2007 - NEWS ARCHIVE
Due to reforms being introduced by the E.U. in 2015 the VAT that is charged on 'Electronics Services' will now be based on the rate charged in the Customer's country/location and not defined by the businesses location/country (as it is now). Big names like Amazon and Apple have moved their operations to places like Luxembourg to take advantage of a low VAT rating of just 15%, which in turn allows them to offer a more competitive product. But if these reforms go ahead it would mean that many of the biggest names in media downloads will have to start to charge more for their services. If you think that an extra 2.5% is too much of a price hike, then spare a thought for the Swiss who have a whopping VAT rating of 25%.
Microsoft have been developing the next version of Windows for some time now, and one of the areas they have been concentrating on is the Windows user interface and ways of making it easier to use. We have seen some of these ideas already, in the form of Microsoft's Surface technology (reported back in June), but this new Windows will be much more than just a glorified Table PC. In fact one of Microsoft's own engineers has stated that "If you love the new iPhone interface you are going to be blown away by Windows 7". This sounds very exciting but it's going to be a long wait before we see the next version of Windows, which is not expected until 2009.
Microsoft issues updates to Windows on a regular basis and on the whole they do a very good job at keeping Windows safe from security issues and threats, while still ensuring Windows performs as it should, but on very rare occasions they get things wrong. Update 942615, an update to Internet Explorer, is one of those rare occasions. It seems that some users, that are still using Internet Explorer 6, have found that I.E. no longer functions correctly, crashing with the classic message 'Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and must close'.
If your browser is crashing then visit
the following link for help:
EBay can't cope, the police haven't got the resources and the government doesn't want to know. This is a recipe for disaster, with EBay in the UK now a haven for e-crime, it's become a very unsafe place to shop. Hundreds of people every week in the UK are now reporting fraud on EBay but nothing is being done. EBay may catch a couple of hundred people each year, but what about the thousands they don't ! EBay have nothing to be proud of, in fact, in its current state I personally think they should be shut down. If a crime has been committed, the perpetrators should be found and stopped, at the moment the message to all criminals is 'Come to EBay and commit crime with impunity'. My advice to all users of EBay is simple, use it with great caution.
It seems that Microsoft is set to tone down its approach to 'non-genuine' versions of Windows Vista. Until now, Microsoft have been aggressive in its stance on pirated copies of Vista, forcing them into a 'Reduced functionality mode' on detection. But this is all set to change, 'Reduced functionality mode' is to be replaced by popup notices informing the user that they do not have a genuine copy of Windows, and importantly shows them the best way to gain an authentic copy. It is not clear how often these notices will pop up, but you can be sure it will be just enough to irritate users of non-genuine software. This does not mean it will be easier to pirate Vista, in fact Vista's Service Pack 1 will plug a number of loopholes used by hackers to pirate Vista, if anything these changes are a good indication of how effective Microsoft's latest anti-piracy measures have been!
The Glitch competition is now active, as this is my first competition the prizes are modest but useful. Saying this, if this competition proves to be popular, I will endeavor to enlist the help of other manufactures to see if I can get some even better prizes next time round.
For a list of rules, conditions and to
enter the competition visit the following link:
The Glitch Competition
The Glitch is three years old today, Happy Birthday Glitch ! I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have visited the site over the last 12 months and thank you to all those who have purchased items via The Glitch, your valuable support is much appreciated. If you haven't posted a message in my Guest Book, then please feel free to do so, all comments are welcome. I like to think that people are happy with the way The Glitch is evolving, but if you have any feedback or suggestions then please use my contact page, as your comments are always appreciated. Thank you again, and Merry Christmas !
Its been a long time coming, but Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) should finally be released sometime in the first half of 2008. After months of delays, (mostly due to Windows Vista and then Vista's Service Park), XP will finally get a much needed update. SP3 has been with testers for over a month and Microsoft have now made it available to it's Technet and MSDN members. Early indications are very favorable with reports that SP3 improves XP's performance by up to 10%. If true, this would certainly be another blow to Vista, which continues to suffer from performance issues.
As always The Glitch will inform you when the official Windows XP Service Pack 3 is released.
GDDR3 memory is still the main type of memory used on the majority of modern graphics cards, with GDDR4 memory only very recently appearing on some high end graphics cards. But technology moves ever forward and Samsung has already announce GDDR5 memory, in fact they have already sent working samples to all the main graphics card manufactures. Samsung's GDDR5 memory will have a data transfer rate of 6Gb per second but still only require 1.5 Volts of power. Samsung have stated that their 'GDDR5 memory is capable of transmitting moving images and associated data at 24 gigabytes per second'. If this statement is true, it would certainly mean Samsung remains the leading manufacturer for high performance memory.
SMS (Short Message Service) is 15 years old today; yes, text messaging has been around since 1992. The first official text message was sent by an engineer working for 'Airwide solutions', via the Vodafone network, it said 'Merry Christmas' and was received by one of Vodafone's operators. A year later in 1993 full mobile to mobile text messaging was born, and its gone from strength to strength ever since.
I am proud to announce the release of another new website created by The Glitch. Service Point is an independent garage based in Alresford, Hampshire. They provide a whole raft of services for cars and motor bikes alike. They specialise in Classic Cars, but are equally at home servicing your brand new Vauxhall or Ford. If you live in the area, and want to try a garage that actually cares about its customers, you won't go far wrong with Service Point (I use them).
For more information visit their site:
EMI listened to public opinion on DRM and is now reaping the benefits. EMI's sales of DRM-free music are now outselling DRM restricted music more than 4 to 1, proving that DRM encoded music is something that many people do not want or like. There is no place in the digital music world for DRM, even Apple desperately wants to move to DRM free downloads. Why do people download illegally...well you will always get the pirates (that's a given), but many people do it because they don't want to limit the way they use their music. Why waste money on music your not going to be able to listen to on your audio equipment: PDA, iPod, Laptop, Hi-Fi, Car, Personal computer, mobile phone. DRM stops people from using their music the way they want to. Even the Entertainment Retailers Association is now calling for the end of DRM !
Twentieth Century Fox and Warner have both started to release 'Special Edition' DVDs that contain extra copies of their movies encoded into additional formats. These DVDs play like normal, but have two additional versions of the movies, one that is a Widows media version (with DRM) and the other a portable 'Playforsure' version. If this was not enough, they have also both stated they will not be charging any extra for these 'Special Editions' (over and above their normal 'Special Edition' costs).
This is an interesting move, and one that is very welcome, I don't think it will stop the hardened movie pirate, but it will give that average man/woman on the street a little more choice in how he/she uses their media. One major issue though is the 'Playforsure' portable versions will not play on iPods or Zunes.....doh!
The press is full of quotes on the cost of ownership of Apple's iPhone, but most quote the maximum cost of ownership (18 month contract at £55/month + £269 for the iphone = £1259). Most people would baulk at this price, but when you calculate the cost of ownership on the cheapest contract (18 month contract at £35/month + £269 for the iphone = £899), the cost is reduced by over £350. Don't get me wrong, this is still quite a lot to pay for a mobile phone, but what you have to consider is what you are getting for your money. The device is a mobile phone with 2MP Camera, it is also an iPod touch (basic iPod touch costs £180), and so its also a multimedia playback device, internet browser and PDA, its also Wi-Fi enabled, and uses Apple's, now famous, multi-touch interface. The contract from O2 is an unlimited data download contract allowing you to surf the web using 2.5G and received emails at no extra cost. OK, so its still a little expensive, but when you put all these features together the costs don't seem quite so bad.
One last thing, T-mobile in Germany are now selling unlocked iPhones at a cost of £720, but you still have to get a contract, so again O2's £899 isn't that bad considering your getting an 18 month contract in the deal.
Mozilla has been busy updating and improving their 'FireFox' Internet browser. Currently only in beta form, Firefox 3 promises a number of specific improvements over the previous version with security, speed and font rendering just three of the areas Mozilla have enhanced. It promises to be a worthwhile upgrade with many other aspects of the browser having been reworked and improved.
To download the Beta version visit:
It was only a few months ago that Maxtor were in the news because their new '3200 Personal Storage' drives were being delivered with Trojan viruses pre-installed. If this was not bad enough, yet another instance has allegedly been found on their 'Basics 500GB' portable drives. Both drives are manufactured in Thailand, and experts are concerned because it maybe possible for the Trojan to actually feed customers data back to the Chinese authorities, although it must be said that this has yet to be proven. My advice is simple, if you have one, scan it carefully with anti-spyware software, and if you are still not happy format it completely and start again.
Blu-ray's DRM (digital rights management) is now so restrictive, you are basically throwing away your fair-use rights by adopting it. Blu-ray is just not very consumer friendly, it's discs cost more to buy and due to out dated codecs, movies encoded on Blu-ray generally don't look as good as those encoded on HD DVD. Besides who wants to adopt a format backed by Sony, their track record for successfully bringing new media formats to the marketplace is almost entirely littered with failures; UMD, the Super Audio CD and Betamax to name but three total disasters. HD DVD is much more consumer friendly, its generally cheaper, it has no region coding and it's AACS is not mandatory. If that's not good enough for you, then its also backed by Toshiba the creators of DVD. Basically HD DVD is the safer bet, and allows users more freedom to choose how they use there HD content.
Apple will launch it's now famous iPhone in the UK on the 9th of November at 6.02pm. When Apple's mobile phone come iPod come media player come internet browser was launched in the US, back in June, it sold by the truck load, in fact US sales of the iPhone have now exceeded 1 million units. O2 (exclusive carrier for the iPhone) have employed almost 1500 more staff to ensure it can handle the massive number of extra enquires expected when the iPhone is launched. This sounds excessive but then you consider that the 'Car Phone Warehouse' expects to sell anything up to 10,000 iPhones in the first day, this increase seems well justified.
Any device the connects to the internet is allocated an IP address, this is fundamental to the way the internet works, but our thirst for web capable mobile devices such as the smart phones and laptops is ever growing. Many experts believe, due to this ever growing need for internet access, that we may run out of available IP addresses (4 billion available using current IPv4 protocol) before 2010. To this end there are calls for ISPs to start to invest in IPv6 technology that supports 340 trillion, trillion, trillion addresses, far more than the world is ever going to need. What will happen if we continue with IPv4...well the internet will continue as is, but people will find that more often than not, they can't connect to the internet because they can't get an IP address.
The government will introduce tough, new legislation if the industry does not do more to protect rights holders. FAST (Federation Against Software Theft) now wants all illegal file sharers to be struck off the web for good, with a global ISP 'blacklist' being setup so there is no chance of them getting another internet account. This is indeed a harsh punishment, but if people are going to continue to break the law, then they should expect this type of penalty. Use the internet wisely or lose it forever !
Intel are soon to released their new range of processors based on a 45nm (nanometer) process, and they look fantastic. The first to see the light of day is a top of the range QX9650 3Ghz Quad Core with 12MB of Level 2 cache and 1333Mhz Front Side Bus. This specification is good but nothing too amazing, but when you consider that its idle power requirements are less than 4 watts and even when under full load consumes less than 80 watts, its nothing short of astounding. Intel's new 45nm process using High-K Metal Gate based transistors has significantly improved their processors allowing them to run quicker, cooler and importantly more energy efficiently. AMD have been left behind once again, with their nearest processor now a massive 50% slower than Intel, lets hope AMD can make up some ground soon!
In April this year the government put into place new legislation to deter mobile phone theft. If you are caught unlocking a stolen mobile phone you could now face a 5 year jail sentence, an unlimited fine, or maybe even both. Along side this the five main UK mobile phone operators now block 98% of stolen mobile phones (across all networks) within 24 hours of them being reported. These measures have already seen a significant reduction in mobile phone theft with most thieves realizing that there is little point stealing a phone if it can't be used (on any network) after just a few hours.
Microsoft have finally complied to the EU's 2004 anti-trust ruling. It took a fine of more than 280 million Euros and further daily penalty fines to convince Microsoft to relent. Microsoft will now have to significantly reduce the royalties for its worldwide licences, it will also now have to make available more information on its Operating Systems at significantly reduced costs.
Western Digital have announced that they hope to have a 3TB desktop hard drive available within the next couple of years, this is only days after Hitachi announced they were working towards multi-terabyte hard drives. But their is a significant different between these two companies with Hitachi developing a new process to squeeze up to 1000Gb per square inch of disk surface and Western Digital homing current technologies to push almost 650Gb per square inch of disk surface. Only time will tell who will eventually release the first multi-terabyte drive first.
Fasthosts started life back in 1999, and has won a number of awards over the years, today it represents the UKs largest web hosting company. But it has not been so good recently, as in June 2006 it suffered a blackout due to cable issues and then in January this year it was targeted by an DOS (Denial Of Service) attack which kept one of their servers down for several days, now one of their main servers has been hacked. Fasthosts have stated that they have already tighten security since the incursion and have closed the security hole used by the Hacker(s). Subsequently, tens of thousands of users have been contacted by the company asking them to change their account, email and FTP passwords, just in case any user information was stolen.
Apple have announce that by early next year they hope to release a software development kit (SDK) for their iPhone and iTouch products. This move will allow third-party developers to create their own applications and utilities. This is a clever move by Apple and one that can only make their latest products even more desirable. When the SDK is released expect a flood of truly useful and innovative programs to start to appear. Apple already have some of the finest devices ever conceived, but with third-party support they may well dominate the market for some time to come!
Manufacturers like Hitachi are constantly trying to find new ways of boosting the data density of their hard drives, in a bid to produce ever larger hard drive capacities. They know that hard drive read/write heads form an important part of the equation, but reducing their size so that more data can be stored per inch, increases resistance and introduces additional magnetic and electrical noise thus destabilizing data integrity. Current hard drive technology uses read/write heads that are around 70nm (nanometers) in size, but Hitachi have found a way of reducing this size to between 50nm and 30nm and still maintain a reliable signal. This breakthrough could herald a new class of hard drive, a hard drive capable of storing multi terabytes of data.
ATI have just released a new set of Catalyst drivers for their Radeon range of graphics cards. Catalyst 7.1 promises up to an astounding 80% performance improvement over previous drivers, with the biggest improvements being seen in the HD 2000 range of cards, in both single card and dual card (crossfire) configurations. The drivers are not all about speed as they also add new features including 'Adaptive Anti-Aliasing' to the X1000 range of cards.
To download the latest ATI drivers visit:
The continued fall in memory prices is mainly due to the over production of DDR RAM by manufactures. Many manufactures expected a higher demand due to the increase in memory requirements of Microsoft's new operating system Windows Vista, but this has proved unfounded, with demand basically remaining unchanged. So there has never been a better time to purchase that memory upgrade, with prices at an all time low.
For a good selection of cheap memory visit my Memory page soon.
McDonalds has indicated that it is to install free WiFi internet access in all 1,200 of their UK restaurants. If the project goes ahead it would make McDonalds the largest supplier of free WiFi in the UK. Although free WiFi hotspots are nothing new ,(Starbucks have been offering WiFi in many of their 470 UK stores for sometime now), McDonalds plans would mean they would lead the market with 10% of the total free WiFi hotspots in the UK.
'Spybot Search and Destroy' has been a good product for a number of years, but the latest version of their software (Version 1.5) is blocking genuine/legitimate websites. Comments from the company state these sites can be unblocked by altering the default settings, but even this does not help as excessive use of 'restricted site' lists continue to block all or parts of legitimate sites. This is a disaster for Spybot and means that 'The Glitch' can no longer recommend it as a useful anti-spyware tool. It has now been removed from this site and I am currently recommending that people remove the product from their computers.
Please visit my Anti-spyware page for a list a excellent alternatives.
One of the selling points of Microsoft's Vista Ultimate Edition was the promise of what was called 'Ultimate Extras'. These 'Extras' were to be applications and utilities specifically for Vista Ultimate users only, but until recently these extras have been few and far between, causing many Vista Ultimate buyers to complain. Microsoft have subsequently released the 'Texas Hold 'Em' poker game and 'BitLocker preparation tool' a hard drive encryption utility, but they are soon to release 'DreamScene' a utility to allow Ultimate users to select a video file as a background picture. Microsoft have apologised for the significant delay in bringing its Ultimate users these extras, and have stated that there is more to come !
If you have good quality phone lines or live close to your main phone exchange 8MB broadband is a real possibility, but for most people 8MB broadband is just a pipe dream. In fact a new study has revealed that the average UK broadband connection is just 2.6Mb per second. The same study compared 16 different European countries and the UK even came behind such countries as Hungry and Poland and was placed 9th overall. The solution ! we all need to move to Finland where the average broadband connection is 21.7Mb per second, the fastest in Europe.
An unusual bug has been found in the latest version of Microsoft's popular spreadsheet application Excel. It seems that Excel 2007 finds it hard to calculate certain sums that add up to 65,535. As you can imagine this bug should not effect many people, but it is significant in that it is the largest 16-bit binary number possible, before the transition to a 32-bit number is required. I am sure that Microsoft is working on a fix, so expect an Excel 2007 patch soon.
If you would like to reproduce the error then enter =850*77.1 into any Excel 2007 spreadsheet cell and see what value you get .... oops !
BT's standard international call charges have come down over the last few years but these rates still add up to a significant bill at the end of the month for anyone who is regularly calling countries on the other side of the world. But as I found out these charges could be much, much cheaper. All you have to do is call 'First Numbers' special access number to the country you intend to call and at their prompt dial your full international phone number, and that's it, no registration, no special packages and no change of phone provider. You will only be changed, by BT, for a standard local rate call, there's no catch, no hidden agenda, just good value for money.
For more information visit:
It was Professor
Scott Falhman, of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Melon's University,
who first used a 'Smiley'. On the 19th September 1982 he was
typing entries onto the universities bulletin board (an early
form of text based communications) and found himself wanting
to convey humour, and ended up using three symbols in
a line to signify a sideways on smiley face. It is
remarkable because of its sheer simplicity. Today it has now
been adopted in most forms of digital communication and its derivatives are recognised
:-) :O) ;-) :-P :-D :)
For more Information Visit:
The new USB 3 standard is due for release in early 2008 and will give USB devices a much needed speed boost. The USB 3 standard is said to be up to 10 times faster than the current USB 2 standard, allowing much higher transfer rates of up to 4.8Gb per second. This sort of increase will be beneficial to many devices, not least external hard drives. USB 3 will not only be 100% backwards compatible but will also be optimised for low-power applications, unfortunately devices utilising this new standard are not expected to start appearing until the end of 2008.
Apple has announced that O2 will be the exclusive network provider for the iPhone and that it will be released nationwide on the 9th November 2007 (in time for Christmas). The 8GB iPod and Phone will set you back £269, and will be offered with one of three 18 month contracts costing between £35 and £55 a month. Noteworthy additions to the contacts include unlimited data traffic and access to more than 7,500 WiFi hotspots without the normal need to login to a service provider !
This is a genuine Microsoft offer. If you are a student, you can get hold of a full copy of Office Ultimate 2007 for £39, Yes £39. If you are deemed eligible, you will be entitled to download a free trial of Microsoft Office Ultimate 2007, and subsequently make a purchase from the promotion site. You have to be able to prove that you are currently enrolled as a student and actively studying, and you will also need a valid email address that is associated with your educational establishment. (I.E a .ac.uk type address).
For more information visit:
It seems that Apple is about to announce the imminent release of it hugely popular iPhone in the UK. The news came as Apple prepares a press conference in London to announce which network has won the contract as the carrier for iPhone. O2 still the hot favorite at the moment, but only time will tell.
SkyPE, the popular VoIP service, has been targeted by a worm virus. The worm propagates by first sending an Instant Chat Message containing an image file to contacts in the users address book. Should any of the recipients save the message attachment, which is in fact a link to the worm virus, their machine become infected. The initial message (of which there are a number of different variants) is cleverly crafted, and has fooled a large number of SkyPE users already, so be very careful what you click. The solution seems to be simple, just make sure your anti-virus software is updated as most if not all, have already added this new worm to their databases.
Apple has been busy again, this time they
have released a whole new range of iPods. The first is an all
new iPod Nano. It comes in five eye-catching colours and has a
larger, brighter display with the most pixels per inch of
any Apple display, ever. New functions include an album
art mode for flicking though your music collection and
improved battery life and it goes without saying a much
improved video and photo display. The second is the all new
iPod touch, a iPhone-esk device with the same multi-touch
interface found on the iPhone. It has a gorgeous 3.5-inch
widescreen display, and is the first iPod to be Wi-Fi enabled
and have a built-in web browser.
The last update in the range is the iPod classic, apart from an even slicker design, the classic now comes with up to 160GBs of internal storage, a significant boost from previous models.
For more information and prices Click Here
It was only last month that ISPs were voicing their concerns over the BBC's iPlayer software, an integral part of its new, on-demand TV service. They were mostly concerned by the sheer numbers of people that were likely to use the software, thus utilizing much more network bandwidth than currently allocated. Well it seems they were right to be concerned. 16,000 people have already signed a petition to complain that the new iPlayer software has been written for the Windows systems only, and that they want versions to be made available to all current operating systems. In fact it was the 'BBC Trust' itself that said it would only approve the on-demand service if it was available to a range of operating systems. The BBC has stated it is currently working on Mac and Linux versions but they will not be available until next year at the earliest.
The percentage of SPAM Emails has increased again, with the latest figures suggesting that SPAM could now represent more than 92% of all Email. This increase has been attributed to a change in tactics from the spammers, who are now using fake links to social networking sites, PDF attachments and more recently Video Clips to disguise their unsolicited emails. In sharp contrast Virus levels have decreased significantly with only 0.5% of Emails being infected.
It wasn't that long ago that Sony got themselves in trouble for installing potentially dangerous code onto users PCs without their knowledge. This code formed part of Sony's new copy protection software found on some of their audio CDs. The code in question is called a 'Rootkit', and is a type of software that basically allows files to be installed onto a computer without the operating system or other software being able to detect them.
But it seems that Sony did not learn any lessons last time round and are using another form of Rootkit code with their latest USB thumb drives that have biometric protection built-in. This time they are trying to hide the resultant biometric data on the hard drive, but as before, by using this type of code they giving unscrupulous individuals all they need to hide all sorts of dodgy code on your computer, and more importantly without you being able to detect it.
Help is at hand, as a number of anti-virus companies now offer free anti-Rootkit software.
For links to anti-rootkit software visit by anti-spyware section.
It seems that the latest version of Google Earth has a interesting extra tucked away, a Flight Simulator no less. To activate it you must first ensure you have clicked on the main Google map and then press the <Left Windows Key>+<CTRL>+<A>. Now you can select an aircraft and the location of your take off. It's a little tricky to fly at first, but with a little practice you will be flying over the rolling hills of Hampshire in no time. Once you have activated the Flight Simulator you can call it up at any time using the 'Enter Flight Simulator' option from the "Tools" menu. Remember this is only available using the latest version of Google Earth.
Canon does it again, with their soon to be released 21 Megapixel 'EOS 1Ds mark III', but this is no amateur camera, with a suggested retail price of £6,000 it is most defiantly aimed at the professional photographer. Features include a 21 Megapixel full frame CMOS sensor with 14-bit colour depth processing, dual 'DIGIC III' processors allow near instant startup and response times. A high precision AF system and wide 100 to 1600 ISO range continue this Camera's high specification. It is even capable of 5 frames per second continuous shooting and up to 56 frames in burst mode, (something that is close to incredible, especially when you consider the 21 Megapixel rating), it even has a 'Live Mode' on it generous 3" LCD allowing you to frame your photos via the LCD screen should you wish (something that is often missing on digital SLR cameras).
Windows Genuine Advantage is a software mechanism used by Microsoft to validate Windows installations to ensure they are authentic, it forms an important part of Microsoft's anti-piracy measures. This procedure has, until recently, worked quite well, but due to a server fault last weekend, more than 12 thousand users were told that their versions of Windows may not be genuine after all. The server issue was sorted within 24 hours, and a large number of people have now successfully re-registered their Operating Systems, but for those who are still having difficulties there is a Microsoft site you can use to re-validate.
For more information visit:
Japan already leads the world with it's Internet infrastructure, with up to 100MB domestic connections possible, but this is not enough for Yoshihide Suga Japan's communication minister, who is currently looking in to new technologies and seeking an 8 million Yen budget to completely update the countries Internet communications by 2020. If the update goes ahead it will eventually provide Japan with a much faster, more resilient and secure, state-of-the-art Internet which should keep them firmly ahead of the rest of the world in network communications for some time to come.
Makes BT's current 21CN update look a little dated !
Some people think there's nothing wrong with using another persons unsecured, wireless broadband connection. But if you are one of the people who think this way then your very wrong, in fact you would be breaching both the 'Computer Misuse' and 'Communications' acts. As a growing number of people are now finding out it's one of the quickest and easiest ways to get yourself an criminal record. If you are using another persons wireless broadband connection you are stealing from them, it's that black and white, don't expect and leniency.
Back in April 2006 I wrote about a fantastic, new product called Pleo. Well Pleo is here and available for pre-order. If you can't remember what Pleo is then it's the first truly autonomous robotic toy, in the form of a very cute baby dinosaur. It has 38 sensors which allowing it to react to a large number of external stimuli, it's truly life like...he even sneezes !
Google Earth now has a Sky function where you can pick ANY point on the globe and look up at the night sky. There are approximately 20,000 stars, planets and constellations for people to explore, many of these objects have additional information associated with them, some even have high resolution images (courtesy of the Hubble Telescope). This new Goggle Earth function is being sited as a great tool for amateur and professional astronomers alike, with even those budding astronomers in inner cities, whose night sky is normally obliterated by dense street lighting, now being able to see a (virtual) night sky.
To get this new functionality you will need to download the latest version of Google Earth.
For more information visit:
HD DVD has had another boost due to Paramount and DreamWorks Animation studios announcing that all their future high definition titles will be on HD DVD and not on Blu-ray after all. Blu-ray got another bashing just recently when the adult entertainment industry also announced they would only be releasing their material on HD DVD. A number of studios have now moved over to HD DVD, and the reasons are numerous. Firstly HD DVD production costs are lower than Blu-ray, HD DVD quality is better than Blu-ray and HD DVD players are much cheaper than Blur-ray players. As I have said before, the HD battle is on-going, but HD DVD has a definite lead in Europe at the moment.
PC World's latest offer of a free Laptop, if people signed up for a two year Orange broadband deal, has been a run away success, indeed it has been too successful with PC World selling all of it's allocated stock of Laptops within the first couple of weeks. PC World had to withdraw their offer to ensure customers were not disappointed.
The BBC has upset ISPs with it's peer-to-peer based iPlayer software. iPlayer allows users of the BBC's new on-demand TV service (currently in beta) to access programmes televised within the last 7 days. Even though most ISPs use 'Traffic Shaping' technology to prioritise data packets, with peer-to-peer traffic getting a low priority, many are still concerned because of the likely popularity of the BBC's new service, when it becomes available early next year. The sheer numbers of new users creating peer-to-peer connections via iPlayer, (all downloading large amounts of data), could leave ISP struggling to cope. If this was not enough this would, of cause, significantly effect iPlayer with even short programme downloads taking hours to complete.
Microsoft have released a couple of important updates to Vista, and it is recommended that anyone who is currently using Vista apply these updates. The first is a patch to improve the performance and reliability of Windows Vista and the second is a patch to improve the compatibility and reliability of Windows Vista. Both updates solve a number of specific and more general issues currently irritation Vista users.
For more information go to:
The well known PC manufacturer 'Evesham Technology' has gone into administration, it has been fighting for survival ever since the government did a u-turn on the HCI (Home Computing Initiative) scheme, something that Evesham invested heavily in. But Evesham is not gone, after some frantic negotiations they have finally found a buyer. A company called Geemore will be the new owners of Evesham, and because of the way the administration process was dealt with, all current orders and warranties will be honored. It also means that more than 50% of the Evesham workforce will keep their jobs with most of Evesham's operations continuing as normal! Which is very good news for it's customers.
A recent survey conducted by BT, has revealed that many people are still not backing up their valuable data. The survey discovered that many people had already lost digital photos, videos and music files, many of which were irreplaceable. Backing up your data gives you a fall back if your computer is hit by a virus, your hard drive fails or your PC gets stolen. There are no excuses for not backing up, everyone can copy files from one place to another and the cost of an external hard drive is at an all time low. So come on, get it sorted, and keep your precious data safe.
For a list of quality, external hard drives take a look at my Hard Drives section, choose from USB, Firewire, eSATA or even NAS (Network Attached) storage.
Many of us have heard of 'Crossfire', the name of ATI's solution for connecting two GPUs (graphics processing units) together, thus allowing them to work together; the end result is a graphics system capable of producing up to twice the graphic rendering power. Well AMD (the new owners of AIT) have just announced 'Crossfire 2.0', a new version of this technology that will support up to 4 GPUs. While this is no doubt very clever, it does bring up a couple of issues, firstly you need at least a 500W power supply to run a system with 2 graphics cards, 4 may well need up to twice this. Next there's the question of physical space inside a computer case, the latest high-end graphics cards all take up two slots, there is normally only 7 slots available in a standard case. And lastly the cost, most of us bulk at the price of a single card costing £200 or more, the thought of 4 is just absurd!
Reading between the lines, this does suggest that ATI (AMD) maybe considering a dual GPU graphics card solution (like nVidia), as this is going to be the only way to sensibly market a quad crossfire solution.
The European Union has accused Intel of anti-competitive behavior, highlighting a number of practices that were cause for concern. Firstly Intel is accused of offering significant rebates to manufactures who choose Intel products only, secondly they are accused of paying incentives to manufactures who delayed or canceled other chip vendors products. And thirdly there is an allegation that Intel offered their Server based products at below average costs to key customers. A statement from Intel said they were confident that their conduct had been lawful, pro-competitive and beneficial to consumers. Intel now have up to 10 weeks in which to reply to the EU's concerns.
The trouble with Vista is the length of time it took Microsoft to release it, we have all been using XP for such a long time now, that we have become disinclined to move away from our comfortable, well known environment that is basically doing everything we need it to.
Vista's main problem is the lack of compatible software due to slow software development, this was not such an issue with XP because when users moved from Windows 95/98 to XP and found certain applications or utilities no longer worked, they could (more often then not) download a Windows 2000 version that did work, Vista users have no such fall back option. So many Vista users are upset that they are having to wait around while software developers catch up. But things are improving with software updates and Vista specific applications being released all the time, and one positive thing is that specific hardware issues are few and far between something that plagued XP when it was first released.
Will I upgrade? ...Yes, there are too many nice features in Vista to miss out on, but I will wait a few more months and upgrade at the end of the year, allowing time for the release of service packs and more software patches and updates.
What is going to be a great at your local multiplex is not necessarily going to be great for your computer. The new Harry Potter and Simpson's movies are being targeted by criminals simply because of the large amount of interest generated by them. Even the latest Harry Potter book release has been leaped upon by cyber-criminals. So you have been warned, be very careful what emails you open, what sites you visit and more importantly what information you give away to tempting sites offering all sorts of previews, special offers and freebies.
Facebook (a popular social networking site) may have to close if its unable to prove it hasn't stolen code from rival site ConnectU. The spat between the two site has been going on for some time now, but as Facebook will shortly face ConnectU in the US courts a decision either way will be made, thus Facebook, if found guilty, may well close. What complicates the issue is that the founder of Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg) did do some early work on the ConnectU site, and it is during this time that the alleged code was stolen. Lets hope they can sort this without one of the more well thought out social networking sites closing.
Don't get too excited, you will get a free laptop (worth £300), but only when you sign up to Orange broadband for 2 years. The Laptops while nothing special, are worth having with a entry level specification of 15.4" screen, 256MB of memory, 40GB Hard drive and DVD Writer. Don't expect too much from them but they should have enough speed to surf the internet and compose the odd document or two.
If the thought of a basic laptop makes you cringe, then PC World are willing to give you massive discounts off a number of more expensive models, allowing you to trade up, for a better machine.
The acquisition of Pipex will give Tiscali's user base a welcome increase to more than two million customers. This will, in turn, give Tiscali a much needed boost as an ISP, giving them a more healthy 15% of the total UK ISP market and importantly making them much more interesting for take over from any one of the top rival ISPs (BT or Sky to name but two). With such an increase in user base any prospective buyer now has the potential to significantly bolster their position in the market.
HD DVD sales in the US have not matched that of Blu-ray, possibly because of the relative success of the 'Playstation 3' with it's built-in Blu-ray player. But the 'Playstation 3' has not seen anywhere near the same sales in Europe (because of a number of reasons, which we will not go though again); so it has had little effect on the HD market. To this end HD DVD sales of stand alone players represent more than 70% of the HD market share in Europe. These latest figures don't even include sales of the XBox 360 add-on HD DVD drive, which may well show that HD DVD take up is much larger still. This all goes to prove that the fight between the next generation HD format is just getting started, with a possible US, European divide beginning to open up.
Microsoft has indicated the early release of a Beta version of Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista, ahead of it's planned release of the final version later this year. SP1 for Vista will address a number of issues, improving stability, security and compatibility, something that Microsoft needs to do before it can convince more of its all important corporate/business customers to move over to Vista (an area of the market that has, so far, seen relatively poor Vista sales).
This could explain why Windows XP's Service Pack 3 has been delayed again, with Microsoft putting more of its resources in to Vista's updates instead !
Scientists in the Netherlands, who have been researching the interaction of light with magnetic systems, have found that very fast lasers can be used to change the magnetic orientation of bits. If the research goes as planned it could mean the development of hard drives that employ lasers to store data rather than the purely magnetic mechanisms used in hard drives today. More over, this optically induced bit flipping is incredibly fast, and early information suggests it could be more than 100 times faster than conventional data storage methods.
A new survey conducted by 'Uswitch' has concluded that 25% of all broadband customers are unhappy with their service. The majority of issues were with the so called 'Free' broadband services available from the likes of 'Orange' and 'TalkTalk'. But it was not all doom and gloom for the UK's internet service providers as 'Plusnet' (purchased by BT), 'Sky' and 'Virgin Media' all faired quite well, with high levels of satisfaction amongst their users.
The EC (European Commission) is currently investigating the Blu-ray Disc Association after information has come to light that they have been using improper tactics to quash competition and put into place restrictive agreements that stop studios from using any other HD format. Microsoft and Toshiba have repeatedly ask the EC to probe Blu-ray and the large number of Hollywood studios that have exclusively signed up to the Blu-ray format. If anti-competitive practices are uncovered Blu-ray can expect significant fines and possibly restrictions on it's distribution.
Honeywell is one of the largest engineering companies in the UK, and as such, requires an extensive network of computer systems. It is this network that has apparently been misused. It has come to light, that a member of staff informed the BPI that a large file-sharing network existed and was being used to illegally copy music. With this information the BPI informed the Police who then served a warrant on the Honeywell premises. A number of employees are now being questioned over the allegations.
This only goes to prove that companies not only need policies on computer usage, but also need procedures that audit systems to ensure these policies are being adhered to.
It was first earmarked for the end of 2006, then for early 2007 (after the Vista launch), but more than six months on and there's still no sign of Windows XP's Service Pack 3. The sheer number of updates now required to fully patch Windows SP2 is hugh (As anyone who has reinstalled their XP installation recently will confirm). To this end some users are now getting frustrated and taking risks by installing unofficial service packs rather than downloading the huge number of updates listed by Microsoft. The Glitch does not recommend unofficial patching of your Windows system as it can lead to system instabilities, due to a lack of testing of third party solutions.
The latest information does suggest that SP3 could be available before the end of the year, but at least one Microsoft site has listed a date for early 2008...we are all just going to have to be patient on this one.
UK Online has recently conducted a survey of small business web usage. The results were shocking with 50% of small businesses having no web presence at all, and almost 20% were still using old style dial-up connections. Smaller companies run the risk of losing a large amount of business by not having even a simple website in place. Due to the massive amount of information of the web, many people feel it unnecessary to look else where.
If you require help in setting up a simple website then contact The Glitch, you will be surprised how cheap it can be to run a website.
The new standard of computer memory DDR3 is here, previously only to be found on high-end graphics cards, it has finally found it's way on to motherboards. The main benefits of DDR3 over existing DDR2 memory are enhanced speeds and reduced power requirements. DDR3 memory will provide big increases in speeds, due to it's quad pumped bus, but surprisingly these increases will not been seen initially. This is due to the inherent design of DDR3, as higher latencies have been introduced to allow these large increases in bus speeds. So clock-for-clock DDR3 will not be significantly faster than DDR2, but as DDR3 bus speeds start to pull away from DDR2 these higher latencies should become much less relevant.
So DDR3 is very much the memory of the future, but for most (at the moment) it does not represent good value for money as similarity performing DDR2 memory is much cheaper.
Late last year Which Magazine reported that PC World's repair centers were failing to recognise simple faults, and by doing so, were charging for unnecessary repairs. In one shocking case they were told that a repair would cost more than £350 and that they would be better off buying a new computer, when all the computer required was a simple software fix. The Sunday Times has more recently conducted it's own simple test on PC World's 'The TechGuys'. In this instance they armed themselves with a Laptop with three relatively straight forward problems, but yet again PC World failed to diagnose/repair any of them, this time they said they would have to reinstalled the Laptop from scratch.
I wonder how many people are sat there right now wondering whether their costly PC World repair was actually necessary....makes you think...doesn't it !
Sony Ericsson have revealed their latest handset in the form of the W960i. This feature packed device is a 3G compatible phone, Music (mp3) and video player, 3.2MP Camera, Wi-Fi enabled web-browser and comes with 8GB of memory as standard. Many people are still waiting for Apple's iPhone to arrive, but in the mean time, the likes of Sony Erricsson and Nokia are already releasing similarly featured devices, and may well steal Apple's thunder.
For more information visit:
Sir Tim Berners-Lee (born 1955) is the inventor of hypertext, web browsers and indeed the World Wide Web itself. He has been given numerous awards over the years, but was honored this year by the Queen with a 'Order of Merit', an award held by just 24 other people. Although Sir Tim Berners-Lee has designed and developed so much of the internet as we know it, he has not sort any kind of royalties, always insisting his work remains in the public domain.
BT Broadband now holds over 25% of the UK broadband market, that's more than three and a half million customers. BT have always been consistent with their broadband, offering a good level of service with little down time, and importantly a consistent bandwidth allocation. Add to this their recent drop in prices and the addition of extra features and you have a great broadband offering.
For more information click the link on the right-hand side of this page (below my Search box).
You now have a number of possible choices when selecting a Web browser. The two main stream offerings are from Mozilla and Microsoft. Mozilla has it's'FireFox 2' browser and Microsoft has it's 'Internet Explorer 7'. But they have now been joined by Netscape who has just released a new version of their classic browser 'Netscape Navigator' and Apple, who has surprised almost everyone, by offering a Windows compatible version of it's 'Safari' web browser. Microsoft's Internet Explorer remains the most used Web browser with almost 80% of computer users adopting it, but in the face of such choice this market share is bound to be reduced as people try out the various new offerings available.
Asus have been showing off their '3ePC' Laptop that costs just £100. This in it's own right is an amazing accomplishment, but compromises were inevitable. For a start it doesn't have a Microsoft Windows operating system, instead it runs a custom Linux environment made to look a little like a standard Windows installation. Unfortunately no firm details were available on the Intel processor and chipset being used, but the device has an ample 7" screen and a reasonable 512MB of RAM. Hard drive space is on the small side at only 2GB (flash based), but this can be upgraded. Asus installs a number of applications as standard including an office productivity suite which is said to be Microsoft Office compatible.
Even though the specifications of this machine are nothing to write home about, you are still getting a lot for your £100, this factor alone will ensure Asus a large number of Sales.
Yes, you read it correctly PSP Phone. Sony have joined forces with BT and now hopes to be able to offer a VoIP based phone service that uses the built-in Wi-Fi capability of the PSP. Sources suggest that only a PSP to PSP style service will be made available at first, but there are high hopes that this service will grow quickly to incorporate messaging and calls to both land-based and mobile phones. Because this is a joint venture with BT, UK customer (for once) will be the first to benefit from the new service. Ultimately, Sony hopes to be able to offer this facility in a number of other Countries. Personally, I can't see it, what with the PSP's awkward input system and sheer size....oh well...we shall see !
It doesn't seem that long ago that Nokia was announcing it's N90 Range of mobile phones, but the mobile phone market moves quickly and Nokia can never be accused of sitting on it's laurels. Today they released three new hand-sets, the 6500 classic, 6500 slide and the top of the range 8600 Luna. All are 3G capable, all have distinctive features, and as we have all come to expect from Nokia encompass a compelling blend of design and technology.
For more information visit:
Microsoft have finally release details of their new 'surface computer' technology. In a stunning demonstration Microsoft show their vision of how we will be interacting with computer systems in the near future. This new way of using computers will amaze you, it is truly the first fully intuitive, user friendly way of interacting with computers and associated devices. The system shown is based around a 30" touch sensitive flat panel display, built in to a glass topped table. Apart from just using your fingers to interact with the system, when you place compatible devices like PDA's, digital cameras or mobile phones on to the surface you are immediately presented with the relevant information from the devices and are able to drag and drop data, music, images directly on to the surface...fantastic...the possibilities are almost endless. Microsoft are on to a real winner with this one, unfortunately it will probably be a couple of years before we start to see these types of devices appearing the the shops, and then they may well be a little expensive for the average PC user...as always time will tell.
For more information visit:
A large percentage of Tiscali customers have been experiencing problems with their Emails, in fact many customers have been unable to send Emails for over a week now. Tiscali have finally admitted that they have a serious problem, and that some of their Email accounts have been hijacked by Spammers resulting in a massive number of emails being sent out by the ISP. Unfortunately, because this activity was allowed to go on too long, Tiscali has now been Blacklisted by a large number of organisations and ISPs. The knock on effect for Tiscali users is that it may take several more days before things get back to some kind of normality. Many are now saying that Tiscali has been too laid back in acting upon this issue and that ISPs should always give these types of problem the highest priority....big oops for Tiscali then !
IBM has launched it's new 'Power6' CPU. It is said to be the worlds fastest microprocessor, and to be one of the most energy efficient in its class. At first glance the specifications seem almost modest, with a clock speed of 4.7Ghz and 8MBs of level 2 cache, but you have only to glance at the 300Gbps of internal bandwidth to know this is no run-of-the-mill processor. Due to IBM's innovative design the 'Power6' chip is able to keep it's power requirements down, while still delivering extreme processing performance. As a comparison, this single chip is twice as fast as IBM's 'Deep Blue' super computer (built in 1997) which had 480 dedicated processors.
It has been recently reported that Wi-Fi enabled equipment, such as wireless routers and even laptops (that have built-in Wi-Fi capability) could effect your health. All Wi-Fi networks emit low-levels of radiation, it is an unavoidable by-product, just like mobile phones and masts. There has been a number of large studies on the effects of radiation from mobile phones but very few on the effects of Wi-Fi radiation. Children's skulls are thinner and not fully formed, this makes them more susceptible to radiation. To this end there have been calls to limit the use of Wi-Fi networks in schools and other areas where children are located until a proper study has been carried out.
Hitachi have just released their new 200GB Travelstar 7K200 2.5" hard drive; the drive is said to be the fastest in it's class having a rotation speed of 7200rpm and sports improvements in noise levels and more importantly power requirements. Fujitsu and Samsung are both soon to launch their 250GB 2.5" hard drives, (both have a rotation speeds of 5400rpm); they will represent the largest 2.5" drives on the market, until Fujitsu's 300GB, 4200rpm drive is released later in the year. This would suggest we may start to see Laptops being offered with up to two, 300GB hard drives, allowing users to store and carry around far more information than ever before.
Microsoft have announced that they will no longer be developing any more 32bit versions of their Windows operating systems and that all future releases will be 64bit as standard. The benefits of 64bit computing are clear; giving systems the ability to process much larger amounts of data and address much larger amounts of memory, allow computers to perform better. As there are no new versions of Windows imminent, this announcement has no real, short term implications, and besides, 64bit driver support is actually not too bad at this time, with many manufactures already offering compatible drivers. In the long term all manufactures will need to offer 64bit capable products but unfortunately this will not stop incompatibilities with older products. Inevitably some computer systems and software will have to be replaced or at the very least updated.
Google Earth will soon have sound, allowing you to not only see different parts of the world but also hear associated sounds. Initially only a few sounds will be introduced, and assuming all goes well, Google will go on to add many thousands more. Eventually Google hopes to cover all sorts of sounds, including native animal sounds, marine life sounds and even the sounds of busy cities. If the project is successful, it may well provide a whole new way to explore the globe.
It was back in 1999 that AMD introduced the Athlon brand name of processor, but AMD are so confident in their latest CPU design, that they have already announced that they will be phasing out the Athlon. Phenom will be the name of AMD's new desktop chip, which is evidently short for 'Phenomenal'. There will be three chips in their new range, the Phenom FX (quad-core), Phenom x2 and Phenom x4 (sounds familiar). The Phenom x2 and x4 will be backwards compatible with Socket AM2 motherboards, but you will need to invest in a newer AM2+ based board if you want to have access to all of the new CPU's features. The quad-core Phenom FX requires a socket F based motherboard, but this does include AMDs newer 2 x socket designs, which could potentially allow you to fit two FX quad-core processors side by side, thus giving you an 8-core setup.
WILF is an acronym for 'What Was I Looking For", and is a term used to describe the act of aimlessly surfing the web, or going off on a tangent whilst looking for something else. I think that most of us have done this at some point but a recent UK study found that 7 out of 10 internet users regularly surf aimlessly. It also found that the Men more than Women and the under 25's had a greater tendency for WILFing. Are you a true WILFer? or do you just WILF now and again (a social WILFer) !
If you were into
computers back in 1982, you will probably remember the
Sinclair ZX Spectrum (The Speccy) with
fond memories. It was the first mainstream home computer in
the UK and still has (would you believe) a strong following
among loyalty Spectrum devotees. The machines
specifications were; a Zilog Z80A processor
running at 3.5Mhz, 16K of memory (upgradeable to 48K), the
display was your TV via a video modulator, and the graphic
resolution was only 256x192 pixels with 16 colours (8 colours
with 2 different brightness levels). Sound came from a simple,
single channel beeper, capable of almost 10 octaves.....those
were the days !
For more information go to:
IBM have been working to break down language barriers with their new piece of software called MASTOR (Multilingual Automatic Speech Translator). MASTOR is a very clever application in that it allows two-way, free form speech translations. The software could be put on a Laptop or PDA and enable the user to translate a number of foreign languages. It works simply by getting the foreign language speaker to talk into a microphone, MASTOR will then translate and vocalise the speech in to the users native language, the user could then reply and MASTOR will again translate and vocalise the message back in to the foreign language. (very StarTrek-esk).
The software is still in constant development and is only able to translate a relatively small number of languages, but IBM have definitely taken a huge step towards the ultimate universal translator, in fact it has recently been donated to the US government to aid US personnel in communicating more effectively with the Iraqi people.
Intel's new 1.5W ultra-mobile processor is set to transform the handheld gadget market. Based on the very successful Core 2 processor architecture, it will finally give devices like PDA's and Smartphones the processing power to comfortably run a full Windows system. This in turn will allow users to run full Windows applications and utilities something that until now would have been impossible. Devices utilising the new chip should start to appear sometime in 2008.
AMD have finally released some details on its answer to Intel's Quad-core processor. AMD's new quad-core chip will contain no less than three levels of cache, each core will have 64K of level 1 cache, 512K of Level 2 cache and share 2MB of level 3 cache. AMD stated this cache design was introduced to cut down latency and is claiming that it's chip is 40% faster than Intel's equivalent. Other features include the ability to execute four floating-point instructions per clock cycle, support for 128-bit SSE instructions, and the facility to individually adjust the frequency of each of the 4 cores.
The fight between the next generation HD video formats continues. Due to US and Japanese sales of Sony's Playstation 3 Blu-ray sales have been given a healthy boost, but one thing that can't be ignored is that Blu-ray players and Blu-ray games/movies cost more that their HD DVD counter parts. More over HD DVD is better quality due to the fact is employs more up-to-date encoding methods and features. Other factors to consider are that Microsoft and Intel are both behind the HD DVD format, and when you compare the price of a stand alone Blu-ray player (£1000) with that of a HD DVD player (£500), you begin to release how much cheaper HD DVD really is. You can even purchase an external HD DVD player for your XBox 360 for less than £120 now.
The Glitch is fully behind HD DVD, in my eyes there's just no contest...it's cheaper, there's more functionality, and its better quality!
Intel and AMD have now published their financial reports, both have suffered reduced profits due to aggressive pricing, but AMD seems to have come off much, much worse with a net loss of over $600 million. Intel had previously revised its predicted earnings outlook, but due to a very strong product line-up at the moment, ended the year with a revenue of almost $9 billion. AMD is now restructuring and is reducing it's capital expenditure to try to bring itself back into profit.
Via have designed a motherboard that is Smaller than an A7 sized piece of paper. The Pico-ITX board measures just 10cm x 7.2cm, but still manages to pack a surprising amount of features. The board is based around Via's C7 processors and VX700 all-in-one chipset and so contains Via's UniChrome™ Pro graphics, supports up to 4GB of memory, (single DDR2 SO-DIMM slot), has 8 channels of HD Audio, 10/100 Networking, Serial and Parallel ATA connectivity and has PS/2 and 4 USB Ports. It also has built-in VGA and DVI ports which allow support for dual displays. The boards are not in full production at this time, but affordable, tiny handheld computers are now a real possibility thanks to Via.
After much speculation Intel has finally demonstrated it's first 80 core processor. But before you get too excited, this processor will never find its way inside a PC. From the ground it has been designed for floating-point operations only, so you wouldn't be able to run an operating system with this type of chip architecture. But the specifications are still astounding....when running at just over 6Ghz, it is able to perform more than 2 teraflops (trillion floating-point operations per second) but still only consume 190Watts of power. This is amazing when you consider that a standard Intel quad-core processor consumes up to 130Watts.
The Glitch is proud to have been nominated for the Hants Web Awards. The Hants Web Awards are run by Hampshire County Council and seek to award web sites that, in their words 'celebrate excellence in website design, accessibility and service'. It is humbling that The Glitch community has recognized all the hard work that goes into this site...thank you. I wish all those nominated the best of luck.
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There are two main wireless security standards WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) and WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). The WEP standard has been about for some time now and has never been particularly robust, one of the main reasons it is not recommended for Corporate use. It has been reported a number of times that WEP encryption is too easy to crack, but it has been given another broadside, as a cryptography group in Germany have proved that it can now be cracked in less than a minute. This certainly means that any company using WEP should consider an update to WPA very soon. For home users WEP is still a viable security measure, as long as you use it along side other standard procedures to lock down your wireless network. As always any security is better than none at all.
For more information on securing your wireless network read my guide:
A new standard of Bluetooth communications has been defined, promising a number of significant improvements over the current specification. Crucially, all new devices using the new standard should be backwards compatible with existing Bluetooth devices, but existing devices will probably not be able to be upgraded to the new standard. Bluetooth 2 should improve device battery life by up to three times, (due to improved power handling). It will also increase transmission speeds to 3Mbps, whilst offering improvements in device pairing and data security.
British Telecom have decided to cease all domestic ISDN services, due to a massive fall in demand. ISDN used to be the fast alternative to dialup, as it used to guarantee you a 64Kbp synchronous connection that could be doubled to 128Kbps with a second line (much faster than a standard 56Kbp modem). ISDN technology has been around for over 10 years now, and during it's time filled a much needed gap in the market, but due to the development of broadband, it's days are numbered. Many domestic ISDN customers moved over to broadband the moment it become available, with many more following suit as broadband become cheaper, more abundant and ever faster.
The rumors were correct, Microsoft will soon be releasing an 'Elite' version of the XBox 360. The new console with have an all black livery, come with a 120GB Hard drive for those storage hungry users, and have a much needed digital HDMI interface for connectivity to the latest LCD and Plasma TVs. There will not however be a built-in HD DVD drive, as Microsoft doesn't believe it should force people in to buying in to HD DVD technology if they don't need or want to, something Sony needs a lesson in. The HD DVD drive can of cause be added later by purchasing a separate external drive. The larger 120GB hard drive will also be available as an upgrade for existing XBox 360 owners.
Unfortunately UK launch dates and prices were not available at the time of writing.
Intel has announced two more new processors, the first (codenamed 'Penryn') should hit the streets by the second half of this year, and will be based around the current 'Core' processor architecture. The second (codenamed 'Nehalem') is set for release at some point in 2008. They are both based around Intel's new 45nm fabrication, but that is where their similarities end. The Penryn chip, will have 3MB of level 2 cache per core, and implement a new set of streaming SIMD extensions (SSE4),it will also be the first 'Core' processor to be clocked over 3Ghz and have a FSB (Front Side Bus) rising to 1,600Mhz.
Intel's second CPU, 'Nehalem', on the other hand, is going to be completely different. In a astounding move, Intel will be changing its architecture again, this time Intel will be placing its memory controller directly on the CPU, and replace it's long-standing FSB design with a Serial point-to-point link, (There's even talk of a version with integrated graphics). All this should add up to yet another significant boost in performance for Intel, but before you get too excited, there is no doubt these substantial changes in architecture will require a completely new motherboard and memory specification.
The well known CD-WOW has been found guilty of importing CDs to the UK from outside the EEA (European Economic Area). The BPI (British Photographic Industry) who brought the case to the High Court, stated that the e-retailer infringed the copyright of their BPI members. The High Court throw out CD-WOW's defence of 'human error' due to the significant number of CD's still being imported and that CD-WOW had made no attempt to rectify the situation. CD-WOW could now face fines that total millions of pounds.
Blu-ray based movie sales are three times that of HD-DVD at the moment, but all is not well in the Blu-ray camp. Resentment is growing as more and more people are realising they are having to pay more for Blu-ray based games and media, especially when you compare these prices with the equivalent HD-DVD media. PS3 owners are voicing their annoyance as their games are costing them much more than before, and many feel they are being railroaded, by Sony, in to a format that they don't necessarily want to adopt and one many feel is inferior to the HD-DVD alternative.
Super Talent, will soon be shipping 128GB Solid State Disks (SSD), these 3.5" SATA (Serial ATA) devices are designed to directly replace standard hard drives. With no moving parts these, flash memory based, devices are much more rugged and reliable than traditional hard drives. Other benefits include improved access speeds and reduced power consumption. Pricing details are currently unavailable, but with flash memory costs at an all time low, prices shouldn't be prohibitive. You can expect to see many more flash based devices (SSDs) appearing in the coming months.
Disturbing news from Sony is causing many people to cancel their PS3 pre-orders. It seems that the UK/European versions of the new PS3 console will have significantly reduced backwards compatibility with older PS2/PS1 games. This is due to Sony redesigning the PS3's hardware, probably as a cost cutting exercise, so that emulation of older games is done via software only, and not by custom emulation processors. This change will have a considerable, negative effect on compatibility, quality and speed. It is amazing that Sony thought this was a good idea, especially when you consider that UK buyers will not only have waited far longer for the PS3 launch but will be paying far more for what is now an inferior product...I am stunned!
It has been uncovered that a terrorist group were, amongst other things, planning to blow up Telehouse in London's Docklands. Telehouse is the UK's largest Internet hub, and disruption of the site could have had profound effects on the UK's Internet services. Information suggests that the suspects (who have now been arrested) were plotting to blow up the facility from the inside. This idea was flawed from the start, as security at the Telehouse building is significant, with security cameras, proximity sensors, 24/7 security personnel, and more importantly a tagging system that only grants access to authorized personnel, and then only to the necessary areas required.
This isn't exactly new news, as this rumour has been doing the rounds on the internet for some time, but it has been gathering momentum over the last few weeks, with more and more sources confirming a new, updated XBox 360. The new XBox 360 specs are obviously difficult to ascertain but rumours suggest, at least, a much bigger hard drive, a much needed HDMI digital connection and a new, sexy black exterior. Only time will tell if Microsoft will indeed be releasing such a device, but it would certainly take the shine off the Sony PS3 launch if they did!
Adobe has announce that it hopes to make available an on-line version of its powerful 'Photoshop' image manipulation software. Adobe already offers a number of on-line conversion utilities but has, until now, stopped short of offering complete applications. Funded by on-line advertising, 'Photoshop Online' could be available, free, before the end of the year. But don't get too excited, as it is very likely that the product will be a much watered down version of its big brother.
The cost of Microsoft's new operating system 'Windows Vista' is causing quite a stir. It seems that there is a significant disparity between the UK and US pricing of Vista with UK citizens paying, at times, almost twice as much for the same product. An on-line petition to the Prime Minister has now been setup and, at the time of writing, almost 6,000 names have already signed the list.
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A team of research scientist, lead by Jannik Meyer (Max-Planck Institute in Germany) and Professor Andre Geim (University of Manchester) have developed a process for creating a sheet of carbon matter that is only an atom thick. This new carbon-based material is called Graphene, and could be used to produce faster transistors, which in turn would allow the manufacture of much faster CPUs. But its uses don't stop there, due to its inherent structure, Graphene can apparently be used as a 'support structure' to help analyse complex molecules, which could help to speed up drug development.
Mozilla has finally made available an update to their Firefox internet browser that sorts out a grand total of eight security issues. Although there are still a number of security flaws left to be patched, this represents a step in the right direction for Mozilla, as they have previously come under fire for leaving potential security holes unpatched.
To get the download or for more information go to:
Back in June 2005 world wide Spam accounted for 30 Billion emails per day, now approximately 90 Billion Spam emails are sent each day. This massive increase in Spam over a relatively short period, shows the extent of the problem we all face with Spam. A report recently stated that the number of Spam emails had dropped significantly, but this event seems to have been short lived, with Spam still representing at least 90% of all emails sent over the internet.
BT is to purchase PlusNet (one of the UK's largest ISP) for £67 million; the acquisition was finally approved by the Office of Fair Trading last week. BT has stated that it intends to keep the PlusNet brand and that existing customers will retain their accounts and current email addresses. The purchase will not only allow PlusNet to offer new and improved services but increase their broadband capacity, which can only be a good thing for existing PlusNet customers.
Apple and Cisco have settled their disagreement over the use of the Cisco trademark name 'iPhone'. A joint statement issued by the Apple and Cisco stated that both companies are now free to use the name 'iPhone'. It was not know what financial terms were agreed by the companies, but obviously the meeting went very well as they also agreed to explore joint working opportunities in the areas of security, and communications.
The Nationwide Building Society has been fined almost a million pound, by the FSA (Financial Services Authority), for failing to protect customers account information, after an employee had a Laptop stolen from their home that contained a number of customers banking details. The Nationwide Building Society has mounted a massive review of its information security procedures and has already put into place the recommendations made by the FSA. The Nationwide has always had extensive security when account information is concerned, but had not considered this particular scenario; one that they assure their customers will not be able to happen again.
I wonder how many other Banks and Building Societies will also be changing their procedures now !
Google is now the world's third largest email provider, but until now you could only join the free GMail service if invited by another member. This has all changed and the GMail service has been opened up to the masses, with anyone able to register for an account. Google's free email is paid for via advertising, and is closely linked to several other Google services like Google Talk and Google Picasa. Google is generous with its storage and allocates 2.8GB of storage for every individual email user, which is plenty enough for most people.
Due to a trademark dispute with Giersch.com, UK and some European users will not get a "@gmail.com" address, but get a "@googlemail.com" address instead.
DRM (Digital Rights Management) has been a pain in the backside since its inception, the music industry was far more concerned about finding a mechanism for stopping people freely copying digital music, and did not stop to think about the grief it would create for their customers. DRM prevents people from playing their legally purchased music on the devices they want to play them on, it is a limiting technology that should be removed. Even the owner of Apple, Mr. Steve Jobs agrees, as he is trying to convince the four main music industry giants to drop DRM from their music production. His efforts are already beginning to pay off as EMI is now considering dropping DRM from their music. People will always copy music, no matter what protection you put in place, they will always get round it somehow. So why upset everyone else with ineffectual DRM !
Apple's iTunes site is a classic case, download your music from the Apple site as normal, then burn your downloaded tracks to a CD, then just rip the CD audio to normal mp3, you now have a completely non-DRM version of your music in mp3 - its just a pain though !
There are a total of 13 DNS root name-servers, they are responsible for keeping track of all the top-level domain servers, which in turn keep track of all the domain servers, which help resolve domain names. The inherent design of these DNS root name-servers makes them very robust, so when a large scale internet based attack occurs, most people using the internet will probably never know anything is going on. A previous attack on these servers occurred back in 2002 with little effect, and although the outcome of this latest attack was a little more significant, it still failed spectacularly. In the end only the DNS name-servers run by ICANN in Los Angeles and the US. Department of Defence in Columbus were made unavailable for a short while, but the 'root name service' remained available throughout !
Bringing Broadband to the masses has had a significant effect of the popularity of on-line gaming, with more people than ever now playing MMORPGs,(massively multiplayer online role playing games), like 'World of Warcraft', 'EverQuest' & 'Second life'. With such a large user base it was only a matter of time before someone started the trade in "In game goods". These virtual items, like game characters, objects or even complete accounts would find there way onto eBay. But most of these MMORPGs forbid the sale of these items in their 'terms of service',so eBay has had to ban them. This will not be a popular move as some people are making large amounts of money trading 'virtual goods'.
One online game that has escaped this ruling is 'Second Life', this is due to the inherent nature of the game, which already allows the buying and selling of virtual goods.
Anyone who has bought a cheap OEM version of Windows XP recently will have found a Vista upgrade coupon in the box. Unfortunately for most consumers these coupons are invalid, as they are only meant to be distributed with a qualifying new PC preloaded with Windows XP from an authorized system builder. An OEM version of Windows can be purchased by anyone, but should always be purchased with a significant computer component, (E.G. Hard Drive or Motherboard), not with a peripheral. When purchasing OEM software, as a private individual, it is important to remember that most direct support is down to the purchaser and not the manufacturer, this is one of the reasons OEM software is often very cheap.
After a few months of relative calm, it seems that Trojan laden Spam emails are on the increase. Between December 06 and January 07 a new style of Trojan started to appeared; and had great success in infiltrating systems. These new forms of Spam Trojans are becoming quite sophisticated, some even contain their own dedicated antivirus protection and form peer-to-peer networks of compromised systems. The Spam emails that are sent from these compromised computers change often, making them very hard to identify and ultimately stop. (This type of Trojan behaviour is sometimes referred to as 'Spamthru').
So be very careful what emails you open, and follow the "Avoid Email Viruses and Spam" rules as listed in the column to the right-hand side of this main news area.
Last year, Vantage Computers were expelled from the PCA (Professional Computer Association) for repeatedly breaking their code of practice, but this was obviously the least of Vantage's problems as they have now ceased trading. To their credit, they did not take any new orders during 2007 and they have stated that all existing onsite or extended warranties will still be honoured. On the whole, the effect on existing customers seems relatively minor, with only a very small number of people not having their orders unfulfilled, which at least shows they have some scruples (Something that 'Time Computers' never had !).
There are only a few days left before the official release of Microsoft's new operating system 'Windows Vista' and their new office productivity package 'Office 2007'. On, or very soon after, the 30th of January The Glitch hopes to be able to offer both these new products within my software section. So keep your eye peeled.
Not a month goes by without some company announcing plans for bigger, better media based internet services. The rapid growth in the VoIP (Voice-over-IP) and VoD (Video-on-demand) sectors is concerning a number of organisations, alarmed at the ever growing bandwidth needs Internet users are requiring. Even the terabit capable communications networks carrying information from continent to continent are beginning to struggle to keep up with the increasing data requests, ISPs could start to feel the effects soon, with customers experiencing a reduced service. There are now calls to invest heavily in these networks to meet this new demand before consumer confidence is hit and customers start to complain about lack of bandwidth or even lack of service. Saying this, the UK is in a better position than most other Countries as BT is already investing heavily in its new 21CN (21st Century Network), but unfortunately it maybe years before it is fully enabled.
Hitachi will soon be releasing a 1TB (1000GB) hard drive. This standard 3.5" hard drive uses the latest perpendicular technology to store data rather than the normal longitudinal recording that we are normally accustomed to. Perpendicular Recording PMR - Perpendicular Magnetic Recording) was first used by Seagate in it's 750GB Barracuda drive released last year. The introduction of PMR technology to hard drives will soon allow manufacturers to create hard drives with 10 times greater data densities, so expect to see much larger capacity desktop and laptop hard drives appearing soon.
iPhone is a trademark name owned by Cisco, it seems that Apple have ignored this fact and decided to release their iPhone anyway, opting for a legal battle to decide, once and for all, who is entitled to use the iPhone name. It is a difficult one as it seems both sides have valid points, Cisco say that they were in negotiations with Apple over name, but Apple suddenly decided to ignore them and go ahead in the use of the iPhones trademark. On the other hand Apple will probably try to argue that a number of other companies are already using the name and so it has already become genericised.
What I find amusing is the way Apple will quite happily ripe off another companies brand name, but when an individual posts a couple of graphics of a iPhones skin idea for Windows mobile devices, they are up in arms about it, sending the poor chap cease-and-desist legal notices within 24 hours of the posting....a little hypocritical don't you think !
It will be a little while before you see these new devices appearing in the shops, but believe me when I say it'll be worth the wait. The new iPhone from Apple is just amazing, this is high technology at it's best. Firstly it is a quad-band GSM mobile phone, then a widescreen iPod, then Camera, Internet device and even a simple PDA. Needless to say, coming from Apple, it looks stunning and usability is excellent. There are so many clever features built in to this device that you'll be still finding new things even after weeks of use. For instance, when the device is being used as a mobile phone, it has a sensor that knows when it is brought up to the ear, and immediately turns off the display, and gently fades out any music playing until you have finished your call. As an iPod music player it works brilliantly, fancy playing a piece of music ? Well how about fingering thought your album art to find what you are after...simple but excellent. It has built-in Wi-Fi capability, allowing you to surf the web from any hotspot, but this is no mobile phone format browser, this device allows you to see internet pages the way they were meant to be viewed, either scaled to perfection or "Pan and Scan". The list of innovations seems to be endless. Go on you know you want one...I do !
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Hotmail has been is existence for 10 years now; Happy Birthday Hotmail. There are over 8 million active UK Hotmail accounts, and almost 270 million accounts worldwide. It has been calculated that over a billion emails are sent via the Hotmail service every day. Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith the creators of Hotmail launched their free email service on the 4th July 1996, it was to be paid for by advertising and it was an instant success with thousands signing up in the first week, with many more over the subsequent months. A year later and Hotmail had signed over 8 million subscribers and in 1997 was bought up by Microsoft for a massive $400 million, the rest is history.
As you may of heard on the national news MI5 is going to send out email alerts every time its security threat level changes. At first this seems a little over the top, but when you consider that as many as 30 Islamist militant groups are still active in the UK, many apparently considering chemical and even nuclear attacks, this service seems a little more sensible. On top of the threat level alert, they will also allow all those who sign up to the service to subscribe to other security information alerts. These steps are designed to not only keep the public better informed, something that MI5 has been very poor at in the past, but it also allows MI5 to follow the governments request for a slightly more open intelligence service.....ok. I believe you !
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The battle between HD DVD and Blu-ray is still on-going, but HD DVD does now seem to have the lead. HD DVD has a slight picture quality edge on Blu-ray and HD DVD devices are much cheaper than Blu-ray, the large take up of HD DVD in America is also helping the format. Add to this a new development from Toshiba revealing a 50GB HD DVD disc (which brings HD DVDs storage in-line with Blu-ray) and HD DVD more than ever seems to be winning the format wars !
The Advanced Access Content System (AACS) encrytion used in the next-generation HD DVD and Blu-ray disk formats has been apparently cracked by a hacker. AACS is a disk copy protection system that is supposed to stop illegal copying by restricting which devices the discs can be played on. If a breach in the encryption system is found it would open up any currently available HD title to copying.
VoD (Video-on-demand) is very much the new buzz word at the moment. A whole raft of media companies are either just about to offer or hope to offer very soon VoD services. Sky (BSkyB) is the latest company to announce that it will be offering VoD in 2007, via it's new broadband service and modified Sky+ box. NTL (purchased by Virgin) with be relaunched as 'Virgin Media' sometime in 2007, and you can expect a whole raft of new features when this happens. BT is now offering 'BT Vision' and is making big promises about its services, with such statements as HDTV for all and even the BBC is due to offer on-demand programming via its iPlayer software.
In response to a barrage of cyber vandalism to their site Wikipedia took the sensible step and blocked the IP address of the perpetrators. The only trouble with this very effective measure is that Qatar's lone ISP works on a massive proxy server that connects all it's users through one server, all via the same IP address. So Wikipedia effectively blocked an entire countries access to it's site. In reality, this block was only active for a few hours and so Qatar's internet users can, once again, access Wikipedia.
There are a number of excellent, free anti-virus and anti-spyware products available on the web, you only have to look at my software section to locate a whole raft of them. But all that glistens is not gold and there are an increasing number of rouge applications appearing on the internet that purport to help secure your computer from all sorts of security threats, but they are in fact spyware themselves or at best poorly written software offering you little protection.
So be very careful of popups and websites that offer you free, security checks and downloads. If you want 100% safe security software, then look no further than The Glitch Software pages !
Happy New Year to you all, may 2007 bring you health, wealth and happiness. Well...another year has gone by and 'The Glitch' has finally grown up. It looks very different to the site I started 24 months ago, but I hope 'The Glitch' continues to help and aid all those who use it and continues to bring to light interesting and useful subjects. For 2007 I will strive to bring to you the best free software, and highlight quality hardware at some great prices.
Thank you for your continued support over the last 12 months.