Hello and welcome to this, Issue 29 of the Hillside Computer Services Newsletter.
So summer did eventually show its face, well for a few days at least and I did manage to get a bit of a tan whilst we were away in Dorset last month. Ah. Halcyon days..
On the computing front, Apple are readying themselves for new versions of their operating systems for their computers and mobile devices and Microsoft are releasing an Anniversary version of Windows 10.
More on these further down.
Our special promotion of our ever popular PC Healthcheck for our Newsletters subscribers for just £35.00, which ran from Monday 16th May until Friday 6th June was supremely successful as per usual. I saw a lot of customers who I'd lost touch with over the years, so it was good to make contact again.
The Windows 10 upgrade scheme from Microsoft was very popular indeed. I''ve upgraded some 60 PCs to the new operating system in the past 12 months. The majority of them in the past 2 months as the countdown to the offer finishing got closer and closer
Thank you to those of you who took up the offers. I hope you are reaping the benefits of having a PC running quicker and smoother than prior to the PC Healthcheck and / or the Windows 10 upgrade?
Your business as always is much appreciated.
Windows 10 Free Upgrade Offer Has Expired
As of 29th July, Microsoft have ceased offering the free Windows 10 upgrade offer to users of Windows 7 and 8 / 8.1.
The offer had been running since 25th July 2015.
If however you would like to now upgrade your computer to Windows 10, then it is now a chargeable upgrade.
Windows 10 Home Edition costs £99.99 - this is the price Microsoft are charging if you purchase the software directly from off their own web site. Other companies such as Amazon et al may well charge a little less.
Windows Anniversary update: log into websites using your face
The days of trying to remember passwords could be over after Microsoft unveiled plans to allow Windows users to log into websites using just their face.
The move is part of the Windows 10 Anniversary update, which will be released on August 2 and features increased security, better power efficiency, better note taking capabilities and improvements to the Cortana digital assistant.
One of the biggest upgrades is to Windows Hello, which currently allows people to log into their PC or Surface just by looking at their device’s camera or using their fingerprint. Microsoft has announced that Hello will now work with certain third-party websites.
Using Microsoft Edge, users of these and many more websites will be able to choose to log in using Windows Hello instead of typing in a password. As Windows Hello uses your face or fingerprint to ensure you are who you claim to be online, it is more secure than entering a password, which can be stolen and used by third-parties.
The Windows 10 Anniversary update also includes Windows Ink. This is a new feature that allows users to write on any device as they would do on paper. Ink works with Microsoft Office and Maps, as well as Edge, meaning you can make your own notes on documents, travel plans and web pages.
Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant, can now remember information so you can use it at a later date across multiple devices – ask her a question on your PC and she can answer it later on your Windows Phone. Cortana will now also appear on the lock screen, so interaction with "her" is even easier.
Windows Defender anti-malware has been improved with the option to automatically schedule quick scans of your computer. Notifications and summaries when those scans are completed can alert users to any threats. Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection detects, investigates and responds to malicious attacks. Meanwhile, Windows Information Protection defends businesses from accidental data leaks by separating personal and company data.
Elsewhere, there are power-saving improvements to Microsoft Edge, which now consumes less memory and minimises the impact of background activity.
France orders Microsoft to stop tracking Windows 10 users
France's data protection commission has ordered Microsoft to "stop collecting excessive user data" and to stop tracking the web browsing of Windows 10 users without their consent. In a recently published statement, the CNIL (Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés) said that Microsoft must also take steps to guarantee "the security and confidentiality" of its users' personal information, after determining that the company was still transferring data to the US under the "Safe Harbor" agreement that an EU court invalidated in October. Microsoft has three months to comply with the orders, the CNIL said.
The CNIL, France's privacy watchdog, based its decision on an investigation carried out between April and June of this year. The organization says that other European data protection authorities formed a "contact group" to investigate Microsoft's data collection practices following the release of Windows 10 last June. In September 2015, Terry Myerson, Microsoft's Windows chief, responded to growing privacy concerns surrounding Windows 10, saying that the operating system "collects information so the product will work better for you," and that users "are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected."
If Microsoft does not comply within the three-month window, the CNIL says it may appoint an investigator who could recommend sanctions against the company. "The purpose of the notice is not to prohibit any advertising on the company’s services but, rather, to enable users to make their choice freely, having been properly informed of their rights," the CNIL said in a statement.
The CNIL has issued similar notices against US tech companies in the past. Last year, the organisation ordered Google to expand Europe's "right to be forgotten" ruling to cover all Google sites, and earlier this year, it ordered Facebook to stop tracking the web browsing of non-users, giving the company three months to comply.
In a statement provided to Reuters, Microsoft vice president and deputy general counsel David Heiner said that the company will work with CNIL to develop "solutions that it will find acceptable."
OS X is now macOS
Apple's Mac operating system has been known as "OS X" since 2001, but now Apple has shifted from OS X to macOS to unify its operating system names across its entire product line.
macOS joins iOS, tvOS, and watchOS, and though Apple has moved from OS X to macOS, it has continued naming Mac operating systems after California landmarks. The soon to be released macOS is "macOS Sierra," named after the Sierra Nevada mountains that span from central California to Nevada. This comes after Yosemite and El Capita. Earlier versions were named after big cats; Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard etc.
New Versions of macOS and iOS Coming Soon
Apple's beta-testers are busy testing out the forthcoming releases of OS X Sierra (Apple's desktop and laptop computer operating system) and iOS 10 (for their mobile devices).
Scheduled for an autumn release, macOS includes some rather radical improvements, including:
The Photos app features a new "Memories" section designed to surface photos that you might have forgotten about, like past trips. It's intelligent and can group photos based on time, location, and even the people and objects in the photo thanks to new advances in computer technology.
In macOS Sierra, all files stored either on the desktop or in the Documents folder are automatically synced to iCloud, making them available on other Macs and on iOS devices. On other Macs, when logging into an iCloud account, desktop and Document files are seamlessly synced and immediately available.
On the iPhone and iPad, files located on the desktop or in the Mac's document folder are available through the iCloud Drive app.
Files are also available on Windows machines through the iCloud for Windows app and they can be accessed on iCloud.com, making them available on all devices that support a web browser.
The new Sierra build includes changes to Apple Pay, Back to My Mac, CoreImage libraries, Installer routines, Mail, Safari, and Siri.
Device-wise, iOS 10 requires at least an iPhone 5, iPad 4, iPad mini 2, or sixth-generation iPod touch. OS X Sierra is compatible with a wide range of Macs, some dating back to 2009.
macOS Sierra will run on the following Macs:
iOS 10 includes major notification improvements, third-party app support in Siri, and many updates to native apps.
Deleting Stock Apps
People have long wanted a way to delete the apps that come pre-installed on iOS devices to get rid of icons for apps that aren't in use, and in iOS 10, that's finally possible.
Many built-in iOS apps in iOS 10 have been moved to the iOS App Store as standalone downloads, allowing them to be deleted and re-downloaded at will. The following built-in apps can be removed on iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices in iOS 10:
Maps has also been updated with what Apple calls "Siri intelligence," and it is now able to make proactive suggestions based on where a user might want to go, offering up the fastest way to get there. Maps bases its suggestions off user habits, location, calendar events, and more.
If you often get directions to work at 8:00 a.m., Maps will bring it up as a suggestion and let you know if there's any traffic along the way. If you have a lunch date for noon and open Maps around that time, it'll offer up directions for your destination.
In iOS 10, there's finally a feature to search along a route that's been programmed into Maps, so you can find gas, food, coffee, and more on your trip. Maps will adjust routes to incorporate stops, letting you know how much time a detour will add.
When you park, Apple Maps will automatically remember your car location so you'll never forget where your car is, and Maps also now offers optional routes that avoid toll roads.
There are loads more improvements (too many to mention here), so watch this space for more details.
Thinking of buying a new PC?
I often get asked "what is the best computer I can buy" or "I want to get a new computer, which one should I go for".
These are really difficult questions to answer, but here goes:
There is no such thing as the best computer you can buy because it depends on several factors, namely:
How much can you afford and what do you want to use it for?
You can easily spend a couple of thousand pounds or more on a new computer, but if you are only going to use it for a bit of Internet searching / research, email and the odd letter or two, then spending that much will in all probability be something of an overkill unless of course you have the intention of "doing more on it"
For most users I would say about £400 to £600 for a laptop would get you what you need. If you are opting for a desktop PC you would be looking at a price in the region of £400 to £500, then you will need to add the cost of a monitor; about £150 should you need one.
Don't forget that you may need to factor in more money to buy for example, software, an external hard drive to back up all of your work on to, MS Office, anti virus software and perhaps a new printer if you are feeling particularly flush.
If you ask the question as to which one to buy, then that makes life a little easier. You generally buy PCs for their specification rather than price. So, you would possibly opt for a laptop or desktop PC with the following specs: Intel i3 or i5 (or i7) processor, 8GB RAM and 500GB (or larger) hard disc drive. As for makes, I like Lenovo and ASUS laptops. They are well made, have really good specifications and are robust. If you were going to buy a desktop PC, then I'd opt for Lenovo (again) or HP.
I hope this helps if you do decide to take the plunge. Of course, feel free to contact me and we can have a chat, especially if you are torn between deciding upon one or two you have seen.
If you decide to go for an Apple computer, then please give me a call as they are a different kettle of fish to Windows PCs.
Cursor locator (El Capitan)
A fantastic tip to help you find your "missing" cursor.
Just shake your mouse, or wiggle your finger on the trackpad: it's what we all do instinctively, but doing so will now make the cursor grow in size momentarily so you will have no trouble spotting it.
Hide the Menu Bar (El Capitan)
A new option in System Preferences > General allows users to 'Automatically hide and show the menu bar' in a similar vein to the way users can choose to hide the Dock.
This will be especially beneficial to users of smaller laptops such as the 11-inch MacBook Air or the 12-inch MacBook, where every pixel counts.
Use the Compass app as a spirit level (iOS)
If you swipe from right to left within the Compass app, you'll be presented with a level, allowing you to make sure that bookshelf you're putting up is perfectly level.
The iPhone uses its Gyroscope to determine the level of the surface the iPhone is placed on. You'll have the opportunity to calibrate it on a flat surface before assessing the situation. Great for making sure that shelves and pictures are level :-)
Open File Explorer To This PC (Windows 10)
One of the more annoying quirks of Windows 10 is that the File Explorer by default now opens to a view of your recently used files and folders, putting access to the list of your drives an extra click or two away.
Thankfully you can change this back to a more familiar view by heading to the View ribbon at the top of Explorer, clicking on Options and changing the drop down menu from Quick Access to This PC.
Do you want to go back to Windows 7 or 8.1? (Windows 10)
If Windows 10 isn't the radical overhaul you'd hoped it would be and you're left pining for the old times, you can still step back in time and go back to a Windows 7 or 8.1 life. You'll have a month to revert back to the older version once you've installed Windows 10, so make sure you're definitely sure this is what you want to do.
The first step is to back up anything you've downloaded or saved during the time you've had Windows 10 running. You could use an online cloud storage service like OneDrive or Google Drive or go old school and opt for an external or USB drive (far safer options).
Go to the Windows Start menu and click the Update & Security option. Select Recovery and you should see an option to Go Back to Windows 7 or 8.1, depending on what you had last running on your device.
Once you've filled in a blue form saying why you've had enough of Windows 10, you can begin the very simple process of rolling back.
Depending on how much you've managed to install during the period of using Windows 10, this could take a few minutes or a little longer Microsoft's words, not mine). In reality, I have found this to take anything up to 5 hours or so - eek!! So do be prepared for a long wait, especially when nothing appears to be happening on screen
If you have any questions / queries about any of the points raised in this newsletter, don't understand anything or indeed if you have any computer problems, then please do contact me - my contact details are at the bottom of this page, or you can just click here.
Well that wraps up another issue. Thank you for taking the time to read it and I hope you enjoyed it. I shall get the next edition out to you before Christmas.
Remember, and I know I say this every time:
Happy and safe computing.