The ten worst products of 2010

We’ve seen some absolutely brilliant kit this year. Stand-outs include the obvious (think the Apple iPad) and the less obvious (why hello there, Sony VAIO Z13), but this blog is to celebrate the rubbish. The stuff that, with any luck, may already have been pulled off the shelves due to its sheer stupidity.
In a very particular order, here goes:

10. HTC Smart


Oh the irony of HTC’s naming schemes. HTC was attempting to be clever, to release what we described as “a poor man’s smartphone”, but it got everything wrong.
Wrong OS: Brew MP was designed not by a world-renowned software developer but by Qualcomm, a chipset maker, and boy it showed. Wrong price: £25 per month on a 24-month contract? Hello? Wrong sync options: jump through hoops and get nowhere. Thankfully, the HTC Wildfire came along and saved HTC’s cheap phone blushes.

9. Super Talent MasterDrive GL 16GB


This product was so appalling we never actually put the review up on the website: only readers of issue 188 could savour its one-star review. A low price of £71 inc VAT might mean “it’s tempting to give the MasterDrive a whirl,” we wrote. “If you do, you’ll regret it. It came last or second to last in eight of our ten tests.” When we used it as a boot drive, freezes “were a frequent, unpredictable occurrence”. One to avoid folks.

8. Norton Utilities

I’ll admit some bias: we’ve never been big fans of utility suites. If we had collective eyebrows, we’d raise them whenever a new one appeared on our desk. Although we have more than one desk and, between us, many eyebrows, so perhaps it’s best to leave that metaphor at this point.
There are some good ones (utility suites, that is, not metaphors). We were pleasantly surprised by TuneUp Utilities 2011 earlier this month, for instance. How disappointing, then, that Norton Utilities failed to deliver when we reviewed it at the tail-end of 2009; it went on sale “proper” in 2010, which is why it squeezes into this list.
A one-click “Optimize” button is probably the highlight, and it did knock off three seconds from our boot-up time – but in doing so dropped our available memory by 113MB. There are many better ways to spend £39.

7. iPad made simple

ipad made simple

In June, Apress released a 704-page book called “iPad made simple”. Let me repeat that: a book containing 704 pages of advice on how to use a device that’s universally acknowledged as being ridiculously easy to use.
Even accounting for the fact that readers aren’t its target audience, it beggars belief that anyone would resort to a book costing more than £16 rather than just experimenting with the darn thing or picking up a much cheaper, briefer guide.

6. BeBook Club

 So it’s November 2010. Amazon has hit the headlines for all the right reasons by releasing a bargain Kindle for £109, complete with seamless integration with Amazon’s bookstore. What does BeBook do? It releases a more expensive eReader – £149 to be exact – that doesn’t beat the Kindle on any major features, doesn’t integrate with any eBook stores, and doesn’t even have Wi-Fi for direct downloads from the internet.
To add insult to injury, it uses inferior screen technology so text looks worse! We like many of BeBook’s products, but this one goes straight into the remainders bin.

5. Energy Sistem 7502

 What makes the Energy Sistem 7502 so disappointing, apart from its appalling name, is that we had such high hopes for it. This media player promised so much that the iPod touch can’t deliver, with the highlight being Digital TV playback. Sadly, it was rubbish.
“The EPG… is woeful,” wrote our reviewer. “While you can select channels and see the next week’s programmes, there’s no way to access programme information or actually watch shows being broadcast from within the EPG. Instead, you need to exit the EPG, open up the TV section, navigate to the channel and tune back in.”
Add a sluggish interface and only 2GB of storage, and another great idea was consigned to the garbage heap of dashed hopes.

4. ATI Radeon HD 5830

ATI – strictly speaking, we should now say AMD, but we won’t because life’s confusing enough already – had more hits than misses in 2010, but the HD 5830 falls decisively into the latter category. It was ATI’s attempt to offer top-end performance for an affordable price, although by affordable we’re still talking £200. Why, we kept asking, would anyone pay that much when around £20 more could get them the faster HD 5850?
With wide gaps in performance in more demanding tasks, the answer was a great big no-one. All the HD 5830 did was create more confusion for potential buyers and eke a bit more life out of the ageing Cypress core that powered 2009’s ATI Radeon HD 5870 to A List success. We don’t know who’s more cynical, ATI or us.

3. Apple Mac mini

Grerrk. That sound? That’s me girding myself up for the mound of criticism about to come my way for daring to list an Apple product as one of the worst of 2010.
In many ways, I agree, it’s unfair. The new Mac mini looks beautiful in its minimalist magnesium casing and includes some stunning design moves to make it so small. There’s an HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet, four USB 2 connectors, FireWire 800, 802.11n Wi-Fi: in port terms, it’s well hung.
Delve inside, though, and it disappoints. A Core 2 processor released in 2008, stingy 320GB hard disk and 2GB of RAM. What killed it for us, though, was the price. The base model was expensive at £650, but if you want to upgrade to a larger hard disk or faster processor Apple was charging double or sometimes triple the “real” price difference. Great design, but what a rip-off.

2. Dell Inspiron Duo

 Oh Dell, you great big lovable ball of hardware goodness, how could you do this to us? We so wanted to love the Inspiron Duo, and at first glance it seems so fantastic, but in the end we were more let down than a student who voted Lib Dem.
The idea behind the Duo is great. A cheap netbook that converts, with one very sexy flip of the lid, into a tablet. We were so impressed we wrote, “the Duo’s transformation from notebook to tablet is almost balletic”. Meanwhile, the “rounded, rubberised edges practically beg to be touched, and the 1.36kg chassis oozes a solidity and class that belies the budget price [of £449]”.
The first sign of disappointment came from a battery life of less than four hours under light use. The kick in the teeth, though, became obvious once we’d used it in tablet mode for a while. Over to the review to explain why:
“Tap an icon and you’re unceremoniously shunted [from Dell’s finger-friendly DuoStage software] back to the Windows desktop as it labours into view. And while we’d have expected each application to form part of a slick unified user-interface, the reality is amateurish at best.
“The Internet icon simply launches Internet Explorer; the Games icon lazily shunts you back to the paltry selection of games included with Windows 7; and the Paint icon loads up CyberLink’s YouPaint software, which regularly moans that ‘The current screen resolution is not recommended for this application’.”
As we went on to say, “when a tablet leaves you longing to return to a keyboard and a touchpad, there’s clearly something wrong”.

1. Next 7in media tablet

 Never mind worst product of the year, this is probably the worst product of the century. Normally when reviewing a product we can find something positive to say, but the highlight for the Next tablet was its eight-page Quick Start Guide.
Imagine, if you will, a product “designed” for surfing the web that makes the experience of web browsing so painfully slow you want to head butt a nearby wall.
Imagine an interface so unresponsive and poorly designed you have a better chance of reaching your intended destination by prodding randomly than trying to reason with it.
Imagine a portable device that won’t even last for two blinking hours away from the mains without collapsing in a sulky heap.
If you’ve imagined all that, then you’re very close to imagining the appalling Next 7in media tablet. If you got one for Christmas, don’t open it, just beg for the receipt. If that fails, head to your nearest Next, fall to your knees and beg for a pair of Argyll socks in exchange.

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Facebook friends, honest, I really like you. But, no. I won’t milk your cow or join Mafia Wars so you can take over the south side of Insanityville, where you’ve suddenly gone to live.
And in my household, if you throw food at me, somebody’s going to smack your hand.
Before you “de-friend” me (and when did “friend” become a verb?), I’d like to say that I love your family photos; the class reunion updates; and the funny stories about your kids. I even like to know what you’re doing at work and when you’ve made a really fabulous meal — or deal.
But this new technology gives us the ability to engage in the electronic equivalent of eating with our mouths open or talking through a movie. Sometimes these bad habits can even hit your friends in the pocketbook, which is not a nice thing to do.
We’d never do these things in real life because we’d know they were impolite, annoying and hurtful. But perhaps because so many of us are new to social cyberspace, we’re not as aware of how we’re bugging our Facebook friends.
Here, according to my informal survey, are the 3 most annoying (and costly) things we do on Facebook and how we can handle them differently.
Farmville: Some 60 million of you are building cute little farms in cyberspace and swapping animated livestock. In fact, so many of you are spending real money to buy and build pretend barns and corn fields that Facebook has created it’s own currency. And Farmville is just one of more than a dozen games that people spend hours playing on Facebook. What makes the games so popular? According to both Time Magazine and the web-site CrackedFarmville manipulates you into playing.
To be sure, no one should tell you that you can’t spend your hard-earned cash to buy pretend machine guns to protect your pixelated turf in Mafia Wars. But the constant updates generated so many complaints that Facebook just announced changes that will restrict the number of posts sent to non-gamers.
Still, the games encourage players to manipulate their friends into playing with pleas like: “My cow is lost! Please help me find her!” Or “Help me build my barn/plant my crops/fix my tractor!” Seriously, you asked for less help when your mother was in the hospital.
It makes us feel guilty to ignore you. After all we love you, but we’re working and Bessy, the lost cow, is not real. If you promise to stop asking us for help on a farm that exists only in cyberspace, we promise to help when you need us in real life. In the meantime, please stop sending us goats.
Chronic “like”rs: Some people seem to “like” everything and need affirmation that you do too. First you get the message: “Suzie likes rainbows and wants you to like them too!” And you think…Uhm…Okay. Seems silly, but who doesn’t like rainbows? Click.
Barely a second goes by before Suzie is liking unicorns and walks on the beach and sailboats and dolphins. She wants you to click the “like” button too! Right about now my thoughts turn sinister:“I am not a Care Bear.”
What’s this whole “like” thing about anyway? Marketing, according to Justin Brookman, senior fellow at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C. He says the current “like” button is the latest iteration of “fan” pages, which are aimed at selling everything from books to blogs.
When you click on “like,” your profile information suddenly changes to add unicorns and rainbows and Mama Di’s Restaurant and Target and Black & Decker skill saws. Pretty soon, your Facebook account becomes a fast-clicking billboard for a panoply of products, drawing advertisers to you like flies.
Worse, says Brookman, is that malicious programmers know how easily we’re all affected by habit and peer pressure. So they create buttons that say: “click like to see something cool.” If you get that message from a friend, you’re likely to click on the “cool” thing your friend recommended and find out that it just hacked into your system and installed worms and malware that are not cool at all. One of these worms, by the way, is going to send an identical message to all of your friends, so you can infect them too.
Like as many things as you like in the real world, but use Facebook’s “like” button sparingly.
Impolitic Tagging: You went to a party, had a few too many drinks and ended up napping under the table, drooling into the host’s Labrador. Naturally, somebody snapped a cellphone picture and posted it on Facebook.
The photo is funny. Your friends want to see it. Posting an embarrassing photo of a friend is not the crime. The crime is “tagging” the photo so that your friend’s employer, or prospective employer, can easily find it too.
Jodi Schneider, a veteran recruiter and trainer who writes the blog DCWorks, tells all job applicants to “scrub” their Facebook profiles before sending out resumes. But one of the most pernicious problems for young applicants are friends, who never think twice before tagging an impolitic photo.
For those who don’t know, “tagging” just means that you’ve labeled a photo with a person’s name. Once labeled, that photo is going to show up on the “tagged” person’s Facebook account, whether they put it there or not.
That could keep your buddy from getting work, said Schneider. So post all the photos you want, but use some discretion about identifying a friend acting badly.

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5 Tools to Download any Book from Google and save it as PDF

Google Book Search is a tool from Google that searches the full text of books that Google scans, converts to text using optical character recognition, and stores in its digital database. Many popular books are available with Google Book. The books available can be read online only and cannot be downloaded for later use. You can download certain books as pdf that allows public-domain works and are free from copyright protection. Only few books are available with full preview based on agreements with publishers.
Following are different tools using which you can download any Google book and save it as PDF file or print it.

1) Google Books Downloader
Google Book Downloader is a tool that allows you to save book as PDF from google to your computer. Before using this tool make sure you have properly installed Microsoft .net Framework 3.5 SP1(Install)

How to use Google Books Downloader?
  1. Download Google Books Downloader. Extract or unzip the file. Double click mdgb.exe to run the application.
  2. Paste the URL of the book you want to download.
  3. Press “Check” button. Book will be checked and all available pages will be retrieved.
  4. Press “Download entire book” button to download all the pages in one go.
  5. Press “Save entire book as…” button. All downloaded pages will be saved in PDF format.
2) Leechvideo
Visit leechvideo and input URL of the book you searched from Google. Input the URL for the book you want to download and press the ‘Grab’ button. The page retrieval process in the form of image files will start as soon as you press the ‘Grab’ button. Click right mouse button on the links and save it manually one by one. You can use Orbit for batch downloading

3) Greasemonkey script
This is the most powerful and stable way to download Google Book. You can easily download any book from using Greasemonkey script. Just follow the simple steps below.
  1. This hack only works with firefox browser. Make sure you install firefox browser. 
  2. Install Flashgot to firefox browser and restart your firefox browser.
  3. Search any book on and you’ll notice a download button at the sidebar as shown in screenshot.
  4. Click the download button to download the images of each. Select the pages you wish to download and then right click and select FlashGot Selection to download the selected pages.
Visit laneware. The tool works only on IE browser. Input the URL of the book you wish to download and you will get the links of the pages retrieved. I tried the tool but did not found much success. You can use its ‘FAQ and Help’ section for troubleshooting tips.

5) ClickBook
If you are looking for advance tool that can download google book and can print them for you as well then ClickBook is the best solution for you. The tool does not come free and is available for $49.95. Works only with Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/2003/XP/Vista. Visit ClickBook for more details.
6) Download book without using any Tool
  1. Open computer with admin privileges and launch your Internet Explorer (Not Firefox). Now visit to the page in that you want to download.
  2.  Navigate to “C:\Documents and Settings\%admin_name%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files\” of your computer machine and delete all of the content of the folder.
  3. Browse the pages of the books that you want to download.
  4. Open “Temporary Internet Files” folder. Copy all PNG files. These files are nothing but the pages of the scanned book
  5. You can print the png files and arrange them in order for reading.
Please share other methods that can be used to extract the books from Google book search service.

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