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SOPA – Stop Online Piracy Act

Some people may not have heard of SOPA before. The basic goal of SOPA is to stop piracy on the Internet. To someone who doesn’t know much about copyright laws, SOPA might not seem like a huge problem but it really is. Piracy doesn’t only include streaming a movie off the Internet illegally. If someone makes a YouTube video, it must contain only content created by the person uploading the YouTube video. If a video on the Internet contains copyrighted content, the copyright owner basically has to give permission for the video to be uploaded. At the moment, this isn’t a huge problem because anyone can upload a YouTube video anyway. The goal of SOPA is to allow the American Government to censor websites that infringe copyright laws.

If SOPA passes, it could and probably will damage the Internet greatly. Nearly all websites have a bit of piracy somewhere and nobody really bothers to keep up to date with copyright laws, simply because they are too complicated these days. I have a YouTube video showing Mac users how to fix a problem you can get on a Mac. Towards the beginning of the video, I turn my Mac on and it plays the startup chime. That video is embedded in the tech blog section of my website and that right there, as far as I know, is piracy. And I’m not the only person against SOPA. It is quite obvious that companies such as Mozilla and Wikipedia are against it. Try visiting Wikipedia’s main page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page and you’ll see what I mean. Google is against SOPA, aswell as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In fact, there is a whole list from another website opposing SOPA: http://techcrunch.com/2011/12/22/over-40-internet-companies-have-come-out-publicly-against-sopa/ and that list probably hasn’t been updated for a while. As far as I can tell, even companies like Intel, Microsoft, Apple and Adobe are probably against SOPA.

Posted on Wednesday 18th January 2012 - Leave a comment

Tech Blog 29/12/2011 – The Future of The Internet

I think that in the next decade or so, the Internet and smartphones will change a lot. Of course, it seems like Motorola introduce a new smartphone every month or two. In fact, the Motorola Droid Bionic was released on 8th September 2011 and the Droid RAZR was released on 11th November that year, according to Wikipedia. And HTC seem to be worse. The Desire S was released on 8th March 2011 and the Sensation was released on 19th May. The gap between when these phones were released is longer, but the Sensation came with HTC Sense 3.0, a significant step up from Sense 2.1. While the Desire S is getting the update, I can’t get it on my phone yet. However, I don’t think manufacturers will slow down with releasing new smartphones.

I think a lot of our information will start going on our smartphones or on the Internet. In fact, with Google Docs, this is already starting to happen. Some people say desktop computers will die out eventually but I don’t see that happening. They are simply a lot more powerful than laptop computers. That is because there is more room for bigger CPUs and graphics cards. There is also more room for fans and cooling, which is very important to stop larger components with higher clocking speeds from overheating. Unless someone makes an extremely efficient Linux distribution which makes computers run a lot faster on lower specs, I think desktop computers will stay with us and even if computer software does get faster, laptops have smaller screens and when you have a laptop on a desk, you have to look down on it. While a laptop can be connected to an external monitor, that would defeat the purpose of the portability of laptops. In fact, I think there is a possibility of laptops going if tablets.

I think that in the next few years, most of our data will be stored either on our smartphones, on the Internet or a combination of both. I think that eventually, developers will figure out how to launch applications such as Google Chrome and even Microsoft Office over the Internet, without having to have anything installed on the computer. Documents made in Microsoft Office would be saved on the Internet. Movies will also be on the Internet. In fact, some of us already stream movies from the Internet using services such as Netflix and LoveFilm (British Netflix). However, our music will be stored on our smartphones as none of use have Internet access all of the time. As for pictures, they will probably be stored both on our phones and on the Internet. Basically, the only things that would be stored on actual computers are the operating systems and applications that we use frequently, just in case the Internet stops working for a while. That will also mean we will be able to make the transition from traditional hard drives to SSDs which are much faster and are less prone to damage. The problems with SSDs at the moment are that they are expensive and have very limited amounts of storage space. When we start moving our files to the Internet, the SSDs in our computers will not need that much space and because of that, will be cheaper. And because our files wouldn’t be stored on the system drives in our computers any longer, they wouldn’t get sluggish with age like they do today.

I think we will see a change in cellular phone networks too. At the moment, we have technologies like HSPA and in America, WiMAX and LTE for using the Internet on our phones. While LTE can be as fast as our home Internet, there are a few problems with it too. Firstly, it clearly costs a lot as I hear that phone networks in the USA are ditching their unlimited Internet plans. The other main problem with LTE, according to what I’ve heard, is that LTE takes up a lot of power and because of that, battery life on the latest LTE smartphones isn’t that great. As for WiMAX and HSPA, the Internet on those types of phone networks isn’t that fast. However, there is a solution to that problem. I download the biography of Steve Jobs and I started to read it. I only got round to reading the beginning of it but I heard of Jobs thinking of making a Wi-Fi based cellular network. I think that is an excellent idea. There are already wireless hotspots everywhere so if someone can pay Starbucks and McDonald’s to make a second SSID for all their wireless hotspots, that idea is already becoming a reality. Apple are a stinking rich company and if they set up that phone network, all they really have to do to get rid of the other networks is to allow other smartphones besides the iPhone to use it. The greatest thing about that idea is that everything these days already has the hardware requirements and the technology built in. Everyone just needs to release a software update and eventually, they can start bringing unlimited Internet plans back. I would like to see Google have a go at setting up a cellular network with that technology.

To sum it up, I think home Internet and mobile Internet will become the same thing. I also think all our files will start moving to the Internet and our smartphones to allow us to make the switch to SSDs more smoothly. And some people might not choose to move their files to the Internet – They might buy a server with an SSD and some HDD storage. Some people might even save their files on their computers and the Internet. And when home Internet becomes mobile Internet, hopefully, the Internet will not stop working as much because there will probably always be another router near by for our computers to connect to. Internet will probably get a lot cheaper too until eventually, through some sort of promotion or advertising system, it becomes free. After all, the United Nations have decided that Internet access is a human right.

Posted on Thursday 29th December 2011 - Leave a comment

Click OS

Click OS is a basic user interface created in Microsoft Visual Basic. I could only write this program for Microsoft Windows  because I created it in Visual Basic. I used Visual Basic because it is really simple and at the same time, it allows me to do what I want. However, to be honest, I don’t think Mac and Linux users are missing out on much by not having access to Click OS. It is actually a program to improve the user experience of Microsoft Windows on netbooks. Click here or on the link at the beginning of this entry to download Click OS.

Posted on Monday 19th December 2011 - Leave a comment

Life Blog 05/12/2011 – Thinking of Building a Computer

I am thinking of building a computer from scratch. I don’t know if I am actually going to do that because it would cost quite a bit. I want to build a computer because I want to have all my DVDs stored digitally. It is really annoying having to take a DVD out of a case every time I want to watch a film or an episode of Family Guy. And I would have to put the DVD back after watching it so I don’t forget where the DVD is. I would also want to run virtual machines on the computer so I would need to buy a quad core processor. I would also want the computer to have Wi-Fi because I don’t think I could be bothered with Ethernet cables, especially considering that the wireless router in my house is down stairs and my bedroom is on the top floor. The cost of the whole build would be around £700-800 which  I just don’t have.

Another option would be to buy a Western Digital My Book Live which is essentially a hard drive that connects to the wireless router through an Ethernet cable. I would get the 3TB drive which would cost £205 from Amazon. That would be a better option and then I would be able to save a bit of money to upgrade my old Dell computer by giving it a 128GB SSD, an Intel Core 2 Quad processor as that’s all that can fit into the socket of the motherboard on that old Dell, 4-8GB RAM and Windows 7 because while I hate Windows, there are some things that just cannot be done in Ubuntu or Mac OS X. I only know how to program in Visual Basic and I’m thinking of creating Click OS 2.0 which would be essentially the same as Click OS 1.0, but it would end the Windows Explorer process which runs the classic Windows user interface to make Click OS a true user interface replacement. Without Microsoft Windows, I wouldn’t even have an Explorer process that needs ending.

One problem with buying network storage that connects directly to the router is that I would have to import DVDs over Wi-Fi and it would take forever, especially with my router which only does 802.11g. Another problem would be a problem with getting my Blu-Ray movies imported as the only machine I own with a Blu-Ray drive is a PlayStation 3. However, there are solutions to those problems. When I am importing all my DVDs, I can take my Mac downstairs to transfer the movies to the network storage through an Ethernet cable and if I really wanted to import the 5 Blu-Ray movies I own, I could get a USB Blu-Ray drive from Amazon. Another problem that would automatically go away is that when my mum wants to watch one of my DVDs, she walks into my bedroom and takes one out without asking me first and when I want to watch it myself, I have to try to get rid of those scratches first. I also have to clean that bit of jam off. Why the hell does my mum have jam in her bedroom?! While my mum should really ask me first before nicking my DVDs from my bedroom and while she did break a pair of Skullcandy headphones that I got for my birthday by forgetting they were mine, not hers, my mum is the second most annoying person in existence and it is almost completely impossible to reason with her and she says she will give me money for Christmas to buy a pair of Dr. Dre Beats or something and when I have all my DVDs digitally stored, my mum nicking my DVDs will no longer be a problem at all. I might even be able to show her how to watch her favourite movies on her netbook from the network storage. I could also show her how to connect her netbook to her TV and help her ditch DVDs too. She will have to eventually.

While I think that other idea is great, I would be doing upgrades to my old Dell and eventually, it would probably cost the same as building a new computer. However, setting up network storage which would plug directly into the router does sound easier than building a computer and then figuring out how to turn it into a server.

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HTC Desire S Review

The HTC Desire S is a mid-range device by todays standards but on Amazon, it is a fair bit cheaper than the latest dual-core smartphones and it will still do most of the same stuff. This phone also has a high quality aluminium enclosure, so it feels really good in your hand. However, other manufacturers use aluminium to construct their products and aluminium isn’t always needed for a phone to feel good in the hand. Nokia managed to make a  high quality enclosure for the Nokia N9 and the Lumia 800 out of plastic and although I haven’t had a chance to play with the phone, reviews I have read say the phone feels great in the hand. The main reason I chose the HTC Desire S is because of the software on it. The phone is running Android 2.3.3 with HTC Sense 2.1 out of the box. HTC Sense is an overlay that HTC put over most of their Android phones to make the user interface of Android look better. Of course, most manufacturers install custom launchers and keyboards on their Android phones but in my opinion, HTC does the best job at that.

Like every other product, the HTC Desire S also has its share of faults and things I am not too happy with. One of those problems is that while the phone has great software, HTC keep releasing newer phones, usually with software updates. While HTC usually release the software updates for their older devices soon after, the HTC Sensation came out, with HTC Sense 3.0. According to the websites I have checked, The Desire S has already started getting the update and HTC say they are working on bringing the update out to their older devices. However, I haven’t received the update and I can’t find any evidence to prove that my phone actually will get the update so I can’t really give much information on that in this review. Another problem with the phone is the Wi-Fi antenna isn’t very good at getting  Wi-Fi signal over long distances. My bedroom is at the top of my house and the wireless router is at the bottom of the house, next to the only landline socket. I know this setup isn’t very good, but all my other devices are fine with connecting to the Wi-Fi, even over that distance.

While the Desire S has its problems and there are newer, better phones out, probably being sold at the same price, the Desire S is still a good phone to consider if you want to have the power of Android with a great user interface with great animations, in my opinion, better than what you get with iOS and great speed from what is still powerful hardware, even though it is a year old.


UPDATE 1: I sent HTC an email asking about the HTC Sense 3.0 update and I will be getting it, although it can take up to 8 weeks for all phones to get the update. I read that people started getting the update around 26th October so it shouldn’t take any longer than 6 weeks until it gets to my phone.

UPDATE 2: Another problem with this handset and the Desire S is that the buttons on the headset stop working after a few months and you have to buy another headset. They are quite cheap from Amazon, only a few quid, but they shouldn’t stop working anyway. I will email HTC about that and ask if there are any third party headsets that might work better.

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LG Optimus GT540 Review

While the LG Optimus GT540 isn’t sold in the Carphone Warehouse any more, it can be bought from Amazon for around £120 and it is a good phone for someone who wants to get to know the Android operating system. While it is a very cheap phone and doesn’t have very high specs, it has many of the features found in a higher end smartphone. It has access to the Android Market and it can also be upgraded to Android 2.1. While that is quite an old version of Android, it still makes a great phone, with support for live wallpapers. However, out of the box, it is running Android 1.6.

The LG Optimus GT540 isn’t perfect in every way. As mentioned in the first paragraph, it doesn’t have the power of a higher end smartphone. It has a 600MHz processor with 154MB RAM and very little internal storage, the only place where applications can be installed, a 3″ HVGA resistive touchscreen and a really cheap feeling body. The battery life is also not as good as I would like it to be, with the phone moaning about low battery before getting through a full day of usage. Another problem with this phone is that with the hardware, it is very slow and unstable. When I am scrolling through a news article in the browser, the scrolling is very jumpy. There is a delay when I unlock the phone before it shows the homescreen. It also doesn’t have a proximity sensor which means when I am making a phone call, I am able to accidentally press the on screen buttons with my face. I got a new phone within six months of getting this phone for Christmas.

However, the LG GT540 is a great phone for someone who can tolerate the delays and crashing on the phone or for someone who intends to do Internet browsing mostly in applications from the Android market or on websites specifically designed for smartphones. It has a great price tag and because it was my first Android phone, it was the phone that convinced me that Android phones are better than iPhones and convinced me to have a look at the phones made by HTC. It was the phone that convinced me to buy the HTC Desire S, which I plan to do a review on later.

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