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October, 2010

Creepy Facebook adds friend stalker tool

Friday, October 29th, 2010

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Oh Facebook. You never do learn, do you?

The social networking service has unveiled a shiny new “See Friendship” button on the site, letting users see “the story of their friendships”. But instead of “See Friendship” being a nice little add-on feature, Facebook has again taken it one step too far and hurled itself crossed the creepy line. (more…)

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Posted in: Newsdesk, Rant

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Adobe MAX 2010: HTML5 and Flash

Friday, October 29th, 2010

Just how committed is Adobe to HTML5?

It’s a serious concern. Adobe is not only the developer of the main professional HTML authoring tool, Dreamweaver, but also of the Flash platform which promises to take the browser beyond HTML into richer, more powerful territory. Clearly there’s a possible conflict of interest here – a point I made at the launch of the latest CS5 suites when the page-oriented Web Standard suite was dropped in a blatant attempt to push designers towards the Flash-centred Web Professional suite.

Unfairly promoting Flash is one danger, but far worse is the possibility that Adobe would want to hold HTML5 back. This suspicion dawned with the limited HTML5 capabilities in Dreamweaver CS5 and was reinforced by Steve Jobs’ attack on Flash which ended: “New open standards created in the mobile era, such as HTML5, will win on mobile devices (and PCs too). Perhaps Adobe should focus more on creating great HTML5 tools for the future, and less on criticizing Apple for leaving the past behind.”

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There’s a real danger here that HTML5 and Flash could be driven into opposing camps in the war between Apple and Adobe, and you really don’t want to bet against HTML. Based on the latest Adobe MAX 2010, it looks like Adobe is well aware of the potential trap and has acted accordingly.

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The real reasons we have to wait for BT’s fibre-to-the-premises broadband

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

“Fibre-to-the-Premises rolling out next year!” scream the headlines. It sounds so easy. But wait: most people will have to be patient, with fibre not arriving until 2012 for many, and 2015 for many more.

Why, you might well think, do I have to wait that long? I was despatched to one of BT’s FTTP trials in Milton Keynes to find out how much work goes on behind the scenes, and this blog post will reveal everything you need to know — probably more than you ever wanted to know — about the labour put in by engineers to get a tiny little cable to your home.

Two things to keep in mind: first, Milton Keynes, being a newish sort of place, has a well-planned duct system, making the trial a bit more straightforward than it could be in other locales. FTTP in older cities won’t be so easy or even possible, while others will get fibre access over telegraph poles instead.

The other thing to remember is this: fibre is really, really thin. Surprisingly so.

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(more…)

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Posted in: Newsdesk

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Android App of the Week: Winamp

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

WinampThe Android Market’s brimming with media management apps but, until this week, I hadn’t been entirely convinced by many: GrooveShark proved buggy, Last.fm seemed slow and kept churning out the same tunes, and others are hampered with fiddly user interfaces.

WinAmp, though, is a name I trust, having used it for years on desktops – and now that it’s arrived on Android, albeit in beta form, I had to give it a go.

It certainly makes a good first impression. It’s styled after the desktop version, and the UI is clean and simple – a breath of fresh air when so many apps try to cram as much information on screen as possible.

Instead, the bottom of the screen offers play/pause and previous/next track controls that remain persistent across every screen in the application. If you’d like more information, though, simply swipe upwards to open a larger tab, which contains the song’s name, album art, repeat and shuffle settings and a link to the song queue. You can also press the song’s name to search for it on YouTube or Google and, if you’ve got the app installed, scrobble the track with Last.fm. (more…)

Novatech nTablet review: first look

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

The Novatech nTabletThe tablet trend is in full swing and while we’re used to seeing these machines sidle up to the iPad with either Windows or Android in tow – we’re trying to block the JooJoo, with its proprietary, Linux-based OS, out of our minds entirely – devices that include both of these operating systems are rarer beasts.

Despite their relatively scarcity, the Novatech nTablet seemed instantly familiar – and a few minutes with the device revealed why. While it has a shiny Novatech logo along the bottom bezel, it’s actually the same device as the ViewSonic ViewPad, which we examined back in September. (more…)

The £100 billion question: is the cloud good for British business?

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

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Here’s an interesting question to ponder: is the cloud good for your small business but bad for employee relations? The question started to form some weeks back after I penned a piece here entitled free cloud computing for your small business in which I concluded that the smaller your business, the bigger the benefits of the free cloud.

I was somewhat taken to task for making this assumption, both publicly and particularly in private via email where, using language that would shock an Irish builder, it was explained in no uncertain terms that I was talking out of my posterior again. The main argument being that free cloud services suck because free service support always sucks on the one hand and any business which entrusts its data to the cloud, free or otherwise, is bereft of common sense. I disagreed then, and still do now. The cloud is, inherently, good for business. Period. But whether it is good for staff relations could well be another matter.

A newly published Populus Poll, commissioned by cloud service provider Keboko, which suggests that cloud computing could save UK businesses a staggering £104 billion per year. This research, consisting of interviews with 1,117 adults, calculated that with the average UK worker tied to their desk for 37 days a year just to carry out basic admin tasks and an average hourly wage of £13.04 multiplied by some 29.02 million people in employment that the cost of ‘red tape’ was £104 billion a year.

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Where is Spotify for eBooks?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

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The eBook market should be booming. Prices for readers have never been lower and there are plenty of services available. Yet somehow the model just doesn’t seem to work – and the reasons seem horribly familiar.

The publishing industry’s current attitude is like a flashback to the music industry as it was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the digital age.

We’d all love access to hundreds of books and travel guides in a lightweight, easy-to-read device with a long battery life, but I also want a decent selection of books at a fair price, with the same level of freedoms offered with a paperback. That’s where the services from everyone from Amazon, to Apple and Barnes & Noble fall over.

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Death of the sales channel

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Death of a sales channelThe news that Microsoft will have a software e-shop for Windows 8, and that Apple will be doing the same for its forthcoming Lion version of OS X, should be ringing alarm bells in the boardrooms of the high-street vendors, and the online e-shops.

The reality is that customers like buying from a curated store, with easy installation, payment and updating. And they like the low prices that this method tends to bring. In addition, developers love it because it allows for them to concentrate on app design and not on website design, credit card handling, and the huge overhead of keeping in touch with customers for updates.

However, if you’re in the business of selling packaged software, then you are about to have your Titanic moment. (more…)

Building a business website: why you should (mostly) avoid the DIY option

Monday, October 25th, 2010

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Creating a business website requires specialist design skills and technical knowledge: neither of which are necessarily in the toolkit of the average business owner. And yet having a professional website is increasingly a matter of necessity rather than choice. Stir in a measure of financial restraint and the traditional choice of hiring a web design firm for a four-figure fee is simply not a viable option.

So what are we left with? PC Pro reader Grahame Berney got in touch regarding this very dilemma. As a designer himself, Grahame is constantly being asked by small businesses how they can have a professional web presence without breaking the bank. (more…)

Why Mozilla needs to pick a new fight

Monday, October 25th, 2010

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One of my very first gigs when I started at PC Pro in 2007 was to interview Tristan Nitot, the president of Mozilla Europe. He was an affable chap, full of engaging answers to questions he’d no doubt heard a hundred times before. The interview practically wrote itself – though for the sake of appearances I held the pen.

Safari for Windows had just been released and I asked Tristan what he thought of it. “I want Safari to have a significant market share. We want choice, we want innovation, as a company that’s what we stand for,” he told me.

(more…)

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