Current events Archive

Farewell Steve Jobs–one of the pillars of the personal computer

Initially when I heard that Steve Jobs was to permanently resign from Apple due to ill-health, I thought it was simply retirement from one of the pillar companies of the personal-computing age.

Now, the man responsible for the Macintosh computing platform which commercialised and legitimised the “WIMP” (windows, icons, mouse, pointer) user-interface style and the iPhone and iPad devices which also did the same for touchscreen computing, has now passed away.

Many will remember his style of commercialising these technologies through a vertically-integrated method which requires the use of Apple products and services for full benefit, but this let the competitors implement systems that implemented these usage metaphors on their own platforms.

This was all from him and Steve Wozniak turning the proceeds from selling that VW Bus (Kombi-van) into capital for the Apple company. Here, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak worked on the development of the Apple II which became one of the beacons of the personal-computing age in the late 1970s.

A lot of commentators had said that Steve Jobs, through his efforts at Apple with the Apple II, the Macintosh and the iPhone and iPad devices had personalised computing. I have observed this through the demonstration software that came with Apple II computers in the 1980s, the boot sequence that was used in all the incarnations of the Macintosh platform and the design of computing products from the iMac onwards.

Whether its through the evolution of a computing technology or the passing of one of the people who influenced the direction of personal computing and communications; I would see this simply as a milestone to the connected lifestyle.

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UK riots–Best Internet resources to follow with

I have been following the UK riots very lately and have found that the BBC do provide good quality resources which can be of benefit around the world.

This would be important if you have relatives or friends who are based in the UK. Also, some of you may not have adequate coverage of this event in your country, especially on TV.

BBC Radio London (available on all Internet-radio directories – vTuner, Reciva, RadioTime)

There is continual reporting from the front with news and traffic reports being run on the quarter-hour. The traffic reports do yield information about areas that have been closed off and give a sense of where the troublespots are by reporting on road and rail closures.

BBC microsite

This site is running as a live dashboard but the live TV feed from BBC News 24 may not come through due to it being oversubscribed. There is a BBC ticker with news and information from different sources, including Twitter and email.

Other resources

The Guardian also run a microsite which is regularly updated with news as it comes in.

There is also a Google-powered map which has the verified areas where the trouble is occurring and this is based on verified data. This may be useful if you want to check whether your loved ones are at threat from the riots.

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HomeNetworking01.info’s guide to the Boxing Day Sales

Hi everyone!

I am writing this special article which will help you get the most out of your visit to the stores during the Boxing Day Sales. No doubt, you will have enjoyed your Christmas celebrations with your family and friends and are about to see the New Year in. Concurrently, you will be bombarded with print, TV, radio and online advertising by the big consumer-electronics stores and department stores concerning the deep discounts that are offered on computer and consumer-electronics equipment during the Boxing Day sales that will be on this week.

Here, the usual price ranges that you expect for certain classes of equipment may change due to the deep discounting that these retailers do but it is worth paying attention to the features that the equipment offers.

Beware that the “doorbuster specials” and other highly-promoted specials may not offer a good return on their value because they may be low-end equipment that doesn’t have the necessary features that you want out of the equipment. In the case of printers, you may find that you have two ink cartridges that are costly to replace when they run out.

Printers

I have started with this class of equipment here because most people end up making mistakes when they buy printers on price alone. Here, the very cheap multifunction printer will typically end up being costly to run and may need new ink very frequently.

When you buy an inkjet printer, look for printers that use four or more ink cartridges. Here, there is one cartridge per colour and if you run out of one particular colour, you just need to replace that cartridge.

As well, some printer manufacturers, most notably HP and Brother, sell multi-cartridge inkjet printers that can take high-capacity cartridges. Here, you benefit from the fact that during low-demand periods, you could get by with standard-capacity cartridges but can run high-capacity cartridges during the high-demand periods like end of school term for example.

A printer that is fully network-enabled can be worth its salt in situations where you have multiple computers or a laptop connected to the Internet via a wireless network. This is more important for a multifunction unit because the network-enabled multifunction units provide network access to the scanner as well as the printer with nearly all of them offering the ability to scan a document to a particular computer from the machine’s control panel. In the case of most of the recent HP (Hewlett-Packard) printers, you gain extra functionality like email-to-print or "print-app” functionality because of the fact that you have network functionality.

Network Infrastructure

Be careful when buying a router for your home network. There are two major classes of routers – a router, sometimes referred to as a broadband router, which only has an Ethernet connection on the Internet side and is designed to connect to a broadband modem; and a modem router, which has an integrated broadband modem, typically an ADSL2+ modem, or, in an increasing number of cases, a wireless-broadband modem for the Internet side.

If you are buying to replace an ADSL modem or older / failed ADSL modem router, it would be preferable to buy an ADSL2+ modem router. Similarly, you could buy an ADSL modem router as the core piece of equipment when you set up a new broadband service in a built-up area and have that service as a “BYO modem” or “wires-only” service, which attracts cheaper setup charges.

If your Internet service uses cable-modem, fixed-wireless, fibre-optic or similar technology and the provider provides a modem or “ONT” as the customer-premises equipment, you could get by with a broadband router connected to the modem’s Ethernet port as the network-Internet “edge”.

As for wireless routers, you may gain a better deal by looking at the 802.11n equipment because you can have them run with existing wireless-enabled network devices by using an 802.11g “compatibility” mode. This may not achieve the full high-speed throughput that 802.11n is designed for but still has a very good operating range for wooden or brick-veneer houses. You will still need to consider the second access point and wired backbone for houses with double-brick or masonry interior walls, including interior fireplaces and brick-veneer extensions built on to double-brick or masonry houses. 

Speaking of which, if you are buying HomePlug powerline equipment, it would be preferable to go for equipment that is based on HomePlug AV standards. Here, this equipment will comply with IEEE 1901 powerline-network standards and work properly with the newer HomePlug AV2 standards. As well, you will get higher data throughput and improved reliability across the powerline network.

Games consoles, TVs and consumer AV

The Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft XBox 360 can work beyond just being a games machine that is hooked up to the TV. These consoles, especially the PlayStation 3, can become very powerful networked media terminals that can benefit from media held on your computer’s hard disk, a network-attached storage device or the Internet.

It is also worth paying extra attention to DLNA-compliant network AV equipment. Here, you can start slowly towards the networked-AV world yet be in a position to play your pictures, music and video collection from your Windows or Mac computer through the use of cheap or free software. You may be able to use your smartphone or tablet computer as a media controller even if the media files are held elsewhere on the network. This can be achieved through the use of DLNA / UPnP AV media-controller software that is ether supplied on your phone or available through the phone’s application store for a modest sum of money or, in some cases, for free.

As well, you may find that an Internet radio may be an entry point in to the world of networked AV and also give you a chance to hear radio from distant lands. This is especially more so if you “cottoned on” to a radio station that you had heard on your travels and were enamoured by its programming. There may be some bargains out there that are worth considering as manufacturers move towards newer models of these radios.

Laptop, Notebook and Netbook Computers

Make sure that you buy the right computer for its role in your IT lifestyle rather than on the price. A 14” or larger laptop would work well as an easily-transportable alternative to a desktop or all-in-one whereas a netbook or 13” notebook would work well as a secondary computer that you use when you travel.

If the computer is expected to be the primary computer, look towards increased hard-disk capacity and RAM memory. Dedicated graphics may be important if games, multimedia and graphics are important to your computing life. Conversely, a 15” laptop with low-tier processor specifications may be useful for retirees who are going to use it primarily for word-processing, email or Web-browsing.

Conclusion

When you plan to take advantage of the Boxing Day Sales to buy your computer equipment, it always pays to know what you want and where you envisage your use of the equipment over the next two to three years.

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Following the UK election on the Internet

This year, the UK election has become a “cliffhanger” election with all the sagas concerning government “sleaze” and expenses rorts. There is even a lot of speculation about a “hung parliament” existing in Westminster. It is now easy to monitor this count from wherever you are in the world with your computer and / or your Internet radio.

The BBC offer the best resources for this information. Their news.bbc.co.uk Web site is running an always-updated “dashboard” view with bar graphs for each party and a voting map for the whole of the country. You can delve further to monitor your electorate or an electorate that is critical to the election.

If you tune your Internet radio to BBC Radio 4 or find this station using vTuner, Reciva or RadioTime to play through your computer, you can hear a running commentary on the count with interviews from past and present MPs as well as declared counts as they come through.

The main newspapers like the Telegraph or Times also will offer a ticker or “dashboard” view of the election count through their Internet sites as well

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