Category Archives: Hardware

Tablet PCs – How Durable Are They?

After several attempts of introduction into the market around the mid-2000s, tablets are now big business. The vision of ‘holding the internet at the palm of your hand’ has finally come to life, having conquered our minds, hearts, and pockets. But it so happens that these gadgets are most prone to accidents. We carry them everywhere and more than any other device we use them in highly precarious environments such as train-stations, shops, in the kitchen, even in the bath!

It is no wonder then that tablet durability has become a matter of high-priority, as well as a unique selling point for tablet manufacturers, some of which go into extreme lengths to ensure their products’ endurance in various conditions.

This puts the end-consumer in a predicament: is reasonable amount of care in handling our tablets enough, or should we be compulsively paying for extra insurance at the point of purchase? … Read the rest

Help! I Lost My Tablet!

Forgot your precious tablet on an airplane or on the train? A location-based find-my-device feature might fail where connection is limited, or due to the way it’s configured (some users disable their location features). It is astonishing to see gadget owners despair when technology doesn’t readily come to their rescue. A highly feasible and often overlooked way to retrieve lost gadgets is to do things the ‘old school’ way, and use companies’ lost and found service.

An interesting statistic: more tablets are left behind on airplanes than mobile phones. As soon as off the plane, people tend to reach for their phones, whereas tablet devices often go unnoticed. And lack of identifying features (especially with a self-locking mechanism in place) leave a large number of tablets unclaimed, and ultimately deemed as lost property.

But some cases can be reassuring.Virgin America, for example, reports a new policy of handling valuable lost … Read the rest

What’s So Great About The Raspberry Pi?

29th February 2012 wasn’t just another extra day in the leap year’s calendar; it also marked the launch of the Raspberry Pi. The single-board computer has been developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation – a charity founded to promote basic computer science education. It marks a revolution in science teaching as it can easily be adapted to create a number of diverse projects, teaching students valuable computing skills.


This mini-PC uses a Broadcom BCM2835 system on a chip (SoC), including a 700 MHz ARM1176JZF-S processor and comes in two models both having 256 megabytes of RAM: the Model A which costs $25 and Model B which costs $35. Model B has two USB ports and an Ethernet port while Model A only offers a single USB port.

Software & Operating System

The Raspberry Pi uses a Linux-based kernel operating system, Debian, by default. However, Iceweasel, Calligra Suite, and Python … Read the rest

Installing a graphics card in four easy steps

Specialist companies relish the opportunity to earn a bit of easy money from performing 10-minute fixes. Such is the demand for graphic cards and memory that businesses can make a killing off consumers unwilling to carrying out the installation themselves. The truth is, you can find out most what you need to know through a simple online search and step-by-step guides like the one below.

So, if you’re a PC gamer and need a hand introducing your new graphics card to the system, observe the following points.

Un-install drivers

First off you’ll want to disable your old graphics card before inserting the new one. Failing to do this will see your computer trying to trace the previous chip when the new one has been inserted into the motherboard. So, after right-clicking on ‘My Computer’, click on the ‘properties’ button before finding ‘Device Manager’ located within the ‘hardware’ tab. Your current … Read the rest

How Does 3DTV Work?

Have you ever wondered how 3DTV works? How does the 3D image get produced? The basic principle behind 3DTV is quite simple, but the technology has definitely changed over the years.

What is 3DTV?

Before we delve into what 3DTV is, let’s first understand how our normal vision works. Our vision is binocular – we have two eyes that are about three inches apart and face forwards. This causes each eye to see a slightly different image to the other one. The brain puts these two images together and creates our perception of perspective and depth. So essentially, it is our brain that creates the 3-dimensional world that we see, when given slightly different visual information from each eye.

Old Style 3D

To create a 3D image, each of our eyes needs to receive a slightly different version of the image from the screen. Many years ago this was achieved … Read the rest

A Brief History of Wearable Computers

Gone are the days when a ‘compact computer’ filled an entire room or when a laptop required a chunky external battery to be considered as a ‘portable’ option – these days, most of us are walking around with smart-phones which have many hundreds of times the processing power of the Apollo lunar landing computers, but how far away are we from truly ‘wearable’ computing technology?

Roulette à la ‘James Bond’

The earliest example of a wearable electronic computer was devised by a mathematician in the 1960s, who developed a small counting machine, which was designed to predict the results of roulette spins; this required some cooperation between a group of users in order to be effective, with one data-gathering lookout transmitting the wheel spin speed data via electronic switches hidden inside their shoes; the data in question was a coded signal, consisting of musical notation was then sent to a … Read the rest

Long term data storage – SSD, Internet, Magneto Optical

Last week I spoke about a gentleman I met who was creating a family time capsule and had come to me to ask the most effective way of achieving data that he wished to be available past beyond his lifetime.

The question is an interesting one as when you look in to the technology available you realise that many forms of media are simply incapable of storing important data for more than a couple of years. By way of example, a couple who videotape the early years of their child on to a DVD disc may be disappointed when ten years down the line the data has been destroyed by way of natural degradation of the media.

The last article already discussed the pros and cons of Hard Drives, Optical Media, Flash Drives, conventional Paper and Tape drives and so this week conclude with the remaining options I would consider:… Read the rest

Long term data storage

I’ve had a few people ask me just recently what method I would recommend when planning a long term backup strategy. One elderly gentleman in particular was creating a family time capsule that he wanted his children and grandchildren to be able to view many decades from now.

The question isn’t as easy as you may think. You may imagine that the data could be burnt to CD, locked in a cupboard and that it would last forever however unfortunately this isn’t the case. There are literally hundreds of suitably stored but physically decayed CD’s from my teenage years which I could use as testament to that.

Therefore I’ve made a list of common formats one would usually consider for archiving a large amount of data so you can pick the most suitable one for your needs:

Hard Disk - When used on a regular basis a hard disk will … Read the rest

AC Networking Part 2

One of the biggest growth areas for home computing this decade has been the humble network.

At the turn of the century it was most often the case that we used a single machine connected directly to a phone line whereas now it would be rare to find a home that hasn’t been networked to some extent. Applications range from wireless Internet on a laptop, file sharing between two machines, a hard drive set up to distribute media around the home, a wireless printer which all the family can access or a games console piggybacking the main Internet connection.

The conventional methods of deploying a network around your home are well known; you can either connect via a network cable or connect wirelessly over the airwaves and while usually suitable, both methods have potential disadvantages. A wired network is of course limited by a physical connection being needed between your … 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