Tag Archives: Tradition

Firmware

HP-Firmware-DVD

A consistent problem that we’re having at Refresh is customers purchasing DVD discs and then returning them as being ‘faulty’ because they refuse to work correctly on their machines.Once they come back in to store we then run a couple of tests and they check out as being absolutely fine meaning that quite often a customer has just returned to us dozens of completely fine discs.

The reason for the media being incorrectly identified as being faulty is that each brand of DVD disc uses a different dye on the bottom of the disc as well as differing plastic compositions and silver reflector density.As such the DVD writer has to adjust its laser for each different type of disc and if your DVD burner doesn’t recognise a particular disc then this process becomes quite difficult for the writer to achieve.

This week I’m going to show you how to do something called a ‘firmware update’ which is a small piece of software developed by the manufacturers as they test new discs and improve the compatibility of their drives already on the market.By performing a firmware update on your drive you can gain benefits such as faster disc burning as well as greater compatibility both in actually recognising blank discs and creating a good quality, universally compatible disc at the end of the burning process.

Thankfully performing a firmware update is free of charge and as long as you take care with what you’re doing it’s relatively easy.I will point out that if done incorrectly there is a possibility that you could permanently break your burner but as long as the slightest amount of care is taken it should be pretty difficult for even a novice computer user to cause any amount of damage.I will declare in true Click tradition that I won’t be held responsible should anything go wrong and your drive is rendered useless as a result of following any of the advice given in this article.

The first step is identifying the make and model of your DVD drive which can be easily achieved by downloading and running the free Nero Infotool utility.This can be downloaded from www.nero.com/nero7/eng/Info_Tool.html and once run the program will display the type of drives present in your system in a drop down box up the top left hand side of the window.In my case the utility returned the result ‘HL-DT-ST GSA-H10N’ which was as clear as mud to understand but a simple Google search informed me that this was a LG branded drive and ‘GSA-H10N’ was the model number.

Once armed with this information you should head to the manufacturers website which again can be found relatively easy with a Google search.Once there head to the support section and whilst I can’t tell you exactly where to look you should simply look for a section dedicated to DVD drives and firmware updates.If you have problems locating firmware for your particular drive then a good place to start is one of the help forums such as www.rpc1.org where you will find people happy to give you advice.

Once you have located the correct firmware update for your drive simply download the package on to your computer and whilst in most instances a firmware update will just involve running the update utility and clicking on the ‘Go’ button it is imperative that you read the accompanying instructions.Once the utility has completed then that’s it, you can delete the file you just downloaded and rest safe in the knowledge that the software stored on the firmware chip inside your DVD burner is bang up to date.

Congratulations, now completed your drive should now be more compatible and potentially less troublesome than it was ten minutes ago when you first started reading this article.If you have had any problems updating then your best bet once again is to either head back to the manufacturers support page or a user supported forum such as www.rpc1.org.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply a range of refilling supplies to the UK Market.

Google Mail

Whilst it seems like pretty much every other article I write at the moment is related to Google in some way, shape or form I thought I’d stick with tradition and this week focus my article on the Google Gmail service which I have recently had a chance to tryout. Although this service isn’t yet available to the general public I thought it would be worth mentioning Gmail as it gives us an insight into what online e-mail services will have to aspire to in the future.

For those of you unaware as to the different ways that you can receive e-mail there are the standard e-mail programs present on your computer (for example Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird) which download e-mails locally to your computer hard-drive and alternative is sites such as Hotmail or Yahoo which store the e-mails on the Internet so that you can visit a website, insert an e-mail address and password and retrieve your e-mails from any machine. Google Gmail falls into the latter category.

Whilst Gmail has all the standard features you’d expect from an online mail service there are a number of features that differentiate Gmail from the more established players which I’ll cover below:

Storage

One of the most commendable things about Gmail is that it gives you 2000 megabytes of storage which is absolutely huge when compared with other services that often offer just a few megabytes of space. With this amount of storage space you may never need delete an e-mail that you receive.

Speed

The front end of Gmail is extremely compact and hence takes very little time to log in and navigate. A large number of commands that you issue don’t require you to continuously reload the page like other services which does make a huge difference when managing your e-mails.

Conversations

Google refers to messages as conversations in the way that a number of messages on the same subject are grouped together as an entire conversation rather than being treated as individual messages. In this way you can manage large number of e-mails grouped into the same conversation quickly and easily so that deleting or achieving them doesn’t cause a headache.

Advertising

Google Gmail is free to use and paid for by advertising however the adverts are very small, non intrusive and are targeted so that they are more relevant to subject matter that you might find of interest. There are no large graphic adverts and no pop-up or pop-under adverts to clutter your browser.

Search

Obviously the one thing that the guys at Google are good at is search engine technology so it isn’t surprising that the search facility in Gmail is both simple but powerful. In fact, I am made quite envious that it can often take minutes to get Microsoft Outlook to search the achieved Refresh Cartridges mail on my computer but as a Gmail user the same operation would take literally 2 seconds!

Spam Technology

The application uses a powerful spam filter to protect you from unwanted e-mail and if any does get through the net you are invited to report it to the Google quality team so they can consider that similar e-mails can be blocked from the service in the future.

As I said at the start of this article Gmail isn’t yet available for the general public to start using yet as it is by invite only during the beta (testing) period but those of you that are currently using another e-mail website would be crazy not to keep an eye on the website http://mail.google.com and sign up as soon as it becomes available.

Kazaa Lite

Fortunately I have recommended a number of free programs recently such as Spybot search and destroy and AVG anti virus that seem to have gone down well with my readers so thought that I wouldn’t break with tradition in recommending another piece of essential software.

I have spoken about Kazaa in the past; the free program used for sharing music and other files online but I personally found the adverts a bit of an annoyance. To rectify my problems I downloaded Kazaa Lite; essentially a rip off version of Kazaa with no built in advertising and since the program in general has matured somewhat since I first featured it in Click, I thought now would be a good time to re-review it.

By heading to the site www.k-lite.tk, you are instantly greeted with a number of adverts but luckily once you break through this stage and download the program you will be left completely advert free. Simply uninstall your old version of Kazaa (if you had it in the first instance) and download the new version of Kazaa Lite which should take no more than around 10 minutes even on the most mediocre connections.

Kazaa/Kazaa Lite uses a technology known as peer to peer which basically means that the thousands of users using the program opt into a system whereby you select portions of your hard drive to share with other users. For example you could share all your music files which would enable anybody else using the program to do a search for that track which could then be copied straight off of your hard drive. Of course, anti-piracy groups are livid at programs such as this and I must stress that copying music or other programs is of course against the law unless you already own the original.

Anyway, by booting up Kazaa Lite I see that on this Thursday afternoon there are over 4 million users online sharing between them over 6,000,000 gigabytes worth of files and all I have to do to find something I would like is to click on search, select whether I am looking for a music clip, video clip, image, document or a piece of software and type a number of keywords; for example the name of a song. Kazaa Lite would then go off and does the donkey work for me to return a list of files which matched my criteria which I could then start downloading straight away.

The system often brings back hundreds of matches so you can download a file from a number of sources so if you’ve got a fast connection then you can download separate parts of the same file from a dozen users with a slower connection and once all of the separate downloads are complete Kazaa will piece all the bits together.

Nice features that weren’t present in the original that I reviewed sometime ago is the ability to rate files based on their quality which should help prevent you from wasting time downloading a poor quality song and a participation level monitor which lets other users see whether you are just leeching files from them or whether you are actually sharing and giving something back to the Internet community. The interface is a lot more slick and the program more stable than previous versions so if you downloaded the original when I first recommended it then you should download this update; for the sake of 10 minutes of Internet download time it is certainly worth it!

Alternative search engine

Whilst searching for a broad range of search engines on which to promote my website I recently stumbled across a site which I hadn’t seen or heard of in the past which is actually shockingly good. For the last couple of years, Google has been my search engine of choice and is still in the majority of cases the first site that I’ll go to when searching for information on the Internet although the original layout of the site that I’m going to cover today definitely earns it a position as one of my favourites.

Kartoo (www.kartoo.com) is a meta engine which means that it searches more than one database at a time when you look for something on the Internet so that if, for example you typed in ‘houses for sale’ then it may question both AltaVista and Yahoo to bring you the most comprehensive results. In addition it can also intelligently choose which databases to question based on your search phrase so if you were to type in a question such as ‘Where can I view houses for sale?’ then Kartoo would ask a search engine that specialises in recognising natural language such as www.northernlight.com.

The best aspect of this site has to be the interface that it uses as for as long as search engines have been around, their layout has changed very little indeed – You simply type what you want into a box, hit search and then a big list of sites come up for you to choose from. Kartoo on the other hand uses a Macromedia Flash interface which makes things much more graphically intensive which many of you are probably thinking is a stupid idea as surely a graphical search engine will take longer to load and offer no advantages over a tradition engine, right? Whilst it’s true that on the first time using the site it will take a little while to load on a slow connection, repeat visits will be significantly faster and surprisingly the graphics actually help you to navigate your search results quite nicely.

Type in ‘Cheap cartridges in Devon’ into Kartoo and it comes up with a list of possible results all floating on the screen in little balloons and a list of keywords associated with the sites that have been returned focused towards the centre of the page. If you now put your mouse cursor over one of the balloons representing the site you want to go to then the search engine will join together the balloon and all the keywords from the centre of the screen that are associated with that site.

Vice Versa, on that particular search that we just did one of the keywords placed in the centre of the screen was the word ‘canon’ so if you float your mouse over this word then the site will join this word with the balloons of websites using this particular keyword. All of the balloons can be clicked on to open up that particular site or if you click on the top of the balloon then you can search from within that site, search for related sites and so on.

A list of other related searches that you may wish to try is listed down the left hand side of the screen as well as a list of top sites and sponsored links. There is an expert version which offers you greater control over how the results are displayed on your screen as well as more advanced searching options and the ability to save the searches that you’ve performed.

Basically, I recommend that you head to www.kartoo.com and give it a try as it is fairly difficult for me to explain how a graphical interface looks without the aid of pictures; you may hate it, you may love it but at least give it a try.

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