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20 years of PC Pro: our first A-List

August 14th, 2014 by Nicole Kobie

PC Pro started in 1994, but the A-List — our pick of the best products of the moment — didn’t arrive until three years later, in issue 28.

ALISTcoverSMALL

If you have a copy of one of our more recent issues to hand, take a flip through the A-List: it’s six pages of 51 product categories, with our main recommendation plus an alternative choice — more than 100 pieces of kit or software we think is worth your money.

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Wikipedia’s “right to be forgotten” protest hits the wrong note

August 8th, 2014 by Darien Graham-Smith

Screenshot 2014-08-08 10.06.07As an information resource, I rate Wikipedia very highly indeed. I have serious concerns about its leadership’s decision to try to undermine the “right to be forgotten” by drawing special attention to articles that have been delisted from Google.

Yes, there are problems with the current implementation of the right to be forgotten, but I believe the principle is a good one. Our libel laws already enshrine the right of the individual to protect his or her reputation against misrepresentation. If search engine results promote a misleading impression of someone, based on old and irrelevant information, it seems fair to me that the same principle ought to apply.

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3D printing hits the high street for plastic selfies

August 7th, 2014 by Nicole Kobie

machine

We’ve been talking about 3D printers for years now, and it’s never made sense to me to buy one of the things: they’re expensive, require serious CAD skills to make anything useful and they smell bad — burning plastic isn’t easy on the nose.

Print shops, on the other hand, always seemed like the perfect home for 3D printers: such businesses could buy better hardware and therefore print higher-quality products than consumers could afford, and offer a chance to make bespoke objects without investing hundreds of pounds first.

Step right up Ryman. The stationery and printing shop has started to offer 3D printing services in two of its London stores, bringing 3D printing to the high street — well, to The Strand and Great Portland Street, at least. We swung round to the latter to see how it works — and get another 3D printed self-portrait to add to our terrifying collection.

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20 years of PC Pro: What amazed us in our first issue

August 7th, 2014 by Nicole Kobie

PC Pro cover issue 1

Believe it or not, PC Pro first hit the newsstand in 1994 — and back then it would have landed with a thump. (It was massive.)

As we prepare for our 20th anniversary (issue 241, on sale mid-September), I’ve been flipping through that first issue and marvelling at the sadly spec’d PCs, hilariously cheesy advertising, and interesting design choices. We had a bit of a thing for Word Art, it would seem. Read more

How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour

July 21st, 2014 by Darien Graham-Smith

TimGlass

Lunch with Tim Danton is normally a jolly affair, but today he has decided to wear his Google Glass headset. Things get off to a bad start before we’ve even left the building, as I explain that I need to go via a cashpoint. “OK Glass!” barks Tim abruptly. “Directions to a cashpoint.” There is an awkward pause: I don’t know whether he’s waiting for me to speak, or has been distracted by some terribly important message that I can’t see. His face falls slightly. “It’s giving me directions to an attachment,” he explains, apologetically.

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Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?

July 16th, 2014 by Darien Graham-Smith

20140629_152204Until recently, there wasn’t much point taking your smartphone to a summer festival. With tens of thousands of people converging in the middle of the countryside, it was impossible to get a signal, and your battery was likely to expire on the first day anyway.

But things are changing. Coverage has improved markedly in recent years, and event organisers are starting to embrace mobile technology with official festival apps and onsite charging facilities – a more popular attraction than many of the bands, judging by the size of the queues. Read more

Windows Easy Transfer – not so “easy” in Windows 8.1

July 11th, 2014 by Barry Collins

Windows 8.1 Start

I’ve just had a run-in with the Windows Easy Transfer wizard, following which I’m tempted to fly to Redmond and run a seminar on the definition of the words “easy”, “transfer” and “wizard”.

It appears the tool that I’ve used to shunt files and settings from one PC to the next for God Knows How Long has been utterly emasculated in Windows 8.1, without any explanation from Microsoft whatsoever. So, let me attempt to shed some daylight on the situation.

We bought the father-in-law a new Windows 8.1 laptop for his 70th, and thus not wanting to spend the next six weeks in family tech-support purgatory, I told him to bring both old and new laptop round and let me transfer the files, settings and everything else.

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Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes

July 4th, 2014 by Steve Cassidy

Dell CaterhamHere at Silverstone the preparations for the British Formula 1 Grand Prix are well under way. While the weekend will be full of headlines surrounding Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and the various other British hopefuls, it’s intriguing to see how important the background technology is; and in particular, how virtualisation is giving Caterham Racing a time-saving edge. Read more

Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere

July 3rd, 2014 by Nicole Kobie

SamsungTrader

What will the office of the future look like? Samsung has tried to answer that with a recent event showcasing the future of work – and it would appear that next-gen offices will be heavy on Samsung tablets and panel displays.

The first bit of tech on display was pre-event: before I entered the main showcase, a Samsung staffer excitedly asked for the NFC-enabled name tag I’d just been handed. She swiped it on a small device, waited a minute, and swiped again. Then she fiddled with the printer next to her, and swiped the card again, and 30 seconds later a coat-check tag printed out.

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I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone

July 1st, 2014 by Darien Graham-Smith

20140629_154932

I hadn’t previously heard of such a thing as a “selfie stick”, but that’s essentially what the XS Me-Shot Deluxe is: an extensible pole onto which you can mount a smartphone to take photos of your beautiful self (with the aid of the included Bluetooth controller).

Cleverly, it’s also being marketed as a summer festival accessory: angle it upwards rather than outwards and you can use it to take photos of the stage, or whatever you’re looking at, over the heads of your festival-going companions.

The Bluetooth controller is quite natty, including a recessed keyboard (needed for entering a PIN so you can pair it with the phone) and various media-player controls as well as a shutter release. The key part of it, though – the pole – is not, as technology goes, a particularly sophisticated bit of kit, as you can see from the picture above.

Does it work?

The extra height certainly does help you get a good perspective across crowded scenes. Here’s a picture I took at Glastonbury using the Me-Shot Deluxe:

20140629_215231

However, although shooting in this way can give you a clearer view of your subject, you’ll notice that it doesn’t get you any closer. It also puts you several feet away from your phone’s display, so you can’t easily check your results between shots, nor adjust the shooting settings should you need to.

I have doubts too as to the device’s suitability to the rough and tumble of a festival. The phone is held in place by a single screw-clamp; I didn’t like to do this up too tightly, for fear of cracking the plastic casing of my Galaxy S4. So instead I found myself constantly worrying that I had left it too loose, and that it may take only an unexpected collision with an enthusiastic Kasabian fan to cause my phone to fall off and be instantly trampled underfoot.

Without a doubt, shooting over people’s heads at a festival can pay off if you persevere (click for a larger image):

Knight

But even though the Me-Shot Deluxe does come with a cute little Bluetooth controller, I’d have to say that standing on tiptoes and holding your phone up by hand is rather less stressful in a bustling crowd – and also rather cheaper.

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