Why it’s Crucial to upgrade your memory

If your computer or laptop is a little sluggish, there are a couple of very quick fixes to give it a shot in the arm. In this short guide, we’ll give you the basics:

Step 1: Tidyup

Assuming you have a Windows machine, you’ll find it’s probably riddled with loads of temporary files and unnecessary programs. Lots of unwanted files slow down your hard drive access time, and one of the other main hogs is programs that run in the background, consuming valuable resources. Three things that are easy (and free) to do, are as follows:

  • Remove any unwanted applications – Go to your Control Panel and from Programs, delete anything that you no longer use
  • Install a free program called CCleaner. This scans your drives for unwanted temporary files created by Windows, your web browser and a number of messy bits of software
  • Finally, have a look at the sheer number of programs that start when your machine does – it’s a safe bet that you don;t need all of these “vampire” apps that run in the background draining your memory. We recommend Windows Startup Inspector as a free, but slightly geeky, app that lets you disable unwanted crud.

Step 2: Upgrade

A few years back, the idea of taking the back off your desktop or laptop to replace the memory scared many, and required some solid knowledge of what you were doing. RAM upgrades were also fairly pricey. One of our recent projects here was upgrading some of our machines – a Compaq desktop, a Dell laptop and an ASUS notebook. It was both cheaper and easier than expected, thanks to a handy tool that’s free from memory sellers Crucial.com.

Crucial LogoThe System Scanner is a small application that scans your system to work out what memory is currently installed, and what the motherboard on your computer can support. It does an excellent job of detecting what you have, and offering options for upgrades. The scanner correctly identified our desktop, laptop and even our netbook and offered the correct options. For our desktop, the option selected was for a top-of-the-range update to the maximum supported memory, when we were looking for an incremental upgrade – it suggested binning the existing chips and replacing them, but the tool lets you see the various alternative options – and the right one for us was keeping the existing RAM and adding two additional chips. Here’s a screenshot of the tool in action:

Results from Crucial.com Memory Scanner

Results from the Memory Scanner from Crucial.com

It’s very easy to use, and even if you’re not in the market for a RAM upgrade, it’s worth a quick check to see what sort of figure you’d be looking at to get a system speedup.

Try the System Scanner for yourself here: Crucial RAM Upgrade System Scanner

As for the upgrade itself – very straightforward. The laptop was a case of removing a single screw and replacing two chips – the netbook was also straightforward. The desktop upgrade was OK too, but the angle of attack for the RAM slots as a little tight, as there’s quite a lot packed into a fairly tight space – nonetheless, easyish, and fast.


RAM upgrade time – A 200 PIN DDR2 SODIMM (apparently)

Without this kind of tool, it’s very easy to pick the wrong sort of memory, as there are lots of different memory types and configurations – Crucial’s tool makes it very easy, and it’s well worth a try. We’re pleased to report that since the upgrade, all three machines are buzzing – especially the laptop that we use for in-the-field podcast recording. The RAM from Crucial was also almost half the price that the laptop’s maker Dell was trying to sell us, proving that (here comes the pun), it’s “crucial” to shop around.

Any comments on suggestions on speeding your machine up, please let us know in the box below.

Related links:

Tech in 2012 Round-up

Happy New Year to our regular site visitors – we hope 2013 is a good one for you!

As we do each year, our podcast team has taken a look back at the last twelve months of technology and put together an Audio Guide to 2012. If you’ve not listened to our podcast before, we’d urge you to have a listen, and maybe sign up. Shows are, of course, free.

FrequencyCast Logo2012 was a busy year for tech, and here are just some of the stories that we’ve covered over the months:

  • Virgin announced that it was doubling its Broadband speed, at no extra cost
  • Lots of discussion of potential Freeview interference by the 2013 launch of 4G data networks
  • The Raspberry Pi offered a tiny computer for £22
  • All change for The Gadget Show as Jon Bentley, Ortis Deeley and Suzi Perry were to be axed
  • The launch of Apple’s 3rd generation iPad
  • Launch of the Samsung Galaxy SIII, the rival to the iPhone
  • Motorola acquires Psion, makers of the Psion Organiser and Psion Series 3
  • Apple iOS 6, iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini announced
  • The completion of the UK Digital Switchover
  • The launch of the first high-speed 4G network from EE

Just a few of our highlights from 2012, and our podcast production team has just launched their audio review of the last year for your listening pleasure.

The FileSaveAs podcast?

If you’ve not tried our podcast before, that can be your News Year’s Resolution! Our podcasts are free, and you can listen to them online, or if you have an iPod, iPhone or iPad, listen to us via iTunes. There are several ways you can listen, and in each show, we cover a different tech topic.

If you’ve not had a listen, please give us a try and see what you think – You can take a listen to our review of 2012, which gives you a great idea of what we’ve been up to over the last year, and also hear us out-and-about at Birmingham’s Gadget Show Live.

For more details about FrequencyCast, our humble Technology Podcast, see our UK Technology Podcast page

iTunes Library Updater killed by iTunes 11

All good things must come to an end, and the recent arrival of iTunes 11 seems to have put an end to the very handy little utility that was the “iTunes Library Updater”

This handy free app offered a one-click way to re-scan your iTunes music library, add any new files found in your specified iTunes folder, and remove any files that had been deleted.

It was particularly useful as a one-click solution to error messages like this: “Some of the items in the iTunes library were not copied to the iPhone because they could not be found”. The ITLU app would rebuilt the database removing files that had been moved or removed.

iTunes Missing Files Error Message

iTunes Missing Files Error Message, formerly resolved by ITLU


iTunes 11 and iTLU

Running the iTunes Library updater after installing version 11 of iTunes, pops up the following message:

"the 'dict' start tag on line 7003 does not match the end tag of 'plist;. Line 7093, position 3"
iTunes Library Updater Error Message

iTunes Library Updater Error Message

The error message is a show-stopper, and the iTunes Library Database Updater no longer works.


The fix?

According to the developer’s website, there isn’t one. Here’s a statement on the developer’s website:

“Unfortunately, Apple has removed the API that iTLU used to control iTunes from the new version 11.

As a consequence iTLU will not work anymore with iTunes 11 and up. There is nothing I can do about that. Sorry!”

So, that appears to be it for a one-click solution that sorts out files in your iTunes database…

Alternatives to ITLU?

As far as we know, there aren’t any, but you may well know differently. If you do, please add a comment below

Tired of iPhone Email Errors

OK. I admit it. I’ve had enough of seeing the following error message on my iPhone 4S:

The mail server “mail.xxxx.com” is not responding. Verify that you have entered the correct account info in Mail settings.

iPhone Email Error Message

The tedious iPhone |Mail Server Not Responding error message

Every time that I open the Mail app on my iPhone, I see this message at least half a dozen times. I hit OK, only to see it again, and again. I’ve trawled the Internet looking for answers, and nothing seems to apply to my situation, although loads of people have reported the same problem. In my case, I know why this is happening… It’s because I have multiple POP3 email accounts on my phone, and some are on the same email server.

Due to the nature of my work, I have different email accounts for the different clients and websites that I work for, and when my iPhone checks for new mail, it has to scan close to 10 different email accounts to check for new waiting messages. From reading various reports of the problem, it seems that the iPhone Mail app may not be correctly closing off an email connection when it’s finished checking for me messages, meaning that next time it’s checked, the app reports that a connection cannot be made to the email server. If you’ve never seen this error message, you’ve no idea how tedious it is to have to press the “Ok” button to clear this message up to 10 times each time you check for a new message!

Fixing the email problem

I’ve tried everything I can think of – changing the settings – disabling accounts, changing the checking frequency, and even changing the security settings on the email server – but nothing worked. Until today. The fix has been for me to abandon the Apple iPhone Mail app, and install a new email application. Surprisingly, there aren’t many out there, and that’s likely to be something to do with Apple, and that they don’t like apps that steer people away from their own native applications.

After trying some apps and reading reviews, one stood out:

Sparrow – Email for the iPhone

This isn’t a free at, but at £1.99 it was worth a try… and I’m happy to report that since installing this application, there’s been no sign of the dreaded error message when checking for new mail. The app handles multiple email accounts very well, and is one slick app.

There are a couple of things that it doesn’t do – and key to many is that it won;t check for emails in the background. It;’s also not fully integrated into the iOS6 operating system – meaning that it’s not perfect… but for checking, reading and sending emails, it’s great. It also adds a lot of features not found in the standard iPhone Mail app – it plucks people’s photos from your contacts store and also from Facebook, and makes clever use of left and right swipes to manage your mail. Also, for those with multiple accounts, it offers account icons.

Here are a couple of screenshots of Sparrow in operation:

Sparrow Email for iPhone Email List Sparrow Email for iPhone Folder View

So far, I’m loving this application, and it’s great to be able to check for email without having due ensure multiple presses of the “Ok” button every time an email comes in.

If you’re plagued by the “mail server is not responding” on your iPhone, give the Sparrow app a try. Download Sparrow for iPhone from iTunes.

If you’ve found a better app, or a fix for the error message, please post a comment in the little box below, and it’ll be emailed to us. Hopefully…

Cheap Blackberry Playbook Gets Facelift

Blackberry Playbook TabletLast month, we reported that Blackberry’s 7 inch tablet device had been slashed in price, down from £399 to just £169.

This nifty little tablet is still on offer at that massively reduced price, and has just got even more attractive thanks to a free software upgrade.

Blackberry Playbook Summary

Rather than running the Apple iOS system, or using the increasingly popular Android OS, this uses Blackberry’s own interface and software, although as we’ll explain in a bit, the updated Playbook can now run Android apps too. Here’s the highlights of the Playbook Proposition:

  • 7″ touchscreen
  • Front and rear cameras
  • Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Available with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of memory
  • Micro USB
  • HDMI Out, handy for presentations and not seen on other tablets
  • GPS (location and sat nav)
  • For gamers, there’s a built-in Gyroscope and Accelerometer
The Blackberry Playbook, at a knock-down price

The Blackberry Playbook, at a knock-down price

Playbook OS2 Upgrade

On Tuesday the 21st of February, a free upgrade to version 2 of the tablet’s operating system was launched. Here’s a summary of what’s new:

  • Dedicated e-mail, calendar, and contacts apps (oddly, missing from the first version)
  • Better Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn integration
  • An Amazon Kindle eBook App (although this was pulled shortly after release whilst a few bugs got ironed out)
  • Support for Android applications with the Android Player.

The addition of support for Android apps is huge, and could make all the difference for the Playbook, although it’s important to note that not all Android apps are available. Developers have to make some tweaks to get the apps to run, and the Playbook-ised apps need to be approved by RIM before the can be added to the Blackberry App Store. Expect to see a large amount of new apps on their way now that OS2 is out.

If like the sound of the Playbook , then they’re still around at this awesome price – The 16GB is in stock online at Currys at the time of writing: Blackberry Playbook 16GB at Currys

o2 SIM Card: Vouchers and Headsets

o2 SIM CardNews of two top offers on SIM cards, but only for a limited time… Here’s a look at two offers released today:

Free SIM Cards

O2 have a fantastic Free SIM card offer on for the next few weeks. Order a free SIM card with free unlimited calls and texts to o2 customers when you top up £15 a month.

If you’ve not picked up a free o2 PAYG SIM card before, get one between 15th February and 15th March , and you will automatically be entered into a competition to win one of 200 sets of Beats headsets. To qualify for the competition, you will need to top up at least £10 before the 28th April 2012

This competition is only open to new customers taking an O2 free sim between these dates.

To get your free SIM card, go here: Free SIM card from 02

SIM-Only Vouchers

That’s Pay As You Go… but what about if you’re looking for a SIM-only contract? Here’s offer 2: O2 is offering a free £25 voucher with a £15 and over 12 month Simplicity contract.

If you sign up to a 12 month tariff (with 600 minutes or more), you’ll be sent a  free £25 voucher for Argos, ASDA, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s or B&Q. The £25 voucher offer runs until the 1st of March 2012.

Looking for a Simplicity SIM? Get a SIM from o2

Need some SIM help?

We have answers to lots of common SIM card questions… For more on SIM Cards, see our UK SIM Cards page

Evi for Android Set To Rival Apple’s Siri

Evi Icon on AndroidFancy the idea of getting Siri on your mobile phone, but don’t have an iPhone 4S? Well, move over Siri, as Evi is here, and she runs on a much wider range of smartphones and tablets.

Evi, created by developers True Knowledge, is a credible rival to the voice recognition service for iOS, known as Siri. Evi, with her cyclops single-eye icon, makes good use of the microphone on many smartphones to listen to commands, send them over-the-air for processing, and returning text.

Testing Evi

We’ve been testing Evi here on a Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet computer as well as on an HTC Desire smartphone, and although a little slow, it’s still pretty usable, and returns some sensible answers. You can also say a few silly phrases to Evi, for some largely amusing answers. Whilst we’re not saying that this rivals Siri for speed or slickness, it’s an app worth trying, and it has the advantage of being a freebie.

Also, don’t expect the smooth integration with Android that you get with Siri. You won’t be able to get Evi to send a text message, or add an entry to your diary – It’s limited to performing online searches – although in a rather stylish way, without Siri’s “here’s a webpage” cop-out.

If you want to give Evi a test run, download her from the Android Marketplace. Here’s a shot of Evi in action:

Screenshot of Evi on a Galaxy Tab

Screenshot of Evi on a Samsung Galaxy Tab

Evi for iPhone?

Yes! Evi is also available for Apple devices, and currently has the advantage for those of us in the UK in that it: a) supports UK business lookup (e.g. “Find my nearest coffee shop”), and b) has a female voice, rather than the male voice us in Britain get by default.

Although free on the Android platform, the developers have opted to make Evi a paid app for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch – however at a measly 69p, it’s hardly going to break the bank. Download Evi from iTunes

We’ll continue playing with what appears to be the best rival to Siri, and report back if we uncover anything interesting.

Get a massive 68% off a Playbook tablet

Blackberry PlaybookWhen the Blackberry Playbook tablet launched last year, the UK retail price for the 16GB version was £399. You can now get this nifty tablet for just £169.

Although this is a pretty powerful little tablet, it’s not caught the public’s imagination, and so Blackberry dropped the price last year. They’ve now slashed the price again, with the entry level machine now costing £169 (a saving of £230 on what you’d have paid last October).

If you’re in the market for a decent tablet at a silly price, then the discounted Playbook is currently in stock online at Currys: Blackberry Playbook 16GB at Currys. 32GB and 64GB versions are also available at £199 and £249.

What does the Playbook offer?

It’s an incredibly light and thin (10mm) tablet with a 7″ display. It supports multi-touch, and has a dual-core processor. Other top features:

  • 7″ 1024×600 WSVGA touchscreen display
  • Up to 1080p video playback, with HDMI output to connect to a TV or monitor
  • Front and rear facing cameras
  • Gyroscope and accelerometer for enhanced gameplay
  • GPS and digital compass / magnetometer
  • Support for H.264, MPEG4 and WMV video playback
  • Wi-fi, Bluetooth, USB and HDMI connectivity
The Heavily Discounted Blackberry Playbook

The Heavily Discounted 16GB Blackberry Playbook

Sure, the Blackberry Playbook isn’t an iPad, but if you’re looking for a powerful and capable tablet device at a bargain price, the Blackberry Playbook is worth some serious consideration at this knock-down price.  It’s currently half the price of competing 7 inch tablet devices such as the popular Samsung Galaxy Tab.  More on the Blackberry Playbook.

Got a Playbook? We’d love to know what you think!

Update 21 Feb: Now even better… Blackberry Playbook Gets A Facelift

Speed increases for Virgin customers

Broadband in the UK is about to get a little bit faster, as Virgin is planning to double the speed for many of its customers in the next 18 months.

Virgin Media BroadbandVirgin Media, operator of the UK’s cable TV and Internet network is planning to double the download speed offered to customers of its 10Mb, 20Mb, 30Mb and 50Mb services from next month. The speed upgrade will start from February 2012 for some customers, and be complete across their cable network by the middle of 2013. Although the upgrades are set to cost Virgin £110m,customers will get the speed increase for free.

A free doubling of broadband speeds is a good thing, and it will take the UK’s fastest download speeds to 120Mbps, which is three times better than the maximum speed offered by other UK broadband providers such as BT and Plusnet.

Last year, BT announced its plans to roll out its BT Infinity fibre service to 66% of the UK by 2015, at a rather more pricey £2.4 billion, but currently, BT’s fibre service only offers 40Mbps.

Virgin has been in a great position to offer a fast connection as they only offer the service in the more profitable parts of the UK, and their network was built as a fibre network from the ground-up, and isn’t an old network of copper cables and telegraph poles that requires a major upgrade just to get speeds of up to 40Meg. Virgin’s also pretty accurate in its speed prediction – if you pay for a 30Mbps service, you get close to that figure, whereas here at FileSaveAs, the machine we’re using is on an “up to 20Mbps” connection, and we’re seeing a speed of about 4Mbps. Sadly, neither BT Infinity or the Virgin cable network is available where we live (yet), and each time we check on the date for fibre in our area, it seems to be pushed back by 3 months.

If fast broadband is of interest to you, the winner in the UK is clearly Virgin, and customers are also set to be winners too, as they’re about to start getting free upgrades to even faster speeds.

If you’re lucky enough to be in a Virgin Media cable area, then take a look at their combined cable TV and fast broadband service – you can find details of what they offer at virginmedia.com


Got Virgin? We’d love to know what you’d like to use your new shiny faster connections for – Please add a comment below.

Podcast Review of 2011 Released

With the start of a new year, it’s time to take a look back at the last year of tech news, as well as reflect on what might be in store for coming twelve months of UK technology. Rather than reading our wander back through a year’s worth of tech news, have a listen to our audio review…

FrequencyCast LogoIn 2011, we saw various bits of tech excitement, including:

  • Launch of the Nintendo 3DS, glasses-free 3D gaming
  • BT Home Hub 3
  • Google +1 and Google + (social networking, not a new TV channel!)
  • Playstation and Blackberry network issues
  • First experiments with IPv6, the new network standard
  • The demise of the US space shuttle program
  • The iPhone 5 wasn’t launched, but we got the Siri-toting iPhone 4S instead

Just a few of our highlights from 2011, and our podcast boys have just launched their audio review of the  last year.

Our podcast?

Not tried our podcast before? Where have you been all our life?? We’re now in our sixth year, and the won the best UK non-profit podcast in the last round of European Podcast Awards – so we must be doing something right. The show’s host, Carl, is a gadget-phobe, but he’s paired with Pete, who’s a technophile (or a “geek” as many call him)

Our podcasts are free, and you can listen to them online, or if you have an iPod, iPhone or iPad, listen to us via iTunes. There are several ways you can listen, and in each show, we cover a different tech topic.

If you’ve not had a listen, please give us a try and see what you think – You can take a listen to our review of 2011, which gives you a great idea of what we’ve been up to over the last year, and also hear us out-and-about at Birmingham’s Gadget Show Live.

For more details about FrequencyCast, our humble Technology Podcast, see our UK Technology Podcast page

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