10 Must-Dos in London

10 Must-Dos in London
10 Must-Dos in London

Venice Trip Report

Venice Trip Report
Venice Trip Report

Disneyland California Trip

Disneyland California Trip
Disneyland California Trip

Xbox 360 review

Okay, the Xbox 360 might be a bit old and rubbish but this a console apparently.
You have PS2 feature by putting it up strait or horizontally, bad start. This what the Xbox 360 has:

The Xbox 360 boasts a custom-built IBM PowerPC CPU running at 3.2GHz with memory at 512MB RAM. The graphics chip is a custom-built ATI chip capable of advanced analysing and shadier effects. This means that the Xbox 360 will have the processing power to deliver true 720p and 1080i wide-screen HDTV images for all of its games.
Another bad thing which all Xbox 360 people know is the "red ring of death" or "red lights of death". If you don't know about this I'll tell yo u more about it. When the Xbox 360 starts starting up all of this lights go green all around and the "red ring of death" makes all the lights red and doesn't work anymore, dies out basically.
These are the differences between Xbox 360, the Wii and PS3.
  • Graphics: Alright
  • Size: Poor
  • Technology: Alright
  • Old: Excellent
  • Simple menu: Poor
So not a good console after all.

Windows Vista - Advanced Installation

Buying a new PC may be a fast and safe way to upgrade, but it's much cheaper to just buy Vista and install it yourself- hopefully after reading our articles you will be able to! If your computer is fairly powerful and meets Vista's high standards (go here to see if your system is up to the job) then nothing can stop you from buying a Vista disc and installing it yourself. We explained the various types of Vista, but most users will choose Windows Vista Home Premium - you can get this version for around £150 or less. To save even more you could buy an upgrade edition of Vista, these can be installed on any PCs running Windows 2000 or any version of XP (incl. Media Center and Tablet PC) or even on Vista itself (though installing on Vista itself could be seen as unethical so I won't be talking about that...yet). After choosing your Vista version, yo will have to choose how you want to install it...

Installing from within Windows
This is the easiest way to install Vista, simple insert the Vista DVD and installation should begin automatically. If it doesn't, go to My Computer and double click the CD icon, if nothing happens, right click the CD in My Computer, select Explore and double-click Setup.exe to begin installation.
There are two main types of install offered 'Upgrade' and 'Custom' - Upgrade means that your settings, files and programs will remain while the operating system is upgraded. You can use Custom which will delete everything on your hard disk and install a blank copy of Vista - but all your files and folders can still be found in a special folder called WINDOWS.OLD - these can then be dragged where you'd like them to be at any time.

Installing on a blank hard disk
If you have a totally blank hard disk or have just finished building your PC, then this is the choice for you. Here you must boot from the Vista DVD, which means starting your PC with the CD in the drive. This should be a full edition, though there is an upgrade trick which can also be used but that is violating vista's terms. Google "Vista upgrade trick" for more info on that. Select Custom(advanced) when Vista asks you what you want to do and follow the on-screen instructions.

Run XP and Vista and the same time
This involves using a program called Microsoft Virtual PC, which is a free program that works on most versions of Windows and simulates on computer being inside another. Vista won't run as fast if you try it this way, but you can evaluate vista without compromising your existing programs, files and setting or hardware drivers and you can make the decision to move to Vista if you are ready. You can use vista like this for 30 days on the Virtual PC until ti will ask you for a key, this should be long enough to check out the OS.

Next week: The real work - Dual booting Vista and XP!

Wireless & Networking - Wireless standards, specifications and more

For the home user there are four standards to consider 802.11a, b, g and the new n. By far the most common in Europe is 802.11b. This was the first main Wifi standard, mostly because it was cheap to integrate into computers, but this standard can suffer from interference problems as it uses the same frequency as some cordless phones, microwave ovens and Bluetooth. SO a new better standard was introduced 802.11a - which is also more expensive.

The next gen Wifi (802.11g) has been built into most hardware for the past four years, it suffers the same problem as the b standard but is much faster and will work with b hardware. It is an improvement over the standard, though conflict issues still exist.

The newest of all standards is still in draft version - 802.11n and this will work with all existing Wifi standards. When a network finds a slow device all speeds are reduced to the slowest device's speed to not cause overloads, this is the reason why you should buy all hardware from the same supplier and of the same standard.

Importantly, some manufacturers claim double speed but the condition is that all devices must be of that manufacturer brand, including all wireless cards.

When a network is installed, security needs to be immediately addressed as most setup routines do not configure this automatically. By password protecting your network, all information is encrypted. A few steps are needed to secure your network, you can either visit The Wifi Alliance at http://www.wifialliance.com or by following our simple, concise clear advice which will come in future columns.

Any wireless equipment which claims to be 802.11n compatible isn't; it is based on the draft version of the standard, though this is unlikely to change - it may do. Also there is no need to move to the new standard, so pick one of the old ones, more advice on this later on too. The fastest connected are around 24Mb/s and buying a new wireless a standard will not speed you connection for viewing web pages up, the 54Mbps or 108Mbps claimed are for file transfer and are the theoretical maximum speed.

Next week: Our first workshop on setting up a wirelss netowrk in Windows XP.

Technology News - 26/04/08

Time for the latest news:

Flickr has released a video sharing section to it's website, though videos can only be 90 seconds in length and the service is only available to it's pro members, who pay $24.95 a year. In the last year, Flickr's visitors have increased to 42 million unique visitors a month now.

The web could be replaced by something know as "grid" which is 10,000 times faster than current broadband networks. Scientists in Switzerland are working on the next-generation service which would allow films to be downloaded in a matter of seconds. The system would even be powerful enough to allow instant gaming between hundreds of thousands of gamers and could even transfer holographic images! The grid is built from fibre-optic cables and 55,000 web server already have it installed and is expected to reach 200,000 in the next two years. Britain currently already has 8,000 of these servers so service could start as soon as Autumn 2008, the grid will be activated at the same time as another particle accelerator designed to investigate how the universe began called LHC.

Linux - Ubuntu Hardy 8.04 released!

As if the Ubuntu column couldn't have been on a better day of the week. Yesterday, Hardy 8.04 was released! It's been 24 hours now, so let me tell you my experience of it yesterday. Halfway through the day (after I thought the initial buzz had died down) I headed over to the Ubuntu website to be greeted with the new flash animation - I click download and after a few steps I discovered that my .ISO file had started downloading, after being there for over ten minutes, I discovered that my download was barely at 0.1% away fro m completion. I decided to take the long way - find a torrent version, but once I had found and downloaded the 20kb torrent, 25 minutes later at a fantastic download speed of 500kb/s I had my .ISO ready to burn, in another 10 minutes the CD had been burned and I was waiting for the CD to load up after rebooting - here's where my earlier problem started, again!

The same horizontal and vertical streaks were all over the screen, rendering it useless, I attempted to go to the hardware drivers window from the little that I could make out, when I got there I found no drivers needed to be installed - I was devastated! I then rebooted and tried a normal GUI install but ended up with the same problem. My hopes of returning to Ubuntu had just died, I then submitted something to launchpad to see if I'd get an answer from the community...

Next week: Normal Linux tutorials resume.

UPDATE: Someone replied saying that they had a similar problem and that the only way was to buy a cheap graphics card instead of using the on-board one on my motherboard. I do have a laptop which Ubuntu may work on instead, but it needs a new battery, so I will see what I will do - either buy a cheap laptop just for Ubuntu, try Ubuntu on my old laptop and if it works buy a new battery, or buy a graphics card for my desktop.

Windows Vista - What should you be looking for? Part 2

If you missed our earlier edition on what Processor and Ram you need as well as choosing the right version of Vista for you, you can view that article here.

Now, let's move on to the hard drive, also know as the hard drive. For basic documents and web surfing a 50Gb hard drive would be just fine, if you have a collection of music, photos and other files then 100Gb would be reasonable, though 200Gb would be an even better choice as programs and files eventually get bigger and more and more files accumulate on your system. The great news is that you can purchase fantastic amounts of hard disk space from trusted manufacturers for a fantastic price. Here for examples is a Samsung HD501LJ 500GB Internal SATA 16MB 7200RPM Hard Drive for currently just £49.99. Now there are terabyte hard disks and even bigger and as they get bigger, already big 500 GB and less hard disks will get cheaper and cheaper.

The graphics card - now here's what makes your computer look good, or not. Vista uses the Aero interface in most version of Vista. Vista requires a minimum of 128Mb of video RAM, but we recommend at least 256Mb and 512Mb would be amazing for future enhancements and to keep everything running at tip-top speed.

The monitor is also very important, particularly as you will be staring at it all the time that you use your computer. A 17 inch to 19 inch LCD display is fine and can now be picked up for a reasonable amount of money - if you want to save a few bucks then an older CRT monitor can be found second hand for under £30 usually. A widescreen only available in LCDs in recommended for DVD playback and certain programs.

Other things you may want to consider when building or buying a Vista PC are if a TV tuner is included (not really needed, only if you want to watch TV on your PC), a firewire port for fast video transfers from camcorders and make sure that a keyboard and mouse are included in the price or that you buy them if you are building the system yourself.

Wireless and Networking - Getting a good signal, file sharing and going wireless!

Getting a good signal - The best thing about wireless, is that, well, it is - wireless. Though wireless networking depends on your signal, even with a perfectly set up network, there will always be areas in the house which won't get the best signal, or any signal at all for that matter. You should always place your router in the centre of the house so that the signal gets to everywhere it needs to. Wireless signals can usually get through objects quite well, by either bouncing off them or going through them if they are thin enough. Though some walls are much too thick to let anything through, leaving whole rooms without wireless access through no fault of your own. Furniture and cupboards, together, can cause wireless signals to die anywhere beyond a few meters from the wireless access point. You can either move furniture (which can be impractical) or lift the router up to a higher place, therefore making the waves bounce off less objects. Also just changing the way the antenna is pointing by a few degrees can make all the difference.

File sharing - A wireless network enables you to access the internet, but to also make a home network and share files between your computers. You can even add a storage device to your network and keep files stored on it permanently, and share them all over your network (a media streamer for example). More information on creating this network and file sharing will come in future blog posts.

Going wireless
- Having a wire-free house would be perfect and computers are undoubtedly just the start of that, you will not need to run any cables through walls and tuck them under furniture. Being wire-free means you won't have to move wires when moving your computer (well, not networking wires at least). In this series of blog posts, we will cover everything from choosing the wireless kit that's right for you and what else you need to do, to answers to pretty much any question you could think of. You will be glad you will have networked, either wired or wirelessly after reading this blog section.

Next week: Wireless standards, specifications, standards and network security. Also in two weeks our first how-to guide will be coming.

Linux 1 - What is Linux?

Linux has a reputation of being just of techies, which might put a lot of people off even looking at this article. But guess what? That is just a common misconception.

Linux is made for everyone not just companies and tech-geeks. It's made for home users, and most of the websites on the internet are hosted on Linux servers. Over the next few months I will cover every aspect of Linux in depth. This includes installing Linux, setting it up, troubleshooting and showing you how to use pretty much every feature in the Operating system. And the best thing? You can try all this for free! You can even test Linux without installing anything on your PC so you really do have nothing to lose.

Linux is a complete replacement for Microsoft Windows that runs on most of the PCs on the planet. As previously mentioned Linux is an Operating System which essentially connects your software and hardware together, making it usable. Linux usually comes with a host of free applications installed, and  many more are available for on demand - most of which are free.

The cost of Linux is amazing, but even better is the security. Most virus writers target Windows, so having Linux means less processing power needs to be wasted on bloated security programs - though this does not mean that you should leave your Linux PC unprotected. Linux, like Unix lets users work with restricted privileges which means viruses cannot do as much damage if they did get in as they do on Windows. The Linux community also has a great track record for fixing security problems quickly and effectively.

Linux also runs a lot faster on a computer than Windows on the same computers, so there'll be no more pauses in which you hear your hard drive crunching, with no idea about what's going on. Linux can also be stripped down so only components you want to use are installed - no more features that will slow down your PC for nothing. Also if an application does crash in Linux it is very unlikely that the whole system would go into meltdown requiring a reboot - unlike Windows.

Linux' source code is available for free which means no incompatible file extensions and extra plug-ins needed for everything. Linux even comes with a free feature-packed alternative to Microsoft Office (OpenOffice.org) and lots of other programs, and if needed more can be installed in seconds.

Linux users also get continued updates to the OS, unlike Windows which took 5 years to move on from XP to Vista. An example of continuous updates is Ubuntu which we will be using throughout the whole of this "course". This version of Linux is updated to a new edition every six months, that means ten updates during the same time that XP only had one - these updates bring new features and stability, with security fixes released every few days to keep things running smoothly, updates are done in minutes and with no nag-screens.

More next week.

Windows Vista - What should you be looking for?

When buying a new PC you need the right components and Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows Vista, needs special resources. To help you out when buying your PC we've produced this guide.

To get Vista you can either buy a new PC or install it yourself. Getting a new Vista PC needs a lot of thought. First, you should decide what version of Vista you want before even getting to the technicalities. We would strongly recommend not buying Vista Basic - you will miss out on most key features - 3F interface, media capabilities and much more. For most users we would recommend Vista Home Premium which should be enough for most users, as it includes the main features of the operating system.

Processor - Here we would recommend no less than a Core Two Duo, that is not a Dual Core such as Pentium D - it must be a Core Two Duo. This processor is available for a reasonable price too.

Memory (RAM) - Do not buy any less than 1GB of ram, anything with 512MB is not suitable for Vista. Vista requires a minimum of 1GB but at least 2GB is recommended to get things up to speed.

More about the other components next week.

Tips & Tricks - Windows Shortcuts

There are many different Windows short cuts which can make life a lot easier, these range from going to your desktop by just pressing two buttons to switching through programs without even touching your mouse. Well, here is a collection of some of the best:

  • Ctrl + A = Select all text on a page;
  • Windows Key + E = Open up a new explorer window
  • Windows Key + F = Open up the 'find' tool to search for something.
  • Ctrl + Alt + Delete = Open up task manager and open and close programs and processes on the fly.
  • Windows Key + D = Go straight to the desktop. Press again to go back to the program you were using before.
  • Windows Key = Opens up the start menu instantly.
  • Backspace Key = Go back a folder in Windows explorer.
  • F7 (In Microsoft Word) = Opens up Spell Check
  • Ctrl + F7 (In Microsoft Word) = Opens up the thesaurus.
  • Alt + Tab = Cycle through programs without touching the mouse
  • Alt + F4 = Close down a program instantly.
  • Ctrl + X = Cut out selected text.
  • Ctrl + Z = Undo the last action.
  • Ctrl + Y = Redo the last action.
  • Ctrl + C = Copy selected text.
  • Ctrl + V = Paste selected text.
Those are the main short cuts used in Windows, hopefully you will have found at least one you didn't know of previously.

Wireless and Networking - The Basics and More!

A few years back, in order to network a few computers, you'd need to run miles of cables and then connect them to a server or massive router. You could then share printers and a broadband connection.

Now all this can be done at home - now all without wires flying about. Not only are wires a pain to lay and hide, they can also be a safety hazard, with a child potentially tripping over them, or they could even possibly overheat.

So, now that Summer is arriving wouldn't it be nice to browse the net wirelessly in the garden in the fresh air?

In practice, if the world was as perfect as that, everything would be great. Installation guides which are impossible to understand, error messages, buying and setting up all the right equipment, security, and disappearing signals are all problems but over the next few months we will show you how to get round all these problems and more!

We have information ranging from beginners to advanced professionals, whether this is your first network or you are trying to sort out problems with your existing network - you'll be bound to find something of use here - and if not, you can post your problem as a comment an we can even help to  to solve your problem.

This column isn't just about wireless networks, we will help you chose between wired and wireless and post about both.

Things you'll need to know:
  • There are different types of wireless standards - A, B, G and N. The best one to use at the moment is G, as it offers good transfer speed and a wide network range. N is the fastest but not all devices support it yet.
  • All adapters you buy and routers should be of the same standard to avoid problems and to diagnose them easier.
  • You may also want to buy all networking kit from the same manufacturer as some are incompatible with other brands.
  • Most new laptops will not require any extra hardware to connect to a wireless network.
  • Traffic travels through ports from your computer to the internet or to another device on the network on both wired and wireless networks.
  • Not only computers can connect wirelessly, Nintendo Wiis, Playstation 3s, mobile phones and more can be added to a network and can communicate with each other and/or the internet.
  • It is fairly common for you to have to plug in wireless devices to a router with cables, and then set them up to use them wirelessly, though this is not always the case.
Don't worry if this sounds tricky we will offer advice for all of the above through the upcoming weeks.
  • Laptops can be used wirelessly, but so can desktop PCs, with the introduction of PCI cards and USB dongles.
  • You can either buy a wireless router which is essentially a combined router and wireless access point, or if you already have a wired broadband network which is working via an Ethernet cable, you can add a wireless access point ' this extends your wired network to a wireless one.
Usually, there is no need to buy a wireless router or extra hardware when changing from one ISP to another, as you can often get a free wireless router. ISPs that currently offer a free wireless router all ready for you to use are:
  • AOL
  • Be
  • Orange
  • Possibly others, but I don't have time to research all.
Next week: Getting a good signal, the basics of file sharing and going wireless.


Convert to a better email client?

Tired of Outlook Express? Don't want to pay for Outlook? Or bored of both? 

Well, look no further - because without spend one penny, you will be able to get a fully customizable email client and not lose any of your emails! 

Mozilla, the creators of Firefox have their very own email software too. Now as we know, most good things come at a price - well not with Mozilla Thunderbird. As with Firefox, Mozilla like to keep their products free. Their programs don't have any ads and Thunderbird is no exception. 

A simple setup wizard guides you through the process of importing all your contacts, messages and email addresses. There are also hundreds of addons to add more features to your email client, to keep RAM (memory) usage low. 

Thunderbird does not include a calendar but this feature can be added by visiting http://addonss.mozilla.org and clicking "Other Applications" then "Thunderbird" and this and many more addons can be installed without any fuss. 

If you need an client that can be customised, that good, runs fast, is easy to use, sleek and is based around a community of users, not making money, then Firefox may well be the email client for you. 

Scripts - PHPMotion

As my first tech related post of the blog, I am going to talk about a script which I have discovered quite recently. This script is called PHPMotion – PHPMotion is a video sharing script that is guaranteed to suit your needs.

Not only is it feature rich, but it’s also free! PHPMotion has released one full version at the time of writing, and the developer is currently working of Version 2 of the script – which is currently in its first release candidate stage (RC1). The software is packed with features, in version 2 not only can you upload videos – but audio as well!

As the software is free, you are required to register on the forum to download it. This means there is no excuse for not helping others, and getting help on the forums. Another benefit of free software (nearly open source – 1 or 2 files are encoded) is that people are always contributing, it’s faster to find bugs and loads of mods (modifications) are available – many are free.

For version 2, mods include: Leave comments for profile and groups, a related videos system like YouTube, an SMF forum bridge is being worked on at the moment too. There are over 20 mods currently available which is great for a free script. There are also two fantastic paid mods available at around $30 each: one lets you grab videos from YouTube and the other lets you email people in your hotmail, Gmail, etc. contact list and tell them about the site.

It's definitely worth a look!