Daily Archives: February 22, 2016

Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows 10

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Keyboard shortcuts have been around in computing for a long time.  They are actions linked to specific key sequences.  I published a comprehensive list a few years ago which many said they found useful.

Common Shortcuts (by pressing the following):

TCS-icon-16x16  CTRL + X = Cut – the highlighted item.

TCS-icon-16x16  CTRL + C = Copy – what you have highlighted

TCS-icon-16x16  CTRL + V = Paste – what you have just copied.

Here is a list of the shortcuts I find the most useful.   Windows Key Logo = The Windows Key (To the left of your space bar).

TCS-icon-16x16  Windows Task View: Windows Key Logo  + Tab – This opens the new Task View, which will show all of your currently opened programs allowing you to select and switch easily.  Ideal for the multi-tasker!

TCS-icon-16x16  Windows Task Switch: Alt + Tab – This action quickly switches between your currently opened programs.

TCS-icon-16x16  Open File Explorer: Windows Key Logo + E – This opens File Explorer, which gives you access to any devices connected to your computer and also access to your files.

TCS-icon-16x16  Show/Hide your Desktop: Windows Key Logo + D – This function quickly takes you straight to your desktop.  A quick press again and you will be take back to the screen you were previously on, magic!

TCS-icon-16x16  Maximise your current App: Windows Key Logo + Up Arrow – This function will maximise any App your currently have open.  Also, by pressing the Windows Key  + Down Arrow key will minimise the screen.  The left or right arrow keys will snap the program to that edge of the screen.

TCS-icon-16x16  Lock your PC: Windows Key Logo + L – This will instantly lock your PC, which helps keep little hands from fiddling if you are walking away from your system.  Password will be requested if you have one on your system.

TCS-icon-16x16  Undoing a mistake:  CTRL + Z – I find I use this a lot!  This function undoes your last action, particularly helpful when writing or editing documents, pictures etc.

I hope that list is of some use, as always please get in touch if you have any queries, Ian.

Windows Live Mail & Windows 8 needs updating!

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Hello again,

I hope your New Year’s Resolutions are still intact!  My healthy eating one is going quite well so far but Mini Eggs are back on the shelf just to taunt me!!!

Couple of topics to cover this month.

Firstly, Windows Live Mail.

Microsoft have announced that their standalone email app requires an update to continue its compatibility with @outlook, @live, @msn and @hotmail email accounts.  If you do not install this update you will basically have to go online and use the web based version at www.outlook.com.  I think due to the programs age now it will eventually stop being supported in favour of the new Windows Mail App, the web based version and the Microsoft Office – Outlook program.

Secondly, users on Windows 8, that is 8 not 8.1.  Soon Microsoft will not be supporting your version of Windows, might sound odd but basically to continue to receive updates to Windows you need to have installed the 8.1 update.  If you do not, then you will soon no longer receive system updates to resolve performance and stability issues and most importantly security vulnerabilities.  You can check what version of Windows you are running by Right Clicking on your Start Menu and from the list that appears select System.  The System Information page will tell you the version of Windows you are currently running.  If it is Windows 8 and not 8.1 you need to update it.  The Windows 8.1 update is found in the Windows Store App (found via your Start Menu, Green Icon with a shopping bag and the Windows log on it).

In my opinion if you are running Windows 7 or 8 you should consider updating to Windows 10.  It really is very good, there have been a few issues but there always are and there have been few less than I thought and the update is very straight forward.  Most programs are compatible with Windows 10 but do check devices like webcams, printers and scanners prior to updating.

As always if you have any queries please get in touch, have a great February.  Ian.

New Year’s Resolutions for Computer Users

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Happy New Year!  Thought I would start the new year with a brief summary of the things you should be doing on your system.

  1. Backup!  I waffle on about this a lot but it really is one of the most important things to do, remember if you can’t afford to lose it – you can’t afford not to have it backed up!
  2. Clean up unnecessary files – Your computer is constantly creating temporary files on your PC, get rid of these with the free CCleaner program.  The latest version will actual monitor the build-up of these types of files and prompt when a clean-up is required.
  3. Keep your pictures, documents and emails organised.  There is no easy way to do this but clearing up your own files is a good way to keep your system organised.  If you don’t need it anymore delete it.  Most customers ‘Downloads’ folder is normally full of unnecessary files.
  4. Defragment your system – Helps to maintain your systems speed.
  5. Clean up your inbox, emails can build up into the 100,000 if you never delete them.  It can also use up a lot your email storage.  Delete emails you no longer need but remember to empty your trash/recycling bin to completely remove them.
  6. Be aware of scams, be cautious of the websites you visit, emails you receive with links in and especially email attachments – if you weren’t expecting it, consider not opening it.
  7. Keep your system up to date.  This is so important, it helps improve your systems stability, security and performance.  Sometimes updates can go wrong but the majority go through with no problems – so it is advised!
  8. Protect yourself from viruses by ensuring you have adequate protection.  Free Anti-Virus programs are good but paid versions are much better.  Many free Anti-Virus programs now monitor your online activity for marketing purposes, the two most popular free programs Avast and AVG both do this now, they are free with a catch!  Also, compliment your Anti-Virus with Malwarebytes Free and ADWcleaner.
  9. Change your passwords!  I know it is a pain but these are like the keys to your online world, you wouldn’t give a copy of your front door key to a stranger?  If your password is compromised, it is like an open the door to your personal data.  Changing your password helps prevent this, make it a good one!

As always get in touch if you have any queries, have a great January.  Ian.

Reducing your chances of being hacked

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This month in light of the hacking of TalkTalk I thought I would list some measures you can take to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of hacking or fraud.  Obviously in the case of the TalkTalk hack, that was out of consumer hands as the attack was directly at TalkTalk.

A Strong Password!

This is obvious but a strong password is so essential, don’t make the mistake of using easy passwords!  Family/pet names are a strict no no!  Years of birth, house numbers etc are bad!  With a prominence of social media, we are all giving to much of our personal information into the public domain, this information can be used to form information about you, passwords, security information etc.  That is why passwords that cannot be guessed are essential.  Always use upper and lower case characters, numbers and preferably symbols too.  Keep passwords random, like GhostPigeon, random but easier to remember than a jargon password.  Better yet make it Gh1st@Pige1n!28.  The combination of different characters makes your password near impossible to guess and even harder to hack.

Good Anti-Virus

A decent anti-virus can help keep your system more secure and help prevent viruses and malware from sneaking onto your system.  Free Anti-Virus programs are ok but the paid alternatives are paid for a reason, they simply do a better job!

Updates!

Whether you are using a Windows PC, Apple Mac, tablet or phone keeping it up to date is essential.  Many of the updates released are there to improve security and block exploits on your device.  If you do not update you simply don’t have the best protection.

This is not the website your looking for, move along….

When you go onto a website check it is secure.  Whenever you are about to enter sensitive information the site should be encrypting your data.  To check this look to the address bar on the internet browser you are using.  It should have a small green section, typically with a padlock on it.  You can click this to check the website you are on is encrypting your data and that the website is verified to be doing so.  If you don’t see that be cautious!

I have had to cover several areas briefly but I just want to try and give you a few tips to protect yourselves.  If you have any other queries, please get in touch.

Broadband Options

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This month I thought I would briefly summarise the main broadband options.

The three main options:

(Key for this article: MBs = Megabytes Per Second)

Virgin Media: Virgin provide the best speed available, as a customer myself for over 10 years I have always found I get the speed I pay for and it really is very fast.  Virgins entry level broadband speed is 50MBs, which dwarfs the standard non-fibre average for this area of 6-10MBs.  Virgin does tend to cost more than other provides but I think you get what you pay for and all repairs and replacement equipment is included in your month cost.   So no silly threats of extra charges if they come to your house and don’t find a fault!

Broadband through the BT Line:

If you are not on cable or mobile broadband then it will run through your BT phone line.  Common providers are BT, TalkTalk, SKY, EE and PlusNet.  Broadband that runs through the BT line is either standard broadband or Fibre Optic.  Standard in this area is anything from .5MBs (in more rural areas) to 20MBs (in areas close to the BT exchange).  Fibre Optic broadband is available in the majority of Torbay now and is commonly in 20MBs, 40MBs and 75MBs speed options.

While this is generally cheaper than Virgin not all of the repairs are covered.  Most suppliers will charge for replacement routers and will charge for repairs if they are found to occur in the home and not on the home BT line or external connections.  The charges can be as much as £130.00.

Mobile Broadband: This is a good option for light users, you can Pay as You Go or have a contract for your monthly usage.  Speeds are slower then the other options but for general browsing of the internet and emails it can be the most cost effective option.  Speed is highly dependent on your signal strength though.

The best deals are package bundles from the same provider.  So if you are with SKY it will be more cost effective to move your broadband and phone to them as well.  The same with Virgin, BT and TalkTalk who all provide the three services.

I have had to be quite brief on this subject but there really is a huge amount of other information to tell you but if you have any queries please get in touch. Broadband Options

Broadband Options

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This month I thought I would briefly summarise the main broadband options.

The three main options:

(Key for this article: MBs = Megabytes Per Second)

Virgin Media: Virgin provide the best speed available, as a customer myself for over 10 years I have always found I get the speed I pay for and it really is very fast.  Virgins entry level broadband speed is 50MBs, which dwarfs the standard non-fibre average for this area of 6-10MBs.  Virgin does tend to cost more than other provides but I think you get what you pay for and all repairs and replacement equipment is included in your month cost.   So no silly threats of extra charges if they come to your house and don’t find a fault!

Broadband through the BT Line:

If you are not on cable or mobile broadband then it will run through your BT phone line.  Common providers are BT, TalkTalk, SKY, EE and PlusNet.  Broadband that runs through the BT line is either standard broadband or Fibre Optic.  Standard in this area is anything from .5MBs (in more rural areas) to 20MBs (in areas close to the BT exchange).  Fibre Optic broadband is available in the majority of Torbay now and is commonly in 20MBs, 40MBs and 75MBs speed options.

While this is generally cheaper than Virgin not all of the repairs are covered.  Most suppliers will charge for replacement routers and will charge for repairs if they are found to occur in the home and not on the home BT line or external connections.  The charges can be as much as £130.00.

Mobile Broadband: This is a good option for light users, you can Pay as You Go or have a contract for your monthly usage.  Speeds are slower then the other options but for general browsing of the internet and emails it can be the most cost effective option.  Speed is highly dependent on your signal strength though.

The best deals are package bundles from the same provider.  So if you are with SKY it will be more cost effective to move your broadband and phone to them as well.  The same with Virgin, BT and TalkTalk who all provide the three services.

I have had to be quite brief on this subject but there really is a huge amount of other information to tell you but if you have any queries please get in touch.

Windows 10, should you upgrade now?

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Hello again, hope you have enjoyed another typical British Summer!  It has now been a few months since Windows 10 was released.  I have had many customers who I have helped with the upgrade and many who have carried it out themselves.  So if you haven’t upgraded yet should you do so?  I would say yes.  The majority of people who have upgraded have been pleased with the new operating system and the upgrade process is fairly straightforward.  Approximately 95% of upgrades complete without issue.  Frustratingly enough I have a custom built laptop that is currently not upgrading to Windows 10 at all, why me!  The Windows 10 upgrade is the most straightforward Microsoft have ever released.  It brings over all of your files, programs (unless incompatible) and most settings.

I have found users moving from Windows 8 have been positive about Windows 10, as the difference feel less and the improvements more substantial.  Users from Windows 7 or older versions can feel a little less at home.  The new Start Menu works well I think but again as with Windows 8 it is crucial to configure it to your requirements.  The tile icons on the start menu can be moved around by clicking and dragging them to the desired location.  You can also Right Click on the tiles and select ‘Unpin from Start’ to remove it and also go into ‘All Apps’ and right click on any program you want to add to the Start Menu by selecting ‘Pin to Start’.

If you need any help with the upgrade or to make Windows 10 more user friendly, please get in touch.

If your Windows 10 upgrade doesn’t seem to be starting please drop me an email and I will give you instruction on how to force it to start.

Again another reminder, this month I dealt with another customer whose hard drive had failed with the dreaded ‘Click of Death’ unfortunately losing all of their data as no backup was in place.  Please get in touch to discuss your best options.  If you cannot afford to lost it keep it backed up!

Have a great month, Ian.

Scams and Windows 10 is here

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Hello again, another busy month out of the way, where is the year going!

To begin, a word about scams again.  Had to help several customers this month who had fallen for a cold call telephone scam.  Covered several times before, customers receive a call claiming to be from their ISP (Internet Service Provider – BT, TalkTalk, SKY) who say they have phoned regarding a problem with the computer.  They have been logging into computers remotely and then putting a password on the computer, locking the owner out and then demanding £200 to allow you access to your own computer!  Pretty horrible.  One customer had an afternoon of harassment where he received calls every few minutes and the caller was really quite aggressive.  So please be aware of this ongoing scam and simply say you don’t have a computer and hang up!

By the time this article is with you Windows 10 will have been released.  The 29th July is the release date.  As previously covered it will be free to upgrade from Windows 7 and 8.  Some people had mistakenly thought the upgrade would only last a year but the upgrade is permanent, but must be done within a year of its release.  I am hoping the upgrade will be straight forward but it would be best to create a backup of your files just in case.

I will be providing support to cover the whole upgrade process for those that need help, I will be supplying new laptops and desktop PCs with Windows 10 preinstalled, so please get in touch if you need any help at all.

I have had quite a bit of interest in the SSD upgrade covered in the June edition of the Beach Hut and really helped some older systems become extremely quick again.

As always please get in touch if you have any queries, Ian.

SSD – A solid improvement

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Hello again, this month I thought I would write about an upgrade I have been carrying out for several customers.  The upgrade involves replacing an existing hard drive (what all your data is stored on) and installing an SSD which stands for Solid State Drive, which I have talked about in the past.  Unlike traditional hard drives, SSDs have no moving parts, instead your data is stored on memory chips.  SSDs are up to 10x the speed of standard hard drives, this makes a huge difference to the performance of the system itself.  When SSDs were first introduced they were very expensive and mainly an enthusiasts option.  The prices have now dropped significantly making them a much more attractive option.  The great news is that an old hard drive can have the data directly cloned to a new one.  Meaning everything on your system stays the same in terms of your operating system (Windows or Apple OSX), all your programs, files, everything!  The only difference is the speed, so no need to reinstall software, setup emails, printers etc.  Over the past few months I have seen some great results for customers who did not want to have to buy a new system, just improve the sluggish performance in their existing one.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss such an upgrade.

More Windows 10 news!  Microsoft have said that the soon to arrive operating system will be there last version.  Sounds bizarre but their plan is to keep updating the platform via Windows Update directly to user devices.  This is similar to how Apple upgrade their OSX operating system.  There has also been talk that Windows 10 PCs will be able to run games from the Xbox One Console, the details are vague but the information did come directly from Microsoft.  Windows 10 is still expected to be released in July/August.

Making Office 2003 compatible with newer Office

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Hello again, I have had another busy month helping customers, as well as spending time with my family and eating too much chocolate over Easter!  Every month I meet customers who are struggling to open Office files on their Office 2003 software.  This is often because documents created by newer versions of office have contents that Office 2003 does not understand.  However, there is a free download from Microsoft available to enable compatibility, if you do a Google search for ‘Office Compatibility Pack’ you can find the installation file, simply download and install the pack.  Alternatively send me an email and I will send you a direct link with instructions.

Another small piece of information about Windows 10, apparently Microsoft will even allow illegal copies of Windows 7 & 8 to upgrade for free to Windows 10.  Bizarre I thought, but according the several website articles the reasoning behind it is that apparently in China up to 75% of Windows systems run non-genuine software.  So it is seen as a way of getting everything legitimate.  So if you are running non-genuine Windows you can still upgrade for free, presumably making it legitimate.

This month I have dealt with more and more Malware infections on customers systems.  Key signs you have an infection are: internet pages opening up on their own to pages you haven’t clicked on, your homepage changing, popup messages continuingly appearing.  If you experience this you should try running a full scan with your Anti-Virus.  If you are having any issues with Malware please get in touch, we can remove the infections and also recommend software to prevent and remove the problem in the future.

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