Ritchie: the guy behind the PC

Less than two weeks after the passing of Apple visionary Steve Jobs the high-tech world lost another pioneer - the man who would make Jobs, Bill Gates and countless others possible.

That man was Dennis Ritchie, the creator of the C programming language and a co-developer of the Unix operating system. Unix is the foundation code on which Apples are based, while C is the root of almost every single programming language and scripting tool that's out there.

And because C was the foundation and it was an open system that could run on anything, it also heralded in a set of standards that would allow programs to be used on a number of platforms. Programming students still learn C and developers still use the language today (albeit with a vastly expanded syntax), almost 40 years since Ritchie completed his grand experiment, and 33 years since the public launch of The C Programming Language .

There are few people who have had a bigger impact on computing that Ritchie and it's nice to see that in death he's finally getting his due.


iOS 5 is a major improvement, major pain

If you have an iPhone then you've probably already been prompted to upgrade to the iOS 5 operating system. This is something you should do soon - right after you take the time to back up everything on your phone/iPod Touch because this is a clean install that will erase everything except for a few personal details that identify the phone as yours.

One of the biggest upgrades is the notification system, which has been an issue with iPhones in the past. Notifications are now highly customizable, they pop up on the top of your screen without interrupting you and disappear without clicking, and there's even a notifications screen you can drag down from the top of the screen to get all your updates in one place.

Another change is the introduction of a texting tool with iMessage that should allow some users to stop paying for texts - providing they only talk to other cell phone users that have iMessage. At the very least it could cut costs if you're paying per text.

There's full integration with twitter, the ability to sync wirelessly without plugging into your computer and iTunes, integration with Apple's iCloud service, an improved web browser, improvements to the calendar and alert system (including visual alerts using the camera flash), improvements to the lock screen, home screen, etc.

There's also "Siri," a personal assistant voice application that helps to unify all your calendars, to do lists and alert systems. Right now there's just one choice available but it's only a matter of time before you can choose - fingers crossed for a Samuel P. Jackson update.

No question this is a major improvement to an already good operating system. Other than having to reload all your apps, music, videos and other files - which is a huge pain in the OS if you just have the phone and no PC for backups - it's a must-have upgrade.


Manage your contacts with Neiio

Right now I have three e-mail clients going, one at work and two web-based services. Sometimes it's a challenge to find contacts. While I tend to divide the three accounts into work, personal and random (e.g. if I'm signing up for something or making online purchases) there's definitely some overlap.

Enter Neeio, a free service that will import all of your contacts from wherever they are - Facebook, LinkedIn, Viadeo, Gmail, Yahoo!, Mail, Hotmail and Outlook Express - and send them to any of your e-mail clients, to your phone as vCards, and more.

The service will also maintain your contact list and update as necessary. You can also group your contacts (work, family, friends, etc.).



RIM apologies for Blackberry outage

The Blackberry phone has taken its share of hits lately, with sales dropping and shareholders on the verge of revolt over the company's lack of phones with next generation appeal. But while the parent company Research In Motion is on the ropes, they've always had their defenders as well - particularly from enterprise and government sectors who like the phones security features as well as the fact that it does a few things very well, with one of those things being e-mail.

Imagine then the disappointment when the company's e-mail servers went down for four days last week, leaving millions of customers without e-mail, text messages and web browsing.

The company apologized and said it would not happen again. It also compensated customers with $100 worth of free apps.

The entire outage is being blamed on a malfunctioning switch at a data centre in England, which prevented the proper operation of the company's backups. The sheer amount of data that couldn't be stored jammed the system and caused a cascade of service disruptions around the world.



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