Nybbles and Bytes...

loves good coffee!

Nybbles and Bytes...

wants to know if you need this button on your keyboard...?

Nybbles and Bytes

...loves exotic places...

Nybbles and Bytes

is occasionally old school...

Nybbles and Bytes

loves smartphone debates...!

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Translate to and from English for free, with Google Translate

How many times have you wanted to know what some foreign phrase or word meant?
Maybe you just wanted to be able to understand a document or book written in a language that you do not read / speak?



Well fret no more - this is not really new but a lot of people do not know about Google Translate.
Now I know there are many other translation services out there online, but I have found Google Translate to be seriously user-friendly and accurate in its translation to English from other languages.
You can even upload entire documents for translation - seriously useful stuff.

You can of course translate from English to other languages too - this is the full list of currently available languages for translation:

Afrikaans
Albanian
Arabic
Belarusian
Bulgarian
Catalan
Chinese
Croatian
Czech Danish
Dutch
English
Estonian
Filipino
Finnish
French
Galician
German Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Indonesian
Irish
Italian
Japanese Korean
Latvian
Lithuanian
Macedonian
Malay
Maltese
Norwegian
Persian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Russian
Serbian
Slovak
Slovenian
Spanish
Swahili
Swedish Thai
Turkish
Ukrainian
Vietnamese
Welsh
Yiddish

Wow that's a mouthful... (no pun intended :)).
Now go translate something dammit :)

The Telkom Phonebook online - save some paper and some time :)

Do you still go the Post Office annually to pick up your new phonebook for the year?
Well if you want to save some paper and some time, rather make your way to http://phonebook.yellowpages.co.za/ - the online version of South Africa's White Pages.



You can search for residential subscribers by name or keyword and by area.
So no more weightlifting just to find that telephone number :)

Need a compact yet powerful laptop...? Look no further...:

Looking for a decent laptop and wanting to try out the new Windows 7?

Well here's a deal that you should seriously consider - the Dell Vostro 1320 comes pre-installed with Windows XP Pro (in case you don't want to switch to Windows 7 just yet), but it ships with the Windows 7 DVD as well, and the upgrade process is pretty quick.

Featuring a decent set of hardware specs, this is a compact workhorse (weighing only 1.86kg) that will still be going strong years from now.
Check it out:

Dell Vostro 1320


13.3" Widescreen (1280 x 800)

Intel® C2D P8600 2.4GHZ
2Gb (1x2Gb) 800MHz DDR2
250GB HDD (7200RPM)
8X DVD+/-RW
MS Windows XP Professional
802.11(b/g) & Bluetooth
1.3MP Webcam
Intel® Integrated GMA X4500
WinXP Pro & Win7 Pro Media included
No Bag
MS Works 9.0
3 Year Next Business Day
6-cell 48WHr Li-Ion Battery
Weight - 1.86kg
Current Pricing = R 12250
 
Order now by clicking here to email me.
As always, T's & C's apply:
- terms strictly COD;
- pricing subject to stock availability;
- please allow 4 - 6 working days for delivery.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some South African GOOD NEWS...! :)

The late Douglas Adams, in his "Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series, comically noted that spacecraft should be powered by bad news, because nothing travels faster :)
Too true - how often in our day do we get stuck into a really juicy piece of bad news, but fail to pay any attention to the Good News?

Perhaps we even fail to acknowledge the existence of Good News, in our life, our workplace, our society or our country. There is, however a whole lot of Good News out there, if you are open to it.

The website http://www.sagoodnews.co.za/ does a fantastic job of spreading the Good News - getting it out there to you and me.
I am subscribed to their newsletter, and when I read the latest edition I felt compelled to include its contents on my blog. The words of the author Ian Macdonald ring true on so many levels.

Take 5 minutes out of your day and have a read - it will be worth your while and it will help brighten up your day :) :

What I've learnt

After 5 years as editor of South Africa's premier good news website, Ian Macdonald is leaving South Africa The Good News at the end of the year in order to pursue opportunities in the renewable energy sector. These are some of the things he has learnt during his time with us:

- South Africans accept bad news at face value, but they will question and interrogate good news.



- It is extremely difficult to convince someone of something that is contrary to their belief.


- South Africa tends to excel when our backs are against the wall. We love to prove the doubters wrong.


- We are blessed to live in times like these. I love that we are reminded every day about the real things in life and how we can live a life of real significance here.


- The mainstream media don't take us seriously because we are biased towards the positive. The irony is that they are biased towards the negative. At least we don't hide our 'agenda' - we're proud of it; we don't pretend to be unbiased and balanced.


- Even though we go to great lengths to acknowledge the challenges and problems in South Africa, we are still accused of being naive, out of touch with reality and ostriches with our heads in the sand.


- It's important to know of all the problems in the world. We need to know what is wrong if we are to fix it. But there's no point in fixating on the problem, energy is much better spent concentrating on the solutions.


- Jim Morrison, lead singer of the Doors, said "He who controls the media controls the mind." The media have immense power in South Africa, as elsewhere, to shape the national narrative and manipulate the national psyche. I don't think that local media appreciate the power they have. If they do, then I believe they use this power irresponsibly, in order to sell more papers.


- When we write about controversial subjects (race and crime in particular) many people seem to miss the point of the article. They are so angry, they miss the nuance, the thread or the tone.


- Climate change is the single biggest threat to us. Nothing even comes close. Not even crime. It threatens our very existence, without prejudice. The time to act is yesterday.


- There is tremendous power in positive thinking. There is opportunity in every crisis.


- We South Africans have made a lot of mistakes over the past 15 years, but there is a lot that we have done well. I am proud of the contribution we have made in highlighting the progress and positive developments in South Africa.


- We are accused of being ANC spin doctors or government sycophants whenever we offer any support of government or acknowledge government for their successes. In order to earn the right to criticise where necessary, one also has to give credit where it is due. Contrary to popular belief, the government is sometimes capable of doing things well!


- Certain South Africans seem to want this country to fail, just so that they can say "see, I told you so!"


- These same South Africans see any negative sign (load-shedding, for example), not as a bump in the road but as 'proof' of inexorable decline in South Africa. They are very vocal and critical when it happens, but very quiet and unapologetic when it proves to be temporary. (Whatever happened to the people that confidently declared that load-shedding was 'just how it started in Zimbabwe' or told us that South Africa would go to the dogs if Zuma became President?)


- Only a small percentage of South Africans are negative, but they are very vocal, creating the perception that the nation is negative. Read the comments under news articles, the only people who seem to bother to write anything are the bigots, the complainers and the idiots.


- We get so wrapped in the day-to-day challenges in South Africa that we forget to celebrate how far we have come - if you would have told someone in the mid-1980s that we would be were we are today, you would've been considered a lunatic


- There are remarkable people working for this country. Through this job I've met some of the change agents that are working to make South Africa the country that we want it to be. These people give me great hope that we can and will become the country of our dreams.

By Ian Macdonald


Source: "South Africa - The Good News http://www.sagoodnews.co.za/"

Right-click, Refresh. Right-click, Refesh. Right-click, Refresh... no it doesn't make things happen any quicker!

Have you ever seen a guy / girl sitting at their PC, frantically right-clicking and refreshing their desktop repeatedly in Windows XP / Vista?

I am not sure exactly what people think the point is here, but the big news is... wait for it... NOTHING HAPPENS WHEN YOU REFRESH YOUR DESKTOP A MILLION TIMES IN SUCCESSION!!

Ok well that's not entirely true. Refreshing your desktop does cause Windows to redraw what is currently on the desktop, i.e. icons etc. So if for some reason your icons are not showing, or if one of them is displaying incorrectly, then a refresh of the desktop might help to fix the problem.

Alternatively, if you have applied a new desktop background but cannot see it for some reason, then a desktop refresh may help.

If, however, you are using some high-powered graphics package and you want to get some nitrous-oxide induced performance boost, then you would be better off upgrading your RAM, CPU, motherboard or graphics card, than right-clicking / refreshing your desktop 3735902347592 times in 2 minutes.

Sheesh - all you are going to achieve is a healthy dose of repetitive wrist strain injury, and a fair dose of odd glances from colleagues who now think that you have developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder of some kind :)

Oh yes, and such an excessive amount of right-clicking has been shown to shorten the life of computer mouses (mice?) the world over. :)

Nybbles and Bytes gets a makeover...

Today I took the plunge and installed a brand new template to give Nybbles and Bytes a new look and feel.
My old template (the default Blogger "Minimalist" template), got a bit cluttered and left me very little space to do anything with, especially down the sidebar.

So thanks to btemplates.com, I now have a cool 3 column layout which allows me a lot more in terms of "screen real estate" i.e. space to place revenue-generating ads, extra widgets etc.

I am still busy adding in widgets, setting up new ad units and generally tweaking the layout to my liking.
Please feel free to comment if you like / hate / love / are indifferent to our new look :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Arnie digs Vista baby...

So Microsoft have offered Arnold Schwarzenegger a free upgrade to Windows 7...

His reply?

"I still love Vista, baby!"


Ouch that's bad!
Yet somehow funny... :)

Get up close and personal with some wildlife...

Next time you head out to Harties (Hartebeespoort Dam for the non-locals :) ) or the Magaliesberg, why not stop in at the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre (formerly or otherwise known as "De Wildt").



The Cheetah Centre was established in 1971 by Ann van Dyk (who still works at the centre daily) and has during the past 40 years bred over 800 cheetah cubs.
The centre offers a variety of tours and excursions during which you can get up close to the cheetahs (as well as brown hyenas, impala, vultures and wild dogs) for some outstanding photo opportunities of these amazing animals.

Recently, to accommodate families with small children, the centre has introduced a 2 hour family tour which takes you around (not into) the enclosures of the animals. This is a wonderful option for kids under 6 years old to see the animals from a safe distance.
Alternatively, you can opt for the "touch experience" (no kids under 6), where you get to actually touch one of the cheetahs... obviously one which is accustomed to human contact and poses no danger :)

You can visit the website at http://www.dewildt.co.za/, or you can contact the centre on one of the numbers below.

Tel: (012) 504 1921
(012) 504 9906/7/8
Cell: 083 892 0515
E-mail: cheetah@dewildt.co.za

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sorry for the messy Christmas background...

Okay okay - so I used a really busy background for my blog these past few days...

It did make the text pretty much unreadable, I must admit.
And so, without further ado... I present my new background!

Courtesy of www.crestock.com :)
Looking for some decent Blogger / Twitter backgrounds?
Check out:

http://www.ekmedia.com/free-custom-twitter-backgrounds.php
http://allfreecountry.blogspot.com/2009/04/free-christmas-theme-wallpaper.html

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Time for some funky foosball...

Who doesn't love foosball?

Okay that was a rhetorical question, because everybody loves foosball.
Think I'm wrong? Well sorry for you, because it's true. :)

One of the great companies I work with, 24 Carrots, recently organised 18 branded foosball tables for an event they were managing.
Check it out (courtesy of Bizcommunity):

24 Carrots ensures a Foozi blast for Standard Bank
Issued by: Foozi Gaming
 
24 Carrots, event organiser for Standard Bank, recently contracted Foozi to produce 18 Standard Bank-branded foosball tables to be rented for two of the bank's year-end functions.

According to Damon Freeman, Chief Negotiator, Marketer and Overall Nice Guy of Foozi Gaming, demand has grown for rentals from the foosball advertising specialist. "We are currently providing numerous tables, for numerous clients, adding a special touch to many year-end functions," says Freeman.

While 24 Carrots provided the design for these specific tables, Foozi also has its own in-house design specialists for customers that require the service.

For more information about Foozi's branded Foosball tables, visit www.foozi.co.za.
 

Free Professional Blogger Templates

I have been toying with the idea of giving Nybbles and Bytes a bit of a makeover, although it is only a scant 2 - 3 months old...
I think I will save it for later though, because the thought of having to rebuild all of my widgets and custom links is a rather tedious one.
Surely there is a way to simply port widgets etc. into a new template?

In any case, I came across these really decent sites in my pursuit of quality free templates:

http://www.bloggertemplatesfree.com/

http://www.eblogtemplates.com/

http://btemplates.com/

There are so many more free template sites out there - I just picked a few that I liked and popped them in here.
Maybe next year I will get up the courage to make some major changes to the look and feel of Nybbles and Bytes :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Compaq 610 Laptop on Special - nice specs at a decent price :)

So by now you have surely heard of Windows 7...

Your colleagues have mentioned it, no doubt you have heard it mentioned it on TV somewhere.
Maybe you read about it in Popular Mechanics...

Now you can get it for yourself with this special on the Compaq 610 Notebook, and if for some reason you decide Windows 7 is not for you, it's no problem because HP will throw in copy of old faithful, XP Professional for you :)

Check it out:

HP Compaq 610 (VC271EA)



Replaces NX553EA
Intel Core 2 Duo T5870 (2.00GHz, 800-MHz FSB, 2-MB L2 cache)
2GB RAM - 1 DIMM
320GB 7200rpm HDD
Mobile™ Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator X3100
DVD +/-RW DL SuperMulti Lightscribe
W/Lan 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth 2.1
15.6" HD LCD
2 MP Webcam
3 x USB Ports
1 x ExpressCard/34 slot
1 x Secure Digital (SD)/MultiMedia Card (MMC) slot
Windows 7 PRO 32
Office Ready 60-day Trial
XP Pro Downgrade Option (CD Included)
Including Carry Bag

Current Pricing = R 6850

- Pricing is subject to stock availability;
Pricing valid for 7 working days;
- Terms strictly COD.
- Please allow 4-6 working days for delivery (A delivery fee will be added for delivery outside of Johannesburg)

Drop me a mail here if you want to place an order or for more information on the product.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Erdinger - this beer will change your life! :)

Here's something a bit different - beer has nothing to do with the usual content of my blog, nor can I claim to be any kind of authority on the subject.

Even so, I must post something about my own personal favourite - Erdinger.


Erdinger is a wheat beer - and true to my non-beer-authority-ness, I will now proceed to quote Wikipedia for a proper definition: :)

Weissbier (German: "white beer", usually spelled Weißbier; see ß), also known as Weizenbier ("wheat beer"), is a Bavarian specialty beer in which a significant proportion of malted barley is replaced with malted wheat: a wheat beer.

I have come across 3 varieties of Erdinger locally:

- Hefeweiss (in short "Hefe"; literally, "yeast white"): the yeast is not filtered out, giving the beer a cloudy appearance.
- Dunkel Hefeweiss (literally, "dark yeast white"): Produced with dark malts and consequently darker in color, known for their malty, bread-like flavors.
- Kristallweiss (in short "Kristall"; literally, "crystal white") is filtered to remove the yeast, hence clear.


These are usually available at most bottle stores and at most Makro stores.
Don't expect to pay a normal price though - being imported from Germany this beer comes at a bit of a steep price, ranging from R20 - R30 per bottle.

But let me tell you, it is so worth it!
Well, that's my opinion anyway :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Is Avast! producing false positives?

I got a bit of a shock yesterday morning when I received about 5 calls within the first hour of the day, all reporting similar PC virus infections, all diagnosed by Avast! Anti-Virus.



Now Avast! is actually my current anti-virus package of choice, and the one which I recommend to all of my clients and colleagues daily.
The fact that there is a free edition is a huge bonus, and from my personal experience I have found that Avast! detects and successfully repairs infections that a lot of other AV software cannot.

In addition, Avast! is not terribly resource hungry, and it includes a boot-time scanner which is a hugely useful weapon in the arsenal of virus hunters the world over.

Anyway, somewhere in the middle of the panicked calls that I was receiving, I was rudely interrupted on my own PC, by none other than old faithful - Avast! AV.
I was warned that a program I was attempting to open was in fact infected by the Win32.delf [Trj] Virus.
Right about here the bells started to ring (in my head only - it's not Christmas just yet), and I recalled hearing the word "delf" during some of the frantic conversations of my morning.

Long story short:- thankfully the apparent virus did not produce any ill effects on my or my customer PC's, which leads me to believe that yesterday's Avast! Definition update was somehow producing false positive results (i.e. detecting infections where there were none).
Simply taking the "No Action" option each time Avast! bleated at me, seemed to do the trick.

After today's update there appears to be no further issue on this front.
I would be interested to hear if anyone else has had any otherworldly experiences with Avast! over the past few days...?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bugatti Veyron vs. McLaren F1 drag race...

Ok so this is going back a little - not sure which season exactly, but Top Gear aired an episode featuring this epic "clash of the titans" as they call it - a drag race between the technological genius of the Bugatti Veyron, and the "ultimate road car", the McLaren F1.

Back in the late 90's, the McLaren F1 was the pinnacle of what a car could be and do - to quote Wikipedia:

"On March 31, 1998, it set the record for the fastest production car in the world, 240 mph (391 km/h).[1] As of April 2009, the F1 is surpassed by only three other production cars in sheer top speed, but is still the fastest naturally-aspirated production car."

That bit in bold is just crazy - even today there is no quicker naturally-aspirated (i.e. no turbo) production car!


A true work of art.

The specs of the Bugatti Veyron are just staggering - 0-100km/h in 2.5 secs, and a top speed of 408km/h, which made it the fastest street legal car between the years of 2005 and 2007.



Simply awesome!
And now for the showdown...:

Monday, November 30, 2009

Croc found in Germiston Lake!!

Yup, believe it or not, this critter was indeed spotted in Germiston Lake this week!


;)

2012... are we all gonna DIE?????!!!

Well 2010 is almost upon us (that's "twenty-ten", not "two-thousand-and-ten" ok??), and this 21st century is just rocketing away at a furious pace.

Just last night I saw the trailer for the apocalyptic movie "2012", soon to hit our movie circuits (maybe it already has...?). It showed off some cool effects depicting massive disasters and crazy geological happenings, effectively spelling the end of the Earth and humanity.
The tag line then read: "How will you survive?", which I think is a bit silly, being that an "apocalyptic" event by definition is an event in which nothing will survive :)



The "2012 Phenomenon" is largely based on the Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar, the supposed end-date of which falls on the 21st December 2012.
There are so many theories around this date, ranging from the end of the world as we know it, to large-scale worldwide spiritual transformation and "enlightenment" of humankind.

The point of view of scientists is largely sceptical, stating that there is no evidence of anything here on Earth or out in space that can reasonably be expected to wipe out the Earth.
What annoys me a bit is the viral marketing campaing that the makers of "2012" embarked upon, in a effort to gain pre-launch publicity for the film. The campaign centres around a the website http://www.instituteforhumancontinuity.org/ - a fictional body called "The Institute for Human Continuity".

The site states "... we know in 2012 a series of cataclysmic forces will wreak havoc on our planet. The IHC has developed a number of initiatives to prepare the world for this inevitability"

What a load of speculative nonsense - gullible internet users will be taken by this and totally buy into the hype of it. When dealing with a sensitive topic (The Apocalyse no less!!), the internet becomes a nasty tool of manipulation.

Well that's just my opinion... :)
What's yours?

Is the end really nigh?
Or will we all wake up on the 22nd December 2012 and curse having to go into the office once again... ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bugatti Veyron in the drink...!

There isn't really much to say about this photo, other than "Ouch"!!



Apparently the driver of this amazing machine dropped his cellphone while driving (somewhere in Texas) and subsequently bent down to pick it up.
Upon sitting back up he was shocked to (apparently) see a low-flying pelican dead ahead, which resulted in some serious evasive driving tactics, hence the photo above!
Sounds likely... :)

Shame - that's a lot of car to put into a lagoon!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bluetooth, WLAN, 3G, GPS, DSTV, FM Radio... are we frying our brains? And why the name "Bluetooth"?

We live in a world of interference - the air around us is constantly filled with invisible signals transmitting large amounts of information to and from our radios, PC's, TV's, GPS receivers... the list just goes on and on.

Is it then unreasonable to suggest that these signals can somehow interfere with our bodies, and indeed our brain - something that is effectively one huge electrical circuit?

Specifically, I wonder what effect Bluetooth headsets have on the body - Google it and you will find hundreds of cases where users have complained of headaches and other physical symptoms after using a Bluetooth headset in conjunction with their cellphones.



Trouble is, scientists are still trying to work out how the brain actually works!
That's a bit scary - if we are not even sure how our brains function, how can we be sure that the wireless technologies of today have no effect?
See what Wikipedia have to say on the topic.

Onto something a bit lighter - have you ever stopped to think about the name "Bluetooth"? Why on earth use such a name for a short-range wireless technology? The answer actually makes for some interesting reading:

Courtesy of Wikipedia:

"The word Bluetooth is an anglicised version of Swedish or Danish Blåtand, the epithet of the tenth-century king Harald I of Denmark and Norway who united dissonant Danish tribes into a single kingdom. The implication is that Bluetooth does the same with communications protocols, uniting them into one universal standard.
Although blå in modern Scandinavic languages means blue during the viking age it also could mean black. So a historically correct translation of Old Norse Harald Blátönn would rather be Harald Blacktooth than Harald Bluetooth.

The Bluetooth logo is a bind rune merging the Germanic runes (Hagall) and (Berkanan)."




Thursday, November 12, 2009

Global Warming - is it all just a load of "hot air"...?

Ok here goes....

POP!!

Did you hear that?? Yup, that was the sound of a can of worms opening as I started typing this post :)

I say this because the term "Global Warming" has of late become a giant can of worms.
There are so many opposing views, opinions, scientific "facts" and dire predictions on the topic, that it becomes quite tiring to even try and make any kind of sense of it all.

Back when the Al Gore movie "An Inconvenient Truth" hit the circuit, it certainly made waves on the issue. I for one was quite taken by the content of the film.
Part of me kept saying "... but Al Gore ran for President of the USA - of course he will try to play the Global Warming card to get votes...". Truth is, Al Gore has been concerned with environmental issues since the late 70's. 




Whatever the "truth" is regarding Global Warming, there are really 3 different stances on the issue (in my view).

1. The Believers (sounds a bit scary doesn't it?)
These are the people who have every faith in the words of the pro-Global Warming scientists. They completely buy into the idea that the world will indeed change notably in the next 50 years, and that the environment that we live in is in grave danger of disappearing if we as humans and residents on this planet do not change our wasteful habits.
They rely on data readings of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, taken over thousands of years of the Earth's history, which reportedly correlate directly to increases in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere. 

2. The Denyers
These people simply ignore the issue, or consider Global Warming to be a non-issue. They believe that the situation is all hype, created by "Big Brother" in order to somehow capitalize on the fear instilled in people. They argue that if any warming is actually occurring, it has happened before (naturally) in the Earth's life cycle, and that we therefore can do nothing about it, so why worry?

3. The "Sun Believers" (sounds like an ancient South American civilization...:)
These people will tell you that it might well be true that the earth is in fact warming up. The reason for this, however is not caused by humans, nor is it caused by greenhouse gases etc. No, the cause is in fact that the Sun itself is warming up. 
As a result, other planets in the Solar System are supposedly also warming up. Global Warming then, is not just an Earthly phenomenon, but in fact a much greater one, that of the Solar System itself. Problem is, the so-called "evidence" of other planets heating up is conflicting at best. I am no Scientist on the issue, but it does not take a very detailed search on the net to work this one out.
In addition, the rate of the increase in the Sun's temperature is not significant enough to cause the kind of climate change that Scientists are reporting.

So there you have it - the mish-mash that is Global Warming.
Personally I am somewhere in the middle on this one. I don't think that it is possible to know the exact truth on the subject until all angles have been properly explored and analysed. 
Theories of today will be disproven tomorrow.
The next day those same theories will be put in question, and so the cycle will continue.

The only way we will ever know the truth is in hindsight - 50 years from now, we will be able to look back and say "Wow they were right!" or maybe "Wow what a scam that was :)".

Who knows?
What's your take? 
 
 

Another update for the Nokia N97 already?

This morning I received an email from Nokia, informing me that there is updated software available for the Nokia N97.
Now I haven't been expecting anything, but I loaded up my Software Update app to find out more - turns out there is an update available - Version 20.0.027.

You cannot install this update "over the air", rather you will need to use Nokia Software Updater to do so.
I have no idea what is included in the update - as soon as I do, I will post updates.

Monday, November 9, 2009

MSI AE2220 now available...

Re my post earlier this week about the awesome new MSI AE2220 Multi-touch PC, I can confirm that stock is now available at the introductory price of R 11000.




This is one serious piece of hardware which ships with Windows 7, and makes use of a multi-touch display.
Need to check out the specs? Click here to check out my original post on the subject.
Get in early and place your order now - just drop me an email at plur@mweb.co.za to secure your MSI AE2220.

As always, T&C's apply - pricing is subject to stock availability; please allow 4-6 working days for delivery.

Noisy CPU Fan? Slow it down with Speedfan!

Anybody who still runs an Intel Pentium 4 Prescott CPU (like me!) will know how hot it can run, and how insanely loud the fan sometimes becomes.
At startup the CPU runs at around 35C, but it can get up to 70C+, which is cooking. That's when the fan RPM goes up to about 4500 and the PC begins to levitate thanks to the updraft created by the fan :)

So what's the answer?
Well for starters, if you are technically inclined you can give this a bash;

1. Pop off the CPU fan and heatsink;
2. Clean and lubricate the fan - that will help it to run quieter;
3. Clean the old thermal paste off the underside of the heatsink and CPU itself;
4. Apply a new layer of thermal paste to the CPU - doesn't have to be much as the pressure from the heatsink will spread it evenly. Too much thermal paste can actually have a negative effect on the cooling of the CPU;
5. Re-install the heatsink and fan - make sure the heatsink is properly seated on the CPU - all 4 clips must click into place and this can require a fair amount of pressure. Just don't snap your motherboard in two...!
6. In my case, I did not seat the heatsink properly first time round - the result was that my PC would boot up, run for about 10 seconds and then shut itself down. That shows just how quickly the Prescott CPU heats up without proper cooling installed - 10 seconds is all it took for the CPU temp to exceed the safety threshold and shut itself down!

So that's the technical route... what if you don't feel like opening up your PC and getting your hands dirty?
Well help is at hand - enter Speedfan.


Speedfan is awesome free software that allows you to monitor voltages, fan speeds and temperatures in computers with hardware monitor chips.
Unlike other temp and fan speed monitoring software, however, Speedfan is in its own league because it allows you to control fan speeds, thereby reducing noise and making your working environment that much more pleasant :) Download it here.

Configuring Speedfan is a bit of work - make sure you read the included "Help and How-to" document thoroughly before making any changes to your system settings. Thing is, you want to reach a good balance between CPU cooling, and how much noise you can tolerate.

I can say that it works amazingly well though. On my system I had to disable "Q-Fan Control" in the BIOS in order to allow Speedfan to work its magic. Once I did though, the results were amazing.
Normally, even though my CPU was running at a relatively cool 35C, the fan would gradually spin faster and faster, eventually reaching upwards of 4000RPM. That's a lot of noise right there.
After installing Speedfan though, I can now fine-tune my CPU Fan speed on-the-fly as I work, just by changing a single numerical value in the software.

Take note of the "Speed02" value below, and check out the associated "CPU0 Fan" speed above that:



Change "Speed02" to anything from 1-100%, and your CPU Fan responds immediately!
Again, very very important here is to keep your eye on the CPU temp - in my case 37C which is perfect. If this starts climbing then so should your "Speed02" value, in order to provide the necessary cooling.

Hopefully you can find a happy medium between noise and cooling - just don't go do something silly now and switch your CPU Fan to 0 or something... I won't take responsibility for fried CPU's and motherboards :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Wikipedia founder acknowledged by Nokia Foundation

This year's Nokia Foundation award has been granted to Jimmy Wales - the founder of the hugely popular Wikipedia.



Wales was awarded for his contributions to the evolution of the World Wide Web as a participatory and truly democratic platform.
Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has grown rapidly into one of the largest reference web sites, so far attracting an average of more than 330 million monthly visitors this year. There are more than 75,000 active contributors working on more than 14,000,000 articles in more than 260 languages. Wales is also the co-founder of Wikia.com, a project which expands the participatory editing model into new areas, allowing the global community to come together to build the "rest of the library".

I still hear a lot of people asking: "Oh did you hear that on Wikipedia? (sarcastic laugh)".
So how accurate is Wikipedia really?
The Wikipedia FAQ has the following to say:

"The reliablity of Wikipedia articles is limited by the external sources on which they are supposed to rely, as well as by the ability of Wikipedia's editors to understand those sources correctly and their willingness to use them properly. Therefore, articles may or may not be reliable and readers should always use their own judgment. Students should never use information in Wikipedia (or any other online encyclopedia) for formal purposes (such as school essays) until they have verified and evaluated the information based on external sources. For this reason, Wikipedia, like any encyclopedia, is a great starting place for research but not always a great ending place." 

Decide for yourself! 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Google is at it again...

Check out http://www.google.com/ today - and you will be greeted by The Cookie Monster from Sesame Street (it's their 40th Anniversary)!



Me want cookie!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

MSI AE2220 All-in-one Windows 7 Touch PC - awesome!

MSI has launched the "Wind Top AE2220" Touch PC, shipped with Windows 7 Home Premium.



This product deserves a serious look if you are in the market for a new PC - apart from the stylish packaging and multi-touch screen (which bears more than a casual resemblance to the original Apple Cinema Display :) , take a peek at these specs:

Intel Core 2 Duo T6600 2.2GHz processor with 2MB L2 cache and 800MHz FSB
21.5" Multitouch Display (1920 x 1080)
NVIDIA Ion Chipset,
4GB of DDR2 RAM,
640GB 5400RPM Hard Drive,
NVIDIA GeForce 9300 graphics card with 256MB of memory,
Dual Layer DVD-RW
SRS Premium Sound audio system with 2 speakers (5W)
802.11n Wi-Fi
Gigabit LAN
1.3MP webcam
6-in-1 card reader
HDMI Port
VGA Port
6 x USB Ports
eSATA Port
IR Receiver with MCE Remote Control
Windows 7 Home Premium
Wireless Keyboard and Mouse



Interested? I know I am!
Drop me a mail at plur@mweb.co.za and I will keep you updated - stock will be available shortly.

Estimated pricing will be around R 10 500 - R 11 000.

ZX Spectrum, Amstrad... remember those good old names? Where are they now?

My first experience in computers started back in the 80's with the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, which packed a whopping 48Kb RAM!!
Back then you needed a tape drive to load up your games or software, and it took a good few minutes to get anything loaded. I was particularly chuffed at the time because my ZX had a huge adapter which allowed me to attach an awesome Quickshot joystick, allowing me super accuracy when dodging the enemy in "Rambo - First Blood Part II"!

Check out this beauty... ;)



Believe it or not, the company who produced the ZX Spectrum (Sinclair Research) are still around today.
You can visit their website here.
Today, however their focus is totally different. On their landing page you will see, for example the "A-Bike" - a light and compact bicycle that can be folded up and packed into a bag while you hop on and off public transport.

Pretty nifty!



Moving right along, one of the competitors to Sinclair back in the 80's was a company called Amstrad - they were the producers of the CPC464 - another take on the personal home computer.

What a stylish piece of engineering ;)



In 1986 Amstrad then obtained the manufacturing and selling rights to all existing and future Sinclair computers and computer products, but they lost market share into the late 80's, 90's and onwards.
Today they are a manufacturer and supplier of Telecoms, Audio, TV, Video and Digital Satellite products - visit their site here.

Now here is an interesting tidbit of info that I did not know until this week... do you ever watch The Apprentice UK on BBC?
That grumpy old man in the drivers seat - Sir Alan Sugar (or Baron Sugar of Clapton, as is his official title!), was in fact the founder of Amstrad back in 1968!

Sir Alan Sugar - then and now... quite a difference!



The name "Amstrad" is in fact a contraction of "Alan Michael Sugar Trading".

Fascinating stuff!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Relive your childhood with these gems from the past...

Remember when computers were a whole lot simpler and slower than they are now, back when the most graphics intensive game you could play was The Incredible Machine...? :)



Well you can relive those days by visiting Abandonia - "dedicated to classic dos games" in their own words.
Abandonia hosts a huge amount of "abandonware" - i.e. "computer software which is no longer being sold or supported by its copyright holder".

Here are some cool examples to bring those corner-cafe shop memories streaming back...!:

Outrun


Golden Axe



Double Dragon I, II and III



Quest for Glory


Since the software is no longer sold or supported, the copyright holders are not directly harmed in any way. Abandonware sites are therefore, for the most part, ignored by the law.

So you can download for free... legally :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

It's official! People are seriously worried about escalator handrail hygiene...!

Ok so it's not REALLY official... but I was checking on my Blog visitor stats today on Google Analytics, and it made for some interesting reading.
The numbers aren't huge as my blog is still new and still gaining momentum, but nonetheless they do indicate that my post on Escalator Handrail Sanitizers is the most viewed part of Nybbles and Bytes (excluding the landing page):

1. / 153 84
2. /2009/10/no-more-dirty-escalator-handrails.html 30
3. /2009/10/free-flash-animated-tag-cloud-for.html 18
4. /2009/10/n97-firmware-should-be-here-this-week.html 18
5. /2009/09/nokia-to-release-next-firmware-update.html 11
6. /2009/10/who-or-what-is-global-verge-are-we-on.html 11
7. /2009/10/dont-you-just-love-free-software-grab.html 10
8. /2009/10/its-gonna-be-big-week-for-windows.html 7
9. /2009/09/winston-pigeon-vs-telkom-whats-your.html 6

So firstly, why is this is the case and secondly, what does it mean?
To answer:

1. Not entirely sure... but next time you visit a shopping centre, watch as the people around you cling to the escalator handrails for dear life, completely naive to the fact that there could be millions, no trillions... no even better - ESCALARILLIONS* of tiny little critters cruising up and down those handrails, just waiting for some unsuspecting human hand to hitch a ride with...
With that nice image in mind, I suppose it does kinda make sense that people would want to know more about a product which makes escalator handrails a cleaner place to be :)

2. Not much, except that companies who are in the Escalator Handrail Cleaning business are going to be pretty busy in years to come!

* - "Escalarillions" is not a real word, nor does it refer to an actual number. :)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

N97 Firmware 2.0 released!

It is finally here - the long-awaited new firmware for the Nokia N97 has arrived!



From the Nokia Europe website:
This software release improves touch screen usability, allowing you to scroll smoothly through content by flicking the screen. Ovi Maps 3.1 brings 3-D maps, more accurate positioning, and improved search. Nokia e-mail (Nokia Messaging), Ovi Contacts, Ovi Store, and VoIP support have been added. This release also includes improvements in memory and battery performance, and in image and video stability. To get this software through your device, select Applications > SW Updates and choose the software you want to update. Alternatively, this software release is available through the Nokia Software Updater.

Don't expect a quick update mind you... the download is 143MB!
It will be interesting to see if this update delivers as much as it promises to... let's hope so!

Nokia launches its first TD-SCDMA device - the Nokia 6788

Beijing, China - Nokia today announced the Nokia 6788, its first device for TD-SCDMA - China's domestic 3G standard, at an event in Beijing.
The Nokia 6788 is the result of close collaboration between Nokia and the world's largest mobile phone operator, China Mobile.


From the press release:

"Speaking at the event, said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia: "Nokia sees TD-SCDMA as being central to the successful evolution of 3G in China, and so is fully committed to this 3G standard. With a wide range of integrated China Mobile applications, the Nokia 6788 marks a new level of collaboration with China Mobile and offers enriched experiences to China's 3G users. Nokia plans to introduce more TD-SCDMA phones in the near future, further boosting the development of this 3G standard in China."

The Nokia 6788 features a 5-megapixel (2592 x1944) camera with a dual-LED flash, a 2.8" QVGA display, and is built on the hugely-successful Symbian S60 platform.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Don't you just love free software? Grab yours now!!

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, or so they say.
Well now there is - go grab your free lunch at www.nch.com.au.

NCH offer audio, video, business, telephony, FTP, backup, imaging and other software, all for free.
There are options to purchase the "Pro" offerings, but most of the free products carry all the features you will ever need.
I can personally recommend the following NCH software:

- Wavepad Sound Editor.
Load up your wav files, MP3's and more - then click here to see the full Wavepad feature list.

- Express Burn.
Burning software to create and record audio and data CDs quickly and easily on Windows or Mac.

- Express Invoice.
Seriously decent and easy to use invoicing software - highly recommended. Click here for a full feature list. 

There is a whole host of other software available from NCH, for both PC and Mac - check out their full product list here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Explore the Sky, Moon, Mars and more in Google Earth...

Google Earth took the world by storm when it first appeared, and each update has added amazing new features to what is already an incredible program.



Recently Google introduced some awesome new features to the program, but I frequently come across people who have no idea that there is a whole other side to Google Earth.
In the latest version (available here), if you click on the "View" menu and then click on "Explore", you will see 4 options:- Earth, Sky, Mars, Moon.

Select "Sky", and your PC / Mac is transformed into a high-power telescope, capable of zooming deep into the night sky. Just as in "Earth" mode, double click on any insignificant looking dot in the sky and soon all of its hidden glory is revealed:



Select "Mars" or "Moon", and you get to see Mars or the Moon in full 3D, much like you see the Earth:





Streetview is another groundbreaking feature in Google Earth, and something which Google are currently busy implementing in South Africa ahead of the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.
The cars that Google use to collect the data for Streetview, carry an array of cameras mounted onto the roof of the vehicle, such as this one spotted in England:



Apparently the Google team covering South Africa are using the Toyota Yaris as their camera vehicle of choice.
Have you spotted any in your city?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's gonna be a big week for Windows...

The long wait is almost over, and Windows 7 is only 2 days away.

I am sure that many users will breathe a sigh of relief as Vista's replacement hits the shelves.
Early in its life, Vista quickly developed an infamous reputation for the acceleration of grey hairs, in technicians and end-users alike.
Personally I found Vista to be acceptable when used for day-to-day office tasks (Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, surfing the net, using Skype, playing the occasional game etc...)

It all went rather banana-shaped though, if you tried to throw too much at Vista at once.
Softline's Pastel is a great example here, with Vista requiring some serious tweaking, poking, prodding and patching in order for Pastel to run in a near-stable fashion.

Now Microsoft promises a stable and ground-breaking new operating system in Windows 7.
Beta releases among testers and end-users have produced promising results, so we can only hope that this bodes well for the newest addition to the Microsoft stable.

Looking back, Windows 7 marks 24 years since the first iteration of Windows was launched.
Let's take a quick journey back in time to see where it all began...:

- November 1985 Windows 1.01
- November 1987 Windows 2.03
- May 1988 Windows 2.10
- March 1989 Windows 2.11
- May 1990 Windows 3.0
- March 1992 Windows 3.1x
- October 1992 Windows For Workgroups 3.1
- July 1993 Windows NT 3.1
- December 1993 Windows For Workgroups 3.11
- January 1994 Windows 3.2 (released in Simplified Chinese only)
- September 1994 Windows NT 3.5
- May 1995 Windows NT 3.51
- August 1995 Windows 95 4.0.950
- July 1996 Windows NT 4.0
- June 1998 Windows 98 4.10.1998
- May 1999 Windows 98 SE 4.10.2222
- February 2000 Windows 2000 NT 5.0.2195
- September 2000 Windows Me 4.90.3000
- October 2001 Windows XP NT 5.1.2600
- March 2003 Windows XP 64-bit Edition (IA-64) NT 5.2.3790
- April 2003 Windows Server 2003 NT 5.2.3790
- April 2005 Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
- July 2006 Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs
- January 2007 (retail) Windows Vista NT 6.0.6002
- July 2007 Windows Home Server
- February 2008 Windows Server 2008 NT 6.0.6002
- October 2009 Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2

What do you think they will call the next version of Windows...?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who or what is Global Verge? Are we on the VERGE of one huge scam?

This kind of subject always strikes a certain chord with me - I suppose my scam radar is just super-sensitive!

I received an email a few days ago, which made claims about what sounds like a fantastic new Internet / Voice / Telephony product, soon to be launched in South Africa and at a fantastic price to boot.

It casually made mention of some big industry names, e.g. MTN and Neotel, and proceeded to drop hooks and keywords such as "High Speed", "Free calls Worldwide", and the biggie... wait for it.... "Business opportunity" (this one set off my alarm bells...!).

Anyone who has been ripped by certain unnamed "network marketing" companies in the past, will tell you that they were approached with a "business opportunity" and that the seller was "extremely excited" about it.
What really gets my suspicions up is the totally blind enthusiasm that is put forward to potential buyers (or victims if you prefer) - no matter what you throw at them, they have some vague, unclear yet totally enthusiastic answer for you.

I won't say too much more on this subject - rather check out this link, and then check out the Global Verge homepage - then decide for yourself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How to make people take the stairs instead of the escalator...

Take one bland-looking flight of stairs, convert it into a giant piano overnight, and what do you get the next morning?



Don't you think we should have this kind of thing in our malls, airports etc?
It would certainly make shopping more fun!

N97 Firmware should be here this week...

The long-awaited Firmware update 2.0 (or 20) for the Nokia N97, is due out sometime this week, according to online sources.



The update has pre-emptively been hailed as a "re-launch" of the phone, and is rumoured to include a host of stability fixes, new pre-installed apps, improved keyboard usage, optimized memory (C:) usage... and so the list continues.
Click here to see my previous post on this topic.

It's gonna be a biggie!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Have you dropped IE for Opera? I know I have...

We all get stuck on using one piece of software for a certain function - for years now I have been a loyal supporter of Internet Explorer in its various forms.

It just seems though that the more Microsoft update IE, the slower the damn thing gets!
In an attempt to make my life easier, I tried out Google's browser Chrome, expecting miraculous results.
Although the results are pretty darn good, Chrome eats up your resources if you run multiple tabs within your browser.
Each tab in Chrome opens a new instance of the chrome.exe file, so pretty soon your 10 tabs are munching away at your system resources with great vigour, and you are left sitting dazed in the cloud of smoke pumping out from your now over-stressed PC (or Mac)... :)

Having used Opera Mini on my phone for some time, I decided to try out their PC browser (also available for Mac OS X) to see how it fares in an already overcrowded sector...



"Wow" is the only word I can use to describe my initial experience - the interface is clean, the tab switching is slick and fast, the navigation is clever and logical... the list just goes on and on.
Currently I have 12 tabs open in Opera and my system is sailing along quite happily - impressive!

There is something about Opera that just gives it that edge over other browsers I have used - can't quite put my finger on it.
All I can say is that I am converted - so long Internet Explorer!

On the mobile front, the Beta release of Opera Mini 5 is also making waves among cellphone users.
Check out some of the features of this awesome browser:

- Tabbed browsing (works really well)
- Speed Dial (puts your favourite sites at your fingertips)
- Touch & Keypad (optimized for both touchscreen and keypad phones)
- Password manager (saves your personal information for social networking sites etc.)
and more...

Get Opera here.

Get Opera Mini here.
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