Tuesday, 30 October 2007

New Gmail Version is Live

gmail logoGoogle Operating System reports that the new version of Gmail that was the subject of speculation a few days ago is now live on a few accounts. The new features include an updated Contact Manager and faster loading of messages due to the prefetching features built in. However, Google Gears support is still lacking, and makes this seem like a minor update instead of a major overhaul.

Now, the question is: When is my account gonna be upgraded? :)

Sunday, 28 October 2007


Here's an interesting quote I found on my iGoogle homepage:

Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions.
— G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton was a wonderful writer and composed many great arguments. I think this quote fits in to today's world perfectly, despite the fact that he said it many years ago.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Gmail adds IMAP support

Many users have been waiting a long time for Google to add IMAP support to their popular Gmail service. Today Google System announced that this feature has finally been added, and will be rolled out to all existing accounts in the next few days.

IMAP has many benefits over POP, including a continuous connection to the server and more intelligent client/server interaction. This means that users of Outlook or Evolution will be able to
synchronize their read items and folders across computers. When you mark an item as read in Outlook on your desktop, the same item will be marked read on the web interface as well as your laptop and PDA.

This is a long-awaited feature which is certainly going to boost Gmail's appeal, especially to the business users of Google Apps.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Device driver update causes Vista activation to expire

James Bannan has discovered that updating the drivers for major system components such as hard drives and graphics cards can cause your Vista system to deactivate and become unusable. Microsoft has confirmed the problem, and it seems there is no way to fix it other than give Microsoft Help and Support a call to reactivate your system.

Windows Vista's activation scheme hasn't changed much since XP. Basically, if you change a certain number of components in your system's hardware configuration, Windows will deactivate as an anti-piracy measure. The problem is, Vista counts driver updates as hardware changes. This can cause your system to deactivate unexpectedly, and without warning.

This is a very serious problem with Windows, especially for mission-critical configurations. If someone unknowingly updates the graphics card drivers to make the system run faster or use a new feature, the whole system could fail. Then the company or individual relies on Microsoft being available on the phone and ready to reactivate quickly. Although the chance of Microsoft's support center being unavailable is small, this does present a serious problem of being "reliant on Microsoft", not just for your initial installation, but for reactivation at any time you feel like upgrading your software.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

NTFS write support for Linux

Hooray! Linux can finally write to NTFS partitions, thanks to the NTFS-3G project. Check it out, I've found that it is incredibly helpful in writing to my (Windows Formatted) external hard drive.

This just goes to show: no matter how closed Microsoft made the NTFS standard, somebody was bound to break it open.

Friday, 19 October 2007

China Blocks Google, Yahoo, Live Search Engines with Redirect to Baidu

Reports have streamed in that the three major search engines Google, Yahoo and Microsoft Live Search are being blocked in China, with all request for the sites being redirected to China's own Baidu Search Engine.

Some people think that the redirect was due to China's strained relations with the USA over the Dalia Lama. However, there have been some reports of Google.com functioning correctly from within China, so there doesn't seem to be a nationwide blockage. Of course, these people could just be Chinese Internet Police.... ;) Another possibility is that China is upgrading their whole blocking infrastructure, and this is resulting in irregular false-positives with the search engines. This is supported by the fact that BabelFish.com is also reported to have been blocked.

Keep watching this space and I'll get news to you as soon as some more definite reports come in. For now - if you're in China, you might only have 3 search engines to choose from: Baidu, Baidu, or Baidu.

Ubuntu 7.10 released!

It's here! Today Canonical officially announced the release of Ubuntu 7.10, aka "Gutsy Gibbon". This release incorporates new features from the past six months, including the latest release of GNOME and a new Deskbar desktop search feature. Ubuntu 7.10 is easier to use than ever, with automatic printer detection and fast user switching. The fast user switching is absolutely fabulous compared with Windows Vista - on my fast Vista laptop it takes over 1 minute to switch users, even with both already logged in!

Along with the release of Ubuntu, Kubuntu 7.10 has also been announced. Although it does not include KDE4 (as the release schedule has been delayed to December), the latest KDE4 Beta 3 is available in the Kubuntu Universe repositories.

I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this latest release, but unfortunately my internet has slowed to dialup speed and the CDs will take a few weeks to ship, so I'll have to wait a fair while. But I'm sure it will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

'Vixta' Linux distro mimics Vista's look and feel

Here's an interesting distro - just like China's Red Flag Linux emulates the look of Windows XP, a new Linux distribution called 'Vixta' seeks to imitate Vista's look, right down to the start menu and transparent titlebars.

There has been much controversy over the issue of whether or not Linux should copy Vista's look and feel. I think that although it doesn't need to (as the Linux KDE GUI is in my view better than Vista's), there's nothing wrong with some of Vista's good design ideas turning up in Linux as well. KDE4 is actually deliberately trying not to "copy" Vista, but they are still turning up with some similar features by innovation.

I have yet to get my hands on a copy of Vixta, but it looks like it could be worth trying. Now I can tell my friends "Hey, look, I got Vista!" and maybe even "Well, if you want I could give you a copy too...."!

Leopard to Leap later this month

APCmag.com has just posted an article announcing that Apple's latest version of the Macintosh operating system is planned for release on the 26 October. It looks like it will be a strong beast, improving on the strengths of the previous versions while adding in a few new features of it's own.

Apple's Steve Jobs has taken advantage of Windows Vista's confusing multi-version release, saying that this is the 'best upgrade' Apple had ever released, and "everyone gets the ‘Ultimate’ version. The pricing is much better than Vista as well, with the single version costing just $158.

The new version of the Mac will have much the same hardware requirements as Vista, recommending a minimum of 512MB RAM with an 867Mhz or faster processor.

Overall this release is another improvement to the already excellent operating system. It certainly doesn't look like anybody will be deserting the Mac for Windows anytime soon.... :) Here's looking forward to the release.

Google Analytics Updated - now tells you what your visitors want

Today Google announced some upgrades to their popular Google Analytics product. The first and most important update, is site search statistics.

According to the official blog announcement, with the new search tracking you can see "what people search for on your site and where these searches lead." They continue to say that "Site Search reports show you the keywords and search refinement keywords people use, the pages from which people begin and end their searches. You can also see how search on your site affects site usage, conversion rates, and e-commerce activity."

For me personally this feature will be a bonus, as I can now see what my visitors are looking for when they come to my site. It is almost as if Google Analytics is "telling me" what my visitors want. This could even turn out to be something like the Zeitgest (or Google Hot Trends) in the future. What do you think?

Monday, 1 October 2007

Holiday Time!

I'm going on a holiday for two weeks starting from tomorrow, so I'm not sure if I'll have internet connectivity during that time. Hopefully one of the caravan parks offers wireless internet!

Anyway, I probably won't be able to update this blog for about 2 weeks. In the meantime, you might want to check out My Nature Photography Blog or have a look at Lightning-Alley, a similar blog to this one, with tech news, photography and random ideas.

Unfortunately I'm going to have to put up with Windows XP while on holidays, as my laptop has broken down (hard drive connection problem). I'm not looking forwards to using Windows that much after my installation difficulties recently!