Hello and welcome to this, Issue 27 of the Hillside Computer Services November 2015 Newsletter.
As you can see, the overall look to this newsletter is somewhat different to the previous editions. I have completely rewritten our website and redesigned the layout and style of these newsletters, having made the heart rending decision to ditch Adobe CC (Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Fireworks etc.) after some 15 years of being a loyal customer of Adobe’s products due mainly to their exorbitant pricing structure. As an alternative solution I have recently invested in RapidWeaver, a modular web development / creation application, which has been developed by a small team in Brighton. It’s an absolutely fabulous application and one that I find to be far more intuitive than Adobe’s offering and cheaper too.
You will see from this Newsletter and the website that it is responsive. That means it’ll look just as good on an tablet, mobile phone or 30” monitor as everything scales up and down proportionately, which is the way forward in web design these days.
I do hope you like the new look. It will be an evolving project, so visit the site regularly to see what’s changed.
It would be really good to get some feedback from you, be it positive or negative. If it’s negative I’ll try my best to remedy the situation. You can use the Contact Form at the bottom of this page or you can click on the floating envelope icon on the left hand side to get in touch.
I am in the process of converting all the other Newsletters into this new format / style. At present they are in a rough PDF format, which can be read and printed, but due to the limitations in converting HTML web pages to PDF, the page layouts have gone a little awry but they are still readable and a good source of information - watch this space.
In this issue there’s news about Microsoft’s Windows 10, Apple’s OS X El Capitan and a piece about whether you should or need to upgrade your computer’s operating system.
So on with the show . . . .
It's Competition Time - Still
By way of celebrating the previous twenty five issues of producing these newsletters we would like to remind you of the competition which we 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
Microsoft Windows 10 & Welcome back to the Start Menu
In July Microsoft launched Windows 10 and is the next Windows operating system for PCs and laptops, smartphones and tablets.
The Start Menu is back - yippee!! It contains standard Windows software and Windows apps. Modern UI apps, as they used to be called, or Metro apps, if you want to go right back to the beginning to Windows 8.
But this time the Start menu is improved, and it even makes Windows apps useful. Click on the Window button at the bottom left corner of the screen and you'll see a list of your most-used apps, just as in Windows 7. At the bottom you will see an 'All apps' shortcut, plus shortcuts to File Explorer, Settings and - conveniently, Shutdown and Standby.
The full-screen Start Menu, which was a major part of Windows 8 is still there, but is really meant for tablet use, where it makes most sense, but you can choose to use it on a PC or laptop without a touchscreen if you like. On all the PCs I’ve installed Windows 10 onto, the Windows Desktop is displayed by default.
It's easy to think of the release version of Windows 10 as the final and finished version. But it isn't. It's really the first version. Microsoft will issue regular updates just as it always has done - Service Packs etc. Only this time it's different. You won't find an option in Windows 10 Home, for example, to turn off updates. Updates are now mandatory.
Updates contain device drivers as well as security (and non-security-related) patches.
There are benefits to forced updates. Vulnerabilities and security holes will be addressed and patched on all Windows 10 machines at the same time, and people won't be running vulnerable 6-year-old versions of Internet Explorer or missing updates.
There's a new web browser in Windows 10, and it offers some unique features. As well as the reading mode you may already be familiar with from other browsers, which strips away page furniture so you can focus on the content, there's a new annotation feature which lets you highlight things and add notes and crop to a certain area of the page before sending them to others.
Having these capabilities natively in the browser is a compelling reason to use it over Google Chrome or Firefox. Edge has been designed to have a minimal interface, leaving as much screen space as possible for web pages: the whole reason you’re using a browser is to view them, of course.
You can of course continue to use the more familiar Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Firefox if you wish. Internet Explorer is supplied as part of Windows 10.
The upgrade process
The upgrade to Windows 10 for the majority of people who are running Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 is free. You will need a qualifying computer to obtain the upgrade though. To find out if you qualify, give me a call.
At the moment I’ve not seen any new PC’s with Windows 10 pre-installed, even brand new. Straight out of the box PCs are still coming with Window 8.1 installed on them, so the only option for the time being is to download and install it. A few words of caution. The download of Windows 10 is something like 4 GB and can take in excess of 5 hours just to download as Microsoft’s file servers run exceedingly slowly for this - at times it’s quicker to watch paint dry! The installation of Windows 10 once it has been downloaded can take up to another 4 or 5 hours and needs constant monitoring as there are some questions asked during the installation process that need,answering before the next stage of the installation can continue. It is also important that you do no use your computer during the upgrade as it can cause problems.
At the office I have very fast fibre optic broadband 78 Mbs and if you wish I can download, install and configure Windows 10 on your PC or laptop it for you. Please contact me for details.
For the majority of home (and small business users too), Windows 10 is free until July next year and this means that there’s really no reason not to upgrade. The new features combined with the familiarity of Windows 7 make the new OS very attractive. It’s even better if you have several devices which can run Windows 10 – particularly a phone – as the tight integration means you can set reminders on the go and pick them up on your PC, say, when you get home or into the office. That’s just one tiny example, of course. If you use OneDrive to store your music, photos, videos, notes and documents, you’ll be able to easily access them from anywhere: the online web app has improved a lot since the early days. Windows 10 is a great operating system. It’s fair to say even at this pretty early stage in it’s life that it’s the best Windows version since the much beloved and missed XP. It’s not perfect, of course, and there will undoubtedly be bugs that need fixing, so expect patches and updates very soon.
Mac OS X 10.10
Hot on the heels of Windows 10 being released Apple have recently launched Mac OS X 10.11 (El Capitan).
This isn’t a major upgrade of Apple’s OS X operating system, but it does address some issues and streamlines a lot of features.
There isn’t much to say about the upgrade because as with most things Apple, it’s what you can’t see that makes the difference (what’s going on under the bonnet so to speak).
A new version of Safari and iTunes is supplied and computers do run a lot faster than with previous versions of OS X. Spotlight, the search facility is much improved with it’s accuracy and there are tweaks throughout the system.
As with previous versions of OS X, this one is a free download from Apple’s App Store. It is a large download and can take about 2 to 3 hours to download and install.
If you wish I can download and install it for you. Contact me for details.
If you have read the above about Microsoft’s and Apple’s new operating system release, then it is worth mentioning that before embarking in updating your operating system be it OS X or Windows, it is absolutely imperative that you do a full back up of your system - documents, emails, addresses, photos, music etc., because if anything does go wrong during the upgrade process (and it does happen on occasion) there is a real risk that your files may be damaged or that your hard drive becomes unreadable (a corrupted installation).
Also prior to biting the bullet making notes relating to any web site user names and passwords and email passwords etc. you may have is supremely useful as they may well need to be input once the upgrade has completed and it does alleviate a lot of frustration and time in trying to guess which username goes with what password for what website.
If a motor manufacturer brings out a new model car, one usually sits back and waits for other customers to get the initial problems sorted, teething problems fixed and warranty recalls done etc. before you part with your hard earned pennies and take the plunge.
This was certainly true with new releases of computer operating systems. Up until a couple of years ago when a software manufacturer released a new operating system, you usually sat back and let other users deal with the initial problems / bugs and then after a few months or so you would then get your own computer upgraded.
These days by waiting too long to upgrade your computer’s operating system you can often find that this Window of Opportunity has been missed. You can find that in order to upgrade to the new OS, instead of it being straightforward, the upgrade path is either no longer viable or available or too convoluted because of the time scale which has elapsed.
Apple and Microsoft release a new operating system virtually every 15 months or so and by the time the initial glitches / bugs or problems have been ironed out over a period of a few months “Son of Operating System” is already looming round the corner.
If you have a computer (a Mac or Windows PC), then do try to get the upgrade done sooner rather than later. OK, there may be instances where you don’t want to upgrade; you may be perfectly happy running an early version of an operating system, or simply can’t be bothered or that your computer is simply too old to run it, well, that’s fair enough. However if that’s not always the case for everyone.
Therefore, the best advise I can offer is to try your hardest to keep on top of operating system upgrades. Be aware that there will always be problems with the new operating system. Most of them will be very minor as a huge amount of testing goes into them before public release and in all probability you won’t even be aware of them, which is a good thing.
If you are in any doubt about whether you should upgrade, then do contact me and we can have a chat about the process and viability.
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.
Four engineers get in a car. The car won't start.
The Mechanical Engineer says: "It's a broken starter"
The Electrical engineer says: "Dead battery"
The Chemical engineer says: "Impurities in the gasoline"
The IT engineer says: "Hey guys, I have an idea. How about we all get out of the car and get back in"
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.