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Issue 30 - February 2017 Newsletter

Hello and welcome to this, Issue 30 of the Hillside Computer Services Newsletter.

This one has been a long time in coming due to the fact that the computer scene is incredibly quiet or perhaps that should be totally stagnant at present.

Anyway after putting on my thinking cap I've managed to pull something out of the hat. I also rattle on a bit about backing up your hard drives a bit further on. So without further ado, here goes . . .


News

Hillside Computer Services

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PC healthcheck

All computers start to run slowly after a period of time or take ages to start up or display error messages when they boot up.

Hillside Computer Services offers it's pc healthcheck service, which will ensure that your computer, be it a Windows PC or an Apple Mac runs more smoothly and more efficiently.

The pc healthcheck takes about one hour to complete at your home or business premises and I shall of course be able to answer any of your questions regarding your computer and resolve any other issues or glitches you may have with it

We are running a special promotion of our ever popular PC healthcheck for our Newsletters subscribers for just £35.00 per computer from 1st to the 31st March for both Apple and Microsoft Windows computers.

Further details can be found here.


"What does Hillside Computers Do?"

"Computer support" I hear you say. Well yes I do provide computer support.
"OK. But what computer support do you offer?"

The computer support I offer is very comprehensive and is offered to old and new customers alike, having been in the computer support industry for over 35 years and working for some pretty big players I have picked up a wealth of knowledge along the way. I cut my teeth on PC-DOS (the predecessor of MS-DOS) and Silicon Graphics UNIX boxes in the early 1980's before becoming self-employed seventeen years ago.

The main services I provide are as follows (in no particular order):

  • Windows and Mac support
  • Setting and trouble shooting broadband accounts
  • On-site support, remote access and telephone support
  • Setting up and trouble shooting Wi-Fi problems
  • Setting up and trouble shooting email accounts
  • Virus and Trojan protection and removal
  • Web site design and management
  • Cloud computing
  • Setting up music streaming
  • Tuition in using your computer / tablet and programs and peripherals
  • Advice regarding the purchase of new computers / software / peripherals
  • Setting up / installing new systems / printers / external hard drives
  • Backup and data recovery
  • Data transfer from your old computer to your new one
  • Memory and hard drive upgrades
  • Setting up digital cameras and downloading images on them to your computer
  • The list goes on . . . .
  • If you have a specific form of support you require, just ask. I can probably do it and if I can't do it, I can recommend someone who can.


What geographic area does Hillside Computers cover?

We are based in Brandon in West Suffolk (about 12 miles north of Bury St. Edmunds).
The area we cover is a very rough 25 mile radius from Brandon or to put it another way, within an hours drive of Brandon


Microsoft

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Windows 10 Update

This spring, Microsoft will release the next major update to Windows 10. Dubbed Creators Update, the free download includes new 3D apps, VR capabilities and 4K game streaming among its flashier features.

But you don't need to be a graphics professional or VR-headset owner to appreciate what the Creators Update has in store. This next version of Windows contains dozens of tweaks and enhancements for everyday users as well.

Here are a few of the new features coming to Windows 10, which look promising:

  • Free up disk space without lifting a finger
Is your hard drive nearly full? Creators Update can help keep your drive from filling up with spurious rubbish. This will be found in Settings > System > Storage and turn on Storage sense.

With this setting enabled, Windows will automatically delete unused temporary files, as well as files that have been in the Recycle Bin for more than 30 days. I'm pretty good at emptying the Recycle Bin on something approaching a regular schedule, but it is nice to have Windows track down and eradicate needless temp files.

  • Hit the Pause button on automatic updates
The worst part about Windows 10 is it's automatic updates. With Creators Update, you can't stop automatic updates from happening, but you can delay some of them for about a month. To access this feature go to Settings > Update & security > Windows Update and click Advanced options under Update settings. Here, you'll see a toggle switch for Pause Updates, which lets you prevent updates from being installed for up to 35 days.

You aren't completely free from Microsoft installing updates taking control of your machine (normally at the most inopportune time) and potentially losing unsaved work. As the panel clearly states, "some updates... will continue to be installed." But, hey, at least it's a start.

  • Night light for less blue light
Staring at an unnaturally blue screen at night can shift your body's natural clock and make it difficult to get a good night's sleep. Your phone has probably a way to switch to warmer colours at night, and Windows soon will, too. In Creators Update, there's setting to lower the blue light of your PC. Head to Settings > System > Display > Night light settings. You can schedule it to come on at sunset or manually set hours. You'll also find a new Night light button in the Action Center to toggle the setting on and off.

Watch this space for the release date of the Windows 10 Creators Update.


Apple

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Are cheap iPhone chargers safe?

Are cheap iPhone chargers safe? 99% of counterfeit Apple chargers fail basic safety checks
Non-official Apple chargers have been in the spotlight recently, after research found that the overwhelming majority of counterfeit chargers failed basic safety requirements.

In autumn 2016, tests on 400 counterfeit chargers commissioned by Trading Standards found that only three were sufficiently insulated to protect against electric shocks, a pass rate below one percent.

The chargers were bought from eight countries, including the US, China and Australia.

Doubts have also been raised conquering the safety of chargers bought second-hand, after a separate set of tests on 3,019 electrical items bought from charity shops and antique dealers found that 15 percent of them did not comply with basic safety requirements covering plugs, insulation and suchlike.

If you are in any doubt as to the safety of your charger or it's condition, please go and buy a new and genuine one.
This also applies to any other chargers you may have for such things as cameras or tablets etc.


Hints & Tips

Hillside Computer Services

Backing up your hard drive

Yes, here I go again rattling on about backing up your hard drive, but please bear with me.

Hard drives / hard disks, call them what you will, "fail". It's a harsh fact of life. Hard drives (my preferred term) are a mechanical device that stores all your programs and data and they have lots of moving parts, and as such are prone to failure in a mechanical sense, such as you accidentally dropping your laptop computer or spilling a drink on your PC or physically wear out The hard drive might also become unreadable due to a trojan virus or malware infection or if a file on your computer which your operating system needs in order to boot up becomes corrupted and therefore unreadable.

Since Christmas I have visited three customers who's hard drives had become unreadable for various reasons. Out of these three customers, only one had made any attempt at backing up their data. The remaining two, unfortunately lost the entire contents of their hard drives: their programs, emails, all of their digital photographs, music and documents. The inconvenience of this has caused them a great deal of stress and worry as essentially their life disappeared!!

The one customer who had made a backup, hadn't backed their data up for over twelve months, and therefore lost a whole years worth of contacts, photos, emails and documents. But on a positive note, at least they had something to fall back on.

External hard drives aren't expensive. They start off at about £50.00 but can cost as much as several hundreds of pounds (or more) depending on your requirements. Some come with backup software that enables scheduled automatic backups to take place. If they don't come with any software then it costs about £35.00 to buy a good back up program . If you don't want to buy any extra software, you can of course do it manually, though this method isn't as effective. They are relatively easy to set up and if the worst ever happens (which hopefully it won't) you are safe guarding your digital life.

All Apple laptops and iMacs come with an application called Time Machine pre-installed on the computer as part of their operating system, that backs up all your data for you automatically to an external hard drive.

If you'd like to have a chat about backing up your computer, then please do contact me.


Apple

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Autocapitalisation and full stops (OSX)

In System Preferences > Keyboard > Text, you get two new options: 'Capitalize words automatically', and 'Add period with double-space'. (A period is a full stop, of course. This US term appears even if you have a British keyboard setup specified.)

With the two new options ticked in this box - and they are ticked by default - then needed capitals will be added in TextEdit and similar apps automatically, while hitting space twice in a row will bring up a full stop and following space instead, just like in iOS.


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Quickly manage mail (iOS)

When viewing a thread, swipe a message to the left to reply, flag, or delete it. Swipe right to mark it as unread.


Microsoft

Get rid of adverts in your Windows 10 Start menu

If you're running Windows 10 with default settings, you've probably noticed apps creeping into the right (tile) side of your Start menu - apps you didn't put there. Clicking on these "apps" opens up the Store, where you can purchase and download them. Microsoft calls them "suggestions," but they're actually just adverts.

That's right, Microsoft is putting adverts in your Start menu. Is nothing sacred?
Luckily, getting rid of these ads - sorry, suggestions is a quick fix.

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Open Settings and go to Personalization > Start. You'll see several toggles, but the second one should say "Occasionally show suggestions in Start." Turn this toggle to Off and close the Settings menu.

That's all you have to do! No more Start menu ads for you!


Help

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.


Jokes

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Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Officer asked a young computer science graduate straight out of university, "And what starting salary were you looking for?"

The Engineer replies, "In the region of £125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."

The interviewer enquires, "Well, what would you say to a package of 6 paid weeks holiday, full medical and dental insurance, 50% final salary pension upon retirement, and a company car leased every 2 years, perhaps, a red BMW Series 7?”

The graduate sits up straight and says, "Wow! Are you kidding?"

And the interviewer replies, "Yeah, but you started it."

Endpiece

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 too long.

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

contact

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    Brandon
    Suffolk
    IP27 0UF
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  • 07583 294040
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Site last updated: 10-02-17