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...!

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 :)
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