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Don't despair, call John for repair. 

 

Light weight browsers

The Internet is getting bigger and websites are getting larger. This means that web browsers have become larger to cope with all these new sites, based on the assumption that everyone has a new computer and a fast Internet connection to deal with it.

However, not everyone has a new computer or have a decent fast connection, a lighter web browser is what you need.

Enter Light which is a cut down version of Firefox. It supports the extensions that Firefox is famous for (adblock plus is a must these days) The 32 bit version even works on Windows XP.

Another popular choice is Midori the cut down version of Chrome. It is light weight and fast but it still has the memory hogging problem Chrome has. The Great Suspender is a great extension to manage tabs. It suspends those that are inactive and saves memory.


A glimpse into the future

Future Technology

The future of computing is an interesting place, what with the blurring of the boundaries between science fiction and science.

Solid State Battery

The recent developments in safe battery technology will bring longer life devices with less weight. The fires and explosions caused by Lithium-ion liquid batteries as they degrade dangerously will be a thing of the past.

3D Memory

3D memory will enable storage devices to be much smaller, which could mean your watch has the same storage capacity as your entire computer. Imagine listening to your entire music collection, just from your watch.

ARM Cortex

The processor will become smaller and therefore think faster with less power consumption, and at the same time run cooler which means more could be done for less. The rise of the ARM processor is a good example of this. The advantage over traditional desktop processors is that less instructions are needed, so the processor runs cool and draws such little power, enabling smartphones and tablets to have long lives.

ePaper

Colour paper-like screens will be something for the future. Current e-ink screens work by only drawing power when a part of the screen changes, rather than having to power the screen all the time. A separate back light illuminates the screen to make the screen easy to see.

Autonomous Vehicles

Artificial Intelligence has been the buzzword for many years, with the idea of intelligent robots doing the jobs of humans and we can see that happening now. Autonomous vehicles on our roads make a safer driving experience as human error can be eliminated.

Fog

Time of Flight technology enables cameras to see through fog or blizzard conditions, so with a simple projector in the driver's cab to project onto the windscreen, the driver will be able to see the road ahead. With an overlay of Computer Vision, objects could be clearly marked with coloured boxes.

Face Recognition

Artificial Intelligence coupled with Computer Vision is something else. Take face recognition and augmented reality glasses would change the world. Everyone you recognise from seeing their face and not remembering their name or where you know them from can get instant recognition by not only their name, how you know them but also a list of their interests. After all, who doesn't want to be recognised.

The Smart Home is another example of where Computer Vision can be useful, by detecting your car by the number plate and opening the garage as you approach, closing it automatically when you leave. Or the front door that opens automatically when you arrive and announces callers based on their face.


Are cookies bad

Okay so what are cookies?

Cookies are a way that websites can track your usage by sending a small amount of information to your browser's cookie jar.

When you log into Facebook with a web browser, Facebook saves some information about you logging in from that computer (called your session) into the cookie jar, and when you log out, that information is deleted.

Also, companies like Amazon store more than just your login information in a cookie, they also store information that tells them what products you have looked at and placed in your wish list or shopping cart.

Advertising companies want to know if you have seen their advert or have clicked on it, so they also use cookies to store that information.

Actually, advertising companies are so connected now that they can see what you have searched for (from Google's cookies), what you have looked at or bought from Amazon and place targeted adverts on Facebook.

Cookies are a good thing for people who need to log into websites, such as Gmail or Facebook, but are bad because everything you do is being targeted by advertising companies.


Mailbutler - Add on for Apple Mail to add gmail like features.

MailButler

Apple Mail is a basic email program. Once you install the Mailbutler, you get a personal assistant with everything you need to use email effectively.

10 Essential features are added with the free version, which gives you the ability to undo a sent email; send large attachments and pause the inbox so you can schedule exactly when you will receive emails which enables you to get on with other tasks. Another key feature is unsubscribe button that enables you to easily leave a mailing list.

Their professional package enables more features such as:

  • Snooze - You can set some emails to be hidden for a scheduled time so you can work on other emails.
  • Scheduling - You can schedule when an email will be sent.
  • Open Tracking - Tell when the recipient has opened your email
  • Notes - Send emails to the Note app
  • Signatures - Fancy signatures can easily be added to your emails.
  • Tasks - Turn your emails into a todo list
  • Message Templates - Use custom templates to make your emails look more professional.

They also have a business package, which gives more advanced features such as the ability to send emails to a CRM and more in-depth tracking for emails, as well as a person insight - find out more about the person you are emailing through their social media connections.

If the business is working in a team environment, the business package can be used to delegate emails to team menbers and track their progress through unified accounting.


Intel announces they are stopping production of Itanium

Itanium

Back in the dim and distant past, Intel made a processor called the 386. It was their first 32 bit processor and Intel created a procesor development team to create a 64 bit processor called the Itanium with assistance from HP.

Intel would be creating a different kind of processor to what they had in the past. HP had noticed the limitations on the machine language used inside the current processors and a technology developed from Yale University was used instead.

The Itanium found its place in High Performance Computing, where parallel computing and super computing can use the advanced features in the Itanium to their advantage.

The big downside was that the Itanium's native instruction set was not compatible with Intel's so called x86 instruction set that Intel had used since the early PCs.

Intel's rival, AMD created the Opteron which was far less radical than the Itanium, it used the x86 instruction set and extended it to work in 64 bit mode. This meant their procesor could run in 16 bit, 32 bit and 64 bit modes of operation. Intel decided to use this approach for their future processors starting with the late model Pentium 4.

Intel continued to manufacture the Itanium under licence from HP until this year when the licence has expired.


flash drive capacity

Philips 128GB Snow series flash drive

Back in 2006, when I started my business I bought a 4GB flash drive for £64!

I used my flash drive to store updates for Windows 98 and Windows 2000 (which were fading out) and Windows XP; together with useful tools and utilities.

Over the years, prices for flash drives (also called USB thumb drives or memory sticks) have dropped so that you can now pick up a 128GB flash drive for just £25.

The storage capacity of a 128GB flash drive could be:

  • 50 million word processing documents
  • 16,000 photos taken with an iPhone 7
  • 10,000 songs in mp3 format

Fixing a non-booting Windows XP with a Windows 7 DVD

Fixing a non-booting Windows XP with a Windows 7 DVD

A few weeks ago, my sister's work laptop crashed and got itself into what is known as a boot loop, where it would start, present a menu and whatever choice was made, it would start Windows and then blue screen and restart to the same place. The Blue screen error was a code 24 which means NTFS disk fault, one of those errors that cannot be fixed by Windows itself and requires outside assistance.

I don't have my Windows XP CD with me (since Microsoft made the operating system obsolete in April 2014) but it turned out that I can boot from a Windows USB stick I bought from Amazon a few years ago. The repair process will also work with the DVD, so here goes:

  • Insert the bootable DVD or USB and tell the computer to start from that (you may need to press a function key in order to change the boot order)
  • Once the boot process has got to showing a screen to Install Windows, hold down shift and press the function key F10.
  • This will open a command prompt, so now you can fix the following:
  • bootsect.exe /nt52 C:
    • to fix the boot sector
  • bootsect.exe /nt52 C: /mbr
    • to fix the Master Boot Record
  • chkdsk /f C:
    • to find and repair problems on the drive.

Once you close the boxes and reboot, the computer may work properly.


Intel Compute Stick

Compute Stick

Intel Compute Stick

Intel have been working on a series of lower power devices and have created the Compute Stick to rival the Amazon Fire TV; Google Chromecast and others.

The Compute Stick is a computer in the format of an oversized memory stick. You plug one end into a HDMI port on a monitor or TV and then use a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to interact with it.

You effectively have a Windows PC ready for use without the usual desktop clutter of a large case.

The first generation relied on Intel's Atom X series processor which was designed to be low power but unfortunately it lacks the processor performance. Also, the storage capacity of 32GB and only 2GB onboard was too small for most users. Windows would run incredibly slow given such small resources.

The second generation relies on Intel's mobile chip technology, which brings more performance with low power consumption. Intel have increased the memory capacity to 4GB and storage capacity to 64GB.

  • BLKSTK2M364CC - Intel m3 processor without operating system for around £255.
  • STK2M3W64CC - Intel m3 processor with Windows 10 installed for around £355.
  • STK2mv64CC - Intel m5 processor without operating system for around £485.

Building your own monitor

It is amazing what simple hacks can be done with computer parts. The video below shows how to take an old laptop screen and added a special board that drives the screen and enables a computer to connect to it:

YouTube

The next video adds a battery pack and a Google TV adapter to make the monitor a portable WiFi TV:

YouTube


Stop using antivirus programs

When Microsoft created windows 8, they took their free antivirus (previously called Microsoft Security Essentials) and built it into the operating system as Windows Defender. (If you are using Windows Vista or 7, consider dowdloading Microsoft Security Essentials)

There is now no reason to install McAfee or Norton antivirus on your computer. Often these programs slow down your computer and their processes can interfere with the running of other programs or delete their files as false positives. All antivirus companies have removal tools for their programs.

Robert O'Callahan wrote an article suggesting at all antiviruses should be disabled, which automatically starts Windows Defender on Windows PCs.

It is much better to install an anti-malware program such as MalwareBytes. The free trial will give your realtime protection for 14 days. It will help remove any infections you may currently have and prevent any from affecting you in the future.

Malwarebytes also have a one hit fix program called ADWCleaner. It cleans out all traces of malware infections including Ask.com

I tend to run ADWCleaner on all Windows computers I work on as there is a common tendancy for computer users to be unaware their computer is infected with malware.