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March, 2010

First look review: Acer Aspire Timeline X laptops

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Acer’s Aspire Timeline range is no stranger to PC Pro’s A List, and so the chance of getting to grips with the newly redesigned laptops was more than enough to send us sprinting the 500 metres from our office to the Sanderson Hotel, where Acer was unveiling its latest Timeline X laptops to the UK press.

Timeline X range LOWRES


Time for Ofcom boss to go

Monday, March 29th, 2010

Ed RichardsWhat would it take to make Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards angry? It seems you could set a bomb off in his back pocket, and it would barely muster a disgruntled tut.

Today, Ofcom’s own research has conclusively proved that ISPs are simply ignoring the regulations laid out in Ofcom’s Voluntary Code of Practice on Broadband Speeds. Fewer than half of the ISPs called in a mystery shopping exercise volunteered information about the actual speed a customer could expect on their broadband line – a key requirement of the code.

Has Richards reacted with unbridled fury to the revelation that ISPs are plainly flouting the rules? Is he going to make good on his 2008 promise of mandatory regulation if the ISPs failed to abide by the voluntary code? Is he even willing to name and shame the ISPs that aren’t playing by the rulebook? No, no and no.


Looking forward to WordPress 3

Monday, March 29th, 2010

wordpress3WordPress 3 has been slated for release in May and, although this version won’t be an entirely new animal there are a couple of significant changes I’m looking forward to.

Firstly, the MU (multi-user) version is being merged into the mainstream product. WordPress MU enables a single installation to power multiple sites, assuming these sites use the same plugins. MU is the technology behind and is ideally suited to single organisations that want to allow users/members/staff to have their own blogs. The roadmap is clear: soon there will be only one. (more…)

Is Nvidia burying the launch of its Fermi GPUs?

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Nvidia It’s no exaggeration to say that the launch of Nvidia’s Fermi-based cards is one of the most important in the firm’s recent history.

After all, Nvidia has taken quite a beating from ATI, which has released two generations of GPUs in the time that it’s taken Nvidia to unveil its first new architecture since the G92 core, which ushered in a bevy of GeForce 8000-series chips. And then 9000-series cards. And then, after that, a raft of low-end GTX 200 and GTX 300-series parts.

It’s odd, then, that Nvidia has launched its new cards in such a low-key fashion. The official launch was at the Nvidia-sponsored PAX East event, which isn’t a trade show or celebrity-studded party but a gaming festival and LAN event held in Boston. While it’s a big event, it’s not on the level of CeBIT or CES, and there’s no sign of the concurrent global launches that numerous tech firms, including ATI, have favoured in recent years.


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Posted in: Hardware, Rant


PR, politics and money: the real reasons Google’s leaving China

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Chinese keyboard

Talking about censorship on the internet is a doomed endeavour. Contrary to popular belief, the internet isn’t a forum for discussion, it’s a bullfight. Online articles are taunted and teased, while crowds of anonymous faces spit vitriol. In most cases the importance of the topic is almost directly proportionate to the weakness of the comments posted, as people flock to defend their already entrenched opinion and strike out at imaginary sleights – rarely adding anything of worth to the debate.

Constructive debate requires expertise and open-mindedness. Online debate could almost be defined by a lack of both. We don’t visit online articles to praise them. We come to bury them. This is my belief and I want you to understand how deeply it’s held, because I’m about to talk about censorship on the internet, or the appearance of it, at least.


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Posted in: Rant


Why do my Windows 7 thumbnails keep disappearing?

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Windows 7 thumbanils
This is the sight that’s beginning to wear me down. Pretty much every time I go into this folder, which contains hundreds of images that we’ve used on the PC Pro website, half the thumbnails have mysteriously disappeared.

It seems I’m far from the only person being blighted by this problem. Start typing “Windows 7 thumb…” into Google, and the first entry in the auto-suggestion list that appears under the search box is “Windows 7 thumbnails not showing”. Click through and you’ll find sites and forums swelling with complaints about vanishing thumbnails, in both Windows Vista and its bigger brother, 7.

One of those forums led me to what I thought was a blissfully simple solution: press F5 (in the same way as you refresh a browser screen) and the thumbnails suddenly reappear. Unfortunately, that proved only to be a temporary solution. The next time I went back into the folder, many of the thumbnails had scarpered again.

I simply can’t understand what’s causing this problem. The thumbnails file can’t be corrupted, as they instantly reload when I hit F5. And it’s not a problem with some images, as different thumbnails come and go each time. What’s more, it’s a local folder stored on my desktop, not one stored on the server, so there’s no issue with server lag.

I’ve checked on Microsoft’s Knowledge Base and it doesn’t appear to have an answer. So it’s over to you, the good readers of PC Pro. Rescue me from my thumbnail misery. I beg you.

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Posted in: Random


Photoshop CS5 demonstrates its stunning new party piece

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

The now-familiar release cycle of Adobe’s Creative Suite is signalled by two things: the hype and expectation of  those who rely on Adobe’s applications and prices that, especially for UK users, seem to soar further into the stratosphere with every new version.

A single new feature, though, has awed the PC Pro office and suddenly made CS5 seem like fantastic value for money. It’s been dubbed the Content-Aware Fill, and has been shown off in a YouTube video narrated by Bryan O’Neil-Hughes, a product manager on the Photoshop team.

The dull, businesslike name hides a potentially revolutionary feature: if you’re not happy with an item in your picture, select it, delete it, and Photoshop will analyse the surrounding area and plug the gap as if it never existed.


Posted in: Random, Software


Video blogging: how to get started

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

p10Promoting your business using multimedia  is becoming increasingly popular as the line between TV and the internet continues to blur, so I decided to dip my toes in the shark-infested waters of video blogging.

Given that I didn’t know how I’d take to it, I wanted to invest as little time and money in finding out. Here’s how I did it…

Is the best Cambridge’s techies can do?

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Thatsmyface babyTake a good long look at It is a service that takes 2D mugshots and turns them into a 3D facial representation, which can then be used in a variety of ways.

You can have life masks in nice picture frames; a face mask of yourself as a caricature or as the opposite gender; or (here’s the best option) your own action figure, dressed up in any one of 60 handy costumes. When I looked at the site, its banner advert seemed to be slightly confused, advertising the face reproduction service with a shot of Daniel Craig’s phiz tastefully framed and bordered by what looks like part of the American Flag… but this isn’t my point.

Every year the Cambridge Computer Lab Ring holds a dinner, which is preceded by a few meetings, lectures and a bit of old-school face-to-face social networking. Some years it’s a bit ho-hum (a meeting of uber-nerds is effectively a black hole for charisma), though it’s almost always a mistake to play “spot the entrepreneur” with these guys.


Ubuntu 10.4 beta is bloody brilliant

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

I’ve been playing with the Ubuntu 10.4 beta for the past two days, and it’s bloody brilliant. You’re sick of hearing it, I know. Every Ubuntu release sends fanboys scrambling for the same, old script – the one where Ubuntu cracks the mainstream, crushes Windows and convinces the ignorant public that open source can cure cancer and inspire world peace.

In the same breath, Windows and Mac users tut, admire themselves in their glittering operating systems and wonder why they’d ever bother switching. Canonical is smart enough to recognise that most of us are entrenched with Windows or Mac OS X, and rather than demand you abandon them, it simply offers a ladder and a chance to peek at what lies on the other side.


Posted in: Newsdesk, Random







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