This page welcomes computer tips, both simple and complex, from ALL readers, so we can better understand why our computers do not work the way we want them to! We need feedback from all ages, particularly youngsters who, we all know, understand computers far far better than their parents or grandparents!
C'mon, click on the link above and email the "Computer Help Desk" with any questions you have or to pass on a really great tip.We look forward to hearing from you.
Just a few simple "Golden Rules"
1] Back up personal files and folders - REGULARLY!
2] Defrag the computer every 3 months. But do not defrag Solid State Drives (SSD's)
3] Check your Anti-virus program is up-to-date!
4] Run CCleaner weekly to clear cookies and internet history, cache and temporary internet files.
5] Don't open any emails that appear suspicious in any way - particularly those that contain links to the internet. Be absolutely sure they are from someone you know.
'Jargon Buster' - what do all these computer terms mean!?
Printer ink is very expensive. You can save money by using a more economical font. Here's 8 of of the most commonly used Word fonts at 12pt (point ) size. Here's how they ranked, from lightest ink usage to heaviest.
Times New Roman
A version of software that is almost but not yet finished.
Software developers will often release these for users to test and report back any issues.
Basic Input-Output System. Essential software built into every PC that connects the vital components. It's visible for a few seconds when the PC starts.
A recovery CD or USB stick that can diagnose, repair or restore your PC's software, including the operating system.
A file that tells computer operating systems (e.g. Windows) how to work with a peripheral device such as a printer, keyboard or mouse.
Wireless Routers that have 2 wireless radios working on the 2.4 and 5 gigahertz frequencies or bands. This allows more users to access the internet at the same time.
High Definition Media Interface. A type of connection that transmits high-definition video and audio signals. Seen on modern tv's and computer monitors.
Internet Protocol Address. A unique set of numbers used to identify computers and websites on the internet. Also used for other computer equipment including printers and broadband routers.
Megabits per second . A measure of data transfer speed, typically the speed with which internet websites appear on your computer monitor.
The main circuit board into which all other parts connect.
A small program that adds extra features to software or to your web browser.
SSD Solid-state drive. Storage that uses no moving parts.
Best free Office Suites
No computer is complete without an office suite installed, Nearly everyone needs to create or view documents or spreadsheets. But there's no need to pay out for an expensive copy of Microsoft Office, WPS Office 2016 Free is an excellent alternative. It may not have all the bells and whistles of MS Office but how many people use them all? It is also possible to have the Office type Ribbon menu or the earlier Office menu setup.
WPS Office 2016 comes with Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets.
WPS Office 2016 can be downloaded from www.snipca.com/11097
Libre Office V6.05 is another excellent free alternative to MS Office. This latest version introduced in June 2018 has a new Ribbon Menu similar to the MS Office ribbon and is straightforward to use. The left hand panel lists all the programs installed, Writer, (word processor) Calc (spreadsheet,) Presentation, Drawing, Database, Templates and even a Maths formula for those who need one. Download the "Fresh" version which is the latest and complete version. For more details about the program download from www.libreoffice.org
Both these Office alternatives are well worth looking at for those not wishing to pay out for MS Office and both these Office suites are fully compatible with MS Office documents.
Mainstream Support for Windows 7 ended in 2015
Microsoft ended "Mainstream" support for all versions of Windows 7 on 13th January 2015.
The end of Mainstream support means that Windows 7 will no longer receive new features or tools.
In January 2015
Windows 7 entered the "Extended" support phase, which only includes free
security updates.When that ends, on 14 January 2020, Windows 7 will enter
the "end of support" period, during which no security fixes will be released and
Microsoft won't offer any online technical support. Windows 7 will continue to work but will have security implications.
The Creators Update arrived on 11th April 2017 (version 1703) and introduced some changes to the Settings App. The Settings app was divided into eleven different sections - System, Devices, Network & Internet, Personalisation, Apps, Accounts, Time & Language, Gaming, Ease of Access, Privacy, and Update and Security - each of which contained their own subsections. The settings themselves are mostly easy to understand but not all settings are found here others are still to be found in the good old Control Panel. Type Control Panel in the Search Box.
Type a keyword for the setting or information you are looking for into the search box situated at the bottom left hand side of the task bar next to the windows icon, you don't even need to know the settings actual name - and a list of all related settings will appear. This is a very useful tool. It will also list web sites showing related subjects.
Edge Browser: This has replaced Internet Explorer as the default browser in Windows.
Start Menu: The Start menu lists all programs and Apps installed on the PC. It is possible to turn off
or remove the Tiles that appear when the Start Button is pressed. For example, Live Tiles which keep changing pictures can be turned off or removed if so wished. Just right click on your mouse or touch pad and select from the various options shown.
Windows Hello: Biometrics comes with Windows allowing you to sign in with your face, eyes and fingerprint.
Cortana: Microsoft's voice controlled personal assistant made its Desktop debut in Windows 10.
Support for Microsoft Office 2007 ended on 17th October 2017 and could lead to security implications.
So should consider upgrading to Office 2010 or 2016, but there are free alternatives to Office, see above.
Windows updates: Updates will be installed automatically in future, users will not be able to turn off automatic updates. For internet security purpose this is a good thing because it means that security is always up to date, although there have been some reports of driver problems.
Microsoft ended support for Windows 10 version 1511 on October 10th 2017. This means that this version will no longer receive security fixes and could become unsafe to use. If you haven't yet updated your copy of Windows 10, now's the time to do so. To check which version you have installed (The latest version is v1803) go to the Command Prompt and type "winver" without the apostrophes, next to C:\Users. Microsoft have stated that their goal was to continue and develop the operating system, with big updates to come regularly. Gone are the days of minor updates while we had to wait for the next version number. Instead, as Microsoft have confirmed, we're going to get two major updates a year in March and September. It should be noted that 11th April 2017 was when Microsoft ended all support for Windows Vista.
The Fall Creators Update v1709 launched on 17th October 2017 introduced a number of additions and improvements (too many to list here) but should make Windows 10 easier to use. The Registry Editor now has an address bar, letting you copy and paste a registry entry address and jump straight to to area of interest, rather than having to search for it or navigate through the register, a lengthy business. There is some evidence that "blue light" can disrupt sleep patterns, keeping you awake at night. MS have now added a "Night Light" mode to reduce screen glare and fiddly settings on some monitors. Go to Settings, System, Display and click the "Night Light Settings" link.
The Settings App in the Fall Update is now divided into 13 different sections. Microsoft have now added a ransomware blocker to Windows Defender, its built-in antivirus tool, but it needs to be switched on. To do so, right click the Windows Defender (shield) in the notification area, then click Open. Next click 'Virus & threat protection, 'Virus & threat protection settings', then switch on the slider under 'Controlled folder accesss'. It can be safely run alongside your existing AV program. The latest major update to Windows 10, version 1803 was launched at the beginning of May. This is officially named Windows 10 April 2018 Update. According to Microsoft this latest update should take less time to update than in previous versions and this seems to be the case from feedback.
Microsoft Office add-ins.
You can convert a single word or an entire novel from one language to another with this brilliant add-in. Highlight the relevant word or passage of text, right click it and and click translate. A panel will appear to the right of your document.Choose the original language using the dropdown menu (this will usually be detected automatically) and then choose the language you want to translate it into using the To dropdown menu. You will see a preview of the translation at the bottom of the side panel.
Click insert to replace the original text with the translation. Go to www.snipca.com/23105 for full details. Some people like to use emojis, those cartoon-like charactors that express, feelings, ideas and actions, perhaps in emails. The Creators Update adds 770 of these, so there are plenty to choose from.
Beware of copycat websites...
Trading StandardsOfficers are urging people to beware of copycat websites imitating official goverment services online. These are designed to trick you into parting with your cash unecessarily by charging for services that are provided cheaper or for free through official government channels.
Ordering passports, booking driving tests and renewing car road fund licences are just some of the ways that people are unwittingly being left-out-of-pocket by shrewd fraudsters who operate copycat websites.
Copycat websites tend to use similar design features to replicate the "look & feel"of official service websites and often use URLs that include fragments such as "govuk" "directgov" or relevant organisation names to make them appear as official providers of certain services.
The best way to avoid being duped is:
- Use GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) it is the easiest and most secure place to find government services and information online.
- Instead of searching for the services you need via a search engine, go to GOV.UK and use the search function there. Then you'll know you're on the official site.
- If you do use a search engine, look out for the differences between natural search results and paid-for-search results.
- National Trading Standards is issuing advice for consumers to beat the cyber con-artists. Including a video guide at:
Only Access secure websites
The next time you do some online banking, take a look at your browser's address bar. You will (or certainly should) see the prefix 'https' with a padlock icon next to it. This means that the website is using HTTP Secure (HTTPS) rather than the older and less secure HTTP to structure text on the page.
Over the past few years, the use of HTTPS has become more common across all kinds of websites, not just financial ones, because it provides an extra level of encryption that can stop hackers stealing your data. Some web sites still maintain both an HTTP and HTTPS version.
To get around this problem HTTPS Everywhere is free add-on for Chrome,Firefox and Opera. It can be downloaded from https://www.eff.org/HTTPS-EVERYWHERE.
When the web site opens click on the "Our Work" tab, then click on HTTPS Everywhere Firefox Extension. This then gives options of installing for Firefox, Chrome & Opera. Once it is installed it will direct you to the secure HTTPS version of a website if it is available (but will still open the HTTP version if no HTTPS exists).
You will see the HTTPS Everywhere icon appear to the right of the address bar. Click it to see the setting 'Block all HTTP requests'. Tick the box and your browser will only access secure sites - you can always untick it if it stops you accessing a site you regularly visit.
Google plans to replace Captcha with a simple tickbox, thereby eliminating one of the most common irritants people face on the net.
Captchas are online security tests that challenge you to replicate a sequence of distorted letters and numbers. Websites use Captchas so users can prove they are human, not some automated program when attempting to log onto a website for example, to purchase concert tickets or posting a comment on a website, but many people find them very difficult to decipher the squiggly characters in the code. Double click to insert body text here ...