Monthly Archives: February 2009

Useless Bundled Software

I was setting up a new laptop this week and, half way through, got thinking to myself what a peculiar state of affairs we have got ourselves in to.The machine was set up and ready to use straight out the box but then I was required to spend half an hour removing all the crummy software that had been loaded by the manufacturer.Bundling software has become big business for the computer manufacturers as they are paid by the software developers themselves for every copy they distribute so below I have made a handy list of items that you should remove immediately:

Avoid: Adobe Acrobat Reader
Acrobat Reader is widely considered to be overly boated and unstable.
Superior Alternative
: FoxIt Reader ( represents a small, capable, stable and free alternative.

Avoid: Trial Internet Service Provider Offer
Not only is it unlikely to be the Read the rest

Microsoft Simple Basic

Something I believe should be missed most about the 8-Bit Computer era (think Commodore 64’s, Sinclair Spectrums and Amstrad CPC 464’s) is the BASIC programming language which was built in to pretty much every one of these machines.BASIC not only allowed users to make their own programs, but also acted as the primary computer Operating System and since a rudimentary grasp of it was required to use even the simplest of functions, most users would have at some point also got around to writing their own simplistic computer programs.At the age of about six, I think my first program went something along the following lines:

10Print “Chris is Ace”

20Goto 10

The language was so simple that even those that had never used a computer before shouldn’t have had any real difficulty picking it up.Indeed, even those who have never seen a piece of BASIC code should be ashamed at Read the rest

Connecting your Computer to a TV #2

Last week I discussed potential methods of connecting your PC or laptop to your television.Such an easy project has many potential rewards such as being able to play your games on a massive screen or avoiding the need to burn your downloaded movies to disc before playing them.While we covered the potential methods of connecting the video output (if you missed last week you can catch up at, you do of course also need to connect the sound.

Unless you are lucky enough to have a HDMI port on your computer (which carries sound as well as video), you will need a separate cable and as with the video, the method you choose depends on your existing hardware:

Analog RCA (Radio Corporation of America) Connection

This is the most common audio input present on a TV or any other Read the rest

Connecting your Computer to a TV #1

Connecting a computer to your TV is an extremely simple process, it is therefore surprising that so few people have taken the plunge.The most obvious use in my mind would be if you downloaded a film off of the Internet then rather than having to burn it to disc to play in your DVD player, you could play it directly from the computer however.There is also the added advantage that now most TV’s support high resolutions (a measure of how many pixels the screen can display) you could use it in place of a conventional monitor; your favourite game and even the Internet would look much better on a 42” widescreen!

There are a number of ways to connect a TV and computer and below are the three most popular:

S-Video (Separate Video)
This standard is supported primarily by older, non HD compliant TV’s which don’t display the kind of Read the rest