Hello and welcome to Issue 26 of the Hillside Computer Services July 2015 Newsletter. Well, after a fantastic holiday away at the end of June I've come back to a lovely Summer (thus far) and a good excuse to top up the tan. I really could do with air conditioning in my office. Any offers?
Anyway, without further ado, let's crack on.
It's Competition Time - Still
By way of celebrating the previous twenty five issues of producing these newsletters I would like to remind you of the competition which I launched in March this year, which is running until the end of the year.
Much of our work comes to us through recommendations from existing customers (that's you). It’s always great to see satisfied customers who are happy to recommend us, so we’ve created our Referral Reward Scheme to say ‘thank you’ for these referrals.
How it works
It’s simple. If you refer someone to us (a friend or neighbour etc.) and they become a Hillside Computer Services customer and they mention your name, we’ll add your name to a list. The person who makes the most positive referalls by 31st December 2015 will receive one of the following of their choice:
A 3 TB external hard disk drive to backup your data on to
Your choice of a £100 shopping gift card (from Debenhams or Waitrose)
Terms and conditions
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼What are you waiting for? Refer a customer today
Windows 10 will launch globally on July 29th this year.
Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Operating Systems Terry Myerson announced in January that Windows 10 will be free for existing Windows 7 and 8.1 users for its first year. Microsoft also confirmed a while ago that the two most recent Windows versions will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 directly. Therefore if you have a fairly recent computer, which is currently running a genuine version (NOT hooky copiy I hasten to add) of Windows 7 or Windows 8 (8.1), then you should be able to upgrade.
However, if you're not eligible for Microsoft's upgrade program – those who upgrade after the first year free offer, or those running a non-genuine Windows version or one older than Windows 7 – Windows 10 Home will cost from about £76.00 per license dependant upon which of the seven versions being released you opt for.
The Start Menu: bigger, better, stronger
The return of the Start Menu that Microsoft removed from Windows 8 is making a welcome return. Hopefully it'll be the end of oodles of shortcuts to applications being plastered all over the Desktop. With the merging of the traditional Windows 7-style interface and Windows 8 Live Tiles, the new Start menu is designed to please both camps: touchscreen and mouse users.
"They don't have to learn any new way to drive," Microsoft's Steve Belfiore recently said, referring to Windows 7 users who choose to upgrade. That said, customisation will also be featured throughout, first with the ability to resize the Start menu itself along with the Live Tiles within.
The Start menu features better search capabilities as well, you'll be able to trawl your entire machine, not to mention web results. On Windows 10, this will be done using Cortana, Microsoft's voice assistant, but more on that at a later date.
Internet Explorer: The end is nigh
The new web browser that comes as part of Windows 10 is Edge, a more streamlined, simplistic and efficient browser than Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer will still be available for users who don't choose to upgrade to Windows 10.
Apple are going to be even busier than normal come the Autumn with the release of new operating systems for Macs and iPads/ iPhones.
A new operating system for iPads and iPhones - IOS 9 will be released. This looks to be a major re-write of an already excellent operating system.
You'll be able (finally) to have two Apps open at the same time eg. Safari and Mail and swipe between the two.
Siri will be able to run more tasks and thankfully battery life is said to be extended. Good news for iPhone users (myself included).
Apple will be releasing their new operarting system for their laptop / desktop computer range - El Capitan in the Autumn too. This will feature a better Spotlight search that will understand common language, so you could for example type in "Emails from Fred Bloggs" or "Documents I opened yesterday", and et voila, all will be revealed.
Other features / enhancements are better synchronisation of Notes and the ability to add third party extensions / apps to the Photos app.
More on these updates in the next newsletter, so watch this space.
Adobe has just launched it's upgraded on-line version of Creative Cloud, called imaginatively enough: Creative Cloud 2015. I've not upgraded yet as I use several web creation extensions for creating menu buttons and photos slideshows from third party companies, who've not made their extensions fully compatible yet.
Adobe, though do have a great offer running, their Photography subscription package, this gives you Adobe's Photoshop and Lightroom applications for just £8.75 per month. If you are interested, then here is the link to their web site:
Watch this space for more updates from Apple and Microsoft etc. and of course Hillside Computer Services.
Windows Search is the fastest way to locate and open any file on your PC, including documents, email messages, music, photos, and more. To use Windows Search, click the Start button , type one or two keywords, and see search results appear almost instantly.
Right-clicking on the lower left of the screen—whether you’re in the Windows 8 Start screen or in the desktop—will bring up the Quick Access Menu, which enables a direct line to many key system management chores, including Disk Management, Task Manager, Device Manager, and Control Panel.
Preview is one of the most underappreciated apps on a Mac; especially in later versions of OS X, it became hugely powerful, and does much of what we'd traditionally use a more elaborate and expensive application such as Photoshop for. Do yourself a favour: open an image in Preview and poke around the app's menus and interface to see what it can do.
For example, you can crop your image. Draw a selection with the regular Rectangular Selection tool then either hit Command+K or choose Crop from the Tools menu. Alternatively, show the Edit Toolbar and make a more complex selection either with the Instant Alpha tool (like in iWork) or use the Smart Lasso. With this tool, you draw as carefully as you can around the outline of the object and then Preview works out as closely as it can where the edges are. In either case, cropping will, if the image isn't already a PNG, convert it so that you can have the thing you're cutting out on a transparent background. (You might need the Invert Selection command, too!)
You can also resize images, and even do some tweaks to the colours with the Adjust Color pop-up. Select Adjust Color… from the Tools menu, and you get some handy sliders and a histogram to help you tweak things. Plus, hit the backtick symbol (to the left of Z on a UK Mac keyboard, and to the left of 1 on a US Mac keyboard) to bring up a loupe so you can see what's happening at 100% as you make changes.
As you probably know, you can add multiple users to your Mac, so that every person in your home or office, say, can have their own space to work and to set things up how they like them. But there's another kind of account you can turn on: a Guest account.
Turn it on in System Preferences > Users & Groups, and now you'll be presented with Guest as an option at the login screen. Anyone can use it - no password needed - but once they're finished everything they do will be wiped. This is really great if a friend or colleague says, "Can I just borrow your Mac for a minute to do something?"
You probably should turn off Automatic login and set your Security & Privacy settings to require a password after, say, five seconds of sleep or screensaver time. That way you can be sure nobody will be able to access your stuff, but when they try to use your Mac they'll be offered the option of switching user and can then pick Guest.
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.
Dave took Mary out for a romantic dinner where conversation turned to the subject of marriage.
Dave had been saving for an engagement ring, but he was in university and in dire need of a new computer.
Mary was understanding, telling Dave they had the rest of their lives to get engaged, so he should use his savings to buy a computer instead.
During dessert, Dave suddenly reached into his pocket and pulled out an engagement ring.
Mary was stunned, but after she collected herself, she looked up and prompted: "Well, don't you have something to ask me?"
Dave then got down on bended knee. "Honey," he said, "Will you buy me a new computer?"
Well that wraps up another issue. Thank you for taking the time to read it and I hope you enjoyed the read. 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:
Happy and safe computing.