Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week

Tag Archives: The Web

What is the Net good for, exactly?

Tags : 

Just writing that headline alone gave me terrible flashbacks to a Sandra Bullock 90’s thriller that I’m sure would seem horribly dated (although in some ways possibly prescient). Living more in the now, though, debate continues to rage around the potential implementation of the National Broadband Network, whether there’s enough broadband for everyone anyway, and exactly how much it should cost.

With that in mind, my ears pricked up recently when attending a product launch for networking firm Netgear. To kick things off, representatives showed off survey figures that outlined the current home usage patterns of the Internet across all users. There’s some interesting figures that show what we use the Net for from home locations.

It shouldn’t come as much of a shock that Web and Email use tops the list, with 90% of respondents using both services. An NBN isn’t likely to change the usage there, although it would enable larger files to be sent via email or viewed via the web with more ease.

51% of respondents used social networking, and I suspect that’s a figure that’s only going to rise. If you strip out the formal business requirements of email, there’s a lot of messages sent that are better suited to social networking sites and services, and that’s even without taking into consideration professional social networks such as LinkedIn.

46% of respondents use the internet to download music and video. There wasn’t a breakout for those doing so legally or illegally, although that’s hardly surprising. Nobody’s likely to dob themselves in on a survey. Obviously a faster broadband infrastructure would enable this to run faster, but it could also serve in the fight against copyright infringement nicely. As Apple proved with iTunes, once you can deliver customers fair quality content quickly and at a good price, the market will follow.

45% of those surveyed used the Net to work from home. That’s a big area where a faster broadband infrastructure could have huge implications for how we all live our lives. Not every job can be taken online, but the facility to quickly and seamlessly access work from home, or telework entirely could be exceptionally useful. Then again, it could lead to a nation of overworked employees.

An equal 45% used the net to watch movies, TV or video. That’s distinct from the downloaders. These are folks watching YouTube and its many imitators. Again, the NBN case here is pretty obvious, and even has employment implications. Once you can stream good quality video anywhere across the nation, if you’ve got a great idea for a TV program, who needs the free to air networks any more?

The rest of the figures skew a little lower — 34% for instant messaging chat, 30% for internet radio and 23% for gaming. One figure that did surprise me a little was that only 24% of respondents used internet access from home for webcam or voice over IP services. Considering the convenience and cost savings that services like Skype offer, it’s interesting that the takeup is comparatively low.

There’s dozens of usage scenarios beyond home usage that an NBN could address, but rather like putting today’s broadband up against the first 400kbps connections I ever used, it’s tough to entirely visualise them. Telemedicine is an often chosen target, but there’s plenty of scope for other uses, both professional and personal. I reckon it’ll be very interesting to revisit those figures in a decade’s time. What will we be  using the broadband of the future (no matter what form it takes) for then?


Do you want more TV advertising, even if it's Google?

Tags : 

Mid-May, Google announced a whole bunch of new products and services at its Google I/O event in San Francisco. The biggest surprise of the bunch was Google TV, a platform that Google’s developing to bring the richness of the Web to your TV.

This has of course been tried before for a vast number of years, but when Google talks, people tend to listen. The company is packed with clever and committed developers, and more than a small quantity of spare change to throw at its projects. It also doesn’t hurt that Google has a lot of goodwill amongst all of its clients. For the average consumer, Google’s products work well and are mostly free.

Free’s a nice price to pay, but it ignored a key element of how Google makes money and pays for that “free”, and that’s through targeted advertising. Every Google search is logged and analysed, and if you’re a user of Google’s excellent mail client, gmail, you’ll notice more specific ads turning up next to your mail as well. This does worry some privacy advocates, but it’s clearly the price one pays for free services. If you want it free, you pay with ads. It’s the model (more or less) that television (with the exception of state-run services such as the ABC) has worked on for more than half a century.

Bringing more ads to TV, though? That’s an interesting prospect, given one of the first things that most buyers of personal video recorders do is work out the best way to enable ad-skipping, whether that’s just fast-forwarding through the ads (a limitation of any “Freeview” branded PVR) or skipping them entirely. GoogleTV will be a combination of a hardware product and a software platform. At first in the US this year Google will launch a set top box built by Logitech, and Blu-Ray player and TV built by Sony with inbuilt Google TV. As yet, international plans (including Australia) point to 2011 as the earliest we might see GoogleTV here.

Google’s main product is still of course search, and the ability to search for TV-specific content easily from your sofa is pretty compelling. I put the question around ad-skipping and how to sell consumers on getting yet another box to chuck under the TV that’ll serve ads to them to Google’s product manager for Google TV, Rishi Chandra at a recent Google event. His response was rather telling about where Google’s priorities actually are.

Chandra’s take on advertising for end users (that’s you and me and everyone else presumably watching a Google TV) is that we’d prefer targeted advertising specific to our searches and our profiles. They’re more useful, he told me, and if the economics are right and they’re particularly targeted we may end up with less of them.

On the other side of the coin, while it’s possible to strip ads out of Web pages if you’re so inclined or fast forward the ads on the TV if you’ve pre-recorded it, don’t look for that kind of feature in Google TV. One of the benefits (to the advertisers) that Chandra highlighted was that users couldn’t skip the ads. They could ensure that the ads were played and were trackable. Google can help the advertising community with lots more specific data via Google TV. At the end of the day, Google’s actual clients are the advertisers that give the company cash by the barrowload.

It’s a difficult line that Google has to tread. Its money comes from advertising, and even online there’s no such thing as a free lunch. It still leaves me wondering if it’s going to be worth investing in a TV with inbuilt Google (or a set top box, Blu-Ray player or whatever) in order to be served even more advertising that I can’t easily ignore.


The future of TV is nearly here, but it won't be "free"

Tags : 

Chances are reasonably good that you’re a pay TV subscriber, or know someone who is. If you’re not, the odds are pretty high you’ve invested in a digital set top box (or digital ready TV). The bad old days of 1-5 channels (depending on where you live) are truly behind us. Meanwhile, both free to air and pay TV are gearing up for the next “big thing”. It’s not digital TV as the Freeview ads would have you believe it, but instead direct TV delivery over the Internet, sometimes referred to as IPTV.

You can already get a taste of how IPTV could work through services like Channel 7’s Plus7, Channel 9’s Fixplay, Foxtel’s Downloads and ABC TV’s iView platforms. They’re not even limited to your internet-connected computer, with several TV makers offering Channel 7 options, and ABC’s iView available through the Playstation 3 console. Fire up a web browser and go to the relevant site and a wealth of Internet-delivered TV goodies are yours for the viewing.

There’s a couple of minor catches with these approaches. First of all, they play pretty much exclusively in the “catch up” space. Most of them work off time limited availability of recently run programs. Great if you’ve missed the last episode of 24, but only within a week or two. Some older programs are available on a consistent basis, but the quality varies. Not so much the quality of the programs, as tastes may vary, but the quality of the encoding used to convert them. Sitting down with Channel 7’s Plus7 to enjoy an episode or two of the genuinely classic Father Ted, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of blockiness and digital artefacts making the experience a lot less compelling than it should be.

There are solutions on the horizon that may fix the “Catch Up” nature of these services. A company called FetchTV is promising up to 20 channels and a video on demand service over the Internet to be launching this year. iiNet’s already signed up to deliver the service, which is expected to cost “under $30” per month. $30 per month might sound like a lot for Internet-delivered TV, and they’ll certainly have to iron out quality and speed of delivery issues, especially with the woeful speeds that many Australians have to suffer through.

The big issue with IPTV is that you’re likely to be paying for it either way. iiNet’s said that they won’t count FetchTV content against a user’s data cap, but then they’ll be getting $30 (or more) of your hard earned cash upfront.  A handful of ISPs (including Internode, iPrimus, Adam and iiNet) offer iView unmetered, but it’s really the exception rather than the rule. For everyone else’s services, you’ll pay in the form of your data allowance. A typical program may chew up hundreds of megabytes of download allowance, but as they’re really streaming rather than downloading, you’ll be using up that data without being able to easily re-watch downloads at a later date. If you’re on a plan that charges for excess data, that could get expensive fast, and even those on capped plans that drop speed may find a large part of their month’s service at crawling rates if they get too keen on Desperate Housewives.


Can you get ISP satisfaction?

Tags : 

Internet connectivity is everywhere you look, from PCs to smart phones to games consoles, whether it’s delivered over cables, phone lines or even wirelessly. For most of us, we don’t really think about our Internet Service Provider (ISP) except in two key areas. Firstly, there’s the time when we’ve got to pay the bill, although with bundling and direct debits quite normal for most ISPs you may never even think about that. Competition is still fierce and the price of both wireless and fixed line broadband services still continues to tumble on a per-gigabyte basis.

The other time, of course, is when things go wrong. When your connection is slow, flaky, or worst of all inexplicably “down”, you’re going to want to know why, and fast. Quite how your ISP responds (if they respond at all) will form a big part of how you relate to them, as beyond picking your plan details, it’s the primary time that you do relate to them at all. If the support person has an impenetrable accent, a poor line connection, baffles you with jargon or rigidly sticks to a support script that doesn’t help you in the least, it can quickly get annoying.

A recent Roy Morgan poll of ISP Satisfaction ratings reveals some interesting figures.  Overall, ISPs must be getting something right. In the six month period from July to December 2009, 73.3% of surveyed customers were at least “satisfied”. Of those, 43.7 were “Fairly Satisfied” and 29.6%” were “Very Satisfied”. Breaking it out into the actual providers reveals a lot more detail. Internode (90.3% satisfied) and iiNet (86.8%) customers seemed happiest with their service.

The wooden spoons — those ISPs whose customers fell below the 73.3% industry average — fared worse. Amongst the major players, these included dodo (66.9%), Telstra BigPond (66.1%) and iPrimus (65.1%). The interesting thing there is the gap between the the bottom rung and top rung, which Roy Morgan notes is higher than in other service industries. In other words, where you might expect a small gap between ISPs depending on how cranky given customers were, it’s odd that it’s this large. Either the good guys are exceptionally good, or the bad guys are doing particularly poorly. Telstra’s a particularly interesting case, as they’ve still got the lion’s share of the overall market. Are Telstra customers more irritable with some facet of their service, or does the number of customers give rise to a higher level of “squeaky wheel” dissatisfaction?

So what can an ISP do to “improve” customer satisfaction, given that in an ideal world, the only time you’d even notice your ISP is if they improved your service?


Google Wave

Tags : 

There has been a lot of buzz in recent months about Google Wave and the large array of team-based tasks that can be completed with it. Google Wave is basically a collection of online tools that allow the members of a team/group to work together collaboratively on documents. The tool is web-based which provides team members the freedom to be located anywhere in the world. All types of preferences can be established, however, at it’s most basic level, no matter which member of a team comes up with an idea, all team members can be required to sign off on the idea as a condition for moving to the next level of development. Google Wave is often used by team leaders. They often set up a document and then invite people into the project, giving them the ability to ask every team member to input ideas. It is a great way to stimulate discussion. Google Wave makes teamwork via the Internet a reality.

Wave is a term that is used often in the Google Wave system. A Wave is defined as a discussion that has several participants in it. Wave participants are invited into a project, or added by a Wave admin and are given permission to participate in the development of documents or in whatever collaborative effort is taking place. There is no limit to the number of participants that can be added to a Wave. One particular feature that makes Google Wave especially exciting is the option for new participants to playback any interactions that took place among the team before they actually joined the project.

Google Wave functions are in real-time and therefore any communication at all, can be seen instantly by other team members. This allows team members on the same project to work together on a document while holding a real-time discussion at the same time. There are no limitations on the quality of documents that users work with. Google Wave allows for rich text formatting, uploading photos, video uploads and the placement of maps in documents as well. All of this eliminates the need for email messages being sent to the group and eliminates a need for attachments in those emails.

Project managers, business owners and business planning departments can all benefit greatly from the features offered by Google Wave, as can companies that require the co-operation of multiple departments placed in different offices and cities. Often traditional businesses hesitate to adopt new technology and wait to see how things fair with other companies. Google Wave is one development in technology that definitely improves the way that things are done in the best of ways.


Dropbox Online Storage

Tags : 

Dropbox technology was developed by Dropbox Inc. Their online service allows people located anywhere in the world to store files and to sync data between their computer and the Dropbox servers, where the data is stored. Using the service is not difficult, users simply sign up for an account and then they are free to sync files as they need to. This can simply be either storing files from a single computer or syncing several computers with the data that they have stored on Dropbox.

In these days of widespread computer use, very few people use just a single computer all of the time. Most people have a computer that they use at work, one that they use at home and perhaps a mobile device as a laptop, iPhone or PDA. When this is the case, there is always an issue of trying to figure out how to share and access files and data between various devices. Flash drives and Bluetooth have helped somewhat in this arena, but as the world becomes more tech savvy, the demand for higher levels of flexibility and broader bandwidths of data transfer arises. The need for a central repository for files and data that can be accessed by all of your devices is very necessary. Dropbox solves this issue in a way that is easy and practical.

Since Dropbox is web-based, it can be used by computers operating on any platform. Therefore people running computers on Windows Operating System, Mac, Linux or even on an iPhone can take advantage of this service. Basically, once a file has been dropped into Dropbox, it is instantly available to be synced with any computer owned by the user. In addition to this, it can be either shared with other Dropbox users or it can be accessed via the Internet.

One of the first questions that arises when we talk about storing data online, is security. It is important for users to know that their files are safe, and that those files are for their eyes only. Dropbox has addressed this issue and have done an excellent job of ensuring that all files are securely uploaded and that they are accessed only by the correct parties.

Technically speaking, Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is used to protect the transfer of data. This is the same technology that is used with shopping carts and online payment systems. Besides this, Dropbox has revision history. What this means in practical terms is that if a file is deleted either purposely or accidentally, it can be made available and recovered from any one of the other computers that are used on the account.

Dropbox offer a variety of packages to their users. Their initial package is free, but provides limited services. As with all businesses, the more features required by the user, the higher the related fees. They have an unlimited package, which is known and promoted as the “Pack Rat”. Check out dropbox.com to see this great new technology.


Online photo sharing

Tags : 

Online photo sharing websites such as Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket and Imgur allow people to display and share photos that they have taken, with other people. These photos can either be shared with a specific group of friends or publicly with anyone. Most photo sharing websites are free to join and use. People only need to set up a user account before they are free to upload photos. Most photo sharing websites have a variety of features. For the most part, these features are free, however, on some websites users may be required to pay a fee in order to use some of the more advanced site features.

With most photo sharing websites, users can begin to upload photos as soon as they open their account. Photos can then be organized into albums and can be dated to keep them organized. Online photo albums also allow users to organize their memories and they provide structure for others that will browse through their photos. Users do not necessarily have to share all of the albums with all of their friends. Albums can be privatised or the user may share the album’s link with a selected few, or open albums up for anyone to view.

Each photo sharing website has its own set of features. The most common features found on photo sharing websites are photo upload utilities, email notifications and varied storage limits. Image upload utilities often give users the ability to upload several photos simultaneously, saving them time. Email notification features are common on many sites. This allows users to send email notices to friends informing them of a newly created photo album or of new photos to be viewed. Some photo sharing websites provide unlimited storage, others limit the amount of storage space that can be used, often charging a fee for higher than standard storage space. Some websites allow photos to be uploaded at full resolution while others may reduce the quality and size of the file.

When looking for a photo sharing web site, the best way to decide on which site to use is by looking at the features that are being offered, and finding a site that suits your needs. A person that is very serious about photography will not want to place their photos on a website that reduces the quality of their images. A person that is very active in online social networks will most likely want to use a photo sharing site that allows them to notify others via email or social network sites that they have posted new photos. Not all photo sharing websites are equal, however, most users are sure to find a photo sharing website that will suit their particular needs.


Internet Browsers the Good, the Bad & the ugly

Tags : 

When we talk about what is and what is not a good Internet browser it usually comes down to personal preference for most people. Not everyone is tech savvy or fussy enough to test and try different browsers. For some people, it simply comes down to what browser was installed on the computer when they bought it. In the majority of cases, this is Windows Internet Explorer or if you have a Mac, Safari. There are other free Internet browsers. Other popular ones are Firefox and Chrome.

Windows Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser ever. This is because it has always been part of the basic set of installed programs that come with a personal computer (PC).
Much controversy has surrounded Internet Explorer because of the fact that it was bundled with Microsoft Windows software. You have most likely heard that they were sued because of this. Although Internet Explorer is easy to use, it is the browser most targeted and exploited by viruses.

Safari browser was developed by Apple, Inc. The first version of Safari to be launched was in 2003. Safari is popular with users of Mac computers because it is made primarily to run on Macs and also because it is made by the same manufacturer of the Mac computer, kind of the same reason that Internet Explorer is popular with PC users. Safari has seen many changes and developments over the years. It can now be used on PCs and not just on Macs. Also, Beta version of the latest version of Safari has only just recently been released to the excitement of fans of this browser.

Firefox is the strongest rival of Internet Explorer. Firefox has grown rapidly in popularity almost since its first version was released. Many people use it as an alternative to Microsoft. Although Firefox has been through many releases and updates, it is a very different browser to Internet Explorer. It reads web pages in a different way and according to different standards to Explorer, causing it to sometimes display pages incorrectly. Firefox continues to advance though and it definitely continues to challenge the popularity of Explorer.

Chrome X is an extremely new browser that was developed by Google. The launch of this browser took place in September of 2008. During its initial promotion, Google claimed that it was much faster than other browsers. It has passed several industry browser tests with flying colors which is a great sign. My first attempts at using it where frustrated by frequent crashes. I am sure though that after a few more versions most of the bugs will be ironed out.

The browser that you end up choosing comes down to personal choice. If you only log on to your computer for a few minutes at a time to check email, it might not matter to you which browser you use. If you are using your computer for work or for anything challenging you may want to download a few of the popular browsers and try them out for yourself.


The YouTube Phenomenon

Tags : 

YouTube.com is a revolutionary media web site that allows people to broadcast themselves. Anyone and everyone can upload home videos and all other types to the YouTube.com web site. YouTube is truly revolutionary because never before in the history or human beings has the everyday individual had access or the “power” to make media broadcasts to the whole world!

No-one could have anticipated how popular YouTube would become. Its popularity and fame have literally skyrocketed from the moment of inception. YouTube.com was officially incorporated in February of 2005. It received immediate recognition as a site to keep your eye on. Only one year after launch, seeing the strength and potential of YouTube, Google.com made the decision to buy the company and they have held ownership ever since.

YouTube.com was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim. All three of these had previously worked together at PayPal.com. There are many stories written about how these 3 came to form YouTube. After many discussions and after coming up with the idea for YouTube.com, they left their jobs at PayPal to pursue their own venture.

All kinds of videos and broadcasts can be found on the YouTube web site. Files are uploaded from the most amateur of videos that are made in a bedroom somewhere to highly professional, made-for-TV-quality broadcasts. One of the unique and also great things about YouTube is that videos of any quality can become extremely popular. It seems that videos are accepted and made popular for their content rather than for their quality or artistic prowess. This is the phenomenon of YouTube!

YouTube has a strong Social Networking element to it. Non YouTube members can watch videos however YouTube members can also post written reviews and comments on the videos they watch. Anyone that has an email account can sign up and become a member of YouTube. Star ratings for every video are also used to indicate how good the public rates the video.

YouTube is now such a popular site that it is not uncommon for the most popular videos to be watched over tens of millions of times by people. One of the most popular videos ever on YouTube is an entertainment video called, The Evolution of Dance. It is a six-minute dance routine performed by a popular comedian. It showcases his talent to dance and to entertain people and it has brought him unexpected worldwide recognition.


The Google Story

Tags : 

Google Inc. is the company that runs the highly successful search engine Google.com. Company founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, met at Stanford University as computer science students. After many late night discussions, they put their heads together to develop a new idea in search engine technology. They experimented with developing their idea and ran it on their university network. Very soon though, their search engine became too big for the school network and needed a new place to grow. This was the beginnings of the web site that we now know as Google.com.

Google.com is a web site that is known for its simplicity and ease of use. When you visit the Google home page, you will experience a lot of white space, with a simple search box in the middle of the page. With such simplicity, it is quite hard to get lost when using the Google site.

With a quick rise in popularity, Google became a force to reckon with for the then number one search engine, Yahoo.com. Right from the beginning, Google was extremely popular and it very quickly became the number one search engine. Even today, its popularity has not waned.

Google Inc. was incorporated and became a formal company in 1998. Google Inc. needed ways to earn money. From very early on, Google has earned its profits through paid advertisements. It is a web site that has always been popular and it is this popularity that gave advertisers the confidence to pay for advertisements on their site; a fairly new idea at the time.

In 2004, Google Inc. went public and celebrated their Initial Public Offering (IPO) after just six, short years in business. This allowed them to grow even further as a business and to offer more helpful web services to their users and fans.

What has made Google.com successful? Not only does Google.com do what it does well, it is also a trail blazer when it comes to innovative services on the Internet. It has allowed many web site owners to make a profit through its pay-per-click advertising scheme, its been strategic in buying smaller companies for products that would raise the standard of the services it offers and it has an extremely loyal following of online users.


Recent News

Statistically speaking, you’re probably running a Windows PC – it’s still the world’s most-used operating system, and not by a small margin, and it’s fairly likely you’re on Windows 10. With the recent removal of support for Windows 7 operating systems, it’s even more likely. Being big and popular means that most applications are written

Got a few computers in your office and you’re wondering how to share files, printers and internet between them? You need a network! No longer will you have to walk over to another computer just to share a document or wait for someone to get off a computer just to use the printer. There are

You can’t do much at all about the trackpad on your laptop in terms of usability and sensitivity for the most part, but what you can do if your trackpad won’t cut it – or if you just want more features or don’t like selecting with a flat pad – is buy yourself an external

A friend of mine recently went through an issue with his Facebook account. Unbeknownst to him, it was posting links to dodgy “investment” opportunities seemingly promoted by major Australian celebrities. Quick tip: If you see an investment “opportunity” on Facebook, run a mile. Maybe two or more, because they’re ALL scams, and, sadly enough they’re