Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Google Chrome
March 17, 2011

I use two browsers at work, Mozilla Firefox for all the snazzy add-ons that make my day easier working in a ticketing system and Google Chrome because it’s super fast, simplistic and allows good full use of the screen.

I’ve finally just downloaded it on my Mac, its so fast! I think this may be taking over as my ‘Default Web Browser’, sorry Apple.

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2010: The year of Consumer Tech
December 28, 2010

We have had quite a year for technology, Apple once again have taken the limelight with the iPad and iPhone 4 and probably most impressively the new MacBook Air. This christmas though we’ve heard non stop about the Xbox and its motion sensor Kinect system, dubbed as gaming without a controller.

I want to talk about some of the things you may not have seen this year and what may be happening of the next 2-5 years. Google released the Google TV package earlier in October this year, which basically brought together their Android operating system, the internet and the television hoping to revolutionise the way we watch television, and experience the internet in our homes.

Apple have attempted this already with the Apple TV, proving to be to a bit to limited, restricting users to iTunes and selected video websites. Sony are almost there with the PS3, a full web browser with divX and Flash abilities is available along with BBC iPlayer, 4OD, ITV Player and LoveFilm Apps, although all experience huge OS crashes and Bug issues.

I am most interested with the development of OnLive, which is basically a pay as you go cloud gaming console. Although only properly available in the U.S. at the moment users are invited to play a handful of decent gaming titles over a server. So no high end spec PC’s or games consoles are required, all the jazz is done on the server end. I have downloaded it for the Mac and played the demos (can’t buy anything as its only is U.S. Dollars at the moment) and it works very well. In the U.S. they have brought out a micro console and games controller which they hope to bring to Europe in 2011.

 

 

I think OnLive could be great, however the games industry are reluctant to jump on board due to it being an unknown platform. Dominance in the games console market is met by getting the bigger games titles on board and fast.

My prediction is then that Apple will either clone the OnLive system or buy it out and integrate it in the Apple TV system. With all the good work they have done in the App store with games, and the success of iPhone and iPad gaming must lead to Apples step into the Gaming hardware industry.

Rhino OSX
October 26, 2010

Since switching over to Mac, and my old laptop frying itself to death, I have not been access to any 3D CAD software. Well after Apple’s latest Keynote the other day I was excited to see that Autodesk products will be coming to the Mac, however it only occurred to me earlier that its going to be well out of my price range. After a bit of searching I found out Rhino is being developed for the Mac, I used Rhino at university and the end results were great but the software was very unstable and prone to crashing. So I signed up on their site and am awaiting and am downloading as I type.

Update: It’s pretty awesome, feels much the same as the Windows version, as you’d expect, I opened up a file from University which Windows Rhino used to struggle with but it seems fine here. Only downside at the moment is the rendering engine, which appears to be fairly limited compared to the windows version Flamingo.

 

Bloggled
October 22, 2010

Just got round to sorting out my website and pulling all the different aspects of me online into one manageable chain of links. www.Nice-Cuppa-Tea.co.uk is now the starting place to access my Blog (Which is the blog I will be using now), Portfolio, CV, etc. So whats new? Well I have finally got a proper desk sorted where my mini mac can sit along with its two screens and my Ubuntu PC, so basically a proper workstation so I can get back into the game.

Please excuse my website for a while, the portfolio section I want to do in Flash so it may take a while before you see anything. On the technology front I was glad to catch Apple’s latest keynote yesterday, the introduction of iLife 11 seems amazing, they demonstrated changes they have made to iPhoto, iMovie and most impressively GarageBand. With the latest update your band can have no Rhythm what so ever and still create perfect tracks!

2gb Asus EeePC Review
February 27, 2008

Just before Christmas my Dad and I popped into PC World in Salisbury for him to show me the Asus EeePC. It took us a while to locate it as they were hidden away out of sight and employees didn’t even seem to realize the device in the box was a laptop! Anyway my dad bought the 4gb model for my mum for Christmas, I had a brief go on it on Christmas day and was very impressed.

For those who haven’t seen the EeePC it is basically a tiny laptop with a solid state hard drive, currently Asus produce a 2gb and 4gb model but there is soon to be an 8gb model. The 2gb model retails for around £200, and it comes with Xandros OS which is a Linux platform. Basically I saw it as a must have item when my flatmate purchased the 2gb model, so I bought the same model soon after. When you first turn the machine on it boots to an easy mode OS screen which basically contains all the software and settings in full screen tabs and over sized icons. I unlocked the full desktop mode by downloading new repositories which I found through Eeeuser.com

Above is a screenshot of the easy mode desktop, as you can see its very basic and quickly becomes tiresome. The full desktop mode gives you an MS Windows style desktop with a few nice little additions. Included as standard with Xandros is the OpenOffice suite, Mozilla Firefox, Pidgin (MSN Messenger Client), Skype VOIP, A few basic games, multimedia players and various other basic graphics viewers. The full install takes up 1.5gb which is pretty amazing considering all the software that it includes, I’ve installed GIMP which is an Open-Source version of Photoshop. It was a mere 30mb install, it really is impressive how much can run in Linux on such a small hard drive. I purchased a 2gb SD card which there is a port for on the laptop, I use that to save all my files to but alot of people have installed other operating systems on their larger SD cards.

The EeePC has in built wireless and Xandros handles networking really nicely, you can view multiple workgroups on a network unlike in Windows where you can only be apart of one at a time. I have been taking it into University most days, its so much more portable than my main laptop and even has better battery life than my decaying Dell.

I really look forward to the future of Micro Laptops, I think my 2gb EeePC will quickly become outdated as larger solid state options will become readily available. Currently 16-32gb solid state memory is the height of the technology. Apple use this in their iPod Touch and new MacBook Air. I think Asus will have to offer the EeePC with Windows as standard to become market leader in Micro Laptops. There have been some cool mods to the EeePC all over the internet, I have seen modified models for sale on eBay with 16gb internal memory, RAM upgrade and Bluetooth, but the best mod I have seen is one fitted with a touchscreen.

Ubuntu
January 21, 2008

I recently was given an old Laptop which had greatly suffered from spyware, viruses and all sorts of junk. I’ve been trying to sort it out with XP on it for a few months now, but when my copy of Ubuntu Linux came through the post I thought I’d try it out.

I painfully began installing it through the Ubuntu Live CD and about an hour later was ready to have a little play. At first it seems to look very similar to OSX, but it really is quite a good medium between XP and OSX. Basically you have a taskbar at the top of the screen and a window bar at the bottom. When installed it went straight onto the network, all the hardware worked with proper drivers and it came full of applications to rival Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop along with others I’m yet to use.

It runs very slowly on the laptop though, at least 128mb of RAM is recommended by Ubuntu but it does struggle. The most interesting thing happened when I rand the operating system live on my Dell Laptop, first off the graphics looked incredible on my better screen but best of all it flashed up telling me my battery seemed to be worn out/broken and had a link to the Dell website, which instantly told me my battery had been recalled and provided a form to apply for a new one! So that saved me £50 or so.

Ubuntu seems brilliant though for people requiring basic uses from their PC, it runs amazingly quick from the Live CD on my Dell, it comes loaded with OpenOffice, Mozilla Firefox and Gimp (equivalent of Photoshop) and possibly best of all its very unlikely to get infected with spyware and viruses.

Below is a video of some of the cool effects and transitions that can be achieved on Ubuntu.

University Final Project
November 20, 2007

My final major project will be starting very soon and for sometime now I have been looking for a topic or design problem to tackle. Up until recently I have been thinking about looking into an inclusive media system; incorporating digital television on a live and download basis, browser access to the internet, use of media found on a hard drive (i.e. m-peg, mp3, wmv, etc), a games console platform in which users download games and a communication system (i.e. email, phone, skype etc) For my project I would take the idea through the design process and apply marketing research and strategy to see if it would become a viable and profitable product. My concerns with the project were that I could not go into enough technical depth in regards to the electronics and system involved and how viable the product was in regards to what media companies would take the system on and produce streaming TV or produce video games for it.

My current line of thought for a project came while I was trying to solve a problem with my computer overheating. Since I got my laptop, like many other laptops, it has constantly struggled with keeping cool. The laptop has been taken apart a few times to remove the dust inside the fan system, I have been blowing in the fan regularly to keep it clean and allow it to breathe and I always use it on a hard surface. But only recently have I downloaded fan control software, below is a screenshot of the software in action, note the CPU temperature section as well as Hard Drive temperature.

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Both My CPU and Hard Drive have peaked at 46 degrees, yesterday my hard drive reached 51 degrees. Thankfully the software is reducing the problem and everything is cooling down with increased fan speed sessions. But basically I was thinking about the problem more and found out “The more powerful and faster computers become, the “hotter” they get. The modern Pentium IV 3 GHz processor radiates more than 50W of heat!!! Other hardware is not far behind…According to manufactures, the normal recommended working temperature of a hard disk is 35-40°С. Once it rises by just 10°С – from 40°С to 50°С, the safety of its work becomes more than two times less!” Link

The majority of laptop owners I know, who often are unaware of the overheating problem, experience the problem. The heat generated could potentially melt components of the laptop and damage or corrupt data. Just recently I visited IOM3’s Materials Laboratory in London for a packaging project, the majority of the materials there are smart materials which basically means they have a specific or unusual property or characteristic. I’m thinking of looking for a smart material for application in a new cooling system for laptops and possibly desktops, games consoles, Hi-Fi equipment, etc.

Any thoughts, information or comments on the idea and problem in general would be greatly appreciated.

Upcoming iPhone
October 22, 2007

So finally Apple have put together all our pocket devices and come up with the music, video, phone call receiving iPhone. For the first time today I actually looked at the technical specifications and was confused to see they only offer an 8 gigabyte model. Now my 3rd Generation iPod is four years old now and that has a 20gb capacity which is no longer enough. After having a go on the stripped down iPhone, the iTouch, I fail to see how this is Apples next step, the wi-fi internet seemed like alot of effort to use and of course is restrictive to what content on the web you can view. The phone side of things I am yet to experience, but I assume the address book will be as functional and easy to use as Apple suggest. Last week Apple boss Steve Jobs announced outside developers will be encouraged to design add-on software for the iPhone.

Knoppix Arrives…
May 16, 2007

My version of Knoppix Linux arrived this morning, so hopefully when I have a bit more time (and have worked out how to change BIOS settings on my laptop) I will be running a second operating system, and not only that a CD booting Live operating system. It will be interesting to see what it has to offer compared to Windows and be good to be completely open source.

If anyone can shed any light onto how to change BIOS settings on a Dell Inspiron 6000 NoteBook, it would be much appreciated.

Update: Just had another go as I found the boot sequence option in CMOS and got Knoppix working! I’ve not quite got everything working amazingly yet, very low screen resolution and WiFi doesn’t seem to want to connect or prompt me for the WPA Key, it finds the network though. Interesting to see how well a whole operating systems runs from a CD. Anyway, all seems to be running rather swiftly, once I can get online I can really sit down with some forums helping me along the way to make the most of Linux.

Firefox Extensions & Add-ons
May 6, 2007

I’ve been using Firefox for about a year now after becoming so fed up with Internet Explorer getting so clogged up with unwanted embedded items (If your having similar problems and want to continue with IE you might want to try running HijackThis) Anyway, since the release of Firefox 2.0 the Extensions & Add-ons have been amazing. I’m currently updating my blog via WordPress online dashboard and one of my favourite Firefox add-ons is running a Microsoft-style spell check as I type by underlining words not recognized by Firefox dictionary.

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Some of my other nifty Add-ons include FoxyTunes which allows control of audio/visual software through Mozilla, this is particularly handy when your playing music and want to pause or stop it quickly to watch an embedded video in Mozilla that you’ve suddenly come across. It appears on the right side of the status bar down the bottom and also scrolls the artist name and track name discreetly, this can be clicked on and lead you to Wikipedia, Google searches, YouTube and many other places you may find information on that artist – its really quite neat.

Other Really handy tools which I use include a little embedded download tool which allows you to extract a flash file for example, If I right click + Alt over any word a speech bubble appears with an Answers.com definition… Anyway you should check them out if your a Firefox user – Browse the Firefox Extensions Library