Reader Contribution

This week has been pretty hectic for me, so for todays Click article I’m going to hand over to my most avid contributor, Ian McMillan, for a few updates on the IT industry as he sees it.

One of the biggest stories in the computer world recently has been the fuss that is being made over Google’s plans to introduce an online storage scheme.The media pounced on this story after notes from a Google company meeting were inadvertently published on the internet, see only actual surprise here is that such a fuss has been made – there is currently no shortage of online storage facilities, with Streamload ( being a popular free service with paid upgrades.The fuss may be due to Google’s size and the fact that it already has encyclopaedic knowledge about its users’ computer habits.

In the news as well lately comes the revelation that many people now spend more time online than they do watching the television, see fits me to a tee since I spend very little time watching Coronation Street compared with using my broadband connection!

Also from BBC news, an old e-mail hoax has resurfaced.There have been rumours that free webmail services like Hotmail and Yahoo! are about to stop being free and start charging a fee for their services, see is a bit of truth in this, as there are plans to introduce “premium” e-mail services which guarantee rapid delivery and a receipt confirmation. This could indeed be useful for business users who do not want their inboxes to be bogged down with adverts for fake Viagra and get rich quick schemes. However, free webmail supported by advertising looks completely safe for the time being.

A big row has broken out over Microsoft’s decision to include support for Adobe’s PDF (Portable Document Format) format in Office 2007.It looks like Office 2007 will not have PDF saving included in its default options due to licensing issues, but there are a couple of free alternatives anyway. OpenOffice, which Chris reviewed some time back, allows documents to be saved in PDF format as one of its default options and has done for some time.Also, a piece of freeware called PrimoPDF at allows any printable document to be saved in PDF format.There are various other “free” PDF converters that contain watermarks and advertisements, but PrimoPDF has neither and is completely free.

Recently the BBC did a feature on the security of information stored in USB memory sticks and similar devices.This is undoubtedly more of a problem now that external memory is so popular, and people should think carefully before placing confidential material on removable media as they are often lost or stolen. There are, however, several ways to make removable media more secure.One is to use a password protected ZIP or RAR file, and another is to use standalone encryption software.There is unfortunately a lack of really good free encryption software available for download, but give Remora USB Disk Guard a go by heading to is a free demo version which can encrypt files of unlimited size, but the interface is a bit basic.

A quick news note is that Windows Vista is now scheduled for launch in early 2007 having been originally scheduled for September 2006 and then Christmas 2006.

Ian MacMillan, via e-mail.


About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.