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The Genius Wizard Pen is a Graphics Tablet that provide pen-type pointing device for use with drawing, painting, graphics and photographic applications and is cordless, so there's no cables restricting your movement as you work.
The Pen replaces the functions of the mouse and offers more features, like Pressure sensitivity. When pressure is applied when using the pen, the Graphics Tablet detects the level and passes this information into the program your using, such as PhotoShop which is able to use the information to change width of the line, the colour of the line and vary the area of the spray when using an airbrush tool by simply adjusting the angle you hold the pen at or by pressing down harder on the pad, it takes a bit of time to train yourself to getting the right results but thats all part of the fun.
The pen buttons can be customized for fast browsing up/down or left/right on the Internet or in documents, Zoom in and out or change brush size in editing programs. The pad has a holder on the top for the pen so you don't miss place it, There's also 18 button sections around the pad that can be assigned to various shortcuts which makes using the pad as a stand alone device a lot easier, you rarely have to use the keyboard so you can sit back comfortable in a chair with the pad in your lap.
You don't just have to use it for drawing, it has software included for hand writing, I never really used that feature I bought it for editing pictures and graphics plus my handwriting is terrible on paper and it was even worse using the pad, there's also a signing feature where you can put your signature to documents and emails, which is quite a good feature to personalize or add extra security to messages or important letters such as CVs.
Connecting it to the computer is simple, plug it into a usb port, insert the drivers disk and follow the on-screen instructions, however customizing the the pad can be a bit tricky, it was a long time ago that I did it but I do remember spending quite a bit of time figuring things out, it was bought second hand and had no instructions so I had to use the internet but after a bit of time and effort everything was easy to use.
This is a very handy tool as well as being a really fun toy, When I first got it I spent a couple of hours just messing about with it, drawing pointless stick men and writing words, I had planned on actually getting stuck into some work I was doing but I felt like a kid with a new toy and just wanted to play, so I believe this Graphics tablet would also be great for the kids... they can draw some picture's then print them out plus there's no messy paint or pens laying around to be clean up afterwards.
I haven't been using it as much as I did when I first got it, these days I'm only adjusting colour balances and light levels which only needs a few clicks of the mouse I'm doing very little graphic creation, it was just taking up space so I gave it to a mate who is really good at drawing and he had made good use of it, since then he has sold it and bought one with a larger active area, the Wizard Pen's active area was only 4x3 which is a lot smaller than a cd case and he found it a bit restrictive.
I can suggest it to anyone who is good with a pen and paper or anyone who uses Graphics editing applications as its very cheap at under £15 compared to the more professional ones that can cost upto a couple of hundred pounds, it will give you and idea if its the right choice for you but I would recommend you have a look at the WizardPen 5x4 it has a larger active area thats only slightly smaller than a cd case and doesn't cost that much more.
The Cherry Advanced Performance Keyboard has a built in Touchpad to replace the functions of the mouse while still keeping a space saving size, ideal if you have limited space on your desktop. The keyboard comes in either black or beige, and has all the standard keys, some have just been moved to make space for the touchpad.
Pretty standard layout all the letter and number keys are where they should be, however the bottom row of keys have all been resized smaller to match the standard keys which allows the arrow keys to be placed closer so this makes space for the touchpad which is located on the bottom right of the keyboard also the number pad has been pushed up to the top and the F1 to F12 keys have had the spaces removed and been split into two rows which allows the Insert, Home, Prtsc, Delete, keys etc. to go next to them. Even though the keyboard has a touchpad added to it, the width is actually smaller but the depth has increased by only a few centermeters -:Dimensions (WxDxH): 41cm x 19cm x 3cm.
There is a small learning curve in this setup, I keep trying to hit the Delete where it used to be only to find it a few inches to the left, its not a major thing these keys are only used occasionally.
I've used laptops with touchpad before but only briefly not long enough to know all the ins and outs of how they work, there is two buttons below the pad that act as the Left & Right mouse buttons but you can also tap the pad to act as left click and also use it as the drag option as well by holding your finger on the pad on the second tap.
The pad its self is quite sensitive moving the pointer around is controlled by the speed you move your finger... the faster you move your finger along the pad the further it will go, it does take a bit of getting use to it took me a couple of hours to figure things out and it just as easy as using a mouse except for one thing... theres no middle button or wheel to control scrolling however you can still have a USB mouse attached to the computer at the same time.
Very easy to do, the keyboard has one 1.8 m lead which splits into two PS2 connectors for the keyboard and touchpad and that means no drivers are needed, just plug and play. The lead is connected to the keyboard on the right hand side, most keyboards I have used have the cable in the middle which I find can get in the way a bit if there's something in front of the keyboard.
I have used this keyboard for quite a while now, and gotten used to its unique setup, having all the keys closer together and having the touchpad right next to the keys means my hands don't go far from the keyboard making typing slightly quicker but without a scroll wheel, programs that use it for zoom, or selecting tools are slightly more frustrating, its not a major deal I just revert to using a mouse again, or if its a webpage I've started using the arrow keys for scrolling.
The keys on this board are mechanical which are loud, but I like them they feel go to press and I know that they have been pressed, unlike some silent or laptop keyboards which feel like your pressing air.
This is an ideal keyboard for people with very limited desktop space, Its got the best layout of the many other brands that have a built in mouse, most of which position the touchpad below the spacebar making the keyboard very deep but they are more universal, especially if your a lefty with this keyboard you will have to train your right hand to do the work.
The price of one of these is a massive £85 brand new, far to much in my opinion, Luckily I found some on ebay a lot cheaper.
I've had a couple of digital cameras over the years, my last camera was a lot better than this Minolta but it was broken when I dropped it, I needed a cheap replacement and wasn't to bothered about perfect quality however I am surprised at the quality and features of this camera and it only has 2 megapixel. This camera has been easy to use, simple Controls, and there are a few reasonably advanced features combined with an extremely compact design. It pretty much fits in any pocket and is very light to carrying around.
The lens has no extending barrel, Zoom is adjusted internally, and keeps the camera slim at all times, It has 3X optical magnification and is boosted by a further 2X digital function to provide a total of 6X zoom, Extreme close-ups turn out great, the Macro mode lets you gets as close as 25cm to your abject at any focal length.
The built-in flash has a few different flash modes... Autoflash - flashes in low-light conditions, Red-eye reduction - multiple bursts before main flash (very painful if you have sensitive eyes like me, may take away my red-eye but my face is always twisted and screwed up), Fill-flash - flash is always on, and Flash-Off.
Images are stored on SD memory cards and can be quickly transferred to your PC via the USB interface which is supplied, or viewed on TV using the AV output terminal which you need to purchase else where.The LCD screen displays all the functions you are currently using which is quite handy if you've set it up for a one of take, it reminds you to reset the options. The options menus are very easy to navigate, there all pretty self explanatory and the manual helps clear things up which can also be accessed online.
The Minolta lets you record a max 35 second movie clip with audio which is a bit of a pain because this option is not changeable regardless of how big your SD card is, however you can record as many 35 second clips as your card can hold, I suppose this is due to the internal memory of the camera as it doesn't write directly to the SD card but after the 35 seconds it then saves the footage, you can also record up to 90 seconds of audio only, as well as up to 15 sec of voice memos right after you take each shot automatically.
Although this is a satisfactory camera, it does need a extremely steady hand to get clear images which I don't have but I do have a tripod to get the images clear, The battery life is poor it takes a specific brand a NP-200 rechargeable battery which doesn't last long with the LCD screen on and using flash with the highest picture quality only about 5 pictures can be taken but by adjusting the settings and using the flash and lcd screen only when necessary you can get a good 20 to 30 pictures on a 128mb card, it just takes a bit of experimenting with. Using high quality picture settings takes a few seconds for the image to save and even longer when switching to view the saved images also applies to having a lot of pictures stored, quite annoying since the battery life is so short.
I wouldn't recommend this camera, some mobile phones have just as good if not better cameras built in nowadays, It would probably be better if you get at least a 5 megapixel camera or greater.
Pulse is an American remake of a Japanese film called Kairo, I haven't seen the original so my opinion is based on this film alone.
The story in short
A psychology student Mattie who has recently witnessed her boyfriend Josh commit suicide for no reason other than her shrinks theory that he was good at hiding his loneliness. An upset Mattie goes back to her flat and while she and her friends are in a chat room, they all starts receiving messages from recently deceased Josh, thinking that its some kind of virus using his computer she asks a friend to go and log it of since she is still shaken from the event, a few days pass and she is still receiving the disturbing messages, she phones her friend to find out if he had done it yet and not getting much of an answer out of him decides to go back to Joshes flat, finding that the landlady of the flat had sold all the stuff to pay for the missing rent cheque's, she believes that the new owner of the computer has been sending these sick messages but much to her disappointment the new owner hasn't even plugged it in yet.
As she tries to investigate Joshes death, the whole campus is caught up in committing suicide after watching some web cam footage. Freaked out by this she turns back to the guy who bought her boyfriend's computer who has found some video recordings of Josh hidden in his hard drive... Josh has apparently hacked into some ones computer and let something loose.
One by one more and more people are becoming infected and soon its a world wide epidemic, they set out to find the person who Josh hacked into so they could deliver a virus Josh made before he committed suicide and hopefully put an end to it all.
The film starts out good, very dark and creepy with excellent use of lighting, but only has a handful of genuinely scary scenes. The characters are a loose circle of friends, none of them seem to be close, and the main character has more of a relationship with a complete stranger than any of her friends... there's just no feeling for the characters at all.
Just after the exciting intro the story seems to loses its pace and becomes a bit dull, the horror scenes are predictable and the monsters look as stupid as the reason for there existence, which the two lead characters do figure out half way through the movie but don't seem to care or pick up on... at this point in the film the story is just lost, there's pointless scenes that don't go anywhere or make sense, I lost whatever feeling I had for the film in the beginning and the excuses or reasons for the strange things going on where just silly, Like this one: red duct tape will save you from the evil, Thats right don't laugh you heard me red duct tape has the ability to stop the monsters getting you.
Nearing the end its a classically disappointing not knowing when to leave the horror factor alone, You immediately know whats about to happen and instead of jumping I just laughed and got a bit frustrated at the stupidity of the characters as they only just seem to figure out what was obviously going on since the middle of the film. Maybe this was a bad a-tempt at a moral statement where we should listen to others, even if its supernatural beings coming through computers to take our will to live for some reason... I really don't know or remember if there was a purpose for the beings doing what they did, and I don't plan to watch it again to find out, once was enough for me and if you wish to see it either rent it, or catch it on TV before you decide to buy it, as you only get two special features on the DVD, one is the Theatrical Trailer which seems pretty pointless since its of the film and just shows all the best clips, the other is the making of which might be worth a watch if you enjoyed the film.
The ASUS M2NPV-VM Motherboard for AMD single-core Athlon 64/ Sempron and Dual-core Athlon 64 X2/ Athlon FX processors using socket AM2 is very user friendly, I went with AMDs 64 x2 3800+ processor in the beginning then moved up to 4200+ 2Gb Ram without any hassle, very easy to setup and fits easily in a standard ATX case. A possible downside to the board is that it has a limited number of slots due to being a micro ATX sized board. That's not a big deal for me as the only two cards I'll be buying in the future is Graphics and a extra Lan card.
>In the upper right hand corner of the motherboard are the ATX 24 pin power connector, Floppy disk connector, Game/Midi port connector and four DDR2 slots. These DDR2 slots support a maximum memory capacity of 8GB and the frequencies supported is DDR2-800MHz/667 MHz/533 MHz in dual channel. The four memory slots are positioned closely to the CPU socket area, which may cause some interference if using a wide heatsink.
>In the lower right hand corner of the motherboard is the four Serial ATA 2.0 ports, Primary & Secondary IDE connectors and 2 serial port connectors which are unfortunately not included on the backpanel and have to be bought separately if you still have a use for them that is.
>The expansion slot area has a primary PCI Express x16 slot, one PCI Express x1, and two PCI slots. Below them are Front panel audio connector for either High Definition or standard audio, Back/Front IEEE 1394a connector, 2 USB connectors for an extra 4 USB ports, and the Digital SPDIF_OUT connector.
>On the I/O panel there's two PS/2, 3 analog audio which support 5.1 surround sound, Parallel Port, VGA, DVI, one Firewire, four USB, and one Gigabit 10/100Mbps/1Gbps Ethernet interface.
Excellent Mobo for mutimedia
>Integrated Sound-MAX High definition audio with a very user freindly interface, it has a set up wizard to configuration speakers, by going through four easy to follow steps it takes no-longer than a minute or two, it also has more advanced options for your preferences in general listing environment you can easily adjust the 5.1 speakers to different sound levels.
>A good feature about this board is that you don't have to mess about with the audio outputs. Some motherboards force you to disable the rear audio connectors before hooking up the cable leading to front connectors on a case, you can simply hook up the cable from the front of the case and not worry about it.
Surprisingly very good onboard graphics
>The nvidia geforce 6150 GPU features a TV encoder, High Quality Video scaling, and dual video (DVI-D and RGB) outputs.
Although this board was probably targeted towards offices and home theater PCs its onboard graphics handles games pretty well, they do need to be set on lower settings but you can mess around with the fine tuning a bit, Using GTA San Andeas as an example... Visual FX Quality set to low works flawlessly you can put it up to medium with only slight jittering but does get worse infog/rain, you can leave everything else on normal settings or play around with Draw Distance and even put anti aliasing on 1x. Definitely not Gaming board but it does have the option to upgrade, using PCI-e slot for more power full graphics card.
>I can't comment on the overclock abilities that some builders look for in a motherboard as I don't do it, I did see somewhere that the bios being too restrictive but with no knowledge of overclocking I can't judge it. performance has been spectacular for my needs.
>A strong feature is the integrated NVIDIA RAID on the 4 SATA ports. That makes it easy to purchase a 2nd, 3erd, and 4th SATA drive and set the system up without extra hardware, and it also supports the new 3Gb/s hard drives.
>Plenty of USB ports 4 on the back and 2 connectors for and extra 4 usb ports, you can add them to the back or if your case has the option to the front, ideal for digital cameras, usb storage sticks etc. Also has a 2nd firewire port with backplate there's already one next to the usb ports.
>HDTV Output boasts higher resolution to 1080i and 720p format, which is clearer than traditional formats. Unfortunately I don't have a means to experience this so can't comment further.
>Near Silent running, using AMD Cool 'n' Quiet Technology which monitors system operations and automatically adjusts CPU voltage and frequency combined with Asus Q-Fan 2 technology which adjusts the fan speeds accordingly, the fans run slower when the system is idle and as soon as the temperature start to increase so do the fans.
>Plenty of cables, two serial ATA, one serial ATA power cable for two devices, one IEEE 1394a module.
One Ultra DMA 133/100/66 cable, one IDE cable, one Floppy disk cable which come in black with "Asus" printed on them.
Accessories, I/O backplate/Shield and a HDTV output module
I'm very happy so far with the mother board, Seeing both VGA and DVI onboard is a nice addition, The High Speed Lan upto 100Gbps, High Speed SATA upto 3Gb/s and DDR2 memory were the main selling points for me, I needed a fast machine and got it using this board, also comes with the added bonus of HDTV, PCI Express slots for future upgrades, and High Definition Audio.
There's plenty of 64bit support, I never had any trouble finding drivers for windows xp professional x64 Edition online, and theres plenty of ways to further upgrade in the future.
What is Dual Core and 64-bit
Dual-core processors contain two processing cores on one chip increasing efficiency and speed while running multiple programs, this means a significant increase in response and performance when running multiple applications simultaneously.
Having two processors working together, each one taking care of different applications reducess those annoying processing pauses, and Switching from one program to another without waiting for the computer to catch up.
64-bit systems can process twice as much compared to a 32-bit system. The most significant difference between a 32-bit and a 64-bit system is the amount of memory that they support, 4 GB limit for 32-bit machines and a almost unlimited amount of RAM for 64-bit systems, I think its something like 10 - 16,000,000 GB which doesent realy matter since most motherboards can only handle between 4 - 16 GB plus buying that much Ram would be expensive.
Why choose Dual Core
I always noticed my old AMD 3000+ processor was running at high temps (about 55 degrees+), I've went through many heatsinks and fans trying to find a quiet one with no luck always had to settle for a high speed fan that made a noisy system.
I've tried running multiple programs and applications on my 4200+ processor (more than I need or ever would use) and I haven't been able to get the temp above 41 degrees which means less fans and low fan speeds which makes a much quieter system, perfect if you leave your computer on 24/7 like I do.
2. Speed & Loading Times
I started up a few programs that I use on a regular basis on my old AMD 3000+ and then on my AMD 64 X2 4200+ to determine to loading speeds these are the results:
AMD 3000+ between 25 - 38 seconds
AMD X2 4200+ between 8 - 14 seconds
MX 2004 on AMD 3000+ between 9 - 27 seconds
DW 8 on AMD X2 4200+ between 3 - 12 seconds
AMD 3000+ between 15 - 38 seconds
AMD X2 4200+ between 5 - 28 seconds
I also installed 3D Maxx, my mate uses it for 3d modeling, he runs a intel P4 2800 and it took him 18 minutes to render a simple characters head while I did it in just over 4 minutes, thats about 75% faster, you should of seen his jaw drop he has to do that kind of rendering quite a few times a day.
As seen above I use those programs on a regular basis and most of the time I need them running at the same time, this was a problem for me when doing so on my old AMD 3000+ system, often they would freeze for long periods of time and even worse they would simply crash... taking my unsaved work with them, one of the ways around this was to only work with one program running at a time but this very time consuming having to switch back and forth as you can see by the times above.
Since moving up to dual core my system has became more stable, which makes my day more enjoyable... a lot less agrivation and I get more done.
I haven't actually noticed a difference using dual core while playing games on there own, but I did notice one Friday when my anti-virus program was due to run that there was a very slight lag or jitter in game play just as it started, on my old system it was very noticeable, I would usually have to pause the game till the scan settled down a bit.
I would probably recommend if your a gamer your money might be better spent on a faster single core processor.
I would defiantly recommend this processor it has the power to deal with even the most intensive programs, if your a gamer and you have an interest in doing something more with your computer... now or in the near future I would still recommend it.
Its a great low cost introduction into the dual core and 64-bit market
Take note that there is two socket types, the new AM2 socket which means you may need a new motherboard, and a socket 939 version, if you have the socket 939 board you only need to flash your bios.
There is faster X2 processors on the market but at a higher price this X2 may be a better choice at present when taking into account the price of the motherboard as well.
Thanks for reading
Dreamweaver 8 is one of the established tools of choice for Web design, It allows you to create web pages to complete sites or edit existing sites with ease. Even if you know nothing about the code used to create web pages, Dreamweaver writes the necessary code in the background while you concentrate on the design of the page, The code is still accessible and you don't have to worry about Dreamweaver rewriting it if your a programer.
I've been using Dreamweaver MX2004 (Dreamweaver 8 predecessors) for the past 3 years, only on a amateur level to create simple web pages for personal use and enjoyed what I was doing so decided to take it to the next level and start learning to become a pro (hopefully). After a lot of searching and asking questions I found a excellent video tutorial site on many topics including both MX2004 and Dreamweaver 8, Since I was planning on going pro it only seemed right to get the latest dreamweaver 8 tutorial as I would have to upgrade at some point, after watching the first chapter of the tutorial and seen that it taught me so much about MX2004 with such ease I was certain buying Dreamweaver 8 would not be a waist of money as the tutorial also showed me what new features I was missing out on in version 8, I'm glad to say that I made the right choice and I'm certain any one else looking to upgrade will be satisfied as well.
Installing Dreamweaver 8
I was using Dreamweaver MX2004 (Dreamweaver 8 predecessors) and decided to just install Version 8 over MX2004, I wasn't sure if this new version would install over, or alongside the old, as I was never prompted to uninstall or install over MX2004. So after installation was complete I decided to find out, I started Dreamweaver MX2004 and it opened right up, just in case you wanted to keep both versions for some reason you can do so without conflict.
Even though it's a large program, Dreamweaver 8 took only minutes to install. Dreamweaver 8 also imports your web sites and passwords from MX2004, An excellent feature if you have loads of web sites in MX2004.
Dreamweaver 8 interface resembles that of MX2004. Its the same familiar design and code layouts also including some new ones. If you have never used Dreamweaver before its interface of well organized and easy to pick up all the most used options have there own place and identifying symbol in a toolbar which you can customize by putting your mostly used icons in a separate favorites list, personally I don't use it, I did set up my favorites but the tool bar is perfectly set up and just as easy to navigate.
New enhancements in this version allow you to zoom in for more detailed page view, ruler guides make it easier to measure items within a page, it's also possible to drag and arrange tabbed windows in any order you choose, also save and load customized layouts and group panels together through the menu. Simply put you can totally customize your own preferences and save them to load on demand for your preferred working layout.
Version 8 also has a new built-in dual screen workspace option... perfect since a lot of graphics cards come with the dual screen option.
As with the other versions of Dreamweaver you have a built in FTP (which stands for File Transfer Protocol it uploads your finished web sites to your server/hosting provider) but in this version you will appreciate the new background file transfer, which adds the ability to transfer files between local and remote sites in the background while you carry on working on the page content, before you had to sit patiently for the upload to finish however that was a good excuse to take a break and put the kettle on.
If you're a coder, there's a new formatting toolbar which gives you the ability to collapse code, allowing you to show or hide select sections of HTML and other code. This allows for much faster navigation, and it allows you to get an overview of the web page. A new approach to tag completion keeps tabs on the tags, as you start the code, it will close the appropriate tag for you. it may be a small feature, but it makes coding just a little bit easier.
Dreamweaver has support for nearly every Web technology, including XML, CSS, PHP, WebDAV, ColdFusion 7 MX, and Flash 8, Dreamweaver also has an option to fix HTML code from Microsoft Word and other web design programs, I witnessed it clean over 200 lines of unnecessary code from a word document and it actually improved the look of the web page.
A new Paste option lets you retain formatting of text and tables from a copied source, I'm in split decision about this option, if I ever wanted to replicate something exactly I could, most time I just want content to format as I please, but options are there for you to choose what works best.
CSS which stands for Cascading Style Sheet allows you to make a single rule for all your web pages to follow, for example the text size and font, background colour, headings styles will all be the same on each of your pages by making and attaching the Cascading Style Sheet, this makes it a lot easier to alter your web pages by simply changing the single CSS page it will apply all the changes to every web page the sheet is attached too, instead of having to go through all the pages separately, which is a big time saver if your have 50 pages you want to change.
The CSS functions now have their own panel for easy access, and also has a colour-coded view option which give the various codes there own colour in design view, I don't really find the colour coding that helpful but it might be for others.
Dreamweaver 8 is definitely worth the upgrade. The stability is good. There's really nothing about this latest version 8 that isn't great. If you're a coder, you'll be pleased that this version is finally a tool that's worthy of a coder. If you're a designer, it's still a great tool, made even better by its much improved CSS handling and layout.
If your a beginner or know nothing about building web pages/sites this is probably a bit pricey to get into, you will probably need to buy additional learning resources which can start costing as much as the program, A good video tutorial is by far superior than most books on the market and it shows in price. There is a Getting Started guide in Dreamweaver 8. Tutorials are detailed, although more screenshots or some animation would have been better. Dreamweaver 8 includes an huge help file, plus access to an online support center, with well-written FAQs and tutorials, as well as forums with other users you can chat with.
I would suggest to beginners to look at MX2004 as a starting point, it will be a lot cheaper since the release of the new version and still holds all the abilities to make a professional web sites and you can still purchase and use version 8 tutorials with MX2004. The cost of version 8 varies a lot from anywhere upto £200 for an update from a previous version to almost £400 for the full version from the main web site, Just shop around at different stores I have seen the full version for £250 at one place then £300 at another, store's probably get a bulk buying discount thats why they undercut each other by so much, just bear that in mind if you decide to buy any Dreamweaver software online
Although I've tried my best to keep this review easy to read and understand to all, a basic understanding of how web sites are made and work may help with some of the terms I've used, I found it unavoidable for some parts but explained the most relevant terms hopefully in a way for all to get to grips with.