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"I'm the Creeper. Catch me if you can!"

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[image source: Le Journal du Geek]

The computer virus turned 40 this past week. Unlike many (read most) viruses today, Creeper (in reference to a character from Scooby Doo), was "a security test to see if a self-replicating program could be written". Creeper was an experimental program, not malicious in its making, but was used to demonstrate a mobile application. However, instead of replicating itself on systems, Creeper jumped from system to system, attempting to remove itself from previous systems as it moved on. Consequently, Creeper didn't install itself on multiple machines, but just moved around the ARPANET network (ARPANET was the precursor to the Internet).
Once it found its way onto a computer, it would produce the message "I'm the Creeper. Catch me if you can!" at the C prompt. Later on, Reaper was created, the anti-virus program written to catch and remove Creeper. Reaper did move through the network, replicating itself. When it found a copy of Creeper, it would log it out. Happy Creeper week everyone!

RealD to license ZScreen for HDTVs - cheap 3D glasses for the masses

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There is hope yet. Those who have seen their favourite content in 3D appreciate the technology, but still find it difficult to look past the glasses, more so the bulkier active shutter types now bundled with 3D HDTVs. Everyone agrees that any 3D glasses that need to be worn are worse than no glasses at all, but the expensive shutter variant makes even less sense. In light of this, ReadD has announced at the 3D entertainment summit that it would license its ZScreen technology (shown above) to manufacturers of 3DTVs. The big question is how much these 3DTVs cost, currently, the expensive active shutter glasses help keep the price of the TV set more in line with the 2D version. Another question is how will the 3D quality from a system which uses the same inexpensive glasses that one would find at the cinema stand up to what active shutter glasses can offer. That said, this is certainly good news for us all, especially for those who hate the expensive, battery running active shutter glasses.

Internet Explorer 9 Beta Review

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Whenever I get my hands on a new computer, or after reinstalling Windows, there's always a list of things to do, first of all being opening Internet Explorer 8 to download either Chrome or Firefox. And I'm not the only one. But why is it that we must replace IE with another option? Well, its usually covered with toolbars, making it extremely slow to load even Google. But even with said toolbars uninstalled, it just feels slow and sluggish when compared to Firefox, and downright pedestrian when compared with Chrome. Oh, and there are other (smaller) items, least of which is the download manager, which uses more RAM than the competition.

I've barely touched on the complaints, and it seems as though Microsoft has been listening. For months the company has been saying that Internet Explorer 9 (now available as a public beta, download from Microsoft) will solve those problems, and even more. Many improvements will come in speed - hardware acceleration has been talked about since November last year, but there other features, most notably the "Pinned Sites" and "One Box". So, with that said, does IE9 live up to its hype, and should you go and download it? Hopefully I can answer that question with this review.


User Interface

[image source: Endgadget]




Microsoft has answered our pleas to see more web, and as you can tell from the screenshot above, the new new minimalist design  truly focuses on the content. In fact, , Microsoft claims that with the new design,  more of a web page can be seen than in Firefox. It appears however that Chrome still has the edge,  allowing you to see slightly  more of a page, but in all essence, the difference is insignificant.



The address bar and back/forward buttons now move to the fore, with the menu bar being removed completely. It does look a lot like Chrome, something that Google is bound to be aware of. The compatibility view, refresh and stop buttons have been attached to the address bar, with dedicated favourite and tools buttons on the far right. An aesthetic worth mentioning is the changing colour of the back/forward buttons, which, for instance, change to red after a few seconds after launching Gmail. With its new look, IE9 has really matched the look of Windows 7, a feature that I cannot fault.

New Features

For all the cleaning that Microsoft has done, there are still many new features to be found in IE9. There are a variety of options that help make the surfing experience easier, while integrating browsing better with Windows 7, or, dare I say, Vista (no support for XP over here however, the demise is near). A summary of a few of the new features below:

  • Tabs - by no means a new feature, but Microsoft has added a few little tricks. The tabs can now be snapped out of place, and even if you are playing a video, detaching it doesn't lose your place as the video is constantly rendered. Taking (another) leaf from Chrome's book, there's the ability to close down one tab if a website begins to hang, as opposed to closing the entire browser. The new tab page shows frequently visited sites, and how much each site is visited. Byte Lounge was one of my most visited ;) 


  • Pinned Sites - not one of the most obvious new features, but it does come in pretty useful. Many people keep the same pages open all day long; Gmail, Facebook, Youtube etc, but mistakenly close them when they are together with a group of other open pages. IE9 now lets you sift out these site,s, and pin them directly to the taskbar, pulling the favicon so that it looks like a separate program.
  • One Box – The address bar in IE9 doubles as a search bar, bit it has even more features. Being a Microsoft product, the default search engine is  Bing, but there is the option to  install Google, Wikipedia, Facebook and many others through the Add-On page. Bing is growing on as a search engine, and keeping it as the default has its perks: typing in terms like "Weather AMS" brought up the temperature and conditions online for example.
There's a fair bit new over here, but the main question remains: should you continue switching to Chrome or Firefox everytime you move to a new PC? In my opinion: it is by no means mandatory anymore, at least not when the final release of IE9 is available. The new interface is clean, the feature set has been improved, and speed has seen a significant markup. It at a point where IE9 is a pleasure to use.



But is it worth downloading right now? Should you replace Firefox or Chrome? Well, that is entirely up to you. For what its worth, give the beta a test, there's nothing to lose. I still find Google Chrome to be a faster browser, and those looking for sheer speed will be happiest with Google's Product, yet with the new feature set, IE9 is going to make a very good contender at final release.

From The Apple Show September 1st 2010

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So, Apple's Fall Event 2010 has come and gone, and left us with an overhaul of many of its products. Without further ado, let's take a look at just what Apple has in store for us.

Apple iOS 4.1 and 4.2


[Steve Jobs showcasing the new features of iOS 4.1]

The new iOS 4.1 boasts a number of bug fixes and has some notable features. The fixes address issues with the proximity sensor, Bluetooth and iPhone 3G performance, while new features include High Dynamic Range (HDR) photos, HD video uploads over WiFi, TV show rentals and (to the joy of many) Game Center. That last feature boasts a range of new capabilities for multiplayer gaming, including the ability to challenge friends, track scoring, and new ways to find games, of which there will be some fairly interesting ones that will take advantage of the added capabilities. Keep an eye out for the update to be available on iTunes next week as a free update for the iPhone or iPod Touch (all models aren't guaranteed to be compatible with the update).

Apple also spoke about iOS 4.2, which has all the features of 4.1, and then some, and will finally bring iOS 4 (multitasking!) to the iPad. The feature of note is AirPlay, Apple's new iteration of AirTunes, which will be able to stream music and video to your i-Device over WiFi (the iPad can even act as host for the new Apple TV). Another new feature over WiFi is the wireless printing feature, which even has a Printer Center applet which allows you to manage your print jobs. It may not be pretty, but it a welcome addition to iOS. The update will be available in November for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch devices.

Apple TV
[The new Apple TV]

Enter the new and improved (and frankly, very cheap) Apple TV. Streaming has improved, as well as the speed of the general interface. The Apple TV will be able to output 720p, which is expected, and Apple says this gives the best balance between stream quality and bandwidth use. Even though it is only 720p, if it works as advertised, nobody will be complaining.

iPod Shuffle, Nano and Touch


Shuffle
Well, unfortunately, there isn't much to say about the new Shuffle, apart from the fact that the clickwheel is back, on the smallest iPod in the range. They do come in a variety of colours.


Nano
Presenting a new (complete overhaul), redesigned iPod Nano. Keeping with the Nano trend, its very light, very very thin, and has a capacitive multitouch screen. With the new screen, there is a new interface, with plenty of swiping for moving through sub-menus. It will take some getting used to, but navigation through the menus becomes quite sleek. Holding the middle of the screen to go back is difficult at first, only because you have to avoid the on screen items. Understandably, with the small screen size, there's no pinch and zoom, only double tap for a fixed in/out zoom.



Touch
The first thing one notices with the new Touch is that it's small. As one would expect, the functionality  of the device is identical to the iPhone 4, and maintains the function of the cameras. For all intents, its a   slimmer, trimmer iPhone 4, with no cell radio and lower quality still camera. Apart from the higher-res screen to look at, there are a few features the new Touch has that make it a versatile device: an A4 chip, front and back cameras to name a few. The only caveat is that the still photo resolution is at 960x720,a far cry from the 5 megapixel camera on the iPhone 4.



iTunes 10
Going hand in hand with the launch of the i-Devices, Apple has announced iTunes 10, complete with a brand new logo. More than just the new logo however, the feature to note is Ping. Labelled as Apple's take on a music centered social-network (similar to Last.fm), Ping will let you follow people (including artists), post comments, work with custom song and album charts, and even find over 17 000 concert listings. Ping will also jump to the iPhone and iPod Touch, and is available with iTunes 10.


[Update] Although there were many rumours that it may have been axed, the iPod Classic lives on! (Confirmed on Endgadget )

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