Archive for Alex Watson

An update on the redesign

Posted on 20th Apr 2010 at 17:10 by Alex Watson with 152 comments

Alex Watson
Yesterday saw the launch of bit-tech's first complete redesign in five years - with new features and a new look. A change in design is always going to be a challenge, especially when it comes after such a long period of time, and for a site like bit-tech that's so important for its community.

However, it was time for a redesign. We felt the old design just wasn't working any more - I went into the reasons in full in my post introducing the redesign, but basically, we were producing too many articles for the old design to handle - it couldn't surface them for long enough - and because we couldn't update the site that frequently, we were tied into producing very long articles.

Add in changing demands of advertisers, the Custom PC integration and our plans for the future and we felt a new design was needed.

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Welcome to bit-tech 2010

Posted on 19th Apr 2010 at 10:33 by Alex Watson with 265 comments

Alex Watson
Five years is a long time. Wars are fought and finished in that time. Huge buildings are constructed in that time. Children grow from tiny babies to annoying kids in that time. The Stone Roses even made a second album in that time. On the internet, five years is an eternity. Empires rise and fall in that time.

Back in 2005, there was no Twitter and Facebook was still for university students. There was no iPhone and people still referred to Windows Vista as Longhorn. Yet if you checked bit-tech in 2005, it looked largely as it does today. Here's ex-editor Wil's piece on the last redesign.

Over the years, we've made a few changes - adding a blog and a podcast, some links to Dennis sites - but essentially, the site looked the same. While the site has carried on, a lot has changed, both in terms of what we cover and what happens behind the scenes. We're now writing a much wider variety of article types, so while we do still have massive reviews of motherboards and graphics cards, we've upped the amount of games coverage we run, and of course, there are shorter and more opinionated pieces on the blog.

In fact, we're writing more in general, and the fact the old bit-tech front page couldn't show any more than ten main articles was quite frustrating. Then there's the fact that web advertising has moved on; five years ago, skyscraper ads were great. These days, MPUs and site takeovers are the norm, and the old site didn't support them that well.

Behind the scenes, things have changed, too - in 2008, bit-tech was bought by Dennis, and we spent much of 2009 figuring out how bit-tech and Custom PC could work well together. We feel like we've cracked it now, and 2009 was great for us in terms of business, meaning we could hire staff and explore new projects such as Rich moving to the Far East to be our man in Taiwan.

All this meant now was the ideal time to redesign. The team had been looking at a redesign in 2008, but the Dennis buyout meant it shifted to the backburner. We started with those designs, and Jamie, bit-tech's developer - yes, this site is built and maintained by one man - got a new beta working remarkably quickly. We then started inviting readers to test it, and ended up with over 100 people helping out. We took in their feedback and refined the site over the past three weeks, and today it's finally ready to launch.

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Why it should have been Syndicate and Theme Park

Posted on 9th Apr 2010 at 13:59 by Alex Watson with 27 comments

Alex Watson
As part of our Made in the UK week of games coverage, Joe put together a feature called The Best UK Games Ever. It was both well written and free from Deus Ex references, but that doesn't mean it was without flaws - as with any list feature we debated it around our desks for quite a while, but with no objective data, in the end, it's going to be a subjective piece. If you're going to go that route, then it's perhaps best to be wholly committed to it, and the list ought to represent one person's viewpoint - not a hodge-podge - and Joe acknowledged that's what we had, saying: "It’s telling as to the quality of Bullfrog’s games that the conversation was focused not on whether or not there were better games from other developers, but rather which Bullfrog game we should choose. Clive and Richard demanded Theme Hospital. Alex wanted Theme Park. James wanted Syndicate. But I’m writing this article and I wanted Dungeon Keeper. So, there."

What I'm saying is that Joe is wrong, but in the best possible way - so now I'm going to offer my reasoning as to why Theme Park and Syndicate should have made the list.

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CPUs under the microscope - literally

Posted on 30th Mar 2010 at 10:27 by Alex Watson with 11 comments

Alex Watson
What I love most about photography is the way it can show aspects of the world that are invisible to regular human vision - timelapse, x-ray, macro, lenses with a wider angle than the eye - are fascinating.

Tom Royal, an old colleague of mine, who now works at Computer Active, has found a microscope and taken some great photos of a variety of techy bits and pieces with it.

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Valve looking to OpenGL means Microsoft should be worried

Posted on 15th Mar 2010 at 10:09 by Alex Watson with 23 comments

Alex Watson
Valve has been on a bit of a roll recently, with its beautifully executed Portal mystery and smart re-working of Apple adverts to announce Steam coming to Mac OS X.

The approachable, inclusive nature of Valve’s marketing – and the thoughtfulness of features such as SteamCloud, where you won’t need to repurchase games – means gamers love the company, but we shouldn’t be blind to the interesting political movements that Valve’s recent actions hint at.

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Why the iPad is Intel’s worst nightmare

Posted on 12th Feb 2010 at 09:50 by Alex Watson with 44 comments

Alex Watson
Whereas most people were only too keen to talk and talk about the pros and cons of the iPad, I think there’s probably one set of people who, more than any other, wish the iPad would just go away: Intel’s senior executives.

The iPad is close to Intel’s worst nightmare because it’s a ‘proper’ computer - it’s certainly not a smartphone - that doesn’t use an Intel x86 CPU. It’s also a machine that doesn’t face any of the demand-killing limitations non Intel laptops have done before. It’s not from a no-name company that people won’t trust, or whose products you can’t actually find in the shops. It’s not running Linux or an OS that’s difficult to understand. It’s not unfamiliar – millions of people know how to use the iPhone – and once the Apple marketing juggernaut gets up and running, you’re not going to be unaware it exists.

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AX:GS - The Final Reckoning

Posted on 21st Jan 2010 at 11:10 by Alex Watson with 22 comments

Alex Watson
So here we are, at long, long last - delayed by timezones, product launches, snow, and even Christmas (who could have forseen that, coming, as it did, out of the blue on the 25th of December?), this is the end of the Asus Xtreme Global Summit (AX: GS) competition.

Well, not quite the end - because one bit-tech reader will be heading to Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, to meet up with various members of the Asus R&D team, including motherboard designers, BIOS gurus and product managers. In addition, the winner will also bag themselves an Asus Sabertooth 55i motherboard. One runner up will also win one of these very sexy boards.

Over the last few months, the lucky readers who won the chance to attend the AX: GS event last summer in London have been blogging about the day and their hardware prizes. We've been scrutinising the blogs, posting highlights here on the bit-tech blog, and we've now picked an overall winner.

Drum roll - or mouse click, whichever you prefer - if you please!

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Upgrading your graphics card is so easy even a monkey can do it

Posted on 20th Jan 2010 at 10:55 by Alex Watson with 27 comments

Alex Watson
AMD's marketing gets criticised for lacking the clarity and presence messages of Intel's campaigns - and though what the two firms spend is vastly different (Intel's ad ad spend is a story in itself), it's somehow not surprising to find out that AMD hires Marketing Executives who openly admit that they wouldn't buy its products if they didn't work there.

What's most frustrating about AMD's marketing is that it lacks the strong, coherent story Intel usually manages to present - take, for instance, laptops. Centrino, with its colourful little butterfly logo, was great at saying "this laptop has good battery life, WiFi and decent performance." For most people, who are uninterested in CPU architecture and clockspeed, it was ideal; clear, simple and in tune with what the majority of people wanted. AMD still - over six years late - has no rival to Centrino, opting instead for a confusing jumble of AMD, Radeon and WiFi badges to tell consumers the same thing.

Which brings us onto AMD's latest marketing idea. Monkeys - yes, real, actual, live monkeys - installing graphics cards. It's true! The video is embedded after the jump.

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How to enable Windows 7 God Mode

Posted on 8th Jan 2010 at 10:09 by Alex Watson with 21 comments

Alex Watson
Did you know Windows 7 has a God mode?

It sounds cooler than it is in reality - you're not invulnerable to BSODs, and the system doesn't play One of Us when it starts up.

That said, it's not completely useless either - it gives you a shortcut to all the options in Control Panel and allows you to easily get to usually buried controls.

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More opportunities at Dennis

Posted on 4th Jan 2010 at 11:48 by Alex Watson with 5 comments

Alex Watson
You might remember we posted before Christmas about a job vacancy on PC Pro - which, incidentally, is open until the 8th of January, so you've still got time to apply - but today's post is about another job opening at Dennis.

This time it's bit-tech's business orientated sibling, IT PRO, that's on the look out for a staff writer.

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Custom PC Issue 125

Custom PC Issue 125

Our latest issue is bursting with premium PC goodness, as we enter the land of dream PCs, full of expert customisation and modding, as well as gorgeous water-cooling loops.

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