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New and updated hints and tips for Windows PCs, technology news plus the best shareware and freeware around

 


Hello Hola

Fancy watching a spot of American TV? Viewing foreign TV channels (or UK stations, when abroad) over the internet sounds like a great idea and it should be easy, but as anyone who as tried it will know most popular TV streaming services use IP location blocking, to stop anyone accessing their material if they are in another country. There are ways around it and one of the most popular methods is to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service or software that ‘spoofs’ your location, but the free ones options are generally not very good, the bandwidth is necessarily restricted and there may be time or data limits and intrusive ads, and even some of the subscription based VPS can prove unreliable. Undeterred, here’s another free one to try and at the moment it works really well. It’s a browser extension called Hola (or dedicated browser) and it’s a bit cleverer than most of the others, and a lot easier to use. Once installed all you have to do is open your browser, click on the Hola icon and it displays icons for the most popular IP Blocked services in the country you are in. Click on the one that you want to watch – Hulu in the US is always a good test for VPNs – and it sets about establishing a connection.  So far it hasn’t failed, and as an added bonus there's a useful web accellerator function, but these freebies have a nasty habit of getting blocked if they prove too popular, so please, keep this one to yourself!

10/11/14

 

Do you have a tip or tweak for Windows that you would like to share with other PC users? If so we would really like to see it, jot it down and email it to us at: PCTopTips


 

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News Briefs

Kentucky Fried Keyboard (and Mouse)

You have to hand it to those wacky Japanese. For a culture with an enviable (and at times, somewhat questionable…) association with raw fish and good healthy fresh food they seem to have taken to fast food in a big way. Doubtless they will be paying the price, but we have to say that we’re rather envious of it’s KFC restaurants, which have been running a Colonel’s Day Twitter promotion. There’s finger-lickin fun for all the family but the feature that caught our eye is this custom KFC keyboard and mouse. It’s brilliant; there are small pieces of plastic chicken on all of the keycaps, with only the letters K, F and C displayed in the company livery. Colonel Sander’s visage is on the Windows key; top left, where the escape key usually lives, there’s what looks like a tiny light-up Colonel and a couple of keys in the top tight corner have been replaced by a soft drink and a bucket (we think, our Japanese is a but rusty). Best of all is the fried chicken-drumstick shaped mouse. Sadly, as far as we can make out, it’s a one off competition prize; so don’t go looking for them on ebay Japan any time soon. But if there’s any justice in this old world KFC will see the light and start making these things for everyone to enjoy, especially in more deserving markets, like the UK, where we had the first branch outside the US and have been dutifully chomping on the deep fried treat since 1965, a full five years before those Japanese Johnny come lately's…

1011



The Appliance Of Power

Wire-free charging for smartphones and tablets has been around for a while but here’s a new twist, called WattUp. The idea is your device will charge wirelessly, while it is in your pocket or on the table, by power beamed from household appliances like microwave ovens, refrigerators, cookers and even washing machines. It’s the brainchild of the Energous Corporation and Haier Wireless and apparently it will be able to deliver a useful charge over distances of several metres, creating ‘always on’ charging environments in ‘high-traffic areas’ in homes – presumably in and around the kitchen – offices, retail stores and commercial spaces. The report, from Yahoo Finance is a little short on detail, beyond the fact that WattUp is a pat pending technology and it delivers ‘intelligent, scalable power’ using the same radio frequencies as Wi-Fi. On the face of it this sounds like a very bad idea. There’s also no mention of how much power will disappearing into the ether in what sounds like a suspiciously wasteful technique but what do we know? Anyway, we’ll just have to wait and if and when it comes to pass we’ll let you know.

0311

 

Iconic Development For Designers

How many times have you been stuck for an icon, and we’re not talking about a common or garden Wingding? Mock ye not, it can happen, especially if you are a designer, web or otherwise, artist or just a garden shed tinkerer, looking for an icon to dress up your latest home-brew gadget. Well, to save you searching the web the good folks at Google, specifically the Google Design division, have just made a whopping 750 icons and glyphs available as open source images and code. They’ve just published the whole lot on the GitHub code-sharing website as 24 and 48 pixel SVG files, plus PNG versions for use on web pages and iOS apps, and not forgetting top quality hi-dpi PNG formats for specialist users. You can download the whole lot for free, or click the Preview button to see what’s available and if you have been wondering where to find that elusive battery 60 percent charge symbol, now you know.

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