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Mac Security Hype

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FT.com

I would not by any means call myself an ‘investor’ although I do have a few hundred pounds invested in relatively high risk penny shares that I like to monitor more for fun than financial gain.Over the past few months there is one site that I’ve found myself heading back to over and over again and that is the website for the Financial Times (www.ft.com)

Since it is such a useful resource and as there may be people reading who take the stock market far more seriously than myself I thought I’d take the time this week to discuss exactly what advantages this site could offer you.I’ll focus on the free areas of the site rather than the subscription areas and first and foremost has got to be the stock quote engine which gives you up to the minute reports (well, it’s updated 4 times an hour) of the current trading price of a company as well as tools to allow you to easily chart that stock price over time.

Whilst charting your stock price you can also check consensus reports as to how the company is currently performing and how it is expected to perform in the future as well as having access to usually a couple of free analyst reports.Of course the site also acts as a news feed for individual stocks and shares as well as the broader UK and International markets with the usual business implications on absolutely anything that happens in the real world that we have grown to expect from the Financial Times.

There is a jobs and classified section; personally I discovered a rather nice position on £90,000 + car and benefits that caught my eye but that’s a different story altogether.This jobs section is of course searchable and would form a good starting point for anyone with executive qualifications or aspirations.

Some of this material is far too detailed to be available completely free of charge and so there is a system set up whereby you can access certain news material, services and information via subscription based model and also the larger reports can be obtained for a one off price; For example, the Datamonitor report on Telewest PLC is available for download for £37.00.

Ultimately this covers of the main areas of the site but if you take a moment to visit it you will find many other small features that you may find of particular interest and since the site is primarily free of charge, anyone with the slightest interest in business should take a look whether for educational purposes or whether they are looking to invest.

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

Digital Camera

I’ve always been a fan of digital cameras as the way I see it they are helping encourage amateur photography in the lives of so many people as you no longer need a great deal of equipment to take fantastic photos; all you need is a semi decent digital camera, a computer and a good quality printer to get started.I have always held off buying one though as the way that I see it the only pictures that I would ever take would be when socialising and previously when I have taken a digital camera out it has felt as though I was carrying a bag of sugar in my right pocket which is not what you need when out on the town for an evening.

A friend suggested I looked at the Konica Revio C2 and whilst it doesn’t have anywhere near the functions of a high end digital camera it does absolutely everything I need it to.The Revio C2 costs around £120 in the shops but I managed it for best part of £100 including postage from a fantastic website I found at www.pixmania.com.

The camera is only 1.3 mega pixels and includes a mediocre 14mg of internal memory (which isn’t expandable) but ultimately I love this camera for a number of reasons.Primarily the size of the unit is that of a credit card in both its width and height but unlike a credit card it is 14mm deep.The camera weighs in at 70g which is far lighter than the majority of mobile phones and at less than £100 I wouldn’t be too annoyed if I were to take it out for a night and lose it.Obviously I wouldn’t be impressed if this were to happen but it would bother me far less than taking out a high end £400 digital camera and losing it which has always put me off taking one out when a couple of drinks are involved.

The camera is powered by 2 x AAA batteries and connects to your computer via a USB cable; there is no software provided as the camera is just shown on the PC as ‘Drive E’ so you can then copy files on and off of the unit as if it were a floppy disk.Additional features include a 1.6” LCD display so you can preview pictures you’ve taken, a 2x digital zoom, time & date recorder, built in flash, auto standby and auto timer.That’s it though; there are no other features and if it weren’t so small that it could quite easily get lost in the bottom of my pocket and if it didn’t look quite so cool then this would be a poor camera in todays day and age.

One thing that this camera does prove is that what is perfect for one person is completely unsuitable for another; a digital photographer would scoff at my little camera but for me it is perfect; small, cool and affordable whilst still taking pictures to a more than adequate standard.

Even if you are looking to purchase a different model of camera then I would still recommend that you check out the website mentioned at the beginning of this article as they do seem to be a good source of camera deals and they do cover most brands.

 

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

New EU Legislation

This week Brendan Hanrahan requested that I give my two cents on an article that the Guardian published recently regarding new EU Legislation that would make downloading files or making copies of files, even if you are completely entitled to do so, illegal.The main thrust of the legislation is to prohibiting public access to devices that can be used for playing legitimately acquired but copy protected CD’s or DVD’s on your PC.

Let me just take a minute to explain how the current system works; you may notice that certain CD’s in the shops will now not play on PC’s and as such they contain appropriate warning messages stating this on the packaging.The system works by providing random spikes of data on the CD which a Hi-Fi would ignore but which would render the CD unreadable to the internal CD drive of a computer.Personally I believe that this was a stupid idea from the onset; if I’m sat working on a train with my laptop and I want to listen to a CD that I purchased using a set of headphones and the inbuilt CD player and it wouldn’t let me then I’d feel rather annoyed to say the least.This legislation goes one step further and states that any kind of technology that can read these disks on a PC or aid you in the process of making copies will be illegal.Quite how far this goes the article is not specific on; I can’t see CD writers becoming items sought for over the black market but I suppose that computer CD players that can read these copyrighted CD’s may well go that way.

The second part of the legislation states that file sharers could face an unlimited fine or a jail term of two years; what a load of rubbish!One of the great things about the Internet is its’ ability to be completely anonymous; if I go out and share my entire music collection to the world then no one knows who I am and even if they did track me down then you get bet that pretty quickly the file swappers would develop ways to mask their tracks so that they couldn’t be found.In my personal opinion it is all talk designed to try and scare people off and something that will probably never be executed; can you imagine if the government had to let a mugger out of prison early to make room for little Johnny who shared is Metallica collection online?I’m going to use a quite disgusting example so that we can relate how difficult it is to track someone down over the Internet by stating that a large number of paedophiles use the Internet as it is quite anonymous; rather than tracking down little Johnny who shares music with his mates over the Internet, they should be focusing their attention to arresting these lower forms of life, surely?

Maybe I’m just missing the point and chances are that a lot of you will agree with this new legislation but I don’t see it as being at all enforceable or at all logical; I can see them being able to stop the sale of computer CD players that can read copyrighted music but I can’t envisage them stopping file sharing over an anonymous Internet in a hurry and if they do propagate such a situation where they eliminate one but not the other then that’s going to open a whole new can of worms.

Let’s say I go out and buy a CD from HMV but I can’t play it on my computer as it’s copy protected then I’m going to be forced to download it off the Internet if I want to play it on my laptop for when I’m working on this proverbial train that I keep mentioning.In this situation, I’ve gone out and spent a tenner on a CD that is useless to me and since I’ve had to break the law anyway by downloading the songs that I legitimately paid for then what was the point in me buying the CD in the first instance?I’m quite happy to go out and spend my hard earned money on bands that I like but if the music industry won’t allow me to listen to my album in the way of my choosing then what choice to I have than to download it?One could argue that I should still go out and buy the CD anyway to support a band that I like but I’m not going to spend money just to add my crisp £10 note onto a pile of millions stuffed into EMI’s coffers on a useless CD that I can’t use just for the feel good factor.

I grew up in a period when most stereos had twin tape decks and for as long as I can remember, piracy has been rife but the secret to winning this battle lies in common sense not ill thought out legislation that will end up punishing the honest music lover but perversely rewarding the pirate.

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

Windows Longhorn

Let’s take a moment to gaze into the future - The year is 2005 and Microsoft is releasing Windows Longhorn to the world; the operating system that will take over from Windows XP.Of course I’m not a fortune teller so I can’t predict exactly what the Operating System will be like however Microsoft have released a number of preview versions so this week I’ll be taking an educated guess as to what it is that we can expect.

“Longhorn” is actually the codename for the next incarnation of Windows and it is highly unlikely that the Operating System will be called “Windows Longhorn”; knowing Microsoft it will probably be something highly original such as Windows XP 2005 or Windows XP2.

To be quite fair I didn’t really have the inclination to install the ‘Alpha’ (early preview) release on one of my computers so the information here is going to be based on the reports of a number of people who have and reading through them it has become apparent that a lot of the improvements are going to be cosmetic.For example the Start Menu and task bar will be enhanced with a new Sidebar component that can optionally appear locked to one side of the desktop.Special effects will make the screen feel ‘deeper’ than the traditional flat Windows desktop although the drawback of this is that the Operating System will need higher end video equipment to display this; such special effects include Windows tumbling onto the screen, rotating windows, warped windows and alpha blending between windows.

Longhorn will include DVD recording abilities as standard which is especially important with the rapidly decreasing price of DVD recording technology.

As with Windows XP, Longhorn will ship in different versions such as Home Edition, Professional Edition, Tablet PC Edition (for Tablet PC’s – More about that in a future article) and so on.

Quite an interesting development is an add-in to the Windows NTFS file system which is known as Windows Future Storage (WinFS) and this system will allow all kinds of complex data searching which is not possible today.For example your email messages, contacts, Word documents, and music files are all currently completely separate however this won’t be the case in Longhorn. Quite how this is going to work or how effective this will be I will not speculate on.

I’ve heard reports that Longhorn will be a faster Operating System than Windows XP although this can not be verified at such an early stage; apparently the setup routine when initially installing the application completes in around 15 minutes which bodes well in comparison to the 30-40 minute routine which is standard in Windows XP.

This is all I know so far; the beta (testing) edition comes out in 2004 and so obviously I will get my hands on a copy and review it for the Herald Express then.

 

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

Computer Help

Once again, many thanks for all your kind letters and requests for help; please note however that I can only reply to letters that I print in the Herald Express as I don’t have time to reply to each one individually.I received this letter a couple of weeks ago which got my thinking and I would honestly like the viewpoints of everybody reading on whether you would find such a scheme useful:

I am writing to you in order to warn other people of a problem we’ve had; there seem to be several smart young men with pretty good computer skills who are setting themselves up to help home-computer owners with lesser skills.We have just had a CD burner part installed, so that it doesn’t work and stands out proud from our tower and the young man, a friend of a friend of a friend unfortunately left with a brand new, still wrapped hard-drive of ours to test on his machine and bring back to us.

This was nearly 2 weeks ago and he now seems impossible to get hold of.More fool us, I agree and can’t believe we let it happen but he seemed trustworthy and knowledgeable.Is this a new kind of con?

Can I suggest a register of Helpers, names given by people who can recommend them so that anyone not on the register won’t be used?If a registered person gets it wrong, they could be removed.The bad guys names do not have to be given as they won’t get on the register in the first place and anyone on it won’t want to be named/removed so will get it right.

Would you be willing to have the list of good names so people can ask you for them?

If anyone wants to know our Bad Guys name I will happily tell them!

Let me know what you think.Thanks

Su H, via E-mail

This has got me thinking that people in Torbay deserve to know who to contact and who to avoid when picking out a future supplier; I have an idea of the less reputable ones myself as I deal with customers on a daily basis but it would be handy to perhaps have a properly developed and impartial register of people.I would be happy to take this on as a challenge but haven’t given it too much thought at this early stage asI’d really like to know whether you would appreciate such a service or not.

I’m thinking along the lines of a website where readers can post their opinions of a particular company; this would regulated of course so that disgruntled customers or competitors wouldn’t use it as a hate mail board and companies wouldn’t post fantastic reviews of themselves under different aliases.

Those without Internet access could pick up the phone and retrieve reviews of a company they’re considering dealing with or ask for one to be recommended based on the reviews that have been submitted.On the other hand, if they did have a bad or good experience to share then they would also be able to post reviews by phone, fax or e-mail.Companies that didn’t wish to be listed could possibly opt out of the scheme but this would probably suggest that they were covering something out and would say as much about them as having a bad review.

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

Remanufactured toner

I’ve talked before about ways to get the most from your inkjet printer but now that we’ve started selling compatible toner cartridges on our website it seemed like a good time to recap exactly how much you could be saving by making a wise choice for your printing needs from day one.

When it comes to inkjet printer cartridges a lot of people are at a loss as to what to buy or they just assume that all printers irrespective of make or model cost approximately the same to buy replacement cartridges for when they run out of ink.That is not the case and the public should be cautious about what to buy should they wish to benefit from cheaper running costs in the long run.Let’s take the four major printer manufactures; Epson, Canon, HP and Lexmark and see where they stand when the honeymoon period of owning your new printer is over and you have to folk out for a new cartridge.

Two of the manufactures mentioned above, namely Canon and Epson use inkjet cartridges which are as simple as they sound; plastic cartridges filled with ink with very little in the way of anything technical as all of this is taken care of by the printer.This does mean, fortunately for us that the cartridge is so simple and unoriginal that cannot be copyrighted hence compatible copies can be made which conform to the same specifications as the manufactures originals but cost a fraction of the price.

Lexmark and HP cartridges include the guts of the printer inside every cartridge that you buy; something known as the print head which gets replaced every time you replace your cartridge but in many opinions offers no increase in the print quality.Because this print head constitutes an original product HP and Lexmark then proceed to copyright the design so no one can make compatible products and they have to resort to a process known as remanufacturing which is a lot more costly.

Matters are made worse as most buyers don’t check the capacity of the cartridges that fit the printer that they are considering for purchase.Take for example a new black cartridge for the recently released HP 3420 printer which contains just 10ml of ink whereas a standard Epson C82 black cartridge contains 36ml of ink.In addition, because you can purchase compatible cartridges for the Epson C82 you are looking to pay a fraction of the price for a cartridge that holds nearly 4 times as much ink.

I’m not passing judgement on HP and Lexmark printers as they do produce good machines but taking a few minutes to check out the price of replacements can save you hundreds in the long run and obviously if you are ever in doubt just check out our webpage as we do stock a comprehensive range of inkjet and toner cartridges.

Personally I resent paying high costs for consumables; I’ve just bought a new laser printer for the office and sold the old one as it wouldn’t accept compatible toners and in doing so I’m now set to save £75 every time I buy a new cartridge.I would also only now buy a printer that could accept compatible cartridges such as an Epson or a Canon printer and if you were to take a sample of the people in my family or friend group then you’d find very few of then that have been allowed to buy the more expensive machines.

If you purchased a printer that seemed like a bargain at the time or even if it came free with your computer then bear in mind that although you were practically given it in the first instance, the manufacturer is laughing all the way to the bank every time you need a new cartridge.

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

Bank Fraudsters

The front page of the Herald Express on Tuesday caught my eye as it featured the story of a young lady who was conned out of several hundred pounds by disclosing her banking details after being advised by an e-mail to follow a link to the HSBC website and confirm her security details so they could ensure that she was still using the same e-mail address.In reality, the site that she went to wasn’t in fact the HSBC site but just a page probably generated by a couple of spotty teenagers but as the difference was indistinguishable she proceeded to disclose all of her banking details to them.

I initially received this e-mail myself around 10 days ago from both Nationwide and Barclays; what is confusing me is that these are both banks that I deal with and so I’m wondering if the fraudsters actually know who I bank with or whether it’s just coincidence that they choose to e-mail me posing as being these banks.I’m assuming that it’s the latter as if they managed to locate a list of e-mail addresses of Barclays customers than that worries me more than the actual e-mail they sent.Anyway, I digress.

It’s basic human nature to believe that what we read represents reality; we tend to accept this viewpoint as when reading a newspaper or listening to the radio we assume that what we are being told must contain at least an element of truth otherwise we wouldn’t be hearing about it.There is a very important difference with the Internet though and that is that never before has there been a means so readily available to allow any person off the street to assume a different identity and send out e-mails to hundreds of thousands of people at virtually no cost to themselves.I could send an e-mail to a reader now from the address billgates@microsoft.com advising them to download what could be a virus to ‘fix’ their operating system and doing so would only take me 20 seconds to set up and would ultimately result in messing up their machine.I’m not into the habit of doing such things though; my job is to help people fix their machines, not destroy them but I’m just trying to prove a point.

The one thing that I did find remarkable about the case printed on Tuesday and indeed the other hundreds of people who have been taken for a ride by this scam is that members of the public are actually disclosing their details to these fraudsters. My attitude to the Internet is that if I wouldn’t do it offline in the real world then I certainly wouldn’t do it online; for example, if a someone were to phone me posing as Barclays telesales and asked me to confirm to them my bank account number, sort code and all my banking passwords for ‘market research’ then I’d quite simply tell them where to go.On the Internet, if someone sends an e-mail saying that they need these all of these highly confidential details so they can update their mailing list then people fall for it in their droves; no offence to those that have but that to me seems crazy.

Let’s just summarize here; the Internet is an extremely safe place to conduct secure transactions and if you are just slightly vigilant then these problems will not occur.There were paragraphs in Tuesday’s article implying that perhaps Internet banking is not very safe and that in some way it was the banks responsibility that these problems were occurring and so they should be refunding money immediately to those affected even before an investigation takes place. This again seems like a very bizarre and misinformed attitude to take; if a woman dressed in Barclays clothing walked up to me in the street and asked for my debit card and PIN number so she could check my bank details were all correct then I wouldn’t expect to be refunded by Barclays when suddenly a couple of grand disappears from my account.I’m not trying to be harsh but that is the real life equivalent of what the people who have been falling for this scam have been doing and if you’re going to be using the Internet then just a little bit of common sense needs to be engaged as you it would be in the real world.

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

RPC Bug

I’m starting Click this week with an apology relating to the article that I published last week in which I mentioned an insurance quote I had received through Bartlett Davies Bicks and suggested that it was higher than I would have expected.This caused some upset and so I would like to point out that Bartlett Davies Bicks is an independent broker and the quotes they offer as with any other insurance company will vary from driver to driver.I didn’t intend to imply that they were uncompetitive in the market place as obviously this is not the case, rather that their quote just wasn’t suited for me personally.

Anyway, now that’s out the way, I’m going to repeat an article that I published some weeks ago as I’m still getting at least an e-mail a day with people asking me the same question and it’s my hope that this will alleviate the problem.The problem I’m talking about is involving a bug in Windows 2000 and XP that shuts down your computer when it’s connected to the Internet - Those afflicted will find that their computer will give them a message saying that it has to shut down and give you a short amount of time to save your work; usually around 30 seconds.

To rectify the problem we need to download a patch from Microsoft and your latest Anti-virus software updates but to do this we have to prevent the PC rebooting as soon as you go online and so the RPC restart function has to be disabled which is done as follows:

Before you go online click on ‘Start’, then run then and type: services.msc.When the Services window opens up, scroll down the list to the first Remote Procedure Call (RPC), right click on this and select ‘properties’ and then click the Recovery tab.You will see the drop-down menus labelled First failure, Second failure and Subsequent failures and these will be set to ‘Restart’ as default. Change each drop-down menu to ‘Take No Action’ then click Apply and OK.Close the Services window and now connect to the Internet.

We have to now download a Windows patch which will prevent infection from affecting your system which can be done by heading to www.microsoft.com and clicking the link for the ‘Blaster Worm’ on the main page; simply follow the instructions to download and install this patch and the vulnerability in the operating system that allows this nasty file in will be removed.

Now simply update your anti-virus software and do a complete system scan, removing any viruses that it finds; it is essential that you download the latest updates otherwise the software will not find it.If you don’t have an anti-virus scanner then download the fantastic AVG from www.grisoft.com

That’s it; your PC is now clean and you sit back and relax, ignoring all the scare stories that you’re bound to hear about on the news over the coming weeks.

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

Car Insurance Online

Car insurance has always been one of those things that as a young person I have always had to pay through the nose for but when I got my new car last year and my current insurers, Bartlett Davies Bicks quoted me £3000 to continue the policy I thought that there must be a cheaper way and so being a fan of the Internet I went surfing.

Of course, the ideal insurer is one of those things that really does vary from person to person; a company that is good for one individual can be useless to another based on that companies quotation criteria.You can pretty much guarantee however that you’ll be able to save money by checking out the Internet as there is usually no middle man and the overheads of an Internet based insurer are bound to be lower than a conventional high street insurer.

I’m currently insured with Elephant (www.elephant.co.uk) as they kindly converted my company car no claims discount into personal no claims discount which gave me an instant 3 years no claims head start compared with other insurers who refused to convert one to the other.I’m currently paying around £700 but as I’m now approaching renewal and my 4 years no claims entitlement I am once again shopping around which is what gave me the idea for this article.

Insurers that have so far looked kindly on me and my insurance group 9 motor include Tesco (www.tesco.co.uk), More Than (www.morethan.co.uk) and once again, Elephant (www.elephant.co.uk).Each policy has come in around the £500 mark which includes the ability to protect my no claims bonus which is extremely useful as I dread to think how much they would charge me if I had an accident and dropped back to stage one.Even if you read my articles every week but seldom visit the websites I mention then make sure you visit at least the three above as it really could save you a substantial amount of money when you come to renew your car insurance.

Other sites worth a mention include Confused (www.confused.com) which searches dozens of sites to find their best quote, Sainsburys (www.sainsburysbankcarins.co.uk) and Diamond (www.diamond.uk.com) which is for woman only.

Of course, there are other sites out there but I haven’t got enough room here to list them all.Personally, I’ve always found that Tesco has offered a good rate to myself, friends and family as well as More Than who can protect your maximum no claims bonus for life as long as you maintain your policy with them.

The Internet can save you money on so many products but truly insurance has to be one of the things that is best suited online.When you think of an insurance policy (home, car, pet or otherwise), you very rarely need to actually contact anybody; after all, you renew it every year and it’s only in the event of a claim that you need to actually speak to someone.Whether buying in person at a shop or over the phone you are just as well covered and you won’t notice any difference in the cover but you will in the price.When quoting over the Internet, you can easily see how changing certain variables such as voluntarily excess will change your policy and of course read the full terms and conditions before buying which would be tricky over the phone.If you do have any problems such as an accident then it’s all done over the phone; online insurers don’t expect you to make claims over the Internet.

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

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