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September, 2010

Google Instant: how blacklisting could damage your SEO

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Censor webMaking sure a small business gets exposure when it comes to Google search is big business in itself. But what happens to your SEO strategy when you unknowingly fall foul of the Google Instant blacklist?

The Google Instant what, I hear you asking? Ah yes, it’s not exactly something that the search giant is shouting about from the rooftops, unsurprisingly, but certain keywords and phrases are censored when you use Google’s new predictive search feature.

As a writer, I understand better than most that some words can be offensive, but more often than not that offensiveness comes from the context in which words are used. And that’s where I start running into real problems with the kind of all or nothing, list-based censorship that Google is employing – and the impact it has upon the innocent small business struggling to get noticed online.

Sure, if you are using some racially or sexually offensive slang in your marketing I have no sympathy when your campaign and business crashes and burns. In fact, I jolly well hope it does. However, if you’re using keywords such as ‘domination’ and ‘naked’ within a totally innocent business-related context then I fail to see why that business should be penalised by a severe dose of misguided political correctness.

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First look: HP Envy 14 Beats edition

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

HP BeatsWe’ve been waiting to get our hands on HP’s Envy laptops for what seems like an eternity, and now HP, ever the tease, has allowed us a brief fling with its latest addition, the Envy 14 Beats Edition.

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Amazon Kindle vs Sony Reader Touch: how do they handle PDFs?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

The latest generation of eBook readers from Amazon and Sony proves that, finally, the technology has come of age. They boast the latest E Ink screens with improved refresh rates, and a whole lot more besides. The Kindle, in particular, with its built-in Wi-Fi and 3G turns the consumption of novels into a totally new experience.

But there’s a hidden side to these eBook readers. They’re often used to consume dense, technical or academic material, usually in PDF format, and these documents are often awkward, containing diagrams, figures organised in tabular form and text organized in columns.

In the US the Amazon Kindle DX covers this sort of scenario perfectly, but over here you’re stuck with the smaller devices, so it’s critical that zoom features, text reflow and panning are easy to use. We’ve already noted in our full length review that the Sony Reader Touch PRS-650 does all this well, and better than the Amazon Kindle at that, but at the request of a handful of readers (human ones), here’s a more in-depth analysis and comparison. (more…)

iPhone App of the Week: TiltShiftGen

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Tilt Shift 3It speaks volumes about the inadequacy of the iPhone’s camera that there are so many titles at the top of the App Store chart devoted to “enhancing” its photos.

TiltShiftGen specialises in generating those toy-town-like photos, where only a thin slither of the photo is kept in focus, making it look like your lens is peering into a miniature world. It does this, of course, without appending a horrifically expensive tilt-shift lens onto the iPhone. Instead, all the hard work’s done by the software.

Three sliders allow you to control the degree of blur, saturation and contrast of the photo, while dabbing at the photo on the screen sets the point of focus. Darkening the corners of the photo with the vignette controls completes the effect, helping to draw the eye towards that narrow, focused patch.

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Is AMD about to put the boot into Nvidia?

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Nvidia GeForce GTX 460It must be tough being Nvidia. A few short weeks after it looked like the green team was back on track thanks to the award-winning GeForce GTX 460, a slide of Radeon HD 6000-series specifications has been leaked – and it looks likely that AMD will kick Nvidia into touch before year’s end.

The leaked information concerns the Radeon HD 6750 and HD 6770 which, if the past two generations are to be believed, will sit in the middle of the upcoming range. There’s evidence to suggest that the new series is more evolution than revolution, with both cards still using the 40nm fabrication process that was introduced way back with the HD 4770 and the GDDR5 memory that’s been commonplace for the past year.

Nevertheless, the list of specifications hints at the increased power that AMD has been able to eke out of its new Northern Islands family, of which the Barts XT core is the first representative. The HD 6750 will allegedly have a 725MHz core accompanied by 1,120 stream processors, and its compute performance of 1.624TFlops sits between the HD 5770 and HD 5850 in the pecking order. (more…)

Hotmail security upgrade: too little, too late

Monday, September 27th, 2010

Hotmail photo viewerHotmail’s slipshod security was the main reason I jumped ship from Microsoft’s webmail service way back in 2005. Dealing with an inbox stuffed full of unfiltered spam, phishing attacks and other malicious messages was about as much fun as picking hair out of the plughole. In Wormwood Scrubs.

I kept my account open because various website registrations were still linked to that account, but I’ve seen nothing to tempt me back into regular use. Quite the opposite in fact. In the past few months alone, both a colleague at work and my girlfriend have had their Hotmail accounts hijacked and used to send malicious links to everyone in their address book.  Microsoft insists this problem is industry-wide, but I’ve never seen a Gmail account hacked in such a manner.

Microsoft knows this is a serious problem: today it’s announced a series of “upgrades” to Hotmail’s security… that don’t go anywhere near far enough, in my opinion.

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How to store website data with HTML5

Monday, September 27th, 2010

html5 storage

Throughout your web browsing careers I’m sure you’ve come across the notion of cookies, pieces of text stored by the browser to be retrieved and used at a later date. These vary from simply remembering your name to welcome you personally next time you visit, to more complicated storage of authentication and shopping-cart contents.

Cookies generally work well but can be fiddly to implement, as they are set to be deleted by default once the browser is closed. If a website owner needs the data to be stored for a longer period, a cookie can be given an expiry date. Again this isn’t as clean as it could be: how far into the future do you set the date, for example? And what happens when a user flushes out their cookies?

HTML5 attempts to clean this up with the introduction of web storage.

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Android App of the Week: Epicurious

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

EpicuriousEpicurious is one of the slickest Android apps we’ve seen yet. While that might have something to do with its iOS origins, cookery enthusiasts will be pleased that the mobile version of this popular culinary website has escaped Steve’s walled garden and found its way into the wider world.

Open the app and you’re immediately greeted with a selection of categories that reflect different situations and levels of kitchen experience.

A category for cookery novices sits beside a selection of recipes for more experienced hands, while other sections serve up dinner party menus, recipes for kids, and ideas for lavish desserts, healthy lunches and quick breakfasts. (more…)

Free Apple iPad: no thanks say workers

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

ipad
You might have thought that bribing your workforce with a free Apple iPad would be a good way to get them motivated. Guess what? You’d not only be wrong, but you would be ‘I’ve just wasted a bleedin’ fortune on iPads that nobody really wanted’ wrong according to a survey of more than a thousand office workers.

The organisers of the 360° IT Infrastructure Event (ironically enough, a name that totally failed to motivate me into attending this week) asked office workers about the technology that would motivate them into doing a better job. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, only 1% said an Apple iPad. A 57% majority kicked in with a boring old new laptop while 35% wanted a new desktop (who are these people?) and a slightly more tuned-in 21% wanted a smartphone. But, and it has to be worth repeating myself here, only 1% said an Apple iPad.
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Apple vs Adobe: some surprising statistics

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

blog ios web share

I recently came across a very interesting bit of analysis on the Macworld site. According to a survey by Net Markets based on usage share across 160 million unique visitors spread over 40,000 websites:

“Apple’s iOS mobile operating system is now the third most popular platform on the internet, with a share nearly six times larger than Android’s… more than enough to shove Linux off its perch as the third-place operating system on the web.”

Now that really does sound impressive, especially in the context of some quotes from Vince Vizzaccaro, a Net Applications vice president, regarding overall mobile share and the iOS percentage: “Mobile’s growth curve is strong and mobile is becoming quite a phenomenon on the internet… That’s massive when you think about it… we’re seeing iOS totally dominate the market on the web.”

So just what are these amazing figures?

(more…)

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