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MacOS 10.4 Tiger Launched


Apple really knows how to milk their fanatically loyal customer base with a $130 operating system upgrade every year.

This year's release is MacOS X version 10.4, aka Tiger (Grrrowl), and the main things you get for your $130 are the following:

Spotlight: basically a hard drive search application that is built in the OS to make it nice and fast.

Dashboard: Lots of cure little widgets for your desktop

RSS: The Safari web browser now supports RSS feeds

Compatibility: Plays nicer with Windows PCs

Is it worth the $130?, our verdict is nope, but if you're thinking of buying a mac make sure it comes with 10.4.

Meedio Essentials

meedio essentials

We took a look at Meedio and their software last night and it seems to me a good alternative to a Media Center PC, especially if you want to do home automation as well.

Meedio Essentials acts as the home page for your home media, allowing you to view pictures, listen to music, view video, check the weather, and launch applications, and there are lots of add-ins to expand it's functionality.

Meedio TV is PVR software allowing you to view, record, and time-shift TV. It operates asa standalone program or as a plugin for Meedio Essentials.

Meedio Housebot is a home automation server which works with all the standard home automation hardware such as X10 and powerlinc.

We hope to be reviewing their software in the future, and in the meantine you can get more information at

Posted January 5, 2005 in CES , Software | TrackBack (0) | Comments (0)

Adobe Camera Raw 2.4 Beta

Adobe Camera Raw 2.4 Beta

If you have bought one of the newer high-end digital cameras you may have been bummed to find out that Photoshop CS didn't support the RAW image format on those cameras.

Well, Adobe has just released a public beta of their Adobe Camera Raw plug-in that adds support for the RAW format of the following cameras to Photoshop CS:

* Canon EOS 20D
* Canon PowerShot S70
* Canon PowerShot G6
* Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II
* Konica Minolta DiMAGE A200
* Konica Minolta MAXXUM 7D
* Nikon D2X

Time for us to switch to using RAW format on our 20D and see what the results are like.

Download Page for Windows or Download Page for Mac

Posted December 21, 2004 in Cameras , Software | TrackBack (0) | Comments (0)

Mozilla Firefox 1.0 Released

Mozilla Firefox 1.0 Released

The free Mozilla Firefox open-source web browser has at last been officially released, and 10 million downloads are expected over the coming days.

Features of Firefox listed as improvements on Internet Explorer include: tabbed browsing (multiple pages in one web browser window), good handling of popups and cookies, built-in google search, RSS integration, and loads of extensions that add functionality.

Almost 10% of visitors to already use Firefox and I expect that number to get higher.

Get Firefox

Posted November 9, 2004 in Software | TrackBack (0) | Comments (0)

More on X1 Google Desktop Alternative

X1 google desktop search alternative

I have been using X1 since mentioning it yesterday as an alternative to Google Desktop Search and it is a great piece of software.

It has now fully indexed my PC and I have instant search capabilities inside 45,000 emails, 10,000 attachments, and 150,000 files! (I am an email hoarder).

On the email tab I start typing "united sfo" and I imstantly get the list of 45,000 emails cut down to 56 related to flights I have taken in the last 8 years to/from San Francisco airport on United.

There are also privacy issues being raised about Google's desktop search as it indexes all the emails and files of all the users on the PC:

"This is not a bug, rather a feature," says Marissa Mayer, Google's director of consumer Web products. "Google Desktop Search is not intended to be used on computers that are shared with more than one person." (via slashdot)

The only downside to X1 is the price, $75 is way too expensive for the average computer user wanting to search their files. If X1 were to cur their price to something much lower (maybe in the $20 range) they would probably end up making more money from the much higher sales volume they would achieve.

Posted October 16, 2004 in Software | TrackBack (0) | Comments (2)

Google Desktop alternative

Jason over at the unofficial google weblog suggest X1 as an alternative to Google's new desktop serarch tool.

One advantage of X1 is that it keeps all the data locally so there are less privacy concerns and you can find your files/emails without being connected to the internet.

There is a good flash demo at

(more from theunofficialgoogleweblog)

Posted October 15, 2004 in Software | TrackBack (0) | Comments (0)

Lexar 80x 1GB Compactflash $50

lexar 1gb 80x high speed professional compactflash has a great deal on high-speed compactflash memory cards at the moment.

You can get for the Lexar Professional 80x 1gb CompactFlash card for $50 (after $30 rebate expires 9/30).

Note: if you see a price higher than $80 then Amazon is sold out and they are defaulting to a seller such as Office Depot or Tigerdirect. Wait for Amazon to have them back in stock at the lower price.

Do you really need a high speed card? well a regular card has a write speed of 600kb a second, but this card has a write speed of 12mb a second. We will have a review in a couple of weeks looking at a number of high speed cards and seeing where they come in useful (hint: if you want to take advantage of the 5 shot per second burst speed on the 8.2 megapixel Canon 20D camera you will need a fast card).

Lexar Professional 80x 1gb CompactFlash card for $50

1 GB Compactflash or SD card: $100

discounted 1GB 1 GB gigabyte compactflash or SD secure digital

Surplus Computers are a trustworthy supplier of surplus or reconditioned computers and accessories.

The currently have two great deals on Brand New CompactFlash and SD (Secure Digital) cards suitable for Cameras, Pocket PCs, or MP3 players:

PQI 1GB 26x Speed CompactFlash Card: $99.97 ($30 discount, condition: New, warrenty: 90 days)

PQI 1GB SD Secure Digital Card: $99.97 ($70 discount, condition: New, warrenty: 90 days)

Maxtor DiamondMax 10 16mb Cache Hard Drives

maxtor diamondmax 10 16mb cache 300gb hard drives

Maxtor have announced a new range of hard drives that offer up to 300gb storage with a 16mb cache.

The new 16mb cache size should make these drives noticibly faster at loading programs and large files than other comparable hard drives.

The DiamondMax 10 series has the standard 7,200RPM speed for desktop hard drives and comes in 6 sizes: 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, and 200GB (with 8mb cache), and 250GB and 300GB (with the new 16mb cache).

The drives come in 2 versions: one with the new SATA (Serial ATA) interface (available now with the 300gb version costing around $250), and the other with the older ATA/133 interface (available by the end of September).

Windows XP Service Pack 2

windows XP service pack 2

After a few false starts the latest upgrade to Windows XP is available... but you will be lucky to get it today.

Service Pack 2 is a major update to Windows XP focusing on security issues: providing a better firewall that is switched on by default, and cutting off a number of features that are potentially unsafe.

It is only going out to 2.5 million people a day via the Windows Update feature of Windows and starting tomorrow (Tuesday Aug 10th) it will start going out to some people via the Automatic Updates feature of Windows.

Note that some software that didn't do things securely enough is broken by this update. If your favorite piece of software behaves funny after the update check with the software manufacturer for an update.

Update 8/9: I have this installed now, the install went very smoothly: very few problems. For some reason it doesn't get a status from Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition, Style XP doesn't work (they are working on a fix), and if you have a Pocket PC you are going to need to click unblock on a couple of firewall security alerts before Activesync will work.

Make Doom 3 Run Faster

make doom 3 run quicker

A lot of people are surprised at how slowly Doom 3 runs, even with a good computer.

Here is a simple tweak to a text file that will make things much faster and allow you to use a high graphics resolution and detail level:

My games system isn't the fastest or newest, Athlon XP 2500+, 1gb PC2700 RAM, Radeon 9800 Pro 128mb. With that system Doom 3 defaulted to medium detail and 800x600 resolution (in comparison every other game runs well at 1800x1600 max graphics). I upped the graphics to 1280x1024 and high graphics but got massive slowdowns and jerkiness (from 10 frames/second down to under 1 frame per second) whenever there was a lot of movement on screen.

Then I found this simple trick that made my Doom 3 run faster:

Continue reading "Make Doom 3 Run Faster"

Free Software

free software for windows PCs

No, I'm not talking illegal copies of programs here.

Roger Ramsey at Sudhian has written a great article about using Freeware (free software, with no limiting of features, no hidden spyware downloads etc) to replace all paid software on a PC (except the operating system).

The best thing about the article is a full list (with links to the author's website to download) of almost 50 free software programs (divided into core, audio, video, graphics, DVD mastering, internet and productivity categories).

Personally I won't be making a PC with all this software but it will save me buying two copies of some software to use on my laptop, and I will be able to replace some shareware software I need to pay for soon with free software.

Thanks Roger!

(link to Sudhian article)

Posted August 6, 2004 in Software | TrackBack (0) | Comments (1)

Longhorn Speculation

microsoft longhorn speculation

Cnet has an article about enhancements being made in the next major version of Windows to improve laptop performance/productivity.

This new version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn, wont be released until at least 2006 so dont take anything as gospel.

Article Link

Posted May 6, 2004 in Software | TrackBack (0) | Comments (0)
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ShinyPlastic is brought to you by Search Network and operated by Mark:

Mark is a thirty-something guy living in New York who loves to own the latest tech gadgets but also loves a positive bank balance.

Mark visited gadget sites that list every upcoming gadget but dont let you buy them, and coupon sites that list great deals but don't tell you what is hot; hence Shiny Plastic, how to get the nice Shiny Plastic tech gadgets without ruining your credit.

Mark reviews every fun gadget that he buys, searches other technology sites for interesting items, and regularly searches all the online stores for the best deals.
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