2009 - NEWS ARCHIVE
The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is to establish a 'whitelist' of allowed websites, effectively locking down China's internet to ensure that the Chinese population only see what is deemed acceptable by the Chinese government. This type of censorship will probably mean that tens of millions of legitimate foreign websites will end up being blocked. It is true that the world-wide-web is populated with less than savory internet sites, and full of information that some prefer not to be published, but censorship is never a good route to take. The internet is all about connecting people with information from around the world, it should be a global resource open to all that wish to sample it, saying this, censorship is nothing new for China, but this does seem to be a step too far!
Glitch is now 5 years old, and I hope people are still
enjoying the site, and the various improvements I've made
over the past 12 months. I would like to take this
opportunity to thank all those who have visited the site and
a special thank you to those who purchased items via The
Glitch, your continued support is very much appreciated. If
you haven't posted a message in my Guest Book, then please
feel free to do so, all comments are welcome. If you have
any feedback or suggestions then please feel free to use my
Merry Christmas to you all !
After many months of intense discussions, Microsoft and the EU (European Union) have finally come to a conclusion over the use of a browser ballot screen which allows users of Windows operating systems to choose which browser they would like to install/use rather than having Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the only option. It has to be said that the option to use any browser has been available to Windows users for many, many years, but the new 'Browser Ballot' screen will at least show people the different options available, but I predict that most users will still choose Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Up to a dozen different browsers will be available, with the top 5 most used randomly displayed first. The 'Browser Ballet' screen should go live within the next couple of months, being delivered via 'Windows Update'.
For additional information visit:
URL stands for 'Uniform Resource Locator'; a globally recognized syntax to define and identify the location of a particular resource/site on the Internet. The Glitch's base URL is 'http://www.theglitch.co.uk'. URLs are used to reference information on the web, unfortunately these URLs can sometimes become very long, and this makes them difficult to incorporate into website/blog pages and tedious to copy or write down. Thus short URLs were born; this is where a third party converts a long URL into a short, easy to handle link. Companies such as 'TinyURL' have been offering this service for many years, and now Google is offering it's own version called 'Goo.gl', but it's not a global link generator like 'TinyURL', but one that can only be used with Google's own products...for now!
For all those who are unaware, the rate of VAT (currently at 15%) will revert back to 17.5% in the New Year. This means that if you are considering any significant purchases at the moment you may do well to consider buying them before then end of 2009. This is not such an important consideration for small purchases, although every penny does count these days, but the difference soon adds up with more expensive items. Ultimately your item may end up in the January sales which may well negate the difference in VAT, saying this, anything your purchase at this time of year could potentially be marked down during the January sales!
Intel have dominated the low-end on-board graphics market for some time now; they did have a stab at a discreet graphics chipset some years back, but unfortunately their products could not compete with the likes of ATI and nVidia and thus were committed to the history books. More recently Intel was developing a new discreet graphics chipset called 'Larrabee' the design of the chip was different to the mainstream market in that it used a more standard CPU instruction set, rather than a dedicated graphics instruction set. The idea behind this design was that it would be far more flexible in the ways it could be programmed; unfortunately for Intel history has repeated itself, and yet again the hardware has fallen short of expectations forcing Intel to scrap the project, but at least it did not get to the mass manufacturing stage this time!
the early days of the internet, before the Domain Names
System (DNS) was created, all websites were accessed using
an IP address. You had to know the exact set of numbers that
represented the address of the resource you were trying to
access (not very user friendly), but these days DNS
translates easy to remember website names into source IP
addresses for you. 'OpenDNS' have offered a good alternative
to your ISP's default DNS service for many years, and it has
proved to be a quick, secure and reliable service, but it
seems that Google has its own ideas as they have just
launched their own DNS service, stating that it is faster
and more secure. Saying this, I doubt they could really
improve on 'OpenDNS's already impeccable service.
For more information visit:
Microsoft recently announced that they had started work on Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), and although it is still many months from release, some details have already been made available. One area of particular interest is the move to allow IE9 to utilize Window's DirectX to render web pages, this basically means that all browser graphics can be off loaded to your graphics card, which should make IE9 a much more responsive browser. Saying this Mozilla, the makers of the Firefox browser, are also working on a new version of their browser that supports GPU acceleration technology. Both companies hope to have their new web browsers available sometime in 2010.
After months of speculation, Google has finally announced details of its new 'Chrome' operating system. It's release is still many months away, but (as many predicted), Chrome will be an internet (cloud) based operating system. The idea is that you boot the basic system via some kind of flash based device, and then access your required applications on-line. This type of system should prove to be very quick at starting up, but is obviously totally reliant on your internet connection and the speed of said connection. Another note worthy point is that the OS does not support any type of local storage, hard drive or otherwise, thus all data that your create from within the OS is storage on-line. Unfortunately, the idea that you will be able to download this new OS and install it on any system looks to be a pipe dream, as Google indents to specify specific hardware requirements!
in April, I wrote an article about general
browser security and the need to keep your browser updated
and patched, but it seems that many people are still using
older, less secure versions. On the face of it, this might
seem to be more about personal preference than anything
else, but when you begin to understand that most browser
based malware is now targeting vulnerabilities in the older,
less secure browsers the decision to upgrade becomes far
more critical and ultimately a matter of system security. A
lack of browser security can very easily compromise a well
protected operating system, so stay safe, and make sure
you're using the very latest's version of your browser.
For links to the latest internet browsers visit my Browsers page.
High Definition (HD) TV for the masses was always going to take time, but the BBC has announced that it will be rolling out freeview HD channels much sooner than most people expected. By the end of 2010 many areas of the UK should be able to view freeview HD channels; any regions not covered initially will acquire the additional HD channels when their area has gone fully digital (currently being called the digital switchover). The technology that has made freeview HD a reality is called 'DVB-T2'; it uses state-of-the-art modulation and coding techniques to free up additional bandwidth, which in turn allows much more information to be broadcast. But there is a down side to this race towards HD, the first is the limited number of channels that will be available initially (BBC HD & ITV HD) and then there is the need for a compatible (DVB-T2 aware) set-top box to decode the HD signal.
'You Tube' has announced support for full HD (1080p) video. 'You Tube' already supports the lower HD resolution of 720p, but this news will no doubt please the video purists; but the inclusion of 1080p is unlikely to change the site's video landscape in the short term. The reasons are two fold, firstly, even thou there is now far more 1080p capable video equipment available, many people have yet to upgrade, and secondly, the large increase in file size that comes with higher resolution HD images, means longer upload (and indeed download) times to share/view 1080p material. 1080p is the standard for HD, and it is good to see 'You Tube' embracing it, unfortunately UK broadband speeds need to improve significantly, otherwise 1080p video will remain the plaything of high bandwidth broadband connections only!
Apple's iPhone has recently been targeted by malware, but in reality the iPhone is still a totally secure device, with the only iPhones at risk being those that have been 'Jail Broken' (A method used to hack the iPhone so that it's built-in software can be altered). iPhone owners who have not felt the need to alter their handsets in this way are totally safe. Saying this, even 'Jail Broken' iPhones can be made more secure as long as their owners remember to change their phone's default 'root' password. You may ask why people 'Jail Break' their iPhones in the first place, well many feel that Apple puts too many restrictions on their handsets, so people tweak the software in their iPhones to enable features that even the most basic mobile phones have by default. Should Apple take some reasonability for this malware situation?...well in a way yes, I think they should, some of the iPhones limitations are pretty draconian, if Apple simply addressed some of the basic features that are missing from the iPhone software, it would more than likely negate the need for people to hack them in the first place...come on Apple sort this mess out...give the people what they want!
It has been revealed that the UK Government would consider military action as a valid response to counter a serious cyber attack. You would hope this action would only be taken when the authorities were 100% certain of the origin of the attacks, but this is the crux of the problem, it is very difficult to fully determine the origin of many cyber attacks, due to the fundamental way cyber criminals attempt to disguise their tracks. The outcome of acting upon intelligence gathered that may not be accurate would be catastrophic, possibly leading to an innocent nation being blamed for another's wrong doing. This is not to say that governments are not making massive steps forward in their methods for tracking cyber attacks, because they are, but in my opinion, any military action would have to stem from a totally unanimous, worldwide, identification of the cyber activity in question.
O2's tethering package allows people to use their iPhone's built-in 3G modem to connect a Laptop or similar portable computer to the internet. O2's tethering service, which costs around £10 per month and allows users to download up to 3GB of data, will now include their standard 8Mbits/sec broadband package free of charge. Unfortunately this is a time limited offer which is only available until the 31st December 2009, so make sure you sign up before then end of the year if you're interested. This offer my surprise some, but it is important to remember that competition has increased now that O2 is no longer the exclusive mobile provider for the iPhone. (See last months article: 'Orange Customers Get The iPhone').
On-line gamers are increasingly being targeted by malware, particularly players of MMORPGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Games) such as 'World Of Warcraft' and 'Lineage'. Microsoft are particularly concern about a Worm called 'Tater F' which has already infected almost 5 million computers. The idea behind on-line gaming malware is to steal login details and then raid the account for personal information, credit card details and even steal a players hard earned in-game belongings. This last item may surprise some people and others may even dismiss this as irrelevant and unimportant, but the facts are that people are willing to spend serious amounts of hard earned cash for rare and unique in-game artifacts and this has created a new type of very lucrative business, something the criminals want in on! The Glitch's advice never really changes; check and maintain your anti-malware software and keep your operating system and applications updated.
O2 have been the exclusive provider of Apple's iPhone for some time now, but this is all due to change as Orange and other mobile providers prepare to offer the iPhone on their networks. This is great news for existing iPhone users as opening up the market should bring much needed competition to iPhone contracts, it will also please all those who have been unable to purchase the iPhone because their provider does not support them. Reports suggest Orange might start offering iPhone contracts in early November, with other providers adopting the iPhone early in the new year.
have released a new version of their popular free anti-virus
program AVG. Version 9.0 provides improved virus scanning,
while still having a low impact on overall system
performance. It also has the added advantage of being
Windows 7 compatible. AVG 9.0 continues to offer high
quality, free, virus and spyware protection, whether this is
enough to ward off the likes of Microsoft's new 'Security
Essentials' will remain to be seen, but this new version
seems to be another genuine improvement over their previous
For more information visit my 'Anti-Virus' page within my Software section.
new operating system 'Windows 7' has finally been released.
Windows 7 corrects the inefficiencies seen in Microsoft's
previous operating system 'Windows Vista' and further
improves the 'Windows' experience. I was a very unsure about
the move to Windows 7, especially when my XP based system
seemed to do everything I needed, but now that I have
finally taken the plunge I am very pleased I did and all
concerns have vanished. After just two days I'm totally
convinced, a fast, easy to use OS that is a genuine
improvement over Vista, a worthy replacement to my tired old
For the latest Windows 7 pricing, visit my 'Operating Systems' page within my Software section.
It doesn't seem that long ago since the last 'Hants Web Awards', but time flies when you're website developing. The 'Hants Web Awards' are run by the 'Hampshire County Council' and seek to award web sites that, in their words 'celebrate excellence in website design, accessibility and service'. The Glitch has been nominated for the last few years, and as always I hope to do better than last year. I think the site is really beginning to mature now and although there is still a lot more I want to do, I believe it has a lot to offer in it's current state!
Microsoft has finally released it's long awaited, free, anti-malware software package. 'Security Essentials' will install on any computer using Windows XP (SP2 or later), Windows Vista or Windows 7. You will need a Genuine copy of Windows as 'Windows Genuine Advantage' (WGA) is used to verify the system before an install can take place. Even though the name may suggest to some the protection it offers is basic, the product does in fact provide full real-time protection and automatic updates against malware and does so using a simple, uncluttered and easy to understand user interface. It would be obtuse to believe Microsoft would release an inadequate anti-malware product onto the market, but as long as it performs well, I'm sure it will find a permanent spot within my Software pages.
When BT was privatised (back in 1984) Ofcom established a framework to safeguard competition, creating an extensive list of conditions that restricted BT's activities and services. But after 25 years Ofcom has finally decided to lift some of the restrictions that prevent BT from bundling it's services together. This in turn will create a more level playing field, as BT will now be able to offer combined Phone, Broadband and TV packages, something that the competition has been doing for years. This deregulation comes at an important time for BT as it struggles with falling customer numbers in an increasingly competitive market.
have been numerous reports of Phishing and Hacking
attacks on email and social networking accounts (Microsoft's Hotmail, Google's
G-Mail and Twitter to name but three), but it is no wonder some of these attacks
have been so successful when people seem to be using some of the most obvious
passwords you could imagine. As an example, a very large number of the
recently compromised Hotmail accounts used very simple
passwords, in fact amongst the top ten passwords were '12345', '123456789' and '11111'. These are hardly secure
and (obviously) very easily guessed. Users of these types of
service need to be far more savvy when it comes to password
security. More importantly if you have used a simple
password (in any type of online account) I would change
For more information read my Guide on password security.
Intel have been hard at work developing what they hope will be the next interfacing standard. 'Light Peak' is a high speed optical based technology designed to connect multiple devices using multiple protocols simultaneously. Light Peak is fast, and is able to transmit data at 10Gb per second, that's enough bandwidth to transfer 1.25GB of information every second, or to put it in another way you could transfer a full-length Blu-Ray movie in less than 30 seconds. If this was not enough Intel hopes the technology will scale to 100Gb/s over the next few years. The good news is we shouldn't have to wait too long for this technology to appear, as Intel's development of Light Peak is already advanced and they expect to have products ready to ship some time next year.
Twitter gets it first worm, and no it's not because the birds hungry! This worm is not edible, but a nasty Phishing scam. It seems direct messages (DMs) are being sent via compromised Twitter accounts that ask the recipient to click a link which takes them to an almost exact copy of the standard Twitter logon page. This rouge page then steals your logon details and uses them to send more Phishing messages (amongst other things). The duplicate site has now been closed down, and it's origin widely reported, so anyone using any form of Phishing filter should find the site well and truly blocked. This highlights a very important lesson, even if you receive a message from someone you know, it does not automatically mean they have knowingly sent it. Always try to check the authenticity of a message before acting upon it, or indeed clicking anything! If you think you have fallen pray to this worm, it is important that you change your Twitter logon password immediately.
Most of Intel's current processors are manufactured using a 45nm (Nanometre) fabrication process, but this is due to change as Intel moves to a 32nm fabrication process in 2010. If this was not enough Intel hopes to offer chips based on a minuscule 22nm process by 2011. All this adds up to smaller more powerful processors, which should be cheaper to produce and use less power to operate. Intel is really coming up with the goods at the moment, it will be very interesting to see the final specification of these new chips; as these changes will enable Intel to produce much faster quad-core processors and make possible the production of powerful 8-core CPUs.
The number of rogue security applications now circulating the internet is huge, and web users need to be much more careful of what they are actually downloading. Rogue security programs are now taking on the names of real, legitimate programs or using very similar names just to bamboozle users in to installing what is in fact Malware.
'Nortel Antivirus' and 'Windows PC Defender' are just two examples of the names of rogue security applications which both have very similar names to existing legitimate products. What makes things even worse is the fact that many of these rogue applications look the part and seem totally legitimate, making it very difficult for the average user to differentiate between what is legitimate and what is not.
Next time you start complaining about your slow broadband connection spare a thought for the South American company that used a carrier pigeon to transfer data between offices because their broadband speed is too slow. Winston (the Pigeon) had to fly more than 80km while carrying a small USB memory stick, the journey took him a little over an one hour to complete. Even though this does not sound particularly fast, it was around 80% faster than using their broadband connection. The company was quick to point out that using Winston was less than ideal as he is obviously susceptible to things like weather and predators, but he completed his task in an acceptable time frame, something that was difficult to achieve when using their broadband connection.
released the world's largest capacity 1.8" hard drive (250GB)
late last year. In contrast to this, their new range of 1.8"
hard drives have much smaller capacities, but importantly
only use a single platter to attain their total capacity.
The advantages of a single platter device are numerous, less
noise, vibration, heat and less power required. The devices
only spin at 4,200rpm but come with 8MB cache; capacities
range from 60GB up to 160GB. Toshiba is mostly targeting
these new drives at the lucrative mobile mp3 player market,
but with so many basic improvements over previous models I
think their usage is likely to expand beyond portable music
For more information visit:
While updating my price listings for Windows 7 (Pre orders) this week, it became clear that the UK's Windows 7 pricing structure is in disarray. There are massive differences in the prices suppliers are charging for the different editions of Windows 7. It is a sorry state indeed when full retail software is being sold for less than the equivalent upgrade editions, and things get worse the deeper you look. For instance, even though the 'E' versions of Windows 7 are no longer available, some suppliers are still apparently offering them, and if this was not bad enough, the massive price differentials between different suppliers is both confusing and absurd.
The true reason behind this mess is due to some suppliers
still offering low cost, full retail versions of Windows 7,
making the (now available) upgrade version's standard
pricing look expensive. Only when Windows 7 is finally
released will we see pre-order pricing disappear, this will
hopefully bring some order back to the pricing structure.
To see for yourself visit my Operating Systems page.
Orange and T-Mobile are to merge creating the largest UK mobile operator. Their combined customer base will be around 28 million users, which represents approximately 37% of the total UK mobile market. The deal could see a massive £3.5 billion saving for the joint companies due to consolidation of their networks, workforce and administration. Rival operators O2 and Vodafone had both shown great interest in T-Mobile but the Orange merger has now laid to rest any plans either company previously had. The merger should give T-Mobile some stability after posting a rather disappointing £1.5billion gross pre tax loss this year.
A small Canadian software company called 'i4i' has taken Microsoft to court over the way XML documents are created in Word 2003 and 2008, in each case the software apparently infringes one of their patents. Unfortunately for Microsoft the US district court sided with 'i4i' awarding them damages of over £175 million and ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word with immediate effect.
Microsoft were quick to react, and won a stay of execution by the court of appeals against the judgment, stating that the evidence presented was not reliable or even relevant. Microsoft will be back in court on the 23rd September 2009 to present it's counter arguments. If Microsoft lose this case we could see Word removed from sale while they make the required software changes, something that would ultimately damage Microsoft and cause massive disruption for it's customers.
US Customs and Border Protection Agency have recently been granted new rights to search, seize, retain and share (with other government agencies), any information found on Laptops and other forms of electronic equipment. These rights can be executed with or without your consent, or indeed without any prior suspicion of wrong doing. This policy is controversial and is bound to irritate and concern both businessmen and holiday goers alike, anyone traveling to or through the US with information of a sensitive nature (medical, legal or company confidential) may now think twice.
Plans are being resurrected by the UK government that may well see the broadband connections of illegal file sharers being suspended. Even though the number of illegal file sharers have dropped over the last few years, illegal file sharing still remains a big problem for the music and film industry. In new plans setup by the government users who are identified as illegal file sharers will be sent warning letters, if they persist, then their connections will be suspended.
These measures are pretty controversial, and many are already questioning their effectiveness, especially when you consider the unreliable nature of much of the evidence gathered, thus only time will tell how successful these measures will be...but, like it or not, sharing copyrighted material is illegal and it is right that people should expect repercussions for infringement!
apple are not getting in to animal conservation; 'Snow
Leopard' is the name of their much anticipated new operating system. The
introduction of 'Snow Leopard' doesn't bring any massive
changes to Apple's operating system, even the name
is similar to it's current offering 'Leopard'. But even though
there are no big surprises in 'Snow Leopard' it's still a
worth while upgrade, especially when the price is a mere £20 (take note Microsoft).
The biggest changes are under the hood, the software has
been optimized to better support multi-core processors and
64-bit architectures, and due to a re-written installer it
even claws back around 6GBs of disk space when you upgrade.
other new features include direct Exchange support, which
should please business users and better wireless
connectivity. All in all another great OS from Apple!
For more information visit:
In a surprise move Microsoft have negotiated a deal to allow their new 'Bing' search engine to return additional results generated by fellow search engine 'Wolfram Alpha'. This is a smart move by Microsoft, one that will allow Bing to use 'knowledge based computing' to actually answer queries as well as return simple search results. If Wolfram Alpha continues to improve and expand as intended, it could be a real boon for Bing. Google will be watching with interest, but is unlikely to be really worried by this news, as they are currently working on their own search engine improvements.
launch of the Nintendo Wii brought to the market a new form
of games console. The Wii gaming system showed us that you
didn't need to use a joystick or gaming pad to enjoy games,
the Wii controller's intuitive design allowed all members of
the family to join in. Until recently I could not imagine
where console manufactures will take us next, but that was
until I heard about Microsoft's Project Natal.
Project Natal was formed to look into new ways of making interactive entertainment as easily assessable (to the masses) as any other form of entertainment (music, video etc). Microsoft's results are truly impressive; how can you possibly improve things further...simple, remove the need for a controller completely...that's right...no controllers, hands-free gaming. Using state-of-the-art technology this Xbox 360 add-on actually processes peoples movements and gestures, if this was not enough it can even recognise voices, and scan in images of people and objects so that they can become part of the game. Project Natal is true astounding, and has possibilities well beyond gaming.
For more information visit:
still moaning about Microsoft's Internet Explorer; it seems
they are still unhappy with Microsoft's new proposal for a
browser ballot screen in Windows 7. First Microsoft decided they would
not give users any browser choice in Windows 7 and for this they were berated, so
then came up with a solution that allows users to choose the
browser they want, and they are again berated...this is
totally ridiculous and makes no sense to me, you have to have
one or the other!
Mozilla really does need to be very careful, they have a good product, but it's not a product that everyone wants to use. There are many, many people who are totally happy with Microsoft's Internet Explorer, but Mozilla is trying to tell users what they want, unfortunately for Mozilla this kind of groundless complaining can only have a detrimental effect on their reputation as Windows users get irritated by unnecessary complications.
I have said it before, and I will say it again, if a user wants a different browser they will go and get one, but most people want to use Internet Explorer.
For the past few months, a group of Google software engineers have been hard at work on a project called 'Caffeine'; the aim of this project was to rewrite parts of Google's base code to improve the speed, accuracy and comprehensiveness of the search results returned by the search engine. Although these initial 'Grass Root' changes to Google's code have been successful, most users are unlikely to notice much difference in their day-to-day search experience. What these important changes will facilitate is the introduction of further enhancements, and hopefully allow Google to offer new and clever advancements to their internet search engine.
For a side-by-side comparison of the new Google and the old Google visit:
is now offering it's much heralded iPlate for free. Now
renamed the 'BT Broadband Accelerator' (no doubt for marketing purposes),
this small device replaces the lower part of BT's standard
two part master phone socket. So if you have an older
all-in-one face plate you will not be able to fit the unit
until you have your master socket upgraded (at additional
cost). The iPlate is said to improve the majority of
broadband connections, with most customers seeing between
0.5MB and 1.5MB improvements to their internet service.
Please be aware that there is a small (£1.20) postage cost,
which is normally charged directly to your BT bill.
If you are a BT customer then click the following link to claim your free iplate:
have given in to the the EC and will offer a selection of
browsers in Windows 7; this move will effectively nullify
the need for the 'E' or European versions of Windows 7,
which do not install any internet browser by default.
The whole idea that people are unable to make a choice as to
which browser they want is beyond me, your average internet
user wants IE. Rightly or wrongly, that's what's become
familiar and that's what most of them use now, so why make
things more complex and give users options that many won't
even understand. And I don't mean this disrespectfully,
humans are creatures of habit, they want their systems to
work in a way they are used to. This is not about choice,
you already have a choice; if a user wants to try another
browser they can download one and make it the default, you
have been able to do this since Windows XP!
Visit my Browsers page if you are interested in an alterative to Internet Explorer.
Digital continues to push the storage envelope, this time
with the worlds first 1TB (1000GB) laptop hard drive. Even though it's a standard sized 2.5"
drive, it conforms to the slightly taller 12.5mm height
standard, so be careful if you have a particularly slim laptop.
The device's specification is otherwise unremarkable, with
an SATA interface, 5,400 RPM rotation speed and 8MB cache.
The drive will also be available as an external device as
part of Western Digital's 'Passport' hard drive range. Prices
will be a little on the high side initially, but price drops
are inevitable over the next few months.
For some more great Western Digital Hard Drives see my Hardware section
The 64-bit computing phenomenon continues to gather pace, with many more users now adopting 64-bit environments. In fact Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system will, by default, come with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions in the box, allowing the user to opt for a 64-bit installation, risk free, happy in the knowledge that if things don't go to plan they can always revert back to the 32-bit version. This is great for the user, but not so great for all the software companies who have decided to ignore 64-Bit. I predict that most if not all users who move to a Windows 7 64-bit environment, will stay with it and enjoy the extra speed and other benefits it brings; they won't fight with incompatible software they will just find alternatives. So software writers beware, make your software 64-Bit compatible or be prepared for your products to be committed to the history books!
Who can you trust when big high street names such as 'PC World' and 'Micro Anvika' fail to provide an accurate diagnosis of your computer problems and show little or no respect for your data privacy. It seems many computer repair centres are using minor (and easily fixable) issues as an excuse to charge customers an arm and a leg for replacing major components that don't need replacing and indeed never actually get replaced. It also seems that many companies are not respecting peoples privacy; this is of key importance to customers who take systems to be repaired. Above all else, customers must be able to trust the advice they are given and have confidence in the work being carried out on their computers, moreover, these companies must respect their customers privacy and conduct themselves in a professional manner, anything less is unacceptable!
Windows Azure could be available by the end of the year, but don't panic, although this is indeed another version of Microsoft's Windows operating system, it's a very different product to their normal offerings and importantly not predominantly aimed at the consumer market. Windows Azure basically allows applications to be accessed via the internet (this is sometimes referred to as 'Cloud Computing'). The idea is that all your applications are hosted via a external company using the Windows Azure platform to deliver many common Windows based software applications. The big advantage of 'Cloud Computing' is that it allows companies to manage their computing resources efficiently, only investing in resources when they really need to. The main disadvantage to this type of arrangement is it's heavy reliance on both the hosting company and ISP to provide an uninterrupted service, if one becomes unavailable then you could literally be left high and dry!
It seems that Microsoft may have finally got things right with Windows 7; initial indications suggest that the UK will exhaust it's pre-order quota way before Microsoft's pre-order offer end date of the 9th August 2009. In fact, Amazon has already sold it's quota of pre-orders just 24 hours after the offer started, even Microsoft's own Windows 7 pre-order page has been straining under the frenzy of orders. It is predicted that Windows 7 Home Premium will be all but sold out in the UK before the end of the month, with Windows 7 Professional following soon after! If you want to take advantage of the special pre-order pricing, I would act very soon, before supplies are exhausted!
To place your Windows 7 pre-order visit my Operating Systems page before it's too late!
A controversial new 'Mobile Directory' service has been launched by a company called 118800. This is the first mobile directory in the UK, with the idea that people are charged for requesting information from their massive 15 million strong mobile phone database. This all sounds like an OK idea, but many people are concerned that they could eventually be inundated with call/text requests, but as 118800 never give out your mobile numbers unless you specifically give them permission, your mobile number should be safe.
Saying this, you can simply request that 118800 make your mobile phone number Ex-Directory. Unfortunately their service is currently unavailable due to development work, but once their service is up and running again you will be able to either click an Ex-Directory link on their website, or send a text asking them to remove your number from their directory!
For further information visit the 118800 website.
the 15th of July Microsoft will allow a small selection of
suppliers to take pre-orders for their new operating
system Windows 7. Windows 7 Home Premium will be available
for £49, while Windows 7 Professional will be offered for
£99, both represent a significant saving when compared to
the final release pricing. To guarantee your copy, visit my
Operating Systems page within my Software section on or
soon after the 15th.
For additional information on Windows 7 visit my FAQ page.
The cost of making and/or receiving calls when in an EU country will soon be reduced. The EC has stated that, over the next two years, EU roaming charges are to be reduced, capped and standardised, this includes all data charges as well. More good news for mobile customers is that 'by-the-second' billing and cut-off limits are to be introduced. The idea behind the latter is your mobile phone will cease to operate when a pre-determined total cost has been reached, thus if your phone charges exceed this, you will need to contact your provider to enable your phone again. This could be irritating if you need to use your phone a lot, but it does stop users unwittingly running up massive bills and also limits the use by thieves if your phone is stolen!
See my FAQ's on Mobile Phones for more information.
BT no longer intends to roll out Phorm's controversial behavioural-advertising service. Several other ISP's are also distancing themselves with behavioural-advertising, with the likes of Virgin Media stating they wish to take more time over any decision they may eventually make. In my opinion Phorm has been pretty arrogant; this is a company which thought they could bring in a new technology that many people did not want or need, and in doing so ignore the customer's right to say 'No'. In fact it was only after they realised that public opinion was so strongly opposed to the idea that they brought in their opt-in/out policy!
For more information visit:
Microsoft's 'Ultimate Steal' offer has ended. Up until the 30th June 2009 students with a valid [.ac.uk] email address were able to purchase Microsoft Office 'Ultimate' (containing all of Microsoft's office applications) for just £38.95 inc VAT.
If you missed the offer don't worry, just take a look at my 'Office Applications' page within my Software section for a great alternative Office 2007 academic offer; no proof of academic status is required so there's no messing about waiting for your software either!
It looks like Microsoft will not have it's upgrade versions of Windows 7 ready for European/UK distribution in time for it's official launch on the 22nd October 2009. Instead Microsoft intends to offer it's European/UK customers full retail versions of Windows 7 for the same price as the upgrade versions. This means that, on the launch date, 'Windows 7 Home Premium' will be sold for £79, 'Windows 7 professional' will retail for £189 and 'Windows 7 Ultimate Edition' will be sold for £199. Microsoft expects their upgrade versions will be available by the end of the year, at which point the full retail versions will be increased to £149, £219 and £229 respectively.
A 'Plug Computer' is a tiny computer based around a conventional three-pin plug, often no bigger than a standard AC adaptor. These devices have numerous applications, but are often sold as media servers, allowing people to remotely access their files when away from home. Their specification is minimal often having just a 1.2Ghz Processor, 512MB RAM, Networking and USB ports, with the device being accessed using a standard Internet browser. The devices themselves cost as little as £30 and consume less than 5watts when in use and 50milliwatts when in standby mode, making them an ideal system to leave on 24/7. I can certainly see the benefits to having such a device connected to your router, why leave your whole system active, when a 5watt device is all you need to keep you connected with your data!
For more information visit:
'Bing' is Microsoft's latest stab at a search engine, some have suggested that 'Bing' stands for either 'Bing Is Not Google' or 'But It's Not Google', but I don't think Microsoft will openly admit to either of these acronyms. Even though the name leaves a lot to be desired, ultimately the only thing that matters is whether 'Bing' is any good, and whether we will all be using 'Bing' instead of 'Google' in the coming months. Well 'Bing' is actually OK, some would suggest it's just a revamp of their older 'Live Search' technology, but 'Bing' is a new product in many ways. You will have to decide for yourself, but I think that 'Google' is a better search engine, this does not mean that 'Bing' will not mature into a true alternative to 'Google' in time, it just means that 'Bing' has a way to go before it's a true 'Google' competitor.
For more information visit:
The BBC's iPlayer service basically allows people to download/stream TV programmes via the internet. The trouble with this is that video streaming uses up a large amount of bandwidth compared to other forms of internet traffic, something that ISP (Internet Service Providers) are well aware of. Currently only 10% on the BBC's viewing public are apparently using iPlayer, but during peak usage times 12GB (Gigabytes) of video data is already being requested every second and around 7PB (Petabytes) or 7,000TB (Terabypes) of data is being streamed every month. When it comes to total internet traffic these values are still relatively small, but if iPlayer usage continues to grown, it would become a unwelcome burden for most ISPs, and this is why some ISPs are already beginning to protect their bandwidth by throttling back iplayer data streams.
Apple have just released a new version of their popular iPhone, the iPhone 3GS.
New features include more storage with up to '32GB of Memory', a higher resolution '3.0 Megapixel Camera' with 'Video Recording' capability, 'Voice Control' that allows you to ask for a contact or song, a 'Digital Compass' that helps the iphone automatically reorient maps to match the direction you’re facing and 'Internet Tethering' that allows you to use your iPhone's built-in 3G modem to connect to the internet on your laptop. Top this with much improved performance and you have a worthy successor to the current iPhone 3G!
Microsoft has finally revealed a release date of the 22nd October 2009 for it's new operating system 'Windows 7' well ahead of it's initial estimate, which would have seen the O.S. emerge sometime in early 2010. As with previous incarnations of Windows there will be a number of different versions. Starter (for lower performance Netbooks and Nettops systems), Home Premium (the main consumer version and likely the most popular version), Professional (for business users), Enterprise (for larger organisations) and Ultimate (a full featured version for the discerning user and enthusiast market).
For more information on Windows 7 visit:
Broadband in the UK is still pretty poor with over 3 million UK households still suffering with poor broadband connection speeds (not to mention the 4000 or so homes unable to get broadband at all). The government has plans to ensure that all UK households have a minimum connection speed of 2Mbits/sec by 2012 (no doubt helped by BT pushing forward with their numerous network improvements). Sadly a 2Mbit connection is nothing to write home about; arguably adequate for a single user, it would (more than likely) become swamped when more than a couple of people start using it at the same time, what with streaming media and on-line gaming, it's a shame that a more reasonable minimum speed was not proposed.
Microsoft has finally released service pack 2 for their Vista operating system. The service pack further improves Vista's stability, performance and security and also contains all previously released updates and patches. Notable extra features added by SP2 are support for Blu-ray disk recording, compatibility with the Bluetooth 2.1 standard and newer VIA 64-bit processors.
From June the 1st until August 30th, Vodafone will be suspending it's roaming charges for both it's pay-as-you-go and pay-monthly customers. This effectively allows Vodafone customers to make and received calls abroad at no extra cost. (Including the use of free calling minutes). This is not a worldwide offer but does include 35 European countries, plus Australia and New Zealand. Setup is simple, as you just have to send a specific text message to Vodafone; they do the rest.
For more information and instructions on how to apply, visit this Vodafone webpage.
The latest information from Microsoft about it's new operating system 'Windows 7', is that it will be completed and ready for release to manufacturing (RTM) by August. If true, this would more than likely see 'Windows 7' on general release by October/November. Microsoft often delays the release of it's operating systems, but with such complete, and importantly, stable 'Beta' and 'Release Candidate' builds already getting high praise, it seems highly unlikely that Microsoft will need to delay 'Windows 7'.
Intel have been under investigation (by the EU) for some time over large rebates given to PC manufacturers between 2002 and 2005. It is not the rebates per se that are in question, but the way they were sold. It has been said that PC manufactures (Dell, HP, NEC and Acer, to name but four) were told by Intel representatives that these rebates would only be given if Intel chips were used in the majority of their products. If this is true, then Intel was very careful to ensure that no information ever appeared in any official documentation, over the conditions of these rebates. Intel has taken strong exception over the EU's £1 Billion fine, stating that although it was playing hard it was playing fair, and was definitely not being anti-competitive. Intel will be appealing against the ruling.
Virgin Media's new 50Mb broadband offering is pretty impressive (if you can justify the cost), it makes a mockery of BT's current 8Mbps offering. Saying this, BT is still moving forward with both it's 21CN (21st Century Network) and FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet) upgrade programs, which should boost the average broadband connection significantly, with speeds of up to 40Mbps possible.
Virgin Media is also investing in their network, and is already trialing 200Mbps connection speeds, which, if successful will be 5 times faster than BT's upgraded network, but one things for sure, its not going to be a service that your average home user will be able to afford.
Microsoft has finally made available it's release candidate (RC) of Windows 7. This late build of Windows 7 will be offered for at least 3 months, giving ample time for people to download it. It's not recommended that you install this beta product on your primary computer system, due to the fact that pre-release software has a tendency to be buggy and sometimes unstable. Windows 7 RC has a long expiry date of June 2010, thus you should have plenty of time to use and test the product, should you decide to take the plunge!
For more information on Windows 7 RC visit:
Microsoft have just released service pack 2 for their Office 2007 products. New features are scarce to say the least, but the service pack does purport to improve stability, performance and security.
Other than this it also contains all previously released Office 2007 updates and patches as well as some previously unreleased updates.
The UK is no longer one of the top 12 countries responsible for relying Spam, currently just 2% of all Spam relayed worldwide originates from the UK. This is all well and good, but is little solace for the average email user who is still being bombarded with junk emails, (Spam still representing around 97% of all worldwide emails sent). For Spam to truly reduce, counties like the US, Brazil and China need to do much more, in fact these three countries alone, are responsible for more than a third of all Spam.
Grisoft has just released a new version
of it's popular, free anti-virus software; AVG 8.5 does not
look much different to AVG 8, and does not seem to introduce
any major new features to the free edition. Saying this, I
noticed that the option 'AVG Active Surf-Shield' is no
longer greyed out within the Link scanner component, which
suggests this element is now available. This release maybe
more of a bug fix than a new feature rich version, but
never-the-less it seems to be a worth while download.
To download AVG 8.5 visit my Anti-Virus section via my Software area.
AMD is still struggling financially, with yet another quarter well in the red. If anything things seem to be getting worse, with their latest financial report showing a mammoth £280 million loss, that's up another 30 million from this time last year. AMD were in trouble before the start of the current global economic down turn, thus it was always going to hit them harder than other similar organizations. It would be a sad day indeed if AMD disappeared, as they form an important part of the global microprocessor industry, ensuring a competitive and innovative microprocessor marketplace.
Google have had an 'Image Search' option as part of their search engine for some time, but now Google has added a handy new search utility called 'Similar Images'. Rather than relying on text based searching only to find the images you require, 'Similar Images' allows you to search using 'visually similar' images. It's a nice idea and one the works very well.
To give 'Similar Images' a go visit:
If you think that it's just Windows based computers that get targeted by Malware, then your very wrong. A new type of Trojan virus that affects Apple Mac systems is currently being spread via software downloads from peer-to-peer file sharing sites. The Trojan virus is said to allow criminals to fully control any Mac system that has been infected, creating what is being described as the first Mac-based Botnet. Some Mac users are still very complacent over system security and the need for anti-virus software, but this latest scare should show that all computers systems, no matter what operating system they utilise, are susceptible to compromise.
Within the next few months the first high definition Blu-ray recorders should start to appear in the UK. High definition recorders have so far been limited to the like's of Sky's HD box where HD programs can be stored to an internal hard drive and watched at a later date, but the biggest drawback is that there is no simple way of transferring native HD footage to removable media or other external device. But this is all set to change with a number of companies poised to release high definition personal video recorders that not only allow high definition footage to be reordered to an internal hard drive but also archived to Blu-ray media. If this was not enough to wet your appetite, then the fact that they will also be compatible with HD camcorders should do it. As always, early adopters will pay a hefty price for this cutting edge equipment, but time will no doubt see prices come down to a more realistic level.
It looks like it's not just UK internet users who are concerned about Phorm and internet privacy, it seems that the European Commission is also uneasy about the way 'behavioural advertising' has been allowed to evolve in the UK. The problems stem from the way data is intercepted without consent, and the UK's failure to follow European privacy law. Phorm remains bullish, stating that their system fully complies with current UK and EU laws and that it was a matter for the UK government. The UK government has two months in which to reply to the EC concerns, before further action is taken.
The Glitch has kindly donated one of it's web templates to 'Subspection Limited' to assist in the construction of their new website.
The new site represents a significant face life for the company, and ensures their new website complies to the latest web standards; allowing their website to look great no matter what browser people use.
For more information about Subspection
If you haven't updated your browser recently then the answer will, almost certainly, be no. Microsoft has release 'Internet Explorer 8' (IE8) and Mozilla 'Firefox 3'; both these browsers are more secure than their predecessors and so offer better protection on-line. Surprisingly, history has shown that Internet Explorer has had far less vulnerabilities than Firefox, but Mozilla is faster at releasing updates and patches, these facts make it difficult to state which is the most secure browser. What is more important to understand is that if you choose Firefox over IE, this does not automatically make you immune to web nasties, in fact, if you don't keep Firefox updated you may actually be less secure. Which ever you select make sure you are running the very latest version!
BT recently wrote off more than £3 million as a result of contract reviews, this obviously did not help their falling profits margins, but it seems they have an answer, make their customers pay for all this mismanagement with increased line rental charges. OK so you may say I'm being a little transparent, but look it this another way, BT has also just embarked on a hugely expensive fibre optic upgrade program! Either way you look at this, it's still a poor decision, at a time when most people are already having to tighten their belts.
All stays quite on the Conficker front as the 1st of April passes without incident. Many believe that Conficker stayed dormant simply because there was too much hype and attention and the owners of the Conficker networks are biding their time, waiting until all the attention wanes before they strike. Unfortunately for Conficker time is not on their side, as everyday sees more and more systems being protected against the virus.
Conficker has already been one of the most successful worm viruses to date, but not even the security experts are in full agreement over how much of a threat Conficker is. Conficker's code indicates an activation date of the 1st of April, with this only a matter of hours away, it may be prudent to double check that your system is fully patched with the latest Windows updates and more importantly free from the virus!
To download McAfee's 'Stinger' tool that
detects and removes Conficker visit:
BT will soon begin upgrading 29 of it's exchanges to FTTC (fibre-to-the-cabinet). This initial roll out will see around half a million customers benefit from faster download speeds of up to 40Mbits per second. It is good news to see that BT is finally moving forward with FTTC but yet again the rural areas are being left behind, many urban areas have good broadband speeds with significant competition from the likes of Virgin, who can already offer 50Mbit connections. So the idea that these areas need yet another form of fast internet connectivity is beyond many people. BT hopes to have 10 million homes connected to fibre by 2012, so it's still got a very long way to go!
Phorm continues to be extremely controversial with many people unhappy with the idea of their surfing habits being analysed (anonymously or not), moreover many more people are concerned by the mammoth security aspects of such a system. Such is the unrest that BT itself seems to be having second thoughts over Phorm, indeed even Phorm themselves are now having to consider a new 'Opt-Out' scheme to try to appease everyone. Phorm is a clever idea, but that does not stop it from being a step too far, as far as your average internet user is concerned. I predict that (if rolled out) Phorm will be the catalyst that makes many BT customers consider other non-Phorm based ISPs.
Apple will soon release version 3.0 of their iPhone operating system. This latest version adds a raft of improvements, including 'Push' notifications, that immediately informs the user when email and other messages arrive, and a 'Cut & Paste' facility that now allows text to be copied from one application to another. The ability to send & receive MMS messages has finally been added, as is the ability to use the phone's keyboard in landscape mode. Another notable improvement is with the iPhone's Bluetooth connection, which now performs peer-to-peer connections allowing interactions between iPhones. All in all another great update to the iPhone!
A new version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (IE8) is now available to download. IE8 has a number of improvements over IE7 including enhanced page rendering speeds, new ways to search the internet, improved compliance to web standards, improved security and a private browsing mode that doesn't leave any trace of your web browsing on the machine you are using. Another new feature in IE8 is called 'Web Accelerators' these are basically helpful contextual options that can be accessed quickly at any time by highlighting a piece of text on a webpage. IE8 is a big improvement over IE7 and thus is highly recommended.
For more information visit:
Google is showing off it's 'Chrome'
browser's capabilities by creating a dedicated website
called 'Chrome Experiments' containing all sorts of entertaining demos.
than other browsers and it is this ability that Google is
showing off. All the demos seem to use facilities that Microsoft's Internet Explorer
does not support, if this was not enough to make Microsoft's
browser team frustrated then the fact that the latest beta
release of Google's 'Chrome' browser is said to be 25%
faster still, should just about do it!
For more information visit:
'Conficker' is a particularly virulent worm virus first detected back in November 2008 and still very active today. Part of the reason for it's longevity is the fact that there have been a number of variants of the worm, with the latest mutation more resilient than ever. The worm basically takes advantage of a vulnerability found in the 'server service' running within the Windows operating system. A patch for this vulnerability has actually been available since October 2008 (MS08-067), thus all updated systems should be protected.
Phorm is a company that specializes in developing 'behavioral targeting' advertising systems, that allow them to analyse customers' websurfing habits in order to deliver targeted advertising to them. The technology behind this and the whole idea in general is seriously controversial and has sparked concerns from many different organizations. In fact the father of the Internet himself, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has severely criticised BT's plans to roll out 'Phorm' across it's network, describing the system as the 'internet equivalent of wire tapping'.
ISP's should be very careful on this, I know I am watching this debate very carefully and if there is any doubt, at all, on the security or privacy of Phorm, I will move away from BT to another ISP that does not carry the Phorm system. This could potentially be a very quick way for BT and other ISPs (that roll out Phorm) to lose tens of thousands of customers!
Apple has just released it latest iPod shuffle, and its their smallest iPod yet. Measuring just 45.2mm in length, 17.5mm in width and 7.8mm in thickness, its smaller than a pair of triple A batteries placed side by side. With a 4GB capacity it can store around 1000 songs and play said tunes for up to 10 hours when fully charged. Due to size limitations there are no controls on the device itself, but Apple have conveniently placed a set of buttons on the earphones lead. One other clever improvement over previous Shuffles is the inclusion of something Apple calls 'Voiceover' where the device announces names of tracks, artists, playlists and even when the battery needs charging.
TomTom (the well known in car satellite navigation manufacturer) and Microsoft have been in talks for sometime over alleged patent infringements, but it seems that an amicable agreement could not be reached and Microsoft has now decided to pursue legal action. Since late 2003 Microsoft have sought to make more of its intellectual property available for others to use, but this is done under a strict license agreement and it is this that is under dispute. The issues seem to stem from the use of navigation technologies and the Microsoft's file system, something that Microsoft will no doubt want to protect. Only time will tell whether TomTom is able to fight one of the biggest companies in the world (and survive).
Microsoft's Vista service pack 2 continues to move forward with a RC1 (Release Candidate 1) being released to it's software testers this week. Vista's SP2 is still a little way off, with Microsoft hoping for a public release some time in the second quarter of 2009. Vista users can expect a number of improvements to vista, including support for Blu-ray media and the Bluetooth 2.1 standard; it will also contain 'Windows Connect Now' (WCN) an improved Wi-Fi Configuration tool, and, as always, all previously released Vista patches and updates.
The Glitch is proud to announce the launch of it's very own mini-webstore. Designed to replace my existing 'For Sale' page, this new area of the Glitch is a dedicated ecommerce micro site, hosted alongside The Glitch at 'www.webstore.theglitch.co.uk'. It is envisaged that this new site will slowly grow and provide a source for inexpensive, high quality products, hosted using a fully secure and dedicated ecommerce solution. Although its appearance looks a little different to the normal Glitch design, you can be sure that it's still very much part of The Glitch website!
For more information visit:
No Intel haven't come over all biblical, and no there isn't going to be another massive flood. ARK stands for 'Automated Relational Knowledge', and is basically an online database of Intel products. The problem is that Intel have been manufacturing chips for many years now, and currently have hundreds of active products on the market, if this was not bad enough the second hand PC market is also very active, keeping older Intel products alive. All this adds up to literally thousands of possible combinations of chipsets, processor names and chip IDs, a minefield for even the most experienced computer geek. To this end, Intel have made available an online database to help correctly identify their products.
But before you all rush to click the link,
please understand this is not the most exciting web page you
are ever going to come across...you're going to have to be
pretty bored to stick with this one!
For more information visit:
It is a sad fact that criminals are always looking for opportunities to infect computer systems and valentines day is an ideal time for them to try. February 14th 2009 is predicted to be one of the worse yet for Valentines malware, with valentines spam trying to fool people in to downloading malware infested games and electronic greetings cards. So be extra careful what you click on to this valentines you may get much more than just a flattering message from a secret admirer...you have been warned!
Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 7 (due to be released at the end of 2009), looks like it will appear as six different editions, 'Starter Edition', 'Home Basic', 'Home Premium', 'Professional', 'Enterprise' and 'Ultimate'. The naming system is very similar to that used for Windows Vista, so consumers will hopefully find them familiar.
The 'Starter Edition' will be a significantly cut down version of Windows 7, designed for Netbooks and other similar devices. 'Home Basic' has been designed for emerging markets and will have limited capacity, something that will, no doubt, be reflected in the price. The 'Home Premium' version is for the mass market and contains everything your average PC user requires (a feature rich version). 'Professional' is a version for business users, containing advanced network options and additional security. 'Enterprise' is similar to the 'professional' version, but is intended for high volume adoption; it also has drive encryption options. Finally the 'Ultimate' edition will combined all the above features in to one package.
It seems that printer ink prices have increased by over 50% over the last year. No one seems to really know why this is, but the rises are universal across all manufacturers. Some think its because of the increased cost of manufacturing, others just think its due to opportunists hiking the price. No matter what the reason, it does mean that (more than ever) the hidden/running costs of printers need to be carefully weighed up when trying to work out which is the best one to buy.
Google has once again enhanced it's 'Google Earth' application, this time they've added all sorts of information on the Earth's oceans. Called 'Google Ocean' the new tool allows you to see underneath the ocean waves and view 3D representations of the ocean floor, this is accompanied by numerous photos and videos detailing points of interest, in fact Google have added an enormous 20 new categories of data. If all this wasn't enough, they have also added a clever 'timeline' facility that allows you to view past images of the Earth, to illustrate how they have changed.
For more information visit:
Back in January 2007 I reported that Hitachi was the first manufacture to release a 1TB hard drive, since then all the major hard drive manufactures have been hard at work developing bigger and better drives. Seagate are on the brink of releasing a 1.5TB hard drive, but it is Western Digital that is about to release the worlds first 2TB hard drive. Their drive is made up of four 500GB platters which have a areal density (bit density) of over 400Gb per inch squared. The Seagate 1.5TB and Western Digital 2TB hard drives should be available very soon, but as with all new technology expect to pay a premium initially.
It was back in March 2008 that Microsoft made its very first beta release of IE8 available. Now, 10 months on, the product (still in beta) has been updated to RC1 (Release Candidate 1). This indicates that the product has begun to mature, and is now much closer to a full release product. IE8 should offer all sorts of advantages over IE7, including improved compliance to web standards, improved security and a private browsing mode that doesn't leave any trace of your web browsing on the machine you are using.
For more information visit:
January has seen the 'Miller Brothers' group go in to receivership, thus two of the biggest names in on-line electricals, 'Empire Direct' and 'Qed-uk' have become the latest casualties of the Credit Crunch. Both companies were put in to administration after being unable to operate due to low stocks levels and the lack of cash and credit facilities. It is always a sad day when companies who have been successfully trading for many years (25 years) go to the wall.
Intel will be streamlining it's
operations by closing up to five of it's older assembly plants
in response to falling profits. Factories in the US,
Malaysia and the Philippines will close with the loss of
thousands of jobs.
It's not good news for Intel employees, but seems necessary after Intel's profits dropped by almost 90%. If Intel can't turn things around quickly it will be in danger of posting it's first loss since the 1980s, after almost 90 successive lucrative quarters.
When you think processors, the name Intel tends to be the first name that pops in to your head, and its no wonder as they produce some of the worlds fastest desktop processors, in fact AMD, Intel's nearest rival, is finding it all but impossible to keep up with Intel's pace at the moment, with every Intel processor release more powerful than the last. But all this technology and innovation was not enough to stop Intel's profits dropping to a new low. Intel posted a £150 million profit for the last quarter of 2008, that's down from £1.5 Billion in 2007 a hefty drop by anyone's standard. Saying this, it's still respectable, especially when you consider that AMD is still struggling to make any profit at all.
There has been a lot of negative press recently about the high power requirements of large flat panel LCD and Plasma screens, but the real truth is that the power requirements of older CRT based Televisions were also significant with some 32" and 36" sets using up to 160 and 190 watts respectively. So when you compare 32" and 40" LCD screen power requirements of between 180 and 210 watts then, in my opinion, they don't seem that much higher. The trouble starts when you begin to compare the power requirements of Plasma screens, which do seem to use more power, with a 50" plasma requiring up to 400 watts, but these figures can be a little misleading as everyday plasma screen power usage is generally much lower, unlike LCD who's backlight technology is always powered!
Screen size plays a big part in the power requirements of a flat panel Televisions, thus a smaller screen will use less power, saying this most Plasma manufacturers are already hard at work improving the power requirements of their screens, so it shouldn't be long before we start to see lower power Plasma screens.
The Internet is massive, it doesn't have geographical or, in theory, political boundaries, and it is this inherent property that criminals exploit. But time is slowly running out for cyber criminals, technology is moving forward, security is tighter than ever before, and with most international law enforcement agencies now working closely with one another the likelihood of getting caught has never been higher. The statement that 'crime does not pay' has never been more pertinent, especially when you hear the story of a group of hackers who were caught stealing millions of credit card details from US retailer TJX (TK Maxx in the UK). Even their clever and sophisticated usage of computer systems could not stop them from being jailed, with one of the key gang members locked up for a whopping 30 years for his part in the Scam!
Microsoft will soon release a beta version of it's new operating system 'Windows 7'. Windows 7 promises all sorts of improvements over Vista, including faster boot times, improved security and performance and an enhanced user interface. It maybe quite tempting to download it, but it is important to remember that it will be an early 'beta' release of the operating system, and as such not recommended for everyday use. Beta code tends to be buggy and unreliable and is normally unsupported, so be cautious if you decide to take a look!
Apple is to finally drop it's much detested DRM (Digital Rights Management) from it's iTunes store. By the end of March 2009 Apple will offer all 10 million of it's iTunes songs DRM free. This change basically removes usage restrictions from their music store, thus allowing people more freedom in the way they can use their iTunes music. Apple's DRM has been deeply unpopular and has, in my opinion, limited the use of iTunes and Apple's iPod range of mp3 players; this move should help change all this!
Why not visit the all new DRM free Apple iTunes store today!
A little over a year ago Toshiba's HD DVD and Sony's Blu-ray were fighting it out to become the next generation high definition format, sadly for Toshiba, Sony's Blu-ray finally won the battle. A year on and Blu-ray sales are looking healthy, helped by the fact that Blu-ray players and media (movies) are finally becoming cheaper. Controversially, sales may have also been boosted by Blu-ray's restrictive and much hated DRM being broken by a group of hackers in 2008, thus (in theory) allowing people more freedom in the way they can use their Blu-ray movies.
Happy 2009, I hope this year proves to be a prosperous year for you all.