Tag Archives: computers

Don’t steal computers belonging to people who know how to use computers

*View this post in HD*

VIDEO: Macbook thief gets defamed on YouTube

I CAUGHT wind of a fantastic story on 5fm while stuck in traffic this morning. Apparently some guy had his fancy new Macbook Air stolen from him. A while later, Steve (we’ll call him Steve) remembered that his Macbook had an auto backup function which automatically backed up his data to an online server. When Steve went online to have a little peruse through his data he skillfully managed to find the identity of the Macbook thief. Not only that, but Steve also came across a video the wannabe rapper had made using his newly acquired Macbook Air.

Steve reported the identity of the Macbook rapper to the police and uploaded the video to YouTube. It has now seen over a million views and is appropriately titled, “don’t steal computers belonging to people who know how to use computers.” The rapper has asked that the embarrassing video be pulled from YouTube and that he was sorry for stealing the Macbook. Steve and his new fan base told him to get bent.

Don’t steal computers belonging to people
who know how to use computers

lol

Smart Dust: computers and people

*View this post in HD*

SMART DUST: People and computers living in perfect harmony?

COMPUTERS have advanced so splendidly in the past few years that electricians are now able to make micro-computers the size of pinheads. The proposed applications for computers of this size range from modifying the weather to controlling the electrical infrastructure of large cities. Of course, it is wise to be wary of anything that is powerful and to analyse critically the potential of such technology before it involuntarily becomes an integral part of our lives.

Smartdust

Dr Kristofer Pister demonstrating the size of smart dust particles (Images: newilluminati.blog-city.com)

Smart dust is one particular brand of microcomputers that has been hailed as a society-changing element that will greatly improve and change the way we live our daily lives. Devised by Dr Kristofer Pister from the University of California in 2001, smart dust is able to gather information from its surrounding environment and send this to people or other computers.

A smart dust particle or mote is a wireless sensor that has four basic functions — sensing, computation, communication and power — all built into one tiny package. With smart dust being so low powered and inexpensive, the idea is to spread it everywhere — in every building, on every street, in every electrical device and ultimately, in or on every human being.

What smart dust is able to do is create a large invisible network that, in theory, would be able to manage the infrastructure of even the largest city in the world. Streets and buildings would be able to recognise people and respond accordingly. Workplaces would recognise employees and buzz you into the building. Smart dust could even send a lift to your floor and boot up your PC.

Of course the major concern involves privacy. If all of this information about you is available and gathered by smart dust, who else has access to it? Smart dust would also allow certain people to know exactly where you are at all times and could quite easily turn on you and deny you freedom of movement and access. It may sound like something from a movie, but the amount of control that powerful people could have on the masses via smart dust is certainly something to be cautious of.

What is a good idea is having smart dust monitor our roadways and transport systems. Smart dust scattered on the roads would be able to report potholes and traffic jams to commuters, and smart dust on the railways would be able to accurately report late trains in an instant. Bridges coated in smart dust would be able to report stress fractures, helping to avoid collapse and prevent disaster.

Smartdust

The first smart dust particles created in 2001, which were about the size of a deck of playing cards.

But do we want such fabric dispersed everywhere? Smart dust may be evolving to the microscopic level, but it is by no means undeniably safe. Several news reports were released in the past decade about a similar substance known as global environmental sensors (GEMS) that had been released into the atmosphere to monitor weather conditions. There was very little thought given to these electrical particles being inhaled once they descended to Earth, nor any given to the fact that several micro-organisms could ingest smart dust and die as a result.

It almost seems worth having to boot up your work PC manually and save a termite population in the process.

Easy PC 4: Wires and Dust

EASY PC: How to keep your home PC squeaky clean for cheap

WIRES can be an eye-sore in any home and desktop PC’s tend to have a lot of them. They also tend to attract a lot of dust, which can cause overheating if it gets into the internal bits of your computer.

A wireless desktop (keyboard and mouse) is a good start at reducing the amount of wires your PC needs. They’re also reasonably priced (at about R300 for both). Wireless network adaptors are also available if you wish to rid yourself of an Internet cable, but be warned that this may affect your Internet speed.

It’s also a good idea to set up your PC how you want before you plug anything in. This will prevent wires crossing and getting tangled together. To keep wires looking neat you can buy clips that can bunch a whole lot of cables together, or you can use cable ties as a cheaper alternative.

Computers also tend to attract dust and it is especially important to prevent a dust built-up inside your tower. You can safely open the side panel of your tower (with your computer switched off) to give it a good dusting. Use a fan for best results and never touch any internal hardware unless you are properly Earthed or grounded.

For the outside parts you can buy PC cleaner solutions but I find MR Min to be a great alternative. Use a dry cloth to dust first and then polish. It is also safe to give your screen a good buffing. A keyboard, on the other hand, can be put through a washing machine and still work after it’s dried (but that is a bit of a silly idea), so a damp cloth is perfectly safe for getting rid of any grubby keys.

That’s all for this week.

Easy PC

Kind regards,
That Tech Guy

The home PC has evolved into what is now considered a modern-day home entertainment system. Capable of behaving like a television, home cinema, game station, work station, music player and much more, the home PC is far more capable than it has ever been before. But with all these capabilities come complexities, and there are several things to consider when investing in any form of home entertainment. This is what Easy PC plans to simplify.

EASY PC Tech Advice

TECH ADVICE: Easy PC offers free advice that is easy peasy to grasp

I’VE started writing a weekly tech advice column called Easy PC for a local newspaper supplement. It’s directed at the technophobic and aims to encourage reader feedback and questions. Topics are related to home PC use & computing and the content is really as basic as it gets. Here’s the brief and first installment.

The home PC has evolved into what is now considered a modern-day home entertainment system. Capable of behaving like a television, home cinema, game station, work station, music player and much more, the home PC is far more capable than it has ever been before. But with all these capabilities come complexities, and there are several things to consider when investing in any form of home entertainment. This is what Easy PC plans to simplify.

BUYING A NEW PC

THERE are two options when buying a new desktop PC – having one built from scratch by purchasing all the components you want, or buying a fully built and full functioning PC from a computer store. The latter option is generally cheaper and far easier, but be careful with regards to what bulk packages are on offer – it is also an easy way for PC shops to get rid of old stock.

The biggest bonus of buying a complete PC is that it should come with the latest operating system (a saving of about R1700). Windows 7 is the latest operating system available and is by far the most user-friendly. Ask the salesman if this comes with the PC that you are interested in.

The second thing to consider is storage space. You may think that a terabyte (1000 gigs) is more than what you’ll ever need, but this size hard-drive is now considered as standard. This is where you will store all your data. Also bear in mind that newer software gets larger over time and requires more storage space.

As far as the other components are concerned, simply ensure that they are upgradable. Powerful graphics cards and RAM (memory) are mostly for gaming and advanced video and picture editing. However, having the option to upgrade will allow you to do so if you feel something is lacking.

That’s all for this week! Until next time.

Easy PCKind regards,
That Tech Guy

Cloud Computing for Dummies

*View this post in HD*

CLOUD COMPUTING: And how it could help fight global warming

cloud computing for dummiesONE might think of the Internet as some intangible entity that exists somewhere in the clouds and is simply powered by the people that use it. In reality, the energy required to run the Internet and associated hardware and IT infrastructure is on par with the airline industry.

To put it simply, the Internet consists of huge data centres world-wide that host web pages and online content — some of which act as Internet service providers. The reason for the web’s extra large carbon footprint is that each data centre requires power as well as cooling systems in order to function. Furthermore, information technology is the fastest growing industry on Earth, and is becoming a real threat to sustainable development.

The concept of cloud computing, also known as distributed, Internet-based computing, is the idea of decentralising these data centres and sharing the available infrastructure on a global scale. The goal is to have applications and files stored on large, centralised supercomputers or networks. Rather than storing files and programmes on individual PCs, end users are able to store and access their files via the web.

According to http://www.howstuffworks.com, the concept is very simple: “On your desk, you would have a very low-cost computer with just a processor, a keyboard and a monitor. There would be no hard drive or CD/DVD drive. It would be hooked up to the Internet and would link to a central supercomputer, which would host all of your programs and files.”

Servicing the cloud with Google
In 2007, Google and Apple had a plan to take things forward. Apple was to develop inexpensive consumer computers that were small and portable. This was to leverage the computing power of the vast data centres Google has been building to hold the apps and the data for millions of users.

Unfortunately, development was halted due to different market demands, but Google has made progress since then with its growing library of Google apps. Apps like Google Documents, Spreadsheets and Gmail are all examples of cloud computing that people already make use of.

If we think about it, we do not use an installed programme to check our e-mail. Rather, you log into a web e-mai­l account, such as Gmail or Hotmail remotely. The software and sto­rage for your account doesn’t exist on your computer, but rather on the ser­vice’s computer cloud. We can think of the term cloud simply as a metaphor for the Internet, or a part of it.

So, we have cloud computing to thank for storing all our e-mails and spam and there is more than enough web-space to go around. Gmail accounts alone provide users with close to seven-and-a-half gigs of space. I don’t think I have ever exceeded over two percent of my e-mail quota.

Things get a little more exciting with Google Documents and Spreadsheets. Developed in part as a solution to e-mailing documents back and forth, Google Docs allows several people to edit or revise the same document in real-time. This simplifies the remote process by having a single updated document and speeds it up by having Google store the data.

There are, however, privacy implications, as any data stored by Google has the chance of being accessible to anyone on the Internet. As a small safety measure, one is able to access previous versions of a Google document and is notified when others are using it. As with everything concerning the web, one simply has to be wary when publishing anything online.

Cloudy Business
Cloud computing has huge implications for business in terms of cutting costs. Web-based companies invest millions into their IT departments — a large portion of which is spent on software licences for each computer that uses corporate software.

With cloud computing you would only have to load one application, which would allow employees to log into a web-based service, which hosts all the programs and files required. Remote machines owned by another company, such as Google, for example, would run everything from e-mail to word processing to complex data analysis programs.

“This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralising storage, memory, processing and bandwidth. In September 2009, an Aberdeen Group study found that disciplined companies achieved on average an 18% reduction in their IT budget from cloud computing.” – www.howstuffworks.com

Of course, all these open-source applications are as good as they are by virtue of the fact that they are free; or at least still free. No doubt more complex apps would demand some sort of fee in order to be used so extensively. I don’t foresee many large web companies hosting the world’s data for nothing, and as much as it makes sense to decentralise the existing infrastructure, monopolies will emerge (or stay in power) that will profit hugely from cloud computing.

The cloud allows sharing of infrastructure and reduces the carbon footprint of IT. The prophecy speaks of creating something that is globally sustainable — providing greater capacity and higher performance at lower costs. This utopia would bring the world together by moving away from indivi­dual silos and data centres and “into the clouds”. Unfortunately, this is not nearly a reality for bandwidth-stricken countries such as South Africa, and will not be as cheap and fair as it should with the existence of Internet monopolies.

Archived under: Web 2.0

Microsoft Surface – touch technology

*View this post in HD*

MICROSOFT SURFACE: Getting to grips with new touch technology

EVEN as a twenty-something, I can fully understand the anxieties experienced when new technologies are released that we would like to try for ourselves, but which seem rather complex and perhaps difficult to handle. Anything that’s more complicated than a remote control has the potential to put anyone who considers themselves as “technologically illiterate” into a mild state of depression.

To generalise, teenagers seem to have a natural ability to immediately grasp and take control of new techno devices without ever having to consult a manual or use the help function. Having to read a manual for anything digital seems like avoidable homework to me, but lately I find myself having to refer to at least three pages of one before I feel that I have at least come close to mastering it.

Technology developers know about this consumer anxiety and most go as far as they can to keep things “simple-stupid”. We don’t necessarily need to understand how a piece of tech works to enjoy the benefits of it, but in order to operate most devices effectively, we do need to know how it communicates.

We are all naturally adept at reading body language and understanding hand gestures, which is something that is now being taught to computers. Touch technology is becoming a revolutionary method of naturally communicating with computers and represents a fundamental change in the way we interact with digital content. This is all becoming possible with Microsoft Surface.

Microsoft Surface

What is Microsoft Surface?
Microsoft Surface is a multi-touch computer that responds to natural hand gestures and real-world objects, helping people interact with digital content in simple and intuitive ways. With a large, horizontal user interface, multiple users can collaboratively and simultaneously interact with data and each other.

It’s as easy as grabbing digital content with your hands and moving information with simple gestures and touches. Surface is also able to “see” and interact with objects placed on the screen, allowing you to move information between devices such as cellphones and cameras.

The technology has been increasingly employed by businesses worldwide as it has proven to be a more efficient method of delivering information and services to customers. Because the interface is so intuitive, people generally find it easy to learn. The multi-touch and multi-user capabilities also help create a collaborative experience, helping to rid one of any anxieties.

How does it work?
As I mentioned, one doesn’t usually have to know how a piece of tech works in order to enjoy the benefits of it, but I can relate to those who have a burning desire to know how everything works.

Microsoft Surface computerMicrosoft Surface uses cameras and image recognition in the infrared range to recognise different types of objects, such as fingers, tagged items and shapes. This input is then processed by the computer and the resulting interaction is displayed using rear projection. The user can manipulate content and interact with the computer using natural touch and hand gestures, rather than using a typical mouse and keyboard.

Microsoft Surface represents a leap ahead in digital interaction, with the ability to wirelessly connect with several other devices such as printers, networks, mobile devices, card readers and more. The sophisticated camera system of Surface sees what is touching it and recognises fingers, hands, paintbrushes, tagged objects and a myriad of other real-world items.

Key capabilities
Microsoft Surface has four key capabilities that make it such a unique experience. (The following is adapted from the Microsoft Surface website):

  • Direct interaction: users can grab digital information with their hands and interact with content on-screen by touch and gesture — without using a mouse or keyboard.
  • Multi-user experience: the large, horizontal, 75 cm display makes it easy for several people to gather and interact with Microsoft Surface — providing a collaborative, face-to-face computing experience.
  • Multi-touch: Microsoft Surface responds to many points of contact simultaneously — not just from one finger (as with a typical touch screen), but from dozens of contact points at once, 52 to be exact.
  • Object recognition: users can place physical, digital objects on the screen to trigger different types of digital responses — providing for a multitude of applications, such as the transfer of digital content to a mobile device.

Under the hood (sofware specs)
Microsoft Surface is based on the Windows Vista SP1 operating system. The rugged table-top structure has powerful processors, a streamlined operating system and intuitive interface, which makes it unlike any computer on the market today.

The current version for the software platform is Microsoft Surface 1.0 Service Pack 1, which gives Surface an enhanced user interface, improved manageability to help reduce the cost of ownership, broader international support, and faster, easier ways to design innovative applications.

Tagged object recognition
TOR is a particularly innovative feature of Microsoft Surface. The tag is what allows Surface to uniquely identify objects — helping the system tell the difference between identical-looking bottles of wine, for example.

Applications can also use a tag to start a command or action. By simply placing a tagged object on the screen, the tag can tell Surface to display unique information about that tagged object, such as showing more information about a bottle of wine, the wine grower, and even the type of grape and vintage.

A tagged object might also identify a cardholder so they can charge purchases. There is a video I saw of Bill Gates demonstrating this by ordering drinks for himself and an awestruck reviewer, and then paying for them by placing his credit card on the computer’s surface.

With capabilities such as direct interaction, multi-touch, multi-user, and object recognition, as well as the means for application deve­lopment, Microsoft Surface certainly represents the next stage of computing. It is also certainly one new piece of technology that we can all get to grips with.

Related article: The Apple of my iPad

The Samsung NC10 netbook

REVIEW: Small ‘n sexy netbook for geeks on the move

Samsung NC10 netbookIT’S never good to be dependent on something for your happiness or well-being. Some people are dependent on cigarettes and caffeine, others on soap operas, and some on digital products. I am dependent on my computer. Whether I’m connecting with friends and family on the Internet, escaping into the world of gaming, or keeping myself entertained with movies or TV series, it is all dependent on my home entertainment system – my PC. Without it, without my daily fix of computing, I reckon I would be a rather miserable sod.

What’s sadder than being dependent on this machine are my efforts to pack my bulky desktop PC into whatever size bag or box I have in order to take it with me whenever I go off somewhere for a few days. The simple solution is to buy myself a laptop. Unfortunately laptops haven’t yet become the technology of yesteryear and therefore do not fall within my pitiful budget.

But then, just before I was about to mail my doubtful Christmas wish-list off to Santa near the end of last year, an alternative was born…

The ultra-mobile netbook
The netbook is a type of basic laptop that can perform most of the same functions as any fully-qualified PC with the exception of advanced programming. One can think of a laptop as a glorified netbook. The main benefit is that it’s a lot cheaper, and slimmer too.

This year Samsung jumped on board with the release of the Samsung NC10 into the global netbook market. This little beauty is small, light and incredibly functional, and is a stylish alternative to existing netbook products.

Samsung NC10 netbookSamsung says that the NC10 was developed with the needs of the “kinetic elite” in mind, with the idea of achieving “more on the move.” Somewhat like my pop-idol, Pixie Bennett, the NC10 is ultra-compact and rather attractive, and would probably not be looked down on by any laptop opponents. It may be small, but it sure is talented.

Weighing in at 1.33kgs, with a screen size of just 10.2″, the NC10 is one of the world’s lightest netbooks. A 6 cell battery lights up its WSVGA (1024 x 600) SuperBright non-Gloss LED screen, which is fuelled by an ergonomic notebook PC-style keyboard. This little mobile powerhouse can provide up to 8 hours of mobile computing.

One would expect such a lightweight computer to break if shouted at too hard, however, Samsung assures us that the NC10’s robust Protect-o-Edge chassis has undergone no less than 54 “grueling” quality assurance tests, ranging from rapid temperature change to electrical surges.

Anti-bacterial keyboard
The NC10 keyboard is something a little special. Manufacturers use impressive-sounding ‘Silver Nano Technology’ to coat the keyboard with incredibly small, nano-sized silver ion powder, which makes it impossible for bacteria to live and breed. Theoretically, 99.9% of bacteria are successfully eliminated within 24 hours and the netbook remains relatively bacteria free.

I cleaned my keyboard once by removing all the keys and found more than one colony of mutated and overweight bacteria breeding and evolving beneath my fingertips. It wasn’t pretty. I’m all for silver ion powder.

Power and performance
The NC10’s brain may be small, but it’s not stupid. Its processor is Intel’s smallest and lowest power processor to date – the Intel Atom™, which enables the NC10 to deliver real computing power at a fraction of the weight, size and cost. Samsung suggests that incorporating Windows XP Home coupled with an 80-160GB hard disk, the NC10 sets a new standard in price / performance for netbooks.

The NC10’s Intel Atom™ processor is specifically designed to deliver an amazing Internet experience using netbooks. Based on an entirely new microarchtiechture, the Intel Atom™ processor increases energy efficiency to extend battery life, while delivering enhanced mobile performance and increased system responsiveness. 

The NC10 offers impressive networking and Internet capabilities. It boasts a range of advanced communications technologies, including Atheros 802.11b.g wireless LAN for fast Internet access, a 10/100 Ethernet LAN and optional Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. It also incorporates an integrated 1.3 mega pixel digital motion camera – allowing video-conferencing or live messaging.

Other features include a 3 in 1 multi-memory card reader, a VGA connection, mic in, headphone out and 3 x USB ports. These should allow one to easily transfer pictures, movies and data to and from virtually any modern camera, peripheral or audio-visual device, as well as a user-friendly way to get onto the web, access emails and social networks.

The Samsung NC10 has been on the market since March this year and is available from R 5499 incl vat.

SAMSUNG NC10 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Processor: Intel Atom™ N270 processor (1.6GHz, 533MHz)
  • Operating System: Genuine Microsoft Windows XP Home (SP3)
  • Memory: DDR2 533 MHz 512MB – 1GB
  • LCD: 10.2″ WSVGA (1024 x 600) Non-gloss SuperBright© LED backlit
  • HDD: 80GB / 120 GB / 160GB (5400 rpm S-ATA)
  • Optical Drive:  –
  • Graphics: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 graphics core
  • Wireless LAN:  Atheros 802.11b.g
    Bluetooth 2.0 + Enhanced Data Rate
    LAN 10/100 Ethernet
  • I / O Ports: 3-in-1 Card Reader (SD, SDHC, MMC)
    – 3 x USB 2.0
    – 1 x Headphone-out
    – 1 x Mic in
    – 1 x Integrated Mic
    – 1 x VGA Port
    – 1 x RJ45 (LAN)
  • Multimedia: 1.3 Mega Pixel Web Camera
  • Battery Life: 3 Cell Lithium ion (up to 3.5 hours); 6 Cell Lithium ion (up to 8 hours)
  • Keyboard: 84 Keys (Europe, Others), 17.7mm Pitch (93% size of Notebook KBD)
  • Speakers: 2 speakers with enclosure (1.5 Watt x 2 )
  • Dimensions: (W x D x H) 261.0 mm (W) x 185.5 mm (D) x 30.3 mm (H)
  • Weight: 1.19 kg (incl. 3 cell battery); 1.33 kg (incl. 6 cell battery)
  • Warranty: 1 Year International Collect and Return

Related Review: The Samsung R610 notebook