Always Free To Place a Hit On Someone
There’s more to block online than irritating ads. Kitten Block shows pictures of tea and kittens whenever you inadvertently click on a link to The Daily Mail, while Simple Profanity Filter (Chrome only) replaces offensive words with carefully placed asterisks – although it doesn’t block obscene images, and in our tests we found it didn’t catch every bit of profanity. F-Stop actually replaces the obscene phrase with a less offensive one.
If it’s social networking spam that you want to rid, FB Purity and Social Fixer can edit out irritating game updates or sponsored posts, while AntiSocial wipes social platforms from web pages. The extension Rather lets you replace what you don’t want on social sites – TV show final results, photos of babies – with what you do want, such as pictures of cats.While there's no word on whether users' Xboxes are also firing up Titanfall and TV streaming, this is a problem that could become more common as voice activation becomes more prevalent, according to Professor Mike Ward, of the web and internet science research group at the University of Southampton.He told PC Pro that as technology gets smarter and tries to become less intrusive, this sort of problem will crop up more and more.
Ward compared it to the evolution of flatscreen monitors. When laptops first came out the screens were terrible, he said. You could only see what was being displayed if you looked at the screen straight on.Now, they are much better, but a consequence is that if you are working on a train on a confidential document, for example, you risk the other passengers being able to see what's on the screen, he added.Ward said that, while innovations such as voice recognition give devices the appearance of being smarter, these technologies have their limitations.An example would be in cars. Currently it is not used to control the car, it is used to turn radios on and little things like that. But if somebody starts to make critical things happen on voice it could be a problem, he said. You have to be very careful.If your Xbox is being turned on by its own adverts, or you've had any other voice-command technologies go awry, let us know in the comments.Workstation laptops aren’t meant to be sexy or attractive, but the new Dell Precision M3800 turns convention on its head. It packs a quad-core CPU, Nvidia Quadro graphics and solid-state storage into a slim, stylish chassis that makes it look more like a super-sized Ultrabook than a semi-portable powerhouse such as Dell’s own Precision M4800.Where the M4800’s aluminium-panelled chassis measures 40mm thick and weighs in at a substantial 3.2kg, the M3800 is comparatively waif-like, measuring 21mm thick and only barely nudging over the 2kg mark. It’s no MacBook Air, but for a laptop boasting this much grunt, it’s a svelte as they come.
There’s good reason for this: the Precision M3800 is actually a very slightly tweaked version of Dell’s latest XPS 15. Put the two side by side and it’s easy to see the resemblance. Just like that laptop, the M3800 is clad in matte-finish metal and carbon-fibre materials; it has the same wedge-like shape; and build quality is equally solid and rigid.Despite the pared-down chassis, the core specification hasn’t suffered. All versions of the Precision M3800 come kitted out with a quad-core 2.2GHz Core i7-4702HQ CPU, and prices start at £1,507 inc VAT. For this, you also get a Full HD touchscreen, 8GB of RAM, a hybrid 500GB HDD and Windows 8.1 Pro. Our review unit had a 256GB Lite-On LMT-256M6M SSD instead of the hybrid drive, 16GB of RAM and packed in more than twice the pixels with a 3,200 x 1,800 display, bumping the price to £1,799.Whichever of the models you choose, though, you’ll always get an Nvidia Quadro K1100M GPU. Thanks to its ISV-certified drivers, the Quadro GPU is far better suited to the rigours of running professional software applications than its GeForce cousins, which are found in Dell’s XPS laptops. The Quadro is ready and raring to boost performance in OpenCL-accelerated packages.
Power isn’t at a premium here. The M3800 smashed through our benchmarks with an Overall score of 0.93. This is a little behind its stablemate, the Precision M4800, which scored 1.01; that comes as little surprise, however. The M4800 was equipped with a significantly quicker 2.8GHz Core i7-4900MQ CPU and a more powerful Nvidia Quadro K2100M GPU. The Precision M3800’s Quadro K1100M GPU is no slouch, but it struggled to match the raw compute power of the M4800’s GPU, and took 2mins 15secs to render our Sony Vegas Pro 12 project, 19 seconds longer than the Precision M4800.As ever, though, the high-end components take their toll on battery life. With the display dialled down to a dim 75cd/m[sup]2[/sup] and Wi-Fi turned off, the Precision M3800 lasted only 5hrs 48mins in our light-usage battery test. That's not bad by workstation standards, but it doesn't bode well for heavy usage away from the mains. And as the Dell's battery is sealed inside its slender chassis there's no option to carry a back-up in case of emergencies.The M3800’s 15.6in, 3,200 x 1,800 touchscreen is superb. The glossy finish is reflective, particularly outside or under intense lighting, but the LED backlighting is strong enough to keep images from washing out in almost any conditions. We recorded a maximum brightness of 402cd/m[sup]2[/sup], and while contrast isn’t the highest we’ve seen – our measurements put it at 717:1 – it’s no worse than the other high-DPI displays we’ve seen so far. More importantly, the panel covers the entire sRGB gamut and a little more besides.
Colour accuracy is good, too, with an average Delta E of 3.4 and a maximum deviation of 6.2. We’d still recommend investing in a colorimeter for colour-critical applications, but it’s by no means essential – the Dell’s display puts in a good performance straight out of the box.Next to the latest crop of high-power laptops, the Acer Aspire V3 (part code: NX.M9VEK.001) looks dated. It's a beefy laptop, with a huge 17.3in display and a cheap-feeling champagne-and-black plastic chassis – it isn't a patch on the svelte Apple MacBook Pro or the excellent Samsung Series 7 Chronos.However, there's no doubt this 17.3in desktop replacement is a machine from 2013: it includes one of Intel's factory-fresh Haswell processors. In fact, it's the first big laptop we've seen with a Haswell chip, and the Core i7-4702QM packs a punch. It's a quad-core chip with Hyper-Threading, so it appears to the operating system as eight virtual cores, and its 2.2GHz stock speed rises dynamically to 3.2GHz with Turbo Boost.
This particular Core i7 CPU is one of Intel's weakest quad-core Haswell parts, but that wasn't obvious in our performance tests. The Acer's application benchmark score of 0.94 is exemplary: it's slightly quicker than the Samsung Series 7 Chronos, which scored 0.9 in the same tests.The Haswell processor is partnered by a discrete graphics core – an Nvidia GeForce GT 750M. This returned an excellent score of 63fps in our 1,600 x 900 Medium quality Crysis test, and at the Acer's native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 it returned a just-about-playable 28fps – enough gaming power for anyone.The rest of the specification is suitably high-end. Twelve gigabytes of RAM is more than we see in most desktops, let alone laptops, and there's a Blu-ray drive – an increasingly rare commodity in laptops. Connectivity is handled by dual-band 802.11n wireless, Bluetooth 4 and Gigabit Ethernet, and the 1TB hard disk provides ample storage. There's only one downside – it isn't an SSD. The drive's sequential read and write speeds of 95MB/sec and 93MB/sec are sluggish compared to the MacBook's 256GB SSD.
We expect powerful laptops to suffer away from the mains, but Haswell processors are designed for efficiency as well as power, and the Acer put in a surprisingly good showing in our tests. You probably won't want to lug the 3.2kg V3 around much, but when you do, you'll get reasonable battery life. Despite its high-power components, the Acer lasted for 5hrs 54mins in our light-use test.The 17.3in, 1,920 x 1,080 panel isn't as impressive. There's no touch support, and quality is mixed. It's bright, at 392cd/m2, but despite decent contrast of 712:1, the overall impression isn't great. The biggest problem is poor colour accuracy: the Acer's average Delta E of 7.5 is way off, and makes images look flat and insipid.The Acer's ergonomics are equally mixed. The Scrabble-tile keyboard has a solid base, and there's plenty of consistent travel on each key. The keys are full-sized, too, and there's room for a number pad. The touchpad is average, however, lacking the premium feel of the Samsung's, and Windows 8's edge-swipe gestures worked inconsistently.
On the positive side, there's plenty of connectivity, with pairs of USB 2 and headphone connectors on the right-hand side, two USB 3 sockets on the left-hand edge and both D-SUB and HDMI display outputs. The front edge houses an SD card slot, and there's enough upgrade potential to keep tinkerers happy.The battery can be removed and replaced, and removing the large panel on the Aspire's underside reveals two SODIMM memory modules, the Wi-Fi adapter and a 2.5in hard disk. All of these can be replaced, and there's even room to expand, with a second 2.5in hard disk bay and one free mini PCI Express slot.That's one reason you might consider the Acer Aspire V3 over the Samsung Series 7 Chronos. The other is the price, which at £799 is reasonable for such a powerful laptop. On every other count, though, it lags behind, with poorer display quality, shorter battery life and a cheaper design.The Windows 8.1 Update arrives today - and Microsoft has warned users to install it quickly or risk missing out on future updates.The first major update to Windows 8.1 includes UI tweaks designed to make the OS easier to use on desktops and laptops: for example, unless you're using it on a tablet, your machine will now boot to the desktop by default.
The update doesn't however include the new Start menu unveiled at Build.Microsoft has warned that users must install the Windows 8.1 Update this month in order to keep getting security fixes. Failure to install this update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates, starting with updates released in May 2014, said Microsoft in a blog post.In order to install the Windows 8.1 Update, you'll need to have first installed the March update, KB2919442. If this is installed, the new update should show up in Windows Update or the Windows Download Centre; it was first made available to MSDN subscribers last week.The Windows 8.1 Update is the first version of the OS to adapt automatically to the hardware type. Tablets will continue to boot to the Start screen, and return there when an app is closed, while photos, music and video will open in Modern apps. On laptops and desktops, the OS will boot by default to the desktop (though that can be changed in settings if desired); closing apps takes users to a previous app or to the desktop, and photos, music and videos will open in desktop applications by default.Other changes include the addition of Search and Power icons to the Start screen, contextual menus for Tiles and minimise and close buttons for apps. Additionally, it's now possible to pin Modern-style Store Apps to the Taskbar in the desktop.Imagine a criminal following you everywhere, noting down your PIN at the ATM and standing between you and the till at a shop. That’s analogous to what happens when hackers compromise your router – and poorly secured devices are being targeted more frequently.Five years ago, a worm dubbed Psyb0t spread across the world, infecting more than 50 different models of domestic router. Now security experts believe that such attacks are on the rise.In the past six months, Cisco,