iPhone 5S Finger Print Scan

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Category: IT News, Latest.

The latest generation iPhone was unveiled by Apple at a glitzy event in California earlier this week.

Pairing the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, this is the first time the technology giant has released two handsets on the same day, in what many think is a change of direction for the company.

Despite all the fuss surrounding a possible new budget-friendly version, it’s the latest 5S model that has made all the headlines as phone enthusiasts wait to see what Apple has up its sleeve next.

With the iPhone being Apple’s single biggest product in terms of income, the announcement is a vital part of their strategy for the next 12 months when it comes to seeing-off competition from the likes of Samsung and Nokia in the cut-throat world of smartphones.

So, after all the razzmatazz of this latest Apple announcement – you may find yourself asking: “What exactly is the difference?” and “Why should I upgrade or buy Apple’s latest model?”.

Well, here is a rundown of what you need to know.

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Apple iOS7 Interface

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Category: IT News, Latest.

Apple has announced changes to their iOS interface system for its iPhone and iPad users in order to create a ‘flatter’ effect.

New design chief Jony Ive has said it was an attempt to make the system look “cleaner” and help “elevate” users’ content. The alteration follows a similar change to the OS X system, which is used by Mac computers.

The most distinctive change that users will notice is a move away from the use of leather, wood and other more natural materials and textures in the phone’s apps. Highlighting the new look of the firm’s Game Centre app, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi joked: “We just completely ran out of green felt and wood – this has got to be good for the environment.”

The new system also uses what is known as a parallax effect, which means the icons shift against the background as the phone is tilted.

Opinion is split as to how Apple customers will react to the changes, with some saying that the classic look has been lost forever and that existing customers will be confused by the new design. Others have accused Apple of trying to mirror the look of their main rivals Android.

Following the announcement Apple shares fell in value by around nine per cent.

laptops vs. tablets

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Category: Home Computing, IT Support, Latest, Mobile Computing.

There has been a huge rise in the popularity of tablet computers over the last couple of years. This has been mainly due to their easy to use interface, portability, and the wide ranging ways they can be used. Recently Google has released their first tablet and Microsoft has announced that they will be bringing out their own tablet in October 2012, hoping to capitalise on the booming market. Some people are now looking at using these devices as an alternative to a laptop; below we consider the pros and cons of both.

Inputting Data

The obvious difference between a laptop and a tablet is that laptops have a physical keyboard. Tablets rely solely on a touch interface on the screen for input. This is fine when it involves mainly pointing, dragging or tapping to navigate around a program but when it comes to typing longer documents most people find it easier and more comfortable to use real keys.  It’s possible to add an external Bluetooth keyboard to many tablets to make this more like a laptop but it adds to the cost as well as having more to carry around.  This starts to detract from what’s great about tablets.

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Once upon a time 1K (yes enough to hold 1,024 characters) was the standard for running a personal computer and to move this information to another computer consisted of a C90 tape, a lot a screeching noises from the computer and much anguish. Apologies to those born after 1980 who probably have no idea what I’m talking about.

Things got better with the advent of the read/writable CD giving us the capability to move 720MB of data although it still took up to half an hour to copy the data onto the disk.

With the advancement to DVDs capacity moved to 4.7GB, quickly followed by dual layer DVDs, Blue Ray and more recently Dual Layer Blue Ray. The reality is that we can now store up to 50GB on a single disk but the time it takes to actually write the data (“burning” time) is an ever increasing issue. There is only so fast you can spin a disk!

The other challenge with all this technology is that you need a compatible device on both machines and with the more recent introduction of NetBooks it is quite common to find no such device attached at all.
One market that has continued to advance is the memory stick. Only a year ago it would have cost you £30 or more for 256MB but I have recently bought a 16GB stick for £17 and we are starting to see 32GB and 64GB sticks also dropping in price dramatically.

For me this is by far the quickest and most cost effective means of moving data from one machine to another as well as storing all those handy documents and programs for when you need them. With the advent of in-build encryption it is the perfect tool for my job.

Looking a bit further into the future, how long is it before we can do away with the traditional hard disk altogether and have Windows and all our programs stored on a single solid state device?

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Traditionally PCs have appeared in two main forms – a workstation and a laptop. Saying that, the laptop I used back in the early 90’s actually weighed more than a modern workstation!

With improving technology and everything reducing in size and power consumption, some of the big manufacturers developed a new type of portable machine called the Pocket PC. This was backed by Microsoft who developed the Windows Mobile operating system that included a cut down version of Office to allow viewing of basic spreadsheets and Word documents. Both HP / Compaq and Dell have sold machines in this form since around 2000 but with the advent of Smart Phones this market has all but died.

Smart Phones now include a multitude of applications and with some of the more powerful devices they can manage your email, display your spreadsheets & documents and provide full internet capability. But for me they are still a phone and even with the larger displays have limited appeal for anything but some basic business needs.

In a similar way the iPhone, the Blackberry Storm and some of the more recent offerings from Nokia & Google offer some more advanced functionality with a half decent screen. But again I have real issues navigating some basic websites or reading anything but a basic Excel spreadsheet or Word document.

What has really got me excited has been the introduction of the Netbook. Asus took the market by surprise when they introduced a full portable PC for around £150 in early 2008. It offered a fully functional PC with either Unix or Windows XP and could run all the standard Windows applications with no loss of functionality. Since that time nearly every major PC manufacturer has now brought out something in this form factor and the market is absolutely buzzing with variety. They come in at around 1KG in weight, include 1GB of memory, 80GB hard disk, integrated mobile broadband or Wi-Fi and cost around £250.

As an example of how flexible they are here is a great story – I was working away from the office when a customer called with a support issue on their Netbook. I plugged in my Mobile Broadband Card, connected to their Netbook (which was sitting in the back seat of their car also using Mobile Broadband !) and resolved the issue in 10 minutes.

True Flexibility… and great IT support!

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Being in the IT industry for over 20 years and running The PC Support Group makes me acutely aware of spam e-mails and computer security in general. I am almost over-cautious and positively cynical about every e-mail I receive. Even an e-mail from my mother asking how my weekend went is met with a level of scrutiny that MI5 would be proud of.

Until recently the only e-mails I received trying to “encourage” me to give away personal information consisted of various alleged dissidents from third world countries who just happen to have millions of pounds stashed away and just happen to have come across me (and my e-mail) as a potential way to get the money out of the country. In helping them to do this the e-mail usually explains that I will save many families and their offspring from tragedy and I’ll pocket a few hundred thousand pounds in the process. Wonderful! In fact… too wonderful!

Ludicrous though the above scam may sound, many thousands of people around the world have fallen for this kind of scheme and have gone on to reveal their bank account details to unscrupulous fraudsters who have then used those details to empty the victim’s bank accounts.

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