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October, 2011

Google must get a grip on the Android orphans

Friday, October 28th, 2011

HTC Tattoo

We may have griped about the problems we had upgrading our iPhones to iOS 5, but at least those old handsets are being upgraded to Apple’s latest OS. A new piece of research published in the US suggests the majority of Android handset owners are being left behind by the ever-evolving Google operating system.

The research, by Michael DeGusta from, tracked every Android handset released in the US before July 2010, and then recorded how many of them had been updated to the latest version of the OS. The results were startling.


Photoshop-style Content-Aware Fill, for free, on your phone

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

We’ve covered Adobe Photoshop CS5’s stunning Content-Aware Fill feature on the blog before, as it’s an undoubted head-turner: the ability to draw around an unwanted object in your photo and, with a bit of tech trickery, watch it disappear, with the gap filled by the app’s best guess as to what should be there instead.

That’s the kind of feature you expect to find on paid-for software such as Photoshop CS5 and Photoshop Elements, but there’s an app that’ll do the same thing for free on Android and iOS devices – TouchRetouch. Here’s how it’s worked its magic on one of my holiday snaps, with a couple of inconveniently-placed tourists removed from in front of this Cretan ruin:

Before 1 (more…)

Will tablets suffer the same fate as netbooks?

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Asus Eee PC 701When did you see your first netbook? I spotted a fellow commuter pecking at the Asus Eee PC 701 not long after its October 2007 debut, and I was impressed: powerful enough for basic tasks and smaller than any laptop I’d ever seen, it seemed like a genuine innovation.

Fast forward, and I spot my first iPad: on the Tube, its user oblivious to the envious gawping of fellow travellers. For me, it had a similar effect, heralding the arrival of another exciting, innovative type of product.

That’s not the only parallel between netbooks and tablets but, as far as I can see, others aren’t nearly so positive. The netbook’s story has been a sad one: that initial flurry of excitement withered by staid products, precious little evolution and a stagnant market.

Look beneath the iPad – which is still a premium product – and the tablet market could suffer from many of the same problems. (more…)

Upgrading to iOS 5: what worked and what didn’t

Monday, October 17th, 2011

iOS 5 iPad

Here at PC Pro, we try and do things so that you don’t have to. That’s why we’ve spent a good part of the weekend installing iOS on as many different Apple devices as we could lay our hands on. Although judging by the comments on our Twitter feed and earlier story about iOS 5 problems, many of you haven’t hung around to find out how we got on…

Our experience should help guide people who have yet to click the magic button in iTunes. And even if you’ve already downloaded iOS 5 onto your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, some of the problems and workarounds we’ve discovered will still be of interest.

Here’s what we’ve found:


Google’s new AdWords algorithm

Friday, October 14th, 2011


The peak shopping period is upon us and, for most online shops, the effectiveness of their Google AdWords campaigns can make the difference between a fruitful festive season and a bleak new year.

It’s at just such a critical moment that Google is rolling out changes to its AdWords algorithms having successfully tested them on its users in Spain, Portugal and Latin America. The algorithms are used to determine where in the sponsored rankings your ad will appear so a change can mean a dip in your position and consequent loss of traffic which, as business hots up, can cost a lot of money. The knee-jerk reaction is then to increase the bid price which, of course, reduces profitability – again costing money.


Why you shouldn’t let builders anywhere near your Wi-Fi

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Hard hat

I’ve just had a proper argument. My circle of friends and even a few colleagues at Dennis will tell you, this isn’t unusual of itself, so I won’t do the down the pub routine that relies heavily on the phrase “So then I said…”. I’ll give you the helicopter view.

It was an argument about Wi-Fi. I went to a meeting to go through re-wiring a retail shop to accommodate a CCTV system, the sales PCs, the PDQ card-payment setup, and the email workstation. There was also a couple of new ventures, in the shape of kiosks for customers to look through the website and ask about styles, sizes and colours not visible in the shop.

At this meeting were the proprietors, me, and a jobbing interior decorator. The list of snags, water leaks and bits of paint and the like was long and diverse: then we came to the wiring. Just a small shop, but very quickly we arrived at a total of 15 locations. It’s also an old building, which means that it won’t be falling down any time soon; but conversely, drilling holes is going to be a proper rufty-tufty builder’s job, one I am very glad I won’t be undertaking. Looking at the job in hand, the jobbing builder decided to propose a different approach: Why not just put in wireless?


Eight of the best projects at Intel’s Research Day

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Richard-BrutonI’ve just got back from one of Intel’s occasional research days. The last one I went to – in Santa Clara, California last June – showcased some fascinating projects, including wireless power, a processor with 48 cores and a home energy sensor that could automatically identify when particular devices were switched on and off.

None of them has so far become a real product (though there are definite similarities between the 48-core Rock Creek CPU and the 50-core Knights Corner architecture). But it’s always fascinating to see what the chip giant’s boffins are working on. This week’s event – held at the company’s offices in Leixlip, near Dublin, and opened by Irish business minister Richard Bruton (above) – showcased several intriguing new ideas – as well as one eerily familiar one. Below the cut are some of the highlights. (more…)

Dennis Ritchie RIP

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

It has been announced today that Dennis Ritchie has died.  His death will not receive the news coverage afforded to Steve Jobs’ death and, having met him a couple of times, I am sure he would be shocked if it did. However, if in computing there is a case of other people standing on the shoulders of giants, Dennis Ritchie could be nominated as one of those giants.


Asus Zenbooks review: first look

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

DSC02475With last night’s launch of its Zenbook range, Asus has unveiled its long-awaited take on Intel’s Ultrabook concept. One thing’s for sure – the Taiwanese giant clearly isn’t pulling any punches. With both its new models, the 11.6in UX21 and the 13.3in UX31,  positively oozing slimline sex appeal, Asus is deadly serious about taking the thin-and-light fight to Apple’s MacBook Air.


500px – the site to finally topple Flickr

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

500px editors choice

Yahoo hasn’t got much right over the past decade, but one of the best decisions it made was to buy the photo-sharing site Flickr. Alas, like many of the other once-excellent services in its portfolio, Yahoo has allowed Flickr to stagnate to the point where the only reason to keep using the site is the size and talent of its user community.

The Flickr homepage looks like its designers went on strike in 2003, its uploading facilities are basic and it simply doesn’t display your photos in their best light.

For months I’ve been looking for an alternative to Flickr, and at last I think I’ve found it: 500px.


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