Testing, testing, testing…

All sorts of testing and reviewing is currently underway in my neck of the computer woods.

First, I have been fiddling with one of Mweb’s uncapped broadband Internet package which was launched on an unsuspecting market a couple of weeks ago. I was given the opportunity to test the most basic offering which, for the astounding price of R129 per month, offers unlimited Internet access at a speed of 384Kbps.

I entered the username and password that I’d been given into my ADSL router and it connected to the Mweb service without any trouble at all. Since then, it has been working pretty much as advertised and I have not been conscious of any really undue delays in my travels around the Internet.

It is very early days to come to a firm conclusion but the service seems as fast as any other 384Kbps service I’ve tried. I have tried to play a couple of YouTube videos and, in common with the other services, video weren’t downloaded fast enough to play without interruption.

I guess that’s fair enough seeing that it is a 384Kbps service after all, and that one can wait for video to download completely, before viewing it. I have found that the connection is usually fast enough to listen to Internet radio, which is mostly what I do.

Other service providers have joined in the rush to provide cheap connectivity and, at the time of writing, one ISP was offering an uncapped service for R159 per month. Price wars are such fun and, to make our lot even happier, it would be great if the wireless broadband providers duked it out as well.

Also on the test bench this week, is the beta-test version of Microsoft Office 2010. So far, I’ve had a look at the Word wordprocessor and Publisher layout programs.

publisher_cr Ms_Publisher 10  Beta

It must be stressed that the version of the office suite that I received may not yet the complete, being a pre-release version, but my preliminary feeling is that the new versions of the two programs represent an incremental improvement over what went before.

There are a fair number of new features included in each of them but the most promising Office-wide feature is the possibility of customising the Ribbon interface. The launch of Office 2007 saw Microsoft include the Ribbon in certain of the office programs.

It is like a big toolbar with a number of tabs and, to select a different font for example, you would select the Home tab on the Ribbon, and pick the font you wanted from a drop-down list. The old menu and toolbar structure was discarded and many commands found their way into unfamiliar places.

I’m already on record as a hater of the Ribbon and so I’m glad that Office 2010 now offers a couple of ways of customising it. Each tab contains a selection of commands and you can now remove ones you don’t want and add ones that you do.

You can even create your own tabs on the Ribbon to display your own selection of commands ready for use whenever required. Another refinement is the Quick Access toolbar, which can be placed above or below the ribbon, and which can be customised to display the commands you use most often.

The Quick Access toolbar is very handy and can save you a lot of time that you would have spent switching between the tabs on the Ribbon. Being able to customise the Ribbon and add commands to the toolbar is potentially very handy, but an add-on program may be even handier.

A company called Addintools (addintools.com) produced a little software add-on that would take Word 2007 and restore the traditional menu structure and, if you really didn’t like the Ribbon, it would remove that for you. The programme is bound to be available for Office 2010 and I would certainly get it if I were to use the suite on a regular basis.

Watch this space for more on Office 2010.

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2 thoughts on “Testing, testing, testing…

  1. Hi allan.Thank you for all the usefull feedback and infomation you have been giving us over the years.The thing is that with internet in South Africa we still a far mile behind in respect to first world internet connectivity.The only reason why mweb as all of a sudden gone so cheap is because of the new underground seacome cable wich was recently implenented.This wich you probaly already know, is the new fibre optics technology.The goverment has been playing a monopoly with us for too long and decided to quickly bring in the fibre optics before the world cup to save embarrassment from international guest.I do admit that its getting alot cheaper but the speeds havent changed, I also have the uncapped deal for R219.Its very cheap but still useless in regards to downloading large files.Its practically not worth it downloading torrent files either.Fibre optic technology is a hell of a powerfull 21st century communications medium that is like something straight out off a sci fi movie, therefore we need to be experiencing the same internet luxury as the americans, english and the rest of the first world.We are hosting the world cup afterall.

    • Hear, hear Riaz. I couldn’t agree more that the SA version of uncapped ADSL is very far from ideal. I’ll have more to say in future articles but I would certainly prefer a faster service, even if it meant a cap of, say, 30Gb.

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