The Glitch - A Friend in Computing

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


2008 - NEWS ARCHIVE


 

December

The Glitch is 4 Years Old ! A Dancing BananaA Dancing BananaHappy Birthday Glitch

The Glitch is four years old, 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 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 feel free to use my contact page.
Thank you again, and Merry Christmas !


Sub-sea Communications Cables Damaged

Damage to a number of sub-sea communications cables located between Sicily and Tunisia, in the Channel of Sicily, has disrupted both telephone and internet services to many parts of the Middle East and south Asia. This is the second time this year that sub-sea cables have been damaged causing internet blackouts in Asia, the last time was back in February when large parts of Egypt and Asia were without internet connectivity for several days. Work is already underway to repair the damaged cables, but it may take some time to complete. Preliminary investigations suggest that the damage was caused by a ship's anchor cutting through the cables.


Internet Explorer Vulnerability Patched

It is a rare thing indeed when Microsoft releases an emergency patch, so you know things are serious when they do it for the second time in as many months. Microsoft has released an emergency patch that corrects the vulnerability that is currently affecting Internet Explorer. The issues stems from a flaw in the way Internet Explorer handles 'DHTML data bindings', the result could allow a website hosting malicious HTML code to compromise a system by downloading a Trojan style virus. Microsoft's main concern was the significant rise in the number of websites that were (unwittingly) hosting the malicious code, thus the probability of coming across a compromised website was increasing at an alarming rate.

The patch is available via 'Windows Update', so ensure your system is updated soon.


New Internet Explorer Vulnerability

Microsoft has issued a new security advisory (961051), about a vulnerability that effects all versions of Internet Explorer. If you are unlucky enough to browse a website that has been compromised with the malicious HTML code that is designed to exploit the IE vulnerability, the site will attempt to download a Trojan that compromises your computer. For all those who are concerned about this specific issue, it is advised that Vista users use IE7/IE8's 'Protected Mode' while all other users should ensure that, within IE's security tab, you set 'Internet' and 'Local intranet' security zone settings to "High", and disable 'Active Scripting'. Unfortunately, these new settings are quite restrictive, but will protect you, until Microsoft release a patch.


VoIP comes to the Apple iTouch

A company called 'Truphone' has developed a free utility to enable Apple iTouch users to make voice calls using their Touch's built-in WiFi capability. The software currently only supports 'Google Talk' and Truphone's own VoIP service, but updates are promised that will see SkyPE and MSN added to the list of supported VoIP providers. All calls are currently free, but you will need to source a microphone for the iTouch. The 'Truphone' software can be download via Apple's iTunes App store.


FireFox Add-on Steals Passwords

A harmful clone of an add-on to the Firefox browser is causing concerns. It seems that Russian hackers have targeted the 'Greasemonkey' add-on, creating a password stealing Trogon of the same name. It must be stressed that the authentic 'Greasemonkey' is a safe, legitimate add-on for the Firefox browser that allows you to customise the way a webpage is displayed using JavaScript. If you have downloaded the add-on from the genuine website you will not be at risk.

For more information and to get this add-on safely visit:
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/748


Rise Of The Robots

An EU funded project called 'FEELIX (Feel, Interact, eXpress) Growing' is being headed by the 'Adaptive Systems Research Group' at the University of Hertfordshire, it's ultimate aim is to develop robots that are able to help and look after Humans. The project has been broken down into several distinct areas, with A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) playing an enormous role. Behavior and Emotion modeling are just two of the many areas being looked at, with behavior modeling allowing robots to socially interact with humans, while emotion modeling tries to teach robots to understand emotional expressions and mimic these emotions. The project is still in it's early stages, but is fascinating nevertheless.

For more information visit:
http://www.feelix-growing.org/


November

Cognitive Computing Project

IBM will work along side a number of universities on a new  'Cognitive Computing Project'. The idea behind this new project is to develop a simulation of a virtual brain. IBM has already, successfully run simulations of a small mammal brain (in near real time), so they are no strangers to this type of project, although even at this very basic level the simulation did require a super computer. IBM is hoping the work will aid them to discover new ways to be able to interpret, analyse and react to information in real time, but their ideas don't stop there, they are also hoping that systems developed using the technology will eventually be intelligent enough to handle ambiguity, pattern recognition and perception in a real-world environment.


USB 3.0 Ratified

The new USB 3.0 standard has finally been ratified. USB 3.0 promises transfer speeds of up to 4.8Gbit/s, that's ten times faster than the current USB 2.0 standard. This improvement in speed will see 50GB files transfer in around 2 minutes, which is much faster than the current USB 2.0 which could take almost half an hour to transfer the same sized file. The completion of the standard will now allow manufactures to develop devices based on the technology; it is predicted that the first USB 3.0 devices will start to appear towards the end of 2009.


Free Anti-virus From Microsoft in 2009

By the middle of 2009 Microsoft hopes to be in the position to offer a totally free, internet based security product, that will protect the masses from viruses, spyware, rootkits and malware. Microsoft's own OneCare, subscription based, security suit will no longer be offered, but existing customers will be able to continue to use the 'OneCare' service until their subscriptions come to an end. If Microsoft's plans come to fruition, it should aid many more  users to maintain a malware free system. But a word of caution, any internet based security product will only protect you while your online, only a traditional, locally install anti-virus product will continue to protect your system when off-line. 


Spam Levels Drop

Spam represents a significant percentage all emails sent worldwide, every day, it is a real problem for many people and can introduce potential threats to your on-line security. So many people have been pleasantly surprised by the news that Spam levels have dropped by more than 70% after a rouge hosting company called 'McColo' was shut down. It seems the site was being used, almost exclusively, by criminals to send huge amounts of Spam emails. The effect of the close down was almost instantaneous, with Spam levels dropping significantly immediately after the hosting company was brought down. Experts believe that the decrease in Spam will only be temporary, as the criminals will more than likely find a new home to setup their operations. Never-the-less, this is still a significant blow to the Spammers, one that the anti-spam bodies can be proud of.


More Server 2008 Releases

Microsoft is pushing on with it's server software with Small Business Server 2008 being released very soon and Server 2008 release candidate 2 indicated for 2009. There will be two versions of the Small Business Server 2008, the standard version will allow up to 75 users while the premium version will scale up to 300 users, both come with exchange and Sharepoint server software as standard.


Blu-ray DRM Broken

The high level of encryption on Blu-ray discs has been a bone of contention for some time now, with many people arguing that the overzealous DRM stops them from using their legally purchased media in the way they want to. It is this issue that has lead a group of hackers to break Blu-ray's encryption by reverse engineering the actual software engine that is loaded every time a disc is inserted. It has been suggested that the film studios could fight back by changing the encryption keys, but this would be a very bad move causing older discs to stop working and in doing so destroy consumer confidence in the format.


'Sinawol'

The computer security industry has been left reeling after a Trojan based Worm, which seems to have been active for some time, has only just been discovered. It is estimated that it has managed to steal around half a million bank account details during its lifetime and is now considered one of the most sophisticated Worms of all time. Called 'Sinawol', once installed on a users system it waits until a banking site is being accessed and then adds a legitimate looking, additional security question to the webpage, this information, when entered, is then stolen and ultimately sold on.

As always make sure your system has anti-virus and anti-spyware installed and updated. Why not take a look at the application called 'Threatfire' on my anti-spyware page (its free)!


More Extras For Vista Ultimate

Its been almost a year since Microsoft released what it calls it's 'Ultimate Extras' for Vista Ultimate users. These additional applications and utilities were one of the selling points of Vista Ultimate as only 'Ultimate' users would be able to take advantage of them. After a significant, initial delay Microsoft released a number of 'Ultimate Extras' last year, but as far as I'm aware this is the first time, this year, that Microsoft has released Vista Ultimate extras. The updates are said to include more sound schemes, games and Vista dream scenes.

These extras are only available via Windows updates, so if your a Vista Ultimate user make sure you visit Windows Update soon.


October

Microsoft Office 14 On The Web

Microsoft's new office suite, currently known as Office 14, is not due for release until the end of 2009. So little is currently known about any new features Microsoft might bring to it's office suite, but one thing that has been announced is that Microsoft will be releasing a 'web' based version of Office 14 via it's 'Office Live' website. Notably, Microsoft hopes to deliver what will be full blown versions of it's application on-line, unlike other companies, who have, so far, only delivered significantly cut down versions of their software. Only time will tell how bandwidth hungry these new Microsoft applications end up.


Emergency Patch For Windows

It is a rare thing indeed when Microsoft releases an emergency patch for Windows, so when it happens we should all take note. Little if anything is currently known about the issue that the patch is set to fix, but it must be an important security flaw for Microsoft to act so swiftly and outside their normal patching schedule. Make sure your Windows system is updated very soon.


Vista Service Pack 2

It seems that Microsoft hopes to make available a second service pack for Windows Vista (SP2) before the end of the year. Little is currently known about any new features the service pack might bring to the operating system, but it is safe to say that all security updates since service pack 1 will be included.


Windows 7 (The New Vista?)

Microsoft's seventh operating system, due for release late 2009, early 2010, will be called 'Windows 7'. After much debate over the name it seems that Microsoft is taking the straight forward option and has decided to adopt a simple numerical naming system. 'Windows 7' looks to be more of an incremental update to the current Windows Vista operating system, rather than a whole new product, but as few details are currently available, it is hard to say for sure. More information should be released in the coming months.


OpenOffice 3.0 Released

The wait for 'OpenOffice 3.0' is finally over. OpenOffice 3.0 is the free (open source) alternative to Microsoft's office suit of applications, and version 3.0 promises all sorts of improvements and enhancements over their previous versions, most notably the ability to open the new Microsoft Office 2007 document formats.  Unfortunately, the OpenOffice servers have been struggling to cope with the huge download demands and so their main site has been replaced with a set of simple download links. You can expect the site to return to normal once demand has abated.

For more information visit:
Office Applications


Symantec Buys MessageLabs

Symantec is to purchase MessageLabs, in a deal worth over 400 million. Symantec is well known for its software based security products like 'Norton Anti-Virus', while MessageLabs is better known for it's managed security services. MessageLabs is very much at the forefront of on-line security and it's expertise and customer base should greatly strengthen Symantec's market share. Saying this, lets hope that Symantec don't try to fool around with MessageLabs too much, it would be a travesty to ruin what is probably one of the best internet security firms in the world!


Vista 'Ultimate Steal' Coming Soon

Microsoft often has special academic rates for it's software, but recently it has been offering some truly fantastic deals for students.  Currently Microsoft is not only offering 'Office 2007 Ultimate' for under 40 (which normally retails for around 600) but as of the 24th of October 2008 they will also be offering 'Windows Vista Ultimate' for 40.95, which is well under a quarter of it's current retail price. These two products represent more than 800 worth of software, and are being offered to students at just 10% of their current retail price.

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


BT i-Plate

BT's broadband boosting i-plate (interstitial plate) should soon be available, free of charge, from most ISP's. The idea behind BT's i-plate is that broadband speeds and stability can be improved by isolating superfluous wires in the BT wall socket (once used to drive old bell based telephones). Broadband speed increases of up to 4Mb/s have been achieved when using the i-plate, but BT are at pains to point out that each installation will yield different results with some people seeing significant speed improvements and others seeing more conservative increases. Another important point is that the i-plate can only be installed on to the newer BT NTE 5 master sockets.


September

BT Loses 'Cloud' Wi-Fi Hot Spots

BT has lost more than 6,500 'Cloud' Wi-Fi hot spots after it  failed to come to an agreement over on-going costs. This will come as a significant disappointment to BT customers who are left with only 3,000 BT Openzone hotspots, a considerable drop from the previous 9,500 hotspots. 'Cloud' is said to be disappointed with the outcome, but has numerous other interested partners.


Carphone Warehouse Bids For Tiscali

The Carphone Warehouse has bid 450 million for Tiscali UK. If the deal is accepted it will make the Carphone Warehouse the largest single ISP (Internet Service Provider) in the UK with around 4.5 million customers, pushing BT off the top spot. This is not the first time the Carphone Warehouse has bid for Tiscali UK, as earlier in the year it bid a similar sum that was, at that time, rejected as too low. But things have changed, Tiscali's share price is currently at an all time low, and other potential buyers such BSkyB, Vodafone and BT have all walked away from the bidding.


Government Unveils Broadband For All

Gordon Brown has unveiled a new scheme to get low income families on-line. Using a means-tested voucher system, Brown hopes to enable around one million low income families to connect to the internet. The vouchers can be used to purchase broadband services, computer systems or even software. This new initiative comes at a time when more and more schools are beginning to take advantage of the on-line phenomenon, posting lesson content, interactive sessions and other useful material on-line, not to mention email communication; much of which is currently lost to families who can't afford broadband.


Computer Cleaning Week

'Computer Cleaning Week' is a campaign to raise awareness of the health risks associated with dirty computer equipment. How many of us eat at our computers...lets face it, most of us! When was the last time you turned your keyboard upside down and gave it a good shake? But 'Computer Cleaning Week' is much more than just getting rid of old food crumbs in your keyboard, its about being more aware of the bacteria that can build up on the surface of your computer equipment. In one recent study a scientist took swabs from computer keyboards and then of toilet seats, when analyzed there were more bacteria living on the keyboard than on the toilet seat...makes you think doesn't it!

As with any electrical equipment unplug devices before cleaning and always use the correct cleaning product, this will ensure you don't damage the equipment your trying to clean.

For more information visit:
http://www.computercleaningweek.com/index.php


Canon's EOS 5D 21MP DSLR Camera

Canon has shaken up the digital SLR Camera market once again, this time they have released the much anticipated updated version of their EOS 5D the EOS 5D Mark II. Many assumed the EOS 5D Mark II would include small but desirable improvements on it's predecessor, but the truth is the EOS 5D Mark II is worlds apart from the EOS 5D. Sporting a a full frame 21.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor, an ISO sensitivity that goes all the way up to 25600, and the ability to record 1080P movies, sets this camera well and truly above the rest. But these sorts of specifications still don't come cheap, and the suggested price of 2299 will put this camera out of the reach of all but the avid photographer.

For more information visit:
http://www.canon.co.uk/For_Home/Product_Finder/Cameras/Digital_SLR/EOS_5D_Mark_II/


Google 'Chrome' License Mistake

Google has admitted that it has made a mistake in the wording of it's new browser's license agreement. It seems that the current wording, in 'Chrome's terms and conditions, suggests that Google effectively owns the rights to any material displayed using the browser. As this is clearly wrong it should come as no surprise that Google has now corrected it's faux pas.


nVidia Problems Continue

It seems that nVidia is unable to keep itself out of trouble at the moment, with a double helping of problems currently plaguing the company. First and foremost is the fact they are currently being sued by their shareholders, for withholding information about faulty GPUs. On the face of it, this seems a little harsh, but when you consider the considerable financial strain that nVidia maybe be put under, when trying to replace millions of processors, then you begin to realise why the investing public are so disturbed. If this was not bad enough, then the news that nVidia and AMD (ATI) are under investigation for collusion and general anti-competitive behaviour should send the alarm bells ringing.


Microsoft's Ultimate Steal is Back!Hot News

The Ultimate Steal is back! 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:
http://www.theultimatesteal.co.uk/


Intel's Six Core Processor

Intel will soon release a new Xeon processor that has 6 cores.  Notably all six cores will be based on a single piece of silicone, unlike previous models where two silicone dies were married together. The Xeon 7400 series chips should be backwards compatible with current Xeon 7300 platforms, although a motherboard BIOS update is inevitable. Aimed squarely at the Server market the 7400 should achieve superior perform, but is more than likely to be the last Xeon chip to be based around the current Socket 604 architecture, due to the introduction of Intel's new Core i7 chips.


Pay-as-you-go iPhone

From mid-September you will be able to buy a pay-as-you-go version of the Apple iPhone. Prices are a little higher than expected at 350 for an 8GB model and 400 for a 16GB model, but these prices do include a full year of unlimited UK data access. The iPhone Pay-as-you-go tariff requires a minimum monthly top up of 10 and if you want to continue with unlimited data access (after your initial 12 months is up) you will be required to pay an extra 10/month.


Google Launches New Web Browser

Google has launched a new web browser called 'Chrome'. Its not often a company launches a web browser, with the likes of Microsoft's 'Internet Explorer' and Mozilla's 'Firefox' already dominating the browser landscape. Even AOL's long standing 'Netscape Navigator' has finally faded away, but Google may just have enough kudos to successfully introduce a totally new browser to the market. Early indicators suggest 'Chrome' is a polished product that renders web pages, quickly and accurately. Moreover 'Chrome' is said to be a very stable and secure browser helped by the fact that is isolates every web page being browsed. Only time will tell how well 'Chrome' will be accepted, but if the initial response is anything to go by then Google may just have a winner on it's hands.

To learn more about Google Chrome visit:
http://www.google.com/chrome


August

Windows Genuine Advantage Updated 

Microsoft is always looking at ways to discourage the pirating of their Windows operating systems, this is why they introduced WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage). Windows Genuine Advantage is a tool used by Microsoft to detect dodgy copies of their operating systems and when located limit the use of that system until a genuine copy is installed. A new version of WGA now adds additional warnings like the persistent display of a desktop notification stating your version of Windows did not pass the 'Genuine Windows Validation' and that you may be the victim of 'software counterfeiting'. If this was not enough to irritate the pirates, then the added fact that the Windows wallpaper will always change to a blank screen should do it.


Times Up for Illegal File SharersHot News 

It seems that time is running out for illegal file sharers, even the games industry has now joined the growing numbers of entertainment companies that are taking users to court who break copyright law. ISPs have taken a softly softly approach, sending out letters to file sharers warning them to cease illegal activity, but the entertainment industry has deemed this unacceptable and is taking its own legal action against thousands of known file sharers. There are tens of thousands of known UK offenders on their combined lists, and almost everyone of them can expect some kind of legal action in the coming months. If you have received a letter, then be afraid, be very afraid...if you ignore it, you will almost certainly be fined for your continued wrong doing. The "I illegally download copyrighted music for free, because I can" attitude is about to get a reality check, nothing has changed, sharing copyrighted material is against the law!


Intel Develops Fast Solid State Drives 

Intel will soon release a Solid State Drive (SSD) that is not only quick to read from, but also quick to write to as well. SSD technology brought us very fast access and read rates, but they have struggled to deliver good writing performance, until now. It seems that Intel have succeeded where other manufactures have failed by developing a new type of flash memory controller chip that allows their new breed of SSDs to reach sustained writing speeds that, until now, were thought to be unattainable. Their debut drive the 'X25-M' is said to have a sustained writing speed of over 70MB/second, which is impressive in its own right, but Intel will also be releasing a performance version the 'X25-E' which is quoted as having an even higher sustained writing speed of over 170MB/second, well beyond even the fastest conventional hard drive.  


BBC Adopts High Quality Audio/Video 

The BBC's new iPlayer software will support the high quality H.264 video standard and AAC+ audio. Although this does not sound particularly exciting, these changes will bring significant improvements in both audio and video while keeping data rates as low as possible. Another positive thing about these alterations is that they represent a move to an open standard that gives the BBC's content a broader compatibility with devices/software that was previously unattainable using their current 'On2 VP6' encoding.


Intel Processor Name Change

Intel's 'Core 2 Duo' and 'Core 2 Quad' processor names are well known, but Intel is moving on and about to release their new range of processors (code named 'Nehalem'). Intel have decided to drop the '2' from 'Core 2' and also replace the Duo/Quad with an identifier code. So the resultant name for the first of their new processors may well end up as just 'Core i7'. The name change reflects the significant differences between Intel's current dual and quad core CPUs and their new versions, which have a number of noteworthy improvements including, on-chip memory controllers and HT (hyper-threading) technology built-in, with the latter allowing quad-core processors to handle up to 8 individual threads simultaneously.


No more VIA Chipsets

VIA has been manufacturing motherboard chipsets since it was founded back in 1987, in 1999 it entered the x86 microprocessor market after purchasing 'Cyrix'. VIA have done well over the years but the likes of Intel and AMD have all but destroyed it's market share of the motherboard chipset industry. So the news that VIA now feel there is no future for them in chipset market, will come as no surprise. Thus VIA will soon cease chipset production and focus all their efforts on their microprocessor products.


Compromised Websites on the Increase

The internet is a wonderful place, you can find all sorts of useful information and buy all sort of amazing things, but inadequately protected web users are falling foul of the ever increasing numbers of malware compromised websites. Recent figures published by Sophos indicate that more than 14,000 legitimate web-pages are being hacked every day. If you think its just low budget sites that are being hacked then you would be very wrong with the likes of ITV and Sony both suffering significant malware attacks in the past few months. The Glitch's advice never changes, make sure your system is kept fully patched using Windows updates, and your anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall software is working and up-to-date.

For more information read my 'On-line Protection' guide


Smaller Digital SLR Cameras

Modern digital SLR cameras are reasonably bulky and don't really fit into your pocket. One of the main reasons behind their size is due to the fact they conform to something called the 'Four Thirds System', an open standard that defines the size of the imaging sensor and type of lens mount. This is all well and good, until you try to reduce their size and find that you can't due to the 'Four Thirds' specification. But this is all set to change with Matsushita and Olympus developing a new SLR camera format called the 'Micro Four Thirds System' that should facilitate a new breed of compact digital SLR cameras that fit in your pocket, but without the normal compromises found in current compacts.


BT Provides Best Web Surfing Speeds

A new study of ISP performance has revealed that BT's broadband services provide the best web surfing speeds. Much of BT's stellar performance can be attributed to the use of 'traffic shaping' that prioritises web browsing traffic while at the same time throttles back less desirable types of activity such as peer-to-peer file sharing. This method ensures that the majority of people are getting an optimum throughput from their connection. The same can't be said for other ISPs, with most other providers performing badly when compared to BT.


ISPs Join Forces with the BPI

After months of talks, the UK's six largest ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have now signed up to a 'memorandum of understanding' with the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) over illegal file sharing. What the memorandum means is that ISP's will basically provide information to the BPI to aid them in countering music piracy. This will allow ISP's to remove illegal file sharers from their networks and the BPI to prosecute prolific offenders. In turn the BPI will be making legal music downloads more attractive by looking into ways of offering music in more user friendly formats.


July

Microsoft DreamSparkHot News

Microsoft is giving its valuable software developer and design tools directly to students worldwide at no charge!

In order to get this software from Microsoft you must be at least 18 years old and a full time student. You will be asked to establish or verify your student status once every 12 months. This process is built into this DreamSpark site itself. Verification of valid student status will enable students from around the globe to download Microsoft developer and design tools for free.

For more information visit my Application Development section within Software.


The Glitch Nominated For Hantsweb AwardsHot News

The Glitch is proud to have been nominated for the Hants Web Awards for the second year running. If you missed last years news article, then 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'.

I hope to do better this year due to all the hard work I have put into the site, not just to the content but also because of all the time I have spend making sure that the site renders correctly on every browser and, where possible, adheres to current web standards.

For more information visit:
http://www3.hants.gov.uk/hantswebawards.htm


Special Coating Waterproofs Devices

An American company (Golden Shellback) has developed a special waterproof coating that is capable of protecting just about any type of device from water damage. The special clear plastic coating process is applied in a vacuum, and not only coats external parts but also internal components as well (it goes without saying that the coating substance used, doesn't conduct electricity). The cost of the coating will be between 25 and 40 for the majority of portable devices, so the only real downside is the need to send your devices to the company to have them treated.


BT Unveils 1.5 Billion Fibre Rollout

After much prevarication BT has finally announced a 1.5 billion investment to upgrade large parts of it's network to fibre-optic cabling by 2012. Most of the 1.5 billion will be spent on upgrading the cabling that runs from exchanges to roadside cabinets, but some of the money will also go to last mile upgrades, although the latter may be limited to new housing projects only. This announcement is a significant step forward for the UK's broadband and should benefit more than 10 million households, allowing connection speeds of up to 40Mb per second, a large jump from the current 8Mb. The good news doesn't stop there as BT has also stated that these updates are intended to improve both urban and rural areas alike, so upgrade work will not be restricted to larger cities.


AMD Reports Further Loses

AMD (the second largest computer chip manufacturer in the world) has reported further significant loses, this is not good news for AMD who have been struggling to bring themselves out of the red all year. AMD is still keeping very positive, and hopes to drag itself back into the black during the second half of the year. Something that many people forget about AMD is the fact that they have often been the first to bring cutting-edge processor technologies to the mass market, including multi-core and 64bit CPUs. In fact, it's the likes of AMD that keep companies like Intel on their toes and for this reason alone they would be sorely missed.


One Million iPhone 3Gs

Apple's new iPhone 3G mobile phone has already sold over 1 million units, worldwide,  since it was launched just a few days ago. In fact it has been so popular that both O2 and the 'Car Phone Warehouse' are having difficulty keeping up with demand. The original iPhone was great, but one of the main reasons it did not sell well in the UK was down to the steep handset price. But all this has change, the new iPhone 3G has everything the old iPhone had but adds faster internet access, GPS maps and is less than half the price of the original iPhone; is anyone really surprised that it's proving much more popular.


Thousands Of Laptops Left At Airports

Shocking information has been uncovered in a recent study conducted at over 100 airports around the US. The study revealed that several thousand laptops are lost or misplaced at US Airports every week. If this was not remarkable enough, then the fact that only 30% are ever reclaimed and that more than 50% contain confidential information should astonish most people. Ironically many of these Laptops are left at security check areas, but other favorite places are departure gates and toilets. So if you need a new laptop, just get yourself to a US airport and loiter around the toilets for a few hours...on second thoughts, maybe not !


Seagate To Release 1.5TB Hard Drive 

Seagate have announced their new 1.5TB (Terabyte) hard drive, that's a whopping 500GB bigger than their previous drive, making it the largest desktop hard drive in the world. The drive should be available soon, but no prices were available at the time of writing. The drive, like many modern, large capacity drives, uses perpendicular recording technology to store data. The drive has four platters and can transfer data at around 120MB per second.

If your interested, then keep an eye open for the 1.5TB Seagate in my Hard Drives section.


Defective nVidia GPUs

nVidia (one of the worlds largest graphic processing unit manufactures) has revealed that due to a manufacturing/material defect a comparatively large number of their GPUs have been failing. Most of the problems seem to be with their laptop based chips, but the defects are also likely to effect their desktop chips as well. nVidia have already taken steps to rectify the issues and state that lessons had been learned. Unfortunately this announcement was not enough to stop their share price dropping by over 25%.


BT Investigates Illegal File Sharers

BT (the UKs largest ISP) has finally decided to cooperate with the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) and investigate all/any illegal file sharers that are on their network. In reality BT has already started to send out letters to customers who have been sharing copyrighted materials. BT stated that they did not want to remove anyone from their network and that they would give people every opportunity to stop sharing copyrighted materials, but ultimately this type of activity was in breach of their terms and conditions and so households would have their internet connection terminated if it continued.


eBay Fined 30 Million

The French company 'LVMH' has won around 30 million in damages in it's court case against eBay over the sale of fake versions of it's luxury goods via eBay's on-line auction site. This is not the first time eBay has been fined for selling fake goods, as the American firm 'Tiffany & Co' and French firm 'Hermes' have both sued eBay recently. The sad thing is that eBay has been warned many times about the amount of counterfeit goods that are sold via its auction site, but any steps eBay has so far taken are obviously having little or no effect on the problem. One thing for sure is that if eBay doesn't do more to curtail these activities then there's going to be many more companies lining up to sue eBay.


New Top-Level Domain Names By 2009

Most people are aware that there are currently only 21 top-level domain names, with the likes of .com, .co.uk and .org common place on the world wide web, in fact there are over 70 million .com websites currently registered. But Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) have voted to change all this, with the introduction of personalized top-level domain names by 2009.

It all sounds fantastic, but it comes at a high price with registration predicted to be as high as 50,000. So as you can see your average man on the street will not be able to afford a personalized top-level domain name. If the registration cost were not enough to put you off, then the thought of having to provide your own domain servers, or just the idea of having to prove your technical ability, to run the domain in the first place, may just finish you off. If all this wasn't bad enough Icann have stated that any domain name registration that is disputed will simply end up going to the highest bidder, thus effectively creating a bidding war.


June

Bill Gates Steps Down

Bill Gates founded Microsoft back in 1975, and ran Microsoft for some 25 years. In 2000 he made the decision to step down as CEO and became Microsoft's 'Chief software architect', but now Gates has decided to take a further step away from Microsoft, to become a 'non-executive chairman' so that he can concentrate on his charity work. Bill Gates will remain Microsoft's largest shareholder with an 8.7% stake in the company worth more than $23 billion dollars.


Komplett (UK) Closes

The on-line retailer 'Komplett' has closed several of it's European sites, including the UK. Their main reasons for the closures were due to poor sales, and a wish to concentrate on expanding their key markets, which are located in Ireland and Holland.


Internet Domains Could Change

Anyone who has tried to register a domain name recently will know how difficult it is to find a sensible name that has not already been used/purchased by someone else. So it comes as no surprise to many that Icann (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) will soon vote weather to allow countries and organisations to create their own top-level domain names thus alleviating the current naming problem. If the vote is successful it would mean organisations will be able to create branded top-level domains name, much like the .tv domain created recently. Another benefit this would bring is in the reduction of cyber squatting, where individuals or companies buy up domain names that existing companies may wish to acquire in the future and then offer them back at a massively increased rate.


Windows 7 On Track For 2010

Microsoft's new operating system 'Windows 7' will be delivered in 2010 and not 2009 as previously stated. To me fair to Microsoft the 2010 launch date has been the only date Microsoft's press office has ever advertised, but information recently released from other sources within Microsoft have indicated an earlier launch date. The important thing here is that Microsoft will still be releasing a new version of it's Windows operating system within three years of Vista, thus avoiding many of the issues that can occur when too long a gap is left between operating system releases.


AMD/ATI Release New Graphics Cards

For months now the web has been full of quotes from numerous sources listing the expected specifications of AMD/ATI's new 4000 series graphics cards. But only now are the real specifications coming to light. There will initially be two new cards released, the HD 4850, and the HD 4870, both will have 800 stream processors, 40 texture units and 16 Raster Operators. The GPU core speeds will be 625MHz and 750MHz respectively. The HD 4850 card will use GDDR3 memory clocked at 993MHz (1,986MHz effective); only the HD 4870 will have the latest GDDR5 memory.

For more information visit my Graphics Card section within Hardware


Mozilla Firefox 3 Launched

After much anticipation, the latest version of Mozilla's Firefox browser (Firefox 3) has finally been launched. If you just went by appearance alone you would be hard pressed to notice any difference between Firefox 3 and the previous version, but dig a little deeper and you will soon find all sorts of small but very useful improvements. In fact there have already been so many people clamoring for Firefox 3 that Mozilla's servers were temporarily unavailable due to the extreme number of download requests, which peaked at an amazing 17,000 downloads a minute, sparking suggestions that it could have broken the record for most downloads in a day.

For more information on Firefox 3 visit:
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/all-rc.html


iPhone 3G Coming SoonHot News

The new Apple iPhone 3G will be available in the UK from O2 and the Car Phone Warehouse from the 11th July 2008. The iPhone 3G will be capable of downloading web-pages around 2.5x faster than the current EDGE enabled version, it will also have GPS built-in allowing you to use the iPhone's map feature to track your progress or view turn-by-turn directions. There are numerous smaller improvements to the handset and software, but the biggest difference is the price. The 8GB version will cost just 99 and the 16GB version will cost 159 on either the 35 tariff or on the new, lower 30 tariff. Anyone who selects the 45 or 75 tariffs can have the 8GB version free or the 16GB version for just 59.

These prices are for new or existing customers, with existing customers being able to upgrade at any time without penalties, (Although you will need to start a new 18 month contact).

For more information on the new iPhone 3G visit:
http://www.apple.com/uk/iphone/


New 'Roadrunner' Supercomputer

A new IBM Supercomputer named 'Roadrunner' built for the US military is said to be the fastest computer on Earth, at well over 65 million it's probably the most expensive too!  It utilises 116,640 processor cores that are able to process 1.026 quadrillion calculations per second, (1.026 Petraflops). The US military intend to use it to simulate probable launch performance of its ageing nuclear stockpile, other possible uses will be to simulate climate change scenarios.


More Ultra Portables

Asus have dominated the ultra portable market with their cheap 'Eee PC' product for some time now, but the Eee PC's exclusivity is about to come to an end with the likes of HP and Dell on the verge of releasing their versions of mini laptops. In my opinion the current Eee PC is more of a toy then a real laptop, with its limited specification only able to handle a Linux based operating system, further reducing its usability and compatibility. But all this is set to change with the new breed of ultra portables from Asus and Dell that are able to run a Windows XP operating system. The main attraction of mini laptops is their low cost, so lets hope the pricing remains mini, even though their specifications are increasing.

Keep on eye on my Netbooks page, for the release of Dell's mini Inspiron systems.


May

Windows 7 due for release in 2009

Microsoft's new operating system, currently known simply as Windows 7 (no official name yet), is still on track for a 2009 release. Microsoft has finally confirmed that Windows 7 will be based around multitouch technology, which allows users to interact with the operating system using finger movements and touches, a technology used to great effect in Apple's iPhone and iPod touch products. Unfortunately other motion-based interactions like turning or shaking a device to perform a function were not mentioned, so my idea of an etch-a-sketch delete function is still a little way off then...lol

For a demo of the multitouch interface visit:
http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsvista/default.aspx


GDDR5 for New Radeon Graphics Cards

AMD/ATI will be using state-of-the-art GDDR5 memory on it new range of Radeon graphics cards. The R700 (engineering codename) range of cards will benefit greatly from the inclusion of this new type of memory. There are many advantages when using GDDR5 memory; they are physically smaller, require less power and are capable of data rates that are more than four times that of current GDDR4 memory. The release date for these new cards has not been divulged, but indications suggest an announcement very soon.


Another Cyber Attack from China

China has been at the center of a number of cyber attacks recently and this latest attack has caused serious concerns due to suggestions that they have been created to harvest corporate login details. Exploiting known vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer, the attacks target unpatched Windows systems; if successful they lead to the installation of a Trojan that steals passwords.  It seems that only English language websites are being targeted, but more than 9,000 websites have already been infected. When the exploit code was taken apart it became apparent that Chinese government websites were specifically excluded from the attacks and the phrase "Silent love China" was found, adding further evidence to the origin of the attacks (not that it was particularly needed).


P2P Malware Fears Grow 

P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharing applications are very popular these days, so with such a large potential audience, it was only a matter of time before they were targeted by mal-ware writers. Well over 600,000 computers have been infected over the last few days with malware laden files placed on file sharing sites, in a new form of attack targeting P2P sites. Many experts are not really surprised by the news, but worryingly most feel that this is just the start and that many, more vicious, forms of malware and viruses will soon be infecting p2p sites.

The Glitch's advice is the same as always, Use a firewall, keep anti-virus software updated, use anti-spyware and keep your computer updated with Windows updates and patches.


New iPhone Set for June 2008

The rumors are running high, and the evidence building that Apple (US) will release the second version of is popular iPhone very soon. No one knows for sure what the final spec. will be, but many predict a 3G handset with GPS capability and some kind of slide out keyboard. If these predictions are true, there is no doubt the new iPhone will look different to the current model, but only time will tell if it has the same design appeal.


Rock Direct in Administration

Yet another computer manufacturer bites the dust. The cause of Rock's demise was basically due to cash flow difficulties. These difficulties started to make their supplies twitchy who reduced credit limits to the company, this in turn reduced Rocks ability to restock components and thus eventually made it very difficult for Rock to continue to build systems. With almost all employees of the company being made redundant, there is little hope that the company will be resurrected in it's current form.

The only glimmer of light for existing customers, is that Rock had been offering insurance backed warranties, and it is hoped that the insurance companies involved will honor all/any warranty claims.


The End is Nye for Socket LGA775

Intel's LGA775 based chipsets have been available for several years now, which is testament to Intel's excellent design and planning, (AMD on the other hand, have gone through three different socket designs over the same period!), but all good things must come to an end and Intel's soon to be released P45 chipset will be the last to utilize the LGA775 socket. Because of this, Intel's P45 chipset may well be the most popular yet, with many clamoring to get their hands on the last Intel chipset that supports the current wide range of Intel processors.


Chip Industry to Adopt 450mm Wafers

Every 10 years or so the chip industry makes the transition to a new silicon wafer standard, the last time this happened was back in 2001 when the wafer size was increased from 200mm to 300mm. Each wafer fabricated contains a number of chip dies and it is these dies that determine the maximum number of chips that can be produced from any one wafer. Intel have stated that due to the continued reduction in physical processor size, a move to a 450mm wafer could effectively more than double the number of chips that can be produced from one wafer, thus reducing the overall unit cost. The industry hopes to adopt the new 450mm wafers by 2012.


Windows XP SP3 Now Available

Microsoft's Windows XP Service Pack 3 has finally been released. This long awaited update can now been downloaded via Microsoft's website. At well over 300MB for the full stand alone package it's not a small download, so users still on dialup or with limited download broadband packages may wish to wait for it to become available via Windows Update, which should see it's total size shrink considerably.


Memristor

After 40 years in development HP have revealed a fourth basic electronic element that, until now, was thought unattainable. Anyone who knows a little about electronic circuits knows that they can be made up of three basic elements: resistors, capacitors and inductors, but the 'Memristor' is a very different type of electronic element. Able to retain both the direction and the amount of charge that flows through it, the inherent nature of the 'Memristor' technology lends itself to many applications. HP are already working on computer memory that allows a system to boot up almost instantly, due to the fact it holds on to the information last stored.


Western Digital release 'VelociRaptor'

Western Digital will soon release the 'Velociraptor' a new product in it's outrageously named 'Raptor' performance hard drive range. Even though the new drive will actually be based around a 2.5" drive size, it will maintain a 3.5" overall external dimension. The new drive is the largest capacity 'Raptor' drive yet, but at 300GB it is still small compared to other modern hard drives. Capacity has never been the 'Raptor's main selling point, its the shear performance and reliability that sells the 'Raptor' and this new drive will not disappoint. Western Digital have stated that the 'Velociraptor' is 35% faster than any pervious 'Raptor' drive and should outperform all other similar drives on the market.

To view the current range of 'Raptor' hard drives visit my Hard Drives section.


April

Windows XP SP3 Delayed

Microsoft's Windows XP Service Pack 3 has been delayed due to the discovery of a bug that causes a conflict with other Microsoft software. The good news is that Microsoft have already found a solution to the problem, which is currently undergoing detailed testing. Microsoft have indicated that they didn't envisage a lengthy delay and that SP3 will still be released very soon.


Intel Drops Processor Pricing

Intel has begun reducing the price of it's quad core and dual core processors. The biggest price drops will be seen in the 2.4GHz Q6600 and 2.66GHz Q6700 quad core chips and in the 3.0GHz E6850 dual core chips, with the Q6700's new price now almost 50% cheaper than before. The reasons behind these price cuts has been seen by many as a direct response to AMD's new, cheaper triple-core processors. The price cuts are bad news for AMD but great for the consumer!

Keep an eye on my Processor section within my Hardware area for the new lower pricing !


AVG Anti-virus Updated Hot News

Grisoft has just release a new, free version of its popular anti-virus product AVG. The new update to AVG brings the free product in-line with Grisoft's other commercial anti-virus products. AVG 8 brings an improved user interface and a facility called 'Link Scanner' that automatically scans the results of search engine listings and tags warning messages to websites that could potentially contain unsafe content.

To download AVG 8 visit my Anti-Virus section via my Software page


Microsoft Software On-Demand

Microsoft will soon enter the software on-demand market by providing a subscription based software service. Initially they hope to offer a suite of applications based around the popular 'Home and Student' version of their latest office suite; the rest of the package will be made up of Windows Live OneCare security suite, Windows Live Mail and a smattering of other applications. No pricing is available yet, but at least one third-party company is already charging around 5 per month for the use of a basic office package.

The advantages are clear enough; you will have the ability to use a group of standard applications no matter where you are or what system you are using, the down side is you will always required an active link to the internet to be able to use them.


Windows XP SP3 Coming SoonHot News

Windows XP Service Pack 3 will be available to download by the end of April, it will also be made available via 'Windows Update' by early June. Service pack 3 for XP does not bring any significant changes to the operating system, but will contain all previously released updates and promises some minor improvements in performance. The fact that it contains all previously released updates is quite significant, as the combined size of XP updates now runs into hundreds of Megabytes. Having them all in one place and applied at the same time should drastically reduce the time required to install and patch an XP based system.


Two More Years for XP Home

Microsoft has decided that Windows XP Home will not be retired this year; instead they are allowing XP Home to be made available for a further 2 years (until 2010).  Microsoft have stated that the only reason for not terminating XP Home was because of the need for an operating system for ULCPC devices (Ultra Low Cost PC).  Most ULCPC devices can't easily run the likes of Windows Vista because of their inherent low specification.  Unfortunately, the stay of execution for XP Home does not extend to XP Pro, which, at the time of writing, will end on the 30th June 2008.

For more information on the Windows product life-cycle visit:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/lifecycle/default.mspx 


Pizza.com sold for 1.3 million

Back in 1994 a bright 29 year old American man decided to purchased the www.pizza.com domain name for just $20. Over the next 14 years he kept on renewing his domain name registration, but in March 2008 he decided to sale his domain name.  After a disappointing starting bid of just 50, Chris Clake (now 43) was beginning to think it was all a big mistake, but after a few days of bidding the final sale price reached 1.3 million!


Reduced Blu-ray Production Costs

The production costs of Blu-ray media maybe reduced thanks to the use of a new type of plastic. Currently only polycarbonate materials are used to manufacture Blu-ray discs and due to the fact that the recorded information on Blu-ray is stored much closer to the surface of the disc, it has to have extra layers of protection added to help prevent damage. The beauty of this new plastic 'Noryl' is that it is a mix of two different types of polymer has a number of advantages over traditional polycarbonates, the biggest being that it is cheaper to produce and is less prone to damage, so it doesn't require the extra layers of protection.


BT 21CN Roll Out Begins

The roll out of BT's '21st Century Network' (21CN) has begun, but with more than 5500 exchanges in the UK, BT has a very large job on it's hands. Densely populated locations are generally being targeted first so that as many people as possible are enabled in the shortest space of time. Unfortunately this will  leave smaller towns and cities having to wait up to three years before their exchanges will be converted; but this is nothing new and very much the same problem faced by users when ADSL was first rolled out. For all those interested, BT have released a new 'Exchange' checker that will give estimated dates for exchange conversion times.

For more information visit:
http://www.samknows.com/broadband/search.php


Adobe Photoshop On-Line

Back in March 2007 Adobe started work on an on-line version of it's much loved Photoshop software. A year later and Adobe have finally released 'Photoshop Express' and the best thing about it is that its actually quite good. Although it was never going to provide the extensive toolset provided by the likes of 'Photoshop CS3', it does stand up very well when compared to Adobe's entry-level graphics package 'Photoshop Elements', which should give you a good idea of it's capabilities.

For more information visit:
https://www.photoshop.com/express/landing.html


March

Sony Blu-ray Update

It seems that the Blu-ray standard is still being developed, with Sony only now beginning to introduce features that were standard with HD DVD. The biggest issue is that this is being done at the consumers expense, with many customers who have previously purchased Blu-ray players, now having to buy new players if they want support for new features like Blu-ray Live and Bonus View. Yet another example of how consumer unfriendly Blu-ray really is !


Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) Released

Vista Service Pack 1 has now been released and is available via Windows Update, unfortunately not every Vista user will be able to see this important update. If you are unlucky enough to have a Vista setup that has incompatible applications or drivers then Microsoft will block the SP1 download until all software issues are sorted. For all those who want to throw caution to the wind and download anyway (not recommended), or for those who prefer to install their service packs manually, a standalone version of Vista SP1 can be downloaded from Microsoft.


Intel Six Core Processors

Intel will soon produce it's first processor with 6 individual cores. Code named 'Dunnington' the processor will be fabricated using a 45nm process and contain more than 1.9 billion transistors.
Their cache design is a little different to previous Intel processor with 96KB of level 1 cache, three unified 3MB level 2 caches and a further 16MB of level 3 cache. The bad news it that 'Dunnington' is aimed at the server market and not the desktop market and thus is, in all likelihood, to end up within the Xeon series of chips.


Vista Service Pack 1 Imminent

If the rumours are correct, Microsoft will soon release Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista. This long awaited update not only covers all previously released Vista updates, but also addresses specific reliability and performance issues with the operating system. Security issues, management and administration features and hardware support also get important updates.

For more information, follow the link for Microsoft's 'White Paper' on Vista SP1.


Pentagon Hacked

Information is only just coming to light about a serious breach of security at the Pentagon. The intrusion occurred back in June 2007 when hackers apparently infiltrated various Pentagon systems, leaving behind malicious code. The problem was that this code was not detected for over two months, during which time huge amounts of data were stolen. The Pentagon were quick to point out the no classified information relating to military operations was lost, but this is little recompense considering the large amount of information stolen. The affected systems were taken offline, but it took almost a month to restore them and ended up costing the US government over 2 million to rectify.


Polaroid 'Zero Ink' Prints

Polaroid is set to release a pocket sized mobile printer that doesn't use any ink. The technology called ZINK (Zero Ink) uses special paper that is embedded with blue, yellow  and magenta dye crystals which react when heated; the resultant prints are said to be both water and scratch resistant. The device is very small and thus only produces prints that measure 2 x 3 inches, limiting its possible applications. It uses either PictBridge or Bluetooth to communicate with other mobile devices, but as yet there are no options to allow a connection to a PC. The device, when released,  will cost under 100 with paper refills costing around 5 for 30 sheets.


Price Reduction for XBox 360

Microsoft will soon drop the price of it's XBox 360 games console,  the price changes are significant and will be across it's entire 360 range. The XBox 360 Pro will be reduced by 50, down to 200, the XBox 360 Arcade and Elite will both be reduced by 40, to 160 and 260 respectively. These price cuts mean that the top end XBox 360 Elite is now more than 100 cheaper than the Sony PlayStation 3 and more importantly the XBox 360 Arcade is no more expensive than the Nintendo Wii. The 360 has always been an excellent games console and this new aggressive pricing is the icing on the cake; all of a sudden the PS3 and Wii are starting to look expensive.

Keep checking my Consoles section within my Hardware page for the new lower prices.


Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) Beta

It doesn't seem that long ago that Internet Explorer 7 was released, but Microsoft has already released a new version of it's browser to developers. Although still in beta form at this time, IE8 will eventually bring many welcome changes to Microsoft's popular browser. One of the most long-awaited changes is in the form of improved compliance to web standards, allowing website designers improved predictability when creating sites, rather than the current situation where only certain rules apply to certain browsers. Other lesser changes will come in the form of a revamped 'favorites' bar and automatic crash recovery that restores tabs in the event of malfunction.

For all those who want to download IE8 Beta visit the following link
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/winfamily/ie/ie8/getitnow.mspx


Windows Vista Pricing to be Reduced

Microsoft is set to reduce the price of it's Windows Vista operating system and although the exact time is still unknown, it is expected to occur soon after the release of Service Pack 1 for Vista. The price reductions will to try to further boost Vista sales and convince more people to move to the  new operating system. The price cuts will vary from product to product but as much as 40% could be knocked off some packages. More than 100 million licences of Vista have been sold in the last 12 months, only time will tell how many more will be sold once the price reductions kick in.


70% SPAM From Only 3 Botnets

New research has revealed that at least 70% of all SPAM comes from just 3 Botnets. (A Botnet is a collection of spyware compromised computers). The Srizbi, Rustock and Mega-D Botnets are responsible for dishing out more than two thirds of all SPAM, with the Srizbi Botnet the most active being responsible for almost 40% of the SPAM. But security organizations are finally, beginning to fight back and have already had significant success in bringing down one Botnet, unfortunately the owners of these Botnets are resourceful and as one server is brought down so another is activated to take its place !


11,000 Bill for Vodafone CustomerHot News

Yet another person falls foul of roaming charges, but this time in spectacular fashion. It seems a business man started to download a set of television episodes while in the UK, (a facility that is free in the UK on the customer's current calling package), the man then went on a business trip to Europe where the downloads continued, but at a European roaming rate. The customer was unaware that the downloads were continuing and managed to rack up a total bill in excess of 11,000.

But there is a important lesson to be learnt here; many UK mobile phone users are getting used to unlimited data rates, and many of these rates do not apply in Europe. So double check with your mobile phone provider and make sure you are aware of your contracts limitations.


Anti-Piracy Laws Set for April 2009

Even though some ISPs (Internet Service Providers) are beginning to remove illegal file-sharers from their networks, most are still dragging their heals on policies to protect copyrighted material. So it's no wonder that the government has set a cut-off date of April 2009 before they step in and issue their own legislation; stating that if ISPs don't voluntarily take steps to eliminate this type of illegal activity then the government will have no option but to introduce new laws.


February

Intel's Eight-Core Platform

Intel has released it's first ever dual socket desktop platform. Code named 'Skulltrail' Intel's new platform is capable of running two quad-core processors and up to four graphics cards. All this technology comes at a premium price and is not without it's limitations, as the platform uses the less common LGA771 CPU socket and FBDIMM (Fully Buffered) DDR2 memory. There is no doubt this will allow the creation of some incredibly quick systems, but with expensive/limited CPU and RAM choices, its unlikely to find a home in your average back bedroom.


HD DVD To Be DiscontinuedHot News

Toshiba has officially announced that they are bowing out of the HD battle and will soon cease HD DVD production altogether, thus ending the current HD format war. Toshiba stated that it was pointless continuing due to the mounting support for Blu-ray and that it considered it's decision to be in the consumers best interest. This pragmatic approach has impressed many and Toshiba's share price has in fact risen by almost 6% since the news broke. It is only a matter of time before the last remaining film studios, that were loyal to HD DVD, move over to Blu-ray production.

When two new competing formats are released, it is always advisable to wait until a clear winner is established before investing in the technology, but I sympathise with all those who decided to support HD DVD, for what its worth, I personally think it was the better HD format!


Illegal File Sharers Get The Boot

Back in November 2007, I reported that the government was set to introduce tough, new legislation if ISPs (Internet Service Providers) did not do more to protect copyrighted material. Well it seems that ISPs are now beginning to take action, with Tiscali the first to terminate the accounts of a number of customers who continue to share copyrighted material over their network. The BPI (British Phonographic Industry) who prompted Tiscali's actions, said they hoped that many more ISPs will follow Tiscali's lead, thus preventing the need for government intervention.


HD Battle May Soon Be Decided

The quality of HD DVD has never been under question, with practically everyone who directly compares HD DVD to Blu-ray preferring HD DVD. But Sony's massive marketing machine has been working overtime, trying to convince everyone Blu-ray is the way to go. But with Blu-ray media costing more to produce, players costing more to buy and Blu-ray digital rights management limiting the way you can use your media, the current sway towards Blu-ray seems to make no sense. If Blu-ray wins the HD battle, it will be for all the wrong reasons, ultimately  decided by PS3 gamers, and Hollywood studios rather than by what's best for the consumer.

The most worrying thing of all is that, almost without exception, every format Sony has ever backed has failed, and this alone does not bode well for Blu-ray.


Romanian Cyber Gangs

A high percentage of all Phishing attacks are now thought to originate from one Romanian cyber gang called 'Rock Phish'. The gang has apparently been in existence for a number of years, and is said to be making millions every year from Email and Phishing scams. Part of the reason they have been so successful is that fact they tend to avoid the more popular targets like eBay and PayPal and instead target European banks and other financial organisations. These gangs now have both money and resources, and they are beginning to use them to great effect, creating new and more sophisticated scams.


Yahoo Rejects Microsoft Offer

It seems that Yahoo has rejected Microsoft's offer of 22 Billion, stating that the sum greatly undervalues Yahoo's true worth, but at the same time, Yahoo stated they would consider any new, higher offers in the future. Yahoo is playing a dangerous game, as this may have be the last decent offer Yahoo gets, Microsoft was even willing to borrow substantial amounts of money to afford Yahoo, but a snub like this may well put Microsoft off altogether. Only time will tell !


Apple iPhone & iTouch Upgraded

Apple has surprised many by releasing new versions of it's iPhone and iTouch products, but before you get too excited only the memory capacity has been upgraded. You now have a choice of either an 8GB or 16GB iPhone, and 8GB, 16GB or 32GB versions of the iTouch. Unfortunately the newer higher memory capacity versions come at a cost, with the 16GB iPhone and the 32GB iTouch both retailing at 329.

For more information on the iTouch visit my MP3 Player section.


DNS Root Servers IPv6 Compatible

Back in November 2007, I posted a  news article about internet addresses (IP addresses) running out; well the first important steps to solving this potentially serious problem have finally been taken. ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) who are responsible for running the DNS Root Servers have now made 7 out of the 13 Root Servers IPv6 compatible, (IPv6 supports 340 trillion, trillion, trillion IP addresses). This important first step now means that the IPv6 protocols can trickle down the DNS hierarchy, thus finally allowing full implementation of the new addresses. It will ultimately take time for all ISP's and Hosting companies to support IPv6, but unless they want to be left behind these changes are ultimately, unavoidable.


Google and Yahoo Alliance ?

It seems that Google and Yahoo are talking about an alliance, this is not the first time the two search engine giants have had talks, but so far little has come from their meetings. It is not totally clear why Google decided to open talks with Yahoo again, but it maybe due to the fact the Microsoft has just made a 44 billion dollar bid for Yahoo, something that is bound to make Google a little uneasy. Yahoo has made it clear that they have not accepted any financial offer or alliance from any organisation at this time. On the other hand Microsoft is suggesting a deal  is all but inevitable; but the real question here is whether Microsoft can actually afford to purchase Yahoo in the first place !


Natwest & Citibank Customers Beware

New research shows that Natwest and Citibank customers are the most targeted for email and phishing scams, followed closely by HSBC; Paypal also remains a  popular target. The advice for these types of scam has not changed, banks and other financial organisations will never request personal information via email, so don't answer them (no matter how authentic they look). If you do receive an email with a link and your not 100% sure, then don't use it, instead type the link out in full; you could even use Google to search for the organisation and use their link. If your still not sure, seek advice, call the organisation and talk with someone directly.


Internet Disrupted in Egypt

Damage to an important sub-sea communications cable has caused massive disruption to internet services across Egypt and large parts of Asia. Many areas of Egypt have little or no connectivity while countries like India have seen huge reductions in bandwidth. Authorities are routing connectivity via satellites in a attempt to improve the situation, until a repair of the cable can be completed, but it has been indicated that it may be several days before things are back to normal.


January

O2 Improves iPhone Contracts  

O2 will very soon be introducing improved iPhone contracts, in a bid to further boost iPhone sales, and at the same time give existing customers better value for money. O2's 35/month tariff will now come with 600 call minutes and 500 texts a month, a significant increase from just 200 call minutes and 200 texts. O2's 55/month tariff will be replaced by a better value 45/month tariff, and will include 1200 call minutes and 500 texts each month, double the call limit of the previous 55/month tariff. Finally a new 75/month tariff will be introduced that gives you 3000 call minutes and 1800 texts. If this wasn't enough, O2 have reduced their international roaming rates across all tariffs, and all contracts still come with unlimited internet access.


New Windows for 2009 Hot News  

No, I'm not planning home improvements, and nor is Microsoft, but what Microsoft are planning is the release of a new version of Windows in 2009, a whole year earlier that previously indicated. Windows 7 (no official name yet) sounds too good to be true with Microsoft apparently reworking extensive parts of Vista's core code, reducing it to a super efficient 70MB, a feat that many would have thought impossible; and it's this new super fast core than Windows 7 is being built upon. If this wasn't enough, there's even talk of an new iPhone style user interface, where the standard keyboard and pointing device can be replaced with finger touch controls. Let's just hope Microsoft get it totally right this time !


On-line Spending Increases  

The UK spent more than 46 billion in 2007 on on-line goods, this accounts for 15p in every 1 spent last year. These figures are up more than 50% on the previous year; so the trend is clear, we are now spending more on-line year-on-year and retailers that don't have a web-presence are increasing losing out. More over, individuals who do not consider the internet as a source for purchases are also missing out on deals that are only possible because of the reduced costs associated with web sales.


The Cloud Acquires GlobalAirNet  

The Cloud has just acquired GlobalAirNet (well-known for providing WiFi  in Hotels), and in doing so increased it's total available WiFi hotspots by well over 5,000. The acquisition means they now operate over 20,000 hot spots, making them the largest provider of WiFi in the UK and many parts of Europe. This is good news for all iPhone users and anyone who subscribes to The Cloud service as it now allows them to stay connected in many more locations.


Apple to Lower it's iTunes Pricing  

An EU (European Commission) investigation over the higher prices charged in the UK for iTunes media downloads found nothing anti-competitive or otherwise untoward going on within current EU law. These finding would have disappointed UK customers, if it were not for Apple themselves deciding to listen to these concerns and equalise the prices for it's iTunes downloads within the next 6 months. This is a significant gesture made by Apple and will basically mean that the UK will soon pay exactly the same as any other country in Europe for media downloads via iTunes.


HD Price War

Almost everyone who has directly compared HD DVD to Blu-ray has said that HD DVD is better, thus the quality of HD DVD is not under question. So it was always going to take a big company like Warner Bros (one of the largest movie studios) to deal a big enough blow to HD DVD to try to sway the HD format war. Warner did this recently by announcing that they were moving to Blu-ray disc production only; many have now started to suggest that the format war is over, but this is simply not true...well not yet !

Toshiba is fighting back, and has started an HD price war. Toshiba has now significantly reduced the price of its HD DVD players, couple with this the on-going reductions to HD DVD disc prices and more importantly the news that Paramount intends to stick with HD DVD for the foreseeable future and you can see that the HD fight is still very much ongoing.


Solar Flares May Damage Satellites

The sun emits radiant energy, the intensity of this energy is changing constantly, but scientist have found that there are predictable cycles to these solar variations. The main cycle is called the 'Sunspot Cycle', which normally lasts for 11 years; it is this cycle that we have just entered. If the cycle continues as predicted, there will be a peak in solar flare activity between 1011 and 1012 and it is at this time when damage to satellites may occur. This has more significance than ever as we are becoming more and more reliant on satellite communications for everything from GPS navigation to television broadcasts.


100Mb/sec Fibre Optic Broadband

BT's forthcoming 21CN 'all digital network' should allow broadband speeds of up to 22MB/sec and provide a host of new and improved services; it all sounds very nice, but there is a problem. 21CN is still heavily dependant on BT's existing copper phone cable infrastructure, so yet again people who are in areas that have poor quality phone lines or people who are just too far from their local exchange will still struggle to gain decent broadband speeds.

BT has, so far, been unwilling to investment any real money to update their aging copper network, whether this is because they are holding out for wireless technologies to overtake cable based communications is unknown, but this lack of investment is damaging BT's reputation. Saying this, there does seem to be some hope for BT, as a  new housing development in Kent, which is said to contain more than 10,000 new homes, will be the first residential buildings in the UK to have fibre optic cabling right to their door, this vast improvement in cable quality should allow broadband speeds of up to 100Mb/sec.

These sorts of speeds are impressive and comparable with the current Japanese communications network, which has one of the fastest broadband networks in the world. Fantastic, now all we have to do is convince BT this is the way to go for the rest of their network....


UK Government to Define 'Format Shifting'

Its been a long time coming but it seems the government will soon release official legislation on the copying of CDs and DVDs onto computers and portable devices. 'Format Shifting' is something that is taken for granted by many people, but with little or no guides-lines currently available many assume that it is OK to do what they like with their music/movies including sharing them with thousands of other people. The new legislation should make it clear that 'format shifting' is only allowed if it is intended for private use only. Unfortunately one area that is still unclear is whether circumventing DRM is permissible while format shifting, lets hope this sensible exception is included, because lets face it, anyone who has burned a CD of their music within iTunes has inadvertently circumvented Apple's DRM by default!


Hitachi's 500GB Laptop Hard Drive

Hitachi is soon to release the worlds first 500GB laptop hard drive. The 5K500 will have a SATA-2 interface allowing it to transfer data at up to 3Gb per second, it will also have 8MB of cache and a 5,400rpm spindle speed. The only possible problem with this drive is that it's physically taller that a standard laptop hard drive by 3mm at 12.5mm. This small difference may mean that some laptops are unable to accommodate the drive.

For more information visit:
http://www.hitachigst.com/portal/site/en/menuitem.f5f6a619d01b27127d807c90eac4f0a0/


The HD Battle Continues

Sony is hemorrhaging money to keep Blu-ray going, it seems that Sony can't afford to lose this latest format war. So when Warner Bros recently decided to discontinue HD DVD production and continue with Blu-Ray only, you have to ask what Sony did to convince Warner Bros to change! Has Warner missed the news that more than 1 million HD-DVD players have already been sold in North America in the last 12 months alone. That's 1 million customers that Warner has just lost...bad move Warner.

I'll admit I'm an HD DVD fan, sorry but I feel it offers the consumer much more than Blu-ray, all Blu-ray seems to offer us is more DRM (Digital Rights Management). Why don't these people learn, we don't want to be restricted in the way we use are media, DRM damaged the music industry and it will damage the HD movie industry too.


200,000 iPhones and rising !

The Apple iPhone was thought by many to be too expensive for the UK market and many predicted that it wouldn't be very popular, but nothing could be further from the truth. O2 has already connected over 200,000 iPhones clearly showing that it has wide appeal. With dedicated iphone websites appearing daily and talk of an SDK (software developer kit) being released soon, support for a mobile phone has never been so broad. In fact it seems Apple have got it almost completely right, much was made of the lack of 3G, but the 2.5G internet access seems speedy enough for most while keeping battery life to a maximum (3G technology is very power hungry, draining normal mobile phones within a couple of hours). Even the 35/month O2 contract is not bad value when you consider that your getting an unlimited data download in the bargain (I know of a certain Vodafone customer who requires a contract like that).


Vodafone Customer racks up 27,000 Bill

A man from Darlington was horrified when he received his latest mobile phone bill from Vodafone for 27,000. It seems that he did not read his Vodafone contract carefully enough and assumed that he was on an unlimited data download tariff when in fact his contract only allocated 120MB of inclusive data a month, after this he was charged 18/minute. The good news for the customer is that Vodafone, in this particular instance, is considering reducing the charges.

Curiously, the customer's name was Mr. Simpson, I wonder whether he let out a loud " Doh ! " when he opened his phone bill ?


OpenOffice Online

The popular open source office productivity suite 'OpenOffice' has been made available online by a company called 'Ulteo'. As the project is still in Beta testing, it's only being offered to the first 15,000 people who subscribe. Users are able to create, edit and share all standard OpenOffice documents formats with any changes being tracked in real-time. The project seems to have been well thought out and all users who sign up get 1GB of free storage space to get them started.

For more information visit:
http://www.ulteo.com/home/en/ooo?autolang=en


Happy 2008 from 'The Glitch' New Years Party A Dancing BananaA Dancing Banana

Happy 2008 to you all. I hope you find my new site a little faster than the old version, I know it doesn't look much different, but believe me the basic structure has changed a lot. I hope the Glitch will continue to prove interesting and useful to you during 2008. In 2008 I will strive to continue to bring you the best products, software, sites and solutions to your problems. Please feel free to enter my competition (use the relevant link on the left-hand menu), and contact me with comments and suggestions.

Thank you all for your continued support over the last 12 months, it makes it all worth while !



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