Archive for December, 2014

 

Simcity Special Edition free for a limited time.

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The original SimCity was released in 1995, with various updates to 2000 and beyond. They are giving this game away to little kiddies everywhere and I can assure you it will keep them entertained for hours. Download the original SimCity over at Origin Games.

 
 
 

The cordless office dream in 2015 – Intel Skylake

skylake590Intel chipset releases and upgrades are referred to as Intel Tick-Tock. To keep pace or ahead of competitors Intel seeks to release upgrades or new technology approximately every year. Last year the Tick was the 4th generation Haswell (code name) nanotechnology (14nm). Last year we built all our custom built towers using the Haswell chipsets and CPU’s. Early 2015 we are going to see the new Broadwell chipsets which is a Tick, the Tock will come with the new generation Skylake which will have design and substantial performance improvements. Other IT writers have technical blogs which discuss the architecture and technology of Skylake, but this blog writer focuses on what the technology means to you.

So, on to the dream of the cordless office.

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Some aspects of cordless technology have been around for quite a while, wifi networking, wireless printers, wireless mouse. The advance in cordless technology comes from the work of Rezence™, the wireless transfer technology based on the principles of magnetic resonance (Intel is a key industry partner).

The future standard for wireless charging and power is called “Rezence”.  We are going to see laptops placed on a charge pad where they will be charged with no other user effort. Computers will have wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, wireless monitor, wireless printer. Current technology works in the 2.4GHz or (less common) 5GHz range, Rezence™ and WiGig™ work in different frequencies.

For those who use desktop computers or extended displays for laptops the HDMI or digital cable will be replaced  by WiGig (WiGig won the Popular Science Best of What’s New Award in 2014) and we can expect wireless display connectivity by late 2015 to early 2016 according to some industry sources. Various wifi charging pads are in the shops now and have been for some time but there has not been enough interest to deploy this technology on a mass scale because it is first generation. Rezence™ is next generation technology.

 

 
 
 

Can’t afford a a lawyer? Try this.

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I sent an email to a lawyer once with a legal question, it wasn’t complicated and as it turned out the lawyer was not able to help me. Regardless I was charged a fairly substantial amount for the lawyer to peruse the email. These days things are a little different, law graduates are driving taxis and waiting tables, or getting creative like Kate Horman from www.thelazylaw.com (originally called the lazylawyer.com), and Fiona McCord from www.baselegal.com.au

 

Both services offer fixed price legal advice or service with templates you can buy for typical small business legal matters. I found this information in the Melbourne AGE newspaper and wanted to share it.

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

The best of free media servers

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Media servers are software programs that allow you to stream your movies, home videos, photos and music to devices on your network from your choice of storage such as a NAS box or an old PC. If you have a modern DLNA certified TV you can select media server from the menu and start watching movies over the WiFi channel or Ethernet.

One of the best free media servers around hands-down is the Plex Media Server. You can view movies for example not as lists, but as images complete with extensive metadata collected from an online database including synopsis, cast and crew, even trailers. If you are streaming to a DLNA TV brands such as LG and Samsung have the Plex plugin, others like high end Panasonic TV’s have a link to media servers where you will see a list with thumbnails too small to be useful.

Upload your camera photos and home videos from cameras and smart phones and watch via live streaming on your TV. There is also a Plex app for ipad and iphone but this is not free.

One of the really clever features under the bonnet of the Plex server is its ability to transcode video on the fly. You will not be bombarded with incomprehensible messages about codecs or file not supported. If a file is unable to play because of codec incompatibility Plex will transcode in the background.

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The hardware you will need.

Hardware specific to network attached storage and media storage is a subject big enough for its own post. You can in theory use a laptop as a media store or an old computer with decent specs, but you will need lots of storage space for a collection of movies, music, photos. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can fill up a hard drive.

SSD drives are still in the expensive range so if we are talking about electrical/mechanical hard drives choose your drive carefully. The new HGST technology or NAS /Storage specific drives are best. You can buy 3TB up to 6TB capacity drives.

Hard drives containing movies need maintenance so don’t wait until you are on the verge of losing your precious data, use our local or remote support service to carry out annual checks on the integrity of your data file systems.

 

 

 
 
 

The amazing Pono Media Player is Free.

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For all you music lovers out there with classy laptop or PC speakers from the likes of Bose, or the Bowers & Wilkins computer speakers you are going to love the free media player from Pono Music. Neil Young is the CEO and driving force behind this special digital to analogue or DAC system, born out of frustration with crappy, souless digital music. There is a hardware player as well going for about $399 which is claimed by its promos to be the closest thing to a live performance. The project was funded through Kickstarter.

You can download the free media play for Windows here.

 
 
 

xmas online security tips and how to stop helping thieves get your money.

As you can see in the TED talk above by Jeff Carter, whose eye scan technology is already in use at some airports around the world, internet and credit card security is sometimes out of our hands and is in the hands of large banks or that little online store selling retro clothing in a foreign country, but there is still plenty we can do at our end to help keep us safe.

Here are some security tips for online (and offline!) security:

1. if you are using your credit card online and the form requests your DOB, shop elsewhere.
2. if someone calls you claiming to be from your bank, or Telstra for example, and asks for your DOB to check the status of your account or payment, don’t give it. You can confirm by phoning them back, not on the number they give you because old discarded Telstra numbers have been known to be used (hijacked), get the number yourself and call back. Nobody gets my DOB over the phone.
3. on websites such as yahoo, google, etc., I use the same term when asked what my mothers maiden name is, which school I went to, where I was born and so on. Whatever you might think about this method it’s far better than this real and personal information being in the wrong hands. I use one term for all these questions including my imaginary dogs name.
4. if you use words found in a dictionary or words and terms that appear on the hackers favourite list of passwords you will be helping any hackers access your accounts.
5. I use a debit visa for all my online buying and payments. If it gets stolen they won’t get much and it is easy to cancel and live without for a week while a new card is issued.
6. banks in Europe have been known to reject liability for computers that are not protected with an antivirus program. Read my other post about snake oil and costly antivirus programs and download Microsoft MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials) because it’s free and as affective or ineffective (with malware and adware) as the others. If you use two AV’s one will react badly with the other and leave you potentially unprotected. Banks may also have the right to refuse liability for infected machines. Remember, bank websites can detect the presence of viruses and malware.
7. if you receive an email from your bank or parcel tracking, or your ISP etc etc., in the reading pane of outlook hover your mouse over the link they want you to click, the hover will reveal the true address. If in doubt go directly to the website and bypass the email.

Xmas is a busy time for hackers and thieves. We hope you enjoy a safe and crime free xmas. Remember to call us for an annual security and general maintenance check-up and tune-up of your home or business computers and laptops.