TWT Newsletter, Issue#057 – CES and SOPA updates.
Welcome to our February 2012 TWT Newsletter. We’ve plenty to report on for January and plenty to look forward to this month too, so without further ado, let’s get started.
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In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) Video advertising policy – An update and an apology
3) CES roundup – Kinect for Windows and more Metro!
4) Tip of the Month – Use “Open With” to change the default program when viewing a file
5) Free Utility of the Month – Comica
6) SOPA defeated, but bad legislation never goes away
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
We’re currently renovating our office here at TWT HQ, which caused some disruption to things in January. We did however make sure to bring you some great new content for the fantastic free backup utility, EaseUS Todo Backup 4. This superb package allows you to make full backups of your Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 PC’s and offers advanced features such as drive cloning and system imaging. What’s more, its completely free for personal use. Find out more about this great little utility by visiting this link.
Video advertising policy – An update and an apology
At Top-Windows-Tutorials.com we resisted putting any advertising on our videos for a long time. As more and more users came to our site, the cost of providing our high quality videos continued to spiral upwards. To enable us to keep providing you with great quality video, we made the decision to switch to Google Adsense for Video with our technology partners Bigsool. At first everything worked perfectly, however recently it seems Google have been allowing advertisers to run longer and longer adverts. At one point users reported a 20 minute video being played before they could access our content!
This is unacceptable and we immediately made changes to disallow advertisements like this. Pre-roll adverts (advertisements you see before the main video starts) should last no longer than one minute, and usually no more than 30 seconds. If you are watching several videos, you should not normally see a pre-roll on every one.
We’re also aware that, at least on some browsers and configurations, clicking the “Skip” button on the advertisement will cause the video player to stall. We’re trying to contact our technology partners Bigsool to resolve this issue as quickly as possible. In the mean time, if you do encounter a video advertisement that is longer than one minute and cannot be skipped, please contact us and let us know.
Revenue from video advertising only covers about one third of the costs of our video hosting each month, so we’re certainly not getting rich off the back of your inconvenience. For those of you who really dislike adverts, don’t forget our Superguide DVD/Downloads and our Offline Archive are all completely advertisement free.
CES roundup – Kinect for Windows and more Metro!
The annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is the first event that the geek in all of us looks forward to in the new year. A huge show with thousands of attendees from every niche of the consumer electronics market. There were some interesting new Windows related details revealed at the show, but scant new news about Windows 8.
Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer gave a keynote speech at the opening of the show. While we were hoping for more juicy Windows 8 details, the MS main man simply talked up the new Metro user interface. Users of the Windows Phones or Microsoft’s Xbox console are already familiar with Metro, it’s received a lukewarm response on the Xbox 360, partly because the update it came bundled with introduced several new problems with the consoles video playback. While 360 gamers welcomed the consoles new Bing search engine, they were less enthusiastic about the excessive advertising and difficult to find content. Hopefully Microsoft will iron out these kinks in time.
Also announced during the Keynote was the long expected launch of Kinect for Windows. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this technology, it is a gesture and speech recognition system that Microsoft created for the 360 games console. When the system was originally released, it was criticised for requiring at least six feet of space in front of the console, which made the announcement of laptops with Kinect built into them somewhat surprising. How a gesture control system will work on a computer that is designed to be used directly in front of you is still to be seen. Kinect for PC’s is now available for developers and is expected to be commercially available worldwide soon. More information is available on Microsoft’s Kinect for Windows website.
Otherwise in the keynote there were few surprises. Ballmer was keen to emphasise how Metro was Microsoft’s new obsession, and that the new user interface would be consistent across all Microsoft products, meaning we’ll all have to get used to it!
Elsewhere on the show floor there were the usual selection of weird and wonderful gadgets. Tablet PC’s of all kinds (except for the iPad, since Apple don’t exhibit at CES) running Windows 7, Android and other operating systems. Eye catching but somewhat impractical was Razer’s Project Fiona tablet, which had dual analogue controllers attached to the side of the device like wings. The device was a prototype but still managed to turn heads, as well as gain some puzzled looks. Find out more by visiting Razer on the internet.
The show featured plenty of desirable laptops too, showing that there’s still a strong market for these portable PC’s. Intel, Lenovo, Acer and Samsung all had new models of slim and powerful laptops to show off. The most bizarre laptop had to be the Intel Nikiski. This laptop comes with a see-through touchpad. When the laptop is closed, part of the screen remains visible through the see-through section, and various touch sensitive multimedia buttons can be access from the bottom of the machine. If you want to see more of this crazy but cool laptop, head over to Tech Radar here. Blurring the line between tablet and laptop was Lenovo’s wonderful IdeaPad Yoga, which has the full keyboard that laptop users need, but also features a screen that can fold over, converting the device into a tablet, just the thing to impress in those boring boardroom meetings. More details on this great looking device can be found here.
The desktop PC might not be as glamorous as those super thin laptops or trendy tablets, but if you value performance, expandability and value over portability then a desktop PC is still the way to go. Space saving all-in-one PC’s, that bundle the PC components inside a monitor, were popular on the show floor. Samsung’s mighty looking series 9 all-in-one desktop PC sports a 27 inch display and a brushed aluminium finish. See the article on Cnet for more information. For PC performance enthusiasts there was little of note from gamers favourite Nvidia, who concentrated on their mobile computing business. Over in the rival camp, AMD/ATI had already revealed their new card, the beastly AMD Radeon HD 7970, the fastest single GPU (graphical processing unit) graphics card currently available to consumers.
Overall, it was a quiet CES as far as big announcements for Windows users were concerned, but the PC market shows little evidence that its dying out, giving even less credibility to the argument that we will soon be living in a “Post PC” world. We’ll continue to watch the Windows 8 news stories carefully (still no sign of the beta/preview version as we go to press with this newsletter) and of course keep you up to date with any interesting developments in the world of Windows machines.
Tip of the Month – Use “Open With” to change the default program when viewing a file
Windows explorer has a convenient feature that lets you assign a default program for a file type. That means, for instance, when you click on a picture file, Windows knows to launch a picture viewer.
If you’ve ever double clicked a file and it has opened in the wrong program, you can easily change this behaviour. Instead of double clicking on the file, right click and choose “Open With” from the context menu. Windows will then bring up a window that will allow you to choose the program to use, you can even use the “Browse…” button to choose any program on your PC.
Windows Vista and Windows 7 users can also use the “Default Programs” Control Panel item to view and fine tune these settings.
Free Utility of the Month – Comica
Something a little more light-hearted for you this month. You may or may not know that there are hundreds of comics on the internet. Dedicated artists are producing new comic strips daily catering for all kinds of humour. Comica is a neat application that can help you quickly keep up to date with your favourite comics. Rather than having to visit dozens of websites to check for an update, the Comica program will do that for you, all from the comfort of your desktop. If you do need to visit the comics webpage to read back issues or to chat to other fans, you can simply right click on the comic and the program will launch the website in your browser. You can even download back issues of most of the comics, but remember to support your favourite artists by visiting their websites at least once in a while.
If you’ve never tried internet comics before, Comica can be a fun distraction. If you’re a regular reader, Comica is ideal for quickly checking all your favourites. When using the software, make sure you have the full version of the Microsoft .NET Framework (on one of our machines, we only had a partial installation of this framework, which caused the program to crash). Download Comica (and the .NET Framework if necessary) by visiting this link.
SOPA defeated, but bad legislation never goes away
Thanks to all our readers who have helped support Internet Censorship day and campaigned against the terrible new SOPA and ProtectIP legislation. We can now say with some confidence that these dangerous and potentially highly damaging laws have now been crushed. That doesn’t mean we’re safe, of course, governments all around the world have a habit of concocting dreadful laws that threaten our privacy and could have devastating consequences in the future if passed. Latest in the firing line in the USA is HR 1981. This new legislation would require internet service providers to keep records of every website visited, for up to a year. This information could then be used by law enforcement OR in a civil case, such as if you were accused of copyright infringement.
Even if you aren’t concerned about the privacy ramifications of a huge database of every website you visit (and as we’ve seen, few online databases are completely secure, especially not ones with such tempting and valuable information in them), if passed this legislation will undoubtedly see the cost of internet access in the USA skyrocket, as ISP’s are required to install new data centres with the storage capacity and bandwidth to keep such logs. To find out more about this worrying new threat to the internet, visit this website.
Meanwhile, governments all around the world have been trying to create a secret, copyright police force. ACTA is an international trade agreement to help countries tackle counterfeit goods. This sounds like a good idea at first glance. However, rather than negotiate the treaty out in the open, allowing for a democratic debate around the treaty and its ramifications, all the negotiations were held in secret. As content producers ourselves, we welcome sensible legislation for punishing theft of our intellectual property, but we don’t consider creating a chilling, secret police force that enforces a non-democratically created agreement to be sensible or proportionate. To find out more about ACTA and its possible ramifications, visit this website.
Thanks to the internet, adding your voice to a protest against such laws is easy and as we’ve seen with SOPA and PIPA it does make a difference. We’ll keep you updated should we hear any more news about these frightening new pieces of legislation.
That rounds off our newsletter for February. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th March 2012 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7! We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page or by leaving us feedback in our forum. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com, and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!