSD instead of a traditional hard drive. Laptops fitted with SSDs have many advantages over systems fitted with conventional hard drives, they include improved overall system response due to faster reading/writing speeds, better reliability due to the lack of moving parts, improved battery life because SSDs don't require as much power and lastly they should be lighter as SSDs don't weigh as much. But due to their, relatively limited size at this time, don't expect to see them in desktop computers just yet!


Slingbox Hot News

No, it's not about recycling again, the 'Slingbox' is a device that converts almost any type of TV signal, whether its Analogue, Digital, Satellite or Cable into a data stream that can be passed to any computer in your home or even across the net to a computer at your work place or indeed any other internet enabled computer, creating a personal TV channel. These devices are expected in the UK very soon.

Be one of the first people in the UK with a Slingbox, go to the 'TV & Capture' section within hardware to purchase !


Windows Media Photo Format

Microsoft has developed a new image format, the 'Windows Media Photo' format is claimed to produce significantly more detailed images than JPEG format images, but are almost half the size, using 24:1 compression. The JPEG format has ruled the 'image' roost for many years and has had no real successor/competitor until now. The 'Windows Media Photo' format will be supported in Microsoft's new operating system Windows Vista. Only time will tell whether it will be widely adopted, but one thing Microsoft has already stated is that 'licensing will not be a restriction', something that has been an issue for the JPEG format in the past.


Allofmp3 deemed illegal

The legal advice website 'Out-law' has stated that anyone who buys music from the Allofmp3 website is indeed in breach of copyright. This week sees all of the major record labels begin legal proceedings against the site. Allofmp3 is fighting back, claiming that it does have legitimate licences under Russian law, but as criminal prosecutions of MediaServices (Allofmp3's owner) have already begun,  it seems only a matter of time before the site is closed down. It was all too good to be true !


Content Protection on hold for HD

Intel's high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP) will not be initially implemented on HD DVD & Blu-ray media players. In a significant move, a large number of companies have decided that they will not support the ICT (Image Constraint Token) feature of either format. This is where devices playing HD content via non-HDMI connections would automatically degrade the content to a much lower resolution rather than displaying it in full HD quality. The decision has been made due to the large number of  'HD Capable' display devices being produced without an HDMI interface.

This has to be one of the more sensible decisions made by the industry, can you imagine your frustration if you had just purchased the latest HD movie on say, Blu-ray media, only to find when you play it, you get a poor, low quality version being displayed on your HDTV. All because of over-the-top copy protection, it would have been a sure fire way of destroying HD, before it got off the ground!


May

Beware 'Rogue Browsers'

A another new type of computer threat is emerging 'Rogue Browsers'. Most of us are now aware that our browsers can be re-configured to redirect to specific pages without our consent, but now we are beginning to see viruses (worms) that install their own versions of browsers, without uninstallers, that completely takeover a users internet browsing, often sending the user to locations that automatically download spyware or send you to potentially illegal or illicit material. They will even hi-jack the standard Internet Explorer icon in an attempt to fool the user.

The Glitch's advice for XP machines is to consider creating a "Limited" user account, just for surfing the web. So, due to the account restrictions, programs like this should not be able to install! and (as always) keep your anti-spyware and anti-virus software updated!


Vista Upgrade Advisor Tool (beta)

Microsoft has just made available a tool to check whether your system will be up to running Windows Vista (when it is release early next year). It's still in beta form so expect some changes to the software other the next few months.

The Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor beta will help you determine if your current PC is ready for an upgrade to Windows Vista. It will also help you to choose the edition of Windows Vista that's right for you. Download the Upgrade Advisor beta and run an analysis of your current PC and use the detailed feedback to ensure that your PC is ready for the edition of Windows Vista that you want.

To download the tool go to:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/getready/default.mspx


Pay-As-You-Go Broadband

This new service from Bulldog is just what a lot of people have been waiting for, a direct (broadband) replacement for their old dialup service. The service is aimed at people who can't justify spending 15-20 a month on a pre-pay broadband service, because they don't spend hours online downloading music and browsing the web. The Pay-as-you-go service offers up to 8 meg broadband, with a free modem, free email accounts, and free McAfee Internet Security Suite for a year. The following call rates apply:  Weekends 1p /minute, Evenings 2p /minute, Daytime 3p /minute.

For more information go to: http://www.bulldogbroadband.com/residential/products/broadband/index.asp


GP2X Portable Games Console Hot News

OK, we have all heard of  the Sony Play Station Portable and the Nintendo DS, but how many of you have heard of the GP2X? Well take a look, because it is one of the most seriously under-rated games console ever and it cost less than 125. What makes the GP2X so different to the rest is that it is based around a free, open source, Linux operating system. This is not a bad thing, it ensures massive third party software support, most of which is supplied free. These include Games, Utilities,  Emulators and much, much more. The hardware is pretty impressive, it has two 200mhz CPU's with 64MB of memory, custom graphics hardware and decoding chips, and takes standard SD cards. It is even supplied with a full SDK so you can start to develop your own software out of the box...wow.

To find out more go to: http://gp2x.co.uk/


Media Player 11 Beta released

Microsoft have made available the first beta release of their latest media player. At almost 23MB is size, the download of Media Player 11 is not small, especially when compared to previous versions. This new version sports a new look and promises to make organising your music, video and pictures a whole lot easier. I haven't downloaded it myself yet, but it does actually look quite good, but remember it is a beta release, so expect a few undocumented features!

For more information go to: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/11/default.aspx


New top level domains

A new top level domain .tel has been given the go ahead by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). It has been designed for use by companies to provide a simple website purely for contact details and information. The idea is sound and should prove useful if companies adopt and use it correctly!

In other news the new .eu domain is now available to the general public, while in a massive turn-around ICANN have now rejected the idea of an .xxx domain, which is odd as they were the ones who initially proposed it !


Allofmp3

Allofmp3 is a music download site, based in Russia. Nothing too odd about that, but did you know it's now one of the most popular downloads sites in the UK? You may ask why, and the answer is simple, it's very cheap. A CD's worth of music can be downloaded for as little as $1.00. The basic mp3 files are not protected with any irritating DRM and start at 192kbps quality (Other higher quality encoding options are also available). I know what you are thinking, it's got to be illegal, No it's not, well not at the moment, there is a loophole in the Russian copyright legislation that makes sites like Allofmp3 possible, and due to complex, antiquated Russian laws this won't change quickly. You basically pay per Mb downloaded, in a kind of subscription style, and it works very well.

The site has been down over the last few days, while they upgraded their servers, but it should be up and running again now!

Take a look at: http://www.allofmp3.com/


Intel's 'dual core' darling Hot News

No it's not Intel's 'Conroe' again, it's Intel's Pentium D 805 budget 2.66Mhz CPU. With a street price of around 80 this baby is not going to break the bank, more importantly when 'over-clocked' it attains speeds comparable with CPUs costing more than six times the price. Why has Intel done this? Is this just luck? Has it been done deliberately? or is Intel just getting rid of older repackaged stock? We will probably never know. But one things for sure it has the ability to be one of the fastest processors on the market today. Yes you read that correctly, with a little 'over-clocking' this budget processor is quicker than a 'AMD 64 FX' or an 'Intel Pentium D 955 EE'.


Major Website Outage

Due to serious problems with my hosting companies web servers, 'The Glitch' website was unavailable for approximately 2 hours on Tuesday. My site was not alone, as many thousands of other sites were also affected. The hosting company worked hard to restore their services in the shortest time possible, and 'The Glitch' was active again at around 6pm. Embarrassed


Acorn computers...who ?

These days computers are common place in the home, helped mainly by the 'microcomputing' pioneers of the early 80's. Companies like Sinclair Research, Commodore and Acorn Computers all had a big part to play in making computers an integral part of our home lives. Amongst other things, Sinclair built the ZX 80, 81 and Spectrum, Commodore built the Vic 20 and C64 and Acorn built the BBC Micro and Archimedes. It is these fond memories that Acorn hopes to play on, but this time they are going to build their own Windows based Laptops. Glad to hear they've moved on, because I don't think an 8Mhz ARM-2 CPU with 512KB of memory would run Windows XP very well....hehe.


Intel names new processor range

Intel's new processor range (Formerly known as Conroe) will be called 'Core 2 Duo' continuing where it's current, low-power, portable chip 'Core Duo' has left off. The 'Core 2 Duo' will come in four basic flavours, the 4000 & 6000 series for desktop chips and the 5000 & 7000 series for portable/laptop chips. Intel will continue to use model numbers to indicate each processors capabilities. The launch of these new processors is quite significant in that it represents the unification of Intel's entire processor micro-architecture, making, by default, any 'Core' specifically written software, fully optimised and ready to run, on a broad range of different computers.


Recycling batteries

Europe potentially disposes of more than a million tonnes of batteries every year, and that represents a substantial amount of toxic pollution, due to all those heavy metals (Lead and Cadmium) being dumped or burned. A new directive issued by the EU has underlined new measures that should be taken to reduce this environmental damage. Up to 75% of batteries, that contain heavy metals will now be recycled and the battery producers will be responsible for the cost of collection, recycling and disposal. It also states that Shops will be obliged to collect batteries for free. Products that contain batteries will also need to be clearly marked with the batteries expected lifespan, and should be removable to further facilitate recycling. One of the more sensible directives to come from the EU, I feel !


Nintendo Wii

Nintendo's, soon to be launched,  next generation games console will be called Wii (pronounced 'Weee'), stop sniggering, this is serious. The people at Nintendo say the name emphasises that the console is for everyone, and I quote ''Wii can easily be remembered by people around the world, no matter what language they speak. No confusion. No need to abbreviate. Just Wii'.....yes well, obviously they didn't think too long about the meaning in English.  Embarrassed


Disney, family orientated mobiles

Yes, Disney is planning to launch a, family friendly, mobile phone service in the UK. Disney will only be a 'virtual network operator' as they don't have a UK mobile network infrastructure themselves, they plan to utilise spare capacity on the O2 network. As most Telcos are intending some kind of television broadcast service for mobile phones, Disney will be able to draw (no pun intended) on their vast array of family entertainment.

Lets hope they don't decide to take a leaf out of Nintendo's book and call it
the 'Pooh' network....lol .


Beware of Ransomware

A new breed of Trojan virus has been detected, it is being dubbed 'Ransomware'. So called because it will threaten to delete/hide files from an infected computer, until a ransom is paid. They can prove tricky to remove with some disabling the Ctrl-Alt-Del key combination to prevent anyone terminating the Trojan before it can delete files. Others forms of these Trojans encrypt a victims files and will only unlock them if the ransom is paid. This is a serious and worrying trend and one that is set to get much worse.

My advice is two fold, first make sure you have up-to-date anti-virus and anti-spyware programs installed and secondly make sure you have good off-line backup of all sensitive/important data.


Public beta now available for IE 7

This is the second official public release of the new version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer for Windows XP. A prerequisite of IE7 is that you must have Service Pack 2 installed. Because this is beta software Microsoft will ask for your feedback. As reported in a previous article in February, Microsoft has brought a whole host of new features to IE7.

To get hold of IE7 go to: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/default.mspx


BT buys Dabs.com

The large on-line retailer Dabs.com is now a subsidiary of BT, after being bought by them for an undisclosed amount. Dabs will not be renamed or rebranded and will continue to operate independently. BT has stated that the acquisition will allow them to offer their current products and services to a wider range of customers and by pooling resources intend to broaden these offerings further.


CD Sales at an all time high

A new set of figures published by Nielsen-netratings indicate that only 8% of surfers download music from subscription services, where as 75% still prefer a physical CD, most of which are purchased on the high-street rather than on-line! These findings are plausible, as the UK music industry has just reported soaring CD sales, with almost 28 million being sold during the last 3 months...wow, that's a lot of music !


April

Teen murdered for his iPod

A 17 year old Belgian teenager, has been stabbed and killed after he refused to hand over his iPod mp3 player. An massive 80,000 people have joined a silent march through Brussels, to show that this type of crime can not be tolerated. The Belgian prime minister has stated that the murderers will be found and dealt with severely, and that new measures will be put in place to tackle this type of violence. Back in October I published an article titled 'Technology thieves prey on the young', and the advice is still the same, be cautious with your belongings, do not overly advertise items, keep them and yourself safe.


AOL attempts to mute users

It seems that AOL will go to almost any extent to silence it's users if they become critical of the way they do business. 150 users, who signed an on-line petition to question AOL's new pay-per-send email service (a premium service for bulk emails), found that their email addresses were suddenly blocked. AOL is of course denying all accusations, saying that the issue was sorted quickly by it's technicians, but this only seemed to happen after 'The Electronic Freedom Frontier' issued a press release condemning AOL's blocking actions...I am not a great fan of AOL and this just adds to my dislike of them, let's just hope this was an unfortunate coincidence......yeh right..... SurprisedAngrySad


25,000 Talk Talk

Yes, 25,000 people have already signed up to the Carphone Warehouse's new Talk Talk broadband scheme. In the short time that the new service has been on offer, the Carphone Warehouse has reported orders five times greater than they had expected. This is giving them a real headache as they haven't even completed the installation of their equipment in all the designated exchanges yet! Delays are expected with a possible 2 month lead time on some orders, but good things come to those who wait.


Pleo !

What is it?...well, Pleo is a baby dinosaur, a 'Camarasaurus' to be exact, it's a very cute robot from a company called Ugobe. But this is no ordinary robot, it is one of the first toys to be truly autonomous. It is is equipped with 38 senses for sight, sound, and touch, and can exhibit genuine reactions to sensory stimuli, while he explores his environment. Pleo has basic emotions and can feel joy, sorrow, anger and even annoyance. It utilises 14 separate motors allowing Pleo to exhibit organic type movements. He even sneezes. Pleo is scheduled to be in the shops by Christmas.

Find out more from:
http://www.ugobe.com/pleo/index.html


Intel's new Conroe processorHot News

Intel has been lagging behind AMD in the CPU speed stakes for a little while now, but all this will change when Intel's new Conroe processor is launched. Conroe is based around a brand new architecture known as 'Core', and it's fast...very fast, up to 30% faster than the quickest AMD processor currently available. This significant increase in power is down to Conroe's new architecture which sports, amongst other things, a much shorter 14 stage instruction pipeline (compared to the P4's 31 stages), and has the ability to execute all 128-bit SSE instructions in a single clock cycle. It is reported that the first Conroe processor will be a 2.66Ghz LGA775 socket CPU, with 4MBs of shared L2 cache, and will run on a 1066Mhz front side bus. Intel's new chip is set to be a killer, and it's coming out fighting !


HD DVD available in Japan

The next generation optical format wars continue, this time HD DVD is leading the race. Blue-ray is seen as the superior format, but due to a number of significant delays, it is yet to reach the marketplace. This is where HD DVD now has the edge, as Toshiba has already launched the first HD DVD player in Japan, and is readying itself for the launch of it's Qosmio G30/697HS laptop, which will be the first computer with an HD DVD-ROM drive fitted. This drive will not only read HD DVD media, but will also be capable of reading and writing DVDs and CDs as well. If Blue-ray doesn't get a move on, it's going to be left behind. Surprised


Carphone Warehouse breaks the mouldHot News

How do you like the sound of unlimited local and national landline calls, unlimited international landline calls to 28 countries, up to 8Mbps broadband (with a 40GB monthly download limit) and line rental all in one package costing you only 20.99 each month. Well, this is what the Carphone Warehouse is offering, but only to people who are connected to one of the 1000 exchanges that currently has the Carephone Warehouse's own switching equipment installed. (The service is available outside of these exchanges, but at an additional cost of 10/month). One of the few downsides to this deal is that you have to sign up to an 18 month contract, and that there is a one off connection fee of 30, but other than that it's almost too good to be true.

For more information visit: http://www.talktalk.co.uk/.


Illegal file sharing can have big consequences !

Illegal file sharing, over the past 3 years, has cost the UK music industry 1.1bn. With these sorts of figures involved it is no wonder that the music industry is ready to take 2000 fresh cases through the courts. As the penalties are escalating with each new batch of lawsuits, the consequences of illegal file sharing has never been so big. In America students are now being told to drop out of college and get a job to pay their fines, and even a 12 year old girl has been fined $2,000 for sharing music.


eBay scruples ...or lack of

eBay has always been a place to sell your unwanted goods, and buy things you never knew you needed, and indeed some very odd things have been bought and sold on eBay, but it seems that eBay will now allow it's users to sell just about anything. The latest items to be fair game for eBay is 'Blue Peter' badges and Tesco's 'computers for schools' vouchers. If you are a Blue Peter badge owner you can gain free entrance to attractions across the UK, but due to eBay, this programme has been suspended. Both 'Blue Peter' and 'Tescos' have requested that the sale of said items is to be stopped, but eBay's scruples are non-existent, and have refused to intervene, a sad day for eBay!


Warning - Phishing increases

No it's not a misspelling (for once), we are not all sitting on the edges of streams for hours on end, dangling bits of string in the water. This is far more scary.  New reports suggest that the number of active Phishing sites has doubled over the last couple of months, and that the number of active Phishing-based Trojan viruses has also increased sharply. Most of these are targeting banks and other financial institutions, but not all, one report shows that news articles from the BBC are being used to lure web users into installing dodgy software. So be careful what you are clicking, and try to keep your system updated.


Sony's UMD video format on the rocks !

Many of the Hollywood studios have decided to not release any more movies on Sony's UMD video format, (used by Sony's PSP - Play Station Portable), others are to reduce the number of releases dramatically. They have said that the main reasons for these actions are due to very poor sales and lack of profitability.


XXX top-level domain rejected

The US, EU & Australia have all opposed the proposal for an XXX top-level domain, saying that they did not want to create a virtual red light district, and that it will only serve to further legitimise pornography on the internet. The proposal from ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), was meant well, but in reality it was never going to work, as many of the current Adult sites would have kept their .coms and just registered extra/new sites under the .xxx address.


First PPU Launched

Back in September 2005, I mentioned PPU's (Physics Processing Units), a powerful new type of processor, dedicated to calculating realistic real-time physics. This processor vastly improves the way objects act and interact within games. A good example of this would be the way smoke is drawn around objects when it is blown about by the wind, or the way partials/fragments move during explosions. Ageia Technologies is the first company to market PPU's, by launching their PhysX Chip, a powerful processor containing more than 125 million transistors, capable of handling as many as 30,000 objects at the same time. With 60 games developers and publishers already committed to producing software that is PPU aware, the PhysX Chip looks set to be the next 'must have' product for the serious gamer.


De-regulation of BT landline prices ?

Ofcom is considering deregulation of BT's landline pricing, meaning that BT would set its own price for land line calls (first time since it was privatised, 22 years ago). This could be a bad thing, allowing BT to charge what it likes for calls, but as telecommunication is a much more competitive business these days, prices are more likely to drop, so BT can tempt back the tens-of-thousands of customers it has lost over that past few years. Many key services including line rental, would still be protected by Ofcom until late 2007, only then will we see the real impact of these changes!


XXX top-level Domain

The top-level domain name XXX is again, being considered; proposed some years ago by the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the domain has yet to see the light of day. But there are now new calls to corral pornography in to it's own domain, this is mostly due to the shear number of sites now in question and the inability of current filtering software to be 100% accurate in blocking them all. This would create a kind of 'red light zone' on the Internet, allowing parents to easily filter and so prevent this type of content from being accessed by minors.


BT Broadband targets excessive usage

BT Broadband understands that sometimes you will exceed your data limit, and it is not worried about the occasional spike in usage, but when certain users are downloading almost 200GB each and every month, something has to be done. BT will be notifying no less than 3,000 of it's broadband users, asking them to cut down their usage, pay extra or ultimately leave the service. They are not alone in their actions, as other ISPs are also currently curbing their more enthusiastic subscribers!


Warning over Banking Trojans

More Trojan viruses are doing the rounds, but this time they are specifically targeting banking sites. These insidious programs will try to capture your PINs, Passwords and other general banking details, one exploits the Graphics Rendering Engine vulnerability that was patched by Microsoft some months ago. I know I have said it many times before, but make sure you keep your computers updated with the latest security patches from Microsoft and make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware products are working and up-to-date.


March

Luxurious Laptops

Asus is trying to turn their boring grey laptops into luxurious, chic, must-have objects of desire, no longer will you want to hide your ugly, plastic portable in your bag. Asus is no stranger to unusual laptop designs, as they released their bright yellow Lamborghini styled Laptops a few months back. Now with their new range, they offer laptops finished with leather, in a range of colours and finishes. If this was not enough, they also have a elegant, pearl white edition sporting a glossy mirror coated cover with golden detailing. What will they do next...fur...ooh...controversial.


Miniature Projectors

An Australian company is developing a miniature projector, called 'Digismart', that measures a mere 38mm by 25mm in size, making it small enough to be incorporated into mobile phones and other handheld devices. The device is said to be capable of projecting an image that is 11 inches by 17 inches in size. Providing 'Digismart' gets the financial backing it requires, these devices could be on the market by the end of the year.


Sky HD before June

Sky has announced that it's HD service will be available before the start of the 'World Cup', in June. To receive Sky HD you will require a new set top box (299) and will have to subscribe to the HD channels at an additional cost of 10/month. On top of this, you will also require an 'HD-Ready' LCD/Plasma television to be able to get any significant benefit from the new high definition picture.

For more information go to: http://www.sky.com/hd


Dell to buy Alienware 

For a couple of weeks now, there has been rumours about a deal between Dell and Alienware. Alienware was founded in 1996 and is amongst the top providers of high-performance desktops, notebooks and workstations. The details of the deal have not been disclosed, but Dell have said that the Alienware brand will remain intact, including it's development, marketing, sales and technical support.


Windows Vista Delayed Hot News

Microsoft is to delay the release of it's new operating system 'Vista' until 2007. This will be disappointing news for many, but it is very bad news for computer resellers, who will have been readying specific Vista systems hoping for increased sales on the back of the Vista launch. Christmas computer sales are also now likely to suffer and with no firm date set for early 2007, even hopes of improved 'New Year' sales are looking unlikely. Microsoft stated that the main reason for this significant delay was that additional time was needed to further improve Vista's security, come on Microsoft get your finger out. SurprisedAngrySad


BT Vision

BT Vision is the name of BT's new digital TV and on-demand movies service, it will be available nationwide when launched in the autumn. To receive these new services an additional piece of equipment will be required called a 'BT Hub', this device will also give customers a wireless network and allow them to make VoIP calls. It is an essential element of BT's next-generation digital network (dubbed 21CN), forming BT's new Vision of the digital home!

For more information go to:
http://www.btvision.bt.com/


Blu-ray pulls away from HD-DVD

Blu-ray and HD-DVD have both come about due to the need for higher capacity storage for the new HD (high-definition) video format, but unless there is a big change of support over the next few months, it looks like Blu-ray will be the choice, as the primary optical format that eventually replaces DVD's. Although both formats have many advantages over the existing DVD format, Blue-ray is faster, has a higher storage capacity and is far more scaleable than HD-DVD. It is these factors along with growing support, that is seeing Blu-ray pull away from HD-DVD in the race to become the next optical format. Blu-ray also has the backing of a larger number of Hollywood film studios, and there are already a number of movie titles ready to be released on the format, when Blu-ray is finally launched sometime in May, not to mention that Sony's 'Play Station 3' will have a Blu-ray drive fitted as standard. All this puts Blu-ray in a very strong position, but only time will tell for sure!


Digital TV Britain

In the not too distant future, you will only be able to receive TV pictures using a digital based signal, this is because analogue TV broadcasts will be switched off by 2012. But we seem to have already got the message, as almost 70% of UK TV households have switched to digital alternatives. This is way ahead of the rest of  Europe with less than a 50% uptake in digital services.


Google Mars

No, Google is not making chocolate... pity. Google Mars is the latest offering from Google Maps. Although the whole of Mars is not represented, it gives you a good idea of many of it's more significant features, along with most of the locations of the Mars landing sites. Google hopes to continue their work with the Mars maps and to integrate it with Google Earth. This would be quite special, because if they succeed, it would give people a real feel for the topography of Mars.

To find out more go to:
http://mars.google.com


Telewest HDTV

Telewest is claiming to be the first company to offer a High Definition TV (HDTV) service to it's customers. To view the new HD service, Telewest customers will need to purchase a new set-top box. TVDrive, the name of this new box is well specified with an 80Gb hard drive and three tuners, allowing you to view one channel while recording up to two more. But you will also need a HD-Ready TV with HDMI interface, and be ready to spend an extra 10 per month for the privilege.

Sky is gearing up for it's HD debut, so we will have to wait to see what they will have on offer, before a comparison can be made! 


Will you be 'Aero Glass' or 'Aero Express' ?

Aero is the name for Microsoft's new Windows Vista's graphics user interface. It can be run in two modes. The first mode is called 'Aero Glass' and requires that your graphics card have at least 64MB of  memory, be DirectX 9 compatible and use the new Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM). It's an 'eye candy' mode with all sorts of new, visual enhancements and 3D effects. The second mode is called 'Aero Express' and is designed for systems that don't meet the above requirements; it defaults to a more classic Windows graphic environment.

This could lead to a whole new spell of Windows snobbery......no, no, I can't be doing with that classic mode, I only do 'Glass'....


Galileo GPS

The current GPS system that we all know and love was in fact designed for US military use, and  is owned and run by the them. There are two issues with it; the US could just simply pull the plug and say it's not for civilian use anymore, or as an aging system with no direct repayment, it could fail.

To this end, a new European based project has been born, Galileo is a civilian based GPS satellite system (due to be fully operational by 2010).  It should provide a navigation system that has greater accuracy and functionality than the current GSP system. Galileo will coexist with the current GSP service and they will be collectively known as the GNSS or 'Global Navigation Satellite Service'. Nearer to the official Galileo launch, expect to see new devices emerge that will be GNSS aware, covering both the current GSP and new Galileo services.


Apple iPod HiFi

Now you can turn your iPod into a proper HiFi with Apple's new iPod HiFi. And it's not just a gimmick, its a powerful single-cabinet speaker (much like a center channel speaker from a home theater setup) that sounds great. Even the supplied remote reminds you of an iPod shufle ! Its compatible with both the iPod and iPod Nano and supports many of the new features introduced in recent models, like Tone Control and Album Art mode. It's 432mm wide, by 168mm high and 175mm deep, so it's not small, but then again no small speaker ever really gives you high quality sound. At around 250 its a little expensive, but the price will come down over time.

For more information go to www.apple.com/uk/ipodhifi.


Microsoft's 'Origami-project' revealed

Microsoft's 'Origami-project' is an Ultra-Mobile PC; so my sources were spot on !
The basic specifications of these new, small, devices are as follows:

Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005, with a 7 diagonal display (or smaller), a minimum screen resolution of 800 x 480, with integrated touch panel, WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled and approximately 2 pounds in weight.

For more info go to:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/umpc/default.mspx


Jersey tax dodge no more

On-line companies that sell goods via Jersey (in order to avoid VAT), will have just 12 months to apply for an operating licence. The Jersey government has a new economic plan to boost their local economy, at the same time, it hopes that it can improve the island's reputation as a tax dodge, now used by thousands of resellers. The problems for the resellers are significant, because under their current business models, none of them will get a licence! The act of moving goods from the UK to Jersey, just to be shipped back to the UK when a sale is made, may well be a thing of the past. It will be sad day for the consumer, as it will ultimately mean higher priced goods. Many well known resellers will be effected; Boots, Tesco, Amazon, Woolworth's...the list is almost endless. Sad


Update on Microsoft's 'Origami-project'

My sources tell me that Microsoft's 'Origami-project', to be revealed on the 9th of March, is in fact a new portable device, running a version of Windows XP. A sort of cross between a PDA and a Tablet PC, but much more powerful than a PDA and much smaller than a Tablet PC. Full details will be issued by Microsoft at the Cebit show in Hannover on the 9th.  Wink


'Interleave' option, beware on-line gamers

BT's new faster ADSL could mean doom and gloom for on-line gamers. There is a little known option available to ISP's offering BT's new 'ADSL MAX', it's called 'interleave'. It allows them to offer a faster, more reliable connection, but at the expense of increased latency. This option, if enabled, will add significant delays to a connection, increasing the reaction time for on-line gamers, thus potentially spoiling their gaming experience. Lets hope that most ISP's will leave this option well alone.


BT to offer faster broadband

From the end of March, BT will begin to offer 'ADSL MAX', a new accelerated broadband service. More then 5,300 exchanges will be upgraded, allowing 99.6% of UK households and businesses to benefit from the new faster broadband. The actual improvement individuals will see will be dependent on a number of factors, including quality of cabling, distance from the exchange, electromagnetic noise and the type of equipment being used. It is said that only 40% will be able to reach speeds of 6Mbps, but 78% should be able to achieve 4Mbps, with, as always, only those close to exchanging being able to get the fastest speeds. Uploads will also improve with speeds of up to 448Kbps.


Mobile gamer death

A 16-year old, South Korean boy has committed suicide after running up a 2000 bill, while playing games using is mobile phone. This tragic death has prompted operators, in the area, to introduce fixed, unlimited usage plans to cap data usage prices.


Chinanet not internet !

It seems that China wants it's very own internet now, very much separate to the internet we all know and love.  Is this the first step towards China blocking it's population's access to the real internet? China is making changes to it's domain name system, so that it can shoehorn in, its own versions of top level domains (like .com). These changes don't stop at the top level either, with second level domains and new sub-domains also being changed/introduced. This will cause lots of headaches for server administrators, who will struggle to work out which location you really require, are you searching for a URL on the internet or on the 'Chinanet'...you have two guesses. Wink 


Vista graphics card compatibility

I have been looking, in more detail, at graphic card compatibilities with Windows Vista and I have found the following useful information:

All ATI Radeon desktop graphics cards 'X series' should be compatible, along with 9500, 9600 & 9800. The 'All-In-Wonder' & Mobile flavours should also be compatible. For Nvidia all GeForce FX, 6000 and 7000 should be compatible, along with the mobile 'Geforce Go' series.


Microsoft UpdatesHot News

Did you know that Microsoft have now got a new version of their updates site, it's called 'Microsoft Updates'. Windows updates is still there and can still be used, but Microsoft Updates takes things a little bit further, allowing you to not only get updates for Windows but also Office and other Microsoft applications all in one place. Take a look: http://update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate/


Google releases 'Page Creator'

Google has released a website creation tool, in an attempt to allow people, without knowledge of HTML, to easily create a basic website. This new Google service requires that you have an active Gmail account, but in return gives you all the tools and templates you need to create a rudimentary website. For more information go to: http://www.pages.google.com/


Microsoft's 'Origami-project'

Microsoft has a new project up it's sleeve, but it's keeping us in suspense, giving very little away at this time. The website dedicated to this new project can be found at http://www.origamiproject.com/, but its not giving much away either. Speculation is running at an all time high, with all sorts of things being suggested, everything from a new remote network device to some kind of PSP/iPod killer. I prefer to wait a little longer before I make any rash predictions....let's just wait and see! Wink


Vista versions revealed Hot News

There will be five different versions of Microsoft's new operating system Windows Vista:

Windows Vista Business - designed to meet the needs of business organisations
Windows Vista Enterprise - to address the needs of large, global organisations
Windows Vista Ultimate - the most comprehensive edition of Windows Vista
Windows Vista Home Premium - for homes with advanced computer needs
Windows Vista Home Basic - for homes with basic computing needs

But remember, to comply with the restrictions imposed by the EU antitrust rulings, versions without 'Media Player' will be suffixed with an N.  There will also be 32bit and 64bit editions of each version. That's 20 different possible versions....blimey  !!


February

Windows Vista hardware requirements

The new operating system from Microsoft, 'Windows Vista', to be released towards the middle of 2006, it is set to bring a whole host of new functionality and enhancements to Windows users, but it also brings with it a new set of hardware requirements.  Microsoft is currently quoting the following spec:

(I have put some of the old XP requirements in brackets for comparison)

1Ghz processor recommended (300MHz recommended for XP)
512MB of RAM recommended (128MB recommended for XP)
5GB of available hard disk space (1.5GB of available hard disk space for XP)
Video card capable of supporting the new display driver model used in Vista

It is clear, from the specs above, that Vista is going to be a resource hungry system, and that a sizeable number of people will require hardware updates, before they will be able to run Vista properly!


RIAA goes over the top on 'Authorisation'

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), now says that people can't copy music CDs they own, or upload a ripped music CD they own to their iPods for their own use. The RIAA states that it is a case of  'authorisation', and not about fair use. I say the RIAA is going well over the top. They are seriously telling people that they should seek 'Authorisation' before they can copy a CD (they have purchased and own) for their own personal use.  This is why people just say 'Stuff It', and go and download music illegally, because even when they own music legally, they could be braking copyright just by listening to it on their MP3 player. What a very sad day for the RIAA. If they continue in this way, they will end up damaging the industry that they are trying to protect. Sad


Dial-up connections slowly decline

With the year-on-year steady decline of traditional dial-up connections, it is no surprise that we now find that almost two thirds of all internet connections in the UK are broadband. But this figure is not just people switching from dial-up to broadband, it also represents a 6% increase in active connections, showing that the total number of internet connections are still growing. The continued steady growth of broadband has no doubt been helped by ISPs offering lower priced broadband packages to their existing dial-up customers.


Warnings about Google Desktop 3

After posting the article below, about the new Google Desktop 3, I thought it only right that I air concerns surrounding this new application. To be fair to Google, if the software is configured correctly these concerns are unwarranted. The issue surrounds a new feature of Google's Desktop3 and it's ability to allow you to search your files remotely. If this option is active/activated, your documents will be copied to Google's remote servers, thus allowing you access to them when you are away from your computer.

This is the problem, do you really want all your files floating around Google's servers? Privacy is paramount and if all that is protecting your important data is a single, simple password, then you are asking for trouble! Another consideration is that more and more IT companies are being ordered, by the authorities, to hand-over user details and documents that they hold on their servers (Like ISPs that were ordered to hand-over file-sharer details).

To cut a long story short, you have little or no control over your data, when you are not in direct possession of it.  So just be careful.  Wink 


Google, Google, Google

Google has been busy again !  Google Earth has been updated for the Winter Olympics, showing more detail of the Olympic venues, including additional 3D views of terrain, and enhanced images.  More can be found at: http://earth.google.com. Google's Desktop 3 beta has just been launched, with a number of additions and improvements, if your interested it's available at:  http://desktop.google.com. And Google Talk, Google's new instant messaging application, has been integrated into Google's popular GMail email system. For more information go to www.google.com/talk & http://mail.google.com.


Blogs continue to grow but so do the weeds

There are now around 27 million active Blogs (web-logs). The number of postings to these Blogs is vast with at least 10% of all Bloggers updating their logs every week. Blogs continue to be popular because setting them up is free and building and maintaining one is a relatively easy and straight forward process. But a word of caution, it is claimed that almost 10% of new Blogs, now being created, have Spam-related origins, often with the sole purpose to create 'Link Farms' (The process of exchanging reciprocal links with sites in order to increase search engine optimisation), and 'Click Fraud' (The process of skewing pay-per-click advertising data by generating illegitimate hits). Now add to this  'Fake Pings' (A way of making dodgy Blogs look as if they have been updated and thus attract more traffic), and you end up with a Blogosphere that is in need of some TLC.Sad


Fox under Fire 

It has been said many times before, that one of the main reasons that Microsoft's Internet Explorer has been targeted by hackers, so much, over the past few years, is because it is a very popular browser and less to do with latent security issues.  This theory is soon to be tested, as Firefox (an alternative browser to IE) has had so much interest, of late, from people switching from Microsoft's IE, that Hackers are now beginning to take more notice of it. Security firms have already noticed a significant increase in the number of attacks targeting Firefox. Only time will tell if Firefox is indeed any better than Internet Explorer. Wink


New .eu domain

A new generic top-level domain name has been given the approval of the 'Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN). The new .eu domain is currently in a period called 'Sunrise II' which allows companies with prior rights to a name to claim their domain before the registration process is opened to everyone.


Massive attack on Danish websites

Almost 600 Danish websites have now been knocked off the internet by pro-Muslim computer hackers in protest to the publication of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Many more sites have been defaced. These actions over the past two weeks, form the largest ever cyber attack directed against a single country. 


DDR2 Memory prices increase

Suppliers of DDR2 memory are now charging up to 20% more than in January this year, mostly due to a general DDR2 shortage. If supplies remain tight, many customers will be forced to swallow these new, higher prices.


Seagate acquires Maxtor

Seagate (well known hard drive manufacturer) is to acquire Maxtor (another well known hard drive manufacturer), to form, what will probably be, the biggest drive manufacturer in the world. The deal should be completed towards the middle of 2006, with the total value of the transaction said to be approximately $1.9 billion. Both companies will gain many benefits to the merger, including shared R&D and a broader product base, but it will probably be some time before we see the fruits of this union. 


Apple nears one billionth iTune download

Apple will soon celebrate it's 1 billionth iTune download, and to mark this amazing moment, Apple will give away a 20" iMac, to the lucky person who downloads it. Other prizes include iPods and iTunes music store vouchers.

So what are you waiting for go to:
www.apple.com/itunes/1billion/


New version of iPod Nano

A new, cheaper Apple iPod Nano is about to hit the shelves. This 1GB version of Apple's popular MP3 player is said to store about 240 songs, and will retail for approximately 110, but other than a reduced memory size, it will be identical to the current Nano range. This new Nano is not intended to replace Apple's iPod Shuffle range, but a new, much smaller version of the Shuffle is still under consideration.


ISPs ordered to disclose file sharer details

In yet another first for the UK, FAST (Federation Against Software Theft) has successfully convinced the High Court to grant an order that will demand that a number of ISPs disclose the details of suspected illegal file sharers.  This first wave is to concentrate on just 150 people, (more will follow in the coming months), with all information disclosed by the ISPs being passed to the police. If found guilty of 'The unauthorised communication of copyright material' these people could face up to 2 years in prison and unlimited fines..... Sursprised


UK reduces it's Spam relaying

With ISPs closing open relays, administrators locking down their systems, and home users installing better desktop protection, the UK finds itself off the list of top 12 spam relaying countries. This is good news and shows that the message on Spam seems to be finally getting across. The US still heads the top three, accounting for almost 25% of the Spam, but this is much better than before and shows that recent legislation, leading to arrests and long jail sentences are beginning to have effect. China is next on the list with a little over 22% and finally South Korea at 9.7%.


Google censored in China ?

As you may of heard in the news recently Google has been made available in China, but only because it has allowed it's search engine to be heavily censored/filtered by the Chinese government. Well that's not quite true, hehe, Google is too clever for it's own good, and it turns out that if you misspell a censored search term, Google automatically corrects the error and provides a full unfiltered version of your search term.......love it.......See, freedom of information is still intact...it's just not spelt correctly.  Wink 


Internet Explorer 7 (Beta) released

A public, beta, release of the new Internet Explorer 7, has just been made available on Microsoft's website. Although this is a beta release it seems quite usable and stable for the majority of users. There are many new features including a revamped interface, tabbed browsing,  improved page/font rendering, instant RSS feeds, anti-phishing filters, and much more. Although not perfect, IE 7 is generally a big improvement over IE 6.

Visit the following link to find out more and download a beta copy:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/ie7/default.mspx

The above version of IE7 is for Windows XP with Service pack 2 only !


UK file sharers issued heavy fines

It is illegal to share your music and films with other people, full stop. This message is not getting though to people, they think they won't get caught,  but they are very, very wrong.  In the first ruling of its kind in this country two men have been accused and found guilty of illegally sharing music files over the internet. One man said the court had no direct evidence of file sharing, but this was rejected 'out-of-hand' by the judge. The other man said he did not know what he was doing was illegal, this too was swiftly dismissed by the judge stating ''ignorance is no defence'. One man has already been ordered to pay more than 18,500, the other will also have a significant fine to pay. These will not be the only cases, as several more, foolish, people who think they should get away with stealing music, will pass thought the courts over the next few weeks.


January

Warnings about Paypal accounts

The 'Paypal' system was setup, some time ago, to allow people to easily accept card payments from individuals. Since then Paypal was adopted by eBay and is used heavily on their system. But things are not going well with Paypal, and an increasing number of people are being left out in the cold by a scheme that is failing to protect them.  Thousands of individuals are loosing thousands of pounds every week and there is nothing they can do to recoup their losses. Paypal is not a bank and so does not have any code of practice and as such can do what they like with the money in your account. There are stories of people dispatching goods after receiving payment in their accounts, only to find the payment retracted a week later, leaving them with no goods and a bill for the goods sold, other people are seeing their accounts frozen with no way of getting them unfrozen.  Add to this reports of a non-existent customer services and you are in real trouble.  There are now calls for Paypal to be shut down but the FSA (Financial Services Authority) are dragging their feet at this time. If this trend continues at the current rate, then using Paypal will be like playing the lottery, most of the time you lose everything.  Surprised

Here is just one of many sites highlighting the issues that exist. I have chosen this one because they have a specific UK forum : http://www.paypalsucks.com/


Disney to buy Pixar

In a deal said to be worth 7.4 billion dollars, Disney is to purchase Pixar animation studios inc. Pixar has worked closely with Disney for some time now and the two companies have shared profits on a number of joint ventures during this time.  The move sees Pixar's CEO Steve Jobs become a Disney director and further establishes Apple and Disney's position at the forefront of the move to digital content delivery. Pixar will not be swallowed up by Disney as there will be no merging of the two companies, Pixar will remain basically as is, retaining its name and current location.


Konica Minolta to stop making cameras

As part of an ongoing programme of cuts designed to reduce losses, Konica Minolta is to withdraw from the digital camera market. Konica Minolta was formed in 2003, following a merger between Konica and Minolta-QMS, but Konica has found it  increasing difficult to remain profitable in the fast moving digital camera market. Sony worked very closely with Konica helping them develop their current range of cameras, so it is no surprise that all remaining assets are to be transferred to them. Konica is now said to be concentrating on other, more profitable, areas of their business, which include colour office printers and copiers and optical equipment. 


More critical updates

This month has seen a number of new, serious flaws being identified in Microsoft's software, but Microsoft has been very busy, and has now made available a number of updates to sort these issues. So if you haven't visited 'Windows Updates' in a while, I would highly recommend that you do so in the very near future.


New sinister virus doing the rounds

A new virus called 'Nyxem' is currently doing the rounds, but two things set this one apart from most of the current crop of viruses. First it is currently spreading very fast, and secondly it has a sinister side to it, namely it tries to overwrite and destroy files on the infected computer, including documents, spreadsheets, archives and even PDF files. As this virus is particularly destructive, I urge you to ensure your anti-virus software is working and up-to-date. Surprised


Norton rootkit

It seems that Sony is not the only company employing 'rootkit' code in their programs, Symantec has also been using the technology in their popular consumer security products. The software in question recovers deleted data, by using a directory to store copies of files that have been altered or deleted, and it is this directory that was hidden using the rootkit code. It was concealed so that users did not delete it, if they did it would have destroyed Symantec's recovery process. The problem was that it was hidden too well, not just from the user but from all applications and Windows as well. So if a malicious file found it's way into this directory, it could not be detected by anti-virus or anti-spyware software or any other software for that matter!

Symantec have been open about this issue and have already supplied a full update that removes this vulnerability from their software via their standard LiveUpdate system.


Time and time again

I hope most people will have already made up their minds about Time, but it seems that the owners can't.  Time went bust back in July 2005, after months of running up massive debts, they were accused of  poor financial record keeping and left a very large number of their customers and suppliers out in the cold. But although there was not enough money to pay back their loyal customers is seems that there was enough left for them to buy back the factory from the administrators and start up again! They are set to relaunch, in February, under the 'new' name "Time UK". I am sorry, but I for one can not recommend Time, especially after hearing that almost 33% of their systems needed repair within the first year.  If this was not enough to put you off  Time UK will be run by the same people, in the same factory, using the same business model........run for the hills and don't look back. Surprised


New Apple launched

No it's not a new brand of fruit from France, but the new Apple iMac, that's said to be more that twice as fast as the old IBM PowerPC based G5 it replaces. Utilising Intel's latest dual-core processor and one of ATI's latest graphic chipsets, these new Apples are said to absolutely fly. Read more at: www.apple.com/uk/imac


Intel changes its logo

This news may not be that awe inspiring, but it is significant. The worlds 5th most recognisable brand name, is to change it's logo. This is the first time it's been altered since Intel started with microelectronics some 37 years ago. It shows a more confident Intel, and an Intel that is finally moving forward, or as their new motto indicates 'Leaping Ahead'. This re-branding has been completed ahead of the launch of Intel's new line of processors and associated technologies, which should finally see Intel firmly ahead of the competition.


DRM now damaging film industry

It seems that DVD film DRM (Digital Rights Management), doesn't just get up the nose of your average Joe Smoe, but also film critics and even film awards judges.  It seems that the critics and judges just ignore films presented to them, if they can't be read on a standard laptop or computer. They say that if it doesn't work it doesn't get watched and so it doesn't get included in their review or nominations. How long is it going to take the music and film industries to realise that all they are doing is damaging themselves with these, over-the-top DRM systems, that won't even let you watch the very product you have gone out and purchased.


Vista gets XML based file format

Vista will contain support for a new XML based file format called XPS (XML Paper Specification). The idea behind this new, open format is that it will do away with the frustration of receiving a file that your current software does not recognise or cannot display correctly, because it is different to that used to produce said file. It is a great addition to Vista and pushes forward a solution to a problem that has plagued business and private users since computers were invented. Widespread adoption for the new file format is expected to be swift, with Microsoft's new Office suite leading the way. Happy


Bogus Windows XP Service Pack 3

It has come to light that there is a bogus file purporting to be 'Windows XP Service Pack 3', doing the rounds on the internet at the moment. The advice of 'The Glitch' is steer well clear. The fully tested, official Microsoft Windows XP SP3 will be made available around the middle of 2006, and although Microsoft sometimes don't get things totally right, any slip-ups are rare to say the least. So wait for the official Service Pack and don't be tempted by some half-arse attempt by a completely uncontrolled, unknown third party with God knows what experience of Windows, who make available a download with limited testing and more importantly no support from Microsoft if things go wrong. Surprised


Serious Graphics Rendering Engine Flaw

A serious flaw has been found within the graphics rendering engine used by Windows, this flaw could allow an attacker to remotely compromise your system and gain control over it. The main issue is the way WMF (windows meta files) files are handled, allowing malicious code, hidden within them,  to be executed. Infection could be via a number of sources but it is most likely to come from an email or website. Microsoft recommends that all Windows users install the update immediately by going to Windows Update.

If you prefer, you can download and apply the patch manually by using the following link:  http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS06-001.mspx


Iconic video clips from the BBC

For the first time ever the BBC has opened up it's video archives to the UK public.  In a step that has be widely applauded, the BBC has made available nearly 80 iconic news stories (for download via the internet), with further material being made available in the coming months. The current news articles span 50 years of history, with such video as the fall of the Berlin Wall and behind-the-scenes footage of the 1966 England football team before their World Cup win in 1966.

Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/calc/news/


HD-DVD backing increases

The battle between Toshiba's HD-DVD and Sony's Blue-Ray continues, both of these next generation disc formats are vying for optical supremacy. Both have a lot to offer, with Blue-Ray having the edge on storage capacity and HD-DVD with it's compatibility and hybrid disc options. 2006 sees such high-profile companies as Intel, Microsoft and now HP behind HD-DVD, giving the format another healthy boost. Only time will tell which format (if any) comes out on top. My money is on HD-DVD as the main format but I also think that Blue-Ray will survive in one form or another, especially with talk of hybrid, multi-format, combination HD-DVD/Blue-Ray optical drives currently in development.


Vista gets Windows Mail

Windows Mail, is the new name for Outlook Express for Windows Vista. This long awaited update and facelift will bring up-to-date features to Microsoft's email client. With full integration with Windows Vista, this new email client will have, amongst other things, advanced spam filtering and built-in search support for reading RSS news feeds, yet another reason to upgrade to Vista when it is finally released.


Happy New Year from 'The Glitch' New Years Party A Dancing BananaA Dancing Banana

Happy New Year everybody ! Thank you all for your continued support for 'The Glitch'. Another year has gone by and 'The Glitch' suffers (as many others do) from having a Birthday too close to Christmas and obviously New Year. So I will not go through the process of  thanking everybody again. But instead I would like to take this opportunity to say; I hope 'The Glitch' continues to help and aid all those who use it and that it continues to bring to light interesting and useful subjects. I have a number of projects planned for the next 12 months, to build on what I have already achieved during the last year. Please help me spread the word 'The Glitch', and see how far we can go in 2006. Happy New Year to you all.



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