This week Yahoo released their latest version of their instant messenger, but is it up to the same standards of the likes of MSN AIM and ICQ? My first impressions were very good, YIM (Yahoo instant messenger) had some nice features that the other popular instant messengers didn?t use such as web cam support and some useful tabs unlike the ones present in MSN that seem aimed at getting you to spend money rather then provide useful information.
The layout of YIM is very nice and is easy to use, some nice gfx have been used giving YIM the same feel as AOL instant messenger. YIM also lets you change your away messages similar to the way ICQ does which is useful if you want to say why you are away or how long you will be. Another interesting idea YIM has is IM environments, this is basically themes for your instant messenger windows which in ways look nice but others just get annoying.
The main downside I found to Yahoo is not to do with the program but the lack of friends I know that use it. Since at early time online I have used ICQ then MSN Messenger thus a lot of my friends have mainly gone on to use MSN messenger for various reasons, the ones which do use YIM normally use another IM as well such as myself. Somehow Yahoo has to give people a good reason to change their IM habits from messengers such as MSN and AIM to their own messenger.
The other instant messenger programs I believe do have a head start over Yahoo for instance MSN messenger is now installed with every version of windows and AIM is installed with Macs now and comes built into Netscape and Mozilla web browsers. Personally I think that if YIM is to survive against the other large messenger services it needs to get its self bundled with a lot more other software so that more people can easily get to use it.
Another criticism I have of the software is not being able to change your screen name easily, people often like to convey their thoughts through their screen name such as on MSN messenger but I could not find this feature on YIM. Yahoo was one of the first large networks to bring together its ID program into all its online features, for instance my account can access geocities, email, instant messaging, calendar and a wide range of other features however now I feel Yahoo hasn?t been able to keep up with the likes of msn passport or AOL and needs to make a lot of changes to survive in the future.
Overall YIM 5.5 is one of the best instant messengers out there if your friends and colleagues use it, otherwise stick to one of the other large networks or get yourself onto IRC. I?m giving YIM 5.5 7/10.
Yesterday is was announced that the 8th round of Planetarion would be the last one, Planetarion the online text based game which started in January 2000 has found it increasing difficult over the last few months to keep the game going financially, so 5th season AS (the company behind Planetarion) announced in a special creators hour last night that the game will be ending after the next round.
Though some people think that this may be a scam to get more people to play Planetarion incase round 8 is the last round the community is clearly shocked that this has come this sudden. In Planetarion?s peak the game had over 100,000 players though once the game went pay to play the game slowly lost players. Efforts have been made to try to get new players to join the game and a number of free accounts were given out for new people to try out the game, however these free accounts didn't seem to bring Planetarion the new players it needed to stay alive. An irc channel has already been setup on the netgamers.org irc network.
The people behind #pa-stay are looking for over 10k players to play Planetarion next round, however if pa was continue then the community will need to have at least 10k paying players each round. Though it has not been said if the amount of money generated by 10k players will cover the costs of the game and pay off any remaining debts.
There has also been talk about whether the IRC network itself will be effected by Planetarion closing, however the general aim is that netgamers.org will keep going however its not certain how many people will remain on the network as most of the users are pa related. It looks like the forums will not remain if Planetarion was to end unless suitable hosting was found for them, however with no game a lot of the discussions which happen on the boards will not take place as a lot of the conversation is pa related. No one seems quite sure how long the 'creators' have been planning to close the game, though perhaps moving the irc network away from Planetarion was one of their first steps.
They have also announced that they have been working on another game based on football leagues however it's still unsure if they intend to release this game and if they intend to charge for it. I would have thought that many of the pa clones will try to take as many players as they can one of the popular alternatives being Starsphere. What ever happens the future of Planetarion seems uncertain and what happens over the coming months could decide the fate of Planetarion and its community.
Morpheus 2 is the latest version of the popular download client that over the previous months has gone through a lot of changes. For those that don?t know I will explain Morpheus history. The original Morpheus started up using the same network as Kazaa the layouts were about the same and files could be downloaded quick and easy without many problems, then early this year Morpheus split from the same network as Kazaa and started using the same network as GNUtella with a program which looked very similar to Gnucleus. For those using dialups the GNUtella network is no where near as good as kazaa is for downloading music. Morpheus continued to use the modified version of Gnucleus for the following months, I?m guessing in this time they were working on their own client for the GNUtella network which was finally launched this month under the title Morpheus 2.
When downloading Morpheus 2 I initially had to download a 4mb setup file then a further 5mbs for the latest java virtual machine (I suppose it could come in useful for any other programs I download which may need it.) anyway 1 hour later after all this downloading the program finally installed. My first impressions were good, it looked nice ran at a good speed and was easy to use. However Morpheus 2 still used the GNUtella network so was slow to connect. I tried quite a few times and it didn?t connect in anyway as fast as Kazaa. I opened both programs up to see which connected fastest, on average kazaa took between 5-10 seconds to connect while with Morpheus I could wait any time upto a minute before giving up. Once Morpheus was connected I had this silly thing telling me how much search power I had. I decided to search for faithless once it reached maximum search capacity, after about 2 minutes it came up with 3 results before having to reconnect. With kazaa I found about 150 references to Faithless in about 2minutes.
I then decided to download one of the files I had found this went slightly better and I did get reasonable download speeds however I did have connection problems to Morpheus for trying to search for other things, these problems did not occur in kazaa. I personally didn?t think Morpheus 2 lived up to what my expectations were and I found there website most unhelpful when trying to find out anything about Morpheus 2. The site seemed more interested in advertising from the way it seemed to me.
Overall I think Morpheus 2 was easy to use and it looked nice, however as a download manager it doesn?t seem as good as its close rivals such as limewire and bearshare and its no where near the level that it used to be when it used the same network as kazaa. So I?m giving Morpheus 2 a poor 3/10.
For those that don?t know the Xbox is a major games console produced by Microsoft, so far the Xbox has been very successful and has sold many games including the very popular Halo. On November 15th 2002 Microsoft will start to offer a new service for Xbox called Xbox Live, this is basically a complete world of online gaming for the Xbox meaning you can play games with other people around the world. However Xbox live will only be available for broadband/cable users because of the large amount of bandwidth such games take up to play online. A starting kit will be available for the Xbox that will include the necessary kit needed to be able to play games online. It also contains a microphone as all games will have voice chat enabled this is mainly because as the Xbox does not come with a keyboard as default it can get hard to chat to fellow gamers with a game pad.
Microsoft is taking a different view into online gaming for its console compared to its rivals which include Sony who produce the Playstation series. Microsoft are providing all the online software needed to get a game online while Sony rely on the games developers themselves to produce all the necessary software for getting their game online. The smaller games producers like the approach from Microsoft as it saves them a lot of work for little extra money, while the big companies such as Electronic Arts, who produce such games as Red Alert 2 and Medal of Honour, find the approach annoying as they have already invested heavily in online games markets.
Either way Microsoft looks to once again being at the forefront of the console online gaming revolution and will be a major contender in many years to come in the console market. Its system will certainly make it easier for the end user to play games online with its simple interface making all online games easy to access. Games producers for Sony intend to have games coming online to the Playstation 2 early next year.
The face of console gaming is going to change a lot in the coming months as it did when people started getting into online gaming on the PC. I personally think that games sales will continue to increase and the number of people taking up broadband will also increase.
Whilst there are some elements of business insurance that are required legally, there are also many additional options that may seem as though you are paying over the odds while your business is running smoothly. That is of course until you are faced with a situation where you are thankful to have the financial backup provided by good business insurance. Whilst it would be nice to predict the future, no one can tell when these disasters may strike, and it is much more comforting to know you can carry on with business as usual in such situations.
Here Doug Kelly, Director of Bluedrop Services insurance brokers, discusses some of the main benefits of having business insurance and why is it needed.
Providing protection against being sued
If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself caught up in a liability claim, business insurance will cover the significant costs involved. Even if you are not at fault the cost and damage to your reputation could be fatal to the continuation of your business. Whether it be from an accident, disgruntled employee, or a product safety issue, there are so many potential scenarios that can land you in this situation particularly with liability claims being so common these days. As any astute business owner knows, operating without insurance isn't a risk worth taking. About claims and other legal disputes that may occur during performing a business, here is a useful resource: defencesolicitorslondon.co.uk.
Keeps your employees protected
Whilst you do legally need to keep your employees protected with employer’s liability insurance, it is also important to remember they are your best asset and deserve additional compensation protection. Employer’s liability insurance doesn't just protect those on your payroll, but also covers any contractors, interns or freelance staff while working at your offices too. It's worth noting, when taking out this policy that employer's liability insurance is a legal requirement and that £5 million is the legal minimum cover level for employer's liability insurance.
Good business insurance and additional benefits such as health insurance will help to keep your team in good health as well as attracting and retaining your staff. Perhaps there are also key personnel that you should consider insuring individually should something happen to take them out of the picture when their presence is crucial to the business.
Some client contracts will demand it
If your business provides a professional service, there may be some clients that will require you to have specific insurances such as professional indemnity insurance. This provides them with the peace of mind that they will be compensated should anything go wrong or they be advised incorrectly. It provides a guarantee that you have the financial means to back up your professional work and makes relying on your services less of a gamble. Professional Indemnity, otherwise known as Errors and Omissions insurance, will ensure you are covered for legal and defence costs as well as court costs and any settlement fees that may be involved.
It can help prevent business closure
In the event of a disaster or claim, business insurance will help to recover your property and equipment whether it be from natural disaster or theft. Often it can take months or even a couple of years to recover following this type of disaster and in those situations business interruption insurance will cover your loss of income during the period it takes to get you back up and running. Without this, many businesses (up to 40%) fail to re-open.
Business interruption insurance is a key component of any business continuity plan. Whilst your standard commercial insurance will cover you for your premises and contents should disaster strike, business interruption insurance is there to cover your loss of income suffered during the period it takes to get you back up and running.
Protects your physical assets
All too often a business can suffer loss from natural disaster such as burst pipes or weather damage or even theft of your equipment. With a good insurance policy to cover your buildings and contents insurance you won’t need to worry about replacing or repairing your much needed and relied on assets.
Whether you run an office, retail outlet, pub, restaurant, hotel or factory, the value of your business contents is likely to be substantial, with a great deal of your assets being tied up in your premises. If these assets aren’t insured correctly, this could affect the day to day running and the immediate revenue of your business.
Properly insuring your business will mean you can rest easy knowing you are protected. By approaching an experienced broker they will ensure you are fully covered, have access to top rated insurers and can guarantee you aren’t paying over the odds.
For more information read our guide to deciding the right level of business insurance.