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Fast Tips On How To Grow The Numbers Of Your Instagram Followers

f you don’t already know what Instagram is all about, you are in luck. This article is written with people like you in mind. In a nutshell, Instagram is a mobile application More »

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No 4G for the Moment, but 2013 Promises Great Things for British Consumers

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Mac Security Hype

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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 »

Windows 7 Release

windows 7

“It’s the big week when Windows 7 is launched on Thursday, but one statistic that grabbed my eye was in a Wikipedia article stating that there are estimated to be three times as many XP computers in use today than Vista ones (68.49% XP versus 22.39% Vista). This suggests that XP is far from being the dinosaur system that the marketing people would have us believe. I’ve still got two XP desktops and no complaints, even though they are getting on a bit.

It also leads to questions about how popular Vista was with the general public and business world, and in this a recent BBC article a Microsoft executive admits that Vista never fully recovered from the early criticism, and they hope for better things with Windows 7.

Two quotes in particular that stick out is that of Annette Jump, a research director at a technology research firm who states that among companies “Vista is the worst-adopted operating system”, and another by the president of Microsoft International, Jean-Philippe Courtois, who opts for the understatement “We don’t feel great about Vista adoption.”

I’m still running the trial version of Windows 7 which is valid for 180 days, but won’t be camped outside the shops when it is launched.
Ian MacMillan, via e-mail“

At the time of writing we are at the eve of the official release of Windows 7 and as such we will soon be able to gauge the public reaction which is something Vista never seemed to recover from. Personally I feel that perhaps Vista drew so much early criticism because of the constantly shifting release date and unrealistic promises about what the software would offer. It wasn’t that Vista was ever particularly bad, it just wasn’t much better than XP and, unless it was being bundled with a new machine, there wasn’t much of an incentive to upgrade.

Windows is a big deal for Microsoft; at present it powers around 90% of the worlds computers and accounts for half of the operating profit that reaches the Microsoft coffers. For years critics have claimed that Microsoft’s virtual monopoly is about to end now that users are offered alternatives in the way of Linux, Mac OS and even newer “cloud” Operating Systems which are stored on remote servers.

Quite simply Microsoft cannot afford to have another ‘Vista’ as although they still retain a commanding lead in the marketplace, another slip up could permanently and irrevocably damage their presumed place as a future market leader.

So far however, all seems good with the new offering. I have been using the release candidate of Windows 7 for some months and have found it to be reliable, compatible, secure and even faster than Vista which we have to remember is a three year old Operating System now.

The company have also been working with other third party developers to ensure that application support on release is strong; by the time Microsoft rolled out the first service pack for Vista there were only 2,700 supported applications and by comparison Windows 7 will have 8,500 supported applications at launch. This is a sign that the company is going to avoid one of the biggest mistakes with Vista when it failed to prepare its partners for the new system.

From a business perspective, we will be stocking the new Operating System and so I hope that it does well but from a writers perspective I would be interested to see what were to happen if Microsoft were to drop the ball a second time around.

 

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

Kongregate

kongregate

This week Matt Stevenson from our Torquay Road store has kindly offered to write about the fantastic gaming site Kongregate which, as a non gamer, I felt ill-qualified to cover. Enjoy!


A year and a half ago I was shown a website that was pitched to me as “YouTube for video games” and as an avid gamer I was rather keen to get on this website and see just how it worked. The website was kongregate.com and it has since become one of my top visited sites for many reasons.

Kongregate currently features 19,620 completely free mostly independently produced games and more are being added daily. Whilst not necessary, users are encouraged to register for an account so they can use the sites social element and contribute to the site with ratings and reviews.

The social part of the site (to justify endless hours of gaming instead of getting some fresh air) comprises of the ability to add friends who are also users or to use the site to send messages to encourage them to join your game. When playing games you are always given your game window accompanied by a chat room where anyone else who is in your chosen room can discuss anything they please.

By having an account you can also use the sites achievement system which is very similar to that offered on Xbox360 and Playstation 3 networks. By playing games, rating games and referring friends you earn badges to be displayed on your profiles, collectable cards to be used in the sites online card game and also get points which advance in rank on the site.

Most importantly Kongregate is completely free to use and is funded purely by advertising and its recently implemented Kreds system. Whilst the adverts are present on every page of the site they are never intrusive and tend to fit the ethos of the website generally being for big game/movie releases or general geeky technology.

The advertising is generally done in some rather clever ways that really get a gamers attention. For example most recently Kongregate celebrated the release of the film Zombieland with Zombie week where a different challenge was available for points each day for a different zombie based game on the site. The games were of course surrounded by rather unsubtle Zombieland branding but never did it hinder or stop you playing the game.

Loot challenges are regularly available where completing the challenges would enter you for a prize draw to win prizes such as retail next gen games and home cinema systems. These are dealt with in a very similar way to the Zombieland promotion and are never intrusive.

The Kreds system is completely optional for all users and revolves around you buying virtual currency through PayPal or a credit/debit card. With your Kreds you can purchase additional content for games, Kongai cards or even leave a tip for the developer of a game you particularly liked.

Kongregate also encourages the user to get involved by offering tutorials and free web based software for developing flash games. Most notably, with their series of Shootorials where they released script for a game developed in house and challenged users to make the best game they could offering cash prizes for the best entries.

Another innovative feature is the creation of Collabs, which acts as a meeting place for artists and musicians to contribute their digital work and meet up with like minded people, as well as encouraging developers of to create new content for the site.

Whilst the purpose of the website is of course to make money it is refreshing to see a company taking steps to create something unique and offer a great service without bombarding its loyal users with adverts and restrictions. I can only hope the site will continue to grow in popularity to truly give independent games studios and developers a chance to give their work a platform outside of the traditional games industry; in much the same way that the Internet has done so very well of late for the music industry.

 

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

MediaPortal

mediaportal

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 different. In theory our computer and our television should already be firmly linked to one another; most homes have super fast broadband which are ideal for on-demand services such as football matches, music videos and films. We have still however managed to inexplicably distance the two technologies to the point that the thought of a football game being broadcast over the Internet only verges on lunacy.

There have been some steps to combine the two technologies. A service that interests me is BT Vision which provides a hybrid box which allows you to receive digital freeview channels over the airwaves and on demand media via the home broadband connection. I see this as being one to watch and hopefully companies such as Sky will start offering similar in the future.

Many people have also already connected their computers to their TV’s to watch the occasional downloaded movie however to take things to the extreme you could always consider setting up your computer as a home media centre. A piece of free Windows based software I’ll be looking at today called ‘Media Portal’ allows you to do just that, allowing you to integrate your computer in to the centre of your living room with the minimal of fuss.

MediaPortal (www.team-mediaportal.com) is a 30mb open source application ideally suited to a smaller machine which could be positioned in close proximity, permanently connected to your main TV. Of course, how you set it up is completely up to you; if you didn’t own a TV then the application would function just has happily on a standalone laptop. It is designed to allow your computer to record and rewind live digital TV, watch movies, view photo’s, reply to your e-mails and catch up on news and weather feeds. If you download and store a large amount of music you will appreciate the ability to search for any music track on your hard drive or sort the tracks by name, artist or album. Conventional FM radio along with DVB and Internet radio are also supported.

One of the main sticking points for a device that is attempting to assert itself in the living room would be if the interface was hard to use and you had to get up and use a keyboard / mouse whenever you wanted to change channel. Fortunately, support for a number of remote control devices is also provided and all the main application functions can be accessed from the easy to use interface which can be set to load automatically whenever the machine is turned on.

 

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

dBan

dban

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 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.

 

Ryan Carson, Refresh Creations Ltd

 

Ryan Carson runs the website design company Refresh Creations

Paint.Net v3.5

paintnet

Paint.net 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 slides the overall image will look different, but no changes will be made to the other slides. This means that changes that you make to one layer which are later altered won’t result in damage to the image caused by previous alterations.

Another good feature is the way that the application allows you to view multiple images all at once; rather than having a number of windows that can be minimised and reopened as and when necessary, Paint.NET has a clever style of tabbed interface. In order to navigate between open files you simply click a thumbnail of the image from a scrollable selection on the top right hand side of the screen.

I did fear that development on this fantastic free application had become stagnant - the last release (3.36) was well over a year ago and even that only offered minor improvements on earlier versions. Having obtained the beta for version 3.5 which is due to be release as a finished product next month it would appear the developers are back on track.

Notable improvements include improved memory usage, a Vista / Windows 7 style glass look, new effects along with the usual helping of bug fixes and rendering improvements.

Speaking of special effects, Paint.Net has a large number built in as standard; ink sketch, oil painting, blurs, distortions, noise control, red eye removal, sharpening, softening and so on. The image can also be manipulated by way of adjustments such as hue, saturation, level, brightness, contrast and sepia controls. The standard drawing and selection tools are provided and of course the intensity, tolerance or size of these tools can all be easily adjusted as necessary.

The size of the application has increased quite considerably since the last release which weighed in at 1.6mb but regardless the application is still a tiny 4.8mb in size which in relative terms is about the size of one MP3 music file.

 

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

ISO Format

isoformat

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 copy process, the format has become a popular method of transporting pirated software - the ISO file is an exact match of the original and as such there is no reason the software would realise it had been copied and refuse to run. There are plenty of legal uses for the format, however, and it is highly likely that even the most legitimate users will come in to contact with an ISO file at some stage sooner or later.

Unfortunately they are not the most user friendly file format; you can’t simply complete the download then double click to run the application as they first have to be returned to their original format. There are typically two methods that can be used to complete this process; burn the data back to a physical disc or create a virtual drive on your computer.

The first method relies on a piece of disc burning software such as the fantastic and free CDburnerXP (www. cdburnerxp.se). Simply click ‘burn an image to disc’, point the application in the direction of your ISO file, insert a blank CD or DVD and your computer will then spit out an exact copy of the original media as if it had come direct from the manufacturer.

The second method uses a piece of software such as the free Alcohol 52% (www.alcohol-soft.com) to create a virtual drive that can simulate an actual CD or DVD disc. By asking Alcohol 52% to ‘mount’ an ISO file downloaded from the Internet, Windows will be tricked in to thinking there is a physical drive connected to your computer containing the original disc. You simply access it through Windows Explorer as you would any other regular drive connected to your computer.

This latter method prevents us from having to waste a blank CD or DVD which is especially handy in instances where it would have only been used to install the application before being discarded. We can also keep the original ISO file and mount it whenever it’s required rather than having to store and locate a physical disc when the data is required again in the future.

There are additional benefits, especially when it comes to speed. Not only does it take seconds to mount an ISO file, rather than the minutes it would take to burn it, but in addition the speed of reading the data is exponentially faster. A virtual CD for example will read at 200x speed whereas the fastest CD drives on the market are limited to 52x speed.

Some users may also appreciate the ability to create multiple virtual drives that can function simultaneously; this is useful if you have more than one disc that you need frequent access to without the need for multiple readers. You can create copies of your own discs and load them up on to multiple virtual drives in this fashion and as long as you own the original it is perfectly legal.

 

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

The iPod Effect

apple_ipod_nano

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 the time. Suddenly, rather than just being able to store a couple of albums on their media player, users were given the ability to store thousands of songs on a device small enough to fit in the pocket.

Over the years the line has been revised several times with the largest commercial available iPod created topping out at a 160GB storage capacity which is enough to hold around 40,000 songs. The current series of iPod touch units feature a touch sensitive colour screen, motion sensor, Wi-Fi and a more realistic maximum 64GB of storage.

Presently Apple claim to dominate the portable music device market with a 73% market share, having sold over 210 million units to date. On top of the revenue generated by the sale of hardware, there is also the huge revenue generated by iTunes which is the associated song download site for the iPod. Having signed the five major record companies up to its service, iTunes boasted total sales figures of over 6 billion songs at the beginning of this year. The service now also offers video content such as TV shows and movies for users of newer machines.

The most interesting point to note is the halo effect that has occurred with other areas of the Apple business following cultural acceptance of the iPod as a ‘cool’ piece of technology. Users appear to have subscribed to the Apple brand and very few analysts would deny that the tremendous uptake of the iPod has had a positive effect on other areas of the business.

The most notable spin off has been the Apple iPhone which since its release in June 2007 has sold over 21 million units. Although we cannot attribute the high number of sales directly to the iPod, there are strong similarities between the two devices in terms of design and desirability.

If we look at the Apple Mac computer, suddenly it has been accepted as a sexy alternative to the boring PC. The market share is still at a relatively small 11% worldwide however this compares favourably with the 4.1% figure that was circulating back in 2001.

I think it is fair to surmise that Apples current good fortune in recent years is predominately down to the new found desirability that allows the products to command their high price tags. In order to ensure this status isn’t lost tomorrow they will need to build on this momentum so that products of tomorrow remain more than simple items of technology, but rather objects of desire.

 

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

802.11n Wireless Networking

wifi-n

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. Although these devices have been produced working on the draft specification, the reality is that there are very few differences between this and the anticipated final ‘official’ release.

Essentially based on the current 802.11g standard, 802.11n uses some new technology and tweaks to give Wi-Fi more speed and range. The most notable part of this technology is called ‘multiple input, multiple output’ or MIMO for short. MIMO uses several antennas to transmit multiple data streams simultaneously rather than a single antenna transmitting just one stream of data. This allows more data to be transmitted in the same period of time while also increasing the potential range of the network.

Other technologies include payload optimisation which results in more data being transmitted in each packet and channel bonding which can use two separate non-overlapping channels at the same time to transmit data. The result is all this is achievable data transmission rates of around 100Mbps and double the potential range of 802.11g.

There are no security enhancements as they simply aren’t needed; the WPA2 encryption standard provided by existing network hardware is considered by most to be ‘extremely secure’.

It’s worth checking the box of any network equipment you have purchased in the last couple of years as you may find it is already compatible with 802.11n and simply needs setting up correctly. It goes without saying that in order to benefit from the faster speed both the transmitting and receiving devices both have to support 802.11n; A 802.11n router working with a 802.11g laptop will result in slower 802.11g speeds.

At present ‘n’ rated hardware is more expensive than the older ‘g’ standard however not prohibitively so; our ‘n’ rated wireless router typically retails for around a tenner more than the £25 ‘g’ rated equivalent. Of course, if you are already happy with your wireless network and the upgrade will mean replacing perfectly functional hardware it is certainly worth considering whether your needs warrant the faster hardware.

At present 802.11n will only be required by those with blisteringly fast broadband connections or those that regularly copy large volumes of data across a wireless network however it will soon become the norm. If upgrading your hardware, therefore, it may well be worth paying a couple of extra pounds now to ensure that you remain future proof.

 

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

Apple Mac OS X ‘Snow Leopard’

snowleopard

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 adding new features to the Operating System than refining the underlying code. Installing ‘Snow Leopard’ on to a system currently operating ‘Leopard’ for example will immediately free up 6GB worth of disc space.

A great deal of this space has been saved by the OS no longer offering support for the older PowerPC processors and, as such, you will need a more modern Mac utilising an Intel processor to make the switch. How much of the space saving has come from Apples claim that it has refined 90% of the Leopard code and how much of it is down to the removal of the PowerPC code we don’t know.

The refinements that Apple have made have also resulted in users of the developer preview edition already in circulation reporting a faster installation along with a more speedy start up and shut down sequence. Apparently the OS also feels my punchy and responsive than previously.

With Snow Leopard, Apple has successfully made the jump to 64-bit computing; a technology that is rapidly becoming standard in both the PC and Mac world. Practically all the bundled applications have been rewritten to take advantage of a 64-bit processor if available and this can potentially result in some pretty impressive speed increased. As an example, the 64-bit version of the Safari web browser is claimed to be up to 50% faster than the same 32-bit version.

There are a number of minor improvements which are worthy of mention:

Power – Waking up from sleep mode is twice as fast with an additional speed increase of up to 50% when subsequently searching for a wireless network. Improved power management also means that if you are sharing files across a network then your computer won’t disconnect all users from your drive when your computer enters sleep mode.

Quicktime – The bundled media player has been updated with a cleaner interface, easier uploads to YouTube and additional features previously only supplied in the paid for professional version.

Finder – This search facility is now responsive and includes an enhanced icon view along with more customisable search options.

Services – The services menu which allows you to make use of a specific service provided by another application installed on your hard disk will now only show you services relevant to the application you are currently using.

Stacks – Dock items that give you fast access to a folder or files are now scrollable so you can easily view all items. Exposé is also refined so you can just click and hold an application icon in the dock in order to unshuffle all the windows for that application so you can quickly change to another one.

As a final point, it should be noted that the upgrade version of Snow Leopard is priced at just $29.99 (around £20) making it a worthwhile upgrade for all Mac users. Although Macs are undeniably more expensive to buy and purchase accessories for, this price point looks incredibly appealing compared with the anticipated £70 price point of Windows 7 Home Premium.

 

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

BT iPlate

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 from your home by a BT engineer as it now only serves as a conduit for line interference.

By using the iPlate the bell wire is choked, therefore potentially improving the signal to noise ratio (SNR) of your connection which in turn should have a knock-on effect on the line speed.

The iPlate is only suitable for customers who have the most common BT NTE5 style master socket; these consist of a split face plate with a single phone connection. The bottom section can be unscrewed independently from the top of the socket which should have the BT logo embossed on it.

It is NOT suitable for master sockets which display the BT OpenReach logo, have two phone connections, or don’t have a split in the faceplate. Also, ensure that you are examining the master socket and not one of the extension sockets.

Installation is simple; you unscrew and remove the lower section of the master socket, install the iPlate in its place, then reinstall the lower section of the master socket on top of the iPlate. From start to finish this process will take no more than a couple of minutes.

Before installation I would recommend performing a speed test using a website such as www.speedtest.net as this will allow you to gauge whether or not there has been any marked improvement. Leave a couple of days before testing the line post installation as it can take up to 72 hours for the exchange to acknowledge that your potential speed is faster. This limiting factor is referred to as a ‘bRAS profile’ and is designed to stop traffic bottle necking at the exchange as a result of it attempting to transmit data faster than your line can physically handle.

Fortunately our home doesn’t have a bell-wire or any extensions as we ripped out the old line when we bought the house and a single socket was then installed in a different location with none of the redundant bell wire reconnected. As such, I have been unable to test it personally but the general independent consensus is that although it doesn’t make a difference in all home installations, there is the potential for many users to make quite considerable speed gains with 1.5mbps increases proving relatively common.

As I said, the theory is sound and for £6.63 including delivery (www.shop.bt.com) or free if you’re a BT Total Broadband customer (visit www.bt.com to order), the iPlate has got to be worth a punt. Of course, if your wiring isn’t a factor that is influencing your line speed and you achieve nothing then simply pass the device on to a friend.

 

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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