A couple of questions answered…

By | December 1, 2012
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I can’t believe it’s December… and I haven’t done my Christmas shopping yet.  But before I get onto anything Christmassy, I wanted to clear a couple of things up: one about my DTP books and one about broadband companies…

Yes, the CDs are included…
First of all, I wanted to clear up something I didn’t mention in my last email.  If you get the DTP books I mentioned while I’m letting them go with a special offer to clear the space, yes you do still get the free CDROM that normally comes with them.  There’s no sneaky trick like not including something we’d normally include.

But as I said, when we break up for Christmas, that’ll be that.  Even if there are any copies left by then, they’ll be scrapped.

You can read more (including about what you get on the CDROMs that come with the books) here: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/dtpclearout.htm

What’s this about broadband companies deliberately slowing your connection down?
You might have heard something about this (then again, they might have kept it quiet) but quite a few broadband companies are gradually changing the way they limit how much you use them.

It used to be fairly simple.  There were two types of deal you could have.  A limited one, or an unlimited one – which in practice was limited, as I’ll explain…

It’s all about the total amount of stuff you download from the internet.  That’s whether you’re downloading software, watching TV, downloading a film to watch later or just the websites and emails in normal use.  It’s all stuff that your computer is downloading so you can see or hear it.

And the broadband company keep track of how much you download or use each month.

If you had a limited agreement, it was something like “up to 4GB per month” – and if you went over that you either had to pay a little bit extra or your connection basically stopped working until the following month (though usually they were pretty tolerant if you normally were under and just went slightly over one time).

If you had an unlimited agreement, in theory it didn’t matter.  In practice there’s usually a “Fair usage” clause, saying they can limit it if you use it more than is fair – so it’s like having a limited agreement but you don’t know how much you’re limited to.

In practice it didn’t matter much as very few ordinary people would use up the limit.  But as watching TV online becomes more popular, more people are “using up” all their allowance.

On the other hand the broadband companies would quickly become unpopular (err, even more unpopular) if they started turning off everyone’s internet connection every month!

So instead, they’ve started either simply slowing it down when you reach your limit or slowing it down a bit if you’re downloading a big file (eg downloading a film) – basically adjusting your internet speed depending on what you’re doing.

It seems like a good approach – you don’t lose your connection, they just adjust the speed depending on what you’re doing at the time.  Then they can share the “bandwidth” out between different people depending on what they’re doing at the time rather than just equally at all times.

Of course, how well it works depends on how well they do it. We’ll have to see…

A few Christmas tips
You’ll get another newsletter from me before Christmas (on the 15th) but here are a few websites I’ve stumbled across that I thought I’d mention.

This one has the facility for you to send them a photo of your living room and they send you back a video of Santa in your house!  It’s not free, but it could be an amazing present for some kids.  http://www.merry-christmas.com/santa-video
If you’re curious, it basically uses the same technique they use in films or for the weather on TV – the Santa bit/weatherman is filmed in front of a green background and then a computer replaces the green with your photo/the weather map.  Cunning stuff.

We live in an old house so I also liked this one about Victorian Christmases:  http://www.victoriana.com/christmas/

And if you want to see more websites about Christmas, there’s a list of 50 of the best here:
http://www.techdigest.tv/2006/12/top_50_christma.html

Hope you found that interesting and don’t forget, if you want to use your PC to make your own Christmas cards, best read up on the DTP books (which help you do that amongst other things) now: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/dtpclearout.htm

Right, I’d best be off and start thinking about Christmas presents… I think Edward wants a big pie with mash, but I keep pointing out he’s only 7 months old.  Doesn’t stop him trying to nab mine when he’s on my lap, though…

Tim