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Issue 21 - February 2014 Newsletter

Hello and welcome to Issue 21 of the Hillside Computer Services Newsletter.

Well, it does seem to be an awfully long time ago since I wrote the last Newsletter in October last year. The nights were drawing in and the prospects of Winter's arrival was imminent. Now, writing this in the second week of February, the nights are starting to draw out and soon it'll be spring and I'll be able to come out of hibernation once it warms up a bit :-)

What kind of articles or hints and tips would you like to read about in these Newsletters? I do sometimes struggle to come up with new items to pass on. Please send me an email with your suggestions and there might even be a prize for the best suggestion.

Please feel free to pass this newsletter on to friends, relatives, neighbours or the bloke at work and I would be grateful for any referrals or feedback too.



Microsoft's first update to Windows 8.1, called Windows 8.1 Update 1, is due to be released shortly. Details so far has revealed certain tweaks which will simplify the Windows 8 user's access to certain functions.

The changes reported are said to revamp the user's keyboard and mouse experience in Windows 8.1. One of the noted changes is the new title bar placed on the top of the Metro apps, allowing the users to close, minimize and snap Windows apps side-by-side using the mouse.

The "start screen" has reportedly also been changed, as has if one right-clicks on Live Tiles up pops-up a list of options to resize, unpin, and perform different functions. Microsoft is also said to introduce its search button along with the shutdown option on the start screen itself as a part of the first update for Windows 8.1. While the search button navigates the user to its regular sidebar, the shutdown button gives a drop-down list for restart, shutdown, and sleep.

Microsoft has also reportedly added a link in Windows 8.1 Update 1 navigating to the control panel straight from the PC settings section.

Users will now be able to store apps in the task-bar via a new option available in the desktop task-bar settings. It has been also noted that the task bar on top of the metro apps stays on even when the user opens one of the Metro apps. However, it vanishes as soon as the user starts to interact with the app. This has been speculated to be either a bug or a new change in design.

According to the reports, there are no other significant changes in the Windows 8.1 Update 1.

The final version of the update will be only seen when Microsoft releases it on 11 March, ahead of the firm's Build developers conference scheduled for April.


With the release of OS X 10.9 in October, Apple in November saw the first full month of availability for its latest operating system version, just like Microsoft. Unlike Windows, however, the latest OS X release has already managed to grab first place in market share last month, beating all its predecessors very quickly.


OS X users have always upgraded faster than their Windows counterparts. That being said, there are far fewer Macs in the world, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that OS X 10.9 is already leading the way.

Apple will undoubtedly be pleased with the development and the company made its newest operating system version a free upgrade in order to remove a big financial obstacle that slowed users from getting the latest and greatest software.

The real question now, is how long will it take for OS X 10.9 to gain more share than all other OS X versions? I'm betting on March or April of this year.

Did You Know?

2014 is the 30th anniversary of the Apple Mac computer being launched? At that time I was working on Silicon Graphics computers and thought that Apple would never catch on. How wrong can you be?


There's a great bargain being offered by Adobe on two of their photo editing applications for the photographers amongst you. Adobe are offering both Lightroom 5 and Photoshop CC for the great price of £8.75 per month.

Photoshop CC
The industry standard for digital image processing and editing, Photoshop delivers a comprehensive package of professional retouching tools, and is packed with powerful editing features designed to inspire.

Lightroom 5
For editing digital photos without having to navigate the extensive offerings of Photoshop, Lightroom provides the precise tools photographers need to process their images efficiently, while still bringing out the best in their photographs.

This is a twelve month subscription and is available until the 31st March 2014 and is available for Macs and Windows computers.

More details can be found here:


Hints & Tips


Here's a quick tip, which saved the day just as I started tearing my hair out in frustration.

I have an iPhone 5, which I've had for just over twelve months, and I've been very pleased with it. It does more than I could possibly want of it and had proved to be very reliable until . . Just after Christmas, the phone would only occasionally fully charge up fully when plugged into the mains. It's supposed to make a "bing" noise when connected to the mains. I did the usual things; turned it off and on again. Jiggled the charging cable. Tried a different charging cable. Tried to charge it up from my Mac. All to no avail.

I was faced with the prospect of taking it into an Apple Store and getting them to take a look at it and possibly being charged a lot of money for a repair.

I then had a blinding flash of inspiration (it doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's usually a Eureka moment). I had a Eureka moment and this is what I did:

The charging socket on the bottom edge of the iPhone is quite small but also quite exposed. I turned the phone completely off and took a small blob of Blutac and softened it. I then pushed the Blutac into the charging socket on the phone and then pulled it out. Stuck on the Blutac was a sizeable piece of fluff, no doubt from my trousers pockets. I cleared the fluff off the Blutac and pushed the blob back in again. A little bit more fluff came out. I then turned the phone back on and plugged it into the mains. Yippee. It worked. It gave the "bing" noise as it was plugged in.

After that, my phone has charged up first time everytime.


I'm not talking about computer security as such, but I have noticed at quite a few clients premises I visit, that pinned on the wall right by their computer is a list of "usernames and passwords". These often include Amazon, Ebay and bank log on details etc.

If someone were to break into your premises and steal your computer, they'd probably steal your list of passwords as well wouldn't they? What would you do if that happened to you? If it happened to me, I'd panic (somewhat an understatement).

I do know the frustrations of having to remember so many passwords, but If you do need a list to hand, then print out a copy and hide it inside a book out of harms way. If you keep a copy of your passwords on your computer, don't just plonk it in your Documents folder and call it "Password List" or similar. Give it an anonymous or cryptic name to make it more difficult for someone to find.


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.



A computer science student is studying under a tree and another pulls up on a flashy new bike. The first student asks, “Where’d you get that?”

The student on the bike replies, “While I was studying outside, a beautiful girl pulled up on her bike. She took off all her clothes and said, ‘You can have anything you want’.”

The first student responds, “Good choice! Her clothes probably wouldn’t have fit you.”

Just a quick note about email addresses:

If you change your email address, would you be so kind as to linform me please? It makes getting in contact with you so much easier and helps me keep my records straight. Thank you.


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 in the next three months or so.

Remember, and I know I say this every time:

  • Scan your PC for viruses / Trojans and nasties once a week.
  • Keep your software updated.
  • Do regular backups - weekly or more if needs be.
  • If you have any computer problems, call me sooner rather than later.
  • Don’t forget that back issues of these Newsletters can be found here.

For more information and details on any of the issues mentioned in this missive or any computing problems / queries, please contact me, and don’t forget to send me your email address if you’d like to be kept in touch with what’s happening in the computer world. Your details will not be passed on to any third party.

Happy and safe computing.

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Mike Hamilton


  • 9, Robin Walk
    IP27 0UF
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  • 07583 294040
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