Thursday, August 31, 2006

QSST Quiet Supersonic Transport

QSST Quiet Supersonic Transport

This is an uber-gadget that only someone like Roman Abramovich or Donald Trump could afford. Think of the Learjet meets the Thunderbirds and you'll get something close to the QSST.

Basically the QSST is a private jet that can travel at supersonic speeds but without the sonic boom associated with normal supersonic flight. "The comfort of a private jet and the speed of a fighter jet."

The "If Dreams Could Fly" video is very impressive.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Don't Download This Song

Wierd Al says: "don't download this song" but as always he's just kidding!

Download This Song Here - 192kbps MP3

Saturday, August 26, 2006

PlayStation 3: Gaming Console, Media Centre, Scientific Research Machine??

BBC NEWS : PlayStation 3 tackles world ills

This is nuts! Sony have lost the plot, dropped the ball or whatever you want to call it. There's so much talk around the PS3 but so little action. Now it's going to run research projects with it's 'spare' processing power!? Nice!

Friday, August 25, 2006

DSL Linux

DSL (Damn Small Linux) is a Linux distro based on Debian that has been slimmed down to the bare essentials to enable it to run on anything from a 486 up. The great thing about it is that like most Linux distributions it comes with a whole host of hand appliations pre-installed. If you have a network card you have the potential to connect to the internet in a secure and safe environment (connecting to the internet with Windows 95, 98 or ME is not a good idea). This type of slimmed down OS is ideal for countries where access to the latest hardware is beyond the reach of the average person. Take any working machine with a CD drive and you can have a fully loaded system in no time at all.

Another good use for DSL is the ability to have a fully bootable OS on a small USB thumb drive. This can be very handy when diagnosing faults.

Out of interest I took an old Dell Latitude XPi CD M133ST that we had laying around here and work and tried installing DSL on it. I was able to locate this handy how to which helped a lot. Following those instructions closely I was able to install DSL in under 30 minutes. I popped in an old PCMCIA NIC and hey presto I'm on the net. In fact I've been writing this post for that machine, a Pentium 133mhz MMX with 32mb of ram, 1.6GB hard disk and a 12.1" SVGA screen. Obviously it's not the fastest machine in the world but it's more than useable. I could quite easily use email, basic web browsing and IM no problem at all. Add to that the built word processing and spreadsheet apps and I can do all the basics.

I think DSL is well worth a look if you need to ressurect an old machine and want to run on a modern stable OS.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Apple do a Dell and issue a recall on 1.8m laptop batteries

BBC NEWS : Apple recall on laptop batteries

Looks like this battery recall lark will cost Sony a ton of dough. If you've got a battery affected by this recall then it's a real boon since you'll be entitled to a nice new battery. Hopefully one that won't cause a fire either! Talking of batteries my Pismo's battery has finally died after 6 years of life. Not bad really since Li-ion batteries generally have a 3-5 year life span.

Tiny, sub-$100 PC runs Puppy Linux

Tiny, sub-$100 PC runs Puppy Linux

So you thought the Mac Mini was small, check this out! Not only is the MicroClient Jr. small it's also mega cheap, sub $100. Proof that a Pentium 166MHz cpu can still be of some use when twinned with an efficient OS.

Big rise in broadband connections

BBC NEWS : Big rise in broadband connections

No surprises here really.
Broadband uptake has been fuelled by a host of attractively priced offers from companies such as Carphone Warehouse, BT and BSkyB.
Ironiacally in another report the BBC 'uncovered' that TalkTalk's free broadband is rubbish. Suprise surprise! There's a big difference between a good deal and free.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Black MacBook @ Apple Store, Regents Street

My first hands on experience with the new Apple MacBook. To be quite honest it was even slicker than I expected. I've seen a lot of notebooks in my time but this is certainly one of the best looking ever!

Not only did I look at the black model but I also had a quick look at the white version (let's face it £150 extra just for black...?). I did notice that the white models seemed to have gone a little bit grey. Maybe it's the composition of the keyboard surround but it seems to attract the dirt. On the other hand the units in the Apple Store do get a lot of wear and tear.

Monday, August 21, 2006

MS Work Simulator

10 years on and this comic is still just as appropiate. :-)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

AnandTech: Mobile CPU Wars: Core 2 Duo vs. Core Duo

AnandTech: Mobile CPU Wars: Core 2 Duo vs. Core Duo

How does the new Intel Mobile Core 2 Duo fare against it's Core Duo predecesor? Simply put a very good chip just got even better:
While Core 2 Duo does look nice, as long as you've got a good notebook today you'll probably want to wait until Santa Rosa before upgrading (at the earliest). With Santa Rosa, clock speeds will go up slightly but more importantly we'll get access to a faster FSB. Unfortunately a side-effect of keeping Core 2 Duo fed with a faster FSB is that while performance may go up, battery life may go down. It'll be interesting to see what Intel can pull off with the new platform; one of the funny things about performance and battery life is that if you can complete a task quickly enough thus returning your CPU to an idle state faster, battery life will grow even though instantaneous power consumption may be higher.

For Apple users this means that early adopters of the new MacBook or MacBook Pro won't be too pressured to upgrade again by the end of this year. Of course Apple has this way of making incremental changes irresistible.

I bet we'll see Intel Core 2 Duo chips in the MacBook Pro before the end of the year. Those laptops will simply fly! Also the good news is that you could drop a Core 2 Duo chip into a Mac Mini... imagine that!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lenovo rolls out Linux Thinkpad

Lenovo rolls out Linux Thinkpad : Tom's Hardware

IBM Thinkpads running Linux. Well IBM Thinkpads aren't really IBM anymore but Lenovo and Linux is nowhere near as wierd to use as it used to be.
Lenovo today announced at the Linux World conference that it will be offering a version of its flagship Thinkpad model T60p. The notebook comes typically with Windows XP, but is now available with Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 software as well. Lenovo hopes that especially people involved in engineering and applications will find a Penguin-powered mobile computer attractive enough to shell out some extra dollars.
I think it's good news to see Linux distros being installed on business grade machines. When it comes to operating systems I think it's important to keep an open mind.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A tip for improving Skype call quality

I'm an avid user of Skype but one thing that annoys me is when I get poor call quality. There are of course a number of factors that influence the quality of a Skype call (or any other VoIP service):

1) Bandwidth (especially your upstream)
2) CPU speed
3) Other apps running in background
4) Quality of your sound setup etc

There is however one other factor which can have a huge influence on the quality of your Skype calls. If you're using your PC behind a NAT router / Firewall, which almost everyone should be for security, then this will effect you. Basically if you're behind a router Skype will route your call through a 3rd party, a 'supernode'. This will negatively effect your call quality. Luckily the way around this problem is fairly simple.

Within Skype there is an option to select the port which Skype uses to connect. Change this number to another port, something random above 1024 and less than 65535. Just doing this should improve your call quality. If you're using an older router you'll also want to configure port forwarding on your router. Add the port you've setup for Skype and have it forward to the local ip of your machine.

For more information check out Episode 34 of Security Now! Show Notes unveils new beta version

Techcrunch » unveils new beta version

At long last will be getting some much needed love from Google. There are plans to include a number of great features in the new version of Blogger such as tagging and privacy.

I'd also love to see them go through and clear out the unused blog accounts. There must be thousands of 'blogs' on Blogger that don't have any posts and have been registered for years. There should be a way for Google to reclaim these spaces.

Dell to replace (4.1 million!?) notebook batteries

Dell to replace notebook batteries - Yahoo! News

This is one hell of a recall:

A Dell spokesman said Monday that the Sony batteries were placed in notebooks that were shipped between April 1, 2004, and July 18 of this year.

"In rare cases, a short-circuit could cause the battery to overheat, causing a risk of smoke and/or fire," said the spokesman, Ira Williams. "It happens in rare cases, but we opted to take this broad action immediately."

Li-Ion batteries are prone to being rather unstable but normally there is a microchip in the battery that will monitor the levels in the battery and close off any defective cells. It looks like something is very wrong with the design/implementation of these specific batteries.

For more information about the recall and to see if your battery is affected check Dell's Battery Recall website.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Zero Sugar Dr Pepper

Diet soft drinks are all the rage, that is of course unless you think they're disgusting. Back in the old days (last year) if you wanted a sugar free Coke or Coke brand drink you'd go for the Diet version. Welcome to the modern age, when choice is everything and taste is nothing.

Here's the low down on Coke Zero (and the other Zero products) as found on Yahoo Answers:

"Diet Coke - Although it came out two years before “New” coke, diet coke that we’ve enjoyed since the 80s is the sugar free form of new coke. In other words, it’s based on the formula for the “New Coke” that wasn’t released yet (it debuted in 1985) when Diet Coke hit the market (1983), and is also now no longer available. (the New coke). Coca Cola has no plans at this time to discontinue the aspartame based Diet Coke, as it is third in the soda market. (After Coke and Pepsi, respectively.)

Coca Cola Zero - Sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame potassium., the reason this is different than Diet Coke is Coca Cola Zero is a sugar free version of the Classic Coke formulation. In other words, this is meant to be a sugar free version of the red cans of Coke you know and may or may not love. It has a redder, deeper color close to the color of Classic Coke and tastes far less like a diet soda (by many accounts) than Diet Coke."
Ok so that's the technical aspect to it all but how does it taste? Well I've already tried Coke Zero and it tastes better than Diet Coke that's for sure yet the same is not true of Dr Pepper Zero.

Simply put... it's like Dr Pepper but less sweet and with a pretty gross after taste. Really you start off thinking "hmmm this is ok" then end up thinking "ugghhh"!

This whole removing sugar from sugary drinks is a false economy in my opinion. If you want a healthy drink then buy water or juice. Otherwise just go for the plain old high sugar fizzy pop that you know and love.

"Zero Added Sugar - Great Taste" Who are they kidding!?

Microsoft security - no more second chances?

Microsoft security--no more second chances? : CNET

Microsoft is fighting the security weaknesses in it's front line OSes but is it too little too late?

Ever since Bill Gates announced Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing initiative four and a half years ago, the company says it has reshuffled its development priorities. Cool new features were to take a backseat to improved security and privacy.

Yet the problem lingers. In the last three years, Microsoft has issued an increasing number of yearly security bulletins, in which several patches get put online to fix problems in existing applications. The company sees this as evidence that it's on top of things, not an indictment of managerial incompetence.

It'll be fascinating to see if Windows Vista can really make the grade in terms of security. If it can't then I'm sure most users will not stomach another 6 years of security hell.

If you're a Windows user then I emplore you to install the following:

1) Windows XP SP2 or Windows 2000 SP4 (if you're using 95/98 or ME then consider upgrading or switching to Linux or Mac)
2) All the latest Windows updates, keep running Windows Update until no new updates are found.
3) Window Defender Beta 2
4) Lavasoft AdAware
5) Anti-Virus - AVG & AntiVIR are good free options
6) Firefox (it's much safer than IE6)

If you have none of these installed already then the chances are you're contending with pop-ups and viruses on a daily basis. Your system is probably so badly infested that you're distributing viruses and spam without even knowing it. If you fear that your system has been compromised I suggest you run Sysinternal's Rootkit Revealer. Rootkits are a spyware's best friend, they sit underneath the OS and are almost impossible to remove. If you have one then the best option is to format and re-install. Once you have a fresh install then you'll need to install the software listed above (that usually takes about 4-5 hours).

If you're running a Mac with an Intel chip and you've decided to run Bootcamp or Parallels then bear in mind that you'll need to take these precautions too if you want to protect your Windows install.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Clash of The Titans!

Forget ZUNE, this is were the real battle will take place. The thing is, I love both firms :( perhaps they can form an alliance?
MacNN | Nokia on collision course with Apple

Samsung develops first 3" VGA screen for digital cameras | Tom's Hardware UK and Ireland

Samsung develops first 3" VGA screen for digital cameras
Samsung announced that it has developed the first 3" LCD for digital still cameras (DSC) that is capable of displaying a resolution of 640x480 pixels (VGA).
I do wonder just how big is too big for a camera screen.

AnandTech: Apple's Mac Pro: A Discussion of Specifications

AnandTech: Apple's Mac Pro: A Discussion of Specifications
By the end of this year, Intel will be shipping Clovertown, a quad core version of the dual core Xeons you see in today's Mac Pros. If Apple chooses to, with minimal effort, it could release 8-core Mac Pro systems in a matter of months (assuming Intel keeps its accelerated CPU schedule).
Full speed ahead!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Essential Gadget for Gamers!

VGA Adaptor Box

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The iBrella - the Wii controller for your iPod?


In the world of gadgets, we know that they are not all meant to be that practical, sometimes it is just enough to say you can. Take the iBrella for instance. This is a proto-type controller for the iPod which uses motion to control the playback functions, and even opening and closing the umbrella to start/stop your music/video playback. I think it is just for fun, but a lot of work has gone into it.

As has been said already around the Net, I wouldn't fancy using it when it was actually raining, especially if it was during a thunderstorm, as this poor unfortunate can attest, but it is a cool idea, and the video demonstration makes great viewing!

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