retro-gaming

Retro gaming is a big deal

Remember the days of your childhood when you would sit with a group of your mates around the TV playing games via a console?

Most likely your childhood was in the 1980s and 90s, when technology had not advanced to the online gaming that is the norm today, albeit still via a console. Now, you can still play greames with other people, but they are most likely people you have never met and often on the other wide of the world.

However, human beings are still deep down social animals who like getting together in the same space as a group and a combination of this plus nostalgia could be what has fuelled a massive revival in what is now called “retro gaming”.

Many people have retained a fondness for characters like Sonic, Zelda, or Super Mario. These people are now adults and possibly parents, and the desire not only to do something with the children may be another influence on the revival.

Perhaps this year’s launch of the new Nintendo Switch, with its updated Zelda and, soon, Mario games has also contributed.

While many people may have bought the new consoles each time they were launched, it seems they never actually got rid of their earlier ones.

Now, they are being rescued from the attic to entertain a whole new generation and perhaps also resurrect the idea of spending “family time” together.

Not only that, but there are now thriving businesses developing from the resurgence.  There is a large and lucrative market for games cartridges and consoles on places like eBay – to prove that hanging onto “stuff” for once can earn money, even if it’s the long-suffering parents who have had to store it all. Some enterprising small business people have even opened physical shops in their neighbourhoods and there are also specialist arcades and gaming cafés.

There is also an opportunity for anyone with some technical/handyman skills.  These consoles are old and no longer manufactured. The older a piece of equipment is the more likely it is that something will break, wear out or go wrong so repairers are likely to find themselves much in demand.

So, the next time your mum asks when you’re going to get rid of the clutter you’ve left behind at home when you moved out you have the perfect answer!

Nintendo-Switch

Nintendo Switch – a happy marriage of innovation with nostalgia?

Many of Nintendo’s original fans are now adults who still have a sneaking affection for the Nintendo games and their characters.

Perhaps this has been a factor in the successful March launch of the company’s newest games console – the Switch, which sold three million units in its first month.

But the success must also be due to its innovative three-way features, which allows the console to be as a handheld device or as a table top gadget when travelling, or when at home as a console via the TV.

Reviewers have been generally positive about this versatility and the ease of being able to “switch” mid-game from one mode to another mid-game.

But it may be that the nostalgia element will guarantee Switch’s longer-term popularity as those same now-adult fans introduce their children to the joys of Super Mario and Zelda.

The Switch version of Zelda, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is “one of the best games ever created”, according to one review by the BBC

A new and already popular game, Arms, is out this month. It’s a fighting game with ten cartoon characters to choose from. Their weapons are their arms, which are stretchy and each with their own special characteristics. According to reviews who have tried it managing the creatures requires a good deal of skill with the controls:

“Nintendo’s nifty controllers offer enough precision that a twist of either wrist arcs your virtual blows left or right, useful for trying to land punches on moving enemies.” (Wired)

“Arms is unique, colourful, and accessible, with enough complexity to tempt a competitive scene but not so much to make anyone feel alienated.” (Guardian Tech)

Who doesn’t love Super Mario?

The next game to be released will be Super Mario Odyssey in October this year. According to the BBC review, players will be able to roam around and do tasks on their own, follow the main story, or divert into other missions.

Not only that, but Mario has a new hat, called Cappy, and players can use the Switch dual-motion controllers to throw the cap in any direction either to defeat enemies or to interact with other objects.

All Nintendo games are produced in house and consoles do not accept games designed outside, but it looks like there are enough innovative developments in their well-known games to keep the next generation – and their parents – happy.

4G Coverage

Another survey from Which? This time 4G coverage

As more and more people access the internet and their emails via their mobile phones, coverage and download speeds can be of crucial importance to businesses if they want to be competitive.

It is particularly important for businesses in the service sector, such as restaurants and other venues, that often rely on a percentage of their “impulse buy” custom from people either visiting an area or out and about.

Some timely new research has investigated 4G coverage in the UK and found that varies significantly in different parts of the country and that its overall availability at 65% puts it in 54th place globally, behind Estonia and Peru.

The research, carried out by the consumer group Which? and analyst OpenSignal measured data from mobile phones across 20 cities in the UK.

The top five for 4G availability were Middlesbrough with 82.7% availability, Sheffield (79.3%), Sunderland (79%), Leicester (78.6%) and Leeds (78.2%).

The bottom five were Bournemouth, Southampton/Portsmouth, Cardiff, Nottingham and London.

The study, which analysed more than 500m data readings from mobile phones taken from more than 30,000 users between December 1, 2016 and February 28, 2017 via an app, also looked at download speeds with Stoke-in Trent the fastest and Brighton the slowest.

According to Ofcom, the communications technology watchdog, its rules mean that “virtually all UK premises must receive a 4G signal by the end of this year.”

It remains to be seen whether this will happen.

You can find out about 2G, 3G and 4G coverage in your area with this Which? map here.

How Good Is Your Broadband?

How Good Is Your Broadband?

The latest research from communications regulator Ofcom shows that average broadband speeds in urban areas are more than three times faster than those in rural parts of Britain.

Its annual study of home broadband ISP speeds in the UK revealed that the average Internet download rate is now 36.2Mbps (up from 28.9Mbps last year), with uploads hitting 4.3Mbps (up from 3.7Mbps).

For several years the Government has been promising “superfast broadband” defined as download speeds of at least 24 megabits per second (Mbps). It aims that 95% of UK premises will have access to 24Mbps download speeds by the end of 2017. Whether this will be achieved is still unclear.

However, the results of research published by Which? this month have revealed that there is a significant variation between the best and the worst broadband providers in the UK.

BT, TalkTalk, Sky and EE scored poorly for speed and reliability, with the biggest ISPs failing on basic customer service, speed and reliability.

The consumer champion surveyed 1800 people in November and December 2016 and found that TalkTalk and BT achieved the worst scores, with 38% and 45% respectively.

EE and the Post Office each managed 48%, while Sky and Virgin scored 49% and 52%.

Among the top scorers were Zen Internet, with 86%, followed by Utility Warehouse on 81% and John Lewis in third place on 68%.

Only four providers, Zen, Utility Warehouse, Virgin Media and Vodafone, scored more than three stars for speed.

You can find out more about the Which? survey here

Which? has been campaigning for better broadband speeds and has now set up a new, free speed trial tester.  Use this link to try it.

gtx 1080 Ti

The GTX 1080 Ti has arrived

The GTX 1080 Ti the newest and most powerful gaming graphics card ever?

It was only released last Friday but already demand has outstripped supply for the new The GeForce® GTX 1080 Ti, NVIDIA’s new flagship gaming GPU.

Its GPU frequency has been boosted by 50 MHz and has a redesigned cooling set-up which has doubled the airflow compared to the Titan X Pascal.

In design terms it looks and feels identical to the GTX 1080 Founders Edition.  It has a die-cast aluminium body and 7-phase dualFET power supply. It is cooled by a radial fan with an advanced vapor chamber designed to for consistent performance in even the most thermally challenging environments.

Reviewers are already raving about its “extreme gaming horsepower” and ability to deal with thermally challenging environments.

Richard Leadbetter, of eurogamer.net put the new GPU through its paces setting it the challenge of whether its performance at ultra HD matches up to the 1080p prowess of GTX 970 at the same settings.

His findings were that while it wasn’t a complete match it was “astonishingly close” and occasionally, given its 4x increase in pixel count, it was even faster.

His conclusion? “The only real difference between GTX 1080 Ti and Titan X Pascal is 1GB of VRAM: memory that will likely remain completely untouched for a long, long time” and he described its performance as “sensational”.

The new GPU was also reviewed by pcgamer.com. Their reviewer pushed the power up to its maximum 120%, set the fan speed at 80% and while running it with a heavy workload for “hours” he captured an image that “completed with no crashes, despite the healthy overclock”.

What Are The Benefits of SEO For Business?

What Are The Benefits of SEO For Business?

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is something that any business that has a website, or even a listing online, needs to consider. In a nutshell, SEO for your business is something that will help Google find you, and in turn, help customers find you.

Hiring professional SEO services should be seen as an investment, as if it is something that is done properly and consistently over a period of time, then it is something that will show a return in terms of your business takings. The more exposure that your business gets online, the more people will be exposed to your website and brand, and the more customers or clients will find you. In today’s world of business competition, be it local business or global business, you need to be ahead of the game to stay well placed in Google when internet users search for your business niche.

Examples of techniques used by professional SEO specialists to get your site ranked in a good position on Google and other search engines, include Pay-Per-Click advertising, link building, and content production for your website or blog, among other methods. Through specific keyword research, testing and analysis, we can target exactly what works, wasting no time or money.

SEO is a trackable way of increasing website traffic and getting more online exposure as a business. With advanced analytic techniques available, there is no need to be stumbling around in the dark as the work is put in – as business SEO specialists, we can plainly see what is working, and do more of that to generate favourable results. Any business hiring a good SEO specialist, such as ourselves, will be provided with regular updates, along with a report showing visitor statistics.

SEO for your business should be seen as an ongoing task, and budgeted for accordingly. It really is extremely important in moving your business forward and enabling customers and clients to find you online. After the initial few months, you will be able to see the beneficial financial results of investing in an SEO for business professional.

Guide to buying a new computer part 2

Guide to buying a new computer part 2

Processors
Not all processors are created equal, single core, dual core, triple core, quad core, even 8 core processors are now available, most entry level computers will come with a dual core processor, between 2 and 3.0Ghz depending on if it’s a laptop or PC tower, this will allow you to do the basics with ease, you can pick up triple core or low level quad cores at reduced prices or with entry level systems. If you are looking to do something a little more demanding such as gaming, Sage accounting or other resource hungry programs then a quad core would be a sensible upgrade, a dual core can still cope with these tasks however performance will be greatly reduced! Also worth noting with budget systems make sure that you are not buying a 1.2 or 1.4Ghz processor as these are put into budget systems and can really struggle with doing the very basics after you have installed your desired software.

 

RAM
RAM is generally an easy area to cover, this is because most computers now days are supplied with a lot of ram and with the introduction of Windows 8 and 10 these operating systems are much less taxing on your RAM compared to Windows 7 and Vista. You will struggle to find a machine with less than 4GB and can even get them with 16GB. Upgrading the RAM is only worth doing if the rest of the system is up to scratch otherwise you will more than likely cause a bottleneck and the machine won’t be able to utilise it.

 

Graphics cards?
When it comes to graphics cards, unless you are looking to have dual screens for a desktop, or looking to be able to play games or even some serious photo or video editing, on board graphics cards should be more than capable of doing what you need, with new on board graphics being capable of full high definition (1920 x 1080) resolutions. If you do require an external graphics card there are so many to choose from, the best thing to do is if you are looking to play a particular game is checking what the minimum specification is that it will play on and going up from there is a good start.

I think I have covered the majority of the basics that you need to know before you go out and buy yourself a new computer, on the whole its really about what you are looking for and what you need it to do, as well as what your budget will allow, if there is a special offer you may find going for the higher specification option cheaper than you first thought!

Guide to buying a new computer

Guide to buying a new computer part 1

Ok so you’re looking to buy a new computer, but do you actually know what you’re looking for? What you need? A lot of the people I speak to are never quite sure what they need when it comes to purchasing a new computer. We can all go into Curry’s or PC world and pick one up sure, but do you think the sales rep there is going to have your best interests in mind, or just how many extras they can sell you to boost their commission? Below I am going to give you a break down and a basic guide on what to look for when buying a new computer, so that when the time comes you can make an informed decision on what to buy for YOUR specific needs.

Laptop, tablet or PC?
May seem like a simple one but with tablets now being offered with detachable keyboards the line between them all is becoming even more blurred. I personally think if you have a dedicated office space and you’re not looking for mobility a desktop is the best option, you can get the micro towers now that are getting smaller and smaller allowing for them to be wall mounted tucked away into tiny spaces. If you want mobility have good wireless where you intend to use it, for example want to be able to take your work with you to the office and then home a laptop may be the best option, however you generally will pay more for a decent laptop to try and match a desktop for performance so bare this in mind. Not only that a desktop is generally a lot easier to upgrade for future use. Tablets I think are great I have one, but it would never replace my desktop or laptop, but serve their purpose, they are usually much cheaper and very good at doing the basics such as browsing the internet, sending emails and looking for superior mobility compared to a laptop. Typing has been unwieldy on tablets, touch screens have come a long way however, many people prefer to use a keyboard over a touch screen, this is why there has been an increase on tablets being produced with detachable keyboards.

 

Operating System
This is quite an easy one to answer, simply because most if not all computers or laptops that you will buy from mainstream shops or stores such as your PC World or Argos’s will come with only Windows 10, Microsoft’s newest operating system. You may still be able to pick up a discontinued model that may still have Windows 8 but this is very unlikely, Windows 10 is very easy to use, comes complete with a start menu which older users will be accustomed to, although Windows 8 was met with a frosty reception from most of my customers the 8.1 upgrade as reintroduced the familiar start menu which makes navigating much easier, and the best thing is if you don’t have Windows 10 you can get it for FREE if you have Windows 7 or 8 machines!

 

Hard Drive or SSD?
So most of us know the bigger the hard drive the more we can store on our machines, but do you really need to pay for that extra space? Some people like having big hard drives but would a 500GB HDD be big enough for you instead of a 2TB? A 2TB hard drive for example will hold 34,000 hours of music, 80 days of video, 620,000 photos or 1000 hours of movies so if you think you fall into this bracket then a 2TB is for you if not why not opt for a smaller drive and save yourself some money.

Solid state drives are built for speed, and with this you sacrifice space, an SSD will perform much faster than a traditional HDD when a standard HDD takes 2-3 minutes to boot into windows an SSD will normally do this in under 30 seconds, and not only boots quicker, but general use is much quicker on the whole. If you need speed and a lot of space, you can opt to have an SSD drive with your operating system on it and the bigger hard drive as a data drive if your laptop can accommodate an extra drive but towers this is normally not a problem.

Windows 10

Windows 10 Review

Windows 10 Review

Windows 10

 

Windows 10 has the potential to be the best Windows operating systems yet. With the reintroduction of a start menu with a refreshed look, a new internet browser “Edge” a host of new apps and Cortana -Microsoft’s own built in assistant.

I’m going to jump straight in and start talking about some of the new features Windows 10 has to offer and give you the pros and cons I’ve found so far using this operating system.

Windows 10 Start Menu

start menu

 

 

For me, the most impressive and the first noticeable feature of Windows 10 is the new and improved start menu. When Windows 8 was released the most common thingI heard people complain about was the lack of a proper start menu and start button which so many users have become reliant on. Finally Microsoft have decided to reintroduce the start menu with Windows 10 but instead of going back to a classic Windows 7 style they have designed a new start menu that combines both Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 as you can see in the screenshot above which does have the majority of choices that Windows 7 users and before will recognise as well as the tiles that come on Windows 8. The good thing is if you prefer you can remove all of the tiles to make it look more old skool like Vista or Windows 7, the new menu is fully customisable too, you can change its size add or remove items as well as change the background colour to give it the look you desire.

Search and Cortana

cortanaa

I’ve always found Windows search a bit hit and miss throughout the years on various Windows operating systems, so to find that Cortana has been integrated with the search feature and it actually working is a big plus. Instead of finding the search icon on the start menu like on previous operating systems or hidden away completely as they did in Windows8/8.1, you will now find it on the task bar which is a smart move on Microsoft’s part as it is always there ready to serve up what you need to find or know. When you first use the search menu you will be prompted on whether or not you would like to use Cortana (see screen shot on left).

Once you have Cortana set up and ready you can ask pretty much anything from finding files on your machine to settings reminders for important events (see screen shot below).

cortana

 

Edge

Edge is Microsoft’s answer to a new and improved browser, sporting a new logo which is very similar to the original Internet Explorer ‘e’. However, there are a few missing features such as downloads starting automatically and not being able to decide where they are being stored. The main selling point of Edge is being able to annotate the screen with a stylus or by touch, then you can crop this and send to friends. Edge comes as the default browser for Windows 10 but you can easily change this and Internet Explorer is still installed and for some users this will come as a relief.

edge

 

 

Action Centre

Action CentreMicrosoft has also done away with its slightly annoying charms bar and hot corners (when you move the cursor to the top right corner of the screen to close a programme the charms bar was automatically shown on the screen) as the charms bar had some essential settings such as the settings link these had to be relocated to the new action centre which you can see from the screen shot to the right. The action centre gives access to a few of the more frequently used settings called quick actions.

 

Pros

  • Familiar Start menu is back – with a fresh look
  • Action centre replaces hot corners & charms bar
  • Cortana with voice commands
  • New Edge browser with interesting features

Cons

  • Expensive if you’re not entitled to a free upgrade
  • Very buggy – apps crashing – drivers not recognised
  • Too much old UI in windows 10