Keeping pace with the tech

With the continued rush to bring out new applications and new technology the rate of change is leaving more and more people behind. The youngest are growing up using their parents' tablets and smartphones to play games instead of going outside to play. Those a couple of years older are already on child-orientated chat rooms, developing more advanced online skills. The under-20s are fluent in thumb-typing, chat abbreviations, emoticons, creating avatars and pretending to be someone they aren't. Those aged below 30 are more likely to be accessing the internet with a mobile device and may not even have a fixed phone line at home.

By the time they get to the age of 30, people have used a computer but are between the older technology and the new and it is more about the applications. Those in offices have probably used Office versions including those that came out before 2007. The change to the Ribbon annoyed more than a few people in that age range, including my parents. If you're in that category I recommend you visit and download the Classic UBitMenu for Office 2007 and 2010. This adds a new tab called Menu that contains the old layout icons and menu items to help with the transition.

Windows 8 will divide the groups once again. The look and feel is that of a smartphone or tablet machine and is a large shift from the classic Windows-like operating system. Some will find the transition easy but others won't make the change and will want to stay with Windows 7, or even XP, for some time to come. So be kind to your parents and be patient with their frustrations; many didn't get the same exposure that you did. Spare a thought for the system administrators who now have to find a way to integrate Windows 8 into the mix to keep a couple of junior managers happy. Also, do try and remember this article about 20 years from now when you may be the one who isn't able to keep up.

On the subject of the older generation, some of you will remember the 80s game Elite that started the open world gaming trend and was the first one to have 3D. Frontier followed in 1993 and this was even bigger in scope. Twenty years later David Braben is working on Elite Dangerous and in March 2014, if all goes well, the adventure will continue. Given the progress in graphics since then, this should be awesome.

With such rapid change, comes faster communications and the faster spread of rumours that are not true. Case in point: the recent Anonymous attacks on PayPal never happened. One bad post was tweeted and retweeted without any checking and suddenly it was "real", but the target was actually ZPanel. Once again anonymous tweets by anonymous twits. The actual attacks, designated #OpNov5, mostly failed or were lame in comparison to earlier efforts.

For those who like to track such things, the build cost of the 16GB iPad is higher than that for the 32 GB Microsoft Surface, giving the latter a better profit margin. The new MS tablet is regarded as being easier to repair, giving it two advantages over its rival. The biggest cost is, of course, the screen.

Your new Windows 8 phone contains some software from Devicescape that continually scans for free Wi-Fi hotspots. When one is found, the app asks a server what the best way to log in anonymously is, or what the best manual connection process may be. Microsoft has named the process Data Sense and it is designed to make your Wi-Fi experience easier. I still love my S3.

Apple seems to be intent on isolating itself from everyone else. There's a rumour that they will now drop Intel as their CPU provider for the Mac range, apparently because Intel can't produce a chip that is small enough to put in their mobile devices. Ironically, another reason is that Apple wants to move into cross-platform integration; this coming from the company that won't interface with anyone. Apple is looking to their acquired company P.A. Semi to provide chips going forward. CEO Tim Cook recently said of Apple products that they are "the direct result of our relentless focus on tightly integrating world-class hardware, software and services". Spare a thought for all those Apple users who have for many years purchased applications built to work under Intel chips.

I decided that I would upgrade the 100 GB SSD that acts as my boot drive to a larger and faster 220 GB model. Using Clone Disk from Acronis and two reboots totalling about 15 minutes I was up and running with a new boot drive. No need to reactivate Windows 7, a perfect copy ready to go. This is by far the easiest way to clone and upsize your system drive. If you are only going to do this once then it will cost you nothing, as you get a trial period of full functionality from Acronis. I haven't found a better product for this kind of thing. Since it's a Solid State Drive I didn't even need to bother mounting it properly right away, but I will later.

James Hein is an IT professional of more than 30 years' standing. You can contact him at

About the author

Writer: James Hein
Position: Database Writer