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. I've used many partition editors and managers over the years, until I heard of Parted Magic (http://bc.vc/KN3uOb), which is a free open source Linux based partition manager and a mini operating system. === Partition Management === There are many uses of partition editors and managers in the typical home PC system. Using the old DOS based fdisk and later (non-DOS) automatic partition management tools were good enough for a while, but with an increase in the need for customisation, repair and maintenance; it has become essential to have access to tools giving advanced editing options. Advanced disk volume management is a vital part of checking the authenticity of a digital storage drive, whether it's a hard drive or a USB flash drive. This is especially important for adjusting faulty devices to enable them for practical data storage. === Parted Magic Contents === The bootable mini operating system contains GParted partition management, offering powerful free disk management tools for a typical home PC. Parted Magic has Firefox built-in, which works almost as if you have an operating system installed; the missing features are multimedia plugins, which you may not really have any use for when dealing with drives and partitions. There are several accessories, tools and a text based web browser for anyone who prefers using ELinks. Benchmarking and hardware information tools are especially useful when determining the authenticity of a USB flash drive, which you may have purchased from an ebay seller. You can run hardware testing tools and generate reports, which can be saved for later records. Although there is H2testw (http://bc.vc/DdTLpC) in Windows, which benchmarks USB flash drives. It doesn't offer any repair options, which Parted Magic's partition manager does. I'll write an explanation for making USB counterfeit oversized drives usable, because if you're a victim, you're aware ebay won't help you. You'll have to make the drive usable, which isn't too difficult, but will reduce the volume size to what the drive is capable of handling. The Partition Manager (labelled "Partition Editor" on the Parted Magic Desktop) allows you to create from a list of ten partition table types. You may be familiar with MS-DOS, which is the most common Windows compatible Partition table. The new GUI Partition Table is also supported, and unlike Windows, this offers the capability to use multiple drives with different partition tables simultaneously. If you're running a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface system; you may have noticed you can't install some Windows operating systems on an MS-DOS partition. This is because the operating system can only handle the computer's firmware, if it's running from a compatible partition table. GParted allows editing and checking partitions, and can be used as an alternative to Windows chkdsk. It can also be used for data rescue on many partition and volume types, which is very rare to find in many non-free partition managers. The Partition Manager can also handle sixteen partition types for formatting, resizing and editing. Resizing partitions is made easier with the slider bar, which adjusts the size by left clicking, holding, and sliding the bar. Entering the values is more accurate, but you may prefer this method. Advanced volume capacity alignment options aren't available, but they're not available in most partition managers, so it doesn't count as criteria for down rating the software. There is a basic function to align the drive's storage capacity to the cylinders, which may be useful with older hard drives. Although Parted Magic is Linux based, and exFAT support on Linux is very limited; the partition manager fully supports the exFAT partition table in the new versions. If you're a Linux user; you may prefer BTRFS, which has a much greater data and storage volume handling capability than exFAT. I usually stick to NTFS for drives containing user data, and rarely have the need for exFAT or BTRFS. As we see improvements in storage volume size; BTRFS may become the ideal partition type for data storage. === IMPORTANT === The tools in this bootable system should be used with care, and boot protection should be applied to a computer to avoid unauthorised access. Using this software, someone may be able to gain unauthorised access to your files or wipe a login password protection using this software. Always make sure relevant security measures are in place, to avoid such problems. === My Conclusion === I would give Parted Magic five stars for the powerful features, ease of use and high level of compatibility. A very important thing to consider is that it's completely free; so you won't be wasting you money on an expensive partition manager. You won't have to worry about problems of limited compatibility, nor chase up a company for a refund. === Web links === Parted Magic: http://bc.vc/KN3uOb Parted Magic Help Forum: http://bc.vc/DodIUj H2testw: http://bc.vc/DdTLpC GParted: http://bc.vc/NnOGsm .
. === Purpose of Purchase === I previously had my main notebook hard drive from Hitachi, which the Acer Aspire notebook came with. The hard drive worked fine for a number of years, before Windows 7 became available. Installing Windows 7 showed a few problems with the out-dated BIOS firmware, and the hard drive. I wasn't aware if the hard drive required resetting it as an MBR volume, and reformatting, or if the hard drive physically was unable to meet the demands of Windows. The Windows Upgrade Advisor was pretty useless as always, and showed no problems. I re-read the technical specifications and found it to have only eight megabytes of buffer, which clearly suggested it was too slow to keep up to the new operating system's demands. This resulted in the system completely freezing. I was looking for a replacement, which would ideally have a thirty two megabytes buffer size. I wasn't successful in finding one with thirty two megabytes, but I did find a Seagate hard drive with sixteen megabytes buffer size. I was quite certain that if I replaced the hard drive; it would fix the system hanging fault, because I always saw the hard disk working very hard in Windows 7. The hard disk indicator didn't just flash regularly, it would stay on continuously until the system froze. The BIOS firmware wasn't related to that problem. === Purchase & Use === I compared the prices on many stores and sellers online, before I decided to purchase the Seagate Momentus for close to a hundred pounds, which was the best price at the time. The hard drive now costs half the amount. I installed Windows 7 on the new hard drive, installed all the drivers and used it for a while in trial mode to make sure it works before registering, because I only had a one PC licence and didn't want to waste it on a system that it may not work on. Using Windows 7 for a few weeks, showed no signs of the previous problem- where the system used to freeze. I knew I made the right choice in purchasing the new hard drive, and with the new higher capacity I multi-booted the system with Linux. === Features & Comparison to the Hitachi HDD === When compared to the Hitachi HTS541612J9SA00, the Seagate Momentus has about a third the seek time, which gives the computer a much faster access to the hard drive than on the Hitachi. The buffer size is double and the capacity is much higher, which allows more storage, is better for multi-booting, and allows faster interaction between the hard drive and RAM. The real performance difference for applications is the double data transfer rate, as compared to the Hitachi, which only has a hundred and fifty megabits per second. The Seagate Momentus has a very small difference in noise emissions, which is two decibels lower than the Hitachi. The Seagate Momentus has a twenty five decibel noise output during seek, and twenty three decibels while idle. === Current use === Although it's been a few years since purchasing the hard drive, it's still the main drive on my Acer notebook, and continues to give very good performance. I only defragment the hard drive monthly using Defraggler, which is sufficient to restore the hard drive's performance to its best. There are however some tasks, which put strain on the hard drive. This makes a temporary, but noticeable reduction in its performance. I don't have any reason to upgrade the notebook hard drive to SSD right now, but I don't think technology will have much room for the old notebook in a few years' time. When that time comes; the hard drive can be used for backup and storage purposes. === Should you buy it? === If not for performance, the hard drive is quite cheap and is worth buying for additional storage on a notebook. On many notebooks it's possible to add extra internal storage, which there maybe space for by default, or you may need to take out the optical drive. The option of external storage is better in my opinion, because you can easily unplug the device and reduce power consumption. This is especially useful if you're operating a notebook in battery mode. === My Conclusion === This two point five inch hard drive is the best hard drive of its size I've purchased so far, and has shown great performance for everyday computing. A monthly defragmentation is good enough to ensure the hard drive is de-cluttered, and the performance is restored. Therefore, if you're looking to save money and invest in a good hard drive for a notebook, or for external storage; I recommend the Seagate Momentus. I give it an average five star for performance in a de-cluttered Windows 7 environment, and top five stars for its performance in Linux. The Linux operating system start-up is roughly twice the speed of Windows, from cold boot, and very similar performance from a restart. .
. === Purpose of Purchase === I needed a new monitor after a previous one was damaged, following a power surge. I initially wanted to get a new power circuit board, but as I couldn't find any at a decent price; I began visiting computer stores to take a look. One of the stores told me they sell PCBs, but as they had them unlabelled, they wanted me to bring in the monitor; so they could match the PCB. They couldn't match the PCB, but when I got home, I opened the monitor to find the mercury tubes broken. The store technician must've applied a lot of pressure when trying to open the monitor. I then needed new mercury tubes and a PCB, and I wasn't sure if the inverter board was in working order. Even if I replaced two or three parts, there may still be something else wrong with it. === Recommendations === I was recommended several larger widescreen monitors; one of the biggest of them being twenty seven inches, with a nineteen twenty by ten eighty pixel resolution. This was one of the ASUS monitors I was recommended. I was recommended a number of monitors from various companies, but after reading the specifications of some of them; I could easily dismiss them from my wish list. Some other monitors were too expensive, and offered very little value for money; they weren't worth considering. === Purchase === I found the cheapest deal on the ASUS VE276Q on Amazon, which was still a few hundred pounds. I thought I'd take the risk of buying it, so I did. The total cost was more than four hundred pounds, and is currently sold at roughly half that price by laptops direct. The monitor arrived a few days later, which was under the free Amazon Prime Delivery. The item was too heavy for the postman to throw through an open window; weighing at well over a stone in its packaging, and more than a stone without. === Features === The monitor has seven buttons at the front, five of which allow you to make quick adjustments, a menu button and a power button. The five quick adjustment buttons include audio volume, brightness, contrast, switching the display input, automatic adjustment and toggling between the display modes. The monitor also allows displaying two screens in one, under the picture in picture display function. The monitor came with several cables and a kettle lead, which can all be connected at the back. The available ports include HDMI, DVI, VGA, DisplayPort, Audio-in and Audio-out. The HDMI cable wasn't provided, which I bought separately. The kettle lead was too short, but I had purchased longer surge protected kettle leads, so I wasn't worried about any of the cables. A CD is provided with additional software (LifeFrame), which can be used for simple graphic tasks. === Using the Monitor === I've used the monitor on a computer containing several multi-booted operating systems, with different image and video editing software, as well as multimedia and everyday word processing. I found the monitor to be a bit small in terms of height, when it came to tasks involving editing, word processing and general use. Everything was good in multimedia. The reason is due to the monitor's display ratio, which is sixteen to nine. The ratio is of the horizontal and vertical display size; I prefer the sixteen to ten. The colour and display quality is excellent, which is especially important to anyone who needs a monitor for multimedia and image editing purposes. The high quality display helps produce better quality images in an editor, as the colours and shading are much clearer. I took the time to try out a few games on this; I must say it's very impressive. Although the computer's GPU isn't too great, nor does it have extreme gaming performance capabilities. The monitor is also very good for reading, which requires a slight brightness and contrast adjustment. I prefer to adjust the settings so that the text is easily visible, and the screen is to be slightly dimmed. This makes the display more eye friendly, and is especially good when looking at the screen for longer periods of time. Remember to take regular breaks, to avoid causing harm to your eyes. Word processing is made more comfortable due to the massive size of the monitor screen, which means I can sit more than a metre away from the screen and see everything clearly. This makes it especially good for writing letters, reports and reviews. If you're writing a very long document; it always helps to have access to a very large monitor. The monitor comes with some software, which I found to be quite useless, because it only supports Windows. The software can be used for additional tasks to the standard monitor configurations, but I never had the need to use it. I was mostly using Linux on that computer. === Advantages === >> The monitor is very big, wide and supports HD. >> It has very high quality display. >> It has a very quick response time. >> It's ideal for multimedia and gaming users, and quite good for general use. >> Good for reading, with a bit of adjustment. >> Good value for money. === Disadvantages === >> The height appears a bit small due to the 16:9 display ratio, where users are used to 16:10. >> The additional software only works on Windows. === My Conclusion === If you want a very good monitor for an affordable price, and you don't mind the 16:9 display ratio, then I'd recommend you buy the ASUS VE276Q. If you're not a Windows user, you may want to take into consideration that you won't have access to the LifeFrame software. If you only need a standard smaller screen, then you'll save yourself a lot of money by purchasing a cheaper smaller monitor. I haven't had any real problems with the monitor, and the overall experience has been very good. I believe it was a good investment, and I'd rate the monitor four to five stars; an overall rating of five stars due to its quality. .
. === Purpose of Purchase === I purchased this graphics card as a replacement for a previous graphics card, and I was under the impression that this card will perform better. The specifications clearly showed me the card to have twice as powerful memory, higher data to graphic transfer rate, better processing capabilities, and a better cooling system with an exhaust. I wanted to purchase the card, but I had to wait a month or two for the price to go down a bit, because its cost was about two hundred pounds. Upgrading components can be quite expensive, especially if you're buying them quite regularly. I decided to wait a while, and as soon as the prices went down; I'd check again, comparing prices automatically through certain websites and Firefox add-ons, as well as looking at a number of popular online stores. I had looked at the prices in the local stores beforehand, so I wasn't going to bother looking there again; the cost was more than two hundred and fifty pounds. The store with the lowest price had a special discount offer for a week, which was way too expensive compared to the online stores I found. === Purchase, Installation, and Using the GPU === I purchased the GPU (graphics processing unit, short for graphics card) from a seller on ebay, who I've purchased items from before. I sometimes find that it's not good practice to trust all sellers by default, even if their ratings are good. I prefer to buy from sellers I can trust; I saw the GPU a pound or two cheaper from a few other sellers, but knowing ebay's lack of buyer protection, I took the safer option and purchased it from a known seller. The GPU arrived within a few days, packed in its original box, and had the standard warrantee. I noticed the GPU required a PCI-E 2.0 slot, which didn't exist on my motherboard. I had thought of upgrading the whole computer before, and skim reading the specifications of the GPU before purchase resulted in more than an upgrade. I ended up making a new computer altogether. A lesson to be learnt is, to read the specifications carefully. All the other components totalled to about three hundred pounds at most, some were purchased online sellers, and others from local stores. Now that I had a complete new system, I could test out the new graphics card. I installed a trial of Windows, used it for a few days, then I cleaned the computer and installed Ubuntu. I found the performance of every component better in Ubuntu, than in Windows. I decided to keep Ubuntu. The GPU driver installation in Ubuntu was simple, involving less than a word of the bash shell script. Typing "sh ./" before the driver installation filename was sufficient for the installation. Changes enabling hardware accelerated graphics support took place upon restarting the computer. I installed GIMP to see the graphics quality of shading, colours and other effects related to bitmap graphics. I tried a few high quality Youtube videos, which displayed a somewhat noticeable improvement in quality. === Overheating & Dust === Unlike on Windows, using Linux had better GPU management, which led to less overheating. I noticed a huge improvement as soon as I switched to Linux. This however didn't solve the problem with dust, which collects inside the fan and exhaust to slow down the cooling system, and increase noise. To tackle the overheating problem, I bought an additional fan and exhaust system. The new cooling system was better quality than the tiny fan and exhaust on the GPU, and helped keep the whole computer very cool. To tackle the problem of dust, I've kept a few spare paint brushes at hand. Whenever the computer needs dusting; the paint brushes remove dust far better than anything else I've tried. === GPU Features === The nVidia Quadro 600 has a hundred and twenty eight bit memory size of one gigabyte, which may be written as a thousand and twenty four megabytes. The hundred and twenty eight bits is the memory word length, which is used to store program instructions in machine code, as well as data. To give an example of that, is the following (a random hundred and twenty eight bit number): 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000 0000. In terms of quantifying data, that can store huge values. The exact number is just under four point three billion (4,294,967,295). The graphic processor has ninety six cores, and has the capability to transmit data to graphic output at unimaginably high speeds of up to twenty five gigabytes per second. The maximum supported resolution is thirty eight forty by twenty four hundred, which I've never used. The highest I've used on that card is nineteen twenty by twelve hundred. === Compared to the 8600 GT === I bought this GPU to replace the 8600 GT, but then ended up making an entirely new computer for it. The computer with the 8600 GT was later upgraded to a different card. The most important question that comes to mind is; was the graphics card worth buying as a replacement for the 8600 GT. I'd say no, even if I was to already have a motherboard to support PCI-E 2.0. The 8600 GT isn't an extremely powerful card, so I never need to worry too much about overheating and dust issues. The 8600 is also much cheaper than the Quadro 600, and I'd say the Quadro 600 doesn't quite seem to be much value for money, when compared to the GeForce 8600 GT. === My Conclusion === I would recommend the Quadro 600 once the price goes down a lot, but for now I'd say it's better to buy a cheaper alternative unless you have plenty of money. The GPU is very good quality, but the cooling system isn't so good, so you'll be spending extra money. It's somewhat value for money as a powerful GPU, but isn't so much value for money when compared to some others such as the 8600 GT. Due to performance being the most important factor, I'd give the graphics card a four star rating. One star is deducted due to price and overheating problems. I am overall quite pleased with the quality, and the performance of the GPU. === Summary === I bought the GPU as an upgrade, but due to skim reading the specifications; I ended up making a new computer. The GPU is expensive, but very good quality, although the cooling system isn't quite good enough, so extra cooling is required. The card has best performance in Ubuntu Linux, for which the original manufacturers drivers are available to download and easily install with a short script. Comparing to a previous card, I didn't find it as much value for money, but I wouldn't advise anyone against buying it. [Team Dooyoolympians relay entry] -
. === Thin Film Transistor and Liquid Crystal Display === The data to graphic output technology, which we know as LCD, has an additional set of thin films. These are thin filter sheets, which help to show the image in a better quality, than the image is actually produced in through the data to graphic output. The purpose of combining the technology is as simple as that. There's no real need to go into too much detail, for the purposes of this review. The basic ingredients of a TFT LCD monitor are: a screen, with the inverter board, filters, back-lights, a graphic data board, and a power circuit board. The PCB lets you plug in the power connector to the monitor, and the graphic data board is for connecting the appropriate graphic cable (e.g. VGA, DVI and HDMI). === Purpose of Purchase === My previous LCD monitor has a much smaller screen, which was no longer useful to me. I needed a monitor with a larger display, so that I could use the computer with more comfort and less strain on the eyes. Keeping an arm's length distance from the old monitor meant I had to zoom into a page quite a lot, if I was typing a letter. This would limit my view of the page, so I could only see just over half of each line of text. I needed a monitor, which would allow me to zoom into text in a word processor enough to see the text clearly, while keeping the entire line of text in view. Keeping in mind I would be sitting about seventy odd centimetres from the screen. === Purchase === I visited a few local computer stores, and had a look online. I wanted to make sure if I bought a monitor, it would fit the requirements. I discussed it with a friend, who recommended this monitor. He had purchased one from Amazon, so he sent me a link. I read through the specifications. The twenty two inches was an impressive size, as was the sixteen eighty by ten fifty resolution. I wasn't really concerned with the contrast ratio, but I had to make sure the monitor supported VGA or DVI, because my graphics card at the time wasn't particularly excellent. The monitor response time of five milliseconds never worried me. I found the link to have the cheapest price for that monitor, so I completed the purchase. The monitor arrived either the next day, or two days later. I don't remember the exact delivery date, but it was fast enough. Very fast for a free delivery, and low cost at approximately a hundred and fifty pounds. === Connecting and Using === There's really nothing involved in setting up the monitor for use, the monitor easily connects to its base and the cables connect very easily. The whole process takes a minute. Once connected, the monitor can be switched on and used. I've used this monitor on a Windows XP computer for a few years, without ever experiencing any problems. I found the display to easily show an entire line of text, zoomed in to be able to read it from six metres away. This means I can comfortably see the text from less than a metre's distance. The monitor only uses twenty watts of electricity, so it's very energy efficient. One of the other things I use my computer for is bitmap graphics, which is something that showed me how well the monitor handles images and colours. It's quite impressive for its price. The monitor worked for several years without a single problem, but due to a power surge; the monitor was no longer in working order. Parts and replacement was out of the question, so I got a new monitor. I also got additional surge protection equipment, because I discovered the Omega surge protectors to be rather useless. === Why shouldn't you buy it? === There are a number of factors, which would rightly prevent you from buying this monitor. You may be able to afford a much better monitor, which has high definition capabilities. You may want a monitor that is smaller, or you may want a much bigger display. If you're an extreme gamer; you may require a monitor with a much better response time, so you'll probably go for a monitor that has a two milliseconds response time, rather than five. If you watch high quality videos, and want to get the best display for them; you'll be better off getting a HD monitor with at least nineteen twenty by ten eighty pixels resolution. === My Conclusion === After buying this monitor, and using it for a number of years; I have very little to say to dissuade people from buying it. In my experience, the pros heavily out-way the cons. Although the monitor doesn't have a massive resolution, or an extremely high speed response; it used to get the job done that I got it for. It's probably the best value for money, out of all the monitors I've bought so far. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who doesn't fit the "Why shouldn't you buy it?" criteria. In my experience, the monitor deserves four stars. === Overview === I bought this monitor, because my previous one was too small to comfortably read text from a relatively short distance. It turned out to be an excellent monitor, worth recommending. I guess my friend who recommended it to me was very confident in recommending it, due to its quality and good price. [Team Dooyoolympians relay entry] -
. === Purpose of purchase === Graphics cards have become an essential part of PCs, especially where an on-board card isn't available. I had to buy a new graphics card, when my previous one had trouble coping with the high definition output. I decided that I needed a cheap graphics card, which could support HDMI and would last at least a few years. I considered a number of purchase options, looked at a few different graphics cards, and browsed very sellers pages online, as well as visiting a few shops. I wanted to make sure when I buy the card, I won't be wasting money at an expensive store, whether online or a high street shop. === nVidia GeForce 8600 GT overview === The graphics card has three ports: one is HDMI (in the middle), the others are VGA (left) and DVI (right). The specifications include 512MB DDR3 graphics memory, which is sufficient for anything I throw at it. It slots into a PCI-E x16 (PCI express card slot), and screws into place. === Purchase, Installation & Procedure === I purchased the graphics card from ebay at a reasonable price for the time. The delivery took several weeks, and I wasn't sure if the card was going to arrive. I contacted the seller, and after two or three days he replied to confirm that he had sent it this time. The seller told me that he had prepared the item for shipping a few weeks before, but forgot to take it to the Post Office. He apologised for the delay, and said I should receive it in a day or two. I got the card cheap, brand new, with free delivery, so nothing to complain about. I've purchased many components from the same seller after that, and everything arrived within a few days. That delay was a one off. The graphics card arrived with the standard warrantee, which you'd expect with any new purchase. The installation was quick and simple, and involved inserting and securing the graphics card after removing its fan, which was too big to fit in the available gap. I replaced the fan with an alternative with a better exhaust mechanism. nVidia offers an automatic graphics card check, which ensures you download the correct drivers. The drivers work well on Windows and Linux. The Linux installation requires root privileges, and is done through a very short shell script. The script is "sh ./filename", without the quotation marks. The driver installation takes approximately two minutes, and requires the computer to restart on Windows and Linux. The installation on Linux leaves two options for enabling the driver; when switching between them, the computer must be restarted for changes to take effect. One option of the driver offers 3D capabilities, which isn't good for ordinary video playback. The standard display option is good for everything, except 3D video playback. The Windows nVidia Control Panel offers the same controls to those on the Linux version, which allows you to adjust the display colours, resolution, brightness, contrast and connected displays. === Features === The nVidia GeForce 8600 GT has a 128 bit memory, which enables it to handle data in large chunks. The 128 bits is the word length for each instruction or piece of data sent via the graphics memory channel. This is a high speed volatile memory specifically with the purpose of handling graphic data and instruction, which are sent to the graphics processor. The 512MB memory with a 700MHz memory clock speed help with speeding up standard memory and graphics memory tasks, by organising the processor hungry graphical tasks to be handled by the graphics processor. This frees up RAM for other use, up to the amount available in the graphics memory. At an impressive 22GB/s graphical data transfer rate, this graphics card has the ability to handle and output high definition multimedia through a HDMI connection. The card can be used in a multiple GPU system. === Comparison to other graphics cards === The previous two cards were bought at a similar price, but with much lower specifications. Those cards are PNY GeForce 8400 GS PCI-E 256MB and nVidia GeForce 5500 FX 256MB, both of which have a slightly slower memory, which is half the amount of the 8600 GT. The next card purchased was the nVidia GeForce 9500 GT, which has better memory but I haven't noticed any significant improvement in performance. Of these cards, I've only used the nVidia GeForce 8600 GT on multiple operating systems. I've used them all on Windows XP, and have also used the 8600 and 9500 on Windows Vista and 7. The computer which had the older cards didn't support anything beyond Windows XP, so I didn't get a chance to test those out. An advantage of nVidia GeForce 8600 GT over the 9500 GT is the value for money, because the performance isn't a great deal better. While there are many advantages of the 8600 GT over the older cards I've tried. The old cards have a DDR memory, while the 8600 is DDR3. === My Conclusion === The nVidia GeForce 8600 GT is an affordable graphics card, offering high quality output, powerful processing and sufficient amount of memory for the ordinary computer user. It's worth buying if you want to save some money and get a good quality graphics card. This card isn't suitable for extreme gamers, because the graphics memory is quite limited when compared to the minimum requirements of some new games. [Team Dooyoolympians relay entry]
:::::::::::::::::::: [ SHOPPING AT PC WORLD ] :::::::::::::::::::: === The Store === PC World is a computer store, which has grown over the years. Ten years ago it was only possible finding one store in the local region, now there are three or four stores within just a few miles of each other. They sell pre-made personal computer packages, computer tools, cleaning equipment and spare components. They have a separate section for used components, which they sell at a very slightly reduced price. They also sell a large variety of software, huge compared to many other stores. Their software includes operating systems, application packages, utilities, system tools, education packages and games. They also sell entertainment media such as movies on DVD and Blu-ray. PC World sells some good quality and genuine products. I purchased a printer from them a number of years ago, which functions almost as good as new, even after all those years. In my experience PC World has also offered recycling for old inks. The inks are recycled by a third party, but you can place them in the envelopes and boxes provided. This service is standard with companies selling printer ink cartridges. === Advantages === Although there aren't many advantages to shopping at PC World, due to high quality and lower cost online computer stores in general, sometimes PC World offers competitive prices on certain items. An example is a HP printer I bought several years ago, which was ten pounds cheaper at PC World than any online store I knew at the time. Another advantage of shopping directly from the store is that you can see exactly what you're purchasing, so there's no chance of receiving the wrong product. That is unless you have it delivered, in which case its possible for a mix up to occur. If all goes well, a home order should arrive within a few weeks. Shopping online can also result in receiving the wrong item, but you can collect in store at PC World; this saves from a lot of potential hassle. Purchasing in store also allows you to take a look at the actual product, so you can have a better idea of what you're paying for. There's a section of used components, where you can sometimes find things in good condition. I bought RAM and CPU thermal compound (also known as thermal paste) from there. The RAM was used, but the thermal compound was getting quite old, so they placed it in the used section. Every PC World store I've been to has free parking, which is an advantage if you drive. The store is open seven days, and has long opening hours. It's even open on Sundays. === Disadvantages === One of the greatest disadvantages of shopping at PC World is the hardware, which is mostly low grade and expensive. Buying pre-made packages is a better option when you need quality, but the store prices don't come even close to the competitive prices found at the alternative online stores. I bought a PC from there twelve to thirteen years ago, which was supposed to be very powerful for its time. A few months later I got more RAM for the computer, and bought a CD-RW drive. The CD drive was supposed to be brand new, but upon opening the package, I saw a slightly cracked front bezel. I decided to connect the drive to that computer anyway, and switched the computer on. After logging into the computer, I found there was a CD in the drive. It appeared a technician may have been creating a backup of a customer's PC data onto the drive. The burn process failed, and they forgot to remove the CD before selling the drive. They must've been in quite a hurry repackaging the drive, so they ended up cracking the bezel. It turned out my theory wasn't entirely accurate, although they were trying to backup customer's data before wiping a computer. The drive wouldn't open, so I kept pressing the eject button every few seconds for a short while. I then shut down the computer and opened the CD drive with a paperclip. I returned the CD drive to PC World. They refused to give a refund, but they agreed to exchange the drive. The exchange process took about half an hour; I explained the problem, and they took the CD drive and their CD. They told me their drives are normally brand new, completely unused, and this was a one off. Whenever shopping at PC World after that, I only ever bought components from the used section. The drive I got in exchange is still connected to that old computer, and it works properly. I still visit PC World if I need to buy something, and don't want to wait for longer home delivery times. The workers sometimes want to help me find what system, device or component I should buy. This is a huge disadvantage, because most of them seem to know close to nothing about computers, so when they offer to help; they end up wasting my time. I wanted to buy a USB3 express-card (54mm) for my notebook (details about the notebook can be found in my review on Acer Aspire 5920G). A PC World customer service worker wanted to help me find just what he thought I was looking for. I wanted a USB3 express-card 54, and he wanted to sell me a PCI express graphics card. He informed me that I can run USB games on this graphics card, so I have nothing to worry about. :::::::::::::::::::: [ PCWORLD.CO.UK ] :::::::::::::::::::: Although my review is mainly of the PC Store, they do have a website (pcworld.co.uk). The reason I haven't reviewed the website is, although I've shopped on the website, the general products are services are identical. To review the website would have much overlapping information. The website review would also have much technical web related content reviewed, which if done inside this review would make it too long. Besides, this review is about the PC World Store, not the website. It's useful to know they have a website, so I've mentioned it. :::::::::::::::::::: [ PC WORLD TECHNICAL SUPPORT ] :::::::::::::::::::: === Warranty === Whatever you buy from PC World, they try to sell you extended warranty. Even if you don't buy anything, they never forget to mention their extended warranty. This is what happened when I wanted to buy a USB3 express-card; they wanted to sell me extended warranty with a graphics card. Any attempt at explaining to them that a notebook express-card isn't the same as a PCI express graphics card, was unsuccessful; they insisted they had the correct component with the right extended warranty package. After a few minutes (that seemed like hours) of trying to explain what the difference is between the two card types, and that I had no interest in purchasing extended warranty, I decided I'm better off buying the component online. I had a default (free) warranty with the computer package from PC World, and I had the default warranty with other devices I purchased. === Phone based Technical Support === I had a technical fault on the PC within a few weeks of purchase, which was still covered by warranty. Fixing the fault myself would have resulted in the warranty becoming void, so I contacted PC World. They gave me a very expensive phone number to call, which was about one pound per minute, and to make things worse; the phone technical support took very long breaks during the phone call. Every minute or so, they kept saying "hold on, I'll check this for you". After keeping me on the phone for about an hour, the technical support agent told me that I'll just have to fix it myself, and this will void the warranty. I was told that I could take it into one of their stores, which could cost me a huge amount of money, but it wouldn't void the warranty. The total call cost came to about fifty pounds. === In Store Technical Support === I decided to take the PC to the store I purchased it from, and I described the problem. The problem was with the hard drive, the optical drive and the computer's memory. The hard drive fault was the easiest to fix using a free partition manager, the master boot record had to be cleared and the hard drive needed to be repartitioned and formatted. The other components needed replacing. Technical support said they'll fix it, so I asked them if they knew what the problem was. They said the registry is corrupt, so they have to backup and reinstall the system. Their wrong diagnosis was a bit worrying, so to avoid further problems I bought the replacement components and fixed the problem myself. I had to exchange the replacement CD drive, which was damaged. Other than that, all went well. :::::::::::::::::::: [ CONCLUSION ] :::::::::::::::::::: === Additional Information === Before giving my verdict, I'd like to add a few more examples of what I experienced as a customer of PC World. This will include comparing PC World to other smaller PC stores, and their differences in services and quality. When it comes to hardware, PC World and all other stores in my local area (which I've visited) know little to nothing about the technical details. I used to assume that most people are aware of the difference between hardware and software, but one event made me less certain. I was at a computer store, where the technician told the customer that there was an operating system fault on the notebook, and he "replaced the operating system chip". I then realised that PC World isn't alone, when it comes to incompetence. There was a time when I needed to replace a monitor back-light for a friend, so I called PC World. I asked if they sold monitor back-lights, to which the customer support advisor replied along the lines of, "monitors have a screen, why do you need lights?" I repeated the question, this time asking if they have mercury or CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) lamps. He thought it was funny that I had this idea of monitors containing light tubes, and he kept insisting that monitors only have a screen, and they don't have lights. I thought there's no point arguing, because if they sold them at their store; he would have believed in their existence. I phoned two other stores. One of them told me to come into the store to purchase it, and they told me it costs ten pounds. I went to the store, but it turned out they were selling table lamps. I asked how they expect me to use a table lamp for a PC monitor, they said everyone uses them. The other store I asked gave a more useful response, although they don't sell CCFL lamps, they knew where I could get them. They gave me a phone number, which I contacted, got an order placed, got the lamps and repaired the monitor. It turned out the same supplier supplies components to PC World. === My Conclusion === Shopping at PC World has always been an interesting experience, even though not always a good experience in terms of customer service or technical competence. I sometimes wonder how some of their technical support worker managed to get a job there, even though they know little to nothing about computers. Maybe this helps the company make some extra money, because when a customer brings a PC for repair; it'll need replacing once the technical team have repaired it. Majority of my buying experience with PC World has been quite good, mainly due to the fact that they don't sell counterfeit products, nor do they intentionally sell any devices which may cause harm to your computer. This can't be said about all other stores, although most sellers provide a moderately honest service, there are one or two that don't. At PC World, the only time the customer is deliberately getting robbed is when the customer has to make a very expensive phone call to the technical support team. I give PC World a three star rating, because they have reliable products, a moderately reliable service, parking facilities and long opening hours. Had they not fulfilled some of these criteria, the ratings would have been considerably lower. I believe PC World is a good store for purchasing a decent quality PC package, and the prices are becoming more acceptable. The store has high quality printers and scanners, which I've never experienced any major problem with.
:::::::::::::::::::: [ SOFTWARE BACKGROUND ] :::::::::::::::::::: === 2D Digital Artwork === Before we attempt to understand the software, we must try to understand the purpose behind it. Two dimensional graphics is simply drawing on the screen, but this can have a number of quality related properties. The digital image understood simply can be either a vector or bitmap image, vector images are made up of grid points and ranges, which can be assigned a certain colour value. This makes the image size much smaller than the bitmap images, which draw out each pixel (picture element) of data individually. Although the software I'm about to review has certain elements, which relate to vector graphics, the software itself is designed for bitmap images. Vector file formats aren't supported. Therefore, I won't go into any further detail on vector graphics or its popular file formats and extensions. Bitmap images relate directly to digitalisation of simple artwork, and that's what this software does best. There are various bitmap compressions, which are used to save the bitmap image in a smaller format. Some types of compression cause the image to have adjustable reduced clarity; such formats include JPG and JPEG, which are classified as lossy compression. These formats make a huge difference in the stored file size. Lossless compression is becoming more widely used today, so we find an increase in GIF and PNG files where preserving quality matters. === .NET Framework === As the name suggests the software is built upon .NET framework. Understanding .NET framework isn't too difficult, as it's simply interchangeable code between difference object oriented programming languages in the Microsoft programming package. The program requires a Microsoft Visual Studio runtime to work on the computer, which bring us to a disadvantage. The runtime doesn't work so well in Linux, so running the software requires some configuration using mono. The runtime contains all the libraries required to run the software; the program code is written in simple terms rather than in machine code, and has many code references to the libraries, which contain the complex instructions to carry out the specified commands. Without the libraries, creating software would require an enormous amount of code, and the compiled program would be much bigger and more difficult to debug. Whether a program uses Visual Studio Runtime Environment or it uses Java Runtime Environment, the concept is the same. .NET is an upgrade to the old Visual Studio runtimes, which didn't allow code to be interchanged between difference languages. The .NET system serves as a platform for all its programming languages. :::::::::::::::::::: [ THE PROGRAM ] :::::::::::::::::::: === Installation === I downloaded Paint.NET from dotpdn.com/downloads/pdn.html as a ZIP file (compressed folder), which contains the installation file. The installation can be run without extracting the file; directly from within the compressed folder. I chose to extract it first, delete the compressed folder and run the installation. Both 32 bit and 64 bit Windows installed the software to the %programfiles% (C:\Program Files\) directory. This is because it installed the 64 bit version on the 64 bit Windows, otherwise you'd expect a 32 bit installation to end up in the %programfiles(x86)% (C:\Program Files (x86)) directory. One installation file contains installations for both architectures. The installation process took up to three minutes altogether. I chose custom installation, which gave an option of ten languages and if it should be the default editor for certain image files. There's also an option for automatic update checks. The installation then creates a system restore point, removes an older version if there's one installed, and installs the software. During the installation, a message is displayed. This message says that the software is free, so if you paid for it then you need to get a refund. However, there is an option at the end of the setup process, which allows you to donate using Paypal. This is a voluntary contribution to their development team, and you may or may not wish to contribute. This makes no difference to your right to use the software. === Using Paint.NET === The program loading time is approximately two seconds on most computers I've used, some older computers take three seconds or more. Newer computers may load the program in less than two seconds, but I haven't had the chance to test it on any machine newer than 2008. I've used the program on Windows XP, Vista and 7 (32 bit and 64 bit versions). The program interface hasn't changed over the years, which is a good thing in my opinion, because this means it remains an easy to use program. It's a less advance alternative to GIMP (an open-source image editor), and has some very useful tools, brushes and effects. Paint.NET also supports layers, which enables you to add layers of images; one on-top of another. Paint.NET has four floating toolboxes by default, which can be toggled on and off with their own shortcut keys. These toolboxes are "Tools" (toggle key: F5), "History" (toggle key: F6), "Layers" (toggle key: F7) and "Colors" (toggle key: F8). The Tools toolbox contains twenty-two tools, which you may find useful in everyday image editing. These include but aren't limited to a brush, pencil, paint box, colour picker, clone stamp and image selection. The Colors toolbox allows you to choose a predefined colour, or you can click on "More" to specify a new colour. Just like most other image editors have a primary and secondary colour for the two mouse buttons, the same applies to Paint.NET. The History toolbox contains a list of events, which updates every time you make a change to the canvass or image. This also makes the task of undoing changes very easy, which can be accomplished by either clicking on the desired undo point in the list, or using the complete undo or individual action undo buttons. The same applies for redoing and undone action. The Layers toolbox contains a list of all the layers you add to the image, and allows you to move layers back and forward. You can also hide or delete layers, duplicate or merge layers, and you can change the layer properties. Paint.NET's simplicity combined with its powerful tools allows you to produce some interesting images from scratch, as well as adding finishing touches to an existing piece of artwork. It doesn't always have to be complex artwork; Paint.NET is also very useful for simple tasks such as cropping pictures, which you may want to use on your social network profile. Sometimes all you want is to add some colour to a black and white picture; this task is made easy with the re-colouring tools. I've even used this program for creating posters, collages, cards, icons and logos. Quite often when scanning an image on a flatbed scanner, you find the image contains unwanted particles. I find the best way to remove them is usually by cloning and re-colouring. For those of you aware, you're probably thinking why I mentioned icons, even though Paint.NET doesn't save files in ICO file format (standard Windows icon format). This is because it's best practice to create icons in PNG format, which keeps them in their top quality while making any changes. You can convert the image format using any free image conversion tool. Icon files come in handy if you're developing software, or a website. Icons serve the purpose to decorate and identify software; this isn't the same as a software authenticity check, which is done through hash checking. It does however allow a user to identify installed software, which may all have shortcuts in the menus and Desktop. On the Desktop for example; rather than reading all the software names, we normally do a quick visual check to find the relevant icon to click. This is why the first step of creating an icon is essential, and Paint.NET is a useful tool to achieve that. :::::::::::::::::::: [ PROGRAM FEATURES ] :::::::::::::::::::: === Menus & Submenus === Paint.NET has the ability to acquire an image directly from a scanner or camera, which cuts out the need to install additional software. This is a very useful feature for Windows users, because it save's you the trouble of cluttering your hard drive with extra software for scanning. This feature can be found in the File menu. The other menu buttons are standard; open, new, open recent, close, save, save as, print and exit. Open recent shows a graphical list of recently used files, each with the file name on the right of the thumbnail. The Edit menu allows complete undoing and redoing of actions, this uses the standard 'undo one action at a time' method. Cutting unlike copying, moves the selected item from one place to another. The action of completing the move or copy procedure is called Paste. You can either paste something onto the current layer, a new layer, or even a new image altogether. Erasing, filling and selecting, deselecting and inverse selecting are quite straight forward, and don't need a detailed explanation. View allows you to zoom in and out, and allows you to zoom to fit the canvass in the window, or toggling between window fit zoom to view the accurate canvass size. You can also choose to zoom to a selected area. If you turn on the pixel grid, you must zoom in to view it; otherwise the pixels are too small to see the grid. You can also view the ruler, which you can set to show your chosen measurements, whether you want to measure in pixels, inches or centimetres. The Image menu makes cropping easier, as well as resizing the image or the canvass. You can also flip or rotate the image. Rotating the image is limited to either rotating left or right by ninety degrees, or rotating a hundred and eighty degrees. No other rotating options are available. This is one of the drawbacks of this software, and the more complex software such as GIMP and Photoshop show where they're better than the smaller programs. The next menu is Layers, which Paint.NET uses to show that it too is able to provide powerful tools, and not far off the league of GIMP and Photoshop. It allows to add, delete, duplicate and merge layers as well as to import images as new layers. The menu also allows flipping the current layer, and allows zooming in and out. In addition are the layer properties. These are used to rename the layer, set visibility on or off, set transparency and the layer mode. Nine major adjustments can be made to the image; they are all in the Adjustments menu. The adjustments are: auto level, black and white, brightness and contrast, curves, hue and saturation, invert colours, levels, polarise and sepia. Four of these make automatic changes to the image, which requires no more than a click of a button, because they are states of adjustment. This means it's a Boolean position; it'll either be a yes or a no, an on or an off. In the case of images, it will either be in colour, or black and white, it can't be both simultaneously. These are: auto level, black and white, invert colours, and sepia. The other five allow you to adjust the image to a more precise specification. The Effects menu doesn't contain any buttons, but instead has seven submenus. Each menu gives a very specific set of buttons, which allow a better application of the effects. The seven submenus are: artistic, blurs, distort, noise, photo, render and stylise. The first five and last two submenus are pretty much common sense, and you know what to expect from the names. The Photo submenu allows you to add glow effects to the image, as well as red-eye removal in a photograph. It also allows you to sharpen or soften the image. The Utilities menu is unrelated to the artwork, and allows you to see any plugin errors, load the Windows font directory, change the language and check for updates. The Window menu contains the four toolbox controls, which toggle the toolboxes on and off. The toolboxes are Tools, Color, Layers and History. This menu also shows a list of open images, which can be toggled through using the provided controls. It also allows minor window adjustments. Finally, the Help menu allows you to view help topics for the program, as well as link to the developer's website, a search of the website, and a donate button. You can also find a link to the forums, tutorials, plugins, and send feedback and bug reports. If you're wondering exactly which version of the software you have installed, this menu has an about button at the end. Click it to view the details. === Tool, status and toggle bars === There are two toolbars, a status bar and one toggle bar. I'm not using the real name of the bars, because I'm not aware if they've been assigned any specific name. The toolbar with the main application and even controls, such as save, undo, and copy and paste; is below the menu-bar and above the toolbar with the image editing tools. The image editing toolbar is linked to the Tools toolbox, and has more functions added to it. An example of its use is adjusting the brush width. The status bar at the bottom of the screen is a tool tip bar, which also shows the canvass size and cursor grid reference. The tool tips show the name of the tool being used and how to use it. The information is very concise and easy to understand, it also shows you when a tool is used where applicable. The toggle bar at the top right hand side of the screen- is a large box under the window control buttons. This bar allows you to toggle between open files, select and close files. There's nothing else to it, as its use requires only the most basic level of computer literacy. === Website links === Home page and download: http://www.getpaint.net/ Program screenshots: http://www.getpaint.net/screenshots.html Download page: http://www.dotpdn.com/downloads/pdn.html Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts: http://www.getpaint.net/doc/latest/KeyboardMouseCommands.html Forum: http://forums.getpaint.net/ General contact, not for technical queries: http://www.getpaint.net/contact.html :::::::::::::::::::: [ CONCLUSION ] :::::::::::::::::::: === My Conclusion === I've found a large number of advantages of using Paint.NET, and very few disadvantages. The only real disadvantage, which holds any weight, is the limited functionality when it comes to rotating images. This is because, when you try to create a complex collage of images; you find it can look a bit odd at times, because it's been unable to give you more fine tuning in the rotation controls. The best solution for now is to rotate the image in a different image editor first, then insert it into the Paint.NET project. The most important reason for using Paint.NET is its ease of use rather than its powerful features, because when it comes to powerful features; GIMP is much more advanced. Paint.NET isn't software I'd pay for, if it was to cost money. At the same time, I wouldn't stop someone donating towards it, because the program can do with a few improvements. Looking at the software from a regular user's point of view; I believe it's a very easy program for image editing, with a good variety of features and sufficient hints to help achieve the simple tasks it's designed for. It won't clean your car or cook your food, but it'll help you edit two dimensional bitmap images. I believe this software deserves five stars, even though there's one disadvantage. This is because there are many more than eight advantages, which shift the scales above four and a half stars. This justifies the five star rating. I'm not taking Linux compatibility into consideration when rating this program; otherwise I'd be giving it a three star rating. === To sum up === I've been using Paint.NET for a number of years. I found some good and bad qualities of the program, in which the bad qualities have been reduced with the software updates. The program is free of charge, so there isn't ever a need to worry about purchasing the new version. The program layout is very simple, and the toolboxes can be toggled on and off, so they won't become an obstruction while working on a project. The support for lossless image quality is becoming more common in image editing software, so Paint.NET isn't ahead of anyone. Only Microsoft Paint falls short when it comes to image quality, as it still doesn't support lossless editing. Paint.NET is a great tool for the simplest of image editing tasks, which you may not feel the need to use GIMP for. These tasks include cropping pictures, red-eye removal on photographs and image resizing.
=== Satellite Navigation === Satellite navigation is a technology using GPS (global positioning systems), which use three or more points to triangulate position, calculate speed and determine direction. This information can then be connected to a three dimensional grid, to map the location more accurately. As the name suggests, satellite navigation uses the satellite instruments, which are a few thousand miles in space, within the Earth's orbit. This is why it's very important to have a clear view of the sky for best results, which gives you better signals from multiple satellites. The GPS system is becoming more common in our communication devices, which can help us to find where we are on a digital map, or help track down a lost or stolen device. Due to this, the GPS system has become more widely available through a range of electronic devices. If you have access to a home computer, which you'd like to get GPS for; although I don't see why you'd need it on a PC, you can get it as a peripheral card or USB dongle. You can also get GPS cards for notebooks and netbooks, available as express-cards and internal peripheral cards. For the average user, USB is usually good enough. === Why Satnav? === With an increase in travelling to various locations, it became more important to have access to a map. Using the GPS technology, the location is easier and quicker to spot on a digital map. The paper based map books can take a long time to use in route planning, and can be quite time consuming when looking for your current location. Keep in mind that people have different levels of map reading skills, and some people struggle to read maps effectively. Whatever the situation, it helps to have access to a device, which will make the task a little bit easier. I heard of TomTom satellite navigation systems a few years before purchasing my own, and even then I wasn't one hundred per cent sure I was buying the best satnav, in term of value for money, ease of use, updateability and quality. I saw a TomTom listed on an online store, I read a few short comments about it, and read the technical specifications. The information was very impressive, and I thought I should buy it and see how it performs in reality. I found a case and a mains charger for it, which were being sold separately, so I decided to group all the items into a single order. The TomTom includes a mountable holder for the car, which easily clicks onto the satnav, and is very easy to mount onto the windscreen. It also has the standard car charger, which is essential to power it while driving, and a USB cable to connect it to the computer for file transfer and updates. The USB connection is compatible with Windows and Mac. The total cost was near two hundred pounds. I received a few messages from TomTom, which told me that I can get free map updates for several months, and it emphasised the accuracy of their up-to-date maps. === Using the device === A week later I received the device, so I left it to charge for several hours as instructed. I then switched on the device and had a look at the local area, which I found to have a number of mistakes. I decided the maps need updates, and because I have the email from TomTom, I can click it to get the updates free. I clicked the link, which directed me to a page to register the product on their website. Once that was complete, I got a message that I have to pay for my first map update in order to get those free updates later. I paid about thirty pounds, maybe forty. I updated the maps, but found no difference in them. I contacted TomTom a few months later, because I was trying a map update and the website was asking for another payment. TomTom sent me an automated response, and never replied after that. I never got those "free updates". A lesser problem was when the device stopped working, I sent TomTom a message, they didn't reply. I managed to repair the fault myself; I had some help and advice from members of an online community. With the exception of several mistakes, including wrong information on one way roads, roundabouts on the map, where there aren't any roundabouts in reality, there are some good points to the TomTom XL IQ Routes. It has improved journey time and route planning, which was previously done using two spiral map books. I also found the speed camera notification to be quite accurate, and the road speed is mostly correct. This is because I used community updates for these features, but for maps this wasn't recommended, and I didn't see any user reviews to suggest community map updates to be reliable. Some of the points of interest are also correct, as are fuel stations, hospitals and other important locations. The satnav has advanced lane guidance, which tells you which lane you should take on a multi-lane road, such as dual carriageways and motorways. This satellite navigation device can be set so it avoids certain types of roads, e.g. motorways. It has the normal display modes for daytime standard display and night mode, which is more eye-friendly at night. The map views can be toggled between 2D and 3D; I prefer the 3D view, because the view looks closer to the road layout as seen from the driver's view. The 2D view is more of an aerial view, which is better for looking through the map, but isn't as good as the 3D for the current part of the route view while driving. The 3D view is always facing forwards, no matter if that's North or any other direction. The 2D view has two options, one is to always keep North on top, and the other option is to keep the current forward driving direction at the top. There's no one right view for everyone, each person may have their own preference. There are various customizable settings and features, which I've used. I'll only cover the most important points about some of them; otherwise this review would turn out too long. Setting the Home location is very useful, so no matter how many addresses you enter, no matter how many routes you plan, you can always click that one button to navigate to your Home. That is the 'navigate to Home' button. This device also stores a list of your recent destinations, so you can easily find where you've travelled to recently, click on it and the device will calculate a route for you. Another useful function with destinations is you can add them to Favourites, which will store them all in one easy-to-find place. The speaker volume is easy to adjust onscreen, which is a straightforward volume slide-bar; sliding right to increase the volume, and left to decrease. There are plenty of settings and quick preferences, which can be used to customize the view, route methods and to change the picture of the car in 3D view. The physical description of the device is an important feature, which is one of the things we look at when choosing any device with a display feature. In this case it's a four and a third inches wide touchscreen LCD screen with a resolution of four hundred and eighty by two hundred and seventy two pixels, and its colour depth is sixty four thousand. The total weight of the device is one hundred and eighty five grams, which is approximately the weight of a three quarters filled cup of water. The device has a Lithium Ion battery, which is built-in and rechargeable. It wouldn't be very practical to have a non-rechargeable battery in a device that requires constant recharging, so it's easy enough to understand why its battery is rechargeable. If you connect it to your Windows or Mac computer and find the device volume at two gigabytes; don't be alarmed, that's all it has. If you connect it to your Linux computer, you'll find the TomTom PC software doesn't work on Linux. TomTom is still in a backward mind-state, when it comes to Linux and other open-source operating systems and platforms. They are also behind in their USB technology, and are stuck at USB1.1 on this device. === When satnav says no === Satellite navigation sounds all good, but there can be problems. The most well-known shared problem of this technology is that it doesn't work so well in bad weather. During snow months, it's known to lose signal altogether. This is why the authorities recommend an emergency kit for the winter, which includes a paper-based road map. The device may not be suitable for someone who needs to look at it for long periods of time while driving, because they'll lose concentration of the road and may or may not wake up in hospital. If you're the sort of person who needs to take a good look at the speedometer while driving, instead of a simple quick glance; I'd advise you to avoid satnavs altogether. By taking this advice, you may be saving many lives. Sometimes it's not the weather, nor the driver; satellite navigation can be dangerous if the maps aren't accurate, and the driver follows instructions unquestionably. The satnav may lead you into a no entry, or lead you into an industrial or development site, mistaking it for a road. In this situation, find a safe place to stop, and make sure to have a paper-based map at hand. === My Conclusion === The TomTom XL IQ Routes UK and Republic of Ireland edition is a useful satellite navigation system to have, although it may not be the best, or may not be anywhere near the best. It has a rich variety of software features, and is very easy to use. This helps to out-way the problems such as the useless updates, the free updates promise that's not kept, and the device requiring repair within only weeks of purchase. The technology of this device has become a bit too old to give it near four stars, and the experience with the company and device overall puts it down another star. Another star is lost due to its lacking support of open-source operating systems, while the lane guidance, physical features and customizability push it up an extra star. I don't believe that this is a must have device, nor do I believe that satellite navigation is a must have technology for everyone. Sometimes the paper-based maps are good enough on their own, and sometimes we can use the paper-based maps as backup, in case the satnav is heading the wrong way, or taking a non-existent road. === To sum up === TomTom is a decent satnav with out-dated maps, but useful nonetheless. It's got customization settings, address list features and options for route planning, and the lane guidance feature is very useful. It's not suitable for everyone, but some people may find it very useful. Some people may find satnavs in general to be a distraction from the road ahead, they should avoid them. Physical features include a wide 4.3" LCD touchscreen, 480x272 display resolution with 64k colours, weighs 185g and has a 2GB storage volume capacity.
=== Where I got it? === Sometimes it helps to have access to very portable tools, such as cutting and punching tools. It also helps to have tools, which can tighten the loose screws in glasses frames, and tools for removing staples. Sometimes you need to reset your broadband modem or router, and you wouldn't mind having access to an all in one portable multi tool, which can allow you to carry out all those tasks. Does such a multi tool exist, which can enable you to carry out those and maybe more tasks? If so, where is it sold and what is it? I bought this 13-in-1 Multi Tool Pen from an online seller about five years ago. I paid about £14, which included the shipping costs. I found two sellers; both selling the same pen, one was advertising it as 12-in-1, and the other 13-in-1. The price was the same, so I decided to buy the one labelled 13-in-1. The seller I made the purchase from still sell's on Amazon, under the name 'Alternative Gifts'. I believe the cost wasn't too much for the product quality, portability, durability and general usefulness. === What is it? === It's a set of useful metal objects, and it contains a ballpoint pen. Its total length is 144mm, and weighs about as much as ten biros. Although the pen is supposedly 13-in-1, there are actually quite a few more uses to it. Some of the more common uses of the pen are limited to cutting, punching holes, picking staples, tightening and loosening screws, and filing down those rough edges on something (I never yet found any use for that). This pen can also be used for writing. There are about sixteen pieces to this pen. Not all the pieces are unique, and some pieces such as blades are in multiple quantities, because they can get worn or broken through regular use. There are toothed blades you can use as saws, and there are the plain blades. I only managed to break one blade over the five years, and haven't exhausted the ink. The ink isn't used as much as you would an ordinary pen, because you only feel the need to use the multi tool pen's ink for tasks relevant to jobs you use the tools for. This involves only making the odd few notes, drawing a line or marking something to cut, and such other simple tasks. If you're to use it as you use an ordinary pen, the ink would last more than a few days. A piece of this pen looks like a toothpick, which is useful for punching small holes into standard paper, card, cardboard or punching into wood. This is also useful for moving small component connectors, and for pressing the unreachable reset button in new digital watches and computing devices. It also works well for removing staples, and makes a good toothpick. There are also two small size screw drivers; a Philips and Flat, these are the same size as you would get in a glasses repair kit. The piece which looks like a micro-teaspoon is very useful when used alongside the toothpick for removing staples, but it can also be used to clean small components from stubborn dust, and works particularly well to clean under keyboard keys, without the need to remove them. I haven't made use of the other two pieces; one is a small flat screw driver, which is the type you'd get in a Torx driver set, the other is the pen clip, which can be used to pick a wooden splinter from your hand. My advice is- don't put the splinter there to start with, because I don't see removing it to be an easy task with this tool. It struggles with holding a wire steady for soldering; this is why I never use it. === Handling and Safety === IMPORTANT: Keep out of the reach of children. The pen isn't a toy, it's a tool, and in wrong hands it can be quite dangerous. Be aware of health and safety when handling tools, especially sharp objects. Don't attempt to use tools of any kind on electrical appliances, unless you have switched off and unplugged them from the mains power. This multi tool pen isn't suitable for most computer components, and I wouldn't recommend it for computer repairs. When dealing with computers or other integrated circuit (chip) based components and appliances, always use the appropriate anti-ESD tools. ESD (electrostatic discharge) is caused by a potential difference in charge between two objects, which can damage chips. Although ESD isn't known to harm your health, it may cost you quite a lot of money in the long run, if you have to replace damaged components often. I would advise you to never carry this pen around outside your home, even though it's very portable. It's a tool containing a number of sharp blades, which has the potential to cause intentional and unintentional harm. It may not be your intention to use it to harm anyone, but someone who sees this in your pocket; may help themself to it and may use it as a weapon. === My Conclusion === As long as you take care to understand the potential tool hazards, and operate the tools safely; you may find this tool very useful. Using the tools requires a bit of common sense, so you don't need any specialist qualifications or experience to use them. If you need to cut a carpet, you may want to use the plain blades, which are sharp and strong enough to cut through carpet. The blades may break if you press them against the floor boards while cutting, replace the blade and continue cutting. Apply less pressure to avoid breaking more blades. In five years, I broke one blade. Most of the other tools have also come in handy, although not all. Some aspects about the tools work better than expected, while the quality of others doesn't appear as good. I found the blades to be weaker than the standard carpet knife, which one blade can last many years. The screwdrivers are as good as any you may purchase at a hardware store, which are better than the quality found at supermarkets. If you wish to purchase this multi tool pen, then you need to firstly consider if you require so many tools in one. If you don't need so many tools, then go for a different stronger multi tool. This is because you can get the lesser number of tools in one, which will cost you about half the price, and those tools last longer. Sometimes it's better to buy individual tools, rather than multi tools. This is the case with heavy tool use. When buying tools, it's always best to buy from a reliable tools company. === To sum up === I bought this multi tool pen five years ago, and the only part of the tool which broke over these years is one blade. The quality is very good, but there are those with less number of tools, which are better quality. Individual tools are generally much better quality than multi tools, keeping in mind the reliable tool manufacturers.
=== What is it? === Bitdefender Rescue CD is a bootable Linux operating system, with a built-in virus scanner by Bitdefender. It has a simple Graphical User Interface (GUI), which is the standard visual point and click interface, with a cursor, icons, etc. This is the easiest interface for most of the ordinary computer users, so they wouldn't struggle to figure out how to use this software. Bitdefender antivirus can be updated in live boot mode, and you'll notice the virus scanner works much faster than it would in Windows. This is because Windows unnecessarily drains much of your computer's hardware resources, while a live boot only uses the bare minimum, so it leaves most of the resources available to carry out more processor hungry tasks. As with any bootable CD image, it can be loaded to a bootable USB drive. There are many open-source tools to assist with this task. You may find a few at pendrivelinux.com. === Why USB boot? === I recommend booting from a USB drive for a number of reasons. If you burn it to a CD, the burn process may fail, or the CD may fail to boot if it's scratched or the data has become unreadable due to one of the many other problems with optical media. If there's an error putting the data onto a USB drive, you can simply retry, and you won't have to throw it away. You can also update the antivirus signature database, and this update will remain in the USB drive, while a CD doesn't have that capability. Optical drives such as CD and DVD have much slower read speeds than USB; their speeds are nowhere near as fast as USB2, and USB3 interface is much faster USB2. The faster the storage medium performs, the faster the program loads to memory. This is essential for high speed performance. As you'll notice on pendrivelinux.com, USB's can easily be made to multi-boot. So, you won't be buying many USB flash drives to boot many different systems, all you need is one disk with a high enough capacity for all the bootable files. USB boot isn't supported by many older computers, and some lower grade PCs. In this case, you'll have to make do with burning the image to CD. === My experience with Bitdefender Rescue CD === I've only been using the Bitdefender Rescue CD for a few years, but have found it the most useful of all the free antivirus boot disks. I've used others such as Kaspersky, which is also very good, but Bitdefender can be easily installed onto a Linux operating system. The other difference is Bitdefender Rescue CD starts up faster than Kaspersky, and doesn't require 'startx' to start-up the GUI interface. Selecting files and folders for scanning is as easy as any dialogue box within Windows, or in any other simple GUI based system. To run a virus scan, you can choose the location of what you want to scan, or you can choose to scan everything. The scanner engine starts with the application and after updates, depending on which version of the Rescue CD you have. I've never had problems with the Rescue CD, but if you're running it from a "very high capacity" USB drive you purchased from Ebay; you may find some problems. This is because many of those very high capacity USB drives are counterfeit oversized. Due to oversizing the storage volume, the performance of the hardware is massively reduced. You can test your USB drive's performance using any hardware benchmarking utility, such as H2testw. I bought a few USB drives off Ebay, which have this problem. The advertised device capacities are 32GB and 64GB, but the real capacities are 4GB and 8GB. The eightfold difference to the real volume size has roughly the same percentage of decrease in performance, so a 32GB fake size USB2 drive writes at about 3MB/s, instead of about 24MB/s. Other than the USB flash drive counterfeit oversize, I've never faced any other performance problems with Bitdefender Rescue CD. That itself isn't a problem with the software, as I've explained. So, I wouldn't include that when giving the star ratings. I believe from personal experience, that Bitdefender rescue CD's virus scanner is faster than Kaspersky's alternative. Whether one has better quality of virus checking, isn't something I would know much about. I don't normally bother with reading the virus scanner logs, reports or other related scan data. To close the program, the procedure is like any window based program with a clear exit button, and ability to close using the standard shortcut Keys Alt+F4. You can restart the computer, remove the bootable disk and load whichever operating system you normally use. === My Conclusion === Bitdefender Rescue CD is a free bootable GUI based virus scanner, which can be updated in live boot mode. The scanner runs faster, because it's not running alongside a massive processor hungry operating system. I recommend you use a bootable USB if possible, and if you have any performance problems, test it with a free benchmarking utility. When all other antiviruses fail to remove a stubborn threat, I've found this to succeed. You can download the bootable iso image from download.bitdefender.com/rescue_cd. I prefer the free software such as this, rather than paying £50+ for an expensive, slow boot disk. I give this a five star rating, actually about four and a half, but rounded to five, because it performs very well and removes all the known viruses. === To sum up === You might want to get this to remove stubborn viruses, because it's probably the best. I prefer running it off a USB flash drive, because it allows for better performance and update capabilities than a CD. Most importantly it's free.
=== The Problem === My previous flash drives had either failed, due to an unknown reason, or a bad power configuration on a custom premade PC I purchased. I found the USB wiring had been done wrong, and there were a number of other issues with that computer's assembly, that the whole system had to eventually be rebuilt from scratch. I had rebuilt the computer, getting components from stores online. Now I needed to be able to move files larger than the amount spanning 20 floppy disks. I saw a 2GB USB flash drive for sale at the local supermarket, so I bought that. It worked very well, but a few years later I discovered that the capacity just wasn't enough, and I was sometimes transferring only half my software project development and database files at a time. I needed something to hold a larger amount of data, and be within an affordable range. Buying DVD±Rs wasn't an option, nor were there always the burning facilities available. === Solution === I was randomly browsing through an online store, and I stumbled upon a USB disk, which happen to be affordable. I didn't know if this 4GB SanDisk Cruzer was going to be any good, but as it was the only affordable one with 4GB, I decided to buy it. I bought this flash drive back in around 2006 or 2007; I then got the 16GB one a few years later. Both flash drives still work like brand new, and I'm currently using the 4GB one as a ready boost drive. I removed the U3 program from the 4GB drive, and kept it on the 16GB one, since I only have any documents stored on the 16GB drive. I like a number of things about the U3 system, one is the default encryption, and another is the ability to run portable programs from the U3 Launchpad, simply by creating a U3 app shortcut. My favourite feature is that once you no longer need the U3 package, you can simply remove it. Now you've removed the Windows limitation of the flash drive, since U3 Launchpad only works on Windows. === Moving forward in Technology === Technology has come a long way with flash drives, and the great improvements have brought about better technology at lower prices. Ten years ago, I purchased two 32MB flash drives from dabs for £50. For the time, 32MB seemed a giant leap from the 1.44MB floppies, and indeed it was quite a leap at 30x capacity. At the current price of £25, there's been a 2000x increase in capacity in the last ten years. Now that's really quite impressive. Looking at the 4GB flash drive from today's point of view, as supposed to the 2007 view, it's beginning to appear more and more ancient. USB 2 is becoming a thing of the past, as USB 3 picks up pace in the affordable marketplace, and there are already many high capacity drives out there. I doubt there'll be much use for only 4GB in the next few years. If I was writing this review in 2007, I'd recommend you buy this flash drive. It's an excellent flash drive, the value for money is great, the speed is good, but the capacity isn't so high for current standards, and U3 doesn't appear to have much of a future. === To sum up === It's an excellent flash drive, decent speed, good encryption and great value for money. An excellent choice of a flash drive, but not something I'd recommend due to its out-dated system and low capacity. I give this a five star rating for the time of purchase, but its current rating is lower. The two stars reduction is because of disadvantages.
I've tried the later versions 10.10, 11.04, 11.10 and 12.04, and this version remains my favourite. Along with ubuntu tweak and a bunch of other useful repositories, there's a wide range of available software. Since ubuntu is a free opensource linux distribution, there's nothing stopping users from making changes to the operating system. This is good news for some of us, who prefer to make a few changes for the system to be more as we want it to be, rather than buying a very expensive operating system, which you're merely given a licence to use, and it maybe illegal to make changes to the operating system. Linux is different, since its not based on the wishes of greedy enterprises exploiting their customers, and in a way forcing customers to adjust around a pre-set design. Linux is more freedom to its users. It doesn't mean the expensive operating systems aren't good, they are in fact professionally well built systems by well trained developers, but they could do with letting customers make some changes. Not everyone would find it easy to manually install software, so the repository alternative is a more practical approach for the common user. Its very easy to add more software repositories to the sources file, either by editing it directly, or through the software sources gui or the terminal. Its makes it a lot easier if you have ubuntu tweak installed, which gives you more access to change several operating system settings through one simple application. With the click of a few buttons you can install as many pieces of software as you like, they'll install automatically once you select the checkboxes. This feature is much faster than installing software on a windows computer, unless the windows software is set to silent install, or you use an installation/update manager such as freeapps. Windows Emulator (wine) is a small tool for running windows software on linux, and works well with Google Sketchup, Notepad++, MS Paint, Orbit Downloader, MS Office and several other software packages. I don't know if it works with Adobe Photoshop, but I know some people have had problems trying to get Photoshop working with wine. I sometimes use Winetricks for installing software, which will run with wine. Winetricks makes installation easier for some very common software packages, but may not always be useful for the uncommon software. Apple Safari can be installed through winetricks, which I've tried and installed. It installs successfully, but doesn't work properly. I have used several other linux operating systems, and I can't say that ubuntu was my favourite for all its features, but overall I like it due to its ease of use and how simple it is to customise. I'd say the security can do with a little more improvement, and we may well see some improvement in future updates of version 12.04 LTS. I only like the LTS versions of ubuntu, which I think are in Windows terms equivalent to final releases. I found wine not to work so well in 10.10, 11.04 and 11.10, and had several other problems, including one with my firewall, which kept shutting down automatically. I find the ubuntu irc community is very helpful with any technical difficulties, and many had recommended me to go back to version 10.04 when I had the executable bit error, firewall shutting down and a problem with dhclient. If you want ubuntu, I'd say stick to the LTS releases. Its an excellent operating system, but the normal releases aren't so much like the complete operating system when compared to LTS. To sum up: Ubuntu is a free operating system, easy to use, no restrictions on user customisation, many free software repositories available. I recommend only the LTS releases, since they tend to give you very little software faults.
=== Why I purchased their software === I purchased Smarttweak's UpdateMyDrivers software a few years ago, which was from their previous domain smarttweak.com (now smarttweak.org). I had a few drivers on a Windows computer, which weren't working as they were supposed to work due to a number of incompatibility issues - following a Windows update. I tried a number of online driver scans, including the one on Intel's website (http://www.intel.com/p/en_US/support/detect). None of which could completely solve the problem. I then found a number of websites, which offered trial versions of their software. This website (smarttweak) was one, which had found over a hundred driver update files. The scan results were very impressive, and I clicked on the button to update the system drivers. A prompt screen appeared - which said I must purchase and register the software with a licence key, before I can run the update. Before purchasing the software, I read their refund policy. At the top of the page it read "30 day money back guarantee", and the small print stated that this applies when the software doesn't work as advertised. For people requesting a refund within two days, it said "immediate refund...no questions asked". === Purchase, installation and activation === I purchased the software, and paid via Paypal. During the payment process I noticed something a bit suspicious, but gave them the benefit of doubt. The price was in American dollars, which was about $10. The payment confirmation page showed about $24, and I thought I'd let them know about this error after updating the drivers. I received the licence key, which I entered into the program. The program brought up a message, which said it needs to be reinstalled, and the licence key re-applied after the reinstallation. I reinstalled and licenced the program, this time the installation was extremely slow. The initial installation took about five minutes, and this time it took over two hours. === Using the software === I started up the software and ran the update scan, which found a smaller list of updates. I found this a bit odd, because the trial version seemed to find a lot more. I still didn't understand why this software was experiencing some problems, even though it appeared to work well in trial mode. I then clicked the button to download the driver updates, and my antivirus software blocked three or four of the files, which were infected. These weren't false positives, because I had heuristic analysis switched off, because the computer was working a bit slow - due to the problem with drivers. Many files did download, and the software showed the driver update successful. I restarted the computer, and ran the update scan again. I noticed something strange, the program found exactly the same driver updates. I then looked through the list, got a few examples, and searched for the drivers. I found nothing added to the drivers' folder in Windows, and a quick Google search showed the named drivers in the list - to belong to hardware, which didn't exist in the computer. I thought there's something wrong with either the software, or my Windows needs to be reinstalled. I reinstalled Windows, and this time I installed the trial version of the software on that PC, and on another computer. I ran a driver update scan, and on both computers - it found exactly the same results. === Company correspondence === Because the software cost me at least double its cost, and because it didn't work as advertised - I asked for a refund. This was half a day after purchase. The reply they kept giving me was the same "There are no reasons for refund. Please read our refund policy." I had read their refund policy, including the small print. It clearly said there's a thirty day money back guarantee, to which the small print explained - this applies if the software doesn't update the drivers correctly, or it doesn't find the same results as it finds in trial mode. Apart from that, there was the two day no questions asked, money back guarantee. They continued to reply with the same thing, that there aren't any reasons for a refund. I even told them that when it came to payment confirmation, I was charged double the cost. They then edited the cost information on their website, which now included "download insurance". This insurance enables you to re-download the trial software, should the original download fail. Even though anyone can download the trial software, at any time, they chose to use this as an excuse to cover up for the extra money they took. They had refused to give a refund, and I had been discussing with them for a lengthy time. I decided to continue the matter the next day. The next day I went to their website to find some changes, which included the refund policy. They had removed the two day no questions asked, and the thirty day money back guarantee. I had opened the case with Paypal; it was dismissed, because they had made those changes, and Paypal didn't know that the web content was any different before. === My conclusion === It's somewhat understandable - to have made the mistake of purchasing a useless piece of software, which installs blank files and infections to the computer. I've learnt to be a bit more careful about which software providers to trust, and which not to trust. I switched to mostly open-source software, which avoids the hassle of purchasing from fraudulent software providers. Keep your computer safe; don't install their junk on it. === To sum up === I purchased their driver update software, because the trial version showed many driver updates, and instructed that the update can only be done after registering the software. Software didn't work as it was advertised, and behaved more like malware.
Introduction This review cover's how I heard of Firefox, why I considered it to begin with and how I found its installation. I've also included in the review- details of installation and use of Firefox, on Windows and Ubuntu. This includes thirty-two and sixty-four bit Windows operating systems, as well as alternative software to Firefox. Besides that, I've covered information about the program, including the newest major feature and basic information about some other programs I've used, which are made by Mozilla. How I heard of it I first installed Firefox in the dial-up days, the browser was relatively new, and my Internet Explorer was painfully slow. The browser kept freezing, and whenever it worked - it was extremely slow. I knew this wasn't a problem with my computer, because everything except Internet Explorer worked as it was supposed to. The poor performance wasn't even due to temporary files, cookies or cache, which I made sure to clean out regularly. As an XP user at the time; I only needed to know one run command (%temp%) to access the junk files, which I would manually delete. I don't think software such as CCleaner - existed at the time. I was recommended Firefox by a friend, so I decided to install it. I was informed that this browser is a lot faster than Internet Explorer, and it's a lot more stable, user friendly and customisable. I found all these claims to be true. Installation There haven't ever been compatibility issues with installing Firefox, whether on Windows, Linux or other operating systems- in my experience. The installation is, and has been very short and simple- as long as I can remember it. As computers progress in sixty-four bit architecture; I believe Firefox can make a few adjustments, or create an alternate compilation for higher processing architectures for Windows users. The Linux distributions of Firefox- are already available in thirty-two and sixty-four bit compilations. I use the Ubuntu Linux Software Centre, which automatically installs the sixty-four bit version- on my Linux computer. The installation on thirty-two bit Windows is to the %programfiles% directory (Program Files), while on a sixty-four bit Windows, the installation is to %programfiles(x86)% (Program Files (x86)). I never find any problems with Firefox- running on sixty-four bit Windows 7, only the installation is in thirty-two bit format. Sixty-four bit software install's to the %programfiles% directory. One thing I like about the installer- is that it doesn't install unnecessary adware, or any other programs. Nor does it contain anything else, other than the Firefox installation files. So I'm not prompted to choose ask.com toolbar and search engine, which a lot of other freeware installations contain. I don't particularly like ask.com, nor do I like their toolbar, so it's always a relief to know that Firefox installation remains free of ask.com. Running a new installation of Firefox is fast, and doesn't have to look for any further content updates. But updating an existing installation- sometimes needs to find updates for incompatible addons. I usually find this to be the case with Kaspersky URL advisor, which is an addon that takes some times to update- for the newest stable Firefox builds. Firefox automatically checks for updates, if you click the top left Firefox button, then click Help, and click About Firefox. When an update is available, it can be applied from there. I've found this to be a very fast method for updating Firefox, but for me- it's definitely not a substitute to manually downloading the installable file. I always make sure to keep an installer (installation file) saved to disk, so that I can quickly reinstall it after the Windows is reinstalled. I find that the Windows operating system can become a bit corrupt, and could require reinstallation quite often. There's no guarantee that it will get corrupt, but the last time I reinstalled Windows- two years ago; was after a week of prior reinstallation. I never need to keep a Firefox installer for Linux, because Linux is a lot more stable in my experience. I've only ever had to reinstall Ubuntu once, which was after a hard drive failed- following a power surge. Using Firefox on Windows I've found a few performance issues early last year, when Firefox was working a bit slow. I use a sixty-four bit Windows, so I began looking for an alternative to Firefox. I found two alternatives, which are very close to Firefox- in appearance and functionality. Firstly Waterfox, which is a third party sixty-four bit compilation taken directly from Firefox source code. This can't be run parallel to Firefox, as they use the same extensions, cookies, cache and temporary files. The other one is Pale Moon, which can be used in parallel to Firefox, and has its own application data directory. I found neither Pale Moon, nor Waterfox- suitable to replace Firefox. Other users may find one of those two as a good replacement. I kept Pale Moon installed, and use it quite often along with Firefox. There are some functions, which don't work in Pale Moon. An example is collectively bookmarking all open tabs, which is a useful default feature in Firefox. Most of the functionality of Firefox- is available in the sixty-four bit Windows alternatives. Even the latest version number of Pale Moon, accurately matches the Firefox build, because its built on the same initial source code, with a few modifications. Using Firefox on Ubuntu Linux I found my first install of Firefox on Ubuntu to have the old menu-bar view, which was the default. I right-clicked in the top blank part of the Firefox window and unchecked the Menu-bar feature, which left the window view with the new interface. Without tweaking, Ubuntu 10.04's repository has version 3.6 of Firefox and thunderbird. I used Ubuntu Tweak to manually add the up to date installation repository for Mozilla. The version I use is compiled for sixty-four bit architecture computers. It's installed by default to usr/lib, but the installation can be made portable and customised to the user's needs in Linux. I find the default installation good enough, and the application/user data is easy enough to backup. The procedure is simply to copy the user data folder, which back's up all the data, including all the extensions. Linux also has alternatives to Firefox, which are very similar in appearance and functionality. I've used IceCat, and still use it at times. In my opinion, IceCat isn't as good as Firefox, because I've found it to slow down at times and even crash. Although IceCat nearly always works very well, a few hiccups in the program are enough to change a person's opinion. Program and Updates Firefox is one of the applications, made by Mozilla. The software is available to download at www.mozilla.org , and can also be accessed by typing www.firefox.com , which is redirected to the correct page. Downloading the program is very easy, you have to simply visit http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/all​.html , and choose the language and operating system, which you wish to download it for. The latest versions of Firefox have a newer feature, which improves upon the tabbed browsing experience- at least it does so in my opinion. I've found the Tab grouping feature to come in very handy for saving a lot of window space for heavy browsing, especially as some of us may be used to opening many unrelated tabs. This feature can be used to quickly put tabs into groups, and even label each tab group. The tab groups button can be access at the top right corner of the browser, this button is next to the window control buttons. The button has a symbol, which is made of four rectangles. Company Mozilla has several other projects, which include Thunderbird (an email client), Seamonkey (All-In-One web browser with email and calendar functionalities). I use Thunderbird and Seamonkey, but I don't use Seamonkey as often as I use Firefox, and it's not much of an alternative to Firefox- in my opinion. I haven't used their other software as much, e.g. Lightning and Sunbird, so I can't really say what I know about them; you'll find the little I know from their website at this URL: http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/projects/ My conclusion Using Firefox for a number of years has given me plenty of time, in which I can get to understand the features, functions, performance and changes in Firefox. I've come to the conclusion that Firefox is the best browser overall, whether analysed from a speed point of view, or user customisation, appearance and functionality. I've found Firefox, Pale Moon and Safari to run at the highest speeds. I found Firefox, Pale Moon and Chrome to be the best in features and customisation. I've found Internet Explorer, Chrome and Maxthon to be rather slow and crash more often. I've found Opera to be the mediocre in most cases, except customisation, in which it's not so good. Safari doesn't work on Linux, so I can't give it as high ratings as I give to Firefox. Pale Moon's few limitations in functionality, drop it slightly lower in grade- compared to Firefox. This is the basic theoretic view of why Firefox is my favourite browser, even though I use many browsers.