Hello and welcome to Issue 22 of the Hillside Computer Services Newsletter. I hope you like the new web site and Newsletter layout?
For a change, there are quite a lot of things to cover and it is absolutely vital that you read and understand the Microsoft section below if you are using Windows XP or Windows 8. So, without further ado, I'll plough straight in.
Microsoft Windows XP
As you may be aware, as of the 8th April Microsoft has finally stopped supporting Windows XP after some 12 years of product support. This is because newer technologies won't work on essentially older computers. All software has a minimum specification of computer in terms of speed, memory etc. upon which it will run comfortably on, and Microsoft has decided that the time has come for Users to move on.
What does this mean to me?
What it means are manifold; if you have Microsoft Security Essentials installed on your Windows XP PC, you will only receive updates for it for a limited length of time (the icon for it is a green tent near the clock on the Toolbar at the bottom of your screen). I'm not too sure as to how long this will be, but will almost certainly be only for a month or so.
Other ramifications are: you will receive no more Windows Security Updates on your computer. "This means that the computer will be not be fully protected and will be exposed to additional threats." - Microsoft's words, not mine.
If you are running Windows XP and for example your printer needs replacing, you may find it very difficult to find a printer that will work with XP.
You may find that older versions of Internet Explorer don't work on some web sites too.
What can I do?
Don't for goodness sake start panicking and thinking that your computing world is going to collapse around your ears. It isn't. Give me a call and we can have a chat about things that can be done. Installing an alternative piece of antivirus software or an alternative web browser may be a couple of ways forward for you and will give you some breathing space in order to fully assess the situation.
If you do feel that you want to buy a new PC, then give me a call and I'll be happy to provide as much guidance as I can
What will / can Hillside Computer Services do?
I will try my utmost to keep your Windows XP computer up and running for as long as possible and as safe as possible.
For further information about "Windows XP End of Support", then please follow this link to the Microsoft web site:
Microsoft Windows 8
Microsoft is giving consumers another 30 days beyond its originally stated deadline to install Windows 8.1 Update.
Instead of requiring Windows 8.1 users to install the update by May 13, which is this month's Patch Tuesday, Microsoft is now allowing them a longer grace period - until June 10 - to move to the Update in order to continue to receive patches and fixes from the company. Microsoft announced the Windows 8.1 Update deadline extension on May 12.
Users running Windows 8.1 who have Automatic Updates turned on don't need to do anything; they will receive the Update automatically via Windows Update.
How do I know if I have Windows 8.1 installed?
To check if the update is already installed, go to the Start screen. If you see a Search button near your account name at the top of the Start screen, you already have the update.
If you've not got Windows 8.1 installed, you can either do it yourself, or give me a call and I'll do it for you.
If you would like to do it yourself, then this is what you need to do:
Ready? Now you can download the free update from the Windows Store and follow these instructions below implicitly, which, are quite lengthy/ concise / convoluted:
Prepare your PC
There are a few things you should do before you start installing.
Back up your files. Although your files and apps come with you when you update to Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, it's a good idea to make sure that your files are backed up first by setting up File History.
Make sure you have enough free disk space. If you're currently running Windows 8, you need 3,000 MB of available space to install the 32-bit version of Windows 8.1, and 3,850 MB of available space to install the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1. On a Windows RT device, you need 2,250 MB of available disk space to install Windows RT 8.1. For more info, see Tips for freeing up drive space on your PC.
Plug in your laptop or tablet. It's important to keep your PC plugged in throughout the update process, because if you lose power before it's done, the update might not install properly.
Connect to the Internet. It's best to stay connected until the update is done. If you don't, you’ll need to connect again to finish setting up later, and setup will take longer.
Get the latest critical and important updates. There are some updates you might need before you can install Windows 8.1. In most cases, the latest updates will be installed automatically using Windows Update. But if you don’t have automatic updates turned on and you need to check for updates manually, or if you'd like to check to see when the latest updates were installed, you can do this from Windows Update. For more info, see Windows Update: Frequently asked questions.
Temporarily turn off your antivirus program. Some antivirus software might interfere with the installation. After you install Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, remember to turn your antivirus program back on.
Get the free update
Ready? Now you can download the free update from the Windows Store.
Go to the Start screen, and tap or click the Store tile.
In the Store, tap or click the Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 update. if you don't see the update on the Store home screen, see Why can't I find the update in the Store?
Tap or click Download.
The update will download and install in the background while you use your PC to do other things. The installer will check to make sure you have enough disk space, that your apps and devices will work with Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, and that you have all the required updates.
In some cases, the installer might find something you need to take care of before you can continue installing the update. If so, you'll see a message telling you what you need to do.
If the installation is interrupted for any reason, you can restart the update from where you left off by going back to the Store and downloading the update again.
After the update is downloaded and the first phase of the installation is complete (which could take between 15 minutes and a few hours, depending on your system and your connection speed), you'll see a message telling you that your PC needs to restart. It will give you 15 minutes to finish what you’re working on, save your work, and close your apps, and then it will restart your PC for you. Or you can restart it yourself.
If you leave your PC before it's ready to restart, be sure to save your work and close any desktop apps you're using to make sure you don't lose anything when it restarts automatically. Your PC might need to restart more than once, depending on how it’s set up, and whether additional updates are needed.
Restarting will take longer than usual—from 20 minutes to about an hour—while the update is applied. During this time, you won't be able to use your PC.
Choose your settings
After your PC finishes restarting, you'll be presented with the Microsoft software license terms. Review the terms, and then tap or click I accept to continue. If you don't accept the terms, this cancels the installation of Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, and your PC will roll back to Windows 8 or Windows RT.
You'll see a list of recommended settings, called express settings. To accept these settings and continue, tap or click Use express settings. You can change any of these settings later, after you finish setting up. If you'd like to change some of these settings now, tap or click Customize.
For more info, tap or click Learn more about express settings. To learn about how these settings affect your privacy, tap or click Privacy statement.
Next, you'll be asked to sign in.
If you already use a Microsoft account to sign in to Windows 8 or Windows RT, your account name will be filled in for you. If you previously used a local account for this, you'll need to sign in with your local account first, and then we'll ask you to set up a Microsoft account, which you can use to sign in to your PC after the update.
If you already have a Microsoft account
Enter your Microsoft account email address, if needed, and your password.
We'll send a security code to the alternate email address or phone number you've set up for this account, and you'll need to enter that code to verify that you're the owner of the account. This helps us protect your account and devices when you access sensitive info. If you don't have alternate contact info set up for the account yet, you'll be asked to provide it now.
If you have more than one Microsoft account, you can get help figuring out which email address to use for your Microsoft account.
If you signed in to your PC using a Microsoft account before you installed Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, then you might not need to enter a security code.
To create a new Microsoft account
If you haven't got a Microsoft account, Choose Create a new account.
Next, you'll be asked to choose an email address you'd like to use as a Microsoft account. This can be any email address you use, and isn't limited to addresses that come from Microsoft. Enter the email address that you use the most. We'll use it to set up the Mail and People apps for you with email and contacts that you already use every day.
Enter the password you'd like to use, and fill in the rest of the info, including your first name, last name, and your country or region.
Next, you'll also be asked to provide an alternate email address or phone number where we can reach you by email, phone, or text message (SMS). This helps us protect your account and devices whenever you access sensitive info using this account. After you enter this info, we'll send a message to you containing a security code, and you'll need to enter that code to verify that you're the owner of the account.
To keep using a local account
Windows 8.1 is designed to be used with a Microsoft account, so we recommend that you give it a try. Simply put, your Microsoft account is the glue that holds together so many useful features of the new Windows. Without one, you won't be able to, for example, automatically sync your settings and documents between PCs, back up your photos to the cloud so you can get to them from anywhere, or see all your contacts from multiple email and social networking accounts together in the People and Mail apps.
But if you're sure you want to use a local account instead, choose Create a new account, and then on the new account page, choose Continue using my existing account.
OneDrive cloud storage
If this is your first time setting up a PC with Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, you'll see the new OneDrive options.
If you already have another PC running Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, and you chose to sync settings on that PC, then your OneDrive settings will also sync from your existing PC to this one, and you might not see this screen.
If you click Next on this screen, your PC will use these default OneDrive settings:
Photos you take with this PC are saved to your camera roll folder on this PC, and a smaller copy of each photo is automatically backed up to your OneDrive.
When you create a new document, the default save location is OneDrive. But you can always choose to save individual documents locally or on another drive.
Windows will save a backup copy of your PC settings to OneDrive. If something ever happens to your PC and you need to replace it, your settings are saved in the cloud and you can transfer them to a new PC instantly.
You can change any of these settings later in PC settings. If you'd prefer to turn off all of these settings now, tap or click Turn off these OneDrive settings (not recommended).
For more info about upgrading a PC that has the OneDrive desktop app for Windows installed, see Windows now comes with OneDrive.
Because Windows is always being updated, it’s possible that critical updates have become available since Windows 8.1 and Windows RT 8.1 were finalized. Windows checks for these critical updates when you finish setting up Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1 for the first time, and if it finds any, it will download them automatically. Downloading and installing these updates might take a few minutes, depending on the updates you need. Your PC might also need to restart one or more times to complete the updates.
Welcome to the new Windows
The new Start screen will appear.
Much of it will look familiar, but if you'd like to explore what's new and how to get around, check out this Start screen page.
Your desktop apps come with you when you update to Windows 8.1 or Windows RT 8.1, but you'll need to reinstall your Windows Store apps. You can see all of the Windows Store apps you own in the Your apps section of the Store. From here, you can choose the ones you want to install on your updated PC, and install them all at once.
To reinstall apps from the Store
On the Start screen, tap or click the Store tile to open the Windows Store.
Tap or click Account, and then tap or click My apps.
Select all the apps you want to install, and then tap or click Install.
You can also reinstall apps from the Start screen by tapping or clicking the tiles.
You don't need to wait for the apps to finish installing. They'll keep installing in the background while you do other things.
I recommend that you print out either the instructions above or from this web link (where these instructions have come from) BEFORE attempting to install the Windows 8.1 upgrade
Microsoft Windows lifecycle fact sheet
Client operating systems
Latest update or service pack
Service Pack 3
Service Pack 2
Service Pack 1
End of mainstream support
April 14th 2009
April 10th 2012
January 13th 2015
January 9th 2018
End of extended support
April 8th 2014
April 11th 2017
January 14th 2020
January 10th 2023
Rumours are abound that Apple are due to be finalising designs for it's new iPhone 6 in the very near future. The most consistent rumour I have come across is that the phone is likely to be quite a lot larger than previous models and reverts back to the rounded edges of earlier models (I must say that the iPhone 5 is really uncomfortable to hold due it's squared off edges). Also there'll be a new operating system; IOS 8. This new model (or range of models?) is allegedly being released in September.
Watch this space for details.
Hillside Computer Services are now able to offer secure remote access on an ad-hoc basis to users who may have a small or minor problem with their computer. This process enables me to access and take control of the keyboard and mouse of your computer (with your permission) to fix minor problems and thus obviating a site visit. This service is only available if you have a working broadband connection - if your broadband isn't working, then I'm afraid it's not going to work (for obvious reasons) and a site visit may be neccessary.
If you feel that you have need of this service, then please give me a call and I can talk you through the machinations. The charge for providing remote access is just a nominal fee under normal circumstances and is totally secure.
How to create a safe and easy to remember password
Remember, just because a password is hard for you to remember, doesn’t mean that a computer (or hacker) won’t crack it within minutes or hours.
If you take away one thing from this article, it should be this: A long, easy to remember password is better than a short, complex password.
Let's illustrate this with a couple of examples. The first from XKCD shows the complicated password "TrØub4dor&3" might appear secure, but it will take 3 days to crack at an estimated rate of 1,000 guesses per second.
Meanwhile, a password made up of four random but easily memorable words “correct horse battery staple” would take 550 years to crack at a rate of 1,000 guesses per second. The more characters a password has, the longer it takes to crack.
Sound too good to be true? Let’s look at another example.
Which is more secure?
PrXyc.N(n4k77#L!eVdAfp9 (23 characters)
D0g..................... (24 characters long)
Look closely, you'll see both include an uppercase letter, lowercase letter, number, and "special" characters. So the second is more secure because it is longer.
I don't recommend adding dots into all your passwords, but I do suggest that you come up with unique padding to help increase the length of passwords.
Most websites require you to use capital letters and numbers so this can act as your padding between four or more random but memorable words.
You could put some padding in front, and/or interspersed through the phrase, and/or add some more to the end. You could put some characters at the beginning, padding in the middle, and more characters at the end. And also mix-up the padding characters by using simple memorable character pictures like “<->” or “[*]” or “^-^” . . . but do invent your own.
Taking advantage of Windows 8 search
The Search in Windows 8 has been significantly improved when compared to all previous versions of Windows. To search for a file or run a program in Windows 8 from the Start screen just start typing what you're trying to find or want to run.
As you begin typing, the results will start appearing on the left-hand side. In addition to being able to search for files and run programs, the Search also supports limiting the search to apps such as Finance, People, Maps, Photos, Mail, Music, Videos, Weather, and much more. If what you are searching for is not a file or program, click on the app you want to use as the search. For example, if you were searching for "Bury St. Edmunds" and selected the Weather App you would be shown the weather in Bury St. Edmunds.
By default, Search organizes the available apps by how frequently they are used and then in alphabetical order. If you want to keep your favorite app at the top of the Search list, right-click the app and choose Pin. Pinning the app will lock it in place regardless of how often it is used. If there is an app you don't want (e.g. Finance) you can turn on and off any of the search apps through the PC settings, which is found under the Settings in the Charms.
How to make an iPad screenshot
You can take a screenshot on your iPad or iPhone by pressing Home and then the Sleep/Wake button. The screen will flash and you'll hear a click, indicating that a photo has been taken. Your screen shots are saved automatically in your Photos gallery. Here, you can view or email them as you see fit.
Give your guests safe access to a Mac
Guest accounts are great if you want to let someone borrow your Mac to check email or browse the web.
This can be enabled by going into System Preferences and clicking on Users and Groups. This then puts the Guest User account on the login screen. Guests can use this account and once finished it wipes that session.
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.
5 reasons all computers are female
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:
Happy and safe computing.