Google Music Service will bypass the music labels

Google Music has publicly launched after lengthy beta testing, and inevitably some are already dubbing it the iTunes killer. That seems a little premature, but it does appear the service stands the best chance yet of being firmly established as a rival to Apple.

For the moment the service is US only, with expansion at the mercy of country-by-country licensing restrictions. While there’s no word on the schedule for adding more customers, there’s a good chance the UK will be among the first added markets to get the service.

The service is both similar to and different from the iTunes store. It stands out because users can automatically listen to their purchased music on any computer through a web browser. Users can also download mp3 files at 320kbps: that means comparatively good sound quality, though file sizes are larger. There are no technological restrictions on downloading purchased music, burning the songs to a CD, or copying to a portable device. However, there is a legal restriction, namely that the music is only for your own non-commercial use.

As well as purchased music, users can upload up to 20,000 tracks from their own computer and then access them over the web. However, unlike a similar service from Apple, every song must be individually uploaded, which could be an extremely lengthy process.

Google Music does allow a form of sharing, though it’s not unrestricted. It’s only available to members of the Google+ social networking service. The system is set up so that once a member buys a song, his or her online contacts each have the right to listed to that song once without charge.

It’s on mobile devices where Google Music may make the biggest splash. There’s not only a dedicated Android application, but the music catalogue is built directly into the Android Market, meaning you can buy with a simple click in the same way as buying an app. The idea seems to be to make music more of an impulse purchase with as little hassle as possible. Intriguingly one mobile phone network in the US has added an option to buy music and have the cost added to your monthly phone bill.

The music catalogue is the biggest weakness against iTunes at the moment. Warner Music, one of the three remaining major labels, has not yet agreed to have its music on the service. Between that and the fact that Google is only part of the way through signing up independent labels, the service “only” has 13 million tracks available, compared with around 18 million on iTunes.

There are a few exclusives though, with bands such as Coldplay, Pearl Jam and the Rolling Stones providing live albums that can’t be bought elsewhere. The service also offers a free Song of the Day.

Unsigned artists have the ability to add music to the service. To do so they pay a $25 (£16) fee to set up a dedicated page in the “New Music Hub.” They can then set their own prices for downloads, with Google taking 30 percent of the revenue.

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TeamViewer the popular sharing tool for technical and non-technical alike

Team Viewer is an excellent screen-sharing and file-transfer application that is popular amongst the technical and non-technical alike.

This is due to the varied uses that are available through Team Viewer, with the apparatuses most popular devices being the remote troubleshooting of IT problems, the ability to manage servers in remote data centers or the allowance to let users connect to their desktop PCs when they’re away from the computer.

The installation process with Team Viewer is even impressive and even allows you to toggle administration rights. Once loaded Team Viewer gives each of its users the exact tools they need when they are looking to share screens securely, send files with no hassle and switch the user who has complete control.

This can occur because when you log in you’re provided with an access code and a password, which you can share, allowing your computer to be controlled to the level you have set it to. The Team Viewer even remembers the computers that you have connected to, which allows you to reconnect to previous PCs quickly and with no bother.

TeamViewer is free for personal use, easy to use, the integrated contact list allows you to support family and friends instantly, features extensive security mode and remote access. But the support and documentation is poor and it can be very expensive to use it professionally.

TeamViewer makes screen and file sharing simple and fluid as well as unobtrusive and is a worthy addition to any office or home for both professional and casual users.

read full review | download TeamViewer

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HMA! Pro VPN will hide your Internet activity for real

Easy Anonymity Covering Your Tracks Online

Using a Virtual Private Network can seem like a complicated endeavour, but ‘Hide My Ass’ makes it easy as pie. The desktop application is easy to use and intuitive however there are plenty of more advanced features for the experienced user and for beginners to try out as they get more comfortable. Installation is quick and simple, and you can be up and running within the hour.

Additional features include quick IP address changes either manually or an an automatic schedule, with over 15,000 IP addresses to choose from. However, they could do with a few more offshore servers. The support is good, however, if you are choosing a VPN because of a degree for privacy you may have concerns about their storage of your personal information and service logs.

It’s free to try, but only after you have paid the initial fee. If you cancel within the first 30 days your money is refunded to you. However, the fee of $11.52 per month or $6.55 per month for a year’s subscription is solidly in the middle of the range.

While there are some privacy concerns and a need for more offshore servers, overall the features available are top of the line for a good price. Certainly worth the 30 day trial.

read the entire review | download HMA! Pro VPN

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Mozilla Firefox 8 cannot surpass Google’s Chrome

Lean, mean Mozilla update brings welcome improvements and enhancements.

Mozilla Firefox 8 is the latest major update to the popular web browser and includes a wealth of new improvements and features. Add-ons have long been a hallmark of the Firefox experience, allowing users to customise their browsing experience to their own preferences. The update has made a few improvements to the add-on system, including default disabling of add-ons installed by third-party programs, and a new system for managing installed add-ons. Twitter has been incorporated into the search bar in a particularly handy fashion. Tab organization has also been updated with a new preference allowing the loading of tabs on demand. This feature also helps to speed up start-up time.

Beneath the hood, the update has added in better support for HTML5, although Firefox still lags behind Chrome in this regard. Overall the update offers better performance and memory use than previously with increased graphics acceleration as well. On the downside Mozilla Firefox 8 features no built in PDF reader, flash or instant page view as can be found in Chrome, and the HTML5 support is behind Chrome. It is said that the startup speed has improved but it still lags behind that of IE9 and Chrome.

download Mozilla Firefox 8

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Optimize, clean, protect and repair your computers with Advanced SystemCare 5

We all been through hell one time or another. It’s a place where you find yourself when your computer is driving you insane with problems, glitches, or running awfully slow. There are several problems that could be causing this and the most likely reason is all those irregular settings and errors your operating system may have after some time, or the huge list of programs running behind the scenes that are eating up your computer’s available processing capacity. Now, considering that performing a clean-up and fixing errors is not just time-consuming, but it’s a laborious task even for advanced users, you can’t go wrong with IObit’s software suite for PC maintenance and optimization: Advanced SystemCare.

First launched in 2005, Advanced SystemCare has been around for enough time to evolve into a powerful suite of tuneup tools that can optimize, clean, protect and repair your computers. Now with the release of version 5, the suite brings many improvements, some new features and enhanced usability. One of the most significant features added in the latest version is Active Boost. This new module runs in the background and improves your PC’s performance by optimizing applications RAM and CPU use in real time. Features such as Quick and Deep Care have been also enhanced; the interface improved for easier to use, and Turbo Boost can recover more system resources. Moreover, there is a new cloud technology that ensures the program database is kept updated in order to face malware threats.

Read full review | Download Advanced SystemCare

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Google TV – Disrupt the TV Business?

Google TV: Will It Disrupt the TV Business?

Soon to be relaunched, Google TV has been causing the TV industry some concern and with good reason. Just as Google  flourished in the online advertising market, it is set to stake a large claim within the pay TV market, currently valued at $150 billion a year. As Google goes from strength to strength, it stands to reason TV broadcasters are wary of their new challenger, but what exactly is Google TV and what are its ambitious plans?

Groundbreaking as it was, the concept of Google TV initially failed to entice content producers, who were hesitant to take the plunge and embrace what was an untested new platform. However, rumours are rife that Google TV have hired former cable TV executive and noted expert Jeremy Stern to conduct negotiations with Time Warner, Disney and Discovery Communications to provide content for the platform.

If these media conglomerates come on board, other content producers may be more willing to buy into the new platform. However, another way to view the situation would be to argue that if Google TV becomes a resounding success, drawing a huge base of media companies, broadcasters and users, TV production companies will have no other option than to join Google TV, or risk being left out of the innovative platform’s production base, losing a significant audience.

Google TV seemingly seeks to wrest video-on-demand services from conventional TV channels and provide them through a powerful new internet service that can stream high quality video. Combining the three key communication channels of telephone, cable TV and high speed internet would put Google in a dominant market position that few would be able to match.

Possibly operating on either a national or international basis, perhaps both, Google TV could also enable a new culture of content production from smaller, specialised and localised production firms, and has the potential to transform an established platform like YouTube into something approaching an online cable TV platform delivering myriad channels targeted at niche audiences, facilitating a new era of media entrepreneurship.

What have existing TV broadcasters done to compete with this aggressive takeover move? How have they combined their significant existing powers in answer to this forthcoming disruption to their domain?

In the UK, a resistance of sorts will come in the shape of YouView, an open internet streamed TV platform to be released in February 2012. Created through a partnership between the four TV broadcasters BBC, ITV plc, Channel 4 and Channel 5 and three communications companies BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva, the platform will deliver TV channels, video-on-demand, digital radio and internet content, perhaps via a dedicated set top box.

The real questions are whether YouView will be too late or if the partners involved will feasibly be able to refrain from becoming incorporated within Google TV’s ambitious plans. Looking to the future, Google TV will obviously cause some disruption to the TV industry, but online TV platforms represent a brave new world for media whose contours and terrain have yet to be staked out and charted.

One thing is for sure, every new platform requires internal competition to sustain quality levels, and there will be plenty of that over the next few exciting years.

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Broadcast yourself with SAM Broadcaster

SAM Broadcaster allows you to create an instant online radio station. Download it, and you are instantly able to create, broadcast and record radio shows. It works well for bedroom DJs wanting to get their sounds out there, whether just to their friends or to a wider audience It has a vast array of features which are designed to turn any home PC into a radio station. And it does it well. It includes the ability to beat match music tracks and fade them in and out. You can preview tracks before you air them, and queue them up as you go. You can integrate SAM with the media library on your PC, and even allow your listeners to see what you’re playing and make requests from your library. You can even try and make some money by allowing listeners to click through to Amazon to buy the tracks you’re playing.

SAM broadcaster allows anyone to fulfill their radio DJ dreams. It really is a pretty remarkable piece of software, and entirely usable by beginners. It will automate what you need it to, and allow you to tinker with those things you don’t. Those with some familiarity with beat-matching will find it easier to use, but anyone with the patience to learn could pick it up and broadcast.

download SAM Broadcaster

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Last week’s highlights #3

It’s Monday and time to recap the highlights from the last week:

Safari for Mac and PC: fast and elegant

While Internet Explorer may hold the top browsing seat in the Windows environment, it’s not the only browser choice available.  The browser wars may or may not be over, and choices now abound. If you’re looking for an alternative for your Windows platform, or have made a switch to OS X, then you’re going to want to take a look at Apple’s Safari browser. It’s one of the best browsers around, and like most, it’s free.

Safari is a great browsing alternative, and offers a great deal of features and functionality. The only down side that I’ve seen is that not all features are available to Windows users, though it is the default browser on all Apple Mac systems. On the Windows side, its security features and speed make it a worthy choice in replacement, or in addition to, any other browser you may currently use.

Download Safari for Windows | Download Safari for Mac

Internet Explorer drops below 50% of web usage

Even by the most generous estimates, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is used by barely 50% of Internet users worldwide, meaning that we are approaching or even past the point where most people aren’t using the browser. It’s been a shocking decline from the mid-1990s when as many as 95% of people were on IE. But the big story now isn’t Microsoft’s losses, but rather that it’s Google picking up much of the slack.

It’s important to note that the methods used to create browser market share figures vary from source to source. Most involve using website traffic logs which record the browser used by each visitor to a site. Some of the leading market share figure reports come from web analysis companies who get data from hundreds of thousands of clients, making a reasonably representative sample of the entire web, but this can vary. Still, even while the figures vary (and most sources already have Microsoft below 50%), the pattern is consistent

Microsoft XBOX 360 Kinect is 1 year old

Microsoft’s Kinect system was designed simply to be a way for the Xbox 360 games console to compete with the Nintendo Wii for a family audience. But one year on it is among the fastest selling consumer gadgets ever as well as being adapted for a wide range of non-gaming uses.Kinect, originally known as Project Natal, came about after Nintendo revolutionized the gaming industry with its Wii motion control system that brought a whole new meaning to “pick up and play.” Suddenly TV news reports on gaming were no longer of stereotypical greasy-haired teen loners mastering intricate control systems: instead we had families playing together and even nursing home boxing contests.

10 years of Windows XP

It has now been a decade since Windows XP revolutionised the world of computers and on October 25 of this year the world’s most popular operating system turned ten years of age. Although the world has been flooded with wave after wave of new technology since the initial launch of Windows XP, the simple fact remains that Microsoft’s most successful and longest lasting operating system is not going anywhere, anytime soon. It is still the computer software of choice amongst millions of people and companies worldwide, and despite the hype and marketing surrounding Windows 7, Windows XP will still be used by many of us another ten years from now.
Let’s take a look at the beginnings of Windows XP, why it became so immensely popular, and why only a fool would bet against it still ruling the roost by the time it turns 20.

Nexus Prime – First Ice Cream Sandwich Smartphone

The Galaxy Nexus had the working title of Nexus Prime, taken from a backstory for the Transformers movie series. It’s an appropriate name as Google is hoping the device will continue to help Android transforming the smartphone market. The Nexus is produced by Samsung but will be specifically marketed by Google itself, following on from the Nexus One and Nexus S.

One of the key elements of the Galaxy Nexus is that it will be the first commercial phone to run Android 4.0, the latest edition of Google’s mobile operating system, with the odd marketing name of Ice Cream Sandwich (previous updates included Cupcake, Eclair, Gingerbread and Honeycomb.)

 

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