"Oi, where d'you think you're going?"
Ever wished you could jump straight to the front of the queue like a celeb when you go to see your favourite band? Well if you're a Virgin Mobile customer, now you can. Mobile Marketing Magazine reports that Virgin has launched a queue-jumping facility that runs at selected gigs at Carling Academy venues across the UK.
Ads at the venues give instructions on how to jump the queue by texting 'Qjump' to a dedicated shortcode number. In return, you get a barcode sent to your phone that you scan at a terminal to convert it to a ticket that lets you and a mate jump straight to the front of the queue while all the other suckers shout abuse at you and try to work out which obscure band you're a member of. Clever eh?
Get the full story here.
TechDigest has moved
If you are wondering why it has been a bit quiet here of late it is is because we have changed hosting. So to see TechDigest you need to skip off to techdigest.tv . You will also need to update your RSS feeds too.
No Sympathy from YouTube
If you post copyright material on the video share site YouTube you can expect no help or sympathy from the company, according to a report on CNet News. Information on who posted the clip or move may be handed over to the authorities or legal representative of anyone who’s copyright may have been infringed. This follows the well-publicised case of Robert Tur, a US journalist whose footage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots ended up on YouTube in July. Tur’s s attorneys were given the name of one of the people who posted the clips and advised to seek redress from them, instead of YouTube. The company’s policy on copyright infringement is spelt out in its user agreement and on a pop-up that appears when clips are uploaded so it should come as no surprise but it looks as though an increasing number of copyright owners could now pursue copyright violations through the courts.
Vista Tip - Enable Check Boxes
Here’s another in the series of occasional Propellerhead Top Tips for the new Vista operating system and this one involves enabling a useful little facility called Check Boxes. It works in Computer, the new name for Windows Explorer and My Computer and the idea is it makes selecting multiple files a lot easier.
As you know in Windows 9x and XP to select a number of files at once, for deletion, copying etc, you have to hold down the Ctrl key and highlight each file in turn. It’s not too bad when you’re only dealing with one or two files but unless you are very careful, and precise you can end up accidentally copying a load of files, or moving them to the wrong location.
Check Boxes in Vista put a little (you guessed it) check box in front of files when you hover the mouse pointer, so all you have to do to select a number of files is tick the box when it appears. It’s not switched on by default (in Release Candidate 1).
Do You Want Chips with that?
Not sure what to make of this one but a chap (and I’m assuming it’s a he…) called Sc4freak posting on [H]ard|Forum claims to have deep-fried his computer. In fact he was trying out a technique called submersion cooling, where the motherboard is dunked in a non-conductive liquid, in his case cooking oil, and apparently it worked quite well.
However, being of a curious disposition, and feeling a bit peckish, he put the container with the oil and motherboard on the cooker, turned up the heat and fried a few chips. The big surprise was that with the chips sizzling nicely the PC continued to work, though eventually it did crash whilst playing Quake but apparently lived to run another day, as we hope he will, after ingesting who knows chemicals leeched from the hot mobo…
Desktop Snapper, Freeware
Here’s an interesting little utility Propellerhead has been trying out. It’s called TimeSnapper and it takes a snapshot of your desktop at preset intervals, from once a second to every few minutes or hours.
The obvious question is why would you want to do such a thing? Well, how about creating an animated graphic tutorial? You can set the snap interval down to once a second, so you can show all of the steps in a given procedure simply by recording your actions. Maybe you are suspicious that someone is using your PC without your permission? TimeSnapper will gather the evidence for you.
How about keeping an eye on what junior is up to? You shouldn’t use it to spy on people but if you are concerned about the web sites your kids may be visiting then TimeSnapper, set at 60-second intervals, will keep an eye on what they are doing. Better yet, tell them you’ve installed it on their PC and hopefully they won’t go looking for trouble.
iPods Ship with Windows Virus
Apple have apologised for sending out a small number of iPods with an extra bonus feature, a Windows virus called RavMonE.exe. It was unintentionally installed in Video iPods, Apple claims only 1 percent of those made on or after September 12th are affected and it reckons Windows anti virus software should pick up the infection. On its website, which has instructions for removing the little nasty, Apple can’t help having a dig at Microsoft’s security failings: ‘As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses, and even more upset with ourselves for not catching it’
Sony Laptop Battery Recall, Finally…
You may have been wondering, amidst the fuss and furore over the exploding laptop batteries, why Sony, which makes the volatile lithium ion cells, hasn’t instituted its own recall? Well, now it has, several weeks after Dell, Toshiba, Apple and Lenovo announced their recalls, and a couple of days after Sharp announced it starting an inspection of some 28,000 batteries, CNet News reports that Sony is adding its name to the list. For the record the current tally of recalls from Dell, Toshiba, Apple, Sharp, Lenovo, but excluding the as yet unknown number of Sony batteries, comes to a whopping 7.3 million packs. Let’s just hope all that lithium can be safely recycled…
Headers and Footers on Printed Web Pages
If you print web pages then you may be irritated by all the extra guff that appears at the top and bottom of the page -- web page address, page number, time and date and so on. There’s so much of it you can end up with your printer spitting out extra sheets if the web page won’t fit on the paper.
Propellerhead has the solution. If you are using Firefox it’s easy to put a stop to this wasteful practice, just go to File > Page Setup, select the Margins & Header/Footer tab and under Headers & Footers at the bottom use the drop-downs to add or remove information. In other words if you want nothing set them all to ‘Blank’.
In Internet Explorer go to File > Page Setup and in the Header and Footer boxes you’ll see a couple of lines of gobbledegook. These are codes that determine what IE prints, so if you want blank space at the top and bottom of the page zap the lot.
We love Wii because...
Where else can you spend a happy hour or two pulling worms out of rabbits' teeth? Click below for a bonkers clip from one of the mini-games in the upcoming Wii Rayman title. Since when did worms have teeth? Actually, since when did rabbits go to the dentist to have worms with teeth removed from their mouths? Maybe it's better not to ask.
One Minute Video Review: Motorola KRZR
Here's Ashley and I looking at the Motorola KRZR, and having heaps of fun trying to figure out how you say it. There's also a respectable amount of time looking at what exactly it does. Expect it to appear in the shops in the next few weeks.
Sneaky Changes in Vista Licence Agreement
There are a few dedicated souls who actually read through the EULAs (End User Licensing Agreement) that pop up when you install a new piece of software but most of us simply click the I Agree button, life’s too short…. The ones that accompany Windows are amongst the longest and unless you have a degree in weasel-speak, they’re almost impenetrable.
However, Ed Bott at ZDNet has been reading through the one that comes with Vista and he has discovered small but subtle change in the bit that says how and when you can transfer the licence -- i.e. your copy of Windows -- to another machine. In XP there is no limit, which is good news for serial upgraders and system builders because it means they can transfer their OS’s to other PC as often as they like, provided it’s only on one PC at a time.
In Vista the EULA says you are only allowed to make one lifetime transfer, and it looks as though this will be enforced by Windows Product Activation. Of course it could all change when Vista finally hits the shelves in the next few weeks but if it doesn’t this could prove an expensive and very unwelcome burden for a lot of Windows users.
Freeundelete Recovery Utility, Freeware
Sooner or later it will happen to you and you will delete a file, intentionally or by accident, then some time regret it. You might be lucky and it will still be in the Recycle Bin, but most of the time it’s gone to digital heaven and there’s no way of getting it back, or is there?
As you may know when you delete a file in Windows all that happens is its directory entry is erased and the space the file occupies on the hard drive is marked as free. Until they are overwritten -- and that could be hours, days or weeks afterwards -- deleted files can often be recovered and one easy way to do that is to use this little freeware utility unearthed by Propellerhead. It’s called Freeundelete.
YouTube Video of the Day - Fool shoots hornet nest.
What happens when you give a fool a gun and show them the location of a troublesome hornets nest? Predicatbly, the answer lies in pain and sorrow.
How to play Space Invaders - with your brain
Over at top bloke's blog Brandish, you can find out how to give your hands a rest and exercise your brain - to play Space Invaders.
Yes, a team of researchers has poured its energies into developing a brain-to-computer interface, allowing a 14-year old epileptic gamer to play Space Invaders using only the power of his grey matter. Obviously there's more serious applications than retro gaming for such a device - but playing an arcade classic is a great way of making your research 'sexy'. To find out more and to see a video of it all in action, check out Brandish now.
Vodafone launches new call plans and advice for small businesses
Sky has a new show TV show under the name of The Big Idea, claimed to be the UK's largest-ever search to discover the next great British invention or business idea (with the winner pocketing £100,000 to carry it off). Vodafone is sponsoring it - and has taken this ideal marketing opportunity to launch new small business tariffs, starting from £22 per month.
Vodafone has research claiming just under 33 per cent of the population is considering setting up a company in the next five years - which makes you wonder where the staff will come from. But it also shows you the market for business-friendly tariffs. Vodafone's Small Business Plan starts at £22 per month and offers inclusive free calls between company handsets, mobile email for £5 per month, price plan reviews and the option to switch plans regularly. There's also 'same advisor' business support.
The company is also offering mobile access to a range of tools helpful to anyone starting up a business. For more information, check out the Vodafone business pages.
17th October is UK's 'One Day in History' blog day
Tomorrow is "One Day in History" day, set up by the National Trust, which will allow anyone in Britain with access to the Internet to record a short piece of blog-style text with their reflections on how history has influenced their daily life. The entry must be between 100 and 1000 words in length, written in English or Welsh.
As The History Matters site says:
"The History Matters campaign has designated 17 October a day for the public to make historic.
We want as many people as possible to record a ‘blog’ diary of this one day which will eventually be stored by the British Library as a permanent historical record of our national life.
This is a one off, one day diary done on a mass scale – that will itself make history and can be a resource for historians in the future.
We want to urge people participating to reflect in their diaries how history itself impacted on them that day – whether it be simply commuting through an historic environment, discussing family history, watching repeats on TV, or listening to mum's incessant 80's pop."
Samsung to launch slim Symbian SGH-i520 HSDPA smartphone in Europe?
According to various online rumours, Samsung is set to launch the SGH-i520 HSDPA (super 3G) smartphone in Europe this week - more specifically, at the Symbian Smartphone Show, which opens tomorrow (Tuesday) in London.
The SGH-i520 is based on the Symbian operating system and Nokia's Series 60 (S60) user interface. The slider handset is just 1.8cm-thick and is expected to feature full PDA functionality, a 2.3in display, Bluetooth 2.0 on board and a two megapixel camera.
We'll hopefully have more details after the official launch - along with a shipping date for the UK and Europe.
Via The Register
Maxfield launches Max Track - the world's fastest GPS system
The Max Track is powered by a Samsung-made 400MHz processor and uses Windows CE 5.0 and MAX-Navigator 5 software. There's an integrated GPS antenna, maps of Western Europe pre-loaded on SD card and a 3.5-inch colour touchscreen. Selected routes can be amended to block specific streets, there's a speed indicator and speed camera database and a choice of 2D or 3D maps.
Out in November, price to be confirmed nearer the time.
Mint offers credit card payments via sms messaging
We recently covered HSBC and First Direct's forays into banking via text messaging. Well, they're not alone - credit card provider Mint (part of the Royal Bank of Scotland) is getting in on the act, offering the TextDebit service for paying off credit card bills in conjunction with Telrock.
The service allows Mint cardholders to pay their monthly balances on their mobile phones from pre-registered debit cards, as well as being able to request balance inquiries and available credit balances, view mini statements and pay outstanding balances in full or part amount anywhere in the world. It all uses sms - register your card with the company for the service, then use the service via passwords assigned to your phone, with transactions only taking place once authentication by both parties has taken place.
Telrock hopes their system will become the standard for sms banking - which is likely to be next year's big growth area in personal banking.
Pick up a Burning Love Pouch for your iPod
Made of what's described as "irresistibility soft fur" (don't worry, it's not real), the pouches have enough padding to keep your player safe from minor knocks, but their main selling point is the oddball design - turning your player into a "fashion statement" says the maker. I'll leave you to make up your own mind about that one.
If you're convinced, you can pick one up for £12.99.
Build your own Terminator puppet
Puppets are rarely scary nowadays, unless like me you find Sooty's inability to speak highly sinister. But a life-size silicone puppet of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator character, complete with shot face and gammy hand? Now that's quite creepy. Bayraider has found one on eBay, selling for $1,999, with all the clothes, weapons and fake-rubber gore you'll need to... well, I'm not sure what you'd do with it, other than scare your kids silly. But anyway.
Archos launches 504 160GB portable media player
The Archos 504 supports all standard video formats in full DVD resolution, as well as being a storage device for other files and media via USB 2.0. The 160GB drive can hold around 450 movies, 1.6 million photos or 80,000 songs. Video playback is via a 4.3-inch screen with 16 million colors or onto a television (with optional DVR Station). It also records from TV into MPEG-4 with the DVR station. It can also be used be used as a photo viewer and music player.
There's a range of sizes available, with a 40GB device retailing for £249.99, 80GB for £299.99 and the 160GB model selling for £479.99. All comes with headphones, USB cable and protective pouch.
iFreq - yet another FM transmitter for iPod
As I mentioned last week, there's an endless number of these FM transmitters hitting the market with the impending law change for use. So why should you pick up an iFreq? Well, acocrding to a recent magazine article - it's the best one you can buy when it comes to sound quality.
The iFreq has a super strength transmitter inside the connecting cable making the signal stronger than other FM transmitters - so better sound, close to the sound you would expect through your headphones. It also features a large, backlit display, simple up/down tuning ensure easy operation and a dock connector that assures wide iPod compatibility.
Available now, selling for around £40.
Propellerhead’s recent travails with Microsoft Word left him with what was effectively a new installation and he quickly discovered that one of most frequently used features was missing. It’s a macro, called Allsave and he relied on it for at least the past seven or eight years -- in various incarnations -- to make regular backups of the document being worked on. In days gone by they were sent to a floppy, nowadays they go to a UDF formatted CD-R, which works just like a giant floppy. For anyone who is interested here it is and note that this version only works in Word 2000 onwards.
To install it all you have to do is go to Tools > Macro > Macros in the Name box type Allsave then click the Create button. The Word Basic window opens and you will see a flashing cursor after the words 'Sub' (and before the word End Sub), copy and paste the following commands:
' Allsave Macro
Pathroute = ActiveDocument.FullName
ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=ActiveDocument.Name, FileFormat:= _
wdFormatDocument, LockComments:=False, Password:="", AddToRecentFiles:=True, _
WritePassword:="", ReadOnlyRecommended:=False, EmbedTrueTypeFonts:=False, _
SaveNativePictureFormat:=False, SaveFormsData:=False, SaveAsAOCELetter:= _
ActiveDocument.SaveAs FileName:=Pathroute, FileFormat:= _
wdFormatDocument, LockComments:=False, Password:="", AddToRecentFiles:=True, _
WritePassword:="", ReadOnlyRecommended:=False, EmbedTrueTypeFonts:=False, _
SaveNativePictureFormat:=False, SaveFormsData:=False, SaveAsAOCELetter:= _
StatusBar = ActiveDocument.Name & " saved in active directory and on backup drive"
In this example the backup drive letter is D: if yours has another assignment simply change the letter in the line: ‘ChangeFileOpenDirectory "D:\"
To assign the macro a button on the toolbar (or keyboard shortcut) click on Customize on the Tools menu, select the Commands tab, scroll down the list in the left hand window and click on Macros. For more great Word tips, and hundreds of hints and tweaks for Windows PCs head over to the archive at PCTopTips
IE7 Is Coming, Ready or Not…
It looks as though Internet Explorer will be coming to a PC near you, whether you want it or not, if your computer is set up for automatic downloads. Several possible dates have been mooted, the 18th is a hot favourite, but in any event it looks like it will be happening very soon. A blog on the Microsoft Higher Education site appears to confirm the prediction, saying ‘Microsoft recommends that Web sites and applications be reviewed and made ready for the release of Internet Explorer 7 this month’. If you can’t wait don’t forget IE7 is available for download at your convenience from the Internet Explorer 7 home page.
Zou Renti and His Robot Clone
Here we have a portrait of Mr. Zou Renti of the Xi'an Supermen Sculpture Institution and his robot clone at the 2006 China Robot Expo at the International Convention Center in Beijing. They've come by to show off the robot's silica gel skin and lifelike features (and that he's basically a party droid). He walks, he talks, he bobbles his head sympathetically, he stands still really well. (If you're still confused about which is the man and which is the robot, there's a hint after the jump.) [GT]
Keuco visiPad for the Bathroom
Continuing the alarming trend of putting a telly and a computer everywhere we might conceivably find some peace and quiet, Keuco has prototyped the Keuco visiPad Mediastation multimedia system, a water-resistant touchscreen that lets you watch television, use the internet, send text messages, talk on the phone, and generally be available to the world at large whether or not what you really crave is just a little privacy. Also available with mirrored glass, and in screen sizes from 10" to 46". Price TBA, but what price being able to just have a nice unhooked shower (or other less savoury bodily function that it's generally nice to be let be during). [GT]
Scotland Yard warn of massive hacker attack on UK
Scotland Yard have today issued an urgent warning that the UK is under a huge, sustained attack from hackers. They say that thousands of PCs in homes have been targeted by US-based computers in a bid to steal personal information.
Officers have so far identified 2300 computers infected by the virus that they're publicly calling calling a 'backdoor'. They're saying that unprotected PCs on the Net are being bombarded by unauthorised access attempts up to 50 times an hour.
It's quite unusual for the police to get involved, though quite what they're going to do on their own I'm not sure. It needs greater effort from the ISPs to block these kind of attempts at source, as well as consumers being educated as to how to keep their PCs safe online.
These attacks have been increasing since July, and though news of virus attacks is far from uncommon these days, the scale of bombardment is staggering.
(Via This Is Money)
Vodafone and Phones 4u link up: Carphone Warehouse unhappy
Vodafone has done a deal with Phones 4u that will ensure P4U is the only third-party UK company allowed to sell Vodafone mobile contracts. This ends the previous partnership with the Carphone Warehouse who can now only sell pay-as-you-go phones on the Vodafone network.
"Phones 4u is fully aligned with the Vodafone strategy of delivering a superior customer experience. This strategic deal will... ensure we can target all key customer segments through their channel of choice," said Voda UK CEO Nick Read.
OK, but some are speculating that Vodafone is doing some kind of payback for CW getting increasingly involved in broadband by acquiring AOL.
Not surprisingly CW aren't happy, saying that it will limit consumer choice as Phones 4u will now be working towards selling Vodafone quotas. Vodafone had apparently approached CW prior to inking the P4U deal, but CW declined as they said they sold phones based on what was best for the customer, not the mobile phone companies.