Skip to navigation

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from www.pcpro.co.uk

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at http://www.pcpro.co.uk/registration.

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.

// Home / Blogs

March, 2012

Why BT should have been handed Britain’s fibre fund

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

BT engineer fibre

So here we are, almost two years after the Government set aside £530 million to help British broadband, and not one citizen has had their broadband access improved as a result of that public money.

We’re three years away from the Government’s target of universal 2Mbits/sec broadband – a target so appallingly unambitious that a former chief technologist of BT recently told a Lords committee that “you might as well not bother” – and you’d do well to find anyone who even thinks even that is achievable.

Earlier this month the Government published a progress report on how the broadband money was being allocated. “We set a demanding timetable and I’m pleased that we are making such fast progress,” culture minister Jeremy Hunt crowed. Of the 44 local authorities listed, only six had even entered the procurement phase. If that’s what Hunt calls fast progress, let’s hope he’s never put in charge of NHS waiting lists.

(more…)

Is Office 365 the best thing that’s ever happened to Linux?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Office365

Currently, my office PC is running the betas of both Windows 8 and Ubuntu 12.04 — a situation that is doubtless pushing Dennis Publishing’s IT manager a little closer to his well deserved nervous breakdown.

Yesterday, I spent the day working solely in Ubuntu 12.04 to see how the OS is progressing. I’m a big fan of the tweaks made to the Unity interface; the drop-down killing Head Up Display is tinged with brilliance if currently a little sluggish; and the Ubuntu Software Store is maturing nicely. However, there’s one thing I’ve always missed when working in Ubuntu: Outlook. Despite the protestations of the Linux faithful, neither Evolution nor Thunderbird — the two default mail clients in recent versions of Ubuntu — are a patch on Outlook when it comes to dealing with an Exchange Server.

The only other option was to worm in via Outlook Web Access, but because there’s no Linux version of Internet Explorer, you were forced to use the horribly rudimentary stripped-down version, which was spitefully designed to punish people who had the barefaced cheek to run Chrome or Firefox. The old version of Outlook Web Access made Lotus Notes look cutting edge: even basic tasks such as creating a meeting were akin to a colonoscopy, and you could literally make a cup of tea in the time it took to perform a basic keyword search of your inbox.

(more…)

TweetDeck 1.3 review: better, but not quite there yet

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

In December, the newly Twitter-owned TweetDeck client was thrust upon us, charmlessly sweeping away the old suite’s power and flexibility. It was such a backwards step that more than three months later, I’m still using the unsupported existing client.

This week, TweetDeck was updated to version 1.3, with the developers saying they’ve listened to feedback and made some much-needed improvements. While that may be true, when you start again from near zero as they have, it’s difficult to get back to where things were in a few months.

List management

You can now create lists from within the app, and every user now has an “Add or remove from lists” option on their profile. The lists themselves work fine, but the creation process is unnecessarily arduous. You have two options. If you spot a tweet from a user, you can use the “Add” option on their profile. But if you want to manually make a list in the first place, here’s the creation screen:

tw_list

(more…)

HP Z1 workstation review: first look

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

All-in-one machines tend to trade versatility for style and space-saving, so HP’s new Z1 workstation came as a bit of a shock.
It’s easy to see why: in similar fashion to the consumer TouchSmart 610, this business machine’s 27in screen tilts down to a horizontal base. Use the green button on the stand and you’ll quickly reveal the Z1’s main party tricky, though. The 27in screen lifts up in a smooth motion – helped by a hydraulic pump – and the entirity of the Z1’s internals are laid bare.
It’s the first time we’ve seen an all-in-one prove so versatile when it comes to component access, and HP hasn’t just latched a motherboard to rear of a high-quality panel. It’s clear that plenty of thought has gone into the Z1’s design. The Nvidia Quadro graphics card slots into a PCI Express 3.0 slot that’s more reminiscent of a laptop’s SO-DIMM, and it’s powered by a bespoke adapter that plugs in seamlessly when the card’s installed.
The two SSDs (or one hard disk) are installed in a plastic caddy that slots in and out of the machine without the need to fiddle with cables, and the rest of the components are just as accessible. The two large fan units can be clipped in and out, the bespoke power supply is slotted into an area on the right of the machine, and daughterboards at the front and side of the Z1 provide connections for the four speakers and the range of ports on the right-hand side.
HP’s intention was to provide a no-compromise workstation specification in an all-in-one chassis, and the Z1’s specification doesn’t disappoint. Intel’s latest Xeon processors are locked and loaded, and the sample we’ve explored is fitted with an Nvidia Quadro 4000 graphics card. Our sample had two SSDs in tow, but HP supports 10,000rpm hard disks, and the whole machine is ISV certified.
The 27in display is constructed from an IPS panel and boasts a 1080p native resolution, but it’s not yet touch-enabled – something HP hopes to change in the future. We were told that the monitor is capable of supporting touch – obviously something that’s more pertinent when Windows 8 arrives – but the relevant sensors haven’t yet been installed.
Combine that with Blu-ray and plenty of RAM and there’s potential for a world-beating workstation, but the Z1’s top specifications will cost top dollar, with the best possible configuration weighing in at £2,499 exc VAT.
There’s plenty of variation here, though. The Z1’s bottom specification – which includes a mere Intel Core i3 processor and integrated rather than discrete graphics – costs £1,349 exc VAT, and HP was keen to stress that prices would fluctuate depending on the number of machines that businesses were willing to buy.
The superb design, fine build quality and copious amounts of power do plenty to justify those prices, but we’re not without reservations. Even with sensor-controlled fans on board we’re keen to stress-test the Z1 to see how effective HP’s cooling is, and the sheer number of bespoke parts on board presumably means any spares are going to cost top dollar too.
Still, it’s one of the most innovative all-in-ones we’ve seen, and the inventive design also makes it one of the most versatile. HP intends to start shipping in mid-April, and that’s when we’ll be giving the Z1 our full review treatment. Until then, let us know what you think in the comments.

HP Z1All-in-one machines tend to trade versatility for style and space-saving, so HP’s new Z1 workstation came as a bit of a shock.

In similar fashion to the TouchSmart 610, this business machine’s 27in screen tilts down to a horizontal base. It’s an impressive feat, but it’s not the Z1’s main party trick. Click the green tab on the stand and the 27in screen lifts away in a smooth motion — helped by the sort of hydraulic cylinder that’s usually found on a car boot — and the entirety of the machine’s internals are laid bare.

It’s the first time we’ve seen an all-in-one prove so versatile when it comes to component access, and HP hasn’t just lazily screwed a motherboard to the inside of its machine; instead, it’s clear that plenty of thought has gone into the Z1’s design. The Nvidia Quadro graphics card slots into a PCI Express 3.0 slot that takes inspiration from SO-DIMMs found in laptops, and it’s powered by a bespoke adapter that plugs in seamlessly when the card’s installed.

(more…)

Why your iOS update may have refused to download

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

iPad keyboard dock

If, like me, you were left scratching your head last week when your iPad refused to download the latest update to iOS, there is a very complicated explanation.

This bewildering problem coincided with the release of iOS 5.1. I downloaded the patch on the iPhone 4S without any problem using the office Wi-Fi connection, but attempts to upgrade my iPad at home were met with an “unable to check for update” error message.

Naturally, I griped on Twitter and went online to discover dozens of other people having the same problem, with Apple support forums suggesting that changing your DNS servers to those of OpenDNS or Google’s DNS service would fix the problem. Alas, diverting my router to OpenDNS did nothing for me, and in the end I resorted to downloading the update via iTunes, but it seems many people did indeed succeed once they’d changed their DNS servers.

(more…)

Adobe Shadow: a free way to test mobile sites

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Adobe shadow_128x128Quite apart from the technical challenges of developing mobile websites, the sheer hassle of having to refresh one or more mobile devices every time you make a change is enough to drive designers to distraction.

Adobe Shadow aims to eliminate this wearying process and marks a welcome return to innovative form for a company that, to me at least, seems to have stagnated lately. Furthermore, this is a tool that could only have been dreamt up by someone actively developing websites, and if this means Adobe is getting closer to its users and responding to their needs, that can only be a good thing.

As with so many good ideas, the principle is simple (in retrospect). Once set up, the contents of your desktop web browser are displayed on the screen of the mobile device, rendered natively. So the design process is no more onerous than for standard websites: make a change, hit refresh and watch it appear on all connected devices. This is actually rather magical when you first experience it, but it very quickly becomes an invaluable resource, almost like having several attached monitors.

(more…)

Bringing the Start button back to Windows 8

Monday, March 19th, 2012

MainMenuRelations here at PC Pro have been a little strained these past few weeks, the main bone of contention being the merits (or otherwise) of Windows 8’s new approach to finding and launching desktop applications. There’s no dispute that, for touch devices, Metro is a workable and even likeable system. But there’s plenty of frustration over the way Microsoft seems determined to force it on desktop users too, to the extent of replacing the Start menu with a full-screen Metro page.

So I’m indebted to reader Neale Killick for bringing to my attention a free little tool called Start8, by Stardock software, which promises to “bring back the Windows Start menu”. Install it within the Windows 8 Consumer Preview and a comfortingly familiar Start orb appears at the left end of your primary taskbar. Click it, though, and what opens isn’t the much missed Windows 7 Start menu – but a miniature Metro Start screen.

(more…)

Spotify: what’s gone wrong with your mobile apps?

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

spotifyI’m a massive fan of Spotify and gladly pay my monthly £10 to access music on my mobile, but I can’t be alone in despairing every time I open up the app on my Android phone.

Take a look at the desktop software: a range of apps, handy for discovering new music, the radio, and easy access to thousands of public playlists.

The mobile app – at least on Android and iPhone – seems stagnant. I’ve been using Spotify for about a year, and I can’t remember the last time a useful feature was implemented during an update. Instead, it’s easy to put together a list of stuff it’s missing. Those three features I listed in the second paragraph, for instance.

Other omissions are more basic. Take the starred list: on desktop, like virtually every media playback application in existence, I can organise by a number of factors, including the name of the track, the artist, when the song was added and the track’s length. On mobile, meanwhile, the list is presented in the order in which it was made, with no other options available. (more…)

Meet the first people queueing for the new Apple iPad

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Apple announced its latest iPad on March 7, and the world went into predictable meltdown. Two Londoners, though, had a far more simple way of coping with such exciting news – march down Regent Street, plonk down a couple of chairs, and wait.
First in the queue is 21-year-old Zohaib Ali, and he’s sat alongside 18 year-old friend Ali Tarighi. They’re slumped next to the Apple Store’s main entrance, with bags full of fizzy drinks strewn around, and there’s no doubt the two attract plenty of glances in the middle of a busy day.
Zohaib explained that he’s a veteran when it comes to extreme Apple queuing: “I did this for the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2″, he says, and there’s a clear reason why he’s willing to put himself through such a challenge: “because we want to be first”.
So, what’s it like spending a week outside the Apple store? “The staff come out and say hello, and they’re really nice”, says Ali, “and some people come up to us and say good luck, and say they’re coming back to queue later. At night people come up and laugh, and tell us we’re crazy and mad.”
“If we didn’t have the store’s WiFi we’d be screwed”, Ali says – Zohaib has his laptop and iPad 2 out as we speak – but he seems pretty chipper about the prospect of waiting for for almost a week. “Right now it seems that time’s actually going pretty fast.” That doesn’t last, though, with time “slowing right down” as the launch gets closer and the queue grows in size.
Zohaib is understandably excited about the improvements the new iPad brings to the table. “It’s going to be the best one yet”, he says, with the “1080p video recording and retina display” ensuring that it’ll be “a real improvement over last year”.
Ali might be queuing for almost a week, but he’s less impressed with Apple’s updated iPad. “The A5X chip is nice, but quad-core on a tablet is kind of overkill. I’m a little annoyed they’re not adding Flash support, too.”
He’s hardly enamoured with Jony Ive’s famously minimalist design, either. “I think [Apple] could have done more”, he says, saying that Apple has “been a bit lazy with the 4S and the new iPad”.
It’s easy enough to throw words like “fanboy” at Zohaib and Ali – after all, some might say they’re a little too dedicated to the Apple cause, and Zohaib told us it was “Apple or nothing” when it comes to his mobile devices.
Ali, though? He’s not so certain: while he owns an iPhone and an iPad, he confessed to us that he’s actually a big fan of Windows, and of building his own PCs. At least he’s seen sense, then, when it comes to his home computer – even if it’s not quite enough to make him go home and pre-order the new iPad like everyone else.

Apple queueApple announced its latest iPad on 7 March, and the world went into predictable meltdown, with demand already causing delays to orders. Two Londoners had a far simpler way of coping with such exciting news — march down Regent Street on Saturday – that’s 10 March, almost a week before launch – plonk down a couple of chairs, and wait.

First in the queue is 21-year-old Zohaib Ali, and he’s sat alongside 18-year-old friend Ali Tarighi. They’re slumped next to the Apple Store’s main entrance, with bags of fizzy drinks strewn around, and there’s no doubt the two attract plenty of glances in the middle of a busy day.

Zohaib explained that he’s a veteran when it comes to extreme Apple queuing. “I did this for the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2″, he says, and there’s a clear reason why he’s willing to put himself through such a ordeal: “because we want to be first.” (more…)

Tags: ,

Posted in: Random

Permalink

Speculative invoicing: are anti-piracy threat letters set to return?

Monday, March 12th, 2012

court

A porn distributor is working with a third-party firm to send letters threatening legal action to accused illegal file-sharers unless they stump up hundreds of pounds in settlements.

Regular readers of PC Pro will be feeling a bit of déjà vu at the moment, but I’m not talking about Andrew Crossley’s ill-fated “speculative invoicing” affair, which ended with the ACS Law solicitor declaring bankruptcy and suspended from practising his profession for two years.

Rather unbelievably, an entirely different porn company is trying the same trick (and has been for some time) — even though its lawyers dropped out last year.

(more…)

Authors

Categories

Archives

advertisement

SEARCH
SIGN UP

Your email:

Your password:

remember me

advertisement


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010