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Windows 8 – A Brief Verdict

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Windows 8 has now been out for over a month and in that time I have been using it daily so thought I would share my opinion.

Despite being considered an ‘expert’ with computers, when I initially upgrade to Windows 8, and was greeted with the new Metro (Start) Menu, I found myself frustrated with not being able navigate through the new system at the speed I am used to.  Happily after around twenty minutes of configuring the new setup I felt more at home and was enjoying the new experience.
Windows 8 really is just Windows 7 with a facelift and a few extras!  This isn’t a bad thing as Windows 7 has proven itself to be a reliable Operating System.

The Good: The new Windows 8 Metro menu is very nice to look at and lays your programs & apps out nicely.  Windows 8 boots (loads) very quickly and the whole system performs tasks swiftly.  So far, after a month of usage it has not crashed or had a technical issue.  The new Windows ‘Store’ is full of some very good apps.

The Bad: Slight learning curve and disorientation at the new layout, configuring it initially is a bit time consuming – but the effort is worth it.

The Ugly! Your old programs may not be compatible with Windows 8, and could mean they would need to be uninstalled and if still required, replaced with newer versions.
So is it worth upgrading?

I think it is a good upgrade option, especially as Microsoft are currently discounting the upgrade version. You can upgrade from Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.  Before buying, I would recommend having a look on YouTube for a guide to ‘Windows 8 Metro’ just to get a feel for it and decide if it’s for you!    If you are running Windows Vista, the upgrade would be a good idea, as Vista is plagued with issues and Windows 8 would give you a more stable platform.  Whatever version of Windows you have, I would recommend that you have at least 2GB of memory (RAM).

You can download the Windows Upgrade Advisor from the Microsoft Website , this will check your current systems compatibility, which is free of charge to do.
If you have any queries please get in touch.  Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Ian.

Ergonomics – Are you sitting comfortably?

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Happy New Year!

As it is a New Year, I thought I would cover one of my own New Year’s resolutions, which I often fail to achieve – the correct posture!

Being ergonomically correct when sitting at your computer is very important, if you are not, it will mean certain areas of your body are working harder than they should be to support you. This might not sound very important, but it can lead to back pain, strains and even cause/contribute to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). As I write this I have just realised I am slouched over my desk, leaning toward my keyboard (which is 30cm away from me), perched on the edge of my chair, with one foot on top of the other, whoops! So before I continue, I will practice what I preach!
I have included a picture with guidelines so you can clearly see how you and your equipment should be positioned.

Obviously some of these options may not be practical, my advice is to try and do as many as you can. A few years ago I went on a training course relating to Ergonomics and we were told to remember that your limbs should always be at right angles starting from your feet, the knee/leg/hip area, arms/elbows, with your back and neck straight.

Ergonomics does not just apply to desktop computers. Using laptops and tablets carry more issues as they are more often used on sofas, in bed etc. This means your body generally has less support, so your muscles have to work harder. I always remember from Biology class, if you hold a glass of water in your right hand, every muscle I your body is working to support and balance the additional weight.

Listen to your body, if it feels uncomfortable, then it is likely to be causing that area of your body some harm. Although the harm is minor, repeating this for certain periods daily could lead to something longer term that may affect other daily activates.

If you have any questions, or need any advice on what measures you can take please get in touch. Ian.

Having your email account hacked

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Email accounts being hacked is nothing new, but having had my personal email hacked in March I thought I would elaborated on what happens, why and how to easily rectify the problem.
Since starting the business in 2007, I cannot remember a month where I have not received an email from a friend or customer whose email account has been hacked.  In March this number increased dramatically and I even found that my own personal Yahoo email account had been hacked.  Apparently hackers had identified a flaw in Yahoo’s security and had compromised a large number of email accounts.  Yahoo claim that the issue has been resolved but have advised users to ensure that their passwords are secure.

So what happens?

An email account is hacked and instead of locking you out of it or deleting emails they use your contacts to send spam emails.  It is an advantage to use your account as your contacts are more likely follow email links sent from people they know.

The good news is they are easy to spot, you will receive an email with a blue website link inside, like this http://www.boguswebsite-givenmeyourmoney.com.  Obviously they do not use such an obviously bogus website name, but you should treat it like it is and not click it!  Remember the person who sent you the email probably does not know you have been sent this or that their account has been hacked.  So it is best to just email them back informing them of what you have received.

How to rectify the problem:

To resolve the issue you simply need to login to your email account and change your password.
The strength of your password is governed by its length, variation of characters and by not using of common words/names.  So as covered in a previous article, the best passwords are complete ‘X4ET3D@H8’ jargon!  Jargon passwords are tough to remember, so I think random words with numbers are easier to remember but still secure for example ‘SunnyFridge7304’ – all very random but difficult for anyone to guess or for hackers to compromise.

What can you do to prevent your email account being hacked?

The best preventative measure is to have a secure password and to inform your contacts of the tell-tale signs that someone’s email account has been hacked.
If you are concerned at all or you have any other queries please get in touch, Ian.

Being Search Savvy

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Every month I visit customers who are having problems with their systems caused by bogus software. This can often happen when people are trying to install a program and inadvertently download something completely different. So I thought I would give a few bits of advice to help reduce the chance of this happening. For this explanation the software to be installed is Adobe Flash Player which is a legitimate piece of software that is required by a huge number of websites.

To begin, I always recommend using www.google.co.uk as I find it usually will provide the most accurate results. Here is the Google search result:

search-savvy

When you search the internet results are given in order of relevance to the text you entered. So in theory the top result is the most relevant but watch out for the paid Ads. These can be spotted by the yellow Ad symbol on Google as shown above – they have paid to be at the top. A paid ad can take you anywhere and offer anything! There can be 0-3 ads at the top of each search, so my advice is to ignore the ads completely and use the links below them. So in the example above the top result is the advert which in this case offers bogus software and the second result is the genuine Flash Player download. I hope this helps to make it easier to find the websites you are really looking for!

Let me know if you have any queries. I really appreciate the feedback I get regarding the monthly article and please let me know if there is a topic you would like covering. Have a good month, Ian.