Tag Archives: ELECTRONIC

Got MacBook Pro battery issues? Apple may give you a new laptop

There are reports circulating that some owners of certain old MacBook Pro notebooks with run-down batteries are getting their laptops replaced with newer models – and in some cases a current-generation MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

As Mac Rumors spotted, this is happening in the case of 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display notebooks from mid-2012 and early 2013 which require a battery replacement. The reason behind these replacement seems to be that Apple is short on the part needed to make that fix (essentially the top half of the case, including the keyboard and trackpad, as the battery is glued into this in typical Apple style).

So if you have one of these Apple notebooks which needs the battery servicing – it must hold less than 80% capacity on maximum charge (and it should have been fully charged less than 1,000 times) – you can take it into an Apple store and attempt to get it replaced.

Incidentally, you can check the laptop’s battery status by going to About This Mac > System Report > Power, which will bring up all relevant battery information including your ‘cycle count’ or number of full charges made.

As to exactly what will happen in any individual case, that’s difficult to say, and may well depend on the store and Apple employee in question. There’s possibly some element of blind luck, too.

The shortage of the top-case assembly part is set to run until mid-September, so apparently customers are being given the option to wait a couple of months for inventory to replenish, and if you take this route Apple will cover the cost of replacing the battery.

But if you insist you don’t want to wait, that’s when you may get the option for either a trade-in deal on a new machine, or to exchange your old MacBook Pro for a replacement model.

Replacement lottery

If the latter does happen, the other factor that’s up in the air is exactly what replacement you’ll get. Some folks have been provided with a refurbished MacBook Pro from 2013/2014, others have got a higher-end refurbished model from 2015. As we mentioned at the start of this story, a few lucky people have even got a new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar.

Seemingly, the more top-spec and costly your original MacBook Pro was, the more likely you are to get a high-end replacement model. So those who customized their original laptop to the max with beefy RAM, storage and so forth are more likely to get ‘lucky’.

Note that you can also try this via one of Apple’s authorized service providers, but anecdotal reports seem to suggest it’s best going direct to Apple itself. Feedback on Reddit and across the internet in general further suggests that it’s a good idea not to mention that you have knowledge of Apple providing replacement machines – play innocent so it doesn’t look like you’re angling for a new model, in other words.

These replacements have reportedly been happening on a global basis, so not just over in the US, and you don’t need to have AppleCare+ to benefit either.

For those who have managed to get their old MacBook Pro switched for a new laptop, that’s a sweet deal to say the least, and in these cases Apple certainly has to be commended for its customer service.

      

Microsoft Paint won’t be hung out to dry just yet

We heard yesterday that Microsoft was dumping the venerable Paint app from Windows 10 with the incoming Fall Creators Update, but it seems that the nostalgia-sparked outcry at the move may have been premature, as the app will now be relocated in the Windows Store.

Come the fall, MS Paint will still be ‘here to stay’ Microsoft noted in a blog post, but rather than a default part of Windows 10, it’ll be moved to the Windows Store where the app will be a free download.

So anyone who doesn’t want to let go of the simple graphics app can still enjoy it, even though it won’t be developed any further.

Going 3D

Of course, it has been superseded by Paint 3D, and much of its functionality has been integrated into this successor.

Microsoft reminded us: “Paint 3D – the new app for creativity, also available for free with the Windows 10 Creators Update, will continue to get new feature updates. In addition to the new 3D capabilities, many of the MS Paint features people know and love like photo editing, line and curve tools, and 2D creation are in Paint 3D.”

Microsoft Paint has been present in Windows since the very first version of the operating system, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that a good deal of nostalgic fondness surrounds the software.

As has been the case since the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft is keen to be seen as listening to its user base, and this is another demonstration of the company taking on board feedback. (Which is all part of laying the ghost of Windows 8 to rest – the OS which most users felt was forced on them, and that ‘nobody’ really wanted but Microsoft pressed ahead with regardless).

      

Google is trying again to cut down on YouTube comment spam

Dive into the comments below any YouTube video and it’s not always the most pleasant of reading experiences, but the site is introducing new measures to try and cut down on the number of unwanted spam comments that get left below the line.

YouTube is targeting comments that include links, which are typically just unrelated plugs for sites that you’re best off avoiding – these linked sites are often just spam pages or sites that will try and install adware or more on your computer as soon as you load them up.

A new setting for video creators enables all comments containing hashtags and URLs to be held for review before they’re published, so uploaders can approve or block them as required. If they never get reviewed, then the comments never appear on the site.

Comment review

When you think about the millions of views racked up by some of the most popular YouTube videos, with kids often making up a large proportion of those view counts, it’s an issue that needs tackling – though it’s by no means a new problem on YouTube.

The new setting can be found by following the Community then the Community settings links inside the Creator Studio portal. Activating the option doesn’t retroactively block older comments, so you may need to go back and delete some of them manually.

Meanwhile, Google has also announced that it’s pulling the built-in video editor and photo slideshow tools from YouTube as it tries to streamline the service. The tools will remain available on the site until September 20.

Via Android Police

      

Hundreds of companies spilling data via Google Groups configuration mistakes

Data leakage is an increasing problem these days, but it’s not always hackers who are to blame for the spillage of confidential information, sometimes it’s directly the fault of the company itself – as is the case with misconfigured Google Groups settings affecting an alarming number of firms.

This is according to security outfit RedLock Cloud Security Intelligence, which has highlighted the errant sharing settings apparently used by hundreds of organisations including The Weather Company (which operates Weather.com), Freshworks (helpdesk software), SpotX (video ad platform) and Fusion Media Group (parent of Gizmodo, Lifehacker and more).

Going public

Google Groups facilitates the creation and management of online forums and email groups, but when configuring a group, RedLock observes that some companies have set the sharing option for ‘outside this domain – access to groups’ to ‘public on the internet’.

This mistake unfortunately means that all the contents of the messages can be accessed by anyone on the web, and it exposes information including names, addresses, emails, and unfortunately customer passwords and even figures for the salary of staff members.

Hopefully any affected firms will have already fixed this issue having had their attention drawn to it, or will be in the process of doing so right now. As mentioned, the last thing we need is more data exposure via self-sabotage when there’s enough danger from probing hackers out there.

      

The best free overclocking software 2017

It’s all well and good splashing out for a pre-built PC or putting together a bespoke tower yourself, but what’s the point of sinking all that money into it if you’re not getting the very best performance out of each component? That’s where overclocking comes in.

Once thought the pastime of acne-ridden, basement-dwelling tech nerds, overclocking has now become one of the most widely used avenues for getting your PC firing on all cylinders.

We’ve included some of the best free pieces of overclocking programs available right now, from mainstream utilities that anyone can pick up and use to complicated tools that enable you to tweak even the smallest of elements in pursuit of even more gaming performance.

1. MSI Afterburner

Intimidated by overclocking? MSI Afterburner makes it easy for even complete beginners to wring extra power from their hardware

One of the oldest overclocking tools out, but still one of the best, MSI Afterburner has become a mainstay on the PC overclock scene. So why is it still so popular?

Well, for a start it’s very easy to use, making it ideal for newbies and those with an intermediate level of knowledge to push your graphics to their designed limit. Also, unlike EVGA PrecisionX (mentioned below), it supports both Nvidia and AMD processors.

The current version of MSI Afterburner includes a still decent number of utilities, including GPU/shader/memory clock adjustment, the power to adjust advanced fan speed, and the ability to tweak GPU voltage control.

We also like the bespoke hardware monitor included as part of the interface, which effectively tracks the performance of your rig and shows frame rates, etc while you’re playing a game.

Sure, it’s not the most comprehensive of packages, and certainly won’t appeal to the hardcore among us, but it’s still a robust suite that will help transform your games if you’re relatively new to the scene.

Download here: MSI Afterburner

2. AMD Overdrive

If you have an AMD GPU, this is the only overclocking software you need

Unlike MSI Afterburner, AMD Overdrive only supports AMD’s own branded GPUs, but it still manages to offer one of the most impressive ways to get your PC running at an invigorated pace. As long as your CPU is of AMD origin (including its chipset), you can start pushing those components like they’ve never been tested before. Best of all, the attractive interface provides convenient access to an impressively in-depth set of tools to make this ideal for both relative newcomers and seasoned overclockers.

So what does this brilliant little free overclocking tool offer? For a start, AMD Overdrive enables you to change the clock speed of your RAM and adjust the overall speed of your fans (an incredibly useful utility, especially if you’re currently having overheating issues).

The built in status monitor lets you see the state of your processor in real time as you overclock it to the hilt, and with streamlined interface (one that’s markedly improved over the years), you can easily and confidently tweak the voltage or clock speeds by simply moving a slider.

Okay, there’s a little more to it than that, but we like how cleanly it can distill its utilities down to simple actions.

Download here: AMD Overdrive

3. EVGA Precision X

Free, convenient overclocking software for Nvidia graphics card owners, with support for up to 10 custom user profiles

Easily one of the most popular overclocking tools on the market today, EVGA PrecisionX has become a must for gamers looking to give their rig or gaming laptop a decent push in the hardware performance stakes.

Unfortunately, EVGA PrecisionX only works with Nvidia graphics cards (sorry, AMD users) so you’ll need to have something like a GeForce GTX TITAN, 900, 700 or 600 installed.

The latest version supports Microsoft DirectX 12 API, as well as enabling you to change your GPU’s clock offset and its memory clock offset. As if that wasn’t good enough, EVGA PrecisionX also presents you with the power to overclock your refresh rate and establish up to 10 individual overclocking setups. You can even seamlessly switch between them at will!

This being a free overclocking tool aimed at gamers who want better performance with the minimum of hassle, the freeware offers an easily navigable interface that won’t drown you in too many options or utilities.

It might not be as comprehensive as some of the more advanced tools out there, but if you’re looking to squeeze out better clock speeds overall, EVGA PrecisionX is an ideal addition to your machine.

Download here: EVGA PrecisionX

4. CPU-Z and GPU-Z

Two free programs that will give you an in-depth look at your hardware, helping you see where there’s room for improvement

Not all free overclocking tools give you the kind of data you really need to see where you machine can be tweaked or adjusted. That’s where tools like CPU-Z and GPU-Z come in, offering an in-depth look into exactly how your PC or laptop is performing.

CPU-Z enables you to track processor name and number details, determine codenames, identify processes, packages, cache levels and more. It can test the performance of your mainboard and chipset, as well as instantly bringing up memory types, sizes, timings and module specifications (SPD). It can even offer real-time measurements of each core’s internal frequency and memory frequency.

Then there’s GPU-Z, which supports Nvidia, AMD, ATI and Intel GPUs (so you’ll definitely have a card that’s compatible). The free tool displays adapter, GPU and display information, and provides all the information you’ll need for overclock, default clocks and 3D clock shenanigans.

Both GPU-Z and CPU-Z work brilliantly alongside all of the overclocking tools in this list, so grab them both and take a peek deep inside your PC.

Download here: CPU-Z
Download here:
GPU-Z

5. SetFSB

One for the experts, SetFSB lets you tinker with your PC’s front side bus

We’ve shown you some of the most popular tools and utilities in the world of overclocking, but what if you’re a seasoned PC builder who wants to squeeze every ounce of juice your machine has to offer? Sounds like you need something in-depth and comprehensive that’s been designed with overclocking pros in mind – say hello to the brilliant little tool that is SetFSB.

Unlike some other overclocking tools, SetFSB is all about making adjustments to your system’s front-side bus (FSB), which connects the CPU to the main memory. Its speed is measured in MHz and can vary from 60 to 400 (it can go higher if you’re lucky/slightly mad), so the higher the speed, the better the performance. Think of it as plugging yourself directly into the Matrix.

One quick word of warning, though. SetFSB is not for the faint of heart and should only really be used if you’re an experienced PC tinkerer and overclock pro. You’ll need a strong knowledge of the limits of your motherboard and CPU before tinkering with its settings, otherwise you could end up cooking your machine due to the unbridled precision at your fingertips.

Download here: SetFSB

      

Firefox’s blazing speed with huge numbers of tabs leaves Chrome in the dust

As you may be aware, Chrome has something of a reputation for being a resource hog, and rival Firefox is aiming to hit Google’s browser in this potential Achilles heel with news that it has hugely streamlined memory usage when lots of tabs are open.

And we mean lots of tabs. As Mozilla developer Dietrich Ayala explains, he did some testing with Firefox having 1,691 tabs open – yes, 1,691 – and found that while the current version of the browser (54) was very sluggish to start up and used a lot of system memory (unsurprisingly), Firefox 55 (currently in beta testing) and 56 make massive strides on both these fronts.

According to Ayala’s benchmarking, Firefox 54 took over four minutes to start up with this massive-multi-tab configuration open in the browser, but with Firefox 55 that time has been reduced to just 15 seconds.

Perhaps even more importantly, with all these tabs open Firefox 54 used up just over 2GB of system memory, whereas with Firefox 55, memory usage is less than 0.5GB. That’s obviously a startling improvement at just a quarter of the previous figure.

Image Credit: Dietrich Ayala

Quantum tricks

All this is down to the new ‘quantum flow’ project in which Firefox engineers are seriously trying to optimize the browser’s level of responsiveness, clearly with a good deal of success.

As mentioned, Chrome has something of a reputation for using up a lot of system resources, particularly with a lot of tabs active, and we’ve certainly experienced our PC having serious issues with large numbers of tabs open.

Mozilla will be hoping to attract power users with this freshly streamlined operation and added nippiness, although it isn’t just those of us who have hundreds of tabs open simultaneously who will benefit.

Obviously, the overall leanness of memory usage will be a good thing for everyone, even folks who only operate with a small collection of tabs.

Firefox does, however, have a lot of ground to make up, only having a 12% slice of the desktop browser market according to Netmarketshare’s figures for June. That’s behind Internet Explorer which is on 16.8%, and Chrome is by far the dominant force with 59.5% of the market.

Via: On MSFT

      

Windows 10 to dump Paint and Outlook Express in the recycle bin

We’ve talked a lot about the smart new features coming with the Fall Creators Update, but it has just emerged that Microsoft is cutting some of Windows 10’s capabilities with the upgrade, too, and that includes the likes of Microsoft Paint and Outlook Express.

As Microsoft explains in a support post, some of these features are being completely removed, while others have been marked as ‘deprecated’, meaning they aren’t being developed at all anymore and will be removed in a future version of Windows 10 (i.e. they’re effectively dead, just not buried, as it were).

As mentioned, Microsoft Paint, the simple graphics app which has been a part of Windows since the very beginning, will be dumped. Of course, that’s mainly because it’s been superseded by Paint 3D, but still, some folks might shed a nostalgic tear over the lightweight program.

Living on the Edge

Outlook Express also gets the push with Microsoft explaining that it is non-functioning legacy code, and the Reader app is gone – mainly because in the latter case it’s been integrated into the Edge web browser.

Screensaver functionality has been removed from Themes, and it’s deprecated elsewhere (such as in the Control Panel). Also, the 3D Builder app is no longer installed by default in Windows (although you can still grab it from the Windows Store should you wish).

There are a multitude of other capabilities being dropped: for example, the use of the Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET) will be blocked (Microsoft suggests that Windows Defender Exploit Guard’s exploit protection feature should be used instead). For the full list of cuts, check here.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that while it hasn’t been dropped, we recently heard that Microsoft’s smart Timeline feature, which was originally planned to be part of the Fall Creators Update, won’t be ready in time. It will be in a future update though (the first one of next year, almost certainly).

Lest we focus all our attention on what won’t be in the next major update, you can check out all the new goodies Microsoft is bringing to Windows 10 this fall right here.

      

Top 10 best business apps for iPhone

When Apple launched the game-changing iPhone, many people in the business world – including Microsoft’s CEO at the time, Steve Ballmer – sneered at it. It didn’t have a keyboard, was expensive, and didn’t even have 3G in its original form. A lot has changed since then, and the numerous updates and tweaks that Apple has made and apps that have been released have turned it into the perfect on-the-go smartphone for business.

The App Store is the main driver behind the surge in productivity on Apple’s mobile devices, but it has become very crowded – more than 2 million iPhone apps at the last count – and finding exactly the right apps can be difficult.

Which is exactly why we’ve compiled this list of the brightest and best business apps for the iPhone, including email, messaging and other productivity apps.

  • Want Apple’s latest and greatest? Check out TechRadar’s iPhone 7 review

Since Microsoft reluctantly brought the Office suite – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and so on – to the iPhone (and iPad), the apps have been getting better and better.

The suite, which is broken down into separate apps, initially needed an Office 365 account to do many tasks – like editing documents – but that has since changed and Office is now the best way to create, edit, and distribute documents on an iPhone.

Everything syncs to the cloud and documents created on a Windows PC or Mac can be opened and edited seamlessly. It’s the best of the best for productivity and even beats out Apple’s own iWork suite.

For those who want a more Google-y experience – or, most likely, rely on Google services – the company has a good set of apps for the iPhone which do pretty much what you’d expect.

The Google Docs app, which is free and does not require a subscription, can be used to edit, export, and view documents (among other things), making it the perfect way to interact with Google’s productivity software.

The Docs suite is incorporated into one application which can be used to create word, spreadsheet, or presentation documents. Google has worked hard to make it as smooth and seamless as possible and the results are impressive.

The Wolfram Alpha app is a mobile version of the website and it can be used to do almost any task. Unlike Google, which can add, subtract and so on, Wolfram Alpha can work out dates, times, food, complex mathematical equations, the weather and so on. The list is endless.

The app costs £2.99 ($2.99 in the US, which is just under AUS$4) – there is also a subscription option which adds extra utilities – and is a valuable asset if you need to quickly work out something obscure, like how many days away a specific date is or, you know, the physical properties of white pine wood!

Having a dedicated PDF reader can come in handy and Adobe does it best. The Adobe Acrobat Reader app, which is absolutely FREE, can be used to make edits and comments on PDFs, and much more.

The software can also be used in conjunction with an Abode account, which adds various high-end features like the ability to export files into different formats. Apple does provide a PDF reader in most apps, such as Mail, but having a third-party app can come in handy if you look at, edit, and receive a lot of them.

Speaking of PDFs (see the previous page), one of the iPhone’s biggest flaws is not being able to create them from an image. Luckily, Genius Scan – another free app – has you covered.

The app has various different options and offers guidance on the best settings – camera position, lighting, and so on – for creating crystal clear PDFs, which can then be sent via text, email, or another messaging app, or exported to Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, or elsewhere.

And Genius Scan can also organise PDFs within the app by tags, titles, and so on, making it ideal for creating and then storing large volumes of documents.

According to Google, Gmail now has more than 1 BILLION active users! There’s no doubt about it – Gmail is a goliath. Apple does offer support for the service in its own Mail app, but many users like having the Google-made app itself installed – mainly because it comes with a number of considerable added benefits.

The biggest advantage of using Google’s own app is that it integrates directly with other Google services, like Docs or Calendar. Invitations can be answered right within the app while Google+ posts become interactive inside Gmail.

The app has the full range of achieving, tagging, labelling and categorisation features you’d expect, and is quite simply much better than Apple’s built-in client.

Slack, the enterprise messaging app, has over three million daily active users, and is spreading to more and more workplaces around the world as companies move past email, which is now seen as slow and hierarchical, for a friendlier solution.

Having Slack on the iPhone is a big bonus and can help with staying in touch on the move, which is essentially what the app is designed to do.

Private and team chats are kept intact, notifications sync between devices, and even the read messages go across, which is especially useful if your team works around the globe and you often wake up to hundreds of new missives.

MailChimp is useful for anyone who wants to distribute an email newsletter to a number of people. The service, which launched in 2001, sends billions per month on behalf of its users and is free for anyone who doesn’t have a massive mailing list.

The iPhone app, which is a free download, does many of the same things as the desktop client but in a miniature format. Lists can be checked, created, edited and emails sent to recipients. Analytics for emails – who opened it, where, and so on – can also be viewed, giving valuable insights on-the-go.

For those who manage a mailing list via MailChimp, the iOS app is a good thing to have installed on your device.

Good to-do list apps are in high demand as the iPhone becomes more and more ingrained into our daily lives. Setting a reminder for long- or short-term goals, tasks, and objectives is an easy way to keep track of everything.

Apple recently beefed up its iOS-based offerings with a new Notes app, which features tick boxes, and a refreshed Reminders app. While these two efforts are good they don’t come anywhere near Things 3, which has apps across the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

Things is, essentially, the king of all to-do apps with a list of features that is too lengthy to go into fully, but starts at simple cross-device syncing and ends somewhere around creating tasks that are labelled and repeat every other week. For people with lots to do, Things can’t be beaten.

Saving articles for offline use is handy in so many ways. Commuting, for example, is far more tolerable with a lengthy piece from The Atlantic, Financial Times, London Review of Books, or any other publication that is saved offline and therefore not subject to a spotty internet connection.

Pocket can also store videos and has the ability to sync, tag, and search the full text of any article if you get the monthly subscription option.

While Pocket may not be a business app in the truest sense of the word, it’s a valuable addition to any iPhone and makes the commute – or any other travel time, or perhaps your lunch break – much more interesting.

      

More truly awful movies you shouldn’t be streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime

It’s finally happened. Amazon and Netflix’s algorithms have caught up with my bad movie watching and now they are delivering dross to me on a daily basis. When I first started writing Not On My Watch, I had to dive deep into both services to unearth the terrors within. I saw myself as as one of those mystical freedivers who swim to the bottom of an azure ocean to find that big ol’ oyster shell that contains a majestic pearl.

The difference being that I am no beautiful freediver but a mere failed film journalist sitting in my pants late at night, the seedy belly of streaming services my azure ocean, the crud of the movie crop my pathetic pearl.

Now these awful movies are served to me wearing a frayed bow. My Netflix and Amazon homescreens are covered in curated crap. I have to now explain to my wife quite why such classics as Milfs Vs Zombies, Strip Club Massacre and Werewolf Bitches from Outer Space are now in my ‘recommended for you’ section. Joy of joys.

I’m in too deep, folks, there’s no way out so I may as well continue offering up you lovely bunch of Not On My Watchers the very worst movies on Amazon Prime and Netflix you can view with your own eyes.

A word of warning: this is my life now, but you can still get out while the going’s good. I cannot. I am a trader of the terrible, a hawker of the horrible, a vender of the vile. And, with that, on the menu this week are vampiric samurais, abysmal animated animal antics and the worst parody movie you will ever see – so much so I’m convinced it’s a parody of parody movies, made with the sole intention of making all other parody movies, even Meet The Spartans, look like Oscar contenders. Enjoy. Endure. Adieu.

Shira The Vampire Samurai

The Premise: Shira is part vampire, part samurai, all sass. She’s meant to be the future leader/mother of day walking vampires but some idiot named Kristoff is hell-bent on making sure that never happens.

Shira The Vampire Samurai begins at a frenetic pace. There’s a lot of running, everyone is running, so much running and drumming, drumming and running. Then, once the cameraman gets everything into focus – it takes a while – it’s revealed that it’s ninjas and samurais that are running, chasing each other. At this point I’m hooked. Ninjas! Samurais! I’ve got this movie all wrong, it’s not a B- movie but a portentous overview of the class system of feudal Japan in 1100AD, where the ninjas are the kick-ass lower class and the samurai are militia of a better stock.

How wrong I was. The title sequence kicks in and lasts so long I thought the tape was stuck, then remembered we don’t use tape anymore but ones and noughts, and everything falls apart. You see there are two things Shira is: a vampire and a samurai. And one thing she is not: an actress. As well as sucking blood, she sucks the life out of this entire movie. And the plot doesn’t help either. Instead of staying in historic Japan, things shift to the modern world where Shira tries out as a stripper, has sex with a man with flesh-coloured balloons for arms (they maybe muscles, if they are they’re weird muscles) and meets Kristoff who makes whiny noises when he fights. And that concludes how to make a movie with samurai, ninjas and vampires, well, suck.

Best watched when: you’re a vampire, have been alive for centuries and watched and read everything the world has to offer. Only then should you buy a Prime subscription and take this one for a spin.

Crying Wolf

The Premise: A sleepy village in England has a terrible secret: it’s filled with werewolves… and people who think they are filmmakers but are definitely not.

Crying Wolf begins with two middle-aged people dropping double entendres aplenty in an antique shop about a book. They manage to equate buying a book to sex, with classic lines such as (said in hushed sexy tones): “I love her for her prose” and “I buy second hand versions of her books because the new ones are wrapped in plastic to protect their posterity”. Hubba hubba.

We then get a homage to a James Bond credit sequences of old, where silhouettes of ladies dance to a tuneless theme. But this time the silhouettes contain piles of offal and blood. Beautiful. And just like a James Bond movie, the cast eventually say the name of the movie, or at least a version of it, with the fantastic line: “Being a serial prankster, no one listened to him. Andy had cried wolf once too often.”

That is the extent of fun you will have with Crying Wolf, a horror comedy so insipid that its real frights will make you laugh and its jokes will scare you off. Wait, that means it’s actually doing its job as a horror comedy… now I don’t know whether to love it or hate it.

I’m so confused.

Best watched when: you’re the director and you have to watch the rushes as you are making the film.

Stan Helsing

The Premise: A video guy gets lost delivering movies and subsequently turns into a monster hunter.

This film offends me on many levels. I grew up with all the horror characters Stan Helsing parodies. Freddy was my friend at secondary school, Jason and his machete saw me through college and Chucky was the doll I cuddled at night. So, seeing these horror icons in a movie as bad as Stan Helsing is just plain wrong. The film tries to lampoon the horror genre, seemingly forgetting Scary Movie did the same thing seven years previous, but it backfires so badly that it ends up being more of a mess than what happens to your average non-virgin teenager visiting Camp Crystal Lake.

It’s not a movie, it’s a set of skits stuck together by a gunk of toilet humour and sex jokes. Stan Helsing is seemingly void of actors and a script. It’s as if the camera crew turned up and just demanded random people did something in front of the camera, while someone dressed as Leatherface mucks around in the background with a leaf blower and Chucky pretends to give someone head.

To put it into context: this movie is worse than Jason X.

Best watched when: you have just been slaughtered by Freddy’s knife glove.

Pegasus Vs Chimera

The Premise: Pegasus has a fight with a chimera, hilarity ensues.

For the most part of Pegasus Vs Chimera,Pegasus is just a white horse. The filmmakers don’t even mask the fact that they are just filming a white horse do horse things, such as canter and trot and neigh a bit. Then there is one glorious moment when Pegasus takes to the skies and develops wings, scribbled on wings. Harryhausen stop-motion this is not – it’s a scene that’s been animated by someone who has never seen a horse before, but had one described to them a few years ago by the medium of mime. It’s mesmerising to watch.

When Pegasus does eventually fights the CG Chimera, it’s a scene packed with so much slow-mo, if they took it out the whole film would be 20 minutes long. And that’s what cemented this movie for me as being the greatest telling ever of this Greek myth.

Best watched when: you want to understand the Greek myth of Pegasus, but need it told through the medium of the scribblings of a 10-month old baby.

Marc Chacksfield is a former film journalist (and TechRadar’s global managing editor) who is already regretting agreeing to watch terrible movies for the sake of his column Not On My Watch.

      

How to download HD videos from YouTube and Vimeo

According to YouTube, it’s currently serving up more than 5 billion video views every day and the average viewing session is 40 minutes. That’s a lot of skateboarding cats, but it’s also a lot of data to download. If you’re on a capped mobile data plan, have a sketchy internet connection or will be travelling in places where getting online isn’t likely, that’s a problem.

A stream is only as good as your internet connection, and if that connection is slow, patchy or congested then you’ll spend more time buffering and uttering expletives than you will get to spend actually watching anything.

In many cases even good internet connections don’t deliver full quality all the time. That’s because video sites use a technology called adaptive streaming, which automatically adjusts the video bitrate according to network conditions. You might find that if you live in a busy street the quality of your video streaming drops considerably at peak times. That’s because everybody’s going online at the same time, causing the electronic equivalent of rush hour traffic.

The good news is that there’s a solution. Instead of streaming videos every time you want to watch them, why not download them once and view the download instead?

Is downloading YouTube or Vimeo videos legal?

The short answer is ‘uhhhh…’ and the longer answer is ‘maybe’. If it’s a publicly available video and you’re downloading it purely for personal use then you probably won’t end up wearing an orange jumpsuit and making weapons out of toothbrushes.

However, unauthorized downloading is very much against YouTube’s terms of service, which state clearly that downloads are only permitted if YouTube itself offers them via a download link.

Vimeo is a bit less clear in its terms, conditions and guidelines, noting that while it respects content owners’ rights to choose whether or not to offer downloads of their videos it’s up to them to pursue any piracy.

It’s worth asking what you want to do with the video you’re planning to download. Are you downloading it so that you can share it with others on a peer to peer network? Don’t do that, because it’s illegal: you’re actively distributing other people’s content without permission, and that’s against the law pretty much everywhere. If you want to spread the word about a video it’s much easier – and actively encouraged by YouTube and Vimeo – to do it legally and use the site’s built-in share buttons, which you can use to email or embed videos or to share them on your favourite social networks.

Ultimately unauthorized downloading is something you do at your own risk: if you do it a lot, Google may kill your account or your ISP may impose restrictions.

HD video formats and quality

YouTube used to deliver video in Flash, which was a real pain: downloaded .FLV files didn’t play nice with the most common media players. Now, though, it produces video content in a range of formats and resolutions, and that makes it easy for third party apps to offer a range of download options.

In most cases the best video quality you’ll find on YouTube is 1080p, which is 1920 x 1080 resolution. That’s full HD. Next best is 720p (1280 x 720), which is the lowest resolution that can call itself HD. Many videos are in much lower resolutions, especially if they’re quite old.

YouTube has supported 4K video since 2010, but it has very specific requirements: if your browser doesn’t support the VP9 codec, YouTube won’t give you 4K video. On Vimeo you’ll find some videos in 2K resolution, which is twice Full HD (2048 x 1080), but most download services and apps don’t go beyond Full HD.

For most downloaders the best format to use is MP4, which works on pretty much anything, but the quality you get depends on the quality of the original upload. For example, as we write this we’re watching a Linkin Park video; its maximum quality is 360p because that’s the resolution it was uploaded at. Avoid formats such as 3GP/3GPP unless you’re downloading for use on a fairly old phone: 3GP files are tiny because they were designed for 3G mobile phones, and they look pretty rotten on more modern devices.

Unless you’re on an unlimited data plan, don’t download on a mobile data connection: you’ll hit the cap in no time and out-of-plan mobile data is frighteningly expensive. Wait until you’ve found a decent Wi-Fi connection and do your downloading over that.

Can you download video without sound, or sound without video?

Yes. Many downloaders such as Save It Offline enable you to download video-only or audio-only. As with normal downloads, the available quality depends on the original upload. Don’t expect to get high-res audio from a 360p video.

If you’re wondering why anybody would want an audio-free video, it’s handy if you want to use video clips in a documentary or presentation that already has audio in it, or if you’re making a mashup of multiple sources, or if you’re intending to use your own audio in place of the original. And audio-only clips are useful because for many people YouTube is their number one source of new music: why download the video bit if you want to listen, not watch?

What you need to know about YouTube video downloaders

The big problem with doing something on the internet you probably shouldn’t be doing is that the people who make the relevant software often do things they probably shouldn’t be doing either. Many YouTube video downloaders are perfectly well behaved, but even the best apps can suddenly develop issues. The key ones are privacy and unwanted software, or even malicious software.

An app that looks brilliant today may end up with an installer stuffed with unwanted software tomorrow; an online service that respects your privacy this week may change its mind or its advertising provider the next. If you work on the assumption that the site is tracking you or that the app installer is going to add eleventy billion toolbars to your web browser you’ll be pleasantly surprised if the worst doesn’t actually happen. It goes without saying that you should make sure your security software is up to date and that you’re wearing clean underwear before installing any unfamiliar app. Ad-blockers can help with the online services too, which is poetic justice when you think about it: you’re preventing them from making money from other people’s content. You’re practically a saint!

How to download HD videos from YouTube or Vimeo

Let’s assume you have the permission of the copyright holder to download a video. How do you do it?

1. Find some HD video

We’ll stick with YouTube for the time being, because it’s increasingly packed with HD video. If you’re not sure whether something is HD or not, click on the Settings icon – the gear shape in the bottom right hand corner of the video – and you’ll see an option labelled Quality. Many videos default to Auto 360p but if you click on that you’ll see the other available options, which in this case include 720p HD and 1080p Full HD.

Not everything labelled HD is actually HD. Sometimes that’s because people don’t know what they’re doing, so they’ll export a 360p clip at 1080p resolution, and sometimes it’s because people are trying to game the system by making promises they can’t keep.

2. Copy and paste the link

Once you’ve found your video, paste the link into your downloader. In this case we’re using 4K Video Downloader, which is available for both PC and Mac, and which automatically grabs the copied link when you click on the Paste Link button. When you enter the link you’ll be given a range of options for downloading. We want the 1080p version, so that’s what we’ll choose.

It’s worth noting that some downloaders don’t offer 1080p, others only do if you pay for a Pro version, and still others won’t download videos that have a musical soundtrack – presumably because of copyright fears.

3. Make a cup of tea

Downloading takes time, especially when it’s HD: a few minutes of HD video will take up around a gigabyte of space.

4K Video Downloader has the ability to download multiple streams simultaneously to improve download speeds, but ultimately it’s a lottery: some downloads come down the tubes at high speed, others not so much. On our super-speedy fibre connection, one of our YouTube downloads crawled at 584kbps.

4. Find your download

In most cases, you can watch your downloaded video by double-clicking on it from within the app. 4K Video Downloader creates own folder inside Movies and puts the downloads in there, ready for you to preview, play or import into your favourite video app.

You’ll see in our screenshot that the colours are a little overcooked and the rocks in the foreground a bit smeary, but that’s in the original video. What you get is only as good as what YouTube was given in the first place.