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May, 2010

Buying an Apple iPad: a very personal shopping experience

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

Alan Stonebridge is a staff writer on PC Pro’s sister title MacUser. Despite this privileged position, 6am on Friday morning found him queueing to buy one of the first Apple iPads on sale in the UK. Here, he shares the unique shopping experience.

Alan Stonebridge queueing for the Apple iPad in Regent Street (more…)

How to save £64 on a 3G iPad

Friday, May 28th, 2010

iPadAnd so the pandemonium begins, as the Apple stores fling open their doors and the nutcases who queued up overnight are handed their shiny toys and rewarded with a patronising clap from the shop staff. However, if you haven’t already rushed in and scooped up an iPad 3G, you could save yourself £64 or more by following a tip sent in by PC Pro reader Chris Pomfret.

(more…)

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Posted in: Random

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First look review: New Asus Republic of Gamers GPUs and motherboards

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Asus Crosshair IV Extreme

Asus’ latest showcase highlighted a quartet of new products from its enthusiast-level Republic of Gamers range and, as usual, we didn’t come away disappointed – after all, the Taiwanese firm showed us the heaviest graphics card we’ve ever seen.

It’s called the Ares, is named after the Greek god of war and features two ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics chips strapped to one PCB. The choice of ATI graphics is certainly interesting: the last card in this range, the Mars, was named after the Roman god of war and included a pair of Nvidia GeForce GTX 285 cards. We’re assuming that the heat generated by Nvidia’s latest graphics cards is part of the reason for Asus’ switch of allegiances.

Asus AresThe list of specifications is mouth-watering. The combined GPUs boast 3,200 stream processors, each runs at 850MHz, and four gigabytes of GDDR5 memory is crammed onto the packed PCB. Asus’ own benchmarks, run in 3DMark Vantage, show a 25% increase in speed over a Radeon HD 5970.

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Whisper it, but Microsoft might get Internet Explorer 9 right

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

IE9 demoI went to a preview of the new version of Internet Explorer in London last night, and for the first time in over a decade in this business, I left an IE briefing convinced that Microsoft had finally got it.

Why? Well, firstly Microsoft didn’t show off a single new browser feature. Not one. No resource-hogging wastes of space such as Web Slices, extra toolbars or other such nonsense that Microsoft has pummelled into previous versions.

It has apparently dawned on Microsoft that the reason people use a browser is to visit websites, not fiddle around with browser toys. “I pay money for the play, not the theatre,” said Ryan Gavin, the head of the Internet Explorer business group when I asked where all the new toys were hiding. “That’s why I’m not sitting here talking about this feature or that feature, because it’s really not that important.”

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The top 10 HTML5 sites dissected

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

HTML5 might be a new and emerging technology – heck, the specification isn’t even completely decided yet – but there are plenty of websites out there that are already taking advantage of HTML5 features, and have been for some time. I converted my personal site to be HTML5 compliant back in December 2009.

There are several HTML5 gallery sites currently knocking about (HTML5 Gallery and 101 Best HTML5 Sites to name just two). Here, I’m going to examine 10 HTML5 websites and briefly describe what new  features they are using. Some of these sites are favourites of mine, others have been included because of the new HTML5 features they take advantage of.

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Did you waste time playing Pac-Man on Google?

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

google pac-man logo 

Naughty Google! You’ve been wasting employees’ time by forcing them to play Pac-Man when they should have been searching for information that would helped their companies make more money!

Or: Cool Google! You celebrated the 30th anniversary of Pac-Man by producing a superb playable version of the classic arcade game inside the Google logo!

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Do you care about environmentally friendly companies?

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Globe Last week myself and several other journalists attended a briefing held by Kyocera, and, once we’d eaten the complimentary sandwiches and made cooing noises over a couple of new printers, we were pointed towards the numerous posters and PowerPoint slides containing the company’s inevitable green message.

Amid all of the targets, awards and earnest promises, though, I detected plenty of of cynicism. Not from the journalists, but from the employees giving the presentation. Apparently, Kyocera launched its “environmental messaging” back in 1992 but, apparently, back then “no-one gave a crap” – so the scheme was left to fade away.

We were then told that it was revived in 2001 as environmental issues became more important – or, as a Kyocera representative told us, “before green crap was fashionable”. It’s an odd attitude to take, especially since the firm’s executives would surely say that green policies are central to its success. (more…)

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Posted in: Green

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Apple iPad in depth: the travelling experience

Friday, May 21st, 2010

My old laptop rucksack and my new Apple iPad travel caseI have a large laptop bag that will probably look rather familiar. It’s black, well padded, has more pockets than I know what to do with – but I’ve been very happy with it for the year or so I’ve had it. In this bag I carry my laptop, spare battery, charger, assorted paperwork and a plethora of other stuff. Fully loaded it weighs about 7.3 tonnes and, after a day lugging it about, leaves indents in my shoulders.

And since my Apple iPad arrived I’ve only taken the bag out once. (more…)

The psychology of the Windows 7 taskbar

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

Bayon desktop

One of the new features in Windows 7 that barely ever warrants a mention these days is the revamped taskbar.

This is the first version of Windows that not only allows you to ‘pin’ your favourite applications/folders directly to the taskbar, but also to place them in whichever order you choose (at least, without downloading Tweak UI).

What effect has the new taskbar had on the way we interact with the Windows desktop? Have people stopped piling application shortcuts on to the desktop? Are taskbars overflowing with icons? Or is the ‘pin to taskbar’ feature simply ignored?

A survey of the desktops of the PC Pro team reveals it’s a combination of all three, with different members of the team deploying different taskbar tactics. Here are the three different types of taskbar psychology deployed in the PC Pro office.

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Posted in: Random

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In defence of Mozilla Firefox

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

firefox has lost it Barry Collins just asked me to take a read over his “Mozilla founder is right: Firefox has lost it” blog, and while I’ve pressed the Publish button I absolutely disagree with his views.

It takes 30 seconds to fire up the browser, Barry says. Well perhaps it does, but it’s still much faster than Internet Explorer, and in general my homepages – pcpro.co.uk and google.co.uk – are ready and waiting for me within ten seconds.

(more…)

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