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May, 2008

Google and eBay’s e-commerce argument

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

It’s emerged today that some supposedly ‘anonymous’ criticism of eBay’s proposed monopolisation of Paypal actually came from the bowels of Google. The information was found in some meta-data – the information that links documents to where they’ve come from, among other things – with the name of the document listed as ‘Microsoft Word – 204481916_1_ACCC Submission by Google re eBay Public _2_.DOC’. Pretty damning, it seems, when the submission was supposed to be anonymous.

eBay and Google square up to each other over Paypal

Oops.

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Buzzword Bingo is back

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

For anyone who had hoped that Buzzword Bingo had jumped out of the same 10th floor window as the dotcom investors who excelled in playing it when the bubble burst a few short years back, sorry but I have bad news: it is alive and kicking. The proof can be found within my email inbox every single day as there is always at least one press release that dispels the notion that given enough time monkeys and typewriters can produce meaningful prose (with apologies to sign-reading chimps everywhere.)

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Photoshop Express: Rights and Wrongs

Friday, May 30th, 2008

The web-based economy is bizarre. In the real world you naturally expect to pay for products and services, but out in the virtual world everything has to be free. It’s the world’s biggest all-you-can-eat buffet, in which the browser can gorge themselves day-in and day-out for absolutely nothing. And woe betide the naive web-based developer who breaks the unwritten rule and suggests that they might like something in return.

This point hit home recently when looking at the mini-storm that broke out regarding Adobe’s new Photoshop Express service. Like everything else on the web signing up for Photoshop Express is free – at least for the first 2GB of storage space. However, the original terms and conditions made it clear that by posting to the public galleries you were granting Adobe a “worldwide, royalty-free, nonexclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, and fully sublicensable license to use, distribute, derive revenue or other remuneration from… such Content.” (terms since entirely rewritten)

Photoshop Express in action

Like everyone else my original reaction was horror. They’re planning to sell on my photos! How dare they? All that money should be coming to me! Daylight robbery!

But let’s stand back a little… and get real.

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Strange things afoot in the world of graphics

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Today I’ve been reading about not one, but two rather retro developments in the wacky world of graphics cards, and both have left me scratching my head.

The first is the re-announcement by Asus of its XG Station, which brings external graphics to laptops. It was first “launched” early last year, as a way to get GeForce 7-series desktop gaming power via the ExpressCard slot on a laptop – but we didn’t recieve a review sample, and it soon became clear it would never see the light of day in the UK.

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Firefox 3: Here be dragons!

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Whereas Windows’ constant “are you sure?”/”are you really sure?”/”I really don’t think you should do that, Dave” warning messages could push the Dalai Lama over the edge, it’s nice to see the Firefox developers have a sense of humour.

Type about:config into the address bar of Firefox 3 to start tweaking with your browser’s most delicate settings, and you’ll be greeted with the following message:

Firefox 3 warning message

Do you think the “I’ll be careful, I promise!” button is a subtle dig at anyone, per chance?

The mini Flash marvel

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Corsair Flash Voyager MiniWhen a Corsair rep turned up at Dennis Towers yesterday he told us he’d brought something pretty special to show off. We were therefore distinctly underwhelmed when he said it was…a flash drive.

But this flash drive needs seeing to be believed. It’s been passed all round the office, where it’s invariably been greeted with ooohs and aaaahs of grinning appreciation, and it’s already been suggested that we buy up a job lot of them to use in the Labs.

The reason for all the fuss?

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Look what just blew in… MSI’s Wind

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Since we first caught a glimpse of MSI’s Eee rival, the Wind, we’ve been eagerly waiting to get our hands on one, and just an hour or so ago, one of our lovely contacts at MSI obliged us.

And while the pictures may have looked promising, the Wind is even more alluring in the flesh. The matte white finish looks good, and feels good too. It’s no match for the model looks of HP’s Mini Note 2133, sure, but as our recent review made abundantly clear, looks aren’t everything.



The base feels sturdy enough, and the gentle curves do look rather attractive in a pleasingly plain, understated kind of way. The lid is a little more pliant, and really tugging on it left ripples waving across the display, but it’s clearly strong enough to fend off the odd knock here and there.

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Posted in: Hardware, Just in

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Windows Vista in helpful message shocker!

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

A Vista dialog suggesting a router reboot

I’m not the world’s biggest Vista fan. I don’t have it on my desktop machines, but I do on my laptops since even I’ll admit its suspend & resume is far more reliable than XP’s (or Ubuntu’s, or Fedora’s for that matter). One of the things I truly hate about it though, is the networking configuration interface. It never fails to lead me round in circles no matter how much I use it. It’s like a maze with moving walls and it gives me the willies.

So imagine my surprise today when it actually did something useful. (more…)

Maps?! Where we’re going, we don’t need maps!

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Flux CapacitorGrowing up I always used to love family trips. A bit of sun, sand and ice cream; a nice sing-song; maybe a rollercoaster or two. An uncomfortable dip in the freezing, polluted sea; a nasty bout of the runs in a caravan chemical toilet; the chance to relentlessly bully my little sister and get relentlessly bullied by my big brother.

But there was one thing that really entertained us without fail: the obligatory map-reading fiasco. Some of the finest arguments I’ve ever witnessed occurred in the front of our car, usually to a bizarrely ill-fitting soundtrack of Paul Simon’s Still Crazy After All These Years (thanks for that, Dad). So it’s with great sadness that I realise I’ll never repeat the great shows put on by my parents.

You see, over the last few days I’ve driven nearly 1,400 miles around the UK on a bit of a mountain climbing quest, and the journeys were, it has to be said, uneventful. And it’s all the fault of my car’s newest shiny gadget, its very own 1.21-Jigawatt flux capacitor, if you will. Also known as TomTom.

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When will Sony join the “race to the bottom”?

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

“If [the Eee PC from] Asus starts to do well, we are all in trouble. That’s just a race to the bottom.”

Those were the words of Sony’s senior vice president Mike Arbary, as reported in our news story back in February.

Well I’ve got some bad news for you, Mike. The race to the bottom is well and truly on, and you’ve not even reached the starting line yet.

Dell Mini-InspironDell has today become the latest company to unveil an Eee PC rival, with its Mini-Inspiron (good to see Dell hasn’t lost its touch with imaginative product names).

That bears more than an uncanny resemblance to HP’s Mini Note, which failed to knock the Eee of its pedestal according to our laptops editor, but will still increase interest in this ultra-low budget market.

So that’s HP and Dell on board,  and Acer’s heavily rumoured to be biding its time with an Eee rival of its own. How much longer can Sony afford to hold out? I’ll give it until Christmas.

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