June 2010 Archives

Review: iStorage diskGenie secure mobile storage

Eric Doyle | No Comments | No TrackBacks
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Sometimes I love my job. Give me a new gadget that works to its specifications and it keeps me happy for hours. The iStorage diskGenie is one such product. I've been playing with it for weeks and it's travelled with me in the US and Europe. At no point has it let me down and, despite its unusual appearance, it has never been the source of close questioning from airport security personnel.

diskGenie.jpgWhat makes the diskGenie special is that it carries on-board encryption - either 128bit or 256bit AES. This is hardware encryption which has three benefits: it's almost impossible to hack, doesn't detract from performance, and will run immediately on any USB-enabled operating system.  

Setting up the drive involves using the on-drive numerical keyboard to reset the default administrator password. Then, user passwords can be set for up to ten additional users. Personally, I would suggest that it is more secure to limit the number of passwords to as few as possible because the more passwords used, the more likely it is that a hacker would find one that works - but this is a small risk. Numeric passwords, or PINS, can be between six and 16 digits so the number of possibilities

If someone tries 'brute force' hacking to try to guess the PIN, after six attempts the drive locks up and has to be unplugged to reset the system. After 50 unsucessful guesses, the drive switches off and the USB plug has to be re-onserted, while pressing a key, and then a passcode has to be entered.

After another 50 attempts, the drive shuts down completely and has to be reformatted before it can be revived. This destroys the data making any attempt to recover it futile.

In use, the drive seems no different to any other disk. The use of hardware-based encryption means that conversion is not reliant on the computer's processor and has no obvious effect on speed. Streaming video from disk showed no freezing effects and lossless music files played perfectly.

There is also the possibility of booting the operating system directly from disk for extra security, given that most modern laptops allow this. It does mean interrupting the loading process while the passcode is keyed in but that's a small price to pay. 

My only qualm about the drive is that the USB lead is directly attached to the unit. Wear and tear will inevitably break the connection and render the drive useless - or, at best, difficult to repair. I would prefer to see a separate miniUSB to USB connection even though the current arrangement makes for neat storage of the lead.

By no means a criticism of iStorage but of the secure encrypted media world. It would be nice if the company provided a returns service. By this I mean an optional service whereby the company places its address as a return address on the back of the drive and, for a fee, will return any lost drive, returned free of charge by the finder, to its original owner for a small charge.

The drives are supplied in five sizes - 250, 320, 500, 640, 750GB. Prices range from £92-£163 with 128bit encryption and from £116-£233 with 256bit.

iStorage also offers solid-state versions of the diskGenie in 30, 64, 128, and 256GB but at a premium charge of £175-£1009 for 128bit and £198-£1209 at 256bit. 

Steve Jobs, the new Tommy Cooper?

Eric Doyle | 2 Comments | No TrackBacks
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The late, great Tommy Cooper once joked: "I went to the doctor the other day. I said 'Doctor, it hurts when I do this'. 'Well don't do it, then'."Steve (Tommy Cooper) Jobs.jpg

Perhaps Steve Jobs is a secret fan when he said, "Just avoid holding it that way". Maybe he was tempted to add, "Jus' like that. Not like this, like that."

Dipping into the Tommy Cooper Joke Book, I guess future comments may include:

So I went to another doctor. He said 'Say Aaaaaah.' I said, 'Why?' He said, 'My iPhone's just died.'"

I took my iPad to the optician. I said, 'Every time I turn it on I get double vision'. So he gave me an eye-patch. 

This guy's in his car, driving along, and his boss rings up on his iPhone and says, 'You've been promoted.' The guy swerves. The boss rings up a second time and says, 'You've been promoted again.' He swerves again. He gets a third call and his boss announces, 'You're managing director.' He swerves off the road and into a tree. A policeman comes up and says 'What happened to you?' and he replies, 'I careered off the road.'

Friday Funnnies: What happens to your relationship when you get an iPhone 4

Faisal Alani | No Comments | No TrackBacks
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Courtesy of the ever brilliant Cyanide & Happiness:

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Friday Funnies: iPhone 4 - You're holding it wrong!!

Faisal Alani | 1 Comment | No TrackBacks
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So the iPhone 4 was released yesterday and while all right-handed people gushed over how great it is, those lefties were left (excuse the pun) without a signal!

iphone-4-hold-signal.JPG
And why you might ask? Was it because Apple is against lefties? Nope. It's just because if you hold the phone in your left hand then you'll cover the top left hand corner of the phone which, for some reason, reduces the signal to zero.

Admittedly this is not every iPhone 4 but quite a few.

SO what was Steve Jobs response to this problem? "Just avoid holding it that way"

WOW, thanks so much. I couldn't have figured that out without your wisdom. I paid £500 for a phone that I have to hold awkwardly but hey, I will do whatever Steve Jobs says because I'm an idiot.



Microsoft Kinect (aka Project Natal) will cost £100

Faisal Alani | 1 Comment | No TrackBacks
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Do you dance around the room looking stupid for no reason? Well, for just £100 Microsoft will let you do it in front of a TV!

Yes, that's right Microsoft Kinect (aka Project natal) has appeared on the Microsoft Store for $150 which while it sounds like a decent price is actually very good value since reports show that it actually costs the same amount to make.

SO, if you've given up in playing with your Wiiwii and Sony's almost pornographic orb looking thing isn't your thing then splash the cash and wave your hands in the air like you just don't care!

MS Kinect.jpg

Apple Mac Mini gets an HDMI Upgrade

Karl Hodge | No Comments | No TrackBacks
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miniports.jpg

Forget about the iPhone 4, some new Apple hardware worth getting excited about has been announced today - a brand new Mac Mini. A disclaimer first: I'm a Mac Mini fan through and through. I have an early model that I use every day, that runs better now on Snow Leopard than the morning I first unboxed it, back in 2007... 

The latest upgrade to the line - ironically not announced at WWDC - is a leap further than previous upgrades. The latest model is smaller than ever. It's just 1.4 inches in height and 7.7 inches square (compared to a previous 2 inch high form factor). 

Inside that box there's a relatively modest 2.4 or 2.6GHz Core 2 Duo with at least 2GB of RAM. The new design enables easy access to memory slots though - and the Mini's capable of supporting 8GB of RAM. Unlike Windows on 32 bit platforms, Mac OS X can use all of that. 

The best news for Mini fans is the inclusion of an HDMI port, neatly sandwiched alongside an SD card slot, 4 USB ports, Ethernet, Firewire and power ports. With Front Row, iPhoto and iTunes bundled as part of the package, the new Mac Mini is the ideal media centre PC. 

And we nearly forgot. Steam's on the Mac now. Half Life 2, Portal - they're all as cheap as dust on there. With its integrated Nvidia graphics, the new Mac Mini should handle them more than adequately. 

Pricing though? This is the bit where I suck air through my teeth and tut a bit. £649, all in, for the entry level version. That's about a £100 more than the last entry point price. And, look as hard as you like, there's no Blu-Ray version. There are no Macs with Blu-Ray at all. Steve Jobs famously described the format once as a "bag of hurt".  Still, if any Apple hardware could really benefit from Blu-Ray, it'd be the Mini. After all - what else is that HDMI port for? HD movies on iTunes? HDTV? Oh, yeah. I guess it could be for those things...

Still - if you want a Mac, if you want a computer you can stick next to the telly, to rent movies, to play games and to listen to music - you won't find a machine more suited to the task than a new Mac Mini. Just dig a little deeper into those pockets.

REVIEW: iPhone 4 - everything you need to know and some things you knew already

Faisal Alani | 4 Comments | 2 TrackBacks
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iphone 4.jpgLast night Apple unveiled it's newest version of the iPhone, the iPhone 4, with a faster processor, better screen and front and rear cameras for FaceTime video calling.
While the announcement was expected and even the new features weren't all that surprising, we delve deeper to see why you should upgrade to Apple's latest creation.

FaceTime

The biggest problem with FaceTime isn't just the terrible name, it reminds me of the awkwardness felt when you've got your face too close to someone else during Twister or some very weird American-macho-male activity "I'm just going to the pub for some FaceTime with the guys", but also the fact that it only works on WiFi. I'm guessing 3G video calling is only a few months away.

FaceTime.jpgThe app itself is very good. You can switch between front and rear cameras seamlessly, change orientation and even move your thumbnail screen around.

Other downsides are the fact that there is no live video streaming as you can only record video then upload it.




Look and feel

The phone itself is gorgeous, I love it! I never liked the look of the iPhone before and I think this version looks cool and modern. The stainless steel band that goes around the phone is an antenna system.

It's also incredibly thin. The iPhone 4 is 4.5 x 2.31 inches, and just 0.37 inches thick! It weighs 137 grams (4.8 ounces). The screen is a 3.5-inch multitouch screen and has a resolution of 960 × 640 pixels with, what Apple calls the 'Retina display', four times as many pixels as the current iPhone 3GS display.

screen.jpgHardware

The iPhone 4 has the same chip as the iPad, an Apple A4. Inside the A4 there are a few interconnected chips: A Cortex-A8 main processor unit--the main brain--paired with a PowerVR SGX 535, which handles the high definition graphics of the new iPhone.

These are directly connected with each other and two low-power 128MB DDR SDRAM chips. Since all these components are in the same chip, Apple claims the iPhone 4 can process data more quickly while consuming less battery than before.

The A4 also consumes less power because its sub-components can be switched on and off when they are not needed, shaving watts whenever it's possible.


Gyroscope

The new iPhone 4 has a gyroscope built-in. This means that it can track movement with amazing precision, a lot better than the accelerometers in the previous iPhones. It's 3-axisalong with the accelerometer, you basically have 6-axis motion sensing similar to the PS3 controller.


Battery and camera

Although the iPhone 4 is far more powerful than the 3GS, the battery life is greater with 7 hours talktime, 6 hours web on 3G and 10 hours WiFi browsing (on 802.11n).

The camera has been upgraded to 5 megapixels, with 5 times digital zoom and a "backside illuminated sensor," which now can record HD video at 720p / 30fps.

Software - iOS4

Apple have renamed the operating system, it's now called iOS4 instead of iPhone OS 4.

What's great about iOS4 is of course multitasking... FINALLLY. By tapping the home button twice you can choose which app you want to use and which ones you want to close. Nice and slick.

The OS as a whole is quick and unbelievably intuitive.

multitasking.jpg
iMovie

You could edit video before but with Apple's new iMovie for iPhone there are 1,500 new features, so editing movies on the iPhone is probably easier than what most people use on their home computer!

It can edit on 720p HD and add effects and music from iTunes to your vid. You can even export to 720p.

It doesn't come with the iPhone 4 but you can download it for $4.99 from the app store.


iBooks

iBooks will also be available, same as the iPad, and with the incredible display will make reading eBooks very easy.

Pricing

The iPhone 4 will come in black or white at $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for 32GB.

It goes on sale June 24th, and the 3GS will be dropped to $99 with the 3G disappearing completely.

Pre-orders start next week, with the US, France, Germany, UK and Japan kicking us off and 18 more following in July.


Verdict

There is nothing new here but everything is better. While video calling is old hat (the fact that it can only do it on WiFi renders it almost useless) it's the fact that Apple do these things better.

You may have video editing software on your phone but it won't be as good as this, you may have a camera on your phone but it won't be as fun as it is on the iPhone 4.

I don't think I will upgrade immediately but I do know that while the iPhone 4 doesn't break any new ground, it certainly relays it and makes the grass look far greener.


change.jpg

Video: I heart iPad - Dating website matches man to iPad

Faisal Alani | 1 Comment | No TrackBacks
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Here is a video of a man that met his gadget through the Computer Weekly Dating service (note this service doesn't actually exist... yet).

Here he describes how and why he was taken by the 'one button wonder' and what they get up to in their spare time.



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This page is an archive of entries from June 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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