Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Google tops 1 billion unique visitors

Just a short update. (Nothing but LulzSec at the minute)
The ever-expanding behemoth that is Google received over 1 billion unique visitors in May and this is going up every month. Microsoft websites are not far behind at around 900 million and Facebook is at 700 million. I, for one, welcome our new Google overlords.
Image from Cnet.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Not even Bitcoins are safe

Bitcoins popularity has surged recently. If you don't already know, Bitcoins are a totally anonymous internet currency. Bitcoins are generated by computers called 'miners', and work in a very similar way to a real currency. You can sell your Bitcoins for real money, too, and huge value increases in Bitcoins have made some people a lot of money. For the 2 years since their creation Bitcoins have been doing well. But now, for those of you who have Bitcoins, your cash is under threat. A piece of malware has been developed called Infostealer.Coinbit, that takes your Bitcoin wallet information and emails it to the attackers. Recently someone lost $500,000 worth of Bitcoins to this virus and many other have too. But do not fear, Bitcoins users! You have the option to encrypt your Bitcoins wallet. If you use a strong password, the attacker will have practically no way of getting your money. So get encrypting!

If you are not involved in Bitcoins, you may want to take a look. There are already hundreds of services out there that support them, and you can get a small amount for free if you are just starting out. Check out the links below.

The Bitcoin homepage
A more detailed information site
Free Bitcoins

Friday, 17 June 2011

Animated globe made from 10000 OLED screens

The Japanese have trumped everyone again with this amazing yet crazy invention. Using over 10000 OLED screens they constructed an enormous globe that rotates across them. It is currently in The Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. It is given a continuous stream of satellite images that update the image of the globe in real time. Measuring about 6 meters across, it hangs from the ceiling and has walkways around it. There are special touch-screen computers surrounding it that enable visitors to view information about global environmental events. Check out the video below!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

How to build your own computer: Part 4

So you should (hopefully) understand everything you need to know about the components you need. So, today I'm going to give a few example builds to get some inspiration flowing.

First, this is one I have actually built. It's one hell of a powerhouse, but has no graphics card. I use it as a server.
AMD Phenom II 1055t, 6 cores at 2.8GHz. Around £100 ($160).
Asus M4A78LT-M, great mid-range motherboard that supports AM3 for my processor and a whole lot of DDR3 RAM. Around £40 ($70).
DDR3, two 4GB cards at 1600MHz. Around £70 ($110).
Power supply unit:
500w Corsair 500CX. Not too cheap. Do not buy cheap PSUs, no matter how tempting it is! As you might have seen in comments, cheap ones break easily. Capacitors explode, etc. This can take your computer with it! Mine was around £40 ($70).
For my Hard drive I grabbed a 320GB Seagate SATA for about £30 ($50). SATA drives are dirt cheap these days, but for the elitist you might want to pick up a Solid State Drive (SSD). An SSD has no moving parts and is extremely quick with read/write cycles. Very expensive, though.
I picked up a cheap £20 case, I don't normally bother with fancy ones. And, a bonus benchmark. As soon as I built this PC I tested it's true speed. The bitch calculated 1 million digits of Pi in just over 20 seconds. Won't get that for this price at retail!
Total cost: £300 ($485)

And now a gaming PC! The first PC I built was a gaming PC, but I don't have it any more. I sold it on (to quite a silly person) for a sweet £100 profit! Anyway, here's a nice gaming PC build.

AMD Athlon II X3, A three core 3.2GHz processor that is great for general computing, if not overpowered. Around £50 ($80). By the way, I have a thing for AMD.
Gigabyte GA-M68MT-S2P, quite a cheap motherboard, but it gets the job done. I'm focusing mainly on pure graphics power, so we don't need anything fancy. Around £40 ($70).
4GB of DDR3 will be plenty for this build. Expect around £35 ($55) for this.
Power supply unit:
Splashed a bit here and went for a 600w Corsair GS600. Good make, and plenty of watts. Around £65 ($100).
Same as before here, a 320GB Seagate SATA is enough for my purposes. About £30 ($50).
Graphics card:
ATI 1GB 5770. A great mid-range card, you can get this for a sweet £80 ($130). If you want, you could grab two and use a crossfire kit to link them together!
Total: A neat £320 ($510), including cheap case!

Hopefully all that is readable, and I hope you have ideas forming for your own system now! Next I'll be moving in to actual construction. Might have to wait until Saturday, though, when I'll have access to my build so I can provide pictures. Till next time!

Monday, 13 June 2011

How to build your own computer: Part 3

Right, we've covered how to decide what you need and the specifications you want but.. what do you actually buy? The market is huge and there is thousands of types of every part, so it can be very difficult to decide. So today I'll tell you how to understand all the specs and essentially equip you to go and decide for yourself what parts you want to buy.

First let's start off relatively simple with the processor. A processor has 3 main specs that we are probably going to be interested in. We have the amount of cores - this is literally the amount of processors on the chip. A 4 core processor is actually 4 processors bundled in to one, that all work concurrently. Next we have the speed. This is measured in GHz (the speed is how many actions are performed a second essentially - 1 GHz is equal to 1 billion actions a second). A good kind of speed is around 3 GHz, but take in to account cores when  choosing here. A 4 core 3GHz processor will be able to do 4 things at 3 GHz at the same time! And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, we have the socket. This is literally the type of socket the processor has - think of it like electrical sockets between countries. Your motherboard must support the socket you choose.

Next we have RAM. Your RAM has a size, a speed and a module type. The size and speed are fairly easy to grasp - the speed is the same as with a processor and the size is just like a memory stick or a hard disk drive. The module type is what matters most here, though. Common types today are DDR2 and DDR3. Chances are you'll be getting DDR3, as it is falling in price and quickly becoming standard. Be careful when you choose this because your motherboard has to support the module type you buy.

A graphics card is easy as it is like a cross between a processor and RAM. Your graphics card is essenially a dedicated processor with it's own RAM that is used specifically for generating graphics. Again, it has a speed, a size and a socket and your motherboard must support the socket you choose (probably PCI-E at this time).

Simplest of all is the PSU (Power supply unit). All you need is to make sure it has a good enough wattage and you are ready to go! 600 watts is probably enough, but if you are being cautious then add up the power usage for your components to check.

The hard drive is also easy - there is very little to consider here, for most a hard drive is a hard drive. Just choose the correct size and you are done. However! If you are buying new and recent parts, you will probably not run in to any problems. But always make sure that everything you buy supports SATA and is not for the IDE hard drive standard, this matters mostly for your PSU and motherboard.

So, lastly, one of the most important parts of any computer - the motherboard. This is the part that links everything together. Because of it's importance, there is quite a lot of stuff to cover here. You also need to make sure your motherboard is compatible with every other component you have chosen, so you may need to swap around motherboards and components until you get a configuration that works. Just check, check and check again that everything will be compatible with the board and you will be fine.

That's all for today folks. Hopefully now you understand what parts do and what all the specs and tech jargon means. I hope what I've given here is enough for you to understand other things too, like sound cards and heat sinks. Tomorrow I'll be giving examples for working systems of different types to help you make these decisions better and to make totally sure you've got everything figured out. Till then!