Saturday, 28 February 2015

10 Things Windows 10 Won't Fix

Windows 10

Mark Pickavance finds ten elephants that the Microsoft won’t address with its new version of Windows

There’s an expression in poker that sums up well where Microsoft finds itself with Windows 10: ‘all in’. Another failure on the scale of Windows 8 could seriously undermine investor confidence in the company and those senior people it relies on to keep the company relevant in a rapidly changing technological world.

With its future riding on it, Microsoft is keen to point out how Windows 10 addresses many of the problems that its customers experienced with the previous release.

But, there are many very obvious problems with and around Windows that this new version won’t address, some through circumstance but mostly through choice.

Asus Z97-A USB 3.1

Asus Z97-A USB 3.1

It seems like only yesterday that USB 3.0 became a standard feature on Intel motherboards. It’s actually been a year and a half since Intel introduced it to the Z87 chipset, but the specification was actually created much earlier, back in 2008; Intel simply took its sweet time to integrate it into its chipsets. This is probably why the introduction of the new USB 3.1 standard feels a little premature, yet the standard has actually been around since 2013. We’ve just received the first motherboard to include the new USB format in the form of the Asus Z97-A USB 3.1. Let’s see just how fast the new connection is, and determine whether or not its time has really come.

Ultimate Final Cut Pro X workflow accessories

Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro X has ironed out many of its initial creases and is certainly worthy of the Pro’ in its moniker. We take a look at what else you might need for the ultimate workflow alongside this powerful editing platform

When Final Cut Pro X was first released, a large proportion of the professional videography and editing community was outraged at the radicalisation of such an iconic piece of software. The familiar track-based editing format was swept aside in favour of a magnetic timeline, organising via bins was abolished in favour of Smart Collections utilising metadata, and the whole package was available via the App Store for around a quarter of the price of its predecessor.

Over three years down the line, and with numerous updates under its belt, adding pro features like multi-cam editing, a library structure and Apple ProRes 4444 XQ support among many others, Final Cut Pro X has re-established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the pro videography editing market. However, if you're after a super efficient workflow and want to get the most out of this platform there are a few further accessories you should be considering investing in.

HP Chromebox

HP Chromebox

David Briddock investigates the potential of a Google Chrome OS desktop

There’s no doubt hardware based on Google’s Chrome operating system (OS) has caused a mini revolution in the PC arena.

One reason is the easy-to-use nature of Chrome OS, perfect for consumers who spends their time using cloud-based social communication, games or just web surfing.

Chromebooks, essentially lightweight, Intel-powered laptops running Chrome OS, have carved out a market all of their own. With an ultra-lightweight design, complete with full keyboard and trackpad, a Chromebook is an ideal solution for email communication, web surfing or taking full advantage of today’s powerful web-centric, cloudbased apps.

And the latest range of Chromebooks are fantastic value for money. For example, you can buy a number of entry-level Chromebooks, with a 12” or 13” screen, for under $200 from HP, Asus and other companies.

Download anonymously

Download anonymously

Wayne Williams reveals how to keep your downloads completely private, so no-one will ever know which files you’re grabbing from the web

Just as you’re never truly alone when you browse the web – with advertisers, your ISP and even government agencies watching what you do – your  downloads are also vulnerable to snoopers. This might not seem too alarming if you’re not illegally downloading copyrighted films or amassing a stash of adult videos, but it’s still an invasion of privacy and allows unknown third parties to build up a picture of your online activities.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to prevent anyone else from knowing which files you’re downloading and have already downloaded, whether you’re using your PC, mobile device or somebody else’s computer.

In this feature, we show you how to use torrenting tools anonymously; download files via a proxy server or a VPN (Virtual Private Network); use a seedbox for super-fast (and totally unidentifiable) downloads; grab files from Usenet; and lock, hide and clean up folders once you’ve finished downloading.

Stop your anti-virus blocking safe software

anti-virus blocking safe software

Over-vigilant security software sometimes flags harmless files as malware. Jonathan Parkyn explains what you can do to identify, prevent and report false positives

Scan the suspicious file using VirusTotal

No security software is 100-per-cent foolproof, so a second opinion is always useful, particularly if you’re not sure whether a download is genuinely malicious or not. VirusTotal ( doesn’t just give you a second opinion, it gives you more than 50, by running your file through multiple anti-virus engines, including big names such as Symantec, Bitdefender, Sophos, McAfee and Kaspersky. Best of all, this simple but powerful online tool is completely free and you don’t need to register with VirusTotal to use it.

The hypocrisy of blocking online ads

blocking online ads

Barry Collins finds that ad blockers aren’t as altruistic as they first appear

Until about a year ago, I never liked the idea of ad blockers. The fairies don’t put words on websites while you’re sleeping; most of them are put there by real journalists being paid real money by real publishers, and if you need to view a banner ad or even close a pop-up in lieu of payment for the information you’re getting, so be it. That’s your side of the unwritten deal.

Then advertisers got silly. Really silly. Auto-playing video ads with the volume cranked to 11 became the norm. You’d be sitting at your desk when suddenly a tab you hadn’t touched for two minutes would erupt into life, blasting your eardrums with advertising jingles as you flapped about in a panic, trying to find the offending tab to shut it down. You couldn’t boycott the sites that were doing it, because they were all doing it: the only way to keep the peace was to (reluctantly, in my case) install an ad blocker.

Nikon Coolpix P7800

Nikon Coolpix P7800

Putting an electronic viewfinder into the P7800 elevates Nikon’s top-of-the-line P Series Coolpix to a different level than many of its competitors. By Paul Burrows

It seems contradictory that quite a number of the enthusiast-level compact cameras – including Nikon’s own Coolpix A – don’t have built-in viewfinders. You’d think it was self evident that cameras designed for a more discerning audience should have the feature that most distinguishes them from the pointand-shooters (and the smart phones). The facility for fitting an accessory EVF at least provides the option albeit with the compromise of an additional outlay, but it’s hard to fathom the thinking behind a supposedly high-end camera with nothing, nil, zip, nada.

Panasonic Lumix GM5

Panasonic Lumix GM5

Remember how good the GM1 was? Essentially a pocket-sized version of the GX7, it had a lot going for it, but just lacked a couple of critical elements as far as the enthusiast-level shooter was concerned. Well, Panasonic has been listening to the feedback… By Paul Burrows

It’s not often you get a result quite so speedily as Panasonic has responded to the comments made about its Lumix GM1 model. You may remember that this was essentially the brilliant GX7’s vital organs repackaged into a pocket-sized bodyshell. Consequently, there was lots to like, but…

Where’s the viewfinder we asked? And what about 1080/50p video? Also, while we’re at it, why can’t we have a proper flash hotshoe? Panasonic obviously thought all these questions were fair enough and, subsequently, wasted no time rectifying matters. Just a year after the GM1, comes the GM5 complete with EVF, flash hotshoe and 1080/50p video.