Monthly Archives: December 2011

Video – The week that was with Michael Pascoe – The Age

 Video   The week that was with Michael Pascoe   The AgeReturn to video Help with videos Streaming media

Websites in the Fairfax Digital Network offer streaming video and audio in the Flash format. Streaming media allows you to watch video on a website as a continuous feed, as opposed to waiting for an entire audio or video file to download to your computer before you can use it.

Download the software

To play a video or multimedia clip, you need to have the Flash player installed. you can download one for most systems (including Mac OS X) for free if one is not already installed on your system.

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Our automated system will test your connection speed and send the best video stream so it plays smoothly and continuously.

Alternatively, you can manually choose the speed setting that corresponds most closely with your network connection. We produce clips in a range of speeds to deliver the best quality possible– the better the quality the faster connection you’ll need.

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The UK is a nation of online shoppers

 The UK is a nation of online shoppers

UK consumers also watch more TV online, use their mobiles more to go online and play more games on their smartphones.

Ofcom’s sixth International Communications Market report into the global communications market shows that despite the economic downturn, global communications revenues grew by 3.4pc in 2010 compared with 2009, mainly driven by strong growth in the BRIC countries (Brazil, India, Russia and China).

The report found that eight in 10 UK internet users (79pc) said they had ordered goods or services online in 2010, higher than any other European country, with just 27pc of consumers in Italy claiming to have done so. UK internet users were also more likely to visit retail websites online than other countries, with nine in 10 (89pc) claiming to do so in 2011.

As well as more UK consumers shopping online, they also spent more time on retail sites – an average of 84 minutes in January 2011, compared with around 20 minutes for consumers in Poland and Italy.

Smartphone revolution

Smartphone ownership nearly doubled in the UK between February 2010 and August 2011 (from 24pc to 46pc) and take-up was higher in the UK than among the other European countries surveyed (France: 35pc, Germany: 32pc, Italy: 40pc and Spain: 45pc).

The number of people using their mobiles to go online was also higher in the UK with nearly half (46pc) of UK internet users using their phones to go online in October 2011. this was higher than in all the other countries surveyed.

UK consumers were also more likely to play games on their phones (34pc compared with 16pc in France).

A quarter (25pc) of UK mobile users accessed news content on their mobiles, significantly higher than in other European countries.  this could be partly due to higher smartphone take-up and UK newspaper websites having mobile-specific websites.

They were less likely, however, to use the internet to make phone calls than in other countries. Just less than a fifth (19pc) of UK broadband subscribers used services such as Skype to make internet phone calls, compared with 28pc in Italy and 26pc in France.

TV over the internet is catching on

The UK’s love of TV continues, with more than a quarter (27pc) of UK internet users saying they watched TV online every week, an increase of 3 percentage points from 2010, and higher than any of the other countries surveyed. the popularity of a wide variety of free-to-view catch-up TV services, such as BBC iPlayer, has helped to drive online TV viewing in the UK.

The UK also saw the largest growth in digital video recorder (DVR) take-up, with more than a third (36pc) of homes now owning a DVR (a 4 percentage point increase on 2009). among the six countries surveyed, the UK is second only to the US, where 41pc of households own a DVR.

Overall, TV viewing in the UK increased by 7.6pc in 2010 compared with 2009, with the average person watching just more than four hours of TV per day (242 minutes).  this was the highest increase year-on-year among the countries surveyed, and 31 minutes more than the average of 211 minutes per person.

Social networking is a global phenomenon

More than three-quarters of consumers in the markets surveyed say they have visited a social networking site, with the majority saying they visit them on a daily basis. this is much higher among 18-24-year-olds, with eight in 10 (83pc) visiting on a daily basis.

Social networking sites are most popular in Italy, with 91pc ever having visited and a quarter visiting more than five times a day (24pc), while in the UK eight out of 10 (79pc) have ever visited with one in five visiting over five times a day.

UK consumers are more likely to access social networking sites on a mobile phone than other countries, with 43pc of those with social networking site profiles saying they do so compared to just 30pc in the US. however, UK social networkers say they have fewer friends online (168) than Americans (198) or Italians (216) – but more than the French (108) or Germans (137).

Consumers are also using social networking sites for breaking news, with one-third (35pc) of UK consumers saying they do this and nearly half of French (45pc) and Italians (47pc) agreeing. Breaking news is more popular among 18-24-year-olds in all countries.

UK consumers getting a better deal for their telecoms

Ofcom research into the prices consumers pay for their communications services has found that prices in the UK compare favourably to those available in other countries.

The analysis examined the prices of a typical ‘basket’ of communications services (fixed-line phone, mobile phone, broadband and pay TV) for five household types. It compared the prices available to consumers in the UK (in July 2011) with those in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the US. overall, the UK offered the lowest prices for all five baskets based on buying services individually and four of the five baskets when including multi-service ‘bundles’.

Overall, the price of mobile phone services in the UK were 36pc lower than in the next least expensive country (France) and were 10pc lower than a year previously. however, prices for low-use mobile phone services (such as pay as you go) in the UK increased between July 2010 and July 2011 (as they did in France, Germany and Italy). Fixed-line voice prices in the UK were also lower than in all other countries.

Looking at the prices for a typical family ‘basket’ of communications services consisting of a fixed-line phone with high use, four mobile phones with varying use, a fixed broadband connection and a basic pay TV subscription, the lowest price available to consumers in the UK was

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Video – Rick ‘Oops!’ Perry: Republican, anti-gay and proud as Christmas – The Age

 Video   Rick Oops! Perry: Republican, anti gay and proud as Christmas   The AgeReturn to video Help with videos Streaming media

Websites in the Fairfax Digital Network offer streaming video and audio in the Flash format. Streaming media allows you to watch video on a website as a continuous feed, as opposed to waiting for an entire audio or video file to download to your computer before you can use it.

Download the software

To play a video or multimedia clip, you need to have the Flash player installed. You can download one for most systems (including Mac OS X) for free if one is not already installed on your system.

Which Speed?

Our automated system will test your connection speed and send the best video stream so it plays smoothly and continuously.

Alternatively, you can manually choose the speed setting that corresponds most closely with your network connection. We produce clips in a range of speeds to deliver the best quality possible– the better the quality the faster connection you’ll need.

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Video – We are the tent per cent – The Age

 Video   We are the tent per cent   The AgeReturn to video Help with videos Streaming media

Websites in the Fairfax Digital Network offer streaming video and audio in the Flash format. Streaming media allows you to watch video on a website as a continuous feed, as opposed to waiting for an entire audio or video file to download to your computer before you can use it.

Download the software

To play a video or multimedia clip, you need to have the Flash player installed. You can download one for most systems (including Mac OS X) for free if one is not already installed on your system.

Which Speed?

Our automated system will test your connection speed and send the best video stream so it plays smoothly and continuously.

Alternatively, you can manually choose the speed setting that corresponds most closely with your network connection. We produce clips in a range of speeds to deliver the best quality possible– the better the quality the faster connection you’ll need.

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Congressman Still Has Privacy Concerns About Kindle Fire’s Browser

 Congressman Still Has Privacy Concerns About Kindle Fires Browser

Silk, the Web browser Amazon bundles with its Kindle Fire tablet, has been a burr in the side of US Representative Ed Markey since the world’s largest retailer announced it in October. And a letter from Amazon to the Massachusetts Democrat hasn’t salved his privacy concerns about the browser.

Amazon’s missive was in response to a series of questions posed to the company by Markey about information and privacy issues associated with Silk. for example, Markey asked what information Amazon is collecting from Fire users.

Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president for global public policy, told Markey that the company collects aggregate browsing information from Fire users. The Web address, or URL, of every page served up to the browser is temporarily stored by Amazon for 30 days, but no associations are made between the URLs and individual users. “This information is a key factor in driving Amazon Silk’s speed,” Misener wrote in the letter.

In addition, some webpage information is cached by Amazon’s servers, he explained. Caching information allows a browser to load webpages faster. that practice is similar to what’s done by any browser running on a computer, except those browsers store cache items locally instead of in the cloud.

Misener added that Amazon also stores information from “crash reports.” Those reports are generated when something goes amiss with Silk; the reports are used to troubleshoot problems. Those reports can contain specific IP or MAC addresses and although Misener didn’t mention it in his letter, those addresses could be used to identify individual users.

Ed Markey has privacy concerns about the Silk browser. an issue cleared up by Misener is what happens when Silk communicates with secure, or SSL, webpages, such as those used by a bank or PayPal. Those requests, he wrote, go directly to the origin servers and do not go through Amazon servers.

Markey also wanted to know what Amazon intends to do with the information it gathers. “Customer information is an important part of our business and an important driver of customer experience and future invention,” Misener wrote. “We do not sell (or rent) the information to others and do not have plans to do so.”

Another Markey concern is whether Silk users can opt out of sharing their browsing habits with Amazon. although Misener didn’t answer that question directly, he did note that turning off Silk’s cloud acceleration feature will prevent browsing information from being stored on Amazon’s servers.

Markey said he was dissatisfied with Amazon’s response to his queries and would be seeking more information from the company. “Amazon’s responses to my inquiries do not provide enough detail about how the company intends to use customer information, beyond acknowledging that the company uses this valuable information,” he said in a statement.

Markey isn’t the only member of Congress critical of Silk. Texas Republican Joe Barton has also expressed outrage at the browser’s caching of information on its users’ Internet surfing habits.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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External desktop hard drives buying guide

External desktop hard drives are great because they have a more affordable price per gigabyte than portable drives, allowing you to backup your important data without worrying about capacity and cost. You can buy 1TB USB 2.0 external hard drives for under $100. Hard drives have faster data-transfer speeds than DVDs or CDs, and they’re easy to use. They can be disconnected from one computer and attached to another, and they come in a variety of sizes and forms. If you’re looking for a quick and painless way to add massive amounts of storage for your music, photos, videos, or system backups, an external hard drive is hard to beat.

Capacity Capacities range from 160GB to 3TB. If you have lots of media or graphics files, more is better. If you’re using Time Machine to back up your Mac, the larger the capacity of your backup drive, the more versions of your documents will be stored. often, the largest available capacities can come with a price premium, so expect to pay more per gigabyte for a 3TB drive than for a 1TB or 2TB drive, which are more common. Many 1TB external hard drives cost less than $100.

Connectivity You’ll use USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire 400, FireWire 800, eSATA, or Thunderbolt to connect to you Mac. Many drives feature multiple ports, but some offer only one (usually USB or FireWire 800).

USB 2.0 isn’t the fastest connection on the Mac, but it’s the most common. Macs do not have USB 3.0 ports. USB 3.0 drives are compatible with USB 2.0, but they will operate at USB 2.0 speeds. USB 3.0 ExpressCard adapters and PCI cards are available, but they often only support a single manufacturer’s drives.

MacBook Airs and the recently discontinued white MacBook don’t have FireWire ports. If you have older Macs equipped with FireWire 400, then it’s nice to have a drive with FireWire 400. FireWire 800 is faster and is backwards compatible with FireWire 400 with the proper cable.

154146 caldigitavdrive thumb original External desktop hard drives buying guideCalDigit AV DriveThe latest connection type to hit the storage scene is Thunderbolt. while only a few drives feature Thunderbolt connectivity, all current Macs (except for the current Mac Pro) support this super-speedy interface. unfortunately, no Thunderbolt drive currently available supports multiple interface types. If you don’t have Thunderbolt on your Mac, you can’t use a Thunderbolt drive.

Many high-capacity drives offer eSATA (external Serial ATA), which, at 1.5 or 3 gigabits per second (Gbps)—depending on which version of Serial ATA is implemented—can be faster than FireWire 800. Owners of the 17-inch MacBook Pro can add eSATA by using an ExpressCard/34 card. Mac Pro users can tap into the two unused SATA ports on the motherboard, using Newer Technology’s $19 eSATA Extender Cable.

Speed The faster the platters in a hard drive spin, the better the performance. 7200 rpm (rotations per minute) is standard for desktop hard drives and plenty fast for most users. (Most Mac notebooks feature 5400-rpm drives.) If your tasks include recording audio, working with video, or gaming—tasks that require constant drive access—and you currently have a slower drive, a 7200-rpm external drive will provide better performance.

Mac Pro users who do professional-level audio or video production might consider a 10,000- to 15,000-rpm drive, for optimal performance. these high-performance drives usually offer less storage capacity and require a SCSI connection, so you’ll need to either install a SCSI card like Atto’s $295 ExpressPCI UL4S to support the connection, or consider a RAID instead.

RAID some desktop external hard drives have more than one hard drive inside. with two drives, the unit can be configured as a striped array (called RAID 0), which makes one partition of the two drives and writes and reads simultaneously for faster performance. If one of the drives dies, you lose all of your data. The two drives can also be configured as a mirrored array (called RAID 1). Mirroring the drives safeguards your data by keeping two identical copies of your drive. The downside is that you can only use half of the unit’s storage capacity.

Some two-drive external devices can also be configured to use the drives individually in a JBOD (Just a Bunch of Disks) setup. This way both drives mount separately as if they were two one-disk external drives. If one drive dies, the other can continue to operate.

Added features almost all USB or FireWire external hard drives are compatible with Time Machine, as long as the drive is HFS+ formatted (and, of course, you must be running OS X 10.5 or 10.6, both of which include Time Machine).

Some drives include extras such as bundled software, one-touch backups, and software encryption. And keep in mind that external hard drives are common targets of theft: if your drive is publicly exposed (say, at work) find a drive with an antitheft port that you can use to tether the drive to your desk, and consider using encryption.

The CalDigit AV Drive () was first USB 3.0 drive to support the Mac. It’s a well-built drive with impressive performance scores across the board. Audio/visual professionals and speed demons alike will want to check out this drive, available in capacities ranging from 1TB to 3TB. Read our full review. [$199 for 1TB; Get best current price for the CalDigit AV Drive; CalDigit]

The Seagate GoFlex Desk () stands out from the pack due to its large capacity and its versatility. It includes a USB 3.0 adapter (compatible with USB 2.0), but if you’re looking for a more Mac-friendly connector, you can get a $50 FireWire 800/USB 2.0 adapter from Seagate’s website. Read our full review. ($270 for 4TB; Buy the Seagate GoFlex Desk directly; Seagate]

142801 iosafe solo thumb original External desktop hard drives buying guideioSafe SoloProDesktop drives provide security one of two ways—by maintaining the integrity of your data through redundancy (RAID, cloud, or offsite backups) or by ensuring that nothing physically could happen to your drive. Meant to survive conditions that standard hard drives cannot—namely fires and floods—an ioSafe SoloPro () may be ideal when you’re worried about the worst thing imaginable happening to your home. The SoloPro is available in 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB capacities. Read our full review. (prices start at $249; Buy the ioSafe SoloPro directly; ioSafe]

[James Galbraith is Macworld’s lab director.]

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