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Next week Apple diehards and fan people gather together for its annual WWDC bash. It comes at a very interesting time for Apple with its iPhone range in dire need of a refresh and its tablets under attack from all sides.

However, unless there is a massive surprise, don't expect new iPhones and iPads next week. There are ongoing rumours that the company has had some production problems with several elements of its 2013 range and that we won't hear product announcements until later in the Summer, or maybe even the Autumn.

So what can we expect?

mountain-lion-logo.jpgApple's new desktop operating system, Mac OS X Mountain Lion, is available today, Wednesday 25th July.

Over 200 new features will be coming to Mac OS X with Mountain Lion, including deep Facebook and Twitter integration, Game Center features and AirPlay screen mirroring.

When it lands in the US, it'll cost $19.99, with UK users paying a measly £13.99 for the upgrade.

Mountain Lion will not be available in an physical media formats however, so brace yourself for a sizeable 4GB download.

Those who have bought a compatible Mac product from Apple or an Apple Authorized Reseller on or after June 11, 2012 will also be eligible for a free upgrade through the OS X Mountain Lion Up-to-Date Program. Click here to check if you can grab it for free.

However, if you're working away with a Mac that uses a 32-bit kernel extension (KEXTs), it looks like you're out of luck. Mountain Lion requires your system be running the 64-bit Kernal we're afraid. If you've got an iMac or MacBook built after 2007, you should still be fine.

We'll have a full Mountain Lion review in the coming days, so keep your eyes peeled for it.

Via: Tech Digest

Managing people the Simple and Effective Way

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Long gone are the days of antiquated personnel records in manila folders with hand written forms, holiday charts and disciplinary letters - the world has moved on. Forward looking companies are moving to HR software to bring efficiency to the Human Resources Department and more importantly to personnel management.

It is astounding how many companies remain stuck in the mud of personnel management but it is even more astounding to see how many organisations worldwide are now using HR Software. HR Software makes personnel management an efficient and effective way to manage people employed in an organisation. HR software can provide a record about individual employees to include all information that is important for personnel management.

The efficiency of such software makes you wonder why all companies are not utilising its powerful organisational capabilities. For HR departments that need to access information and need a fast response to personnel queries there is no excuse not to be utilising HR Software and all that it can bring to a busy department. Some companies worry about utilising HR Software that is downloaded from an outside company but long gone are the days of insecure sights. HR Software can be purchased from a HR software specialist organisation and they will keep the software updated in terms of downloads etc. It is very economical as individual companies do not have to purchase their own specific server or for that matter to remember to back up data, the software provider will take responsibility to make sure the software is operating efficiently and that it is backed-up as per regulations. Storage of data is therefore kept secure and the most secure software providers will guarantee that all data is secure from external threats.

This method of HR Software solutions - that is - remote installation and monitoring is the way of the world in many different areas of business progression. Remote installation requires no on-site equipment, no huge secure, temperature controlled server room and no need to purchase software disks and all the hassle this involves. It maybe however, that Human Resources employees will need some training in using a remote installed HR software solution - but once training is completed the software offers a complete personnel management system that is so efficient it reflects in the competency of the HR staff. HR software can store huge amounts of data and provides HR staff with time efficiencies to concentrate on issues like staff development and staff training. The software can be accessed to indicate where skills gaps are within employee groups, or an individual's personal development requirements - making the job easy for HR staff to arrange future training. Such software can make payroll simple and effective as HR software and Payroll Software can easily link to provide accurate data and ultimately reduce payment errors. For instance an employee beginning maternity leave can have their data entered in the HR software and automatic links will then update Payroll. HR Software is a means to an ends in terms of efficiency and effective personnel management and for those companies that remain blowing the dust of old manila files, HR software solutions are leaving them behind.

Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office plug-in

A few months ago after my hard drive died, I made the switch to Google Docs. At the time it was mainly so that I would never have to worry about losing all my work again. But now, having written well over 200 documents in it, I don't think I will be making the switch back to Microsoft Office anytime in the foreseeable future.

However, the majority of people still using Office, if only for work. So to help encourage others to make the move over to Google Docs, they have launched the aptly named "Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office plug-in". This simple plug-in effectively turns Microsoft Office into a front-end for Google Docs so that everything you do in Word, Excel and Powerpoint ends up synced and backed up in your Google Doc account.

This not only means you don't have to worry about your work disappearing, but gives you the ability to collaborate with other Google Docs users. The only negative at the moment is that this plug-in only works on Windows.

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Okay, so you've got a printer at home.It's probably colour, and maybe it has a scanner built in, but I bet it doesn't print 3D models. Yes, I said 3D models.

3D printers are my new favourite things - through a process of squirting and layering they are capable of making three dimensional models from a computer design but unfortunately at $3000 for the cheapest models, they are just a squeak out of my price range.

Print company Sculpteo had the good idea of buying one and then taking commissions from people to print their work for them. Send them a computer file of your three dimensional design and they'll "print" it out and mail it back to you. Based in France, they cater for European customers and as of today, for any in the USA.

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So you'll need 3D imaging software to make the model, and of course, you can't just design a house or a Harrier Jump Jet, there are size restrictions: between 2and 10 inches. But otherwise, cute idea right?

Sculpteo also point out though that you can get some free 3D imaging software online...
"Google provides a free, easy to use application called Google Sketchup. This tool allows you to design everything you want in 3D, through an intuitive interface, and offers free 3D models for download."

Sounds good eh?

Prices depend on various factors:
"Our price is based on your choice of material, monochrome or colour printing, and object size & shape. It is calculated automatically once you have selected your printing parameters, before confirmation of your order. A quantity discount applies based on the volume of the object. You can increase or lower the final price by adjusting each of these 3 factors."

See more on Sculpteo.com

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A Linux-based software that lets you use one computer to control ten separate ones has been in "overwhelming demand" from schools in Asia and South America according the makers Userful.

The computer system called Userful Multiseat Linux lets anyone provide desktop computers at a fraction of traditional costs, which opens up computers to places with less money to spend.

Userful say their software "has garnered an overwhelming demand in Latin America and Asia, despite not being commercially available until Q4 2010". Because they require less electricity to run than standard workstations they are cheaper to maintain and less money is required for the hardware of which there is less, and for the software - which is open source Linux.

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How it works:
So, instead of buying 10 computers - mulitseat technology means you only need to buy one, then get 10 monitors each with its own mouse, keyboard and applications but, with the initial computer providing the software and processing power to control all 10 screens. The cost is a loss of processing power, but for internet browsing and simple applications it is adequate.

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These computers are cheaper to run as well as cheaper to buy: on average, Userful's education customers report saving 60% in up-front costs, and 80% in annual power savings as compared to their previous PC-per-station solutions.

They are selling computers in the developed world too based on their green credentials - costing less electricity.

See more about them on Userful.com

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We're familiar with photo-editing software recognising our faces - programmes like iPhoto or Picasa will run through your photo albums auto-tagging your friends, after you've tagged a few yourself. But the idea that photo programme could also improve your friends' faces is a new one and has just been trialled by a computer vision specialist in the University of California as reported by the New Scientist.

It's not like the software developed by Neel Joshi would remodel your nose or make up for a bad hair day or anything. But it would fix problems with the photo - blurriness or shade - by sharpening up facial features according to the stock image they had of a particular face.

If you identified a blurry face in a photo as "Steve" the programme being trialled by Neel Joshi would use an algorithm to find images of Steve in similar poses and adjust the picture to give a more visible and clearly defined image of Steve's face.

The team have made the software but it's not yet commercially available.

This will be great for Paparazzi and anyone else who has a shaky hand on the camera.

[via NewScientist]

tumblr.jpgTumblr is going from strength to strength. They've abandoned their weird and useless Tumblarity thing, which made the whole blogging platform feel like a silly competition (it may only have been silly because I couldn't get a tumblarity past 9). They've added a pages function which allows for more base-content and a shed-load of integration options.

Tumblr is slowly turning from an interesting, loathsomely hip, blog upstart to a genuinely useful platform and awesome social network full of brilliant writers, ace blogs and cool people. They've achieved this minor miracle via three main selling point: 1) An ease of use and integration that trumps rivals Wordpress and Posterous. 2) Hundreds of genuinely beautiful but equally customisable designs. 3) Attracting the right crowd to the platform and creating a working social element.

The problem is, you've started your blog but your dashboard is all empty, and you don't know who to follow. Granted you could trawl throught the Tumblr directory, but that takes ages. So we've done it for you.

Here are the top 20 blogs you must be following on Tumblr.

1. Who? The Daily What
Where? www.thedailywh.at
What? A nice mix of twee, hilarious, humourous "web-lols".
Why? Because The Daily What is one blog everyone follows. It is the quintessential tumblog. And, it's really good. Imagine the best bits of Buzzfeed, Digg and I-am-bored in one place with a acerbic one-liners.
Example post: This is clever, you should watch this, of the day.

2. Who? Graphic Everywhere
Where? graphiceverywhere.tumblr.com/
What? A neat and often updated collection of interesting graphic design.
Why? Graphic design is one of those oft-maligned things, though not altogether unduly, this blog cuts all the crap out, and just gives you the work, it doesn't try to explain it, it lets you work it out. We salute that.
Example post: Neat right?

3. Who? Game Freaks
Where? http://gamefreaks.co.nz/
What? A steady stream of game news, trailers and gamer related japery.
Why? Even if you've only got a passing interest in gaming, as most rational people do, Game Freaks is still worth following for their eclectic mix of new games and game nostalgia.
Example post: Bizarrely amazing Mario sketches.

4. Who? Put This On
Where? putthison.com
What? "A web series about dressing like a grown-up," it'll try to tell you. It's a fashion blog, and not a try-hard one either.
Why? It's one of a rare breed of fashion blogs that posts about stuff normal people can wear a) wear without social castigation, and b) afford. Yey.
Example post: A strong look.

5. Who? Postcards of the USSR
Where? http://sovietpostcards.tumblr.com/
What? Pictures of postcards from the former Soviet Union, as I'm sure you might have guessed.
Why? Because everyone needs a bit of a politically stilted populist art from a former communist regime in their lives every so often, right?
Example post: Having fun on your holiday?

6. Who? Julia Segal
Where? juliasegal.tumblr.com
What? Personal blog of New York-based stand-up Julia Segal.
Why? Julia is cool. She doesn't fall into the self-regarding trap most personal blogs find themselves wallowing in. Plus she's right funny too.
Example post: Possible screen names.

7. Who? Newsweek
Where? newsweek.tumblr.com
What? The blog of the popular news magazine.
Why? Probably the best example of the potential of Tumblr as a platform -- coupled with some of the best content going.
Example post: Press releases.

8. Who? Molls
Where? molls.tumblr.com/
What? Probably the most followed person on Tumblr, Molls has become a minor web-celeb off the back of her lovely blog.
Why? For amusing, introspective ramblings which are thoroughly entertaining.
Example post: Molls might be caner.

9. Who? Minimal Mac
Where? minimalmac.com
What? A Mac blog that's more about work-stream than product rumours. Yeah I said work-stream.
Why? Because it opens up all the corners and shows you all the little add-ons, short cuts and new applications that will just make your mac-life easier.
Example post: Clipstart.

10. Who? Magic Molly
Where? magicmolly.tumblr.com
What? The blog of New York writer Molly Young.
Why? Because I said so. And, if that's not enough, because she's interesting and funny. (and because I have a minor crush on her).
Example post: She's talking about Anna Karenina. Swoon.

11. Who? Mareen Fischinger
Where? blog.mareenfischinger.com
What? Personal blog of photographer Mareen Fischinger
Why? Because she takes amazing pictures and puts them up on her blog, where you can look at them and go, 'wow I wish I could do that'.
Example post: Sunset over Istanbul.

12. Who? Black and WTF?
Where? blackandwtf.tumblr.com/
What? Weird black and white pictures from yester-year.
Why? For old-school monochrome lols. Obv.
Example post: Tuba-train.

13. Who? Garfield Minus Garfield
Where? garfiedlminusgarfield.net
What? Garfield comic strips with Garfield removed.
Why? "To reveal the existential angst of a certain young Mr. Jon Arbuckle. It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb."
Example post: New shirt.

14. Who? Facebook Statuses
Where? statuses.tumblr.com
What? Facebook statuses illustrated.
Why? For gems like this.
Example post: Hooray stomach virus.

15. Who? Tunage
Where? tunage.tumblr.com
What? A very, very good music blog.
Why? Because it's full of links to new and old music, across more genres than you could shake a double-bass pedal at.
Example post: The week in albums.

16. Who? The White Sade
Where? thewhitesade.com
What? The personal blog of a person called Sade.
Why? For a troth-load of rotating GIFs and a genuinely funny, optimistic outlook.
Example post: Quote.

17. Who? David's log
Where? davidslog.com
What? The personal blog of Tumblr founder David Karp.
Why? Because it's interesting to see what the dude who started the whole shebang had in mind.
Example post: Ahem.

18. Who? Jake and Amir
Where? jakeandamir.com
What? A humorous video-log from BFFs forever, Jake and Amir.
Why? Because it's funny. I mean it's only one joke done over and over and over again, but it's funny, like at least the first few times.
Example post: Couch.

19. Who? Pocket Poems
Where? shallowpockets.tumblr.com
What? An anonymous poetry blog.
Why? One original poem a week pops up and they're usually surprisingly good. The majority of poetry blogs you'll find are all "slings and arrows," "tears and wolves" if you catch my drift.
Example post: BBC News 24

20. Who? Nerdology
Where? nerdology.tumblr.com
What? A study of all the things that make nerds happy.
Why? Because it's ridiculously interesting and it features a nice mix of short and long-form posts.
Example post: Talking dirty.

And as a bonus (if you're interested) here's mine!
Operation Margarine.

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See our updated list of must-follow Tumblrs here: 2011's Top Ten Tumblr Blogs you should be following

373 x-oom.jpgWant to find (legal) downloads more easily? You can buy software for that - X-OOM Media Grabber is a web download engine which aims to make finding free downloads much easier. Enter the name of your favourite band or artist and the program scours the net and downloads anything free, even the latest number one hits. Users can create a personalised digital catalogue full of their favourite artist's albums, lyrics, video clips, photos and more.

As well as simply downloading videos or audio files, you can change their format as well. The software's export assistant lets you convert them to a portable format, which you watch when and where you want. This might be the true use of the software, because after all, you not really going to pay £30 for a search engine are you... they've got some of them on the internet already..

X-OOM MediaGrabber costs £29.99 from X-oom.com

51. facial 2.jpgGetting a laptop with face-recognition is like having your best friend on your desk - not only is it helpful and informative, it also perks up when your bleary little face comes into its viewfinder.

Well by perk up I mean lets you access your user account, but it's roughly the same thing.

Of course face recognition tech has been around before but it is only in the past few years it has come out of the arena of scary border security interrogations and into the lives of simple consumers like you and me. Yes we may be simple, but we have complex faces that can be recognised with a webcam and a visual analysis program.

Brilliantly, back to my laptop, there's also a little user log which records the day, time and the mugshot of you that it accepted. So you can map how you look at 7.30am Tuesday morning compared with Saturday afternoon... and the time your friend tried to log in to check his emails but couldn't, ha, because his face is different.

See how and why after the jump

47. pageplus.jpgFor someone who wants to do a simple design task... make a tennis club newsletter, advertise yoghurts, or create birthday invitations - spending £684 on Adobe Indesign for is out of the question.

Kids will always download illegal copies of Adobe software but for someone who doesn't want to break the law - or the bank either, Serif products are a good compromise. Serif is a small British company who are niggling Adobe from underneath.

Signature product PagePlus a desktop publisher you can use to design publications like brochures or newsletters, came out in its fourth edition a couple of weeks ago. Serif claim it has 85% the functionality of Indesign at about 11% of the price. We take a quick look at the rice and the product..

Follow on after the jump

Is Google Chrome sneaking up on Microsoft?

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google-chrome-logo-711569.jpgWith a choice of internet browsers we usually stick to what's already been installed onto the machine when we buy it.

I know I've always had Window's Internet Explorer on mine, and although I download a few more after that, for the first few days Explorer is the one I use.

However, it seems Microsoft may be in for a little bit of competition. Google has today tied up a deal with Sony to have its Google Chrome pre-installed on some notebooks.

Chrome lags well behind Internet Explorer and Firefox browsers. It is used by less than 3% of people, while Internet Explorer is used by more than two thirds,
according to NetApplications but this may set to change, especially since the European Commission won't let Microsoft distribute Internet Explorer with Windows 7 anymore.

So what makes Chrome a better option that Internet Explorer?

Well firstly it won't crash your browser. It treats every tab as a separate window (like Firefox) and process so if you get hit by a bug, only that one tab dies.

You can save websites and shortcuts to a favourite apps feature, which will launch in separate windows so you don't lose the pages you were already on.

However, my most favourite feature is the fact that the browser has an option, which means you can chose not to have anything, recorded your browsing history. Perfect for those of us who go on too many shopping sites.

48. ipadio-iphone-record-screen.jpgIf Twitter lets you send a text message to the world, it was only a matter of time before someone invented an application that let you make a phone call to world. (I say the world - I mean your Social Network and the miscellaneous people who look at your blog.)

Ipadio is a phone blogging tool that lets you do just that. They released an iPhone app last month and an Android one today. Strapline: "You talk, they listen".

To phone blog: you open the app, or (if you're not blessed with an Android or iPhone - call a local number) and speak, sing or just prattle merrily into your phone for up to 60 minutes, then Ipadio uploads your recording to your phlog (phone-blog, geddit?). Your phlog is available on ipadio.com, you can also embed it on your Facebook profile or on a separate website.
Follow on after the jump

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The mounting buzz around short-form blogging sites Posterous and Tumblr puts a new spin on the blogs v twitter debate; a third way. It's got me thinking that rather than killing each other, or even co-existing, social networking sites and blogs are actually coming together and making mid-length social blog babies.

Metaphorically I mean, there's no business deal or sex involved anywhere.

Shortening blogs, lengthening tweets
Suggestions that blogs are shortening comes along with the idea that tweets could lengthen: new service Twitblogs is an near-exact replica of Twitter with the difference that you can extend posts beyond 140 characters.

It seems to be that having stoked the desire for in-depth lengthy posts (blogs) and up-to-the-minute link-tastic chatty random short posts (twitter) - businesses are moving into a middle ground that caters to both.

Follow on after the jump

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The folk behind Crazy Talk 4, the animation software we reviewed in 2007 have just released an updated version of their programme called CrazyTalk 6. They've improved some of the issues we had, and have added some extra features as well, so it will be useful for both the casual animator and the hardcore artiste.

What the software does is take images you've uploaded and convert them into a 2D or 3D animation through a simple step by step guide. You can then play with this digital creation by adding sound, special effects and even create storyline for the character.

Will you be trying Windows 7?

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Windows 7 is now available to download, months on from the announcement at CES.

You can now play with MAC like icons and a moving toolbar along the bottom of your screen- but will you be trying it?

Let me know!


Try it here.

More software news here

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Gamers often have a rather hard time of things security wise. As much as they want to keep their computer safe from viral and phishing scams, they don't want to compromise game time by annoying pop ups or a slowed down CPU. Norton aim to help those MMORPG players with their new gaming specific software.

It's targeted at making sure you can game in a safe environment, but has been specifically tailored so as not to disrupt game time. It comes with a dedicated Gamer Mode which suspends alerts and updates, and automatically switches on when you're in full screen mode.

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Now Photoshop is a really useful tool if you need to edit images quickly. It far surpass Paint, as it lets you edit, adapt and delicately create masterpieces on your desktop. But its fairly tricky to use (unless you start with Elements) and then of course, there's the licensing fee, and the fact that unless you have a dual core computer it will use vast amounts of CPU. Well I've just discovered the best editing programmed ever, and surprise, surprise it looks pretty much IDENTICAL to my beloved Photoshop. But it's 100% free!

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Need something to do this weekend? It's apparently quite chilly in the UK today, so I'd recommend hunkering under the duvet, and getting yourself some Windows 7 action. It's been released in Beta, and there's hope that it's going to remedy all the things everyone hated about Vista.

Steve Ballmer called it a "new media experience" and promised less crashing, as well as a host of features to integrate it more closely with your social networking sites. Obviously being in Beta, it's going to be relatively unstable, but if you're willing to risk it, you can get hold of it here.

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Software isn't always the most entertaining of things, but seeing as 2008 brought us Google Chrome and Vista, I hope you'll bear with me. It seems the highly touted Windows 7 is in the final stages of completion, but what does this mean for PC users who aren't sure of updating their systems yet again? Well, Windows 7 could be the answer to their problems, as it should be considered as an updated version of XP rather than a whole new OS.

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