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Archive for Richard Swinburne

The Most Annoying Crapware

Posted on 16th Sep 2009 at 11:23 by Richard Swinburne with 67 comments

Richard Swinburne
What makes companies think it's OK to install extra crap you didn't ask for by default? There are numerous examples of this, from store-bought laptops that are preloaded with bloatware to toolbars that come included with your chosen browser. Even the most trusted sources and manufacturers have become involved with this crapware epidemic.

"Security" companies seem to to be most notorious offenders of all, constantly trying to weasel their way onto your PC when you don't want them to. Once they've invaded your registry and (previously) clean startup procedure so that they're nigh impossible to remove they begin their main task - pummelling you with notifications and subscription requests.

It's not limited to Microsoft (probably one of the worst facilitators of this) either; ATI, Adobe, Asus and Gigabyte are all guilty parties too and that's just off the top of my head. I'm sure many of you will fill me in with your experiences too, so go ahead - name and shame them!

Below, I've listed some of the worst and most annoying examples of bloatware and their carriers that I've found in the past few weeks.

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Paying for attention

Posted on 25th Aug 2009 at 10:02 by Richard Swinburne with 4 comments

Richard Swinburne
This unsolicited email dropped in my inbox the other day. I get thrown on quite a few PR lists without my prior consent, that's just the way it is, but reading into it a bit more I wonder: does social networking really matter?

We've starred out the names because we don't want to give this rotten spammer publicity - essentially, he runs a service that purports to allow people to buy Twitter followers.

Contact: Leon XXXXXX
CEO – XXXXXX.net
http://XXXXXX.net/
contact@ XXXXXX.net
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

TWITTER ATTEMPTS TO SHUT DOWN XXXXXX

Twitter has recently moved to shut down web promotions company XXXXXX.net, by claiming the advertising agency is “spamming”.

According to XXXXXX CEO Leon XXXXXX, Twitter recently sent accusations via a brand-management organisation that XXXXXX are using Twitter for spam purposes. Despite this, XXXXXX say the claims are false.

“The definition of spam is using electronic messaging to send unsolicited communication and as we don’t use Twitter for this, the claims are false.” Said XXXXXX.

XXXXXX believe the claims are due to a service the company sells which allows clients to purchase packages of followers to increase their viewership on the site.

“The people at Twitter who are sending these claims are just flailing around trying to look for any excuse they can, though it’s going to take much more than this if they want us to pack up shop.” Said XXXXXX. “We’re not going away that easily.”

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Lynnfield Lab update

Posted on 21st Aug 2009 at 10:52 by Richard Swinburne with 7 comments

Richard Swinburne
Yeah I'm going to tease you all a little again.

We've been running numbers for the last two weeks for both magazine and online coverage of Lynnfield - you'll get the full package all together in Issue 74 of CPC, and of course, for bit-tech we'll be there with the info throughout September (depends on Intel's NDA as to exactly when). Custom PC readers will get a different experience to those just reading bit-tech, but we've carefully designed it so everyone will be informed.

On the test bench has been all the upcoming Lynnfield CPUs - retail boxed ones - and a selection of P55 motherboards, including the MSI P55 GD65, Gigabyte GA-P55-UD5 and Asus P7P55 Deluxe with the MSI P55 GD80, Gigabyte GA-P55M-UD4 and ECS P55 (possibly) reviewed at a later date.

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Addictive flash games #2: The Space Game

Posted on 19th Aug 2009 at 08:25 by Richard Swinburne with 8 comments

Richard Swinburne
In my current casual gaming binge I've stumbled across The Space Game. It's simply titled but vastly addictive. Just as if I tell you that you will now have "The Final Countdown" stuck in your head -

Do-do-do-DOOOOooooooooo... do-do-do-d-do!

- The Space Game won't leave you alone.

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Games I Own: Samorost 2, the greatest Flash game ever

Posted on 7th Aug 2009 at 08:12 by Richard Swinburne with 4 comments

Richard Swinburne
I bunged its 19MB installer deep in my hard drive's subdirectories, the depths of which I haven't trawled in many years. By chance I happened to find myself in an old 'Games' directory today whilst doing the spring summer clean out.

Ahh Samorost 2, my first ever online game purchase.

The first Samorost is as excellent, and can be played online - something I suggest you do right now. The sequel is just as good, if not better.

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MSI: Finally hitting the nail on the head

Posted on 4th Aug 2009 at 12:07 by Richard Swinburne with 11 comments

Richard Swinburne
Where other motherboard manufacturers have fallen by the wayside (DFI, as proved by both the mediocre DK 790FXB-M3H5, and the reader reaction to it), or given up altogether (Abit, Epox), MSI is moving onwards and upwards.

MSI used to consistently languish in a distant third place (compared to Asus and Gigabyte) but this year not only has it really challenged the dominant two, in my opinion, it's successfully achieved a top tier place with many recommendation-worthy products.

For those who know me, writing something so unanimously positive is a difficult objective, being the critical barsteward I am. This reputation seems to have carried more than I've realised, as the conversation below proves after I tweeted that I was writing "a blog about MSI". Thank you for your honesty, my anonymous friend.

Not Doug says (21:50):
Rude blog?
Richard :: bit-tech says (21:51):
Positive
Not Doug says (21:51):
SHOCKMAHORRA!
Richard :: bit-tech says (21:51):
I know
Not Doug says (21:51):
I thought you were meant to be rude to everyone

However the more I write this the more obvious it seems, so, I can be nice when the situation calls for it!

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The death of Elpida Hypers

Posted on 13th Jul 2009 at 12:42 by Richard Swinburne with 3 comments

Richard Swinburne
The buzz in extreme overclocking circles recently has been about DDR3 memory featuring Elipda Hyper ICs coming to an early death. In response to this, several companies have stopped selling very high frequency and/or very low latency DDR3 products built with these ICs.

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I'm a GPGPU snob when it comes to video transcoding

Posted on 8th Jul 2009 at 10:08 by Richard Swinburne with 13 comments

Richard Swinburne
If it ain't hundreds of frames per second, I don't want to know.

If I'm forced to use a CPU, it feeeeeeels painfully slow.

Everyday I get the train into London, and with the luxury of a 16GB iPod touch I usually watch an episode of something on the way in. The downside is that this usually requires transcoding video from a DVD or other source so that it works on the iPod.

Since my PC houses a still very capable GeForce 8800 Ultra, I decided it'd be worth having another look at Badaboom, the CUDA compatible GPGPU video transcoder.

It's come a long way since we first saw it and for the most part it works great - a 30 minute episode of animation or TV takes 3-5 minutes to do in the morning. By the time I'm out the shower it's ready to zip to the iPod and I'm out the door.

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PSU testing and a visit to Be Quiet! headquarters

Posted on 26th Jun 2009 at 15:35 by Richard Swinburne with 4 comments

Richard Swinburne
In an industrial park about 15km outside Hamburg, I was shuttled via taxi to Listan HQ in Germany. This was right after CeBIT and I was there to test PSUs and meet the people behind Listan. The company oversees several others - including Be Quiet! for PSUs and Revoltek for coolers and chassis.

Many of Listan's employees came from competitors such as Enermax and Maxpoint (Tagan, Seasonic etc) just down the road - by PSU industry standards Listan is relatively new, however it's more recently got its act together and made big strides supplying some great Be Quiet! PSUs for the UK market. (On the other hand, the Revoltek brand is... well, it needs development still, in my opinion. It's certainly not to our UK tastes in terms of aesthetics and ownership desirability.)

Generally at Listan, from three to nine people work in each department. The design room is small and simple, and looks over many white boards. It's focused on developing a few key products rather than spamming the market with clones.

Listan's warehouse is, as you'd expect from the Germans, immaculate. Clean, efficient... and then I turn up and sprawl a dozen PSUs across the desks, floor, and most places where they'd left space. Ha!

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2009: The year to buy your SSD

Posted on 18th Jun 2009 at 12:21 by Richard Swinburne with 14 comments

Richard Swinburne
For those who haven't already grabbed one and are still wondering if now is the time, I think I can say that yes, the time is now: SSDs are becoming the predominant boot drive for enthusiasts with a bit of spare cash.

Don't just take the big sustained read/write values at face, it's actually in day-to-day usability of SSDs that really make the difference: click as fast as you can on Word or FireFox and they'll open at the rate your finger moves. It's akin to having a fresh install every time you turn on your PC - everything just loads.

Prices are dropping all the time and while the cache supported Indilinx or Samsung SSDs are clearly the premium products - balancing top performance with anti-stutter cache and zeroed response times - even the more affordable Samsung (or Corsair) 64GB MLC SSDs, or even the dual JMicron OCZ Apex, or G.Skill Titan afford most of the benefits.

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