Archive for July, 2005

High Street ripoff

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

The other day I was in my local PC World looking for something small and insignificant which as it turned out they didn't have anyway. That's not the point (I didn't expect them to have it anyway really, not deep down inside ...) it's something I saw there that really bothered me.

At the front, by the door, they had a clearance box filled to the brim with damaged boxes of software and hardware. It looked like a lucky dip and since I was heading out empty handed I took a look.

I was horrified by what I saw.

To begin with, is 50p or £1 enough when the box that software comes in looks like it had been worn like a shoe? Not for me it's not. I took a look at some of the items and I found that many had warranty cards and instructions missing - vital pieces of information if you end up having problems. But what was worse than the software was the hardware. I saw several hard drives and a couple of RAM modules just chucked in the box without even basic ESD bags around them (so no instructions and no warranty cards). And the price drop was only a small one to compensate for this obvious lack or care - no more than 5 or 15% at most on these items - in other words the store is still making a profit.

At the bottom of the box I came across a Maxtor OneTouch 250 Gb external drive (regular readers will know that I had problems with the 300 Gb version). Hmmm, I thought, I wonder how much that will be. I noticed that it was the drive only, no power supply, no cables, no manual, no box, nothing. Just the drive in the blue polythene bag it comes in.

I thought that this might be a bargain so I took a closer look. PC World sell the Maxtor 250 Gb external for £159 (whereas Amazon sell it for just over £130). I fished the drive from the bottom and turned it over for the price:

Recommended retail price: £159
Bargain price: £99

Some bargain. A drive that's been rattling around a box for who knows how long without protection, no cable, no power supply ... some bargain.

This kind of rip off is common on the high street (for example, motherboard and CPU prices at PC World were consistently £30 dearer than Maplin, which are both high street stores). My advice is that if you are forced into the high street to buy something, take your time and find out what the best web price you can find is - that way, at least if youa re ripped off, you know by how much!

While you're at it, be aware of clearance discounts and so called bargains. More often than not these are nothing more than cons to shift stuff that they themselves have been careless with and can't offload back onto the suppliers.

What’s new from Microsoft in the next 6 months …

Sunday, July 31st, 2005 has thew answer ...

Lots of exciting products on the way, both software and hardware, consumer and business.

Looks like it's going to be an exciting second half to 2005!

Windows OneCare Beta1 Screenshots

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

Here are some very interesting screenshots for Microsoft's upcoming security service, OneCare.

Software box: 1

Setup: 1 | 2 | 3

Main screen: 1

Splash screen: 1

Antivirus features: 1 | 2 | 3

Windows Vista information on MSDN

Saturday, July 30th, 2005

Here's an interesting article on MSDN outlining security features in Windows Vista.

I think that this sentence sums up the security features in Windows Vista very well indeed:

"Malicious software, or malware, typically runs under the privilege level of the user currently operating the computer and most users run with elevated privileges by default. When you put these together, malware often runs with Administrator privileges. Having all operations take place with the least possible privilege necessary is a primary focus of Windows Vista."

About time too! I don't know how many systems I've seen where all the accounts are admin-level accounts simply because a program won't work properly otherwise (like LiveUpdate on Norton AntiVirus) or because games simply refuse to run on user accounts. Separating the account level from application operations is a very good idea indeed and something that will help to make systems a lot saver.

TweakVista update

Saturday, July 30th, 2005

TweakVista has been updated with new features which include:

  • Tweak Desktop Windows Manager
  • Enable support for unsupported cards (Still need Vista LDDM drivers!)
  • Tweak Window Buttons
  • Tweak Window Transparency Blurring
  • Tweak Window Scaling

Good looking application!