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 Glary Utilities regularly to clear cookies, internet history, cache and temporary internet files. But uncheck the option to run the registry cleaner. It is not a good idea to clear registry items as this could result in preventing your pc starting up.
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, there are excellent alternatives. They 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.
Freeoffice2018 has Textmaker (Word) Planmaker (Spreadsheet) Presentations.
Download at www.freeoffice.com
WPS Office 2016 comes with Writer, Presentation and Spreadsheets.
WPS Office 2016 can be downloaded from www.snipca.com/11097
Libre Office is another excellent free alternative to MS Office. This has a 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. To change the Standard Menu to the Ribbon Menu or vice versa, go to View User Interface and select tabbed. If you wish to change back click on the 3 horizontal bars at top right hand side of screen and reselect standard menu. Download from www.libreoffice.org
These Office alternatives are well worth looking at for those not wishing to pay out for MS Office and are fully compatible with MS Office documents.
Microsoft ends support for Windows 7 in January 2020
Microsoft ended all support for Windows 7 on January 14th 2020.
All technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC is no longer available for the product and you will not receive any security updates. To ensure your computer continues to remain protected it is advisable to update to Windows 10.
Support for Microsoft Office 2007 ended on 17th October 2017 and could lead to security implications.
So you should consider upgrading to Office 2010, 2016 or 2019 but there are free alternatives to Office, see above.
To check which version of Windows you have installed (The current version is 1909 October 2019) go to the Command Prompt and type "winver" without the apostrophes, next to C:\Users. Alternatively, go to Settings, System, scroll down to "About" and the current MS version will be shown along with details of memory and processor etc.
There is some evidence that "blue light" can disrupt sleep patterns, keeping you awake at night. MS 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 is divided into different sections, but the Control Panel is still available. Microsoft have 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 May 2019 Update was launched on 21st May 2019 and was called Windows 10 May Update V1903. This update included a new Lighter Desktop Theme! instead of the older darker theme and also included new icons amongst other changes. Although updates will be carried out automatically in future, an option in the latest version will allow Users to delay the Upgrade for a maximum of 35 days. Microsoft announced that all support for the Windows 10 October 2018 Update version 1809 will cease on 12 May 2020. After this date customers who contact Microsoft Support will be told to update their PC to the lastest version of Windows 10. Microsoft also announced that Major Updates will be scheduled for the Spring each year to replace the existing twice-yearly updates. This new time table will allow MS to spend more time to test major updates to eradicate problems before updates are released and avoid the problems experienced with past updates. Minor updates also to follow in the Autumn will be smaller affairs, focusing on boosting performance and reliabilty and will be faster downloads. The new policy began this autumn with the release of version 1909 in November 2019. This faster process will only apply to computers running the May 2019 V1903.
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 and in emails. There are lots to choose from in Windows 10.
Beware of copycat websites...
Trading Standards Officers are urging people to beware of copycat websites imitating official goverment services online. These are designed to trick you into parting with your cash unnecessarily by charging for services that are provided cheaper or 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 websites 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 the tools icon on the menu and select HTTPS Everywhere. 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 ...
Under new Ofcom rules that came into force on 15 February 2020 Companies will have to send you end-of-contract notifications between 10 to 40 days before your contract ends. These can be sent as a letter, email, or text message and must state when your contract ends, what you are currently paying, how much you'll continue to pay if you stay on the same package.
Crucially, the messages will also show the best deals offered by your provider. These must be available for at least 30 days after notification to give customers a chance to consider switching. For mobile customers, these offers must include at least one SIM-only deal. In addition, the notifications will show prices being offered to new customers, although they don't have to be made available to existing customers. The regulator wants to encourage more customers to shop around for a better deal when their contract ends, or haggle with their existing provider.
One of the reasons customers don't look for cheaper deals is that they don't know when their contract is due to end.