A-Z book

1080p Of the common types of high-definition video, this is the best quality: 1920×1080 pixels.

32bit A measure of how much information a computer can process at once. Most older computers are 32bit.

4K Video with a resolution of at least 3840×2160 pixels.

64bit A technology that processes information in larger chunks. Most modern computers are 64bit.

720p A common resolution of high-definition video: 1280×720 pixels.

AES 256 Advanced Encryption Standard. A form of encryption that scrambles information so it can only be read with the correct password.

AMOLED Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode. An alternative technology to LCD for creating flat-panel screens. Most commonly used in smartphones, tablets and smartwatches.

Band steering Detects whether a router is dual-band and, if so, directs it to 5GHz.

Browser hijackers Programs that change your default browser, its homepage and search engine, without prior warning, when you install them.

Cache A temporary space for storing information. Can be memory used on a computer processor, or space on a hard drive used by a web browser.

CAD Computer Aided Design. Software used to create 3D models.

Calibration The process of checking and adjusting a piece of equipment. Printers often need to calibrate themselves before use.

Client A program used to access and manage a user’s email.

Content-aware fill Fills a selected area with content or colour that matches its surroundings.

CPU Central Processing Unit. Another term for a computer processor.

Crowdsourcing Obtaining ideas, information or money from a large group of people, usually online, rather than from more traditional sources.

CSV Comma Separated Value. A standard file format, used for storing information in tables, that can be opened by most spreadsheet applications.

Direct 2D acceleration A Microsoft program for performing 2D graphics tasks using the graphics card.

DirectX A Microsoft technology required to run many games in Windows.

DivX A popular type of compressed video file.

DLL Dynamic Link Library. DLL resources can be made use of by one or more Windows programs.

DSLR Digital single-lens reflex. A digital camera that uses a moving mirror so its viewfinder looks out through the lens. DSLRs use interchangeable lenses and large sensors for high-quality photos.

Ethernet A standard used for almost all wired computer networks.

Extension A program that adds extra features to your browser.

Firmware Basic software stored on a device, such as a music player, to control its operation. Can sometimes be upgraded in a process often called flashing.

GHz Gigahertz. A measure of how many instructions a chip can process per second. 1GHz is equal to 1,000MHz.

Graphics card A component in a computer that produces the image shown on the monitor.

HDMI High-definition media interface. A type of connection that transmits high-definition video and audio signals.

IP address Internet Protocol Address. A unique set of numbers, separated by full stops, used to identify computers and websites on the internet.

LED Light-Emitting Diode. An electronic device that emits light. Used on almost all electronic devices, and to provide the backlight for some LCDs.

M.2 A standard specification for internal PC expansion cards and connectors.

Megapixel A measure of the amount of detail that can be recorded by a digital image. A one- megapixel image is made up of a million dots (pixels).

Mesh router Wireless network that uses multiple, connected routers to stretch Wi-Fi further than a traditional router.

SATA Serial ATA. An interface for connecting modern hard drives and optical discs to a computer.

Script A small program that is stored on a web server to control part of a website.

SD card Secure Digital card. A popular type of memory card.

Search operator Characters you can add to a search query to narrow the results.

Single-board PC A cheap, basic computer comprising a single circuit board, like the Raspberry Pi.

sRGB A standard RGB colour space for use on monitors, printers and the internet. RGB stands for red, green and blue.

SSD Solid-state drive. Storage that, unlike a hard drive, uses no moving parts.

Tag A keyword used to describe a file or web page. Many programs use tags to organise related information quickly.

Thunderbolt A very fast port for connecting external storage to a computer. Can be used to connect monitors, a network and more.

USB 2.0/3.0 Faster successors to USB that are used by devices such as external hard drives.

USB Type-C A new connector that’s reversible, letting you plug it in upside down.

VPN Virtual private network. A technology for keeping all internet communication safe and private even on insecure networks.

Widget A small program such as a calendar that runs on the Windows desktop.

ZIP file A file that can contain compressed documents or files.

 

PATA Parallel ATA. An interface for connecting hard drives and optical drives to a computer.

Plug-in A small program that adds extra features to software or to your web browser.

PS/2 Personal System 2. A set of standards for such things as mouse and keyboard interfaces, originally used by IBM.

PUP Potentially unwanted program. A program that may
not be desired, despite the user consenting to it being downloaded.

RAM Random-access memory. e computer’s working area, used for data storage while the PC is switched on.

Raw A format for digital photos that stores the image exactly as the camera captured it, without compression or optimisation, but which is not compatible with all image editors.

RCA plug Part of an RCA connector used to carry audio and video signals.

Root To perform tasks on Android devices that aren’t permitted by the manufacturer.

Lenovo P2 review

Lenovo P2 review

When we reviewed the Moto G4 last year, we wondered when other makers of budget phones would catch up. ey still haven’t. But Lenovo, which bought Motorola’s mobile business in 2014, has decided to compete with itself. e P2 is a new model that’s equally impressive value. It’s exclusive to ree, but comes unlocked on pay-as-you-go with a minimum £10 top-up.

The P2’s best feature is battery life: our video-playback test took 28 hours 50 minutes to run it down. In everyday use, we went a whole weekend with 70 per cent still remaining. is is phenomenal for any phone, let alone a relatively cheap one. How has Lenovo managed it? Simply by fitting a bigger battery. e phone feels a little fatter than average for it, but still great, with a metal case in grey or gold.

The big Samsung-style 5.5in AMOLED screen isn’t the brightest, which could be annoying on sunny days, but it covered all but a fraction of the sRGB colour range in our tests. Below it is a fingerprint reader for unlocking the phone and Android Pay. Inside, a 2GHz Snapdragon processor with 4GB of memory gave us better speed scores than the Moto G4, rivalling the £239 Honor 6X. It even managed games convincingly.

Only the 13-megapixel rear camera let us down a little. Compared to the Moto G4’s, it gave us decent pictures outdoors but grainy results inside and in lower light. We’d also have liked simpler camera settings, but if you want more control over your photography, Lenovo’s Pro mode will appeal.

Surely there must be a catch? Well, for unexplained reasons the P2 comes with Android 6, not the current version 7 (Nougat), but we’re told a free update will be available soon. e Moto G4 is still cheaper, and the slightly pricier 6X is more fancy. But for us the battery life clinches it.

SPECIFICATIONS

5.5in 1920×1080-pixel screen • 13-megapixel rear camera • 5-megapixel front camera • 32GB flash storage • MicroSD card slot • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.2 • 3G/4G • 153x76x8.3mm (HxWxD) • 177g • One-year warranty.

VERDICT: It may not have the brightest screen or the best camera, but the P2 is our new favourite budget smartphone

★★★★★

ALTERNATIVE: Moto G4 £150 Shop around and you can get this brilliant phone for significantly less than the Lenovo P2, but it won’t stay charged as long.

Serif Affinity Photo review

Serif Affinity Photo review

The next generation

Serif has been making affordable rivals to professional graphics tools like Photoshop, QuarkXPress and Illustrator for decades, but in 2015 it did something unexpected. Rather than converting its PhotoPlus, PagePlus and DrawPlus programs to the Apple Mac, it launched a completely new series called Affinity. It was an instant hit with Apple users, and now Serif is bringing it to the PC to replace its existing range. So while Affinity Photo has been around for 18 months, it’s only now available to Windows users, and if you already have PhotoPlus, this will be your next upgrade.

Developing a completely new set of programs from scratch is a brave move
– and it’s paid off. We always loved the breadth of features you got for your money in Serif’s Plus software, but it was all about imitating professional packages at a lower cost rather than offering a different way of working. Affinity rethinks the whole approach to each task based on what regular users actually want to do, and it turns out that tools that suit pros better are probably easier for the rest of us to get to grips with too.

For example, it’s particularly noticeable that you can try everything on the main image you’re looking at, not via a small preview. You can even roll back your command history (multiple undo) visually, watching the image change back as you drag a slider. And for many operations you can also drag across the image to compare before and after.

Inevitably, the breadth and depth of features can’t quite match Photoshop, whose ever-increasing toolbox sprawls out into areas like 3D modelling. But for everyday image retouching and composition, even at a serious level, there’s not much you’ll miss. Selection tools, healing brushes and content-aware fill (see smaller screenshot right) let you chop and change images seamlessly, and full layer support means you can try all kinds of advanced techniques.

Filter layers let you add advanced effects to all or sections of an image that are reversible, so you can still edit everything later. Raw pictures from higher-quality digital cameras can be imported and tweaked for maximum control over exposure and tone, and a full range of export options is available.

Our only complaint is that while Affinity runs smoothly on even quite modest Macs, thanks to programming that makes use of Apple’s optimization technologies, it struggled a bit on our Windows 10 laptop, making us wait longer than Photoshop for similar commands to complete. DirectX 11 and Direct 2D acceleration is supported, so if you have a decent graphics card you should fare better.

Unlike Photoshop, you don’t have to buy Affinity Photo on subscription, and at under £50 – less than half Adobe’s annual fee – it’s a great deal.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Windows 7, 8 or 10 • 2GB memory (4GB minimum, 8GB recommended) • DirectX 10 or higher graphics • 670MB free hard-drive space

VERDICT: At a very reasonable price, this is a serious photo editor that everyone can use, with all you’re likely to need and less clutter.

★★★★★

ALTERNATIVE: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 £10 per month With the Lightroom picture manager included, this is still the ultimate professional imaging choice.

Google Nest Cam Outdoor review

Google Nest Cam Outdoor review

Watch without bother

Google Nest was the company set up by Tony Fadell, the inventor best known for creating Apple’s iPod. Its first product was a smart central-heating thermostat, but when Google bought the company it also acquired Dropcam, an internet security-camera maker, and thus the Nest Cam was born: one of the first simple, all-in-one units for monitoring your home over the internet. Now there’s a version that works outside your house too.

The camera

The camera comes with a small metal plate that you can screw to any suitable surface. is done, the Nest Cam Outdoor attaches to the plate magnetically. en you just need to get power to it. If you have an outdoor power socket, the supplied 7.5-metre cable should reach it. If not, you’ll need to drill a hole through your wall to route the cable through, which is a simple job for anyone with a long drill bit.

Naturally, the unit is weatherproof, and it also has its own infra-red LED to film at night. We found this covered our entire garden (about 40ft long). Of course, you won’t want to sit watching all the time, so the camera will send an alert to your phone if it detects movement or loud noises.

It will try to exclude everyday movement, such as trees swaying. You can schedule times when alerts are active, for example only at night or when you’re out.

The catch is that to record anything you need a Nest Aware subscription, from £80 a year. is saves video constantly, 24 hours a day, to Nest’s servers. Just keep an eye on your broadband-usage limits. At the default 720p resolution, which we found very clear, Nest reckons you’ll use 60 to 160GB per month, or 140 to 380GB at the even sharper 1080p. Nest Aware also adds motion detection zones and people recognition, although unlike the Netatmo Welcome it can’t be set to ignore everything except people. Without the subscription, you only get to watch live, which you can do from anywhere over the internet.

SPECIFICATIONS

1080p camera with mic, speaker and motion detection • Requires broadband internet connection and Nest Aware subscription for some features
• 72x72x89mm (HxWxD)’

VERDICT: Nest is good at making these systems easy to set up and use. Our only reservation is the expensive subscription cost.

★★★★☆

ALTERNATIVE: Netgear Arlo £190 is weatherproof camera with base station needs no wires and comes with free storage, but has limited battery life,

Google Chromecast Ultra review

Google Chromecast Ultra review

Stream TV in 4K

First, there was Chromecast, a stick that plugged into the HDMI port on your TV and played videos from the internet. en there was Chromecast 2, with faster Wi-Fi and a new shape. is time, Google has kept the same design – a little flying saucer on a rubber strap – and added 4K resolution, four times sharper than Full HD. As before, you’ll need an Android or Apple phone or tablet to operate it. e Ultra connects either via Wi-Fi, or with an Ethernet cable – which you may need to get a fast enough connection for 4K.

Other streaming boxes are available (see ‘Do I really need…?’ Issue 491, page 22), but this is currently the cheapest with 4K, also known as Ultra HD. Relatively few films and TV shows are available in UHD, but it does look great. If you don’t have a 4K TV set, on the other hand, it’s pointless. Just buy the cheaper Chromecast 2.

Even if you do have a 4K TV set it probably already has its own smart
apps that access the same major online video services (Netflix, BBC iPlayer and so on), without £69’s worth of dangly frisbee. In fact, your 4K TV may provide something important that the Chromecast Ultra doesn’t: Amazon Video. is offers a huge choice of content, and if you have an Amazon Prime account, most of it is free. But because Amazon isn’t friends with Google, it’s not available on Chromecast.

SPECIFICATIONS

802.11ac Wi-Fi • HDMI plug • Ethernet port • Mains adapter with 2m cable • 4K video • 13.7x58x58mm (HxWxD) • 47g • Requires a device with Android 4.1, iOS 8.0, OS X 10.9 or Windows 7 or later

VERDICT: e basic Chromecast is a handy gadget, but this adds too little for most 4K TV owners at too high a price, and Amazon Video is a big miss

★★★☆☆

ALTERNATIVE: Amazon Fire TV Stick £40 Available in April, the updated version of the streamer, which comes with a remote, omits 4K but adds Alexa voice control and guest accounts

PC Specialist Enigma K2 review

PC Specialist Enigma K2 review

A PC for work and play

Having tested a few now in different PCs, we can confirm that Intel’s latest processors, codenamed Kaby Lake, aren’t exactly a quantum leap over their predecessors (Skylake). More like a dispirited plod up a low kerb, to be honest. Some do show noticeable performance improvements, but the i5-7400 inside this new desktop system from PC Specialist is not a shining example. It’s no faster in practise than, say, 2013’s i5-4670K, which is now so old it’s officially ‘end of life’.

It is cheaper, though, which means it leaves room in a reasonable £800 budget for 16GB of memory, a 240GB SSD, a 1TB hard drive, and a GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card from Nvidia’s surprisingly powerful new range. is lot plus a chunkily styled Cooler Master K350 case adds up to the Enigma K2.

GTX 1060

This particular GTX 1060 (see our review, Issue 492) has 3GB of its own memory and isn’t quite as powerful as the 6GB variant. Even so, it’ll run just about any game on maximum-quality settings at Full HD (1920×1080-pixel) resolution with enough frames per second (fps) to keep things smooth: that is, well above 30fps, even if it doesn’t quite hit the preferred 60. Lots of graphics programs also support Nvidia cards, so it should help to keep photo filters speedy and video timelines responsive too.

That’s not to be sniffed at in a machine at this price. And it’s not as if the i5-7400 is a big compromise: it’s more than adequate for most Windows 10 tasks, including photo and video editing, as long as you’re not trying to produce the next Star Wars movie. But it’s appreciably slower than the i5–7600 processor, which you’ll find in the Wired2Fire Diablo Ultima v2 (see Issue 497). e SSD isn’t in a super-fast M.2 slot, and nor is there such a slot for an extra drive.

The Asus H110M-R motherboard provides two USB 3.0 ports at the back, along with four USB 2.0 and, to keep all those free, a pair of PS/2 connectors, in case you still have a keyboard and mouse from yesteryear. ere’s even an SD card reader. But there’s no USB 3.1, Type-C or underbolt for high-speed external storage. at’s also true of the Diablo Ultima v2, but it gives you more raw processing power in return for having to turn down your 3D graphics options.

SPECIFICATIONS

3.0GHz Intel i5-7400 quad-core processor • 16GB memory • 3GB GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card • 240GB SSD • 1TB hard drive • 3x USB 3.0 • 5x USB 2.0 • Gigabit Ethernet • HDMI port • DisplayPort • DVI port • Windows 10 Home • 415x192x418mm (HxWxD) • Three-year warranty

VERDICT: If you want a PC for gaming, work and media, and future expansion isn’t a big concern, this is a good buy

★★★★☆

ALTERNATIVE: Wired2Fire Diablo Ultima v2 £800 is teams an i5-7600 processor for demanding work and creative programs with a cheaper Radeon RX 460 graphics card

Acer Spin 3 review

Acer Spin 3 review

More and more laptops nowadays are slimmer

More and more laptops nowadays are slimmer, lighter ‘two-in-one’ touchscreen machines, with a 360-degree hinge that lets you fold the keyboard out of the way and pretend you’re using a tablet. e Spin 3 isn’t quite that. It has the convertible feature, but it’s a full-size 15-inch laptop that weighs over 2kg, or four-and-a-half bags of sugar in old money.

That’s not so heavy that you couldn’t lug it around with you, but it wouldn’t be easy. Basically, it’s a full-blown Windows 10 computer with touchscreen operation thrown in. Because Windows 10 is specifically designed to work just as well in Tablet mode as with a mouse or touchpad, that’s a sensible proposition. And although it’s fairly chunky, the Spin 3 looks pretty smart for a laptop costing under £500, with its black plastic finish enhanced by Acer’s classy ‘shale’ texture effect.

The keyboard takes advantage of the Spin 3’s generous dimensions

The keyboard takes advantage of the Spin 3’s generous dimensions to include a proper numeric keypad, which will keep your spreadsheet work quick if you’re used to working on a desktop PC. e keys are satisfyingly clicky, and there’s little give in the case when typing hard. We liked the touchpad, too.

On the other side of the hinge is a 15.6in touchscreen, which feels like a luxury compared to more portable 11 and 13in machines – until you turn it on. Sure, there’s enough physical space to fit two document windows side by side, or spread out your palettes in creative programs. But with just 1366×768 pixels, you don’t get enough detail. User interface elements take up more space than content. And while buyers with less than perfect eyesight might be happy that everything looks relatively big, they’ll wish it was less fuzzy. Limited brightness and contrast complete a lacklustre impression. In the US, Acer offers a Full HD screen, and that would make a big difference.

There’s also corner-cutting on the inside. Intel’s i3-6006U is among the weakest of the Core series processors, and in our tests it struggled to hit a third of the speed of a mid-range i5 PC in everyday tasks. You wouldn’t want to rely on it for regular photo or video editing. e 1TB hard drive does have a relatively large 128MB cache, which means the operating system doesn’t constantly slow things down swapping little chunks of data back and forth. But Windows 10 still doesn’t feel anywhere near as responsive as if it were installed on an SSD.

We did get surprisingly acceptable results in 3D games, managing to run some smoothly at 720p HD resolution with high graphics settings. Smaller i3 laptops we’ve tried couldn’t keep up, probably because heat couldn’t escape their slim cases fast enough. And we were also pleased to find the Spin 3 lasted seven and a half hours in our video- playback test.

If you do want a giant convertible, there are more powerful options available. Dell’s Inspiron 15 5000 2-in-1 (£699 from Dell www.snipca.com/23755; see our review, Issue 483) comes with a new i5-7200U processor and a 256GB SSD, but costs £200 more. HP’s Envy x360 15 (£850 from Currys www.snipca.com/ 23757) feels more upmarket, with its aluminium case, 1TB hard drive and 128GB SSD, but is even more expensive. And it still doesn’t offer a particularly great screen or keyboard.

By comparison, the Spin 3 looks like a bargain – but the limited performance and dated screen mean it just doesn’t feel nice enough to use.

VERDICT: Acer has made a full-size convertible look affordable, but it’s not well-equipped enough to feel practical

★★☆☆☆

ALTERNATIVE: Dell Inspiron 15 5000 2-in-1 £699 Has a much
faster i5 and Full HD screen, but costs £200 more and lasts two hours less

Best Free Software

SysGauge review

SysGauge

www.sysgauge.com

Free system-monitoring tools tend to focus on one job, such as checking hard-drive usage or alerting you when your processor is about to blow a gasket. SysGauge juggles both these tasks – and also monitors your RAM, installed programs, operating system, USB ports, router and even other PCs on your network. It displays real-time measurements on graphs, then offers ratings and warnings to help you make sense of the numbers. All from a small, easy-to-use program that doesn’t cost a penny.

What’s the catch? Honestly, there isn’t one. It can even spell ‘gauge’ correctly. It can’t quite whip out a screwdriver and fix your PC, but it can switch it off and on again, which some may argue is the main job of IT support anyway (not that you’d catch me saying such a thing). It’s up to you to configure this warning system, by setting SysGauge to, for example, play a sound or restart your PC when a certain counter crosses a chosen threshold. e instructions are explained clearly on the web page.

You can export data as a spreadsheet (Excel or CSV), as well as PDF, plain text and HTML – all for free. ere’s even an interval export option that saves data at set times (say, every 10 minutes), then automatically emails you the files.

The program does need installing but the process is quick and junk-free. Click the appropriate Download button for your PC (32bit or 64bit), then save and run the installer. e program takes up just 14.3MB (64bit version). SysGauge launched in January 2017 and has already released several updates, so we expect even more options to be added soon.

The default counter displays CPU Usage (how hard your processor is working). Click the entries under Counter to see Memory Usage, Network Transfer Rate and more.

To add one or more of dozens of counters to the list, click Add then click through the options. For example, we added a counter to monitor a USB port’s transfer rate.

To get a current health report, click Analyze. To configure automatic actions (Conditions) at certain levels, right-click a counter, then click Edit Counter.

To save a report, click Monitor, Save Report, then choose an export format and mode. To set up automatic reports at intervals, click Options, then Advanced.

What should Windows Vista users do now?

What should Windows Vista users do now?

Microsoft is about to pull the plug on the 10-year-old operating system

Just as all political careers end in failure, all operating systems (OS) end with support being removed. Windows Vista will become the latest to go to that great server in the sky when Microsoft ends ‘extended’ support on 11 April. From that date Vista will receive no further security fixes which, Microsoft says, means it can “invest our resources towards more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences”.

There will probably be fewer tears shed for Vista than when support for XP ended in 2014. Now running on less than one per cent of computers worldwide, Vista was never widely loved, and has received more criticism than any other version of Windows. ere’s even a Wikipedia page that catalogues all this censure. Vista users now need a painless escape route that lets them keep their files and folders.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s suggested solution is to upgrade to Windows 10. is will keep you safe until 2025 when, according to Microsoft’s ‘Windows lifecycle fact sheet, security support will cease. But to upgrade directly from Vista, rather than installing Windows 10 from scratch, you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.1 first. Only from these operating systems can you make the leap to Windows 10.

It may be hypothetical anyway because many Vista PCs will lack the hardware to run Windows 10. Microsoft tells you how powerful your PC needs to be on its website

Another way to check is to

measure your processor’s speed using software like PassMark (www.passmark.com). As a general rule, if your processor scores less than 1480 then abandon any plans to upgrade your PC. Instead, consider buying one of the Windows 10 PCs that have impressed us recently. Our current ‘Buy It!’ favourite is the £800 Diablo Ultima v2, made by the Dorking-based Wired2Fire (see page 30).

But if PassMark’s results give you the green light, you have two options. You can perform what Microsoft calls an ‘in-place upgrade’, which moves your programs and data. It recommends using Laplink’s PCmover Express for the task, and is currently promoting it at half price (£13.14, www.snipca.com/ 23819). is is a bit sneaky because only the Professional version of the program can carry out an ‘in-place upgrade’ – and that costs £59.94.

Remember though this process still requires you to upgrade again, from Windows 7 or 8.1 to 10. is means you’ll need to find someone selling a legitimate copy of 7 or 8.1 – most probably on Amazon – which won’t be easy or cheap. However, one advantage of this route is that you’ll still be able to get Windows 10 for free by taking advantage of Microsoft’s ‘assistive technologies’ loophole, see Workshop Issue 495, page 35).

If two upgrades feels like double the trouble, you’re left with the second option: buying Windows 10. e Home edition costs £119 from Microsoft’s UK store.

What if you want to continue using Vista? at’s fine, as long as you don’t use it to connect to the web. ere may not be many Vista users left, fewer even than XP, but from 12 April hackers will be lurking online waiting to pounce.

Google’s ‘invisible’ CAPTCHA

Google’s ‘invisible’ CAPTCHA

Google’s ‘invisible’ CAPTCHA automatically knows you’re a human

Google has promised to abolish one of the biggest online annoyances – the CAPTCHA tests that ask you to prove you’re a human, not a robot.

The company says it has developed an “invisible” system that confirms a user is human by analysing how they browse the web. If it proves successful it means you’ll no longer need to decipher squiggly letters, or tick a ‘I’m not a robot’ box.

For years websites have used CAPTCHAs to prevent automated software from bombarding them with internet traffic. Hackers launch these Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in order to knock a website offline. Other sites use CAPTCHAs to prevent automated programs from buying tickets online and leaving comments.

Google acknowledges that the human-robot test is a necessary evil, but since buying the reCAPTCHA technology in 2009 the company has been working on a way to make it less irritating.

It has gradually replaced wobbly text with puzzles that people can solve, but computers can’t. ese include identifying pictures of dogs in a gallery of animal photos, and listening to somebody reading numbers over music.

Google has launched a site telling website owners about the new system (www.snipca. com/23756), saying that it lets genuine visitors “pass through with ease”.

The company hasn’t revealed exactly how the system works lest hackers find a way to bypass it. But it’s known to look for types of behaviour online typical of humans, but not robots. For example, humans move the cursor in a more random way than robots do.