Amazon begins taking Vista orders

Online retailer Amazon has begun taking orders for Microsoft's long-delayed new operating system, Windows Vista.

The US branch of Amazon is offering a number of different full-price versions of Vista, as well as upgrades from the widely-used current system, Windows XP.

Windows Vista Home Basic is listed at $199 (£106), while the home/office version, Vista Ultimate, is priced at $399 (£210). Upgrades will cost less.

Consumer versions of Vista are not due for release until January next year.
Microsoft has said that business releases of the operating system should be available from November.

The company would not confirm Amazon's pricing structure for Vista, but a spokesman for the retailer insisted that the pricing of Vista was "the one thing we are certain of".

Price variations

According to Amazon, PC users hoping to get their hands on Vista will be asked to pay prices similar to current rates for Windows XP.

Vista Home Basic: $199Upgrade: $99.95
Vista Premium: $239Upgrade: $159
Vista Ultimate: $399Upgrade: $259
Vista Business:$299Upgrade: $199


An entry-level upgrade package for current XP users to install Vista Home Basic on their machines will set users back just $99.95 (£53), with a full-release version of that system costing twice the price.

A more advanced, media-rich version, known as Windows Vista Premium is also listed in the Amazon directory.

Microsoft is reportedly keen to push this version of the operating system, due to include integrated TV and other media functions currently available only through third-party add-ons or as part of the Windows XP Media Center.

The so-called Ultimate version of Vista, priced at $399 for the full version or $259 (£136) for an upgrade, is aimed at home users who wish to combine business capability with home entertainment features.

A licensed version of Vista Business will cost $299 (£157) at Amazon, with an upgrade version retailing at $199 (£106).

Quality control

Vista is the first major update since Windows XP was introduced five years ago, and was originally due for release in the second half of 2006.
But in March of this year release was postponed until 2007, and in June Microsoft chairman Bill Gates predicted there was only an "80% chance" it would be shipped on time.
The company insists that any late discovery of flaws or bugs in the system will prevent a quick release.

"Quality is the ultimate determinant," Microsoft's Kevin Kutz told the Associated Press.

BlogExplosion is a community for bloggers. It's main attraction was the internet's first traffic exchange for blogs.

The most popular secondary features are the forum, radio station, chat rooms, and games.

As of July 19, 2006 the site had over 50,000 members and included over 41,000 blogs in its directory.



Bravenet Web Services, Inc. is a provider of services, tools, and resources useful to webmasters, such as web hosting, web forums, guestbooks, and clip art.

Headquartered in Parksville, Britis Columbia, Canada, the company was founded in 1997 by David Shworan and Brad Knorr.

Bravenet purports to have over 8 million registered members and more than 20 million unique visitors each month. Bravenet services are offered on both an advertising-supported and a paid basis.
Play chess online

Gameknot is an online turn based chess website. Gameknot has over 400,000 users and is known for its simple user interface. Unlike other turn based websites, Gameknot specialises in chess. It makes large databases of past moves available to players in order to improve the standard of play. It allows for games where each move must be made within a certain number of days as well as 10 minute blitz games.

Special features include the analyze board option and annotated games. Players may create teams or join teams which compete against each other. There are also many tournament options in Gameknot.

Paying members are able to play more simutaneous games than non-paying members. They are also able to create teams and be team captain. Many other features in Gameknot are only available to paying members.

Gameknot also has bi-monthly chess tournaments, leagues and mini tournaments which are available to paying members.


Genes Reunited

Friends Reunited and websites like it took the internet by storm a couple of years ago, as tens of thousands of people realised they could trace long lost friends and relatives around the world.
Now Friends Reunited has added a new feature: Genes Reunited.

It is a tool to create your own family tree and search for other people using the system that might be distant blood relatives to you. And despite the extension there are no geographical boundaries to this website.

You will need to register to search for entries, and the privacy policy looks solid to me.
Once registered your homepage clearly displays the next steps. Search for your name, or the name of a relative, using the box provided.

All the entries will be listed in a results page, and you can use the link to send a message to the owner of a tree if your name appears in it. It is up to them if they want to make their tree accessible to you.

Clicking the link to build your own tree opens an editing feature that is really self-explanatory and easy to use. All you need now are the details to complete it.


Pixel Press

Pictures can tell a powerful story and Pixel Press is dedicated precisely to this concept.
Its aim is to provide a forum for documentary photographers to display their work.
Often thought provoking, always surprising and sometimes distressing, the stories told on these pages are not all current affairs and news, although they do go there sometimes.
These stories cover everything from an American perspective on the war in Iraq, to a South African view of Christian worship and religious ritual.

Click on Contents to get to the main stories and archives. All you need to do to enter a story is click on a thumbnail, but they all work differently once inside.

Some have pop-up captions when you roll your mouse over, others ask you to enter a series of subpages and read the text that goes with the pictures.

My only complaint is that it is sometimes quite fiddly to move around. But the stories are often powerful and very revealing as they come from an insider's viewpoint.

A word of warning, this website can be quite heavy going definitely and is not one to lighten the mood.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------, which was sent in by Roger from the UK, is a brilliant idea, and should help kill a few minutes at the end of your lunch break.

Think you are a bit of a movie buff? Why not test out your knowledge by trying to guess the name of the movie from the stick man recreation of a scene or the poster?
Choose whether you want to start playing from a particular puzzle or just take a random selection and click the appropriate link. The next page displays your image.

There are clues you can choose to reveal on the right and you type in the movie when you think you have it just above.

There are no prizes, no running high scores. It is just a bit of fun.

You can even submit your own entries using the link in the top navigation bar, but to do this you will need to register with an e-mail address first.


Sketch Swap

If you are still feeling in a sketchy mood then you can get some pretty instant gratification if you point your browser towards Sketch Swap.

The concept here really could not be simpler. You use the sketchpad on the opening page to draw something and when you have finished you submit it using the button in the bottom right hand corner.

Your reward is to see someone else's sketch drawn out in front of your eyes.
It is a bit like watching an Etch A Sketch that has been possessed by a ghost.
Most of them are a bit wobbly as it is quite hard to draw freehand if you do not have a graphics tablet, but you have no idea what you will get back and some of the images can be quite amusing.

Please do bear in mind though that this is a public access website and while I have yet to see anything unsuitable for children, the site's moderators cannot monitor it 24/7, so make sure you keep an open mind is an American electronic commerce company based in Seattle, Washington. It was one of the first major companies to sell goods over the internet and was one of the iconic stocks of the late 1990s dot-com bubble.

After the bubble burst Amazon faced skepticism about its business model, but it made its first annual profit in 2003.

Founded as by Jeff bezos in 1994 and launched in 1995, began as an online bookstore, though it soon diversified its product lines, adding DVDs, music CDs, computer software, video games, electronics, like mp3 players, apparel, furniture, food, and more.

Amazon has established separate websites in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, France, China and Japan and it ships globally on selected products.


Wood That Works

This is the website of a guy who makes kinetic sculptures out of wood.

This means his creations move thanks to a spring driven mechanism, which is bit of a technical description for something that is so awe-inspiringly beautiful.

These sculptures are offered for sale, but you do not have to pay to enjoy their grace, as there are animations and videos of them in motion on the site.

In the History and Techniques sections you can learn more about the inspiration behind the pieces and how they are made.

Then go to the Archive to review the works that he has completed so far. Each sculpture has a page with an animation of the motion, and a still photo of the piece.

Click the video page link under each animation to see the actual sculpture in motion, but these files are quite big, so be prepared to wait for the download.



This site houses the Bunny Theatre library which is a collection of 30 second films where animated bunnies re-enact the entire plot of popular movies such as Jaws, Star Wars and The Shining. Just click on a thumbnail to load the movie of your choice.

It is worth noting that some of the cartoons, like the films, contain adult content or language, although nothing too outrageous.

But there are warnings on all those that do so you can easily avoid them if you are likely to be offended.

This is just supposed to be a bit of sit-back-and-watch fun.


Lastminute Auction

The site is suitable for searching eBay auctions in America, the UK, Germany, Italy and Australia, but can be used by anyone because you can still snap up bargain buys from abroad if you are willing to pay the postage.

Just click the flag in the top right hand corner for the country that interests you.

The site will then display a list of auctions that have up to one hour left and feature items that are currently on bids of under one dollar.

Obviously some of the items will not be worth more than a dollar, but many of them will be, and this is where the super bargains can be snapped up.

Clicking the item will launch you into the eBay site so you can place your bid - good luck!



PayPal is an e-commerce business allowing payments and money transfers be made through the internet. It serves as an electronic alternative to traditional paper methods such as checks and money orders. PayPal performs payment processing for online vendors, auction sites, and other corporate users, for which it charges a fee.

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.


Vertical Farm

As the population of the world continues to grow, and farming land becomes ever more precious, the author of Vertical Farm believes the answer might be to start farming upwards.

The site contains plans and diagrams describing a new and futuristic concept to provide enough food for the world by layering farming plots on top of each other, skyscraper fashion.

Read the summary on the opening page to learn more about why this might be necessary as population of the world continues to grow.

According to the site, by 2050 80% of the world's population will reside in urban centres, and the vertical farm concept aims to reclaim some of the space lost to buildings by stacking arable plots in a managed design to make the most of the natural resources that are available.

The designs, ideas and statistics to support the concept are accessible through the navigation panel on the left, together with a very readable essay which explains the whole concept further.

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