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Tip of the Week

Everything For Nothing

You know its somewhere on your computer but can you find it? We’ve all been there, you’re trying to find a document, photo or some other type of file but you just can’t remember where it is stored, or the correct file name. Windows Search might be able to track it down, but it can be slow and a bit blinkered  so here’s something else to try. It’s a freeware search tool for files and folders called Everything and it really doesn’t need much more in the way of explanation, except to say that it starts indexing as soon as it is installed and constantly updates its database. This makes it super quick and it returns results as soon as you begin typing in the Search box. It uses minimal resources and typically uses just a few MB of RAM an index of one million files take up only 15MB of hard disc space.


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News Briefs

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Compact Fusion Coming?

Yes, yes, we’ve heard it all before but news reaches us, via Gizmodo, of an exclusive report in Aviation Week magazine regarding a compact fusion reactor proposal from Skunk Works. They’re a division of Lockheed Martin, famous for developing stealthy aircraft and experimenting on crashed UFOs (possibly…).  Nuclear fusion is what powers the Sun and unlike nuclear fission, the stuff that makes atomic bombs go bang, it’s pretty clean, doesn’t go bang, generates negligible waste and should be of no interest to terrorists. Basically it works by heating a plasma – an electrically charged gas – up to the point where ions in the plasma fuse together, and in doing so, releases very large amounts of energy, in theory more energy than is needed to sustain the process. It’s a win-win situation, but there’s a problem. For fusion to take place the plasma has to be heated up to hundreds of millions of degrees centigrade, hotter than any known material can withstand so it must be contained inside a large vacuum chamber and held in place by powerful magnetic fields, essentially a magnetic ‘bottle’. It looks a bit like a donut, with the plasma running around the inside, and most importantly, not touching the sides. Up until now most experimental fusion reactors have been based on the Soviet Tokamak design, and they’re very big, complicated and expensive to build and thus far not very successful. The Skunk Works design is much smaller, not much larger than a jet engine in fact and because it is relatively small the designers say that they can get to the prototype stage in just 10 years, and in 15 years, be in a position to start producing 100MW fusion reactors, small enough to fit inside a shipping container. That’s enough power for 80,000 homes. Fusion is the Holy Grail of cheap sustainable energy and we’ve seen many, many claims over the years that it is just around the corner. At this stage there’s no way of knowing if this will come to anything but sooner or later someone is going to crack this nut, so here’s hoping that this will be the one!


Warner Warning

Pirates beware, Warner Bros has unleashed an army of ‘robots’, designed to track down and curtail the activities of those suspected of stealing or distributing its movies and media. It’s okay we’re talking not about Terminator-style killbot turning up at your front door. The robots in question are software programs or bots that mimic the behaviour of humans, searching the Internet for movies to download. This information, which comes to us courtesy of Torrent Freak, was revealed in heavily redacted court records that came to light following a series of lawsuits between the studio and a file hosting service. The papers describe how Warner Bros use the bots to research links to sites allegedly infringing its copyright by hosting or linking to content. When it finds one it automatically sends a Takedown Notice to the suspected offender. Apparently it focuses its attention on around 200 sites but here’s the rub, the process is fully automated and according to the documents, the material is not downloaded, reviewed or checked by humans, which calls into question the accuracy, legitimacy and even the legality of the exercise. Without conducting follow-up checks there would seem to be no way of knowing if the bots are correctly identifying dodgy material, or even the possibility that it may be perfectly legitimate. More revelations are promised soon.



News On Ten, Not Nine

Microsoft caught almost everyone on the hop last week with the announcement that the next release of Windows will be called Windows 10. So what happened to Windows 9? No one is saying officially but various comments attributed to MS high-ups suggest that it’s a more ‘appropriate’ name, whatever that means but there is an indication that this will be the last major update for a while and future releases will be largely based on W10, which brings us to the headline features. Windows 10 has been designed to operate on as wide a range of devices and hardware setups as possible, from industrial servers to embedded operating systems in gadgets, tablets and presumably things like fridges and wearables. It also plans to make the App Store the one-stop place to go for both users, and developers.


Time for the nitty-gritty, and what W10 can do for you, and at the top of the list is the return of the much-missed W7 style Start Menu. A lot of work has been put into a new Multiple Desktop display, file search has been improved, there’s a new Task View button that shows all open apps and files. Another newcomer is a revised Snap View layout, which lets up to four apps to be snapped on one screen and for tablet users there’s Continuum that adapts the display, depending on how you use your device as a tablet or desktop. The launch date has been confirmed as mid 2015 and for developers and enthusiasts who can’t wait to get their hands on it, you can sign up for the Technical Preview edition, which is now ready for download.