Category Archives: PersonalComputing

PC, tablet, mobile and wearable technology.

Intel Hades Canyon NUC8i7HVK Review

In life we are often told that you can’t have everything, life is a balance. Settle and compromise the sensible amongst us insist, this is the secret to happiness they say. You can’t have looks and personality, the perfect job always has a downside, the perfect home will have an annoying neighbour and even the prefect computer will be compromised in some way. Here at Highpants  its time to upgrade our trusty work-horse computer and we are once again faced with picking our way through this compromised reality.

Yes, even in the world of computing this logic has been bandied about like the punchline in a bad film, the perfect computer for any situation has always been a compromise. But damn it if Intel haven’t decided to challenge this long-heralded rule, yes you can have a powerful gaming machine in an unnaturally small form factor they scream, while holding the Hades Canyon NUC high in the air.

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Firefox Quantum, A Faster Fox in Sheep’s Clothing…

While the browser wars may have died down over recent years Mozilla have recently released version 57 of their Firefox browser and it’s so good they gave their new browser weapon a name, Quantum. While Quantum may still look the same old Firefox, under the skin this is a faster and far more high tech Firefox that is ready to take on Chrome once again.

Mozilla have given the underlying code a complete overhaul for Quantum, but this type of change doesn’t produce a massive speed bump, an evolutionary change generally. The overhaul has improved the multi-threading support, memory usage, display quality and security but the extra speed of Quantum is actually down to a new trick. As ZDNet are reporting this clever idea was developed by Mozilla engineer Honza Bambas and is called ’Tailing’ which prioritizes traffic so that scripts from tracking domains (such as Google) are loaded after the page itself. The tracking scripts are still loaded but after the stuff that we all care about, the content itself.

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Vampire II: Bringing the Amiga Back Again…

The Commodore Amiga is one of many iconic computers to dot our rich computing past, especially for children of the 80’s. Fans of the iconic Amiga have been excited of late with talk of a new accelerator that is turning dusty old Amiga hardware into blisteringly fast internet connected retro gaming machines.

The fastest running Amiga hardware on the planet at the moment is a Vampire II equipped Amiga 500 or 600. The Vampire A600 V2 and the A500 V2+ accelerator kits are transforming the slowest of all the Amiga’s into retro gaming legends, one card at a time.

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The AMD Ryzen Desktop CPU: Has AMD Got Game?

Masters of silicon AMD are attempting to rise from the ashes of the disaster that was the Bulldozer, and their phoenix is named Ryzen. This week AMD begun to formally introduce the world to their brand new Ryzen phoenix CPU, the first product to use the new Zen core design (code named Summit Ridge). A new CPU that will see the return of the CPU wars if AMD’s performance claims live up to expectation. Can Ryzen really compete with the mighty i7-6900K? A CPU that retails for $1100!

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Reactable Live! S6, Upgrading the Incredible.

Something different this way comes with the release of a new version of the incredibly cool Reactable musical surface. Making music differently is the Reactables specialty, from the interface to the music process Reactable shifts it all to a touch screen that works with touch as well as tactile cubes and objects used to compose and control your tunes.

Developed originally by a team of researchers at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. The original concept was first explored in 2003, by 2005 the team had a working prototype that was demonstrated at the International Computer Music Conference in 2005. In 2009 Reactable the company was created to further the development and marketing of the system.

There are now three models of Reactable available to the musically inclined; the software only can now be run on a mobile device (iOS and Android), the fixed Reactable for permanent installation into hotels and museums and the Live! S6 version that is transportable between gigs. The Live! will set you back $7400 USD, making music can be an expensive hobby it turns out.

Presented for your viewing pleasure are the live demonstrations of a musical instrument from the future, a device that would be at home in any sci-fi film. Sit back relax and turn the volume up, its time for a little doof doof with a difference.

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Hitler Switches to Lotus Notes.

The inventions of mankind in general are neither good nor evil but from time to time an invention appears that seems to smash this logic to pieces. While it may be hard to imagine a humble piece of email software fitting into this category merely the mention of this piece of software can send IT professionals scurrying in all directions. Lotus Notes is that software and its name should NEVER be said aloud.

In a related stroke of military genius the Russian Military has figured out the only way to slow down the march of ISIS, especially their social media empire, send in IBM and their weapon of mass frustration that is Lotus Notes. An application only just useable enough to be given away and evil enough to make you want to hand deliver messages.

Presented for your viewing pleasure is the hilarious WWII incident that changed the outcome of the war forever. A little known fact that the introduction of Lotus Notes in WWII Germany was the turning point of the war. Sit back, relax and prepare to be amused by a little known piece of imaginary history.

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Bill Gates as Austin Powers, Cringe Worthy Laugh Out Loud Moments.

Microsoft over the years has developed a reputation for producing wacky internal videos that are intended for Microsoft’s eyes only. One of the wackiest internal videos to sneak out of Redmond has to be the ‘Bill Gates as Austin Powers’ video.

With a cast of Microsoft insiders we join Dr Evil plotting another scheme of unbelievable evil before the spy that shags everyone returns to save the day with the utterance of those magic words ‘Ow Behave’. Produced in 2009 before Gates and Ballmer handed the helm over to the new generation this may be the last remnants of the old Microsoft visible to us the general public.

Presented for your viewing pleasure is the video that is as strange as it is funny. While the videos titles may suggest Gates is the star we all know the real star is Steve Ballmer as Dr Evil, this may be the role he was born to play. Sit back relax and prepare to swing wildly between cringe worthy moments and laughing out loud.

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Google Translate, Translating the Real World through a WordLens.

Language is a beautiful part of the many cultures that make up humanity but it can at times create barriers between people. Google is helping to tear down these language barriers with the latest update to their amazing Translate app.

This week Google demonstrated the latest version of Translate using the catchy La Bamba soundtrack. With lyrics held up on large signs in the background Translate converts the phrases in real time. A catchy little demonstration of the software’s WordLens feature that can now convert signs into 27 languages.

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Facebook Reveals Aquila the Internet Delivering Drone.

Spreading the World Wide Web to cover all four corners of our world is no small challenge. Internet penetration has reached 60% of the world’s population in the last 2 decades but the first 60% was the easy bit. Low population density, infrastructure costs and the fact that the world is a really big place will conspire to make the last 40% far tougher than the first 60%.

Facebook this week revealed technology to help bridge the internet gap, the Aquila drone which is now completed and ready for testing. The carbon fibre flying wing is in essence a communications platform that will bring the internet to the hard to get to corners of the world.

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Project Ara Goes Live, the First Working Prototype Demonstrated.

Project Ara has gone live, the first public demonstration of a working prototype took place on May 29, 2015 at the Google I/O conference. The day that changed how we connect electronics together.

Project Ara Lead Engineer Rafa Camargo took the helm for the demonstration, happily hands on with Project Ara, snapping into place all of the modules that make a phone a phone. Startup time and operation seemed just like any other phone. Taking a picture of an audience with a phone, now that’s pure Rafa. What makes Project Ara so special then? Its whats on under the surface that makes the difference.

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