Yearly Archives: 2009



Tomorrow evening represents a huge technological change for football fans as we see the Ukraine v England World Cup qualifier this Saturday become an Internet only event. The move follows the collapse of the television company Setanta who previously had the rights to the game after no alternative agreements with conventional broadcasters were reached.

Personally, I don’t fancy the idea of sitting in front of a laptop, dressed in full England Away Kit, by myself. Half the experience is surely either the pub atmosphere or having the game played on a big screen with a couple of mates and I genuinely wonder how many people will stump up the £11.99 subscription fee (£4.99 if paid two days in advance).

The idea that one method of watching the game is so palatable and one so disagreeable got me thinking about how our opinions of these two types of media are so … Read the rest



Over three years ago my web developer at Refresh Creations wrote an article which I published dealing with the question of formatting a hard drive so that the contents were completely unrecoverable. Whether you plan to sell your computer on at the end of its life, recycle it, give it to charity or even chuck it at the tip, it is imperative that you dispose of any potentially sensitive data on the hard drive.

I try not to recycle articles however meeting people on a weekly basis who would more than happily sell a computer on eBay after having simply used Windows to delete their old data has convinced me that in this instance it is necessary.

With data security becoming a greater issue on a daily basis it’s important to make sure that you securely remove all your data from your hard drives before you decide to sell
Read the rest

Paint.Net v3.5

paintnet is an application I’ve found myself using on a day to day basis over the last couple of years. In my opinion it’s a perfect bridge between the ridiculously simple but underpowered ‘Microsoft Paint’ that’s bundled with Windows and the powerful but expensive to buy and difficult to learn ‘Adobe Photoshop’.

The majority of users will find the features of Paint.NET more than enough for day to day photo manipulation however, also thrown in to the mix, are a number of extremely powerful tools.

Firstly, the application has layers; unless you’ve ever used layers it’s difficult to explain in words exactly what they are and how they can help you. The simplest way to explain them would be to think of them as a number of transparency slides, which when all stacked and viewed together form the basis of a whole image. If you change one of the individual … Read the rest

ISO Format


One of the most common file types used in the distribution of software over the Internet is the .ISO format; these single files contain within them an exact copy of an entire CD or DVD disc. They are ideal because rather than having dozens, hundreds or even of thousands of files to transport you only have one.

There are of course other methods of achieving the same goal; some of you may be familiar with .zip or .rar files which have the added advantage of being able to not only take many files and store them temporarily as one but also compress the data, making the total file size smaller. Unfortunately, when using this method on a media disc you strip out important characteristics of the original such as boot code, disc structures and file attributes which can often prevent an application from running.

As a result of this exact … Read the rest

The iPod Effect


In a time when everybody suddenly seems to be looking to Apple for the next exciting piece of new technology, I’m forced to look back and wonder when everything all of a sudden started to go ‘right’ for them.

Things haven’t always been this rosy for Apple; back in 2001 the ailing technology company posted a year loss of $25 million on revenues of $5.3 billion however, just 7 years later, they posted a $4.8 billion profit in 2008 based on revenues of $32.5 billion.

Such a turnaround is quite remarkable and seems to coincide very much with the release of the iPod; a revolutionary portable media device which enjoyed its first full year of sales in 2002. Initially released in October 2001, the iPod was easy to use and included a large hard drive which had an incredibly large storage capacity compared with the flash media based players of … Read the rest

802.11n Wireless Networking


It’s been years in development but this September it looks like 802.11n Wi-Fi will finally become a standard… well, an official standard anyway.

Presently the majority of the wireless hardware you will buy (routers, wireless network cards, printers etc) will use a networking specification called 802.11g which has a maximum speed of 54Mbps. This maximum speed is being increasingly seen as inadequate as applications become more complex and require more bandwidth.

The successor, 802.11n is being ratified to increase both the speed and range of wireless devices however it should be noted that due to the time the IEEE Task Group n have been arguing about the intricacies, equipment manufacturers got bored and decided to run with the draft specification. As a result, the fact that 802.11n is becoming ‘official’ is unlikely to change a great deal as hardware utilising the new standard has been available for some time now. … Read the rest

Apple Mac OS X ‘Snow Leopard’


This autumn could provide an interesting shake up of the Apple vs. PC debate which has been raging for decades as both Microsoft and Apple unleash their new Operating Systems in to the world.

Windows 7 is due for release on the 22nd October however Apple announced on Monday that the release date of OS X ‘Snow Leopard’ had been bought forward from early September to Friday 28th August - the publication date of this column.

After covering the release candidate of Windows 7 some weeks back I will this week attempt to cover the Apple offering. I don’t own a Mac or the developer version of Snow Leopard and, as such, the overview will be a culmination of what is known by the community so far which, owing to the usual Apple intense secrecy, is relatively little.

It would appear that Apple hasn’t concentrated so much on … Read the rest

BT iPlate


I’ve been writing just recently about slow broadband connections and discussing common methods used to improve line speeds. This week I was pointed in the direction of a little device which claims to potentially increase the speed of your broadband connection for just under £7.

The BT iPlate is of potential use to broadband customers that have more than one telephone socket in their home. It consists of a small plate which is installed in to the master socket and works by attempting to reduce interference picked up by any extension wiring in your home.

It works by cutting out the ‘bell wire’ cable on your line; originally this would have been used by older telephones to allow a physical bell to ring however modern day handsets have a ring feature built in and, as such, it is now redundant. Ideally, (but somewhat impractically) the bell wire would be removed … Read the rest

Online Ticket Scams


This month police managed to shut down 100 online ticket scam websites by taking action through the organisation in charge of registering all website addresses, Icann (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers).

Typically, however, these sites which sell fake tickets for events ranging from Bruce Springsteen concerts to the Olympic games are incredible difficult to shut down due to most of them being based offshore. As such, not only do many still remain but more will surely form to replace the fallen.

There are however simple steps you can take to help safeguard against potential online fraudsters:

- Does it seem too good to be true? Life can sometimes chuck you a nice surprise although more often than not if something looks too good to be true then you’re going to be left disappointed. Alarm bells should start ringing if you’ve been endlessly searching for seats at the O2, … Read the rest

Slow Broadband


Last Friday I talked about a new breed of superfast broadband heading our way, however it would seem that in the current day many users still aren’t achieving anywhere near the maximum speeds promised by their ISPs.

Several months back my parents had their Virgin Media line upgraded from a 2Mbps to a 10Mbps connection free of charge, due to the discontinuation of the older package. This week my father mentioned that he hadn’t noticed a difference and so I performed a quick speed check which confirmed he was still on the old package; an issue resolved by a single phone call to Virgin.

I had a similar issue when Virgin upgraded me to 20Mbps without replacing my old, slow modem; once again a quick speed test provided me with the fodder to give them a call and get a new, faster broadband modem free of charge.

It is always … Read the rest