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December 2008

Issue 106
Touch screens, Windows 7, Laptops to go, Blade servers, GPS mapping, Can our PCs run Vista?

*** NewsBytes *** 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Touching experience Windows 7 Laptops to go Slash energy costs with a blade GPS got me to the church on time Q&A: Can our PCs run Vista?

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*** NewsBytes ***

Co-Op: first Dell certified partner in third sector

Dealing with IT threats video

Co-Operative Systems is pleased to announce it has been appointed by Dell Computing as a Certified Partner. Dell has only a small number of specialist partners and Co-Operative Systems is the only partner to have been appointed in the third sector. Philip Anthony, Director of Co-Operatve Systems said: "We are very pleased to be a Certified Dell Partner and, combined with our Microsoft Gold Partner status and Investor In People accreditations, it enables to offer a guarantee of quality and expertise to our clients". Working with Dell, we will offer services and solutions and partner on marketing, such as demonstrating Dell's latest technologies and introducing their specialists at the forthcoming Plaza IT conference on Wednesday 26th November. Find out more about this exciting event from Plaza Publishing and book a place.

The news of a Trojan virus stealing banking information from about 500,000 online bank accounts put every IT specialist on their toes last month, especially since the so-called Sinowal Trojan infects victims' computers without leaving any trace, yet compromising 240,000 credit and debit cards. Hence a new video advising employees and computer users on dealing with IT threats couldn't be more timely. The Not Safe For Work video broadcast and toolkit has been assembled by WorkSmart, the TUC advice site, together with a group of experts from industry, media and unions. The toolkit includes a video and quiz combo sheet for employees to fill in, plus an introduction by Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, David Lammy.

Time to get accounts into shape
New impetus to get accounts and accounting packages straight are arriving thick and fast. The Charities Back on Track report revealed most charity malpractice is still down to poor basic accounting and reporting. A recent poll, carried out by CCBFastmap, shows that nearly a quarter of donors who stop giving do so because they can't see where their money is going. This deterrent is accentuated by the fact that donors overestimate fundraising and admin spend. According to an nfpSynergy study, the public overestimate charities' admin spend by around 50%. Furthermore over 60% of donors are put off by how much really goes to the cause, 51% by the amount spent on administration and 45% by telephone calls at

MS security switch to Morro
Or rather next year. Microsoft is scrap the Live OneCare security package due to burgeoning sales of netbooks and low power laptops which insufficient performance to run it. Live OneCare will be replaced by Morro, a free application with less power-hungry requirements. An XP version of Morro is to be released as well as Vista and Windows 7 ones due around end of June 2009.

Demon gets new cable
The UK's first Internet Service Provider, Demon Internet, has been taken over by Cable&Wireless, to "... create a stronger and more able competitor to BT", a letter to customers announced in October. Already a

home. The key to reversing such trends is keeping donors informed. Next week, the new 1st December VAT rate of 15% will also affect accounting packages, such as Sage, Sun, and Pegasus, and online e-commerce trading systems will need updating, as well as bespoke database applications, spreadsheets and relevant documentation. Contact us for help with updating your IT systems.

part of THUS plc, Demon's first takeover was by Scottish Telecom in the 90s.

WiMAX phone
Leaked pictures of supposedly the world's first WiMAX phone by HTC appeared last month connecting to the Internet at 14Mbps. So-called 4G devices may be introduced in countries without standard infrastructures like GSM and 3G. The phone boasts a 3.8" 800×480 WVGA LCD screen, GSM & WiMax, 802.11g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0. More details at

Laptops aren't just for Christmas

Fujitsu Siemens' Lifebook4Life scheme offers customers free laptop upgrades for life, the company announced. Register your Lifebook purchase within 21 days and purchase an extended 3-year warranty and you will be offered a free upgrade every 3 years for the rest of your life.

Netbooks net profit
Laptop makers have seen huge growth in their market of between 14% and 19% in the last 12 months, despite the faltering global economy, with HP leading out ahead of Dell, Acer and Lenovo. But the unprecedented surge is in 'netbooks' - mini-notebooks or low-priced laptops - where industry analysts expect there will be shortfalls before Christmas. Research firm IDC is forecasting worldwide sales 10.8m this year, up to 20.8m in 2009, measuring 11-12% of the entire laptop market.

*** end of NewsBytes ***

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Touching experience

If there's one theme that's going kick off the 2009 computing year, it will be 'touchy-feely'. Anything that has a screen built into it will sooner or later become a touch screen.

Help at hand. Back issues just a click away

Not long now before we'll be seeing techno-geeks everywhere fondling their newly-unwrapped gadgets with a new fervour, and the reason is a huge marketing push to launch the 'touchscreen wave' in time for Christmas. It's the ubiquity of the uptake that is startling. Everything from phones to UMPC handhelds to large screen desktop computers will quite literally be touched by the phenomenon. Even Windows 7 is grappling with the technology, eventually.

Kicked into touch
Of course the archetypal touchable, swipeable (in more senses than one) gadget has been Apple's mould-breaking iPhone, with many plagiaristic devices jumping on the bandwagon, not least of which is Google's Android/T-Mobile G1.

Mobile phone manufacturer Motorola however has reasoned that, if two are heads are better than one, then the same can apply to touchscreens; its Krave ZN4 phone folds an "interactive clear flip" down over the main touchscreen, resulting in a fully touchsensitive covering sheet. Motorola's 3D Krave demo and video of the ZN4 imparts a slick view of this new sensory world where all buttons have suddenly gone virtual, changing to suite the context, whether that's listening to music, typing an email, taking a photo, watching tiny TV or even (lest we forget) making a phone call. Fortunately the power button is at least still a physical entity. Neither will digital cameras escape the touch phenomenon. Manufacturers wanting to maximise that LCD viewing area will leap at the chance to clear those fiddly (and expensive to produce) buttons form around the edges and place them inside the screen. Nikon have done just that with their new 10 megapixel sub-£250 S60 and S560 models, employing "revolutionary touch-screen technology that puts the power to capture great images at your fingertips". Indeed the 3.5-inch screened S60 pares the whole thing down to only two buttons - cameraon/off and shutter release - while still retaining sophisticated features 5x zoom, anti-blur and Smile and Blink detection.

Revolutions - coming round again
So just how 'revolutionary' is this latest craze? Well, about a quarter of a century new, to be precise. HP's first effort began in 1983 with its monochrome green glass-screened HP-150. Hardly tactile then, but a bold pioneering step in the days when few people had even heard of the Personal Computer as a concept.

Getting a handle on touch screens
As the electronics get smaller, so the distinction between computers and pure monitors, becomes a blur. Suddenly the screen is the computer, a form factor already pioneered once again by Apple Macs. Moving up in size, Asus – who caused such a stir earlier in the year with its low-cost Eee PC laptop ranges – is adding a 15.6-inch touch panel with a wide-screen style aspect ratio of 16:10 to its model ET1602, the Eee Top, an easy-to-use, one-stop 'desktop' that puts the Internet literally within fingertip control. It even boasts a built-in carrying handle for instant portability. With this new prod-able hardware arrives an array of touch-optimized software (maulware? perhaps not), enabling correspondents at either end of the communication link to scribble handwritten-style memos to each other and draw their own custom emoticons and avatars, whether they are on the other side of the world or just in the next room.

Let your fingers do the poking
Entering the fray, HP has followed its recent 22-inch-screen-equipped IQ500 TouchSmart PCs with a sensational 25.5-inch IQ800 version comprising 1920 x 1200 pixels. With both models

featuring wall-mounting capability, it is clear these walk-up-and-touch screens have potential applications when hooked up to living room multimedia centres as TV replacements as well as reception and boardroom locations for presentations and demos. Later models will feature Blu-ray disc burners, TV tuners plus and remote control, integrated webcams, Bluetooth and wireless communication, and HP's hot-swappable Pocket Media drive bay. But hardware aside, it's the interface that users experience directly and HP's TouchSmart software has already received critical acclaim for its intuitive feel and a general appreciation that it was actually designed with touch in mind. As if that weren't enough to be going with, the new TX2 tablet series - which makes its UK début around January 2009 from £800 - uses HP's Touch-Smart UI, but also has an integrated webcam, optional fingerprint reader and integrated infra-red receiver for use with the bundled remote control. The TX2's 12.1-inch 1280 x 800 pixel display rotates up to 180°, switching between traditional notebook and tablet PC formats, needing just a fingertip to navigate it. A digital ink pen is bundled in too, to aid our creative passions in writing, sketching, drawing or making notes directly onto the screen, while the spec-hungry should note the 2.4GHz AMD Turion X2 Ultra Dual-Core Mobile (Wi-Fi) ZM-86 processor, and the ability to fit up to 8GB of DDR 2 memory and 400GB of disc space.

Out of touch with the present
Suddenly we appear to be in the graphics territory conventionally inhabited by TV's crime scene investigators and forensic lab professionals, swiping huge pictures of immense detail across a huge panoply figures, facts and graphs, and correlating these icons with ease and precision. It looks like we really will be finding entirely new ways to engage with our content, interact with our photos, videos, music and games and create new possibilities, even if that feels like having suddenly gate-crashed a marketing department's fantasy away-day. Learn more about touch screens.

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Windows 7

October saw major announcements from Microsoft at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC2008) including Office 14, the Azure Services Platform (for 'cloud' services) and a first look at the new features of Windows 7, it next operating system-to-be. A full Windows 7 beta release is promised early in 2009.


We see the usual promotional benefits such as 'work the way you want', 'faster and easier', 'making new things possible', but how do these translate into actual work patterns?

Multitouch - a new release
Probably the most exciting, of-its-time feature has to be the multitouch controls, where users apply several fingers to the screen to 'swish around' the Windows menus and applications - or navigate as we used to call it. Mouse and keyboard are now supposed to be 'old school', or are they? Touching and tapping in Windows produces virtual water droplets under the finger – a little like pressing an old LCD TV screen too hard – as an intuitive visual aid to your finger prods, and bins the traditional Windows cursor. Accordingly, the taskbar and its icons are new a more touch-friendly finger-sized width and their 'jumplists' (menus) are initiated by an upward stroke of the finger, and zoomable screens can be zoomed in and out with a familiar pinch action, all now reminiscent of course of interactions on the iPhone and Android phone interfaces. Indeed the taskbar is even beginning to look more and more like a Mac OS X Dock. Help at hand. Back issues just a click away Apple must by be feeling its innovative footsteps are being dogged by a small MS note-taking robot and no doubt there will be more in the press to come about who owns which bit of technological inspiration. Implementing functions such as scrolling up and down through documents, jumping back a page in Internet Explorer and generally pulling down menus is all well and good, but if your work is largely text-based, then you have still have two not-so-redundant tools that do the job admirably – namely the mouse and keyboard. Furthermore, the average PC user has evolved the dexterity necessary to apply their keyboard and mouse skills with great accuracy; if you doubt this modern evolution, just swap the mouse to your non-preferred side, or try typing on a keyboard with a different layout! Where the Windows 7 multitouch controls come into their own are for drawing, photo editing and any sort of layout. Here the current crop of pen-and-pad or stylus interfaces and trackballs are mediocre for positioning accuracy and the mouse is a definite no-no. Not having to look at or feel your way round a device located somewhere underneath the screen is a huge advantage, the fingertip literally commanding its actions. Thus the 'PhotoShop-ing community', creative artists, layout designers and mashup builders will all find an outlet for their nimble fingers in this release.

New interface bars task noise
The system tray is going to become less busy by default under Windows 7, putting and end to that strip of bewildering flashing icons stretching all the way ... well ... out of the window. A new overflow area, allows you to choose icons that display permanently or otherwise, though by clicking taskbar properties you could do this in XP too. Windows 7 continues Vista's thumbnail previews on the taskbar, but – at long last – adds the ability to rearrange the order of taskbar icons, an end to that annoyance of "I know it's there but I don't see it", and resorting to the Alt-Tab keys. Recognising the market penetration of wide screens, Windows 7 capitalises on the appropriateness of the 16:9 aspect ratio for comparing versions of documents or drawings,

just as you would on a real desk. Thus, an upward swipe of any taskbar icon to the side of another open window automatically tiles the two applications side-by-side, reducing the amount of switching between window panes.

Win 7 and wireless
A small but significant step forward appears in the area of wireless networking. One click on the system tray icon shows available wi-fi networks straight away without going to an extra panel first. It presents a more intuitive process for time-pressed road warriors flitting between wi-fi hot spots and is a logical mirror of proprietary software supplied by manufacturers of wi-fi adapters and on-board hardware.

Home networks can pool storage
In the peer-to-peer framework normally adopted by home users, Microsoft has made efforts to ease the setup and use of home networking. On a Windows 7 network, PCs can combine their storage into a pool of data and folders using the HomeGroup feature, a sort of cheap SAN if you like. The links to these disparate locations appear under a new "Libraries" category in Windows Explorer and searching has been extended to include file tags such as creation date and author right across the network. This feature also extends to browsing other users' iTunes libraries and playing them inside Windows Media Player, (unless of course those tunes are protected by Digital Rights Management) or broadcasting your music to or from a networked media receiver or streamer of the type espoused by Sonos and SlingMedia. That said, all of this functions only when the aforementioned HomeGroup PCs are switched on, a drawback of any peer network. For laptop owners, HomeGroup usefully detects whether you are 'at home' or 'at work' and switches your printers appropriately.

Enterprise management
At the enterprise level, Windows 7 introduces some really essential benefits for corporate IT departments, notably regarding remote working, file access performance, security enforcement, problem solving and application versioning. Remote working Direct Access makes the corporate network appear to remotely-located employees just as if they were at their desk. No more complicated IP-tunnelling through VPNs to set up, though at the HQ end it does require implementation of Windows Server 2008 Release2 and IPv6 plus IPSec. Faster file with Branch Cache Assisting remote working, the Branch Cache facility makes a copy of remote uploads to the server so that other remote workers can subsequently download download the same file instantly, easing communication on slow links. Protect USB drives and sticks with BitLocker Microsoft is taken Vista's built-in BitLocker drive encryption and made it enforceable as a group policy. This means the ubiquitous copy-and-lose-it USB stick can be encrypted by default before employees are allowed to transfer corporate files. Application versioning App Locker, as the name implies, locks down which versions of applications are allowed to run on client PCs, mitigating the use of insecure older applications or to maintain workstation stability. Problem Steps Recorder Windows 7 puts stepwise macro-style recording of PC screen snapshots at the disposal of IT departments so they can diagnose faulty installations or assist with training and procedures. Supporting low-level PC info is also captured.

Lucky 7?

Will Windows 7 work for Microsoft? Following Vista, Microsoft has dropped its theme of fancy, aspirational names for operating systems and gone for a plain old does-whatit-says-on-the-tin Moniker: Windows 7, in fact the name they had been using within the company all along. Mike Nesh, Microsoft's vice-president of Windows product management said: “The decision to use the name Windows 7 is about simplicity. Simply put, this is the seventh release of Windows, so therefore Windows 7 just makes sense. “ Since the extension of XP support and the rather lacklustre take-up of Vista, perhaps consumers are just biding their time until “7” arrives; a rather forlorn panel on the MS site almost pleads “Test drive Windows Vista. Let us show what it can do” … some 2 years after its original release. Windows 7 home page:


Acknowledgements: staff team

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Laptops to go

The best way to improve a laptop? Screw it down and leave it where it is! The solutions aren't quite that desperate but the clue is in conveying desktop ease-of-use upon our diminutive digital companions.

Help at hand. Back issues just a click away

In an archive of cycling magazines, there is an early cartoon picturing a pioneer designer of mountain bikes sketching away at his drawing board. His invention boasts expansive flat handlebars, a ridiculously low saddle and grotesquely knobbly tyres. Someone leans over the sketcher's shoulder, pondering what an earth the contraption could be, when the reply comes: "It's called a mountain bike, and in two years time everyone will be riding them to work on flat city streets." Recognise any comparison with your average 'portable' computer? You probably don't have to turn your head more than a few degrees to spot a colleague hunched over some diminutive clamshell, stabbing awkwardly at tiny keys, prodding frustratedly at a touchpad and craning their neck to decipher the text on the sunlit-dazzled screen. To translate the mountain bike parable into today's paradigm: 'It's called a laptop, and in years to come everyone will be working on them 9-to-5 at their office desks.'

Petite portables please the public
The trend towards smaller and more portable (or more fiddly, depending on your bias) computing has been exacerbated by the explosion of ultramobile PCs (UMPCs) with sub-10-inch screens and mini notebooks at the cheap at of the market, spawned by a demand from school kids and relentless marketing campaigns. The range of computing devices has now blurred into PDA and smartphones so that distinct categories are increasingly difficult to identify.

The tribulation of continually plugging in laptop cables can be assigned to the Recycle Bin Of Pointless Duties

Consumers have flocked to these miniaturised purchases because, sensibly enough, any PC that you can sling into a small bag or pocket stands a fair chance of being used out and about, whereas a 17-inch wide-screened laptop is always going to end up as the little piggy that stayed at home.

Cramped style for trampers
However, many business folk and those following a digitally-nomadic lifestyle are promoting their laptop to the position of sole computing device, often ditching older desktop machines in the process. Is this rationalisation a wise one? They could be in for a rough ride. Portability always comes at a high price because the compact nature of any PC forces 'innovative' compromises. Just take a wander through this short list: laptop design is an eternal compromise between usability (large enough screen, large enough keys, mouse/trackpad device) and portability (carry size, weight, battery life) performance tends to lag desktops by about 6 months (it used be longer), especially with regard to the speed of processor and hard drive wired Internet connections on desktops tend to be more reliable and faster than wireless ones, though laptops have wired connectors too laptops are more difficult to upgrade - adding memory and disc drives requires skill and proprietary parts components tend to be unique and awkward to service/replace, eg keyboards, screens, compared to the standardised equivalents for desktops by the time replacement parts are needed (say a new keyboard 2 years on) they are no longer made, or are so expensive as to make repair uneconomic as batteries deteriorate, many laptop owners end up being tied to a mains socket, and the charger slowly defeats even the very advantage of of the device in the first place: its portability Ranged against this volley of negatives, almost the only positive is sheer portability. All of which sounds pretty negative, and yet the few 'fixes' – if they should be labelled as such are relatively simple and cheap. Plug in a USB keyboard and mouse, costing no more than £30, and it instantly transforms that bit of the computing experience that users hate: how it feels. Suddenly the laptop ‘feels’ like the beloved desktop they gave up. No more touchpad traumas and keyboard cramps, except on the road. Press an old monitor into service via the laptop's VGA or DVI video socket and rediscover the whole desktop experience, which could include abandoning that 'laptop hunch'.

Docking the issue
Fed up with plugging cables in and out? Having to hook up your portable to its various pipes every time you arrive back at your desk is another of those novelties that rapidly turns into a grind and tarnishes the once-smug experience of laptop ownership. It becomes just another chore that gets in the way of using the damn thing. Again, for relatively little outlay, this tribulation can be assigned to the Recycle Bin Of Pointless Duties by hooking up all the cables to docking station – a once-and-for-all task. The dock takes in connections for monitor, mouse, keyboard, and printer, and just about everything else via its Ethernet network port so broadband Internet taken care of too.

View Dell port replicators and docking stations

The only operation required by the owner is to walk up and snap the laptop into the docking station. Most business laptops will have a docking slot on the rear underside that makes all the connections in one go. Removing it is just as simple, with a push-button release on the docking station. Entire departments operate on the docking principle to make hot-desking and/or sporadic roaming appointments a realisable method of daily working, so it's a proven scenario.

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Slash energy costs with a blade

The energy costs for small and medium-sized organisations are rising without them realising, but blade servers can help them keep energy bills low.

Help at hand. Back issues just a click away

We have heard of the global impact of computers approaching those of the aviation industry. Now, according to research analyst IDC, information technology counts 50% of its cost in energy bills over and above the purchase of the equipment in the first place, a proportion expected to climb to 70% by 2010 in the US. Of course it's not just server hardware itself that consumes valuable electricity, but the cooling equipment needed to keep servers operating safely. The cynic's metaphor for this situation is a kitchen where both cooker and fridge are full on with their doors open.

Check out environmental tips on the Dell Earth mini site.

Fortunately, well over half of businesses globally are taking steps to reduce their energy use from IT, however as many as 40% are not. In fact although they have measured light, heat and cooling consumptions for their offices, they have no idea of the number of watts consumed by their desktop computers or network servers.

Any reduction in the energy that servers draw clearly has a two-fold effect in that cooling energy and carbon emissions are similarly slashed, a double benefit for the environment. To help you get a handle on usage and look for cost saving areas, utility companies can often provide power meters to help measure the amount of electricity used on site or stand alone versions can be purchased online.

Dell PowerEdge™ M1000e Modular Blade Enclosures Blade servers are thin servers stacked in racks, reducing power consumption by concentrating more processing power in a smaller space and with fewer cables and consuming around 35% less power than traditional servers. Their thin, modular circuit boards are single task dedicated, performing web hosting, streaming media content, or file sharing, yet handle the workload of 7 rack servers. A blade server implementation makes sense when most round-the-clock servers are are actually only required to perform at 10-20% of their capacity. Choosing this route helps organisations to avoid outgrowing existing IT infrastructures and otherwise incurring new equipment expenditure elsewhere. The latest equipment builds in power monitoring to detect idle servers and place them in standby mode. With the potential to reduce energy consumption by up to 80% significant savings in energy and operational costs are a big draw. Greening your IT can mean being more efficient too, so it's worth seeking means to curtail the physical server count, whether through consolidation or virtualisation, thus reducing the total running power. Virtualisation can be applied to both blade and traditional rack servers, a useful consideration now that virtualisation technology and blade servers are within financial reach of small to mid-sized enterprises with limited technical staff. Discover more about blade servers using the form below.
Email* Org


Acknowledgements: staff team

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GPS got me to the church on time

It takes breathless dash to discover how far GPS and web mapping have become integrated, with a site that could be a boon to exercise fanatics and fleet operators alike.

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are everywhere now. You may even be toting one on the smartphone in your pocket. But it needs some clever digital mapping to turn those GPS chips into something more than useless battery drain. A new mapping web site called MapMyRide certainly ups the ante, in leaps and bounds. Or perhaps a leisurely freewheel.

A jab at MMR
My particular encounter was ignited by the need to provide short-notice, moral support at a church carol concert in the deepest, remotest (to me anyway) Kent/London borders. So I have 25 minutes to departure time, based on a hasty and crude judgement of how far the venue is. The choices are to ... a. take the A-Z? b. print out a map? (Streetmap, Multimap and Google Maps all offer excellent views) c. dust off the GPS unit and see if there is a conversion program that will download a map into it? Help at hand. Back issues just a click away For those with geek-like pretensions, the clear winner here is to ignore the two much simpler options and go for c), convincing oneself along the way that the whole operation will be faster "in the long run" (note prophetic use of the phrase). I arrive (metaphorically) at where in under 10 minutes (and on first go) I have registered, drawn my route to said remotest church and downloaded it in suitable format into my Garmin Edge 305 GPS unit. What followed was not so much a carefully-orchestrated 6.5-mile cycle ride, but more of a dash to the finish, as it slowly dawned that hurriedly drawing straight lines on curved roads and across junctions doesn't make for accurate mapping distances. Thus, an extra breathless mile had to be completed in the same time allocated to the sketched route. Once into unknown territory, MMR excels in tandem with a GPS unit. Crucial turns were executed flawlessly, my Garmin unit beeping out alerts 10 seconds ahead of each manœuvre, and the whole ride was completed without stopping or referring to (and wasting time opening) paper maps. Result: my GPS got me to the church on time, though hardly arriving in dapper fashion.

Eliminate excursions
More time spent examining would have revealed the elementary tick box under "Settings" that could have turned the senseless sprint into a slick slalom: it's called "Follow Roads /

Auto-Routing" and this neat little switch tells the red line you draw to follow all the corners and junctions without going 'cross-country'. It's the difference between 'elastic band' sketching and 'follow the maze' precision. In fact you can map a ride with just 2 clicks: Start Point, End Point. MapMyRide will fill in the rest, though it tends to hug the convoluted safety of main roads, not necessarily to everyone's taste. Fortunately it's easy to edit a route or go step-by-step with suitable applications of the "Undo" button. You don't need to own a pair of wheels to employ mapping technology. A pair of shoes will do just as well. Here's our example, taking you directly from Vauxhall station to Co-Op's premises: Equally, with auto-routing turned off, one can plot walking routes along rivers, via fields, over highlands and through wetlands. Moreover, MapMyRide's workout calculator helps health-conscious exercisers construct a route to match their exact calorie target by typing in data for height, weight, sex and age. There's even a BMI calculator built-in. Other advantages become apparent as you delve the intuitive interface: remembers were you were mapping last (so doesn't take you back to Florida or somewhere similarly US-based each time you login) useful for walking and directions even if you don't have a GPS unit the scroll wheel on your mouse zooms the map logically in and out, saving on finger-wearing clicks and eye movements even bus stops and one-way systems are shown variety of marker symbols and text boxes to annotate your finished maps export drawn routes as GPX (a universal XML format used for used by software mapping programs), Google Earth (KML), and Garmin Course File (CRS/TCX) Fleet operators may flock to this kind of tool because of its versatility. Although the default can auto-route its way to avoid cul-de-sacs and one-way streets, the manual edit facility allows this to be overridden in case you are actually on foot when the time comes - unlike the stubborn main-drag-only routing in Google's Maps. As energy costs soar, all sorts of organisations will be looking for straightforward means to ferry their representatives from station terminal to office building without delay or error and couriers of all forms can pass on their knowledge to newbies in a more structured way than using scraps of paper or verbal instructions. Anybody's data-enabled phone will browse this kind of information effortlessly, whether it has the benefits of GPS or not.

MapMyRide is a great way to share directions; from the creator's perspective because routes are so intuitive to build, and from the recipient's angle because maps can be public and provide several means of downloading. With the plethora of smartphones adopting GPS and route-finding capabilities, this is one digital-age phenomenon that could replace paper mapping for many everyday activities. After all, you only have to ask yourself: what's the first thing that so many of us squawk down the mobile phone?

Contacts Learn more about digital mapping.

Paul Craig

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6. Q&A: Can our PCs run Vista?
Hi Mark, We are considering an upgrade to Windows Vista, but I'm put off by the thought of having to go round all 30+ PCs and check whether they are compatible since some will no doubt need some upgrades. Got any ideas for quicker methods of checking Vista compatibility?

Question Mark

When the numbers of workstations get above double figures, any of these more manual checking tasks quickly become tedious and inefficient to the point of defeating the exercise in the first place - which is usually to save staff time. Although you have probably discovered by now that the basic Vista system requirements for business demand at least a 1GHz 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor, 1GB of system memory and 40 GB hard drive (at least 15 GB of available space), even a manual or networked PC audit will likely consume more effort than you can afford to dedicate. Help at hand. Back issues just a click away Fortunately Microsoft have thought about this already and have created the Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit (MAP), which not only includes their Windows Vista Hardware Assessment Solution Accelerator but also features for assessing computers for consolidation using Hyper-V in addition to Microsoft Virtual Server 2005 R2, in case you want to consider virtualisation, a topic we covered in November. The MAP toolkit finds computers on a network and performs a detailed inventory using a mix of 3 protocols, as well as a Security Center Assessment and Windows Vista device driver availability plus recommended hardware upgrades. To run the same exercise on the odd PC, such as those staff working from home or part-time, downloading and running the Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor is more appropriate. Discover answers in more Q&A topics

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Clicks of the Trade - How to unstick Windows StickyKeys
--- Quick tips for happier clicks! ---

Ever got this pop-up?

The cause is that you pressed the SHIFT key 5 times or more. It usually happens when touch-typers think they're hitting the Enter key and nothing is happening.
Help at hand. Back issues just a click away

Windows StickyKeys is an accessibility setting that is often on by default and is an invaluable aid to those who have trouble holding down key combinations - such as the useful Undo feature with the shortcut of Ctrl+Z. In essence it turns the Shift, Alt and Control keys into toggle-mode so that Undo style functions can be effected by pressing the keys separately, ie Ctrl-then-Z-then-Ctrl again - a boon for sufferers of arthritis and cramp, one-handers and the like. If you're not one of these people however, then you can turn StickyKeys off, but the trouble is that none of the 3 options (OK, cancel or Settings) does that and neither gives a clue as to where to find it and turn it off permanently. The answer is to be found in Control Panel: Start | Control Panel | Accessibility Options Untick "Use Sticky keys" ** try it now **

More Clicks of the Trade

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Interpreting Information Technology