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MXit on Mac, PC

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Just a quick heads-up: MXit Lifestyle, makers of the popular South African (and now international) instant messaging app "MXit", have released an Adium plugin for running MXit on Mac.

I've just downloaded and used it, and it works like a charm. No problems to report about so far, and I'm ecstatic that I can finally chat to my MXit friends whilst on Mac (at the same time being able to talk to my Facebook and Gtalk buddes thanks to the amazing powers of Adium).

You can get the plugin for Adium from their official site. Note that you'll need to download and install Adium, the free and super-awesome instant messenger for Mac OS X.

MXit is also available for PC. You can download the full PC client (for free) from their site.

MXit is a free instant messenger that allows you to communicate with friends via your mobile phone, iPhone, Android device or BlackBerry. I was fortunate to be one of the few beta testers in South Africa to use the early MXit app back in 2005-2006, and it has grown rapidly since its official release.

Why I Don't Like Touchscreen Phones

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Touch screen phones are all the rage these days. Everywhere you look, there's some new phone out that offers a 3.5" touch display (usually with no keyboard).

Having owned an iPhone 3G, I am of the firm belief that full touch phones are just a gimmick - their original "wow" factor tends to ware off, and the user is usually left with a user experience that's anything but amazing.

For instance, one major gripe that I have about these types of phones is the inability to "feel" the keyboard, thus allowing you to type without looking at the screen (something I tend to do a little too often). Besides, being able to "feel" a keyboard ensures that you feel "secure" in what you've pressed - you can be sure that that key is what the corresponding writing on-screen will be.

Furthermore, touch screen phones pose the problem of being very delicate devices. A cracked touch screen can run the repair bill up to quite an extraordinary figure - and manufacturers usually don't include the screen as part of the warranty.

While I am an opponent of the advent of touch screen phones, I'm not ruling them out. Touch is the future, we all know that. But what I think is cool is the "hybrid" phones, like most HTC mobiles and Nokia's new N97. These phones offer a ful touch screen for easy, quick access to things like reading new texts, or pulling up contact information. But they also include a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard so that you can compose text in an easier manner.

What's your take on touch screen phones? Drop a line in the comments, I look forward to your unique opinions.

Windows 7 May Be Cool, But It'll Still Suck

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Windows 7 looks all fine and dandy right now. It looks good - brilliant, even. Its design is probably the first in Microsoft Windows history to actually be able to rival that of the great Mac OS X... but it's still going to suck. Let me tell you why:

All versions of Redmond's Windows operating system have been plagued by a technology that underpins the operating of the system - the Windows Registry. This piece of software manages the existance and execution of applications on the system - by storing special "Registry Keys" that contain information pertaining to application settings, as well as special keys designated to the installation of files on the system. It's basically the backbone of Windows, and it's also very much prone to getting corrupted very quickly.

It is, nine out of ten times, the cause of messing up your Windows experience and resulting in a re-install of the system. It gets corrupted mainly because when you install and uninstall software, the registry manages all the application's keys in a very complex manner. So uninstalling software can result in the system not removing certain keys (usually because it deems them necessary for other applications). This corrupts the integral part of the Windows system.

Now this type of technology is kind of "obsolete" in today's modern world. Modern operating systems like Mac OS X and Linux (because Windows is not, contrary to popular belief, modern - its core, NT, is over twenty years old!) have more intuitive ways of managing applications on the system. Microsoft has yet to jump on the bandwagon and develop a more stable way of managing their applications, and thus making the OS more reliable.

So that's why Windows 7, with its corrupt-prone Registry, will still suck in the long-run.

BOLT Browser Finally Out of Beta

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BOLT Browser, the mobile Internet browser that we ran a review of earlier this year, is finally out of its beta stage, and is into mainstream release today, according to an email sent to beta testers.

The browser in its beta form was fairly competent at browsing the web on a phone, although some features, such as the "mobile" view and "cut-down" rendering, which subsequently saves costs, found in competing browsers like Opera Mini, were notably absent from BOLT.

On the plus side, though, version 1.5, which is the official "final" release of BOLT, and its first version out of the beta phase, supports video streaming of any length (think YouTube on your phone!), up to an apparent 1.5% speed increase in browsing, and a new download manager to facilitate downloading files from the net.

This new browser will be competing with the formidable Opera Mini 5 browser, which, although currently in beta phase, is looking extremely promising with a slick new interface and some snazzy new features. However, Opera Mini does lack the video capabilities of BOLT, and this may just lend the upper hand to the newer browser.

BOLT Browser is available to download from this site.

What Is Google Wave?

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The tech scene is abuzz with talks about a new Google service in the making, called Google Wave. But what exactly is it?

Web 2.0, the social revolution, has spawned a new type of technology called "cloud computing", which enables a user's information to be stored "in the cloud" - literally, on servers owned by the service that the user signed up for (e.g. Facebook).

Now, Google Wave is basically a type of cloud-based service that will allow users to collaborate in real-time on projects using digital media like photos, text, videos, maps and sound. Its an enhanced communication method that will allow people working on projects to collaborate with each other via the power of the Internet. It sounds cool, especially since it has that "Google Factor" to it, which means we can expect an innovative approach to this type of service.

This type of service has been done by Microsoft already, with their "Groove" product which integrates with Microsoft Office, so it will be interesting to see what Google has to offer.

Is Apple Going To Be The Next Google?

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Apple has changed its stance significantly over the past ten years. Once exclusively a "computer" company (with the word part of their name) the Cupertino-based company is now focussed on the consumer electronics scene - a market that is very widespread and at times can be a bit ambiguous.

But a latest string of events has much cause for concern regarding Apple and Google's relationship. Once "BFFs", a rift has slowly formed between the two, with its highest point being the departure of Eric Schmidt (Google CEO) from Apple's Board.

What's even more interesting is Apple's sneaky intrusion into business areas currently dominated by the search giant Google - things like Apple's acquisition of maps developer PolicyMap in July and their increasing interest in web-based services makes us wonder whether Apple is trying to "pull a Microsoft" and go head-to-head with the formiddable search giant.

We've seen what that can entail - Microsoft's constant duel with Google has resulted in the Redmond company developing some strange services (Bing, anyone?) that tries very hard, but never quite makes the cut, of usurping the search throne. Let's just hope that if they do go this route, Apple will do it with their unique style and innovative flair - thus they wouldn't lose face as quick as Microsoft did.

Check out ThatGuitarBlog!

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Byte Lounge now has a new companion blog, part of the Byte Network, that aims to bring you insights on all things guitar! The site is called ThatGuitarBlog, and you can visit it here. Don't forget to add it to your RSS feeds subscription to keep up to speed with the world of music and guitar!

The site falls under the Byte Network, and as such you'll feel right at home with the familiar Byte Lounge-style design and brisk pace of news.

Enjoy!

Assassin's Creed 2 - Plot, Info and Release Dates!

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Assassin's Creed is one game franchise that I really like. Apart from the awesome graphics and the intricate detail in expansive worlds, the game has a great storyline to it as well.

And now Desmond Myles is back, this time assassinating in Renaissance Italy through his ancestor, Ezio Auditore da Firenze. The story goes that when Ezio's father is murdered, the hero embarks on a journey of taking revenge on the rival family that committed the crime.

But the cool thing about this game is that, since it's set in Renaissance Italy, the developers have included one of the time's most prolific people - Leonardo da Vinci! The great painter and engineer will be Ezio's accomplice, and according to reports the player will be able to fly in some of da Vinci's flying machines, enabling quick-access to assassination points.

The game will be set largely in Venice, with additional parts in Rome and Sicily, similar to the first installment where Altaïr moved between Jerusalem, Damascus and Acre to conduct his missions.

The game is expected to release on 17 November 2009 in North America and 20 November 2009 in the European Union for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Windows version will be out in early 2010. (South African gamers should expect to get the console versions around the time of the EU version's release, so that's around 20 November).

To whet your appetite for the game, here's a video preview:



Opera Mini 5 Brings The Real Web In Your Palm

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Opera Mini has long been known as the web browser that "democratised" the mobile web. Before its first version was released, the only way to get a decent web experience on a mobile was through an expensive smartphone. "Dumbphones" that didn't have sufficient processing power couldn't even dream of running a competent browser.

Through the years, Opera ASA has enhanced this product significantly with many features that have really improved what is a solid product to start with. There have been minor glitches along the way, but Opera Mini is still the best mobile browser out there at the moment.

Recently, Opera ASA has released a beta version of the next step in Opera Mini's development, and after trying it out I must say that I'm impressed.

Opera Mini 5 now looks just like a desktop browser. The traditional "Start Page" is now arranged in a grid, with a small preview of your favourite bookmarks in each block. There's inline form filling. And you can now copy text from a webpage (if your phone supports copy and paste, that is). The overall interface has been overhauled and the result is a very intuitive web browser that gives you the World Wide Web in the palm of your hand.

One feature that I really like is the new "mobile" view. This view now includes a "mouse" (just like in the standard "web" view) but it supports quick scrolling via the 2, 8, 4 and 6 keys on your phone's keypad. This gives you the power of browsing like on a desktop, but with enhanced speed to navigate around larger pages.

You can also give Opera Mini 5 a go on your phone. Simply navigate to mini.opera.com from your phone's web browser, and click on the "Beta" link.

Google Fast Flip - The Digital Newspaper, Perhaps?

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Recently, I wrote about the changing face of newspapers in today's digital world. Well, the latest insight into this is that Google, everybody's favourite information hoarder, is planning to lead the pack into the digitising newspapers with their latest project, called Fast Flip.

Essentially, what Google has done is struck up an agreement with some of the major newsmakers in the world - e.g. The Washington Post and The New York Times - to collate their headlines into an intuitive interface that sorts and organises stories under relevant "tags", much like how a blog organises its posts.

Of course, being Google, money is definitely involved. Google plans to share revenue on AdSense adverts that are contextual to the content displayed, with the owners of the content. So in essence, Google is not creating the news, they are simply collecting information on one single platform, allowing you as the reader to get definitive reporting from various sources in one single place.

The catch with this project is that many news houses aren't very happy with Google's plans. FastFlip will limit their potential to "own" their own branding and be wholly in charge of their marketing. Furthermore, they'll have to share profits from advertising - one of the largest sources of income in the media world - with Google. Additionally, they're not happy with the fact that their content is being shared and perused by others - in other words, they don't have full control over their readership.

Now you may argue that these media companies should just stick to the print side of the business. But the truth is that the World Wide Web is the future. These companies won't be able to survive only on their print media, because the majority of their readership is moving online and living in the connected digital lifestyle; they're information-hungry and always searching for the latest "new" thing.

Thus, these media houses need to embrace the digital revolution and ride on innovation.

Whilst Google Fast Flip is controversial at this stage, we must take in to account the fact that it's still in Beta testing stage. There's still a lot of work left to do, and in the end I hope we'll be in for a stylish, innovative product that will surely change the way we stay in touch with the world.

7 Cool Mac Apps That You Should Have

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A friend of mine recently moved to Mac with a new aluminium 13" MacBook Pro. Being a Windows user for all his life, he told me that the difference in how he used his computer is definitely visible, and wanted to know of a few apps he should get for his new Mac. Now, I have been planning to do a post like this sometime (seeing as I'm a Mac user as well), and so I now have a good reason for which to post this comprehensive list of seven free applications that I use on my MacBook, that I think would benefit any new Mac user out there. Enjoy!

VLC Player
This application is really handy for users who've moved from the Windows world. It allows you to play most popular video and audio formats, such as Windows Media Video (WMV), Windows Media Audio (WMA) and MPEG content. There is a version available for Windows as well, and as such it is a great "switcher" app because many people would be familiar with it, having used its Windows counterpart.



Handbrake
Handbrake is every iPod with video user's dream come true. It allows you to rip DVD movies to iPod, PSP and computer formats, so that you can take your video with you, wherever you go. A Windows version is also available.




Paintbrush
One handy application that for some reason isn't on Mac OS X is a Mac counterpart for the Windows Paint application, that allows for simple but reliable image editing. I'm not sure why Apple didn't create a version standard on Mac, seeing as the earlier Mac systems (Mac OS 8 etc) included an app called "MacPaint". Anyway, Paintbrush is a good replacement, and works well. I hardly use it, but sometimes when there's a minor task needed to be done with a particular picture, Paintbrush can be called on to get the job done.


  The Gimp

If you're after a little more power with image editing - a la Photoshop, then The Gimp is the best open source, free alternative! This is one amazing application. It allows you to do some incredible stuff with photos, including removing backgrounds from pictures, adding cool rendered effects like blurs and distortions, and even creating logos - apparently the early Google logo was created using this very app.


DrawIT lite
DrawIT lite is the free version of Bohemian Coding's stylish vector drawing application - these guys won an Apple Design Award for their products, so they're quite good. This application allows you to draw on screen with vectors, creating things like stylish logos from polygonal shapes. I used it to create quite a few cool logos, and it's really easy to learn - just sit down with it for about an hour, and you'll get the hang of it. That's how easy it is!


Tweetie
This stylish Twitter application allows you to stay up-to-date with your tweets. I use it all the time to connect with my followers on Twitter and update my tweets. The only snag is that the free version does prompt you from time-to-time to "upgrade" to the paid version. All in all, though, a really good Twitter client for Mac OS X.



NewsFire
Last but not least is one of my favourites, NewsFire, a stylish and straightforward RSS reader. It allows you to stay ahead with the latest news from your favourite blogs and news sites. I used to use NetNewsWire for my RSS feeds, but since trying out NewsFire, I'm hooked! This is the latest app added to my Mac collection, and so I can't judge it's performance very accurately, but I can recommend it as an intuitive application to help you keep your feeds in check.

Well, that's the list! If you have any comments or more free apps that you think should be on this list, please drop a line or two in the comments section.

Newspapers? Huh? What's that?

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The social revolution has seen legions of people flocking to the Internet, and it's added a new dimension to the perception of geeks: they're now finally regarded as the "cool guys", with bank balances that make many a person's eyes water.

But the one thing that has really changed the face of the Internet is the way in which we consume news. The technology of aggregating news has certainly developed to such an extent that we can stay ahead with current affairs from wherever we are.

A significant contribution to this is definitely the power of RSS - Really Simple Syndication, an aggregation technology that allows users to subscribe to blogs and news sites, and receive the latest posts in an RSS Reader.

RSS, and its counterparts such as Atom, have lead to what can be considered the demise of the printed newspaper. After all, who wants to read about something that happened five hours ago in the Evening Post when they could already find out a few minutes after the event occurred?

Thus, the competition between media houses has become far more fierce than ever before. There are new stakes, and they're higher than before. The market is far more crowded and diversified. But more importantly: it's no longer the advertiser and investor that matters - it's the reader that counts the most.

In an age where the average population of the Internet is said to be 6 767 805 208 (2009 estimate), one can say that potential readership is exceptionally high. As such, publishers need to produce content that is eye-catching and captivating, and not necessarily relating the truth at all times. It's become a savage, ruthless world akin to a slick spy movie. There's industrial sabotage, plenty of hard drives crammed with archives of information, and large companies just waiting to be exploited through the vast means of the connected web. Publishers need to gain a strong readership in order for the dollars to start rolling via advertising and investing.

For consumers of news, the choices of getting the latest information is now endless. From opinionated blogs to up-to-the-minute professional journalism, the average user is hard-pressed to make a decision as to who has the most reliable views.

The answer is that we need to first accept the power of Web 2.0  - the connected Internet. From there on, we must realise that it's us as consumers who can influence even the greatest of news makers, as our actions in reading their stories and becoming "followers" of their news can either make or break these journalling companies. The fact that news has moved into the digital realm means that we can get connected to our world in a far more easier and intuitive way than before, and as such we should take advantage of the digitising of newspapers through blogs and online news sites, and as such embrace the future of the Internet.

A Look at Need for Speed Nitro

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EA is set to take on a new direction with their flagship racing game, Need for Speed, and in this article we take a look at the Wii version of the game.

Now, arguably, the previous Wii offering of NFS was "OK". The novelty of pseudo-racing with a mock steering wheel eventually wore off, and gamers were left having to deal with a sub-standard storyline. I, for one, was dissapointed with the game as I had been really excited to try out the Wii version.

However, that has been a thing of the past. EA has finally realised the potential of Nintendo's darling console, and as such have dedicated an entire studio, which has had previous (successful) experience with the Wii, to developing a Wii-centric version of the game, titled Need for Speed: Nitro.

Nitro is set to be more "arcade-style" compared to its siblings on the Xbox and PlayStation. It's meant to be exciting, fun and fast-paced - all the elements needed for a good racing game. Here's a trailer of the game. I'm really looking forward to it, as the graphics look far more improved than that of Undercover. The game is coming out on 17 November 2009, around the same time as its predecessor was released last year.




Stay Connected with Byte Lounge

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If you haven't yet noticed, Byte Lounge now has a new look that makes the site feel smarter and more "Web 2.0"-esque. But even cooler is that there's now a way for you to keep in touch with the site.

Since Byte Lounge runs off Blogger, a Google service, Google's Friend Connect service is now integrated into the site. If you have a Google account (i.e. if you use Gmail for instance) then simply click "Follow" on the Followers section to the right, and you'll be able to stay up-to-date with quality technology opinions, news and how-to's.

Thanks for visiting Byte Lounge!

Spotlight on Windows 7

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Redmond will be unveiling its finest next month, when their flagship product, Windows, will be getting a much-needed update. Named “Windows 7”, the successor to the infamous Vista hopes to correct the path that Microsoft messed up in 2006. Microsoft is even going as far as making it compatible with current “Vista-capable” machines, in the hope that they can pass this software off as being “affordable” in the current economic climate.

However, it has been reported recently on the Internet that not many businesses may adopt the new version, resorting to staying with the ageing XP, having not even moved up to Vista. But the real question is this: is Windows 7 ready for you, as the non-business “consumer” user? Would it benefit you to upgrade to it?

The answer: yes, of course.

Let’s face it: Microsoft really created a joke with Vista. The OS was so pathetic, that it actually became the advertising method for Apple to gain a surge in market share. But now is Microsoft’s chance to redeem itself, and it seems like this time, they’re not taking any chances.

To start off, they’ve completely overhauled the technical side of Windows, ironing out all the bugs and flaws of Vista (User Account Control, remember?) and thus aiming to produce a more streamlined OS, in a similar way to what Apple’s done with Mac OS X — although, this is where the two formidable competitors’ similarities in product development stop: where Apple focussed entirely on delivering a smaller, lighter and faster operating system that refined a great deal on its predecessor, Microsoft has gone the same old route of adding new, perhaps unnecessary, features. Although this time, because of the newer and stronger “under-the-hood” coding, those unnecessary features may in fact accomplish what they set out to be: looking just damn cool. Hey, that’s not a bad thing, right?


The biggest change that users will notice in Windows 7 is the new Taskbar. In many ways, it resembles the iconic Dock of Apple’s operating system. However, instead of being the prime place where all your applications can be launched from, the new Windows Taskbar allows you to keep your most frequently-used applications in the bar, enabling quick access to them.

Users will also notice that previously packaged applications, such as Windows Movie Maker, will not be in the new OS. This is all part of Microsoft’s plan of slimming-down the operating system to include only the most essential things its users will need. Movie Maker, along with a host of other “lifestyle” applications, will become available for free under the “Windows Live” branding.

Windows 7 will be available in two versions for retail: Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 7 Business. If you’re currently running a machine with Vista at home, it would be advisable, then, to purchase the Windows 7 Home Premium edition, as this edition would be best-suited to your computer’s hardware configuration and your use of it.

There will be an “Ultimate” edition. However, as with Vista, this version is targeted at the most extreme Windows user who craves power and all the features of 7. It also carries a handsome price with it — so in my opinion, you’d be better-off with Home Premium, or Business (if you’re in a corporate environment).

Overall, from what I’ve been reading about 7 on the Internet, the OS is looking to be very promising. I’m impressed with Microsoft’s testing strategy, by allowing normal users to freely download and test the development (Release Candidate) version of the operating system. But at the same time, I feel that they could’ve taken the successful and simple route that Apple’s done, by releasing one edition of the operating system that has all features incorporated, instead of the myriad number of “home” and “business” and “professional” variants. This would make it far more simpler for the average consumer to purchase Windows for their PC. Furthermore, instead of adding some additional fancy user interface tweaks (like the new Taskbar) they should’ve devoted more time to strengthening the system and making Windows faster and more compatible with the ever-changing face of technology.

We’ll just have to wait until October 22nd, and while I’m now a Mac user, I hope that Windows 7 will provide the healthy competition to keep Apple awake and ahead of the game, so that, at the end of the day, us as consumers are guaranteed better technology.

Taming Video Formats in Today's Digital World

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Video formats... ah, the formidable foe that is always able to detract even the sturdiest of the techies. The problem is, with the diversity of our portable gadgets and operating systems, coupled with big corporations wanting to cash-in on any and everything,  the number of video formats out there is incredible.

Now, to the average PC user, wanting to play that viral video sent via email from Bob the IT guy, there is an inevitable sense of frustration when, no matter how hard they try to get it to work, the damn file won't play. I'll admit that I've been in that situation more than often.

The reason to this is that the most common media players - Windows Media Player, Quicktime, iTunes etc. don't have the necessary codecs installed in order for them to read and understand the file. So, they do what they know best: pop-up a confusing error dialog along the lines of "The file [insert name here] can't be opened" coupled with either some weird numbers or a strange error code.

Today, thanks once again to my cousin Nitesh (big ups to him for letting me know about this and the previous post) I have for you a solution to all your video woes. It's a video codec package called the K-Lite Mega Codec Package (what a name...)

One of the main good things about this package is that, as the site says, it's all about being user-friendly and being able to set you up quickly so that you can watch your favourite films. Furthermore, it is updated frequently, so you can be sure that you're covered in terms of bugs and having the latest codecs.

So, how does this whole thing work? Well, firstly, it comes in a few "variants": basic, standard, full, corporate and mega. For personal use, I'd recommend you get the Basic package. This covers you for all the popular formats that you're likely to encounter; as you're probably not working in the professional film and audio field, I'm guessing you're not gonna want to be worrying about playing VFW/ACM codecs - wait, what? Yeah, like I said, just keep it simple and basic, and you'll be fine.

If, however, you're the mega-crazy techie that's working with a myriad of formats - perhaps even at the same time (if that's even possible!) then you're better off with the Mega package.

Once you've downloaded the variant of your choice, the next step is to run the downloaded file. After following the instructions from the installer, you should be good to go. Along with the package comes an application called Windows Media Classic, and, according to Nitesh, this "one-stop-shop for playing files" was a lifesaver for him.

At this point in time, I have yet to try it, as I'm currently working in Mac OS X Leopard, although I do believe that a release for the Mac system is available with Quicktime codecs. Nevertheless, this is sure to put aside the issues of having to play the million-and-one file formats that we consumers have to contend with daily.

To get the KLM codec package, visit this website. To learn more about it, click here.

Don't forget to drop a line in the comments if you have any thoughts about this.

Saving YouTube Movies with SaveTube

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Back in April, I wrote about a way to download videos to your computer from YouTube. A few days ago, my cousin, Nitesh, told me about an even easier way to do this, and I thought I'd share it with everyone here.

The process is really quick. Visit www.savetube.com and paste the URL of the YouTube video you wish to download in the text box at the top of the page. Click "Go". The page will load, and present you with a similar looking page as the previous one. Now, scroll down until you see the control for "Download". The video will download to your hard drive.

However, the donwloaded file will be in Flash format (.flv). Most computers won't have the correct software to play this, so I've compiled a little list of free .flv players for you to use on Windows and Mac.

FLV  Player works on Windows, and does just what it says, in a neat and simple user interface.
  • Wimpy FLV Player
Wimpy is for both Windows and Mac. It works really well, and is quite similar to FLV Player.


To convert the FLV file to a normal format, you can use free software from a site called Aneesoft - there's converters for both Windows and Mac to get your FLV file to a popular format, such as those needed for playing the videos on an iPod or iPhone.


Special thanks to Nitesh for pointing out SaveTube to me - thanks!

Hope this post helped. Don't forget to drop a line in the comments about any other means that you may know of for getting YouTube videos onto a computer.

The Nokia Netbook

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Nokia is well-known for its extensive array of mobile phones. I, for one, am big fan of the Finnish mobile giant, having used a lot of their phones in the past, and curently mobilizing it with a shiny N79 (brilliant phone, by the way).


But it seems like the economic meltdown is affecting even the most robust giants of the tech industry. Nokia's market share over the past few quarters reflects that the company isn't doing all that great (we won't get into numbers and that now). And today, when a big tech company isn't rolling in the Benjamins, the logical thing to do is to create a netbook, right? At least, that's what most of them are doing - Samsung, Sony, Toshiba spring to mind.

But Nokia is a little different. They're known for innovative style and solid, good phones. Thus, the logical thing for them to have done would be to launch some "killer" device that appeals to a large, tech-savvy demographic willing to pay for it, for example, the teenage to young adult range. This device would include features that, perhaps, Nokia's competitors hadn't even dreamt of. It would be a sure seller, right?

However, Nokia hasn't done that. Instead, Nokia decided to create "a brand new breed of portable device". According to Nokia's Executive Vice President for Devices, Kai Oistamo, “A growing number of people want the computing power of a PC with the full benefits of mobility."


Thus, Nokia, the company the world knows as the largest mobile phone manufacturer, is launching something far different from what they're popularly known for. They're launching a netbook computer, a low-cost, powerful laptop capable of being carted around with you, and keeping you connected to the sites and networks you currently know and love.


This is a big gamble, in my opinion, for the Finn giant. If this is their answer to their depleating marketshare, then there's a lot that could go wrong. For one, the company doesn't have much experience in this market. Sure, they've launched Internet "tablet" phones in the past, which ran on varients of the Linux system. But the Nokia Booklet 3G, their first netbook computer, is a fully-fledged computing experience. It inculdes the robust netbook processor, the Intel Atom, and runs on Microsoft's latest operating system, Windows 7. It's a totally new market that Nokia is trying to push into, and it's a market that is quite full at the moment.

Netbooks began to rise in popularity a few years ago, when Asus launched the EeePC, a cost-efficient, über-portable notebook that looked (and was) extremely attractive to many on-the-go business users and students. The EeePC instigated the revolution in mobile computing, and from then on, the large computer manufacturers Dell, Toshiba, Sony and Samsung, began marketing competitors to it. The market became flooded with netbooks in ranging sizes, from 8" screens to 10.1".

And now Nokia is arriving on the platform, with their reply to the market. Now, as I've said above, I think that Nokia needs to take this step very carefully. Of course, they would've researched the market thoroughly, and this move is calculated. But it could prove costly if it doesn't work out.

So, what exactly is this Booklet 3G? Well, in true Nokia fashion, it features everything - and then some, in a stylish aluminium package. What's notable about the Booklet 3G is its hot-swappable SIM card feature. With this, users can insert their SIM card and use the device as a mobile phone of sorts, or even better, the SIM card of their data modem can be inserted, giving them wireless freedom to connect from wherever there's coverage.

The Booklet 3G is set to come in a variety of colours, making it an appealing device to students and the younger generation. Furthermore, it will run Windows 7. This move by Nokia means that Windows 7 is going to really shake things up in the mobile space when it comes out next month. The fact that Nokia opted for Windows over the myriad flavours of Linux, of which the Ubuntu "Netbook Remix" would've been a cheaper move, means that the Finnish giant is taking this project seriously.

As usual, we will have to wait until the device is out and in the public eye to make accurate assumptions, but from what I've seen, this is going to be great.

The Google OS

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Ah, Google. You gotta love those guys. First, they redefined the way people retrieve information - they've been the saviour of many a high school kid having to compile a project at the last minute. They revolutionized email, and from there, the world of Google products just exploded.

Recently (like, about a year ago) Google launched the G1 Android phone, which runs software developed by the search giant. Android was, probably, the first step in a clever plan by the company to gather their services under one banner, to provide a comprehensive product that could redefine the way people do mobile computing.

As ever, Google loves to capitalize on the latest "in thing". In this case, that latest "thing" in the tech world is netbooks. These nifty little notebook computers are rapidly rising in popularity, especially amongst business users rushing around with meetings everywhere.

Google has seen this rise in the netbook market as an opportunity to bolster their savvy image, and at the same time rake in some extra cash - hey, who wouldn't in these economic times? Their reply to netbooks: their very own operating system. It's called Chrome OS (to go with their own browser, the Chrome Browser, of course).

Chrome OS, according to Google, "is an open source, lightweight operating system that will initially be targeted at netbooks.". It will be separate from the Android project, and will focus on delivering a connected experience on netbook computers. However, as Google says, the company plans to take it further, and in a few years' time, we may be seeing Google-branded computers and an OS to challenge the might of Apple and the formidable Microsoft.

Now, most people on the blogs think that this is a bit of a shady move by Google. The company has already been under fire for privacy issues in the past, and these opponents are claiming that by using a Chrome OS netbook, Google is practically going to be in charge of your entire computing experience.

While this may hold a little truth to it, I think that it's a great move on their part. Chrome OS will push the big shots (read: Apple and Microsoft) to develop their products for better quality. After all, one more player in the market won't hurt the game - if anything, it's going to provide us consumers with more options to choose from.

Chrome OS is expected to be released sometime next year. I look forward to it.

uTweetMe: Dynamite Comes in Small Packages

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I am an avid user of Twitter, and as such, I needed a solid Twitter app that I could use when out and about to keep my Twitter updated.

I have mentioned using Twibble, but ever since I've moved to a new Nokia N79, this app hasn't been playing nice with it. Furthermore, Twibble seems to like "deactivating" itself after a certain time period, and it thus requires you to re-download the app.

So after much Internet searching, I've found a little gem of an app that works beautifully on my N79. It's called uTweetMe, and it runs on all Java-compatible phones (sorry iPhone users... but you've got your own set of Twitter apps anyway).

uTweetMe is a very simple application. It doesn't have a fancy interface, and its menus are very straightforward. I guess this aspect is what makes it so good: it's able to run really fast because it doesn't need to be a resource thief.

While it may have a simple UI, this doesn't mean that it compromises on features. On the contrary, uTweetMe is packed with the necessary tools any Twitter user requires on-the-go. The UI is intuitively designed to allow you to blast a quick tweet whilst on the commute to work, with the "New Update" command being the first selectable item when the app loads.

From the main menu, you can navigate the application. What's great about uTweetMe is that it has the ability to save templates, so you can quickly send a pre-written tweet on-the-go. I find myself using this feature a lot to save tweets that I like, especially those with links that I wish to check out when I'm back in front of my computer.

The "Inbox" menu command is where most users will find themselves a lot in. From the "Inbox" menu, you can select Twitter's different Timelines to keep up-to-date with the people you follow, @replies, and the management of your direct messages. You can also initiate searches, and their results will appear underneath the default timelines.

One little feature that I hope makes it into a future version of this app is the ability to follow people. This, as I see it, is the only thing that the app lacks. Otherwise, for a mobile Twitter app, it's great!

Overall, I am extremely impressed with uTweetMe. This app goes to show that dynamite does comes in small packages, and it certainly packs a punch. In July this year, when I went to Switzerland, I used the app extensively to provide Twitter updates for the guys back home. The direct approach to Twitter is what uTweetMe does best, and as such it got me connected with the wider world when I was far away from home.

It's available for all Java-based phones. Go here to download it (you'll need to send it to your phone from your PC).

"It's Only Rock and Roll": New iPods...

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So, the big Apple event for September, and the showcase of everybody's favourite computer manufacturer's music products, has just ended. And while I'm sitting here at my desk all the way in Durban, on the other side of the world, I've been keeping up with the event to-the-minute via the great live coverage by Engadget. (Big ups to the guys over there!)

The first thing that I was very impressed with was the standing ovation for Steve Jobs when he took the stage. It's great to see the man back and innovating! This is a sure sign that we can expect even greater things in the not-too-distant future from Apple.

So, the big news today was the update of the iPod line. I'm quite happy with it, and I think that these updates provide a fresh take to Apple's flagship line of music players.

iPod touch
The Touch is, according to Apple executive Phill Schiller, their fastest-selling iPod to-date. And so Apple has decided to lower the price of the entry model (8GB) from $299 to $199! (Touch fans rejoice the world over). Furthermore, they're upping the capacity to 64GB in the highest-end model, that will retail for $399. The 16GB sticks around at a smooth $299.

The Touch will be receiving a graphics update to be able to run OpenGL-based applications. This means that we can expect some great looking and exciting new games making an appearence on the App Store. Some of the games demoed at the event were Madden 2010 and Assassin's Creed 2!. The iPhone OS software that runs on the Touch has been updated to v3.1 (free update via iTunes).

iPod classic
The Classic gets a basic update to 160GB capacity, and remains at the same price point. Nothing maervelous here, but at least they're still keeping it. This is the 'Pod that I'm eyeing (I'm "old-skool"...;)

iPod nano
The Nano gets the biggest and best update out of the entire line. It will feature a video camera that will allow you to instantly upload to YouTube when your new Nano is plugged in to iTunes. It also receives a new look, with vibrant glossy colours. It also includes, of all things, a pedometer that can link-up to your Nike+ gear, giving you a step-count. I see this as a great feature for all the gym junkies and jogger-holics out there ;)

The Verdict
I'm liking the new 'Pods. However, I feel that Apple could've done better with the Classic, which, after all, is their most definitive iPod ever. I will definitely be considering this particular one, as, like I said, I'm "old skool" and prefer the Classic look and click wheel. Plus, the 160GB capacity looks about right to store my entire music collection, plus my movies and TV shows.

If, like me, you're in South Africa, and are considering updating/getting an iPod, I strongly suggest you wait until the new models arrive at the iStore or other popular computer stores in about a few weeks. This way, you'll avoid the inevitable disappointment if you get an older model and then discover the newer replacement -- I've been in that position, and trust me, it's not a great feeling.

To check out the new iPods, head over to Apple's website (www.apple.com). Also be sure to read the reviews of the new iPods at blogs like Engadget, where their writers are actually at the event, and are getting hands-on time with the gadgets.

Don't forget to drop a line in the Comments section on what you think about the new iPods.


The Apple Tablet: A Good or Bad Move?

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The big hype right now in the tech world is Apple's rumoured Tablet computer. This neat little device is set to complement the portable Mac line-up, and would be the Cupertino company's first all-touch screen computer.

Now while this sounds great, and it's gotten thousands wishing for it, we need to step back for a minute and assess whether this move is a good one for Apple - especially in today's economic climate.

My opinion is that Apple should hold back on the tablet, at least for a few more months (if they're planning to release it in early 2010, for example, then they should roll it out in mid-2010 instead). This would provide them the chance to reduce prices on current Mac computers, and strengthen their current line-up of Macs (portable and desktop) with solid features that can give competitors a run for their money.

Apple has long been infamous for its exorbitant prices, and those wishing to experience a Mac are put off mainly by the price point.

Thus, by not focussing on the Tablet right now, they can reduce prices and propel their current range, and at the same time booster their stocks. This would certainly look good for investors, and at the same time, Apple can begin to gain more market share more quickly.

So, what's your opinion about Apple's Tablet? Should they release it now, and if so, do you think it'd be a good move? Comment away ;)

BOLT Browser: Awesome Mobile Internet Experience

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Recently, I wrote that I wasn't very happy with Opera Mini, a Java-based mobile application for connecting to the Internet. Well, after reading my post, a commenter suggested that I try out BOLT browser, an application very similar to Opera Mini, but with hardly any problems (I say "hardly" because the app is still in beta, so a few problems here and there can be expected).

However, I found absolutely NO problems in installing and running the browser on my mobile. The installation process was very straightforward, seamless and quick. The interface is slick and professional, and I was impressed (I'm an admirer of well-designed applications).

Without reading the extensive FAQ list on the BOLT browser website, I was still able to get started pretty quickly. That's because the app is very easy to use, with a straightforward interface.

However, one little gripe that I have with the app, and which I wish the developers would add in a future release, is that there isn't a "mobile" view. This is a feature in Opera Mini that I use extensively, which cuts down data a lot, and thus saves a lot of my airtime. Another feature lacking is the ability to turn images off - another way for a teen like myself, who has a tight mobile budget, to save airtime.

Overall, though, BOLT is an exceptional browser that is really fast and has an intuitive, stylish interface. You can download the beta by following the instructions on the BOLT browser website (http://boltbrowser.com/).

Opera Mini has Lost its Magic

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I rely heavily on my mobile for some of my Internet use, and my app of choice when on the go, is, of course, Opera Mini.

Mini has become the "de facto" standard for thousands of mobile users, and it's come to my rescue many times when my main Internet connection, my computer, fails. However, as I've progressed with the app from version 3 to the now current version 4.1, I've found a rapid decline in the quality of the software.

Granted, I don't live in the US, or any of the regions where the new servers are powering version 4.2, but, surely, now that quite a large chunk of traffic has been removed from the main servers, the service should get better? Well, apparently no.

For over quite a few months, I've been experiencing sluggish loading with the app, (even though I'm getting perfect cellphone reception, and other Internet apps on my mobile are connecting quite fine to the net), and, more that often my connection attempts are greeted with the formidable "Failed to Connect to the Internet" error.

I'm just hoping that a newer version of Opera Mini is released very soon. This is an excellent app for mobile phones, and I really hate to see it decline in such a way. Comments are open for what you think of Opera Mini.

The Internet: Politically Speaking

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Today’s blog post is going to be slightly different - I’m taking on a political slant that’s been inspired by a minor “debate” that was sparked in one of my classes in school today.

It was argued that the majority of the Internet’s population is not interested in politics, but rather in entertainment-related content (e.g. talent shows, gossip news, movie news etc.)

Now perhaps this held true before, say, 2007. But, as we started getting closer to the elections for the United States’ president, a lot changed, and the face of politics became fiercer than it ever was. And we can all thank one man for this: President Barack Obama.Even today, months after the historical inauguration, journalists and political analysts are drawing comparisons with the success of Obama’s campaign and the campaigns of their own local politicians (a notable example is of the recent 4th democratic elections in South Africa). This has to confirm the success of such a campaign, a campaign that utilised technology, and specifically the brute power of Web 2.0, to such an extent that it helped win him the presidency and paved the way to his walk into the history books.So, the real question here is this: does the Internet, one of our most powerful means of communication, have a user base that leans toward the politically sympathetic, or the entertainment-crazed? The answer to that, dear reader, lies in how well Obama, the first politician in history to use this method so thoroughly, performed. And I think we can all agree that, judging by the fact that he’s now president, it’s gone pretty well. One of the most talked about aspects of the Obama campaign was the mobilising of the youth and the instigation it created in youth interest in politics. In fact, one of the biggest voting demographics for the Democrats (Obama’s political party) was the youth demographic. This suggests that this particular campaign created great interest in politics in the youth of America, a country where about 80% of its youth spend more than two hours on the Internet (thus making them part of the online citizenship). And, in turn, this tells us that, yes, users of the Internet do have an interest in politics, but most of them maintain this interest along with having an interest in other sectors - e.g. technology, or the aforementioned entertainment-related content.

So from this, we can conclude that the Internet has a particularly large interest base in politics, and I think the time has finally arrived for political parties to harness this power to enhance their campaigns, gather a larger support base, and ultimately refresh the way politics is done.

Exploring the Web: Beyond Facebook

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Recently, I’ve been talking with quite a few friends who, whilst not very tech-savvy, are heavy users of the social networking giant, Facebook. The response I seem to be getting from some of them is that, “Facebook is getting boring.” A similar thing happened a while ago (a little before the “Facebook phenomenon”) when the South African mobile messaging service, MXit, became “boring” to many of my friends (and I can safely include myself in that list — I’m logging onto MXit very infrequently nowadays).

Whilst this post isn’t to fathom the reasons why these services are getting “boring”, I can perhaps point to the fact that maybe these users are logging onto the site too often, and we all know that excessive frequency in doing something can become monotonous — after all, it’s human nature.

However, to get back to topic, I find that many people’s experience with Web 2.0 begins and abruptly stops at Facebook (I’m picking on Facebook here because it’s so damn popular ;) — please bear with me). In other words, they don’t get to experience the hundreds of other great modern websites, maybe because they don’t know of them yet.

So, my plan is to go about changing this. I want to campaign for Web 2.0, and tell people about the many great sites out there that can add a touch of colour to their lives, and perhaps even help out in some situations. And I’m going to do this today, in this very post: below, you’ll find some cool links to sites that I deem to be interesting, of use, or just plain fun to visit.

Twitter
I think I’m getting addicted to this site! Twitter, the “microblogging” craze, has taken the world by storm. Basically, you post short (140 character) messages about what you’re doing right now, as well as follow others who are doing the same. You can also chat to — and connect with — many like-minded people, and stay up-to-date with current issues around the world. (You can follow me on Twitter here.)

Gyminee
It’s already won quite a few awards, and has been featured on TechCrunch already. Gyminee is basically a health and fitness website. Through this site, you can set fitness goals for yourself, design workout programs, connect with “GymBuddies” who aim to motivate you to reach your goals, and you can also design and get information on nutrition. The site is really well-laid out, and loaded with numerous useful features. I’d highly recommend it to anyone wanting to stick to that New Year’s resolution of “eating healthy, getting fit”.

Lifehacker
Whilst this isn’t so much a “network”-like site (like Facebook, for example), Lifehacker is a really interesting site. On it, you can find “tips and downloads for getting things done”.

And lastly, ZenHabits
This is a favourite of mine: ZenHabbits is a brilliant blog with the main idea of providing the reader with ways to become more productive, and live a fuller life. On it you can find tips for meditation, good work habits, and a host of tips for GTD (getting things done).

Check them out, and who knows, maybe the next time you find yourself saying, “Hmm… Facebook’s getting boring”, you’ll know that there is something else out there to pique your interest and offer you great fun online. Here’s to enjoying the awesomeness of Web 2.0!

If you have a link to a site that you think is interesting, and that wasn’t mentioned above, please feel free to drop a line in the comments section.

Why Twitter is So Popular

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Recently, I've become very attached to Twitter, the microblogging phenomenon that's taken the world by storm (or is that "tweets"?) In fact, I find myself itching to log onto Twibble and start tweeting from wherever I am at the moment. When I'm at my laptop, my cursor yearns to load up Nambu and start firing off tweets. Of course, I cannot tweet very frequently - this stems the flow of conversation for each tweet on my profile, something that can be a great (and useful) tool on Twitter. So I've learnt to exercise self-control when going about my tweeting.

However, this just bears testament to the fact that Twitter is exceptionally successful: to make its users want to constantly come back to the service has a lot to say about the quality and substance of what's being offered. Recent reports show that Twitter is taking the world by storm. This can probably be attributed to the number of celebrity users on Twitter (in fact, Ashton Kutcher has officially beaten CNN Breaking News to becoming the first Twitter user to have over a million followers). In turn, this high influx of users adds to the online economy and to cyber-citizenship, as more people are becoming aware and involved in Web 2.0 applications.

I think this is great - the more users of online services, the better the services will get. This is because there is going to be more at stake for the owners of these online ventures as competition is heightened, and they will strive to provide the "best" service. It's quite simple, really. However, what makes Twitter - or any Web 2.0 venture, really - so popular and thus successful, is not only its "celebrity" pull (which, as I mentioned above, inadvertently pushes the site to improve and become better), but it's approach to the specific service it aims to offer.

In the case of Twitter, the creators took the simple concept of blogging, and added an interesting twist to it: limiting users to only 160 characters max. This forces messages to be short, concise, and it can result in some very interesting and informative thoughts. Similarly, the inital concept and portrayal of a Web 2.0 service makes for great first impressions. Again, in the case of Twitter, the user is presented with a very clean, stylish landing page that explains (very well, in my opinion) what the service is about. Web 2.0 also has signature styles - e.g. minamalistic approaches, bright, simple colours, and glossy image effects.

So, let's just hope that other Web 2.0 services, and aspiring ones too, will take heed of how Twitter did it, and thus make us as users of the next generation of the World Wide Web revel in powerful, successful and stylish websites that can really be worth talking about. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking here. ;)

How To: Download Video from YouTube

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YouTube is an incredibly powerful site: you can watch some of the most amazing videos produced by people all around the world on it. Recently, it has become a great tool for education too, and thus has become exceptionally resourceful for students across the world.

There is, however, one feature that greatly lacks in YouTube: a means of downloading videos to your computer’s hard drive to watch later whilst not having to connect to the Internet. If you visit the site (www.youtube.com), no matter how hard you look, you will not find any means for doing this.

That’s because video on YouTube isn’t really meant to be downloaded, unless you employ the help of a few third-party resources which also just happen to be free, and in this blog post I’m going to show you how to do just that.

The methods below are for users of PCs and Macs; since I don’t use Linux, I don’t know of a method for that operating system unfortunately. However, if you happen to use Linux and know of any method, please feel free to drop a line or two in the comments section ;)

Method for PC Users:
Downloading video from YouTube onto a PC requires one easy-to-use program, aptly named YouTube Downloader. Once you’ve downloaded this app, follow the steps below to get the video onto your hard drive:

1. Go to www.youtube.com, and open the video you want to download (either by searching in the top-right search box, or choosing one of the videos on the home page).

2. You don’t have to wait for the entire video to load (this will just waste your bandwidth!) So just copy the address of the page (from your browser’s Address Bar) or copy the text inside the text box labelled “Embed Video” (it’s situated on the right of the video, just underneath the publisher’s description).

3. Open YouTube Downloader, and paste the code into the URL text box. Then, click “Download”, and wait while the video gets downloaded.

4. Once the video is downloaded, you’ll notice that you can’t play it on your computer: the file format (.flv) isn’t recognised by Windows. So, you’ll need to convert it. This can be done using YouTube Downloader. Open the app, and select the option for converting video. Then, open your downloaded video file, and choose a conversion template (you have the option for converting the video into iPod, iPhone, PSP… etc. formats).

5. Once the video has finished converting, you can play it on your PC, and even send it to your iPod or iPhone using the correct software (i.e. iTunes).

Method for Mac Users:
Getting video onto your Mac is very similar to the PC method. But instead of YouTube Downloader, you'll need a neat little app called TubeTV. Once you've downloaded and installed the app, open it and follow the prompts on-screen.

So there you have it! The simple way to download video off YouTube to your desktop. And with the conversion software, you can take it with you wherever you go.

If you’ve got another method of downloading video off YouTube, please drop a line in the comments! Thanks, and hope this helps.

13-year-Old Wins Apple's AppStore Contest

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Apple has announced that 13-year-old Connor Mulcahey of Weston, CT was the billionth downloader of the application Bump by Bump Technologies.

Apple's AppStore reached the milestone of one billion apps being downloaded in nine months recently.

Connor will be winning $13 000 worth of merchandise from the Cuppertino computer giant. Amongst the prizes, he wins a new MacBook Pro, TimeCapsule and iPod touch.

Here's a direct link to the press release from Apple.

The Zune HD: Multi-touch, HDMI

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imageMicrosoft Corporation, famous for having created the “iPod clone” known as the strangely named Zune, is set to launch the music player’s updated version very soon.

Interestingly, it has been found that the Zune HD (touted as being a direct competitor to the iPod touch) will support multi-touch gestures on its larger, 3.6” OLED glass-looking screen.

It will also support HD (high definition) video, as is becoming the industry norm nowadays. HDMI is also on the cards, and this means that it’ll be possible to hook your Zune HD to your HD television and watch HD movies in all of HD’s glory. (Whew, that’s a lot of HD! ;)

Already, the Zune supports games created with Microsoft’s free XNA game creation kit, and, coupled with its slick compatibility with the most popular (if not the most unliked) operating system, it still remains to be seen whether the Zune can steal the iPod’s thunder.

The iPod is the world’s most favorite music player, selling well over a million and pushing the boundaries in the world of personal, portable media. The iPod touch has notably been enjoying quite a bit of success, becoming the “darling” of Apple, along with its phone-capable sibling, the iPhone. Apple’s tremendous success with its AppStore concept, which has been raking in millions of dollars for the California-based computer empire and the many developers around the world who are part of the development program for iPhone OS (the same operating system that powers the iPod touch) has yet to see a viable threat from opposition companies.

Come September, when both the Zune and the iPod line are expected to see a refresh, we’ll come to know whether the AppStore, the current drawback to Zune dominance, will meet its match from the crafty hands in Redmond.

iPhone “3” mockups

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In the excitement build-up to the June WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference) event where it is largely rumored that Apple will be launching the new iPhone, I’ve decided to post some “mockups” of what people around the web think the new iPhone is going to look like.

Rumor or not, what we can be sure of if the new iPhone releases, is that it will be packed with a lot more tech than is predecessors and thus allow you to do even more than before.

Without further ado, here are some of the mockups I’ve found:

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This looks really promising: iPhone that has the design traits of Apple’s recently re-designed computers (MacBook and iMac).

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A bit far-fetched, don’t you think? But it would seriously rock to answer a call in front of your friends and watch their expressions when you brandish this phone ;)

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This looks scarily real… and video iChat would be really cool on iPhone too! Only problem with this design, though: I don’t see any visible iSight camera on the front for two-way video calling…

Twibble: Twitter Updates on Your Mobile!

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Today I joined millions of other microbloggers when I finally signed up for Twitter. I've found it to be an amazing way of expressing myself quickly and concisely, and its quite fun to follow others and see what everyone is up to in their part of the world.

The Twitter site is very nice and intuitive, but I can't always be in front of my computer when I want to be tweeting; Twitter is meant for writing mini blogs wherever you are. So I did a quick search on the net and found a neat little Java-based app for mobile phones called Twibble.

Twibble is a fairly easy-to-use application and it's getting me hooked on the Twitter revolution. When you first launch the app, it asks you for your Twitter login details, and you can also set the theme of the app to your liking (I'm using the "Grey" theme - looks nice).

Thereafter, you can Tweet away, and also set it for updating automatically to show you the latest Tweets from people you're following.

If you're running a recent mobile phone, you'll be able to minimize Twiddle to the background, and it'll update automatically for you. However, one little gripe that I have with the updating is that it constantly asks me whether "I want to continue with the operation" (or something similar). This, though, I think is a problem with my specific mobile (Nokia N73).

I believe that Twiddle is also available for the desktop (as an Adobe Air application - which means that it's cross-platform), however I am yet to try that version out.

All in all, Twiddle is a great little app for your phone to keep you up-to-date with your tweets and followers; it has a great looking interface that's customizable with a few built-in-themes, and apart from the little annoying confirmation message each time it automatically updates, it's a great app. I highly recommend it for you - give it a try, and drop a line in the comments with what you think about it.

What the iPhone needs to dominate business

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The iPhone has long been seen as a smartphone worthy of business executives; its intuitive features make it easy for professionals to manage their schedule, keep in sync with emails using Microsoft Exchange, and it undeniable style makes for excellent first impressions –something that’s highly important in the business world.

And with iPhone OS 3.0 set to release very shortly, the iPhone is set to really pack in some worthwhile features.

However, there is one thing, I feel, that it lacks – and what could possibly be its Achilles’ Heal: an “Office mobile” solution similar to the ones found on Windows Mobile-based smartphones. Sure, you can download a similar app from the AppStore I hear you say; but why must someone do that when, across the border the Windows Mobile folks get it for FREE with their phone?

I say that Apple should at least offer, standard and pre-installed on every iPhone, a mobile productivity solution similar to the Pocket Office series. Here’s an idea: why not make an iWork for Mobile version, and have that pre-installed? I think that’d be great! Well, we can only hope for this… and hopefully it’ll be here in the rumored iPhone update in June.

Internet Explorer 8 being “forced” by Microsoft

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In a bid perhaps to promote the latest version of their web browser, Redmond software giant Microsoft is said to be “forcing” Internet Explorer 8 in Automatic Updates, the updating system for Microsoft Windows.

This is said to commence starting “the third week of April”, according to officials from MS.

Internet Explorer has long been the No.1 used web browser, owing partly to its default inclusion on Windows, which dominates a large portion of the operating system marketshare. Whilst not the best browser due to its sluggishness and non-compliance with web standards, the browser from Redmond has been “challenged for the throne” in recent years by feisty alternatives from Mozilla (Firefox) and Apple (Safari), especially when the latter made its way onto Windows a few years ago.

Internet Explorer 8 can be downloaded from the Microsoft website.

New Direction for Need for Speed

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image EA’s flagship racing series, Need for Speed, is set to take on a new dimension in its next release.

Currently, the series is based on “arcade-style” video game racing. However, in order to do justice to the current generation of gaming consoles’ power and innovative gameplay, EA has decided to split the franchise into two distinct product lines, one emphasizing simulation-style racing, and the other a traditional arcade racer.

These two lines are called Shift and Nitro, and they’re the names of the next installment in the ever-popular racing series.

Need forimage Speed: Shift will be a simulation-style racing game that will be available for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Nitro, of course, will be for the Nintendo platforms (Wii and DS). According to EA, Nitro will be developed by EA Montreal, as they have had successful experience with the Nintendo platform.

Nitro is also being targeted at casual gamers (hence its target towards the Wii and DS), and I’m hoping that it’ll do justice to the Nintendo platform as it will be developed specifically for it and not just ported to it (as was the case with Undercover).

image Shift will be targeted at hardcore fans of the series, and because its being developed for the “higher-end” platforms, it comes as no surprise that its graphics will be superb.

Currently there isn’t much else known about the games (eg. storylines, car lists, soundtrack etc.) as it’s still too early in the development cycle. However, Byte Lounge will be tracking this game and updates will be posted as they happen.

MXit Skin Builder available - finally

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It took them nearly 3 years, but MXit Lifestyle, the company that develops the popular (and rather controversial) mobile instant messaging application MXit, has finally released a Skin Builder that allows you to create your own skins to use on your MXit client.

Basically, you design the skin on your PC, then save it and send it via the Internet to your mobile phone using an intuitive wizard. Your skin appears in the Gallery in MXit the next time you log in.

But there is a catch, though: in order to send skins to your phone, you'll need to be a Freestyler (it costs a few Moola).

Read the release message from the MXit team at their forum: http://forum.mxit.com/viewtopic.php?t=18044

And download the Skin Builder for Windows here:
http://devzone.mxit.com/downloads/

PC running slow? CClean it!

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If you find that your PC is running slow, its most likely because the Windows Registry is a bit messed up. This usually happens when some programs that you uninstall don’t remove themselves properly, but it can also be caused due to some other more complex technical issues.

The point is, in order to have a smooth, quick machine, you need to make sure that your Registry is correctly set up. Doing this manually is virtually impossible, and so that’s why there are some tools to help you out!

Probably the best in the business right now is Registry Mechanic; however, this application isn’t free.

image There is an alternative that does the job well enough, though: it’s called CCleaner, and its free (of course!)

With CCleaner, you can clean your Registry of unnecessary problems (the first time I ran it, over a thousand problems were found!!), and you can also remove unused files from your system to free up disk space and thus run a more efficient system.

I strongly suggest you get this app, as it greatly improves performance and stability of your PC.

What Exactly is Web 2.0?

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web 2.0 The latest buzzword around the Internet today is Web 2.0. You've most likely seen it bandied about on one site or another, in magazine articles and in current affairs. And rightfully so, as Web 2.0 is the term used to describe not only the next generation of the World Wide Web, but also a revolution in popular culture.


Basically, industry experts have described the "first generation" of the Web as being only for accessing information created by others. In other words, you were not abele create content yourself. Websites in this first generation were "static", meaning that only the owners of the site created and published content, and visitors to the site were just that: visitors; they consumed content.


However, as technology developed, websites started offering visitors the ability to interact with them. Now, instead of visitors merely consuming content, they began to create content for the sites. These websites became driven by the users, and it has lead to a major step forward in the way we create, connect and become influenced by popular culture. In fact, whole businesses have sprouted around the world that make their profits by offering online services that adhere to Web 2.0.


You've definitely already experienced Web 2.0 - the social revolution - through your online surfing. Here’s a few “Web 2.0” sites that are popular and leading the revolution:
  • Blogger (the platform which Byte Lounge runs on)
  • Facebook (social networking)
  • Bebo (social networking)
  • Twitter (microblogging)
  • and of course, YouTube (video sharing)
That list is just an example of a few of the hundreds of Web 2.0 sites currently online. If you haven’t already signed up to a social networking, content sharing or similar “Web 2.0” site, I suggest you do so soon, as the revolution is hear and its ready to evolve our lives, influencing our opinions, views and attitudes towards our digital lifestyle.

Get Ready for the New Byte Lounge!

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Hi there, Rahul Dowlath here. Over the past few weeks, you may have noticed that there's hardly been any activity on Byte Lounge. Don't worry: we haven't closed down! No, rather, on the contrary, I have been hard at work on developing a "new" Byte Lounge.
Byte Lounge will be getting a refresh soon, and you'll be able to see this refresh on Monday, April 6th 2009.

So, what's going to be in this new refresh?

Firstly, Byte Lounge will be widening its scope: until now, only articles pertaining to technology were posted. However, come April 6th, Byte Lounge will also be posting about films and games! We want to let more people enjoy our articles about the digital lifestyle, and so we really hope you too will enjoy a wider scope on articles.

Then, along with the new scope, I've taken a look at the way articles have been catagorized here, and decided to come up with a more concise way of doing so. Therefore, the refresh to Byte Lounge will also see new catagories that make it easier to navigate around the site.

So, look out for a fresher, cooler Byte Lounge coming this Monday, April 6th!

Byte Lounge to be re-launched!

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Radtech Software Technology, the online media company involved in the running of Byte Lounge, apologizes for the lack of activity on this blog. We are currently in the process of re-launching the site, and promise even more exciting talk on the world of technology!

Byte Lounge will still be open during this time, and continuous activity will resume in a few weeks.

Why not add Byte Lounge to your RSS feeds – and then you’ll instantly get the latest posts when we’re live again?

Once again, apologies for any inconvinience caused – and look out for the re-launched Byte Lounge soon!

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