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Do you use instant messaging (IM) but have friends who use a different program to you? Are you tired of having MSN, ICQ, Yahoo! and IRC running all at the same time just in-case one of your friends logon? Well, the answer to all your problems is Trillian! In case you're not familiar with IM - it's similar to a real time, online text chat. You have a list of friends (or buddies as some systems call them), which you can type to in a text window. The list indicates if your friends are online (or not) and allows you to easily communicate with them. Most systems also allow you to set your own status e.g. online or unavailable. I'd never really been a big fan of IM until a friend of mine suggested I join ICQ (the most popular). I was a bit sceptical at the time and didn't bother. Then one day I did. Firstly, I thought the ICQ program was one of the worst applications I'd seen. The only word I can think of to describe it is "clunky". There were buttons all over the place, too many options to choose from and, the worst part, I didn't find it at all easy to add my friends to the list - which was the whole point of using it! So I decided to try the alternatives. Microsoft was next on my (short) list. I've had a Hotmail account for ages - but since Microsoft have invented the "passport" I'd never made use of this facility. Downloading MSN messenger was simple enough and once it was working looked much simpler than ICQ. Adding friends was simple and the whole thing seemed much nicer. The added bonus was that it worked in conjunction with Outlook Express. So now I had 2 applications running - just in case either group of friends were online. Then I read about Trillian. As I described earlier, this free program replaces all your other IM programs. Which not only saves having multiple icons next to your clock, but is also more efficient on memory. In addition, it's much
easier to use one application for all your messaging. Download & Installation ----------------------- The program is a reasonable download of only 1.74Mb - which was straightforward. After starting the setup you simply select its destination, then configure the various options. Initially I thought it was compulsory to fill in all fields - which meant I actually entered details of an IRC account, which doesn't actually exist. For systems you are not a member of, simply leave these "pages" blank. After IRC you are the given the opportunity to setup your other accounts (MSN, ICQ etc). This was simple, and all your friends are added to your "contact list". An icon then appeared in the system tray. Configuration ------------- The simple view is what I have stuck with, although a more advanced view is available. Currently this is beyond me and I haven't looked at it in any great detail. In a sentence, it's a bigger window, and seems to allow you to connect to specific servers or have advanced chats with multiple people - but don't quote me on that! Adding contacts --------------- This is so simple. You click on the "Add" button, select a group to add the contact to (e.g. Friends, Family), select the contact type (e.g. ICQ, MSN), type in the name (e.g. 123456789 or email@example.com) and after clicking on the "Done" button, that's it. The person will be in your list with an icon corresponding to the contact type (ICQ, MSN). This is not only useful to know but also makes the interface seem a bit friendlier. Online/Offline contacts ----------------------- Contacts are stored in the "Offline Buddies" section until they logon. Then they'll jump to the folder you added them. This is similar to other IM applications. If you wish to, you can be notified by a popup window each time someone connects - although this can b
e a little annoying if someone is on and offline all the time. Sending messages ---------------- By simply right clicking on the online contact's name and selecting "send instant message", brings up a text window where you can type. That's it! Enjoy. Conclusion ---------- There are a few other options to allow you to change how the program displays your contacts, or interacts with your system (such as "always on top") but these are fairly standard features. I love this program and would recommend it to anyone who even uses IM infrequently. The interface is attractive to look at, the tools are self explanatory and above all it's completely free. Give it a go, and you'll soon decide to uninstall the rest!!
DVD is the currently evolving generation of CD-style discs, capable of storing 4.7Gb of data and full high quality Hollywood style videos. Many different versions of what the letters DVD stand for are around, but I'm going to stick with calling it the Digital Versatile Disc - and that's exactly what it is! What is a DVD? -------------- As with CD's, the possibilities are endless. With CD's you were limited to 650Mb (or more recently up to 700Mb) of data. This is sufficient for most home applications, but now that digital video editing is becoming more common in home computer systems, the space limitations caused by CD media, resulted in only being able to store a short duration video - typically 60 minutes using a reasonably quality format in a format called VideoCD. This was the first attempt to fit high quality video on a CD-ROM (with the exception of the large laser discs, which have also disappeared,) although it never really became a success, however, the majority of home DVD players do support it. DVD video is excellent quality. It's stored in a format called MPEG-2 and has the same resolution (number of dots on your screen) as a standard TV, which means you're going to have excellent quality whether it's on your PC or a TV. But it doesn't stop there. A computer DVD can store applications, data, in fact - anything you could store on a standard CD... just a lot more of it. Just over 7 times as much in fact. There are many consumer DVD players (ranging for £100 upwards) and players for PC's (from £80 upwards), but all lack one feature - the ability to write to DVD discs. Until now. Enter the Pioneer DVD-R!! The DVD Writer Itself --------------------- The unit itself is identical to a standard computer CD-ROM drive. It interfaces through a standard IDE connector (the same connector that connects to your hard drives) and requires only this and a power
cable to work. Optionally there's an audio out socket to connect to your sound card for music CD's. The DVD drive I own came as part of the Packard Bell "Video Dre@m Machine" which was bought from PC World for an just over an amazing £750. OK, so it was an ex-display model and would normally retail at over £1000, but it's a bargain. Now the crunch. Unfortunately, this writer currently retails at £649.99... which is way out of reach for most home users - but it does show you what a bargain this complete system was! In time this will fall and as more manufacturers start to introduce their offerings I would expect it to be similar to the CD-RW drives around at the moment. Again with the media. A DVD-R (write once as in CD-R) is around £15 and a DVD-RW (as in CD-RW) costs around £25 - but again this will have to fall. The discs are slightly more special than standard CD's as they're made up of different layers which is how so much data can be stored on them, but the manufacturing process is similar to CD's so mass production is bound to take over at some point. Writing DVDs/CD's ------------------ I use Prassi PrimoDVD as it came bundled with the system. This is a really professional program, and allows for use by both novice users (using the wizard style interface) or for advanced users who like to set options manually. Whichever you are, the process is pretty much as simple as selecting the writer, adding your files and clicking on the red button. Basically the same as most good CD writing software packages. The program automatically detects if the media is DVD or CD and writes the files appropriately. So far everything's worked fine and all writes have worked fine. For techy people out there the DVD writing speed is 2x, and 8x for CD's - all in all to me it seems fairly fast at both. So why would anyone want to write to a DVD? Making your own DVD movies ---
----------------------- Also bundled with the system was MyDVD. As a professional multimedia author I know my way around quite a few multimedia programs - and this is certainly not obvious to use. It's supposed to allow you to create DVD videos (similar to the ones you buy in shops) with menus and interactivity - but it took about 5 hours to work this out fully - and that's with knowing what I'm doing! Still, in the end I managed to make a simple video with a starting menu having a button to play the video. After doing whatever MyDVD does, copying the files to a DVD was straightforward as mentioned in the previous section. The best bit as well, was that it worked like any other commercial DVD in the DVD playing software - but I've still to test it in a home player. Stay tuned! Compatibility -------------- The only problem with creating your own DVDs at the moment is the compatibility, or lack of, between Computer DVD writers and standard home DVD players. Computer Video magazine (www.computervideo.net) recently reviewed this issue and tested a variety of discs on a selection of players - some worked, some didn't. It seems to depend on the manufacturer, but as DVD is still evolving then this will eventually become a standard. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Conclusion ---------- This unit is fantastic and does exactly what is says it's supposed to. If you're a budding movie director then this could be your entrance into the movie scene - albeit a bit more expensive than putting your masterpiece on VHS tape. Whether for video or data it's a great buy although massively overpriced at the moment. The best thing to do at the moment is to wait. Things will settle down and then adding a DVD writer to your system will seem as standard as having fish with chips. But until then, salt and vinegar anyone?
For people who currently use Internet Explorer 5.x then you are unlikely to notice many changes in the latest version of this excellent software. Package Download ------------------- As with many Microsoft updates, they are available online and managed by the Windows Update facility. Although this allows products to be easily updated and installed, it can cause some problems. I had to disconnect my Internet connection part way through and then had trouble reconnecting to the server for a while - but eventually managed to complete the download. I preferred to download the entire (21Mb) package to enable installation on a variety of computers without having to be connected for each one - this took around 2 hours, but would have been shorter if I had installed straight of the Internet. Installation ----------- This was straightforward and caused no problems. Selecting the options to install is done by ticking boxes next to the item name and then the installer does the rest. After a restart the installation was complete. Internet Explorer ----------------- At first glance there are no differences. The icons have been made more 3D and "stylish" - but other than that, from the Desktop there's nothing else. All your favourites are imported, as were my Netscape bookmarks which was a surprise as this were done without being asked. However, the were neatly put into an "imported bookmarks folder". My dialup connection still worked as expected and after connecting to my ISP, I was shown a webpage asking me if I wanted to set my homepage to MSN or keep my current settings. I chose the latter, and this worked fine. The page downloaded and then I was presented with a small pop-up window. This was the first change I had seen. New to IE6 are privacy settings. You can control whether cookies are saved on your computer or not - and from these, either first-party or third-party can be cont
rolled seperately (options are accept, block or prompt), however, on a site which uses advertising it can be VERY annoying to be prompted constantly, so it's probably a good idea to avoid using "prompt" for third-party cookies. There's also a privacy report to show you which sites were allowed to create cookies and which were not. The only other noticeable difference is a new "Media" button in-between "Favourites" and "History". Clicking this presents you with the usual lefthand frame but this time displaying a list of media, and control buttons at the bottom to play, stop and navigate etc the media. The player can be undocked if required - but it's quite tidy where it is by default. This player uses the Microsoft Media Player 7 - which is included as part of the setup. Two particularly useful features for sharing pages with others are hidden under the "Mail" toolbar button. Although these were available in IE5.x - it wasn't until now that I noticed them - so I thought they were worth mentioning. They are called "Send a Link" and "Send Page". As they suggest, clicking on "Send a Link" creates a new e-mail message containing the website address (URL) so all you have to enter is the recipient's e-mail address and anything extra in the message. "Send Page" creates an exact HTML copy of the page in an e-mail (and seems to include all images etc). This worked suprisingly well and I have to say I was quite impressed and it's a great idea. Outlook Express 6 ------------------- As with the main part of IE6, there are few changes in Outlook Express 6. The startup logo is now blue - and is similar in style to the new look Hotmail. Microsoft branding at its best! All the features of Outlook Express 5.x are still there and my old messages and contacts were imported automatically. Conclusion ----------- Overall ther
e appear to be very few interface changes to the whole IE package, so there doesn't seem an awful lot of reason to upgrade - especially if you have to pay for your Internet connection charges. However, forgetting any security holes which may exist (and probably do given Microsoft's past history) it's always a good idea to have the most up-to-date browser available, both for compatibility with the latest technologies, but also security.
+++ ORIGINAL +++ So how much do you know about America? Well, if you sign up to this site you'll learn a lot more!!! This is a quiz site, which, in a nutshell awards you with credits for each question you take (and more for answering it correctly) after which these are then converted to cash at the end of the month. Simple! Well, if only the answers to the questions were!! There are 3 skill levels - beginner, intermediate and advanced. The harder the question, the more points for a correct answer - makes sense eh!! For the easy questions it's 3 points for a correct answer and 5 for advanced - still, they all build up.... but believe me -it's a VERY slow process!! Even if you answer the question incorrectly, you still earn 1 point which is nice of them. If you're like me and try doing too many things at once (like I'm writing this now and "playing" on the website, do remember that you only get 30 seconds for each answer. Unfortunately I sometimes get a little involved in typing and forget to select an answer) - nil point! The questions are all multiple choice with a selection of 3 answers. You simply read the question, click on the correct answer, then click on the submit button. Within a short while you are then shown a page either saying you were correct, or displaying the actual answer. I joined at the end of last month and thought I'd try to earn as many points as possible so then I could see how much each one was worth. In 2 days I'd managed to earn 1260 points and was awarded with $1.99 - which equals $0.0016 per credit. Unfortunately this amount varies depending on how busy the site is each month and how much they make from advertising. Having said that, there aren't many ads on the site - usually only 1 or 2 per page, and some don't have any at all. Maybe that'll change as the site develops. I'm currently in the middle of a quiz right now - I'm g
oing through the easy ones to gain a few more quick points before working my way up - and some are so easy it's hardly worth asking them. For example - "Country shaped like a boot" - the answer being "Italy". The only really annoying thing is that the site's SO SLOW!! Well, at times. Yesterday afternoon it loaded quickly just like any other site, well, some - but today it takes about 5-10 seconds for each page. I guess the site's quite busy and all the database stuff for the questions is quite demanding. After answering a question you're told if it's right, and if not you?re shown the correct answer. It's worth taking note of this, as there's a "retake quiz" section which is fairly self explanatory. A nice thing with the site is that if there are less than 10 questions remaining in a category - then you're not shown the category name. So you can only select from categories with sufficient questions. There is an "eclectica" quiz for each skill level which randomly picks question from all categories which is quite good. The categories are split into the following categories so there?s something for everyone: - History - Spelling - Music - Literature - Bible - Sports - Definitions - Geography - Animal Kingdom - Famous Words You can also earn extra by referring people and even by writing quizzes - but I haven't looked at this so far. Finally, the site, as you'd probably have guessed, is American. Unfortunately for us that means we're likely to get the baseball and political questions wrong - well, I am anyway! But it's still quite fun - if a little tedious sometimes to earn points. I'm going to try to get to the magic $20 this month just to prove that is CAN be done. I'll let you know how it goes. If all goes well then I should have some extra money in my PayPal account - but
you can be sent a cheque if you like ? although you?re likely to have to pay high bank charges for cashing foreign cheques, whereas PayPal can just transfer it to your account for $1.50. So there we have it. I'm up to 3668 this month, so I'd better carry on clicking to reach my goal! Happy thinking if you do decide to signup! +++ UPDATE 20/10/01 +++ Since joining this site this had become progressively worse - the site because SO slow at some points that the next question would not load. It was sometimes possible to get half way through a quiz and then be unable to continue - in effect, losing any points you'd earnt that far. However, they've recently sent out an e-mail saying that they'd managed to fix the problem. THEY HAVE! The site is now as fast as you'd expect (most of the time) - and it's now a joy to use once again.
I joined ipoints on 3rd January 2001 - and since then I've earnt a magnificent 34 points! WOW! Is it really worth it? As far I can see the answer's definitely "NO"! The idea is similar to the Beenz concept, which went under recently. Registration ------------ The registration process is quick and simple. You enter your details, indicate your preferences for 12 questions (saying if you're interested, not interested or indifferent) and then 18 questions to say if you're bought over the internet (have, expect to or will not). By doing these 2 parts you will earn a total of 20 points to start off your account. Your Account ------------ As you'd expect you can update your details and see points in your account. BUT... the do seem to be VERY slow in processing pending points (i.e., those you've earnt but aren't yet available). On2nd August 2001 I joined Lightspeed, but it's now exactly 1 month later and they're STILL pending. I may write to them soon to see what's going on - but there are also some other programs I've joined (for free points) which aren't even on the pending list! I would expect that I've lost these - and if that is what's happened then I certainly wouldn't trust and future registrations or points transfers. It hardly seems like a very impressive setup if this is happening. Maybe it's a one-off incident or there's another explanation - but I'd still feel uneasy about them. As you probably know, you can convert Dooyoo miles into ipoints - so I'd be vary careful doing this just in-case the loose all your hard earned miles!!! Earning Points -------------- As you can see from my grand total of 34 points it's not that easy to earn points without shopping online. That's the main reason for ipoints - but they do offer 17 free programmes to join for a few points each - mind you, most p
eople who join up to these schemes will probably already be a member of some of them - so you won't be able to earn points again. For the points you are rewarded for shopping, these are the categories: - Books, CDs & DVDs (4) - Business (3) - Communications (10) - Computer & Electrical (3) - Finance & Utilities (6) - Food and Drink (4) - Gaming & Betting (5) - Gifts and Goodies (5) - Health, Beauty & Lifestyle (3) - Home & Garden (1) - Insurance (4) - Shopping & Fashion (7) - Surveys & Competitions (10) - Travel & Entertainment (3) So as you can see there's quite a range of interests - but unfortunately, not many items in each. I'm quite suprised at this as ipoints are quite a long standing scheme - but then with the Internet being the way it is - I shouldn't! Spending Points --------------- Again these categories are similar to those for earning points, except there are far more way to spend than earn. Points can be exchanged for products or services and gift vouchers to name a few. There's too many to list here but you can easily see then all at the bottom of the ipoints homepage. As I haven't earnt enough points yet to earn anything, I can't comment on the efficiency of the reward processing or delivery. The Website ----------- It's quite a well designed website which is reasonably easy to navigate. Special offers are listed down the right hand side of the homepage and there are clear links to each section along the top. Once you have logged in the site remembers you (if you have cookies enabled) so you are presented with message at the top right showing you how many points you're earnt which is quite useful and time saving. To go further into your account though you need to enter your password. Overall ------- ipoints is not really that different to other schemes such as MyPoints, w
hich I much prefer - their service staff are very helpful, order processing is efficient and you can easily earn points. If I were to recommend either MyPoints or ipoints I'd certainly steer clear of ipoints, but maybe I've just been unlucky?
UPDATE ------ I normally put updates at the end - but this time I don't want to waste your time reading out of date material! ahMoola are now only accepting US members - but current International ones are being permitted to carry on. Although - current UK members now have to earn 5000 credits ($100) to quality for a payout! Paypal is no longer supported and payment is by cheque only. So there we have it - another "failure" for us UK surfers. Oh well, should have guessed really shouldn't we!! ORIGINAL OPINION ----------------- There are hundreds of money making schemes on the Internet - and most of them don't pay very well, or don't give you enough opportunities to reach the minimum payout rate - but ahMoola.com seems to be different (at the moment anyway!) Essentially, they're a pay to read e-mail company. You signup (which earns you $5) and then can receive around $0.10 for each e-mail you receive. They have a points system which is used instead of the dollar value. To qualify for a "cash out" you need to earn "acc +500" (in other words $10). I've been a member for around a week now and have already earnt just over £1 - which I don't think is bad at all - considering! Of course you can refer friends and earn comission ($0.06) for each person, and an extra ($0.01) for each e-mail they click on. But as with all these schemes, it's usually hard to get other people to signup. They do offer the usual URL to include in your e-mails of on your website - one good point, is that after someone visits the site using your ID, it isn't shown on the joining page, so they can't delete it and therefore you will get comission. Payment is either to a PayPal account or via Cheque (in dollars for which there is a small processing charge of $2). I've discovered that most UK banks will cash foreign cheques for
a small charge - which is useful to know. I had a look at PayPal, but I don't think it's particularly good for UK users. You have to register a credit card to use for payments/withdrawls from your account - so for now I'd prefer to use cheques, even if I have to pay to cash them. The ad frequency is quite impressive - around 1 or 2 most days!! Certainly an improvement compared to most I've signed up to. Although it's not going to earn you a fortune - it's certainly worth joining - any extra money is always welcome - isn't it!!
quite unproductive looking through pages and pages of jobs - as most of them probably aren't relevant. It's far more useful to refine your searches a few times to try to produce a few manageable pages which should hopefully be more appropriate for you. Usually do this one step at a time. Experience has told me that it's best to type in the job, then say the location, and then leave salary details until last - as quite a few companies do not specify a salary - so if you include one in your search these are usually removed from the results. Some sites also offer an e-mail facility - although I'm not entirely convinced this works very well. Workthing.com seem to send me the identical jobs but in different e-mails, which can make it difficult to identify if it is a new job or not. I'd certainly suggest creating a new e-mail account to use for all these recruitment sites, so once you have found a job then your usual account isn't bombarded with junk mail - also make sure you keep a note of sites you've subscribed to, so you can unsubscribe as well!!! Whatever you do when looking through these sites, it's important to keep going - there's bound to be a job somewhere (I hope!) and it's justa case of spending a little hard work looking for it. No matter which jobs you apply for though, always make sure your CV is up-to-date and is written in an appropriate way - if not, then these sites won't help you in any way. Lastly, good luck!
Whenever I buy train tickets at a railway station I always find that I end up repeating myself over and over again to get the information across for my journey details. Not just once - every time - so when I found thetrainline.com I thought it was a great idea - and, generally, it is. I first used the system over a year ago and haven't looked back since. I'll never buy another ticket at a station again if I can help it. The service puts you in control of where you're travelling from, and to - including any preferred routes (ie, via station ???) - departing or arriving at a specified time and the system returns a selection of available times, with corresponding ticket prices. The layout of these is in a clear to read matrix style display. You have to select a price (the row of the display) and then a time (the columns) - selecting this is done by simply clicking on 2 option buttons and clicking on "GO". You can of course select an open return ticket if required. For each part of the journey (outward or return) you have the option to display earlier of later times which is useful if there aren't any tickets available for the selection shown. One addition I would like to see is possibly a way of finding the next time available when say a cheaper ticket is available, as you can spend a while clicking through the screens to find out that there are in fact no cheaper tickets available at all on a particular day. Once you have selected your journey times you are presented with a screen asking for passenger details, whether they have railcards or not, but this isn't particularly flexible. It appears that you can only select one type of railcard, which wouldn't be much help if there was more than one in a group of people travelling. You also have more control over seating options - forward, backwards or airline seats - you normally have to specifically request this at a station. Smoking or no
t is also available. Journey details can also be saved for future use if you regularly travel one particular route - which can be handy. Delivery details are saved on the system when you register so you usually only have to type these in once, unless you're asking for the tickets to be posted to a different address - although for security, your credit card address has to be registered as well. Once all the information is submitted via a secure connection (as you'd expect) then a summary of your previous orders is available with a status indication - useful to find out if your tickets have been posted. I've been particularly impressed with this service and have used it quite a few times. Tickets are posted first class and if the order is placed before mid-afternoon, they seem to always arrive the next day! Even better, is that you are given an online booking discount for each order - saving even more money, as well as time. This is the only way I'll buy tickets now as it's so easy and quick. As long as you have advance warning of when you're travelling so that there's time to process your order and send your tickets. Otherwise, you have to phone them and then collect tickets at the departure station. I was a little confused when I did this recently, as I had to give my credit card details over the phone, and then had to pay for the ticket AT the station as well - but you do only get charged for the transaction at the station - I imagine they do it that way just in-case you don't collect your ticket - then they'll still charge you for it. Well, that's what I thought at the time. Since then, North West trains charged me for the ticket at the station - but a MONTH later Virgin Trains charged my credit card AGAIN! So I've paid for one ticket twice! Now I've got the hassle of trying to claim one back - I'm not sure if I will be able to - but
I'm going to have a try! So if you do book over the phone and collect tickets at the staion - BEWARE, you have already paid for your ticket!! I did once have another problem with being sent two sets of tickets as they claimed that I had clicked on a button twice (which I didn't) - but eventually I was refunded one set. Although this did involve quite a lot of hassle! It might sound strange that I still like the service after the 2 incidents I've had, but other than, it's a great service that I'd definately recommend to anyone - just be careful.
Many people all over the world love Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang. I happen to be one of them (and if you're wondering - I'm 22 and NOT ashamed to admit it!) I collect everything from toys, mugs, egg cups, books and anything else at all. In fact, I'm trying to make space for it all on my shelves. So what is more appropriate than the Snoopy website for entertainment!! I think it's just the sense of humour that I like - which probably says a lot about me - I don't know - but I'm always happy and smiling! So, onto the Snoopy.com website. Basically, the best Internet place for Snoopy fans everywhere. The site is colourful and fun. There are pictures of the characters all over the place with information about each one, cartoon strips of all their goings on and their history. === STRIP LIBRARY === As it says, copies of the strips that were featured in the newspapers when they were still being written. Since Charles Schultz stopped drawing the cartoons before his death they have been showing the original strips going right back to the early days of Peanuts. To share them, you can even e-mail them to a friend. === HISTORY === This section includes a complete timeline of events, right the way through from the beginning in 1950, when all the drawing were completely different to how they are today, all the way through to 1999. Although not the complete history, it certainly covers the majority, and makes great reading. There's also a selection of games to test your knowledge (or lack of?!) === PROFILES === 12 characters are each given a page describing their character and a selection of strips from when they first appeared and key moments in their life. === FUN & GAMES === Need I say more???? Post cards (e-cards), games (crosswords and puzzles), colouring book, movies (GREAT animated flash movies!!!), icons and cursors! It may sound like it
- but this section isn't only for kids!! === THE STORE === This is where you can buy all those Snoopy gifts and collectables. They're all in dollars which is a shame, but there's a great selection to choose from. You can view items by the character, or type of gift. I think I'll have to lock my credit card away otherwise I might go mad! === THE CLUBHOUSE === Finally, this section contains news about Snoopy events (unfortunately only in America), a gallery of Snoopy art and also Snoopy sightings. It's a shame this site is so American orientated, as Snoopy is a worldwide hit. But still, it'll give any Snoopy fan a great deal of enjoyment looking through the site. GO ON! Have a look!
I've been with Orange for the past 2 years and have been really hapy with the service offered etc. But now it's about time I ditched my ancient Nokia nk402 (5110) and upgraded. But there's one thing I don't understand. Why is it better value for me to completely disconnect from orange, and then signup for a new contract??? Let me explain. When I signed up, I got a free spare battery, handsfree kit, car kit, clip on covers etc as well as the free phone. But if I upgrade, I don't get any of this, just a new phone. There might be some special offers around which I'm not aware of - the only place I can think of that might offer you extras when you upgrade is the Carphone Warehouse - but at the moment I can't think of any. Compare this to freebies from ads listed in the paper or magazines and this route seems a far better option. OK, so you have to change your phone number - but for me that's no problem. Especially, as when you upgrade it's for another 12month contract, you might as well disconnect and signup for a 12 month contract and get all the extras. It seems strange to me that Orange (and all the other networks) don't give you some benefits like this, especially as they're so dedicated to keeping you as a customer!! Am I wrong or something?? or is there something I'm missing??
There are many different reasons why you might want to send someone else money - and a variety of different ways of doing it. From a personal point of view this might be a present for example, or paying back a loan. Whatever it is, PayHound (www.payhound.com) is a service which offers this facility. I signed up a couple of days ago to this "new" service which is part of the MSN network of services - I originaly saw an advert on the Hotmail site and thought is might be worth a look - so after reading all the FAQ's and small print I signed up. Basically, this service allows you to send money to someone else via e-mail. It sounds simple - but that's as far as I've got. There are 2 pages for the signup proces - you enter your details, then provide a bank account to link to your account (for adding money to your PayHound account or for withdrawing it to you bank account). I though setting up a bank account was safer than a credit card as you can always cancel the direct debit and you're sure that your money is safe. Anyway, as part of their verification process, they credit your account with a value of between 1p and 99p. Then you check your statement to see what was credited. Then you login to PayHound and enter the value. but unfortuanetly, the screen I was presented with says "You have almost become a Fully Verified PayHound Account Holder ! In only 8 days you will be able to confirm your Bank Account" EIGHT DAYS!!! OK, I understand that they've got to be careful, but surely it doesn't take that long to credit your account with a small amount of money!! One of the uses mentioned on the site is for auction payments - OK, so if I've bought something and the seller uses PayHound as one of the methods, it'll take me 8 days to open my PayHound account before I can even think about transferring any money! Which seems a little bit unrealistic. I can
39;t imagine anyone actually signing up for this service until they actually needed to use it - unless you frequently buy from auction sites. Maybe I'm wrong. Yahoo! and HSBC are reportedly setting up a service similar to this which should be operational either this year of early next - so I hope they take this into account. Another query is with their login system. You enter your e-mail address, which is fine. Then below this is a series of 8 boxes (for each character of your password). You have to type in each requested character from your password into seperate boxes. This takes far too long and - I would have thought that it would be safer to have to type your entire password each time. So that's where I'm up to - a half opened account which is no use at all. Yet. I was considering using this facility for my website - so I could either sell a product or allow people to subscribe to maybe a members area - but if it's going to take my visitors a week to signup then I can't see that happening. As yet I haven't found any other solution - can anyone help?? Another point is that you are charged at least 25p for each transaction (under £25) - as I would expect most to be which seems a little steep. Granted, they have to pay a fee for all this money transferring etc - but if HSBC charged me that every time I used my Internet banking service, well, quite simply, I wouldn't!! This charge is for sending AND receiving money, either between people or to/from your bank account. There HAS to be a more streamlined way to offer this type of service, but at the moment I just don't feel that Microsoft have hit it. As the title of this money suggests, however, you can earn money by referring friends to this service. For every 5 people you refer, you get £10 - which isn't bad - as long as you can convince them to signup!! There is a maximum of £500 per person - but I can'
t imagine that being a problem!! Still, that's about the only good point I can see - really. Room for improvement Microsoft - as with most of their software/services!!!!
I've been looking around at mobiles for ages - wanting to upgrade my nk402 (5110) - which is no suprise! After 2 years, it's about time I upgraded!! Originally I was looking at the Nokia 6210, but as this is still around £60 to buy - it doesn't seem worth it when you can have essentially the same phone, but in a different case. OK, so it doesn't have the high speed data connection or even a data port on the phone (unless you remove the cover and use a special bit of kit) - but who really needs that?? The 3330 is a 3310, but with WAP. That's pretty much the main difference. It still has X-press covers - and all the 3310 accessories fit the 3330 - as they should! So if you really feel the need to make your phone match your car or what you're wearing, then you can - but these still tend to be expensive bits of plastic for what they actually are - but you can pickup less expensive ones second hand or at a car boot sale. For games fans it's got a couple of new games - Snake 2, Space Impact, Bumper, Pairs 2 and Bantumi - not that I've tried them all, so i can't explain what the point of most of them are. Except using up battery power, and making your phone beep and vibrate at "critical" parts of the game!! Oh dear!!! You can download extra games via the WAP facility and send high scores back to the Nokia website if you really don't want to use your phone for talking. Or maybe I'm thinking back to the dark ages - when a phone could let you ring someone else and.... erm.... that's it! Haven't things changed (sorry!) There are 32 ringing tones and you can add an extra 7. A screensaver - not sure why - but you can download extra ones as well. It can vibrate before the phone rings which could be useful on a bus - only to let you answer that call before the most embarrassing ringing tune starts to play!! but then, if you choose the tune, why w
ould you be embarrassed??! Texting is the same as using other Nokia phones, predictive text input saves time having to hit the same key three times, then realising you've gone too far, and having to hit it a few more times, just to find you've made a spleing miatke! What IS new, is that you can see the previous messages that were in the conversation - I haven't tried this, so I'm not sure quite how it works or if the other user needs a 3330 as well. Again, stay tuned! Voice dialing is also new (to this range anyway). You press the menu key for a short while and then say the name of the person and it dials. Sounds good in theory - but I haven't tried it in a busy place were extra noise may be a problem. It's OK for quiet places though. Despite my occasional grumble, this has to be the best phone Nokia have developed. It's amazing how they can continuously think of new things to build into the phone. They only question I've got is, how long is it before then next "new and improved" version comes along, and should we have waited until then??? NB. This phone should be available on Orange from 1st September.
OK, so I'm a fan of Internet banking - not only because I'm in control (well, I like to think so) - but you get better interest rates, access to your information whenever you want (most of the time anyway) and I find it easier than phone banking or calling into a local branch. Still, there are people who aren't convinced for security reasons, but I'm OK with this so far - I haven't had any problems (yet!) in over 2 years. I recently opened a Cahoot account as I wanted to maximise the interest I earnt on my savings. This happened to be a current account which offers 6.0% interest (as of August 2001 for balances under £50,000) and included a debit card. There's an option for a chequebook - but you get a reduced interest rate and there didn't seem much point to me. The registration process was simple enough - I followed the instructions which lead me through the screen. Unfortunately, my modem then decided to disconnect at a vital point and I couldn't get back to where I was. I called their customer services and was talking to a helpful guy in less than a minute. He said I should register again, and the system would recognise me and I'd be able to carry on - true enough it did, and this time I completed it successfully. Then I was sent an e-mail to say I'd been conditionally accepted and was posted a form to complete. After returning my address ID the account was open within a week and they'd sent me a joining pack, debit card and PIN. For security, to activate your debit card you have to login to your account and enter the card details - all worked fine. Logging into the account is more secure than some banks as the last item of information is randomly requested from your memorable date, mother's maiden name and a memorable address - although it does take a little longer to remember the right information to type! This is in addition to your username and password.
The personal home page gives you a summary of your accounts which is useful, and then gives the option to view a statement, pay a bill, view direct debits/standing orders etc as you'd expect. So far the site's worked perfectly all the time and it's quite easy to navigate without too many graphics to download which makes it quite quick. Also, if you open a credit card account you can easily switch between them with a drop-down box. Another benefit is they gave me a £250 interest free overdraft which I didn't expect - not that I'm planning to use it - but it's nice to have the option. Overall, I feel that this is certainly a professional setup and with any luck continues that way. In a nutshell this is pretty much a current account combined with a savings account, which makes it far simpler to use than having to transfer savings to and from accounts to pay bills each month. If the interest rate stays high then this'll certainly continue to be one of the highest interest earning accounts around at the moment.
This morning I thought it was about time I try updating some of my software to the latest downloads - and Media Player just happened to be one of them. It took a total of about 45 mins to download all 9.94Mb of it from Microsoft - which was a little bigger than I had expected it to be - but that's Microsoft for you! Installation ------------ Installation was simple enough and problem free and within about 2 minutes and one reboot it was running. First Time ---------- The most noticeable difference is the look - it's got a far more professional style to it than previous versions. I have to say I do like the graphics. Also, whilst an audio track is playing there's a nice graphical display where a video would display. Nothing new - it's been done all over the place, but it's still quite nice and there's loads to choose from. Likewise, you can also change the main skin of the program to make the whole window look completely different, extra ones can also be downloaded. The "expanded" view is, I feel, rather too big. There's a column of button down the left of the window which let you change between what's playing, media guide, CD audio, media library, radio tuner, portable device and skin chooser. Media Guide ----------- The media guide is a web page which loads and is what Microsoft call an "electronic magazine" which is updated daily with music and videos. There's an e-mail newsletter you can subscribe to (which I haven't) and this generally seems like a good idea to introduce users to new media. CD Audio -------- Simply a CD player with bits. The bits however are quite good. You can copy tracks digitally to your media library (ie, copy to your hard drive) so then you can create your own playlists. Again, this is nothing new, but it's so easy to do in only one click!! The program can also connect to the Internet to
retreive the track names - which could save yourself a lot of typing (as I've had to do in the past). It's also apparently got a facility to create music CD's from your playlist music - but I haven't found this yet. I'll write about this later if I do. Media Library ------------- This is split into audio, video, playlists and radio. At first I didn't find this particularly easy to use, until I realised you had to create a custom playlist first before you could drag music into the playlist folder. I'd expected the playlist to be a list itself, not a "container of playlists" - still - there we go. Radio Tuner ----------- Again, this connects to the Internet and allows you to stream (play as you download) music. The quality over a 56k modem is excellent - I'm currently listening to Capital FM whilst writing this and it's playing at 22k/sec without breaking up at all. You can search for stations matching your preferences (e.g. location, music type etc) and add these to a saved list for easy reference in future. Portable Device --------------- If you've got an MP3 player I would imagine this is very useful - but I haven't so I can't really comment. By the looks of it you drag and drop music from the left hand window (your PC) to the right hand window (your MP3 player) and it'll show you (in percent) how much space you have left. Clever stuff eh?!!! General ------- Before I wrote this I wasn't sure if I liked Media Player 7 - but looking into the features more I think I do. It's just a shame it takes up so much screen size in "expanded mode". OK, so you can "compact" it and it's not too bad, I'd just rather it was a bit similar to winamp with detachable bits (playlist, equaliser etc). That way it'd be a bit more customisable, but overall I'm glad I did download it and it's worth at least
As you may have read elsewhere, fotango.com is a website dedicated to photography. They claim to offer cheaper photo developing - which is certainly true if you use the free developing voucher which comes with your welcome pack - however, I do know of at least one place near me who offer developing of a 36 print film for £2.49 - but anyway, Fotango. When I sent off my film it only took 2 days before I got an e-mail saying my photos were online. After logging in it was so easy to view my pictures - most of which came out really well I have to say. This was great as I couldn't remember which photos were on the film and allowed me to look before they arrived back in the post. I started to play around with the site and found out that you could also use your photos for a number of other uses. One in particular which I found really great was being able to send them as an e-card!! I'm one of those people who are always sending them, and it's nice occassionally to send a particular photo. You can even edit over cartoon features if you wanted to without any problems - and then the site will compose the photo and create a card for you to enter the details. All free! You can request copies of images at 49p per print (half price if you order over 20 - I think) and have them printed onto mugs, T-shirts, mousemats and even jigsaws!! Not that I've tried any of these yet. The photo gallery allows you to share any of your pictures with friends or everyone. The quality of the printed photos was excellent and overall I'm very impressed. It's a shame the instructions on the envelope aren't a little more straightforward though - even though they've tried to make them simple. For digital camera users you can upload your photos (or e-mail them) and store them online. I'm looking at buying a digital camera, so in a short while I may be able to write about this feature.