website-design

Starting out as a Webdesigner

This article is aimed at giving some rudimentary tips and guidelines which help in making a website designing business a successful one. Starting off a new business is as critical as it More »

Pidgin - Multiple Instant Messenger Service

If like me, you find yourself juggling multiple messenger applications to keep your friends, family and colleagues happy you will be glad to hear about Pidgin. Formally known as Gaim, Pidgin is More »

Spider Player - Free music only media player

Despite the fact there are an inordinate number of media players available, it is difficult to find one that is quite as well rounded as Windows Media Player; the application included as More »

Cashback Websites - Get money back on online purchases

I have a saying that goes something along the lines of ‘A penny saved is 1.22 pennies earned’ and while I’ll admit it’s not the catchiest of proverbs it certainly does hold More »

Windows 7 Hidden Gems - Additional functionality

I’ve been living with Windows 7 for a good few months now and in that time have discovered a couple of little ‘hidden gems’ which I wanted to share with you: Aero More »

WEEE – What is it good for?

weee-logo

The UK Department of Trade and industry (DTI) last month released its final plans for the implementation of the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive which over the past couple of years has caused a great deal of controversy.The directive focuses on the disposing of old electrical and electronic equipment by making manufacturers responsible for taking back and recycling products that have come to an end of their natural lifecycle.

There are of course people arguing on both sides of the fence both for and against WEEE which I will discuss this week in Click since my technologically savvy readers will quite clearly be affected by it in some way or another.

On the positive side this directive should result in several benefits to the environment by providing manufacturers with an incentive to design their equipment in a more environmentally conscious manner. Additionally the directive will provide the consumer with an avenue to return their waste equipment to the distributor free of charge rather than feeling that they should simply chuck it in the bin.

The downside is that many believe WEEE will result in prices of electronic and electrical prices rising as firms pass on these recycling costs on to the consumer.Many European countries force manufacturers to publish the recycling levy on the price tags of affected products which is something that the UK is not going to enforce although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.Pricing goods at a base price with a recycling cost added on top could be detrimental as once a visible fee is introduced it would most probably settle at a certain level.This could remove the incentive for producers to develop more efficient recycling processes and product designs that drive down the cost of recycling in an attempt to become more competitive.

Ultimately I don’t think that many will argue that WEEE is a bad idea because with every UK consumer producing around three tons of affected material in their lifetime it doesn’t take long to realise there is a finite amount of time this material can simply be transferred to landfill.The affected material is quite often hazardous, containing materials such as mercury, lead and cadmium which seep into the soil around the landfill site causing lasting environmental damage.

The price argument I believe is personally unfounded because in my opinion the cost of imposing a WEEE recycling directive doesn’t invent a new cost but rather transfers the existing cost of maintaining and creating landfills to a different initiative.The additional costs that are generated by passing the recycling costs along to the manufacturers should then theoretically then saved by the tax payer in reduced landfill costs.Of course this does assume that the cost savings for existing landfill construction and waste management are passed along which in an imperfect world is not guaranteed to happen.

Of course there are flaws in WEEE and one that springs to mind has been bought up by the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances who correctly states their members will have to pick up the bill of recycling products produced by companies that have now gone out of business.This new directive is by no means perfect but unfortunately it isn’t possible to enforce the responsibility in a completely fair way.

The WEEE directive was initially supposed to have been implemented under European Union plans back in 2005 but continual postponements by the UK mean that we are one of the last member states to adopt the proposals.A date of July 2007 has now been set by the government and those who feel that they may be affected by this new directive should head to the Department of Trade and Industry’s website (www.dti.gov.uk) to find out more.

Personally I welcome the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment initiative and believe that faced with the alternative environmental consequences most of you will join me.

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply low priced printer cartridges for a wide range of printers including the Dell 944 Printer.

DBAN

dban

My business partner at our webdesign company Refresh Creations recently started talking to me about wiping all data from a computer that I was set to sell on eBay.The computer in question had a fair amount of sensitive information on it and he seemed horrified that I was just going to wipe the hard disk using a Windows format and then sell it on.

For all intensive purposes what I was about to do would have been fine but to be on the safe side he introduced me to a piece of software which does a much more thorough job.I thought it might be prudent for him to talk my Click readers through this program as it could certainly come in useful for anyone looking to sell their computer or hard drive on the second hand market.

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 your hard drive or donate it towards a charity of your choice. For a great amount of time there have been programs available which can miraculously restore data from a damaged floppy disk, with being the token computer guy in the house at university and still people using this decidedly unreliable format I became familiar with the programs used for restoring corrupted or deleted data from the diskettes.

Technically just deleting a file isn’t sufficient to get rid of it permanently; when you delete a file from say Windows XP or any other OS you’re not truly deleting the file. To understand this you need to have a rough idea of how file allocation tables work (this is based on the current format of your hard drive).Unfortunately formatting the drive isn’t necessarily sufficient as data can still be relatively easily restored using an unformatting program which are available readily on the Internet.

If you’re intent on selling the drive off to a 3rd party personally I’d recommend the free tool DBAN (Darik’s Boot and Nuke) which is used for securely erasing all data from your hard drive, making recovery of previous data from your drive nigh-on-impossible. DBAN performs a military grade format on your hard drive, conforming to American DOD (Department of Defence) standards.

DBAN is more effective than the conventional Windows format as it performs multiple passes over the hard drive, on each pass it will randomly flip each binary bit from a zero to a one or vice versa to completely scramble all the data on the drive. Multiple passes are required so traces of the old data are more difficult to detect.DBAN is a small, free piece of software which can be downloaded from https://dban.sourceforge.net/

Note it’s name “BOOT AND NUKE” - The CD that you create will be bootable when you turn on the computer with CD booting enabled the program will load automatically and if you’re not careful you will lose ALL data on the drive.This includes the OS and anything else on the drive - ALL data means ALL the data.

My thanks go to Ryan Carson for providing this article. Please do be careful with this utility as careless use can cause a loss of data which neither myself, Ryan or the Herald Express will be held responsible.

Firefox Extensions

flashgot

Many of my Click articles end up with me banging on about how good Firefox is and how all my readers should consider using it as their main browser over Internet Explorer which is bundled free with Microsoft Windows.Since one of the main arguments I use is the large amount of third party add-ons that are available I thought this week I should probably corroborate that thinking by naming a few of them.

Add-ons (otherwise known as extensions or plug-ins) aren’t pieces of software in their own right but rather small bits of code designed to integrate with an existing application in order to extend its capabilities in one way or another.Firefox like many other browsers on the market encourage users to take advantage of this facility so that they can extend their browser in a way that suits them.

I’ve picked a few of the most popular plug-ins available, all of which are available free of charge by going to ‘Tools’ and ‘Extensions’ from within Firefox.

Adblock Plus – Whilst Firefox itself stops the majority of pop-ups you can still find some pages have intrusive adverts which Adblock Plus aims to stop.Install it into Firefox and immediately banner ads and other intrusive adverts will be removed from your browsing experience resulting in less interruptions and faster download times.

FlashGot – FlashGot is used to download entire sites quickly and easily which can be useful for offline browsing as it removes the necessary to save pages to disk one page at a time.It also includes a build gallery function so you can download and store every image from a site quickly and easily.

Video Downloader – Watching videos on the Internet is certainly handy but often if the video is embedded into the page it is difficult to save it on to your hard disk.If you install this add-in you will be able to click one button to save it to your computer permanently.

Tab Mix Plus – This extension improves the tab capabilities of Firefox to include features such as duplicating tabs, reopen closed tabs and a session manager which can save and restore combinations of tab windows should Firefox run in to trouble.

Torrent Search – My more astute readers will remember me talking a bit about Torrents a few weeks back.This plug-in allows you to easily search for downloads in more than 27 of the top Torrent search engines.This is a subject I’ll be covering more thoroughly in a future article but if you missed the original article please check out www.computerarticles.co.uk.

Answers – Once installed simply hold down the <Alt> key and click on any word present on a website to get details on what the word means along with related references.

Search Status – This is one of my favourites and a must for anyone involved with creating and promoting their own website. Search Status displays the Google PageRank and Alexa report of any page that you visit so you can immediately tell how popular it is – especially useful for comparing your sites against the competition.I’ll be giving a crash course in using PageRank and Alexa to promote your website online in a future article but in the meantime this plug-in is certainly worth installing so you can get a feel for these two systems.

It’s worthwhile noting that many of the above plug-ins are also compatible with Opera so even users of this browser may find it still worthwhile checking out addons.mozilla.org.Of course there are extensions that focus on Internet Explorer but as I am trying to convince my readers to switch allegiances it will be a while before I cover these in Click.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply low priced printer cartridges for a wide range of printers including the HP Photosmart B110 Printer.

Internet Archive

internet-archive

The Internet is an ever changing medium and this is of course one of the primary reasons for its huge popularity - Websites can be radically altered at the drop of a hat for a complete redesign or simply to include new or revised information.Whilst no one can argue that this is a predominantly good thing the fact that the old version of a website is quickly forgotten once updated is a cause for concern.

Hard copies of books and magazines cannot change and as long as they are stored safely you will always be able to dip back in time but once a website has been altered there usually is no looking back.

The well established Way Back Machine (www.archive.org) website sets to redress the balance by regularly storing copies of old websites so that at any point in the future you can look back at how a site used to be.Whilst not all sites are included in their database you will find that with hundreds of terabytes of storage space at their disposal that they do have most covered to a greater or lesser extent.

Primarily I have traditionally used this resource in the past just for killing a few minutes of time – it’s interesting to see how one of my sites used to look back in their infancy or indeed how one of the worlds biggest websites www.microsoft.com looked ten years ago.It’s simply a case of heading to archive.org, typing in the URL of the website that you want to see and providing they have it in their database you can select a date in time to travel back to.

Of course there are also more serious reasons for using the Way Back Machine than simply killing a few minutes of your time.One of the defining moments in this century was the tragic events of September 11th but everything that you read now is written in hindsight however the Way Back Machine makes vast collections of archived websites available from the actual day itself.This means in the future people will always be able to relive the events unfolding on the various news sites and bulletin boards as they happened rather than reading a synopsis of the catastrophe in a book or article.Whilst I don’t think such events make for pleasant reading it is important never to forget what happens in our past which is something that this website definitely helps to achieve.

On a lighter note the Way Back Machine has a ‘web pioneers’ section which charts the progress of sites that over time changed the face of the Internet.As well as providing a brief synopsis of the contribution a given site has made to the Web there is also a links to number of dates in time you can choose to visit.

Some users may just consider this site a bit of fun whereas others may spend hours using it to delve in to the past.Whichever way you decide to use this free resource no one can deny that it is helping to do the valuable job of storing the history of this quickly changing world we live in.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply low priced printer cartridges for a wide range of printers including the HP Deskjet F380 Printer.

DriveImage XML

driveimage-xml

Many times in the past I have been guilty of having a ‘do as I say and not as I do’ attitude and this is especially true when it comes to the subject of backing up.When I used to fix computers for a living whenever a hard drive issue was encountered I always said in my most patronising voice ‘I’m assuming that you keep a backup’ followed by a shocked look when they invariably said that they didn’t.Truth of the matter is that I have never kept a backup and so far have been so lucky in the fact that (touch wood) so far this hasn’t really caused any problems for me.

I am getting older and wiser however and so the time seems right for me to start taking precautions when it comes to protecting my data so this week I have invested in a huge great big hard drive to cover the network in our office.This drive actually connects directly to the network without having to be connected directly to a computer so it is perfect for storing in a safe place on site so any of our machines can be backed up at a given time.

Of course, the hardware is pretty useless without the appropriate software so after an exhaustive search I came across the free utility DriveImage XML which suited my needs perfectly.The program was so good that I thought it should be included in Click for those of you like me who have realised the error of their ways when it comes to neglecting their backup schedule.

DriveImage allows you to backup an entire hard drive or partition and turn it into a single image file which can then be copied across a network, stored on a second hard drive or even split over multiple CD’s/DVD’s although the latter I really would not recommend unless the volume of the data you are backing up is extremely small.When you click on backup you are presented with a simple step by step guide which makes backing up your hard drive extremely easy and once the process is complete you’ll have created two files – one containing the description of the backup and a much larger one containing the actual data.

Should you need to restore the back up DriveImage contains a utility which allows you to browse the image to extract individual files to a location of your choosing or alternatively a restore function that will guide you step by step in the process of putting every file back in to its original location.

A useful tool is the Drive to Drive facility which allows you to copy one hard drive to another quickly and easily - This is particularly useful if you choose to upgrade your existing hard drive and don’t want to start installing your software again from scratch.By using this function of the program you will be able to copy your Operating System, programs and files over in one fell swoop.

Whilst backing up isn’t for everybody there are businesses and individuals in the bay which would be severely hit should their hard drive crash or if their computer were destroyed or stolen - these are the people who should consider implementing a backup schedule immediately.DriveImage can be downloaded free of charge from www.runtime.org and the size of the download is a tiny 1.5mb so it is certainly worth trying out to see if it is for you.As to which media you choose to back up on I’ll leave that decision to you however I would recommend investing in an external hard drive due to the large sizes available and the fact that for security it can be kept in a different location to your actual computer.

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply low priced printer cartridges for a wide range of printers including the HP OfficeJet J5780 Printer.

RSS Feeds

RSS-Feeds

As you are no doubt aware the Internet is a huge place and with billions of pages at your disposal it can sometimes be a little tricky keeping up to date with the information that you require.Luckily a technology known as RSS (Really Simple Syndication) makes it easy to have the latest news and features delivered directly to you rather than you having to go searching for them.By using an RSS reader or compatible browser you can easily get the latest headlines and articles from your favourite sites delivered to you automatically.

Whilst not all websites provide RSS feeds the format is rapidly growing in popularity with many of the most popular news sites such as the BBC and Sky News supporting it.Potential uses for the technology have expanded from just offering users the headlines to now offering a whole range of subjects such as Job Openings, Auction items, MP3 releases, celeb information and so on.

There are plenty of ways to begin using RSS.One is to use a compatible browser (such as Firefox or Internet Explorer 7) and to be honest this would probably be my preferred method.If your current browser doesn’t support RSS try downloading the latest version of FireFox (www.firefox.com) or Opera (www.opera.com) as these include RSS as standard.When you find a site that supports RSS you simply click on a subscribe button from then on you will be kept up to date with the latest developments.

For those that don’t have a compatible browser and don’t fancy the idea of changing there are plenty of alternatives.One would be in add a third party piece of software or plug in to your current browser in order to make it compatible - a popular option for this would be the Google Toolbar which can be downloaded free of charge from toolbar.google.co.uk.

Alternatively there are plenty of dedicated RSS readers available for a range different Operating Systems.A quick search on the Internet will yield results for many different readers and you should possibly try using a couple of them to see which one you prefer but possibly a good place to start would be to visit www.rssreader.com to download a program which is both compact and best of all free of charge.

Before RSS was created there were several similar formats available however none of these achieved widespread popularity or indeed still in common use today.Netscape initially developed the RSS format but then lost interest in it which essentially left the technology without an owner resulting in several different off-shoots being created over the coming years.This means that several different formats exist however most RSS readers should be compatible with all the existing variants.

Another good feature of the RSS technology is that if you run your own website you can use an RSS feed to display the latest news from your favourite sources on your own site.This allows you to provide your visitors with relevant on topic news that is continuously updated which as well as potentially making your site more interesting also gives it the impression of being continuously updated which wouldn’t have been easily achieved prior to RSS.

Whilst RSS will not interest everybody I would certainly recommend those with an interest in current events to look in to this flexible and free technology.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply low priced printer cartridges for a wide range of printers including the HP Photosmart C4650 Printer.

Kubuntu

Kubuntu

Last week we talked a little bit about Linux and I introduced you to a program called Slax which served the purpose of being a perfect introduction for those new to this Operating System.The big downside to Slax was that it wasn’t really designed for installing on to a hard drive and so didn’t really lend itself to being used as a long term alternative to Windows.

This week we’ll take a look at a Linux Operating System which is designed to be installed either as a direct replacement or installed permanently alongside the Microsoft offering going by the name of Kubuntu.

Because Kubuntu is based on the KDE graphical interface those of you that tried out Slax last week will find this variant of Linux extremely easy to get to grips with.Where it differs is that Kubuntu isn’t designed from the ground up to be easily portable and as such it comes bundled with more software and is also easily installable on your hard drive.

By heading to www.kubuntu.org you can download the 700mb package free of charge.This software can then be put on to a bootable CD so that your new Operating System can be tried out before you choose to continue with the installation.The problem here is that Kubuntu runs pretty slowly off of a CD so don’t let this put you off putting it on to your hard disk.

The first time I used Kubuntu it set up and installed pretty much all my hardware (with the exception of my printer) automatically without any intervention and I was up and running on the Internet immediately.This is pretty impressive when you compare it to the half hour installation routine that is involved when setting up Windows for the first time.

Included with the default installation is a range of tools for your graphics, multimedia and Internet applications as well as the extremely capable OpenOffice package which is used as a direct, free replacement for Microsoft Office.I have reviewed OpenOffice for Windows in the past and found it to be quite a capable package consisting of a Presentation, Spreadsheet, Database and Calculator utilities as well as a Word Processor.Of course if you need to use an application that isn’t included as part of the default installation this can be easily done by using the inbuilt add/remove programs manager.A bonus of using a Linux based Operating System is that pretty much all the software that you’ll ever obtain will be legally free of charge.

As mentioned at the beginning of this article the User Interface is based on KDE which is fairly similar to that of Windows and so most users shouldn’t have a problem finding their way around the basic functions of the Operating System.The system is relatively easy to use and when installed on the hard disk the performance is impressive especially when compared with Windows on lower specification hardware.

I’m certainly not suggesting that Linux is the ideal solution for everybody as to do so would be hypocritical as I personally still use Windows in my day to day life however Kubuntu is certainly worth looking in to especially if you have a lower hardware specification or resent having to pay every couple of years for the latest version of Windows.

Pretty much any variant of Linux is completely free of charge so you can download and experiment to find out which one suits you the best however the two versions Slax and Kubuntu I have reviewed are certainly good places to start.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply low priced printer cartridges for a wide range of printers including the HP Photosmart C5180 Printer.

Slax

slax

For a while now I’ve given readers free access to an archive of old Herald Express Click articles online at the website address www.computerarticles.co.uk. Last week we recently completed an entire redesign of the site and whilst adding some old articles it came to my attention that the last time I reviewed a Linux Operating System was way back in 2002.Obviously Linux is a very important and successful technology and so this week I thought was as good a time as any to correct the apparent lack of interest I have shown towards it.

I feel obliged to recap on what exactly Linux is because many of my readers may not yet be familiar with it.Put simply Linux is primarily considered an alternative to the Microsoft Windows Operating System as many users are not completely happy with the many offerings from Microsoft.The product is particularly popular with the Internet community as it is written in a way so that anybody can get hold of the code for free and modify it to correct any problems they may find which can then be put back into the public domain for others to use.This means that you can get hold of a stable and fast Operating System for very little or even no money.

A colleague recently told me about the free Slax Operating System whose unique selling point is that it’s compact enough to fit directly on to a USB pen drive meaning should you wish you could carry your preferred OS from computer to computer in your pocket.This is quite unique as traditionally an Operating System has to be installed before it is used – a process that usually takes around an hour to complete.With Slax you can just pop your USB drive in to a foreign machine and away you go – of course it can also boot off a CD-ROM or hard drive should you prefer.

When first run the software does have to set itself up to your specific hardware configuration as it needs to detect and install hardware specific to your machine.The process is quick and painless however and before too long you should have everything set up the way that you need.Once you’re in you’ll find the graphical interface pleasant and easy to use because as well as looking good it is well laid out hence making find your way around pretty effortless.

The basic applications required for office work, multimedia use and system configuration are all included as part of the download however there are hundreds of additional modules available free of charge from the Slax website.I’m not going to go in to listing specific applications as there are simply too many to list in this article however needless to say pretty much everything you need is included as part of the original distribution.

Whilst the program is extremely capable it is worthwhile bearing in mind that the hard drive installation utility provided is very limited as this particular variant of Linux is really designed more for running from portable media usually as an addition rather than a replacement to your current Operating System.I will take the opportunity over the coming weeks to check out another take on Linux for those that would prefer to set it up as the primary Operating System on their hard drive and are not so worried about portability.

All in all I think Slax showcases exactly what can be done when software isn’t bloated and over complicated like practically every version of Windows ever released seems to be.Even if just out of interest head to www.slax.org to download the software – you will want a broadband connection for this however as the standard download is a modest 200mb in size.Whether Linux is the future or not remains to be seen but for many good reasons it looks like it’s here to stay for the considerable future.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply low priced printer cartridges for a wide range of printers including the HP Deskjet 5745 Printer.

Fresh Software

Fresh-Download

Several pieces of software came to my attention just recently; all four of them published by the practically unheard of ‘Fresh Devices’ company and available completely free of charge from www.freshdevices.com.I spent an hour this afternoon trying them out and thought they were worthy of inclusion in Click.

Fresh Download

Fresh Download is a download manager that replaces the bog standard file downloader built in to your existing browser.It supports opening multiple connections to decrease download times off slower websites, includes the ability to pause downloads as well as resuming those that failed part way through.The program is easy to use and can be integrated with either Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera and many other browsers that work in any version of the Windows Operating System.

Fresh Diagnose

Fresh Diagnose is used to analyze and benchmark many kinds of different hardware in your machine in order to gain more information about a specific component or to measure its speed.Benchmarks can be performed on practically any part of your system such as your processor, hard disk, memory or alternatively it can be used to give you an overall impression as to how fast your computer is running and how this compares against other machines.

Fresh UI

Fresh UI is a tool designed to configure and optimise Windows.Once you’ve installed the software you will be able to change hundreds of hidden settings not usually accessible from within Windows itself from within what looks like a simplified version of Windows Explorer.You’re offered a variety of areas of the system that you would like to alter which include Applications, Explorer, Hardware, Windows System, Windows Interface and Covering Your Track.Within each of these categories are a huge number of different settings that can be easily changed to suit your personal preferences.

The majority of settings you’ll probably want to leave at the default settings but I can guarantee that everyone will have one little grumble with Windows that they would change if they had this utility installed on their machines.

Fresh View

Fresh View is a utility which allows you to organise and view images, audio and video present on your system - you can use it to listen to music or to view pictures and movies saved in practically any format.There are dozens of other programs that perform this function at least as well as Fresh View it is still worth a look due to its small file size and simplistic interface.

I’ll be honest with you in saying that none of these programs are going to change the world and for the most part each one of these utilities covers ground that has been walked a thousand times before.Having said that however I would still urge you to give them a go as each utility is well designed, easy to use, small in size and accomplishes exactly what it says on the tin – nothing more, nothing less..

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply low priced printer cartridges for a wide range of printers including the Kodak ESP-5 Printer.

Opera 9

opera-9

One would have thought that there was only a limited amount that could be done with an Internet browser but yet another alternative to Internet Explorer has just hit the market going under the name of Opera 9.Whilst not technically groundbreaking this new browser does offer a number of unique features that are not currently found in any other application which is why I thought it was worthy of inclusion in Click.

BitTorrent support: Opera 9 is the first mainstream browser to integrate BitTorrent support without any additional software.BitTorrent is a technology that uses distributed file networks to share large files such as movies over the Internet quickly and easily.Because you can download these files from multiple sources simultaneously it dramatically reduces your download times if used on a decent speed broadband connection.

Widgets: Opera 9 embraces AJAX technology by providing support for widgets which are tiny little programs with specific functionality.These small applications can include newsfeeds, games, multimedia applications and so forth.Time will tell quite how useful this feature will be in the long run.To download new widgets just visit widgets.opera.com.

The remaining features of the browser are pretty much standard to those used to using Firefox although current Internet Explorer users will still be in for a treat if they choose to upgrade as many of these features aren’t standard in IE.

Customisable search engine: Opera allows you to choose your default search engine should you choose to make a search directly from the browser itself.

Thumbnail Preview images: As well as including the fast becoming industry standard tabbed browsing Opera generates a preview image of all open tabs so that it’s easier to decide which one you want to switch to.

Pop-up blocker: Again, whilst this is pretty much standard in a browser nowadays Opera goes a little bit further by improving it to stop pretty much all intrusive content no matter how creative the advertiser is.

Site Specific Security – Opera can assign different security levels to different sites that you visit – Could be helpful to the slightly paranoid users out there but most home users probably won’t even touch this feature.

Using the browser is made slightly more unique in Opera thanks to features such as mouse gestures which allow you to navigate just by moving the mouse in a certain way, new keyboard shortcuts and voice control to access commonly used features in the browser.

As expected there is also a file transfer monitor and a password manager as well as the mandatory Opera mail, IRC chat client.The browser is extremely secure when compared with the likes of Internet Explorer which is an important consideration nowadays.

To summerise, Opera is an extremely competent browser and as well as being completely free of charge is only 4.6mb in size to download from www.opera.com.Whilst it is unlikely to win away many people currently using Firefox that doesn’t mean that it is any worse and those still using the hopelessly outdated Internet Explorer 6 should really consider giving Opera a try.

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply low priced printer cartridges for a wide range of printers including the Kodak ESP C110 Printer.

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