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Computeractive Issue 504 21 June 4 July 2017

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Google’s superb new tool
4 JULY 2017
ISSUE 504 ❘ 21 JUNE –
Kaspersky v Microsoft p8
every issue
Learn something new in
You’ll love what it
adds to your PC
File-dependent software
Unexpected duplicates
Start-up hardware items
Pre-loaded programs
Microsoft’s ‘useful’ extras
Files that slow Start-up p50
First WannaCry...
Banish snea
kkyy ads
d from Windows 10
Group Editor Daniel Booth
Features Editor Mike Plant
Technical Editor Sherwin Coelho
Production Editor Graham Brown
Art Editor Katie Peat
Sorry, no technical or buying advice.
Group Ad Manager Charlotte Milligan
Deputy Advertising Manager Alexa Dracos
Subscriptions Rachel Hare
Marketing Production Manager Gemma Hills
For subscription enquiries ring 0330 333 9493
Group Production Manager
Stephen Catherall
Production Controller
Maisie Harvey
Managing Director John Garewal
MD of Advertising Julian Lloyd-Evans
Commercial and Retail Director David Barker
CFO/COO Brett Reynolds
Chief Executive James Tye
Company Founder Felix Dennis
From the Editor
Computeractive moved offices recently, so we
needed a big clearout. It’s astonishing how
much clutter had grown around my desk. It
seemed to have spread like Japanese Knotweed
through a Cotswolds garden. And yet I was still
nervous about what to throw away. Would I
need that old coffee-stained notepad? Whose
phone number is on that Post-it note? Should I
pack the kitchen sink?
I know that many of you have similar doubts
when clearing junk from your PC. You realise
how important it is to do, but worry that you’ll
accidentally uninstall files that are essential to
how your PC runs. So in this issue’s Cover
Feature (page 50) we explain precisely what’s
Companies can obtain a licence to use approved
quotations from articles, the Computeractive
logo and Buy It! logo. Reprints of articles are also
safe to remove, and what you must keep.
I hope you’ll find it useful, but I’ll
understand if the task of cleaning your PC
doesn’t rank particularly highly in your life’s
achievements. You can share these with other
people by turning your life story into a podcast
(page 40).
Daniel Booth
Please contact Ryan Chambers for more
information and rates: 0203 890 4027
Requests to use quotations from articles will
need to be approved by the editor. Please send
requests to:
Computeractive is available for international
licensing. Contact Nicole Adams at nicole_ or +44 0203 890 3998
This publication may not be resold or otherwise
distributed, whether at, below or above face
value. Nor can this publication be advertised for
sale, transfer or distribution.
Material may not be reproduced in any form
without the written consent of the publisher.
Please address such requests to John Garewal,
Dennis Publishing, 31-32 Alfred Place,
London, WC1E 7DP
While every care was taken preparing this
magazine, the publishers cannot be held
responsible for the accuracy of the information
or any consequence arising from it. All
judgments are based on equipment available
to Computeractive at the time of review.
Computeractive takes no responsibility for the
content of external websites whose addresses
are published in the magazine.
Computeractive is published
fortnightly by Dennis Publishing,
31-32 Alfred Place, London, WC1E 7DP.
Company registered in England. Material may
not be reproduced in whole or part without the
consent of the publishers. ISSN 1461-6211
Average sales, Jan-Dec 2016, 83,856
copies per issue.
© Copyright Dennis Publishing Limited
Number of languages
WannaCry ransomware
was translated into - p7
Printed in the UK
Price of Intel’s new
teraflop processor
- p22
500 million
How many people
now use Google
Photos - p49
We use snipcas to turn long URLs that
are hard to type into ones that are
short and simple. They aren’t websites
themselves, which means they won’t
be recognised if you type them into
Google. Instead, you need to type them
into your browser address bar, then
press Enter. Doing this will take you to
the correct website.
21 June – 4 July 2017 3
In this issue…
Remove hidden junk
without killing your PC
Our expert guide to removing
unwanted and unnecessary software
safely and completely
Help with Hobbies
57 Meteorology
Banish Microsoft’s adverts
in Windows 10
Stop irritating promotional pop-ups
21 June – 4 July 2017 • Issue 504
P50 RE
and offers you can refuse
Watch the world from
your PC
How to see real-time events online
Watch the
world go round
on your PC p60
Hide Microsoft’s
adverts p58
In every issue…
6 News
33 Competition
Win MAGIX Vegas Movie
Studio software
11 Question of
the Fortnight
How can we detect ‘online
dating’ scammers?
49 What’s All the Fuss
About? Google Lens
12 Letters
64 Problems Solved
14 Consumeractive
70 Reader Support
Your tech problems fixed
16 Protect Your Tech
18 Best Free Software
Z-Cron 5.0
30 Buy It!
4 21 June – 4 July 2017
73 Jargon Buster
74 The Final Straw
Ken Rigsby can’t move for
versions of Windows
Windows version
therapy p74
See page
ge 62
for our special
subs offer
Palicomp i5
Titanium p21
20 Box Cube Essence Quiet GT
Quietly unassuming PC underwhelms
21 Palicomp i5 Titanium
Mid-table PC upsets the odds
22 Asus VX279Q
A monitor with image problems
23 Nokia 3310
Retro phone has little future
24 Raspberry Pi Zero W
Mini PC goes wireless
Now TV Smart Box
Set top box for alternative viewing
Raspberry Pi Zero W p24
Canon Pixma
26 Canon Pixma TS8050
A licence to print better
28 LG G6
LG impressive phone stands tall
DD-Link Vigilance DCS-4602EV
Robust security camera for your home
29 Asus DSL-AC55U
Asus router doesn’t break speed limits
Workshops & Tips
14 pages of brilliant workshops and expert tips
35 Customise Windows 10’s
secret Start menu
42 Save mobile data on
your iPhone
38 Share photos using
Google’s new tool
43 Readers’ Tips
Reach the Control Panel quicker
40 Turn your
life story
to a podcast
44 Phone and Tablet Tips
Cast your photos to your TV
46 Make Windows Better
Connect Bluetooth accessories
47 Make Office Better
Quickly insert text you use often
48 Secret Tips For…
Magix Music Maker
21 June – 4 July 2017 5
The top stories in the world of technology
Now WannaCry can hack W10
(but it’s actually good news)
he WannaCry
that paralysed tens
of thousands of
computers in May worldwide
can be used to attack
Windows 10, security
researchers have said.
Experts at US company
RiskSense have created a
Windows 10 version of the
security flaw – called
EternalBlue – that WannaCry
exploited in order to better
understand how future attacks
can be prevented.
No Windows 10 computers
were affected by WannaCry
during the attack last month.
Despite initial reports that XP
machines were most at risk,
analysis suggests that 98 per
cent of hacked computers
were running Windows 7.
RiskSense’s research is
known as ‘white hat hacking’,
in which the security of
software and systems are
tested by experts looking to
find flaws before criminals do.
It has published a report
explaining how WannaCry
can infect Windows 10, but
left out details “that would
only be useful to attackers”.
Sean Dillon, senior research
analyst at RiskSense, said the
information would help the
security industry develop
“new techniques” to thwart
His team removed a
‘backdoor’ from the flaw,
which WannaCry was
using to bypass antivirus
software. Dillon said that
WannaCry doesn’t actually
need to use this tactic, and
urged security researchers to
stop wasting time looking for
ways to block it.
Check for updates
To stay safe from WannaCry,
Windows 10 users should
make sure they have installed
Microsoft’s MS17-010 update,
which was released on 14
March to fix EternalBlue.
Updates are applied
automatically by default in
Windows 10, but to double-
Hat colours matter as much
to hackers as they do to racegoers on Ladies Day at Royal
Ascot. Black hat hackers are
the bad guys – criminals out
to steal and pillage. More
ambiguous are grey hat
hackers, who aren’t malicious
but may break the law to
uncover security flaws. That
leaves the white hat hackers
– unsung heroes who help to
keep us all safe. We doff our
cap to them.
check click the Start button,
type update, then click
‘Windows Update settings’
from the list of results.
Next click the grey ‘Check
for updates’ button in the
‘Update status’ section. If this
finds any updates, click them.
WannaCry scams you need to
avoid – turn to page 16
View computing history from Bletchley Park
You can get up close to the
world’s oldest working
computer in a new
360-degree tour of the
National Museum of
Computing at Bletchley Park.
The Harwell Dekatron,
better known as WITCH, was
used by the Atomic Energy
Research Establishment in
Harwell, Oxfordshire,
between 1951 and 1957.
Restored in 2012, it is one of
the museum’s most famous
You’ll like this…
Microsoft has updated its Wordament app
with more games (
6 21 June – 4 July 2017
Start your tour by visiting –
this should zoom you towards
the WITCH. From here you
can use your mouse to explore
the museum, clicking dots
and rotating the screen as you
can in Google Street View.
To make it easier to
navigate, click the bottom-left
icon (see screenshot) to see
the museum in two views – as
a floorplan and a ‘dollhouse’.
From these click one of the
circles to go to an exhibit.
Other highlights in the
tour include the Hollerith
Electronic Computer (HEC),
Britain’s first mass-produced
business computer, and a
gigantic disk platter from
the 1950s.
… but not this
Facebook won’t give parents access to dead
daughter’s account (
WannaCry hackers ‘were
Chinese speaking’
Chinese hackers were
behind the WannaCry
ransomware attack that
crippled tens of thousands
of computers around the
world in May,
new evidence suggests.
After examining the
ransom message displayed
by WannaCry, researchers
at US security company
Flashpoint found that the
grammar and punctuation
in the Chinese versions
indicated the writer was
“native or at least fluent” in
the language.
They claim with “high
confidence” that the language
“is consistent with that of
Southern China, Hong Kong,
Taiwan or Singapore”.
The ransom note was
displayed in 28 different
languages, including French,
German and Russian. But
Flashpoint says only the
versions in Chinese and
English were written by
humans, with the others
showing grammatical and
punctuation errors indicating
they had been translated
using Google Translate.
Flashpoint says the reason
the hackers are more likely to
be Chinese than English is
that the English version
contains the ungrammatical
sentence, “But you have
not so enough time”.
Some experts had
previously thought
the hackers belonged
to the North Korean
Lazarus Group due to
similarities between
WannaCry’s code
and earlier attacks
attributed to them. But
Flashpoint’s analysis (available
revealed that the Koreanlanguage ransom note was a
poorly translated version of
the English text.
WannaCry infected more
than 200,000 computers in
150 countries, taking down
thousands of NHS machines
in the UK. The attack is being
investigated by the UK’s
National Crime Agency,
Europol and the FBI.
6,000 drivers use phone despite fines
Nearly 6,000 drivers were
caught using their mobile
phones while driving in the
month after the Government
increased penalties for the
The figures equate to 200
drivers per day in the 28 days
from 1 March, when the
Department for Transport
(DfT) doubled the penalties to
a £200 fine and six penalty
points. Additionally, motorists
caught using their phone
within two years of getting
their licence can now lose it
Transport Secretary Chris
Grayling said at the time that
using a phone at the wheel
is “as inexcusable as drinkdriving”.
The Press Association used a
Freedom of Information
request to obtain the statistics,
which show police punished
5,977 drivers in March. Just
on the London
may soon be
able to use
their phones to
browse the web
and make calls. Under plans
from the Mayor of London
Sadiq Khan, telecoms
companies will be invited
to bid for the contract to
provide a 4G service. Many
stations currently offer Wi-Fi
on platforms, but this isn’t
available on trains.
Amazon is
to sell
prescription medicine online,
according to reports. The
company is advertising in
the US for a “pharmacies
market general manager”
to tap into a market that is
worth an estimated $300bn
a year. It raises the possibility
of a similar venture in the
UK, although the company
would need to register with
the Medicines and Healthcare
Products Regulatory Agency.
over 2,000 incidents took
place in London.
Drivers reported to the
police included a man using
his phone while driving a
7.5-tonne lorry around a
roundabout in Bournemouth,
and another driving a minibus
with 10 children on board.
Road-safety campaigners
said that the figures show the
tougher laws aren’t curbing
this behaviour. The charity
Brake, which wants the £200
fine to be “significantly
increased”, told the BBC:
“Driver distraction is a
growing menace and it’s
worrying that drivers don’t
seem to be getting the
Steve Gooding, director of
motoring research charity the
RAC Foundation, added:
“Driving is a safety-critical
activity that requires our full
attention. Hands need to be
on the wheel and eyes looking
out of the windscreen, not
down at the phone screen”.
Will parachutes soon replace
postmen? Amazon has
recently been granted a
patent in the US for a postage
label that contains a built-in
parachute (pictured), which
would be dropped from a
delivery drone. Sensors
ensure packages come to
rest in the right
place, while
shock absorbers
guarantee a
soft landing.
21 June – 4 July 2017 7
Kaspersky takes Microsoft to
court for removing its antivirus
Kaspersky has filed a
legal complaint against
Microsoft for abusing its
dominant position by
recommending its
“inferior” Windows
Defender antivirus.
The Russian company
alleges that Microsoft
removes third-party
antivirus software from
PCs when users upgrade to
Windows 10, pushing them
towards Defender instead.
It has filed an anticompetition lawsuit with the
European Union, claiming
that Microsoft’s promotion of
Defender uses “questionable
In a scathing blog post
Kaspersky’s boss and founder
Eugene Kaspersky lashed out
at Microsoft, accusing it of
deliberately confusing users
by casting doubt on the
effectiveness of running
third-party antivirus.
He criticised Windows for
repeatedly asking users ‘Do
you want to run this
program?’ when they try to
run antivirus software, and for
showing the warning ‘You
should only run programs that
come from publishers you
trust’ (see screenshot).
Kaspersky said that these
messages make users feel
they “are about to commit a
wrongful action that violates
the default settings from
He also said it’s unfair that
for three days after a user’s
antivirus licence expires,
Kaspersky can’t use its
notification system to
encourage them to renew it.
He complained that “we’re
obliged to use Microsoft’s own
notification system – now
called ‘Action Center’ – to
which many users pay
little attention”.
In response
Microsoft said: “We are
confident that the
security features of
Windows 10 comply
with competition
laws”. But that won’t satisfy
Eugene Kaspersky, who says
it’s “plain as day” that
Microsoft deliberately impedes
users from making “informed
decisions” about which
security software to use.
He even claimed that
Microsoft’s French support
team had told a Kaspersky user
that Windows 10 is
incompatible with third-party
antivirus software.
Kaspersky’s software,
highly regarded in the
security industry, has won
Computeractive’s past eight
antivirus group tests. By
contrast, Defender often came
last, including in our most
recent test in January.
Apple adds ‘drag and drop’ to iPad
One of the most useful PC
functions – drag and drop – is
coming to the iPad.
Apple announced this in
early June when launching
iOS 11, the new version of its
operating system for iPads and
iPhones, which is expected to
arrive in September. It means
you’ll be able to move files,
photos, videos and music
using your fingers..
It should prove
extremely useful
when, for example,
dragging and
dropping a photo
into the body of an
Another PC-style
8 21 June – 4 July 2017
tool coming to iPads is the
Files app, which keeps all
your files in one place,
helping you manage them
more easily. It will show
files stored in your online
services, such as Dropbox
and iCloud Drive, as well
as on your iPad.
Apple claims these tools
will make its devices “the
most pow
personal and
intelligent they’ve
ever b
The company also
announced two new
iPad P
Pros, one with a
10.5in screen, the
other wi
with 12.9in.
But more significant is the
HomePod (pictured left),
Apple’s first smart speaker for
the home and a direct rival to
the Amazon Echo and Google
Home. Like those devices, the
HomePod connects to the web
to answer your spoken
questions and play your music.
It’s on sale from December.
Google has confirmed that
its Chrome browser will
start blocking “intrusive”
adverts from next year. In
a blog post (www.snipca.
com/24565) the company
said it will tackle adverts that
“blare music unexpectedly, or
force you to wait ten seconds
before you can see the
content on the page”. Google
has launched a service
to help websites identify
adverts that fail to meet its
new standards.
UK broadband provider
TenTel (
has gone into administration
and will close at the end
of June, affecting around
10,000 customers who will
be automatically moved to
TalkTalk. The ISP launched
in 2013 and sold cheap deals
that were shorter than the
12-month minimum typically
offered by larger companies.
At the time of writing TenTel
was assisting customers
through online chat (www. and on
the number 0333 011 2321.
Staffordshire University is
offering a degree in ‘eSports’,
in which professional
gamers play for big money
in international competitions.
Six students will even be
given a scholarship worth
£2,000 to help them fund
a career in gaming. Rather
than studying Shakespeare,
Descartes or Einstein they’ll
be playing Super Smash
Bros, featuring characters
called Diddy Kong, Jigglypuff
and Mega Man.
Gmail now thwarts 99.9 per cent
of scam emails
Google claims that its Gmail
service now blocks 99.9 per
cent of all phishing attempts it
detects. It says that this is a
“huge” achievement because
50 to 70 per cent of emails
that Gmail users receive are
In a blog post announcing
the milestone (www.snipca.
com/24556), the company
says that Gmail’s detection
rate has been boosted by
machine learning. This is
artificial intelligence that
allows software to improve by
itself, without any human
Andy Wen, senior product
manager at Google’s counterabuse technology team, said:
“As we find new patterns, our
models adapt more quickly
than manual systems ever
could, and get better with
He added that Gmail is now
better at spotting “polymorphic
malware”, which are threats
that constantly change to
bypass antivirus software.
Machine learning also
allows Gmail to delay select
messages – around 0.05 per
cent – in order to perform
more “rigorous” tests that
determine whether they are
safe. In addition, Gmail will
block attachment file types
that “carry a high potential for
security risks”, including
JavaScript (see the full list at
Google is also strengthening
its security for companies that
use Gmail. Now, when an
employee tries to send an
email to someone outside the
company, or not in their
contact list, Gmail will ask
them whether they really
want to send it (see
screenshot). Google says this
will stop employees
accidentally sending sensitive
data to the wrong person.
Wen acknowledged that
such warnings become
annoying if they are shown
too often, but said that Gmail
uses “contextual intelligence”
to determine whether the
recipient is an existing contact
or someone you send emails
to regularly, and therefore
probably safe. This will avoid
“displaying warnings
unnecessarily” he claimed.
Pocket-sized Card turns monitors into PCs
A new computer the size of a
credit card will transform
monitors into full-blown PCs.
Intel’s Compute Card,
small enough to fit in your
wallet, comes with the basic
ingredients of a PC – a
processor, memory, storage
and Wi-Fi – but has been
designed to slot into other
devices to let them work like
a computer.
South Korean company LG
has said it will make monitors
that work with the Compute
Card, meaning you need to
buy only a keyboard and
mouse to use it as a computer.
HP and Lenovo are also said to
be working on compatible
Intel says that the
Card can also be slotted into
a smart TV, and into the
company’s new docking
system so it could be used
as a desktop computer. In
future, users should be able to
upgrade their computer by
inserting a new, more
powerful Compute Card.
It comes in four versions, all
with 4GB of memory
and three USB ports.
Two Cards come with
Intel processors from the
latest generation (seventh),
and a 128GB SSD. Less
powerful are the two Cards
with Celeron and Pentium
processors, and 64GB eMMC
Intel, whose slogan for
the product is “transform
everything with one card”,
says that it will be on sale in
August. Prices haven’t been
announced yet. Visit Intel’s
site for more information:
A pilot refused to fly a plane
after a passenger spotted
that someone on board had
named their Wi-Fi network
‘Jihadist Cell London 1’. The
Thomson flight was due
to fly back from Cancun in
Mexico to Gatwick Airport on
Tuesday 23 May, just hours
after the suicide bombing at
Manchester Arena. Police
were called after nobody
admitted to the name. All
passengers were taken off
the flight and flown home the
following day.
People applying for a visa
to visit the UK now have to
pay £5.48 for responses
to emails they have
sent to the UK Visas and
Immigration service (UKVI).
The Government, which
has outsourced the service
to a private company, says
the charge will mean UK
taxpayers pay less for the
“significant” cost of dealing
with overseas inquiries.
It was previously free to
email UKVI.
Plusnet has
had two
radio adverts
because the terms and
conditions were spoken
too quickly. The Advertising
Standards Authority (ASA)
ruled that they were
“misleading” because the
conditions had not been
spoken in a “clear and
intelligible manner”. Both
adverts said prices may
change during the term
of the contract, which the
ASA said was information
customers needed to make
“an informed decision”.
21 June – 4 July 2017 9
Jane Hoskyn puts the boot into tech villains, jargon-spouting companies
and software stuffed with junk
Junk offender:
Panda Free Antivirus
There’s good and bad things
to say about Panda Free
Antivirus. The good is that it
scores well in independent
antivirus (AV) tests and is named after
pandas. The bad is that its installer is
riddled with so many PUPs - including a
browser hijacker “powered by Yahoo” that it lost my trust long before it had a
chance to prove itself.
Why do the makers of free AV software
force us to choose between safety and a
junk-free PC? Regular readers will know
I’ve exposed the PUP tactics of Avast,
McAfee and Ad-Aware in the past – all of
whom make free tools that claim to protect
you but are bundled with unwanted extras.
It doesn’t even make commercial sense,
because it turns users off – and makes
people like me write articles like this.
Panda PUPs
Panda Free Antivirus has a lot going for it.
It scores top marks for malware-detection
in independent tests by AV-Test (www. and AV-Comparatives
(, and at around
100MB it’s nine times smaller than Avast
Free Antivirus. But I can’t and won’t
recommend any product that tries to
trick Yahoo adware on to your computer.
Before you even get its installer, you
have to negotiate an assault course mined
with upgrade traps. The ‘Free’ buttons on
Panda’s homepage (www.pandasecurity.
com/uk) are free trials for paid-for
products that cost from £20.99 per year.
To find a genuinely free installer you have
to click Home Users, then Free, then
Download, then ‘No, thank you’ in an
upgrade pop-up - at which point you’re
dumped on to an external Cnet page,
which feels like a punishment.
Panda Safe Web is not part of the AV - and it’s
powered by the dreaded Yahoo
Perhaps this process is designed to
leave you so exhausted you fail to notice
the three little pre-ticked boxes for Panda
Safe Web in the installer. Two and three
(Yahoo and home page) sound dodgy
enough, but the first one (‘protection
against malicious websites’, see screenshot)
seems useful. It certainly is not. Panda
Safe Web is an extension that’s completely
separate from the AV. Even if you manage
to dodge the browser hijacker by
unticking the Yahoo box, you’ll still install
an unnecessary extension that could
potentially slow down your computer.
What are they
talking about?
Jane’s villain of the fortnight
What they say
Poor Mike. His 17-year-old
cousin Poppy died in the
Manchester bombing, and
he wanted to raise money
for her funeral. So he set up
a page on the charity
website GoFundMe (see
screenshot) and waited for
the cash to flood in from
soft-hearted strangers.
You know what’s coming, don’t you?
Poppy didn’t die. Poppy never existed.
Mike Collins – presumably a pseudonym
– had stolen a photo of a real girl and
used it to set up the bogus page. The
scam was only exposed when the girl,
Nisa Ayral, spotted her photo. She urged
GoFundMe to remove the page, and
Samsung (www.
“Wherein the image photographing
condition comprises an acceleration
value sensed by the first sensor
being equal to or greater than a
predetermined critical velocity and an
angular variation detected from the
angular velocity sensed by the second
sensor being equal to or greater than a
predetermined critical value.”
What they mean
Samsung’s new smartwatch takes a
photo automatically when you point it at
an object. The patent has only just been
published, so don’t hold your breath.
10 21 June – 4 July 2017
‘Mike Collins’
according to reports they
didn’t act immediately. It’s
gone now, but GoFundMe
wouldn’t reveal how much
money ‘Mike Collins’ had
made in the meantime, or
whether he’d kept it.
I have real problems with
sites like GoFundMe. Perhaps
it’s my British aversion to
asking for money, but I find the trend
unnerving – and it’s wide open to
abuse. By exploiting a terrible tragedy
and preying on people’s goodwill,
‘Mike Collins’ has achieved a new low.
Want to nominate a villain of the fortnight?
Email us at
of the
How can we detect ‘online
dating’ scammers?
New technology could help to catch ‘catfishing’ fraudsters
an Doney thought that at
last he had found love. The
51-year-old from Grimsby,
keen to get married and start a
family, befriended a woman
on a website for single people
looking to travel abroad. In
2015 he arranged to meet her
during a trip, but she didn’t
turn up. Undeterred, he later
sent her money so she could
travel to the UK, and waited
all day at the airport. Again
she stood him up, claiming
that she’d had an accident. Mr
Doney, still thinking she was
genuine, sent her money to
pay for her medical bills.
Sadly, this doesn’t have a
happy ending. As his
‘girlfriend’ demanded more
money, Mr Doney ran up
considerable debts, even
starving himself to afford the
payments. The pressure began
to tell. First he took an
overdose, then cut his wrists,
before being sectioned under
the Mental Health Act. Finally,
in August 2016, he was found
• Online dating scams,
known as catfishing, have
risen by 42 per cent since
• New algorithms claim to tell
with 90 per cent accuracy
whether someone is lying
about their identity online
• Catfishing is illegal only if
the perpetrator cons the
victim out of money, not if
they’re only after sex
them money. They prey on the
lonely and gullible, promising
them love but delivering pain
and misery. Mr Doney is just
one of many victims – since
2013 the number of catfish
scams in the UK has risen by
42 per cent, hitting a record
Since 2013 catfish scams in
the UK have risen by 42 per cent,
hitting a high last year when an
estimated £39m was stolen
hanged at his home. His
suicide note read: “Sorry
I’ve hurt you all but I can’t
see any other way out. No
one can help me now, it’s my
own fault.”
Mr Doney was a victim of a
‘catfishing’ scam in which
fraudsters create a fake
identity on dating websites,
and trick people into sending
high last year when an
estimated £39m was stolen
by fraudsters.
The problem is that dating
websites find it hard to detect
fake accounts. But new
research shows that social
networks can be ‘taught’ to
identify the signs that an
account is bogus. A team of
computer scientists at
Edinburgh University,
working with Lancaster
University, Queen Mary
University, London, and
King’s College, London, have
developed algorithms that
they claim can identify users
who lie about their gender
and age with more than 90
per cent accuracy.
Instead of analysing dating
sites, though, they examined
5,000 profiles on the adultcontent site Pornhub. They
chose Pornhub because,
according to Edinburgh
University’s Dr Walid Magdy,
“adult websites are populated
by users who claim to be
other than who they are, so
these are a perfect testing
ground for techniques that
identify catfishes”.
By studying how men and
women interact with each
other and their style of
writing, the algorithms
suggested that almost 40 per
cent of Pornhub’s users lied
about their age and 25 per
cent lied about their gender.
Dr Magdy said sites could use
the algorithms to build tools
that “flag dishonest users and
keep social networks of all
kinds safe”.
But more is needed to
protect vulnerable people
from catfishing. Pretending to
be someone else becomes
illegal only if you defraud your
victim. Campaigners want a
change in the law so that it’s a
crime to lie about your
identity in order to solicit sex.
One victim, 44-year-old Anna
Rowe from Canterbury,
launched a petition (www. after she
was lured into an affair with a
married man. She said: “His
behaviour was definitely
premeditated, showing his
intent to use women, yet the
current law will not find his
actions a criminal offence”.
The new algorithms came
too late for Ian Doney, whose
suicide shows how devastating
catfishing can be. But with
time they’ll hopefully lead to
less heartache and suffering
for genuine love-seekers like
Ms Rowe.
21 June – 4 July 2017 11
Tell us what’s on your mind
Twitter: @ComputerActive
Don’t abuse Amazon
refund loophole
In Issue 503 (News, page 7) you
asked readers whether we’ve used
Amazon’s loophole for £10 refunds. I
can confirm that the company offers
refunds for a wide variety of items
(books, DVDs, cables etc). I’m slightly
ashamed to admit this because it may
expose me as an Amazon addict, but I
tend to buy something every day from the
site. With so many items turning up on
my doormat, it’s inevitable that some
won’t work - and it’s these that I claim
refunds for. I would
consider it a real
hassle to have to
package and post them back to Amazon,
so I’m glad that the company takes it on
trust that they are broken.
I would strongly urge people not to
abuse this loophole, though. Amazon
may be drowning in money, but it won’t
want to be taken for a ride. I’m sure it
would close the loophole in a flash if the
trickle of refunds turned into a flood.
Dawn Ashby
I’m very nervous about the impact
of Amazon’s £10 refund loophole.
What happens if customers get so used to
it that they expect other sites, without
Amazon’s billions, to also provide the
loophole? I run a small business online,
selling car accessories. There’s no way I
could survive if my customers en masse
demanded refunds for small purchases. I
would urge readers to think twice about
using it, and consider how ordinary
businesses may be affected.
Barry Fisher
Virtual reality? Dementia
patients need human
contact too
I’m sure that virtual-reality can
bring pleasure and relief to
dementia patients (News, Issue 503, page
7), but I would like to sound a note of
caution. Both my parents succumbed to
this horrific disease, and during my time
visiting them in residential homes I saw
many other patients who had been more
or less ‘abandoned’ by their children. It
was heartbreaking. I got the impression
that their children thought that the care
and entertainment provided by care12 21 June – 4 July 2017
need from a phone is something that lets
me send texts and photos, and make
calls. The Nokia seems to fit that bill. I’m
sure I’m not alone.
Joyce Fielding
home workers was enough. My worry is
that some children will be tempted to
stick a virtual-reality headset on their
sick parents, and think that their job is
done. Yes, technology is great, but in my
experience nothing beats face-to-face
George Stapleton
Nokia phone gives me
all I need
It doesn’t surprise me that Nokia’s
new retro 3310 phone (pictured)
sold out so quickly (News, Issue 503, page
6). I’ve tried to get to grips with iPhones,
and other expensive gizmos, but they just
offer me lots of things I don’t need. When
I’m out and about I have no desire to stare
at my phone constantly
– it’s one of the habits
of modern life that I
find most disagreeable.
If I want to go online,, I
wait until I come home
and use my PC. All I
CA says We agree with Joyce that there
will be many people interested in buying
the new Nokia 3310 because not
everyone needs an expensive iPhone.
However, as we reveal in our review on
page 23, it’s just not very good. Even at
£49.99 it feels like a rip-off, because there
are much cheaper, better ‘basic’ phones.
Facebook is good for
breaking news
Thomas Stelling is right
to say that people
shouldn’t look to Facebook as
a voice of authoritative news (Letters,
Issue 503). Newspapers and TV stations
remain, in my opinion, the most trusted
sources. But Facebook is a good way to
find out breaking news, because people
often write posts relating to events that
have just happened. The appalling terror
attacks in Manchester and London were
good examples. On both evenings I
checked my Facebook account just before
going to bed, and read people’s
concern and confusion about what
had happened. That prompted me to
turn on the TV, which I watched,
horrified, for a couple of hours.
James Mayhew
Can we put drivers in Faraday cages?
I read with
interest your
news story ‘Phone
blocker in cars updates
Faraday’s 19th-century
cage’ (Issue 502, page
9). My amusement
turned to absolute amazement when I
checked the date and found that it
wasn’t 1 April. How stupid can Nissan
be to think this will really work? If a
driver has that little self-control and
cannot resist his phone, what makes
Nissan think he will put the phone into
the cage in the first place? After all,
turkeys don’t vote for
Perhaps a better
solution would be to
put the driver into a
Faraday cage! While
this may seem a bit
crazy at first, modern technology is
moving so fast that it may be possible
to surround the driver with some ‘field’
– electromagnetic or otherwise – which
would prevent him from getting a
phone signal. And if that doesn’t work,
just put him in a real cage!
Barry Gower
‘Impossible’ to beat
Islamic State online
I hope this doesn’t sound too
pessimistic and doom-laden,
but I don’t there’s anything we can do
to defeat Islamic State online (‘Question
of the Fortnight’, Issue 503). The
movement is simply too large, and the
barbarity of its members so ingrained, to
be challenged by anti-jihadist adverts
from Western governments. It’s an
impossible task.
We have to take a step back and ask not
whether they can be beaten online, but
why their sick ideology exists in the first
place, and that’s a complex question with
no simple answer. I fear it will take decades
for Islamic State’s hatred of the West to
subside. More moderate generations will
need to oust the extremists. Until that
happens, the terrorists will use the most
modern technology available to spread
their evil propaganda. At the moment
that’s the internet. In 20 years, they may
be using something else.
Colin Coyne
My Windows Update
needs unravelling
This morning I have suffered
another lengthy update for
Windows 10, culminating in pretty
pictures extolling the wonders of this
new intrusion into my world. Do I want
it? Not really. Can I see any perceivable
benefits? Most likely not. Are there
‘things’ that have been installed which
interfere with my privacy or negatively
affect my laptop’s performance? More
than likely. So will I now wait for the
edition of Computeractive which
unravels and explains it all? Sure!
I also run XP on three other machines.
I know where I am on those and, for the
most part, know what I am doing. Call
me a Luddite - fine - but my needs are
simple, like the vast majority of users.
Roger Allingham-Mills
No mobile coverage in
my mobile home
So Mr Rigsby with his caravan
shows us once more that he
lives in the real world (The Final Straw,
Issue 501). Last May we sold our house
and decided to move into a mobile
home while deciding where we
would like to live. Thee site
was in a field, yes, but
not in the Hebrides, just
alongside an A road in
Teach perils of ransomware at school
I would like to thank
Computeractive for
the excellent analysis of the
WannaCry ransomware
attack in Issue 503. It was
reassuring to read an
explanation of what had
happened that wasn’t
stuffed with jargon and
so-called ‘facts’.
During the weekend of
the attack I looked in vain
for an intelligent response. News
programmes on TV tried their best, but
they all had the same problem. The
presenters were mostly eloquent, but
lacking in knowledge, and seemingly
proud of their technical ignorance.
They were interviewing security
experts who suffered from the usual
problem of experts. They obviously
knew what they were talking about,
but were incapable of articulating it in
the kind of language ordinary people
use. It was almost like they had too
much information in their brains and
their tongues couldn’t cope.
I think you were right to predict that
WannaCry will be the
first of many large attacks
over the next few years. I
know that a lot of people
blame the elderly for
clicking dodgy links in
emails, but I think schools
should do more to educate
children. There’s a lot of
emphasis on warning
kids about the dangers
of social media, but very
little about how to avoid malware. The
next generation needs to be better
If anything good comes out of the
WannaCry attack, it’s that the word
‘ransomware’ has now entered common
parlance. As a Computeractive
subscriber I first encountered it several
years ago. But I noticed how many of
my friends who aren’t heavy computer
users started to ask me whether I
had heard of “this thing called
ransomware”. Hopefully it’s no longer
seen as something only tech experts
should be worried about.
Eddie Coburn
The Star Letter writer wins a Computeractive mug!
East Anglia. Could we phone estate
agents? No way. My wife’s ageing phone
did not know what universe it was in.
I bought a Moto G4 phone with an EE
card. If we stood outside the caravan, we
were just about able to telephone. But get
on the Internet? (Falls on floor laughing).
So I bought a nifty dongle with an EE
SIM. If I carried the laptop to the side of
the main road I could sometimes get a
signal, but the laptop screen remained
unreadable in bright sunlight. Wandered
round camp clutching laptop with eyes
glued to the little light on dongle and
found the signal wob
wobbled very strangely.
Returned to carava
caravan, joined two USB
leads together and, like Mr
Rigsby, climbed on roof,
and ti
tied dongle to TV
aerial. Great, until rain
fused the insides of the
Helpful lady living in
tent while house being
built then explained that I
could use the Moto to
create a lovely hotspot. Why had I
not thought of that?
Dan Jones
Designing the Post Office’s
first modem
As one of your older readers, my
memories of teleprinters and Telex
are very real (‘Whatever happened to
Telex?’, Issue 502, page 69). Fifty-two
years ago, I think, I designed the first
modem for the Post Office, in pre-BT
days. It worked at 600 Baud (bits per
second) at a time when transistors were
first being recognised as reliable.
I also designed one for the military that
worked at 1500 Baud. I had joined the
Army as a Gunner, but then became a
radar technician. So began a career in
electronics after the war. Thanks for
the memories!
Harold Faulkner
21 June – 4 July 2017 13
Can I get money for
broadband failure?
On 4 April I decided to change
my phone and broadband
service from Plusnet to EE. I was
told the services would be live on 19 April.
Although my EE phone service is working,
it’s now into the second week of May and
I’ve still got no broadband. EE is blaming
BT Wholesale. Can I get compensation?
Steven Asquith
It’s not clear whether Steven
could claim compensation. EE
didn’t charge him for cable
broadband, instead giving him £15 to pay
for mobile broadband. But he could argue
this wasn’t a satisfactory alternative and
therefore, with the disruption, he should
be entitled to compensation. Proving
financial loss would help his case.
What is clear is that despite blaming
BT Wholesale, EE breached its contract
with Steven. He was within his rights to
cancel the whole package, paying any
outstanding telephone charges.
However, when we contacted Steven
he said EE told him his broadband is
now live, but he’s on holiday so can’t
check yet. If he returns home to further
problems, he could ask EE for a deadlock
letter to explain what it has done to
fix the problem then send it
to the Communications
Ombudsman (www.snipca.
Can anyone use my Facebook
photos without permission?
I take photos and post
them on my Facebook
page. Recently, I’ve had
trouble with people using them
without my permission. So I
told each of them that provided
they sent me a cheque for £7.50,
which I’d donate to Diabetes
UK, they could continue to use
them. However, one guy said he
was entitled to use the photos
because I’d posted them online,
and then his friend sent a Facebook
message threatening to “sort me out”.
What are my rights?
Edgar Mills
These photos are Edgar’s
intellectual property. He owns
the copyright, so nobody can
use them without his permission. It
doesn’t make a jot of difference that
he’s posted them to Facebook, or
anywhere else online. While Facebook’s
terms and conditions do give it a
(broad) licence to use your work, it
can’t grant this to others.
If you find yourself in a similar
situation you should first contact the
person using your photos. In many
cases they won’t realise they have done
wrong, and will remove the photos. If
they won’t, then report the matter to
Facebook – you’ll find details at www. (look under the
‘Reporting Copyright Infringement on
Facebook’ section). One way to prevent
this from happening in the first place
is to tweak the privacy settings for your
photo albums (Facebook explains how
As for the threats, Edgar has
decided not to pursue the matter.
Making threats online can be a criminal
offence – ‘harassment’ or ‘malicious
communications’, as explained by the
police at so we’ve advised Edgar to save any
he receives and report them to
Facebook (via www. and
his local police force.
After three failed repairs, what can I do?
Two years ago I bought a Zanussi
freezer from John Lewis. It has
been sent away for repair three
times. At the beginning of May it was
sent for the fourth repair. John Lewis
insisted that I put up with these, but I’ve
not heard anything from Zanussi about
when my freezer will be returned.
What can I do?
Arry Tee
If Arry had bought the freezer
after October 2015, when the
Consumer Rights Act came into
14 21 June – 4 July 2017
force, John Lewis would have had to
refund or replace after the first failed
repair. But that doesn’t mean Arry has to
put up with four repairs. He’s covered by
the Sale of Goods Act (SOGA), which
states that repairs have to be carried out
within a “reasonable time” and not cause
the customer “serious inconvenience”.
Given these rules, we’re surprised that
John Lewis tried to get the freezer
repaired so many times.
We’ve contacted both John Lewis and
Zanussi, pointing out that if Arry took his
complaint to the small claims court he’d
probably be awarded a partial refund,
with money taken off to
reflect the use he’s had
from the freezer.
Contact us so we can investigate your case
Please include both your phone number and address.
We sstand up for your legal rights
What can I do about faulty Chinese phone?
On 15 December 2016 I ordered
an Elephone P9000 phone
(pictured) for £188 on Amazon
Prime. I’m having a problem with this
phone connecting to 4G and Bluetooth,
so I contacted Amazon. They put me in
touch with the seller, who’s based in
China. I asked for a replacement but
was refused.
Do I have to send it back to China for
repair and face import duties if it comes
Roger Knight
No, Roger won’t have to pay
import duties because repaired
and replaced products are
exempt from these. He also won’t have to
pay VAT imposed by HMRC. The seller
should make it clear on the return
packaging that the phone qualifies for
Outward Processing
ocessing Relief (OPR). If the
seller doesn’t,
’t, Roger should
claim back the
he money on
HMRC’s site by completing
form BOR286
286 (www.snipca.
). You can get
more information
mation on
reclaiming taxes
axes and duty
on the My International
Shopping website:
ebsite: www.
Since first
st emailing
us Roger got
ot back in
touch to say that Amazon
has refunded
ed him. He
was in a good
d position
because Amazon
azon acts as
the ‘fulfillment
ment agent
agent’ for
Elephone, which means
Check your junk folder for
price-rise emails
Companies are required by law to tell customers
if their subscription is increasing in price. Many do
this by email, which is why you should regularly
check your junk mail folder for messages about price rises. It
could explain why you’ve been hit by an unexpected increase.
It’s possible that this is why Computeractive reader Sherrell
Sachse thought genealogy site MyHeritage (www.myheritage.
com) hadn’t contacted her about the automatic renewal of her
subscription. As we reported in Issue 503, she was shocked that
the price had risen by £60.
She assumed she’d have to pay it because she was outside
the 14-day cooling-off period, during which you can cancel a
subscription and claim a refund. It would have been difficult for
her to prove that she hadn’t been contacted, so we got in touch
with MyHeritage on her behalf. Happily it agreed to refund her
in full, and even added a year’s free subscription as a goodwill
gesture. It said: “The last thing we want is unhappy subscribers”.
This is excellent customer service from MyHeritage. The
company confirmed
to us that it does send
reminder emails about
forthcoming renewals
to give customers
enough time cancel. It
may be lurking unread
in Sherrell’s junk folder.
it handles the company’s custo
service, including returns, refu
and replacements
replacements. But
his contract is stil
still with
Elephone, so at so
some point
he may need to rreturn the
phone to China.
Generally, it’s n
never easy
getting a refund, repair or
replacement from a seller
based in another country,
particularly China
China, where
you’ll find lots of cheap
phones and table
tablets. You
can’t rely on UK or EU
laws, so if you en
problems we’d
advise getting
in touch with
us for help.
I had an Acer
Iconia tablet,
which I was happy
with. It was my
first Android
tablet, having
switched from
an iPad. But after
about four monthss
the battery started
failing. Then the
charger stopped working.
rkin I
had to dig out my old iPad
while I asked Acer to fix
it. I was very impressed
with their service. They
• Support website www.
• Email www.snipca.
• Live chat www.snipca.
• Phone 0371 760 1000
replaced both very
quickly, and at
no point tried to
fob me off, which
has happened
with other tech
companies. That
was a few months
ago, and the tablet
has worked
rk fine since.
If you need to get hold of
Acer I would advise trying
their live chat service first.
If you have no luck, try
ringing them (see box).
Since the problem I’ve
become a regular visitor to
Acer’s user forums (www. which
are very helpful.
Jeremy Carter
Has a company impressed
you with its customer
service? Please let us know:
21 June – 4 July 2017 15
Protect Your Tech
Scams and threats to avoid, plus new security tools
WannaCry ransomware scams
What’s the threat?
Scammers are exploiting last month’s
WannaCry ransomware attack by using
fake warnings, websites and apps in
order to con people.
The scams started to appear within a
few days of the catastrophic hack that
paralysed tens of thousands of
computers worldwide, including many
used by the NHS. People have reported
seeing pop-up messages as they browse
the web warning them that they have
been infected by WannaCry. If you ring
the tech-support number provided in
the message, the scammers ask you to
grant them remote access to your
computer, then ‘check’ whether you
have enough protection on your PC.
After stating confidently that you’re
at risk, they charge you a hefty amount
to install the free tool Windows
spotted in Google Play (see screenshot),
all showing adverts on your phone or
tablet once installed, making their
developers money. They’re all useless
because WannaCry doesn’t target
Android devices.
Malicious Software Removal. According
to Action Fraud, the UK’s national
reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime,
one victim was tricked into paying £320.
Scammers have also set up bogus
websites, such as http://securityagainst, containing fake support
phone numbers, and sent emails
purporting to be from BT and Virgin
Media prompting customers to sign in to
receive security upgrades.
In addition, Android users should be
wary of apps that claim to offer protection
from WannaCry. Dozens have been
New tools
Here’s a truly impressive number:
Google now scans 50 billion apps
every day across users’ phone and
tablets to keep its Play store free of
This is performed by
its new Play Protect tool,
which is being added to
any Android device that
has the Google Play
app installed. It runs
continuously in the
background looking for
apps that “step out of
line”, which is Google’s
euphemistic way of saying
apps that steal your
personal data, or infect
your device with annoying
You’ll see it scanning at
16 21 June – 4 July 2017
Google Play Protect
the top of your screen when you have
the Google Play app open. It will
hopefully give you the all-clear with a
green shield and the message ‘No
problems found’ (see screenshot).
Also part of Play Protect is
the Find My Device app,
which is the new name for
Android Device Manager.
If you lose your phone or
tablet, you can locate it on a
map online on a computer.
If it’
it’s been stolen, you can
remotely lock it or erase
data from it. Apple users
should use Find My iPhone
instead: www.snipca.
What you should do?
Always be sceptical of apps, programs,
emails and text messages that offer
simplistic solutions to security scares.
Fraudsters follow in hackers’ footsteps
by taking advantage of the fear and
uncertainty that surround attacks,
particularly those that make headlines
Importantly, remember that any
genuine error messages and warnings
from Microsoft won’t include their
phone number and will never contact
you to offer technical support.
Don’t click ‘PayPal
locked’ link
I just received a text message from
07895 647001 telling me that my
PayPal account (linked to my quoted
mobile number) had been “locked”.
To restore access I was advised to
click this link:
It was obviously a scam to trap the
unwary (I checked by logging into
my PayPal account, which was of
course functioning normally). It
didn’t have the usual spelling or
grammatical errors, so some people
will be fooled. I never click random addresses because you never
know where they will route you to.
Chris Read
Warn your fellow readers about scams at
Best Free Software
Jane Hoskyn recommends new programs that won’t cost you anything
Z-Cron 5.0
What you need: Windows 7, 8.1 or 10
‘Z-Cron’ would make a great name for a sci-fi villain – but
actually this free program is more of a virtual servant. It’s a
versatile alternative to Windows Task Scheduler, able to carry
around 50 boring and repetitive PC tasks according to your
chosen schedule. For example, you could set it to create a
system restore point once a week, empty the Recycle Bin every
evening and take your PC’s temperature every morning. You
can also set a specific task to run automatically when you
launch Z-Cron.
Z-Cron has been around for a few years, but version 5.0 is
the first new release for Windows 10. It comes with several
new preset actions (‘Tools’), including connecting to a VPN
(and disconnecting), playing a folder of MP3 audio files on a
loop, and creating shadow copies of files and folders. You can
also create your own tasks (‘CronJobs’) from scratch, and add
your own batch files if you want.
The program works well but its interface is not particularly
easy to use. At first, all you see is an empty list of Planned
Tasks. Those 50 tasks are buried behind a Tools button on the
window that opens when you click Tasks – and, oddly, you
have to click a line in the list before you can choose a task to
fill it. I strongly recommend reading the Help file first. Z-Cron
is straightforward, eventually – it just hides it well.
To get it, click Download, then ‘’, and then extract
the ZIP. Run the installer (‘zcron.exe’) as administrator. There
are no unwanted extras. After clicking Finish you’ll see the
message ‘Program start wasn’t configured yet!’. Click OK to
clear it or set the program to run at startup (see below).
1 The Planned Tasks list is
empty at first. This is where
all your selected tasks will
appear. To create a new
one, click an empty row in
the list, then click the Task
18 21 June – 4 July 2017
2 Clicking Task opens the
new Settings Job window.
To configure one of 50
preset tasks, click Tools, then
browse the list. Select one,
then click OK.
3 To tell Z-Cron when to
activate the task and how
often, click Scheduler then
choose time settings. The
Run As Settings tab lets you
set a task for certain users
4 To see and edit all tasks
due to run today, click
Today. To set Z-Cron to run
at startup, click Program,
then Start, and then tick
‘Run at system startup’.
GPU-Z 2.1
What you need: Windows XP,
Vista, 7, 8/8.1 or 10
Your PC’s graphics card is
obviously useful for streaming
video and viewing photos, but
it’s not all about looks. It also
influences the speed and
reliability of your entire system.
GPU-Z reveals how well it’s
working, and can even monitor multiple cards in one PC.
Version 2.1 adds a new Advanced tab with a dropdown menu
that lets you investigate the specifications and health of
multimedia software, such as DirectX and OpenCL, that may be
installed as components for your graphics card.
GPU-Z comes as a portable program file with an installation
option. To get it, click Standard Version in the box on the left,
click Download, click the UK flag icon and then run the file.
Under ‘Install GPU-Z?’, click Yes to install GPU-Z (only do this
on Windows 7, 8.1 or 10), or click No to instantly run the
portable version.
We tell you what software to use
What should I use to record
my voice in Windows 10?
I’d like to make voice recordings on my Windows
10 computer, using a plug-in microphone. What’s
the best program for doing this?
Allan Smith
Windows 10 actually comes with a recorder preinstalled. Find Voice Recorder in your Start menu,
or type voice then press Enter. You’ll be prompted
to plug in your microphone if you haven’t already, or if your
PC or monitor doesn’t have one built in. Click the blue mic
button to start recording, then again to stop. Your recording
is saved automatically. The buttons at the bottom of the
window let you share it, trim it and rename it (it’s called
‘Recording’ by default), and there’s a flag icon for quickly
marking important points. To find out more about using
this tool, see Microsoft’s website:
If you’re after something more powerful, try Audacity
(, see screenshot). This free, opensource program was updated a couple of months ago to – in
its own words – “properly support Windows
10”. The new version (2.1.3) adds Timer
Record and Sound Activated Recording
options so you can capture audio after a delay
(handy for settling yourself and clearing your
throat). It also lets you record sound from
your PC, edit and convert imported audio files, and export
in multiple formats. The editing tools are simply amazing,
ranging from basic trimming to special effects and the
ability to layer and mix multiple tracks.
Audacity is safe and quick to install, and also comes as a
portable program if you’d prefer to run it without installing.
Click Download, then Windows, and then choose the
‘installer’ or ‘zip file’ link. For help, immerse yourself in the
superb Audacity Wiki (
PDF Anti-Copy 1.0
Do you need our advice on what software to use?
Just email us at
What you need: Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8/8.1 or 10
Lock down your PDFs so they can’t be edited, copied or
converted, using this new tool. As you probably know, PDF is
the best format for letters, invoices, invitations and other official
documents whose recipients may want to print them. They’re
guaranteed to look the same on any computer, and when
printed – even if they include photos and designs. If you don’t
want your recipient to tweak or copy the document, or convert
it to Word or plain text, use this tool to generate a locked copy.
It’s very easy to do – select a PDF, tick ‘Anti-copy’, then click
Start Now. The new locked version is saved to the location of
your choice in seconds.
Like GPU-Z, PDF Anti-Copy comes in installable and portable
versions, both quick to run and junk-free.
The Complete
Guide to KODI
This is a must-have
manual for anyone who
uses the most exciting
software of 2017
Buy it now at
21 June – 4 July 2017 19
New products tested by our experts
PC ❘ £500 from Box
Box Cube Essence Quiet GT
More features, less noise
“How are you finding that new PC?”
“Oh, it’s great! Much better perfor –
RRRGGHHMMM – mance, hang on, let
me just turn this off a minute. Yes, I’m
very happy with it except for the noise”
It’s very easy to find yourself in this
position when you buy a desktop PC.
Until you get it set up and run some
demanding programs, there’s no way
to predict how loud the fans will be in
their quest to prevent the processors
from frying themselves.
An insulated case
keeps it quiet, but it’s
practical rather than
A budget desktop PC with relatively
modest specifications isn’t likely to be
very loud, but Sutton Coldfield
manufacturer Box is taking no chances
with this model. Its Cooler Master
Silencio 352 chassis has its front and
side panels lined with sound-absorbing
foam, so even when the fans are running
hard, you’ll barely notice them. Take
off one of the panels, or open the
hinged door at the front,
and you’ll hear the
difference this makes.
Even our tough
benchmark tests didn’t
break the silence. They did,
however, show up the
limitations of the i3-7100
processor, which comes
from the lower end of Intel’s
current Kaby Lake range. In
photo- and video-editing
tasks, the Cube Essence
Quiet GT kept up with
other £500 PCs, and wasn’t
far behind pricier i5
machines. However, when
20 21 June – 4 July 2017
multitasking it dropped well
behind, despite having 8GB of
memory (this comes as a single
module, so you could add another
in the second slot). Even other
i3-7100 PCs are faster, so Box
hasn’t optimised the processor.
Still, basic tasks felt fine in
Windows 10, and although you
don’t get a dedicated graphics card
at this price, the integrated Intel HD
Graphics 630 managed to run at
least some 3D games smoothly with
quality settings turned down.
An SSD would have helped things
by speeding up reading and writing
of files, but Box has gone for space
rather than speed with a 2TB
conventional hard drive. This meant
booting up and copying files took longer
than we’d like. You could add an SSD
later on the same SATA III interface
(there are three unused 3.5in bays), but
the motherboard has no M.2 slot for
super-fast drives. Then again, if speed
isn’t important to you and you have lots
of photos, videos and music to store, the
large capacity may be a good trade-off.
In fact, Box has worked hard all round
to include practical features that are often
omitted from desktop PCs. An SD card
reader is built in, so you can view photos
straight off your digital
camera’s memory card
rather than faffing about
with USB cables, while
there’s a DVD writer that
lets you play films or record
your own to keep or share.
As well as a Gigabit
Ethernet port to cable to
your broadband router, the
Cube Essence Quiet also
comes with 802.11n Wi-Fi.
You should add a faster
802.11ac adapter if you rely
on wireless networking
all the time.
A wireless mouse and
keyboard are also supplied, and although
they feel pretty cheap they work well, so
you won’t have to spend extra. There’s
one USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0 ports at the
front, plus four USB 2.0 and two USB 3.0
at the back, as well as HDMI, DVI-D and
VGA monitor outputs. A USB 3.1 or
Type-C port would have been nice for
faster external storage.
3.9GHz Intel i3-7100 dual-core processor • 8GB
memory • 2GB hard drive • DVD-RW drive • 5x
USB 2.0 • 4x USB 3.0 • Gigabit Ethernet • HDMI
port • DVI port • VGA port • Windows 10 Home •
378x200x453mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty
VERDICT: Disappointing performance
cost it a fourth star, but practical features
means the aptly named Cube Essence
Quiet is still worth considering
Enigma K3 £500 Using
Intel’s new Optane memory
to boost hard-drive speed,
this is a faster i3 PC. Look out
for our review next issue
PC ❘ £500 from Palicomp
Palicomp i5 Titanium
A fast PC without breaking the bank
There are two ways to build an aboveaverage PC for a given price. One
previously favoured by Crewe-based
manufacturer Palicomp is to buy a relatively
affordable processor from AMD, Intel’s
distant rival, and overclock it – much like
those enthusiasts who install jet engines
on the back of Morris Minors. A while
back (see our review, Issue 479) this
approach produced the excellent AMD
Avenger, a £500 desktop PC with more
than £500 worth of performance levels.
Lightning fast with
tasks and plenty of
expansion options
This time they’ve gone the other way.
The i5 Titanium, as the name implies, is
made of titanium. No, wait, that’s just
daft marketing speak. It comes in a
standard black plastic case on a steel
chassis. But inside is an Intel Kaby Lake
i5-7400 processor. It’s not quite as fast as
the popular i5-7500, but not only did it
stride confidently through our photoand video-editing tests, its four cores
walked our multitasking benchmark test
too. This makes it considerably quicker
than the i3 processor commonly found in
budget systems. If you’d bought the AMD
Avenger, you’d be looking enviously at
these results.
Then again, you would have an Nvidia
GTX GeForce 960 graphics card, while
the i5 Titanium has none. That reflects
the fact that £500 buys less on the global
parts market than it did a year ago. But if
Computeractive is owned by Dennis
Publishing, which owns a hi-tech facility
for testing the latest technology. You’ll
often read references to our benchmark
testing, which is a method of assessing
products using the same criteria. For
example, we test the speed of every
PC and the battery life of every tablet
in exactly the same way. This makes
our reviews authoritative, rigorous
and accurate.
Dennis Publishing also owns
the magazines PC Pro, Computer
Shopper and Web User and the
websites Expert Reviews (www. and Alphr (www. This means we can test
thousands of products before choosing
the most relevant for Computeractive.
Our writers follow strict guidelines to
ensure the reviews are fair and
impartial. The manufacturer has no
involvement in our tests.
you don’t play games, that won’t bother
you, and if you do, the good news is that
the built-in HD Graphics 630 card
produced even smoother frame rates here
than in other i5-7400 desktop PCs,
making most 3D games easily playable.
Despite the case having only one (fairly
quiet) fan, it never got noticeably hot.
Windows 10 booted quickly from the
250GB SSD, and there’s also a 1TB hard
drive. There’s no room for more internal
drives, which is disappointing for a
desktop PC, but the Asus Prime B250M-A
motherboard has two M.2 sockets for fast
SSDs. It also supports Intel’s new Optane
memory, which uses a small SSD to boost
hard-drive performance. There are four
memory sockets, giving you plenty of
room for upgrading from the supplied
8GB. The USB Type-C port on the back is
only USB 3.0, not the faster 3.1, and
there’s only Gigabit Ethernet, not Wi-Fi.
However, an Asus DVD writer drive is
included and there’s a free 5.25in front
bay if you wanted to add Blu-ray or a unit
to read memory cards.
3GHz i5-7400 quad-core processor • 8GB memory
• 1TB hard drive • 24x DVD writer • 2x USB 2.0 ports
• 4x USB 3.0 ports • USB 3.0 Type-C port • Gigabit
Ethernet port • HDMI port • DVI port • VGA port •
Windows 10 • 358x175x410xmm (HxWxD)
• One-year warranty
We award every product
that gets five stars our
BUY IT! Buy It! stamp of approval.
★★★★★ It means we were
extremely impressed by the product,
and we think you will be too.
Every product that gets a
four-star review is given
the Great Pick award. We
highly recommend these
products, although they just fail to meet
the high standard of our Buy It! winners.
Our reviews contain a link to the best
price we found online at the time of press.
VERDICT: If you want a compact PC
with solid processing power and some
upgrade potential, the i5 Titanium is
great value for 500 quid
Computers Enterprise GT
£500 Despite having the
same processor, this wasn’t
quite as fast in testing – look
out for our review soon
21 June – 4 July 2017 21
PC MONITOR ❘ £205 from Amazon
Asus VX279Q
Do I really need...
Close, but no LCD star
What does it do?
Our first thought on unpacking the Asus
VX279Q was “drat”. Not because we
didn’t like the look of it. Quite the
opposite: we liked it so much that we
thought Asus must have sent us the
wrong model. For just over £200, we
didn’t expect a screen that almost goes
edge to edge (the bezels are only 8mm
wide) in a slim case with a sleekly
uncluttered back panel. But that’s what
you get. The ring-shaped stand offers no
adjustment except a bit of tilt, but still,
this is a piece of hardware you’d be very
happy to have on your desk and come
back to every day.
A sleek and
attractive design, but
it crucially fails the
screen test
In fact, it’s almost a shame to turn it
on. Like the smaller VC239H (see our
review, Issue 490), the VX279Q uses Asus’
‘Eye Care’ technology, which optionally
reduces the amount of blue light emitted.
Research indicates that sitting in front of
a bluish screen for long periods can affect
your sleep patterns, so this is sensible,
although it won’t suit colour-critical jobs
like photo editing. And that goes for the
VX279Q in general, because in our tests it
only covered 88 per cent of the sRGB
colour range.
That’s much better than the pricier and
chunkier AOC I2775PQU (see Issue 503),
which only managed 78 per cent, but as
with that model we found the
VX279Q’s backlight wasn’t
evenly bright across the
screen. Despite good contrast
and the wide viewing angles
we’d expect from a modern
IPS LCD panel, the overall
image quality just wasn’t
great. Turning on Asus’
VividPixel feature made
it look worse. Full HD
at 27 inches is starting
22 21 June – 4 July 2017
to feel a bit coarse in today’s ultraresolution world, and artificial
sharpening just won’t cut it anymore.
Touch-sensitive controls make fiddling
with the settings harder than it should
be, and there’s no USB hub to bring your
PC’s ports conveniently to your desktop.
The HDMI input has MHL support for
Android phones and tablets, though
(iPhone and iPad users will need Apple’s
Lightning Digital AV Adapter), and there
are DisplayPort and VGA ports too, as
well as basic built-in speakers. To keep
down the size of the case, the power
supply has been hived off into a separate
brick, but for something you’ll leave
permanently plugged in that’s no problem.
There’s no denying this is a reasonably
priced monitor, but what matters is the
screen, and it’s not quite good enough to
get our recommendation. Drat.
27in IPS LCD • 1920x1080-pixel resolution • HDMI
port • DisplayPort • VGA port • 1.5W stereo speakers
• 442x623x210mm (HxWxD) • Three-year warranty
VERDICT: This is a better buy than the
AOC I2775PQU, but its stylish design
doesn‘t outweigh several problems
with image quality
£215 For a tenner more,
this attractive 27in Full
HD screen is similarly
sparse in features but
has a better picture
Megatasking was one
of the buzzwords
at Taiwan’s
Computex tech
trade show in
May. It means
multitasking, butt
more so, made possible
by processors with more than
the two, four or eight cores we’re used
to. AMD showed off 16-core versions
of its Ryzen chips, while Intel went
one better with its 18-core X-Series i9
Why would I want it?
For now, it’s all aimed at creative jobs
like video editing, 3D animation and
computer-aided design (CAD). In these
fields, software is constantly working on
multiple streams of calculations behind
the scenes to update everything in
response to the user. What’s interesting
is that everyday computing tasks are
getting more like that.
When you ask Microsoft’s Cortana
or Amazon’s Alexa a question, for
example, it has to process your speech
and consult multiple data sources.
When you use a program to apply a fun
effect to a video clip, complex maths
makes it look right. When you flick
between browser tabs or apps on your
phone, that’s multitasking. The X-Series
offers up to a teraflop of processing
power, meaning it can perform a trillion
(one million million) calculations per
What’s the catch?
Price. At the moment, that teraflop chip
will cost about £2,000 – and that’s just
the processor, not the PC powered by
it. But new tech always starts at the
top and then filters down into everyday
So can I do without it?
Today, yes. Tomorrow, not only will it let
you edit your 4K home videos smoothly,
but advanced multi-core processing
power will help computers get much
easier to use.
PHONE ❘ £50 from Amazon
Nokia 3310
Back to the future
Yes folks, we’ve finally got our
ur hands on
the year’s most exciting phone!
ne! Trouble
is, the year is 2000. The eagerly
rly awaited
homage to the 3310 isn’t even made by
Nokia, which sold off its mobile-phone
business years ago, but another
her Finnish
company, HMD, which will also
lso be
releasing several Android smartphones.
This, though, most certainly
ly isn’tt a
smartphone. The point is the retro appeal,
but that’s been rather compromised
omised by a
radical update. Aside from the
he basic
shape, which still feels great, and the tiny
spaced-out buttons, it’s not much like the
original, replacing its black-and-white
postage-stamp screen with a larger
hable by
colour display that’s still laughable
2017 standards.
Its retro appeal
can’t make up for its
severe limitations
In 2000, most people thought putting
a camera in a phone was silly, including
the designers of the 3310. But now it has
one on the back, ready to take grainy
2-megapixel photos that you can barely
see. The LED flash doubles as a torch.
It doesn’t shoot video, and there’s no
front camera for selfies or chat. Talking
of chat, you can text (SMS), but there’s
no Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or
Telegram, so forget communicating with
anyone under the age of 30.
What does it do? Well, there’s a sort of
web browser, based on Opera, but it
barely works. You can play MP3 music
files downloaded from your PC, if you
first add a microSD card (from around
£5). Pehaps the best feature is the built-in
FM radio, which you can use anywhere
free of charge. But you don’t get any
earphones in the box.
Oh, and let’s not forget Snake. With
its simple premise – you move a dot
around, collecting other dots, until
you crash into your own tail – the game
is fondly remembered by Nokia nostalgists.
Sadly, this is an overcomplicated update.
More games are available, but at £3
each they’re hardly cheap and are
extremely basic.
The phone itself is temptingly cheap.
But Alcatel’s Pixi 3 3.5 (£20 plus £10
top-up from EE:
24554) is much cheaper and runs
Like the original, the 3310 relies on 2G
wireless communication on the 900
and 1800MHz wavebands. This service
doesn’t even exist in some countries,
including the US, which uses different
wavelengths for 2G, while others have
phased it out completely or are
planning to do so.
That includes the UK, where 2G was
expected to be already switched off by
now. At the moment it’s hanging on
in there, but as the devices that use it
get older and the pressure increases
to release bands for more modern
purposes, 2G’s days are without
doubt numbered.
The 3310 doesn’t support Wi-Fi at
all, so you’ll need a mobile signal to
use its very limited web browser, even
at home.
Android, so you get a full choice of
apps. Several other basic Nokia models
are available on UK networks for under
£20, with Facebook and Messenger
built in.
At the time of writing, just a week
after the 3310 went on sale in the UK, it
had sold out in most places, with
Amazon promising more stock on 30
July. We don’t really understand why.
The only benefit over a smartphone is
the physical buttons, and they’ll be too
fiddly for most people who have trouble
using a touchscreen. As a piece of
nostalgia, it just isn’t familiar enough.
2.4in 320x240-pixel screen • 2-megapixel rear
camera • 16MB storage (mostly taken up by built-in
software) • MicroSD card slot • Bluetooth 3.0 • 2G •
116x51x12.8mm (HxWxD) • 80g • One-year warranty
VERDICT: It sets out to remind us how
simple phones used to be, but only
proves that the era of basic phones is
over and isn’t coming back
216 £29 Available from
Carphone Warehouse, this
has a similar screen and
features, supports Facebook
and is more compact
21 June – 4 July 2017 23
MINI PC ❘ £9.60 from ModMyPi
Raspberry Pi Zero W
A Wi-Fi PC for under a tenner
Back in the 1980s, the BBC Micro brought
computers to schools for just a few
hundred pounds. In 2012, the Raspberry
Pi Foundation showed how far tech
had come by launching a computer for
under 20 quid. With the Raspberry Pi
Zero (see our review, Issue 470) they
got it down to less than a fiver. Now
here’s the happy medium: a Pi Zero
with Wi-Fi, so it’s all ready to connect
to the internet.
Technically, this is a PC, though it runs
Linux not Windows. This is open source,
so you don’t have to pay extra, but you do
need to get hold of the software yourself
and install it on a microSD card, the Pi’s
1GHz Broadcom BCM2835 processor • 512MB
memory • 802.11n Wi-Fi • MicroUSB power connector
• USB OTG port • Mini HDMI port (1080p Full HD and
audio • MicroSD card slot • 5x65x30mm (HxWxD)
only standard form of
storage. Alternatively, you can
buy the Pi Zero W in a bundle, such
as Pimoroni’s Zero W Starter Kit (£32
from, which
comes with a pre-loaded operating
system, cables and headers to attach
accessories to the fiddly mini ports and
control pins, as well as an LED strip to
add some visual output.
To program the Pi, you’ll need to
connect a monitor with a mini HDMI
adapter and a keyboard and mouse with
a powered USB hub. As a disposably
cheap, low-powered computer, it’s best
suited to projects sthat make it work with
internet-connected sensors, screens and
other interactive gizmos, and if you’ve
never picked up a soldering iron, now’s
the time to start. Whether you’re 8 or 80,
the possibilities are unlimited: see www. for inspiration.
VERDICT: All of these tiny computers
are a trade-off between size, price
and features, but this is the best
compromise yet
ALTERNATIVE: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
as a more
£32 This larger board has
powerful processor and
twice the memory, plus
Ethernet, Wi-Fi and
Bluetooth 4.1
SET TOP TV BOX ❘ £43 from Amazon
Now TV Smart Box
Freeview and more for less
It’s all on the internet now, they keep
telling us. Watching TV channels from an
aerial, dish or box is so 20th Century. Yet
most of us still do just that. Could we pay
less and get more with a different box?
Digital boxes like Amazon’s Fire TV
(from £40, see our review, Issue 462)
and Apple TV (from £139, see Issue
463) offer films and TV shows to rent or
buy, while Android boxes support apps
such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix and
media players such as Kodi. The Now
TV box is a bit different. As well as
connecting to the internet, like other
boxes, it also connects to your digitalSPECIFICATIONS
802.11n Wi-Fi • 10/100 Ethernet • Coaxial aerial
input • Ethernet port • USB 2.0 port • MicroSD slot •
HDMI port • Plays MP4, AAC, WMA, JPG, PNG, GIF
• 20.5x165x165mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty
24 21 June – 4 July 2017
ready TV aerial to receive
all the Freeview channels.
It doesn’t record, but you
can pause a live broadcast for up
to half an hour. BBC iPlayer and
catch-up apps for ITV, Channel 4 and
Channel 5 are included, but there’s
no Amazon Prime or Netflix. Now is
owned by Sky, so you can add Sky
Cinema for £10 a month, sports from
£7, and so on. But unlike with a
full-blown Sky box, you don’t have
to commit long-term.
The box shows digital content at
720p HD, coarser than Full HD. If your
Smart TV has Freeview built in, this
box largely pointless. It won’t stream
video from a PC, but can play files
from a USB stick or microSD card. But
it does work very smoothly, with an
easy-to-use programme guide.
VERDICT: Netflix will be a big miss for
some, and there’s no Amazon, Apple
or Google Videos to buy exclusive films
and TV, but for regular TV this is a pretty
good choice
ALTERNATIVE: Humax H3 Espresso
£80 This box receives Freeview over
the internet, so you don’t
’t need an aerial.
It has Netflix, but not
iPlayer, and only a few
other services
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PRINTER ❘ £135 from Amazon
Canon Pixma TS8050
A sharper printer-scanner
Like the TS5050 (see our review, Issue
500), the TS8050 is an all-in-one inkjet
printer/scanner featuring Canon’s new
streamlined design. This pricier model
has a larger screen, although it mostly
displays the same options with more
white space around them. It also has a
100-sheet paper cassette in addition to
Produces extremely
fine details in photos,
while scanning is
sharp and accurate
the rear feed, which takes the form of a
slot at the back of the top panel with a
vertical prop. The TS5050 advertises this
as holding up to 100 sheets of plain paper,
while the TS8050 quotes 20 sheets of
photo paper, which you’re not supposed
to load in the front. Again, both USB and
Wi-Fi are built in, with support for all the
usual systems, and there’s an SD card slot
to print directly from digital camera cards.
Unlike its stablemate, the TS8050 can
print both sides of the paper (duplex),
and instead of five inks it uses six. As well
as a dye-based black for subtler shading
in photos, there’s a grey ink
lerr shading.
for, well, even subtler
This only works on photo
paper, but the results
impressed us, with
l. The
extremely fine detail.
ution is the highest
9600x2400dpi resolution
you’ll see in a mainstream printer. Note
that these numbers reflect the size of ink
dots – your image files still only need a
resolution of about 240 pixels per inch to
take advantage of this.
Scanning was also sharp and accurate,
capturing an A4 page at 300dpi in a
quick 14 seconds. Black-and-white
photocopies took 12 seconds, and looked
a bit dark, while colour took twice as
long. Black text prints showed a few
flaws, but were printed in a decent 13.3
pages per minute, while colour graphics
on plain paper were very good, although
they could have been a touch bolder.
Print costs work out at about 7.8p per
standard colour page, or 2.7p for black
only, which is above average. If you do
print a lot of full-page high-quality
photos, they’ll use a lot more ink than
that. Overall, the TS8050 is an excellent
printer, but not cheap to buy or run.
9600x2400dpi maximum print resolution
• 2400x4800dpi maximum scan resolution
• 100-sheet front cartridge • Rear photo paper tray
• USB 2 • 802.11n Wi-Fi • 126x372x315mm (HxWxD)
• 5.5kg • One-year warranty
VERDICT: It’s not the most convenient
for churning out lots of pages, but for
creative home use this is a very good
all-in-one printer
ALTERNATIVE: Canon Pixma MG5750
£70 This older five-ink duplex machine
lacks an SD slot but is still
our all-round value-formoney favourite
We solve your buying dilemmas
What does my PC need for 4K video editing?
My five-year-old HP PC has
an Intel i3 processor and is
getting a bit slow for my
needs. I want a desktop PC that I can
use for basic editing and viewing of
Panasonic Lumix G 4K video shot at 24
frames per second (fps).
I read the reviews in
every issue, but you
don’t always say if the
gaming PCs are suitable
for 4K video.
Michael Green
26 21 June – 4 July 2017
Any PC with a recent i5 desktop
processor, such as the Palicomp
i5 Titanium (£500, see page 21)
will play 4K video smoothly and should
be fine for basic editing. But what’s
basic? You may want to apply colour
correction, transition effects,
and perhaps more demanding
options such as motion
tracking (see screenshot) or
stabilisation. Even a powerful
PC will struggle to render
these as you watch, so you
can put up with choppy playback (until
you render the final version) or wait for
effects to pre-render every time you
make a change. An i7 will speed things
up, as would a graphics card if your
software supports it. Start with the
system requirements for your editing
program. Then use Google to find
discussions between users on PC specs
that they’ve used successfully.
Do you need advice on what you should buy?
Email us at
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PHONE ❘ £550 from Amazon
A taller, smarter phone
When Apple launched the iPhone 5,
people worried a screen wider than 3.5in
might be too much. So it was taller, but
remained the same width as its
predecessor, making it just as easy to
grasp. Today’s phones tend to be bigger,
but the G6 uses the same trick to remain
usable in one hand. Instead of 16:9
widescreen, it’s exactly twice as tall as it
is wide. Add very small bezels at the sides
and a bare minimum at the top and
bottom, and you get an enormous 5.7in
screen in a case the same size as the
5.3in G5.
We found it very practical, and the
5.7in 2880x1440-pixel screen • 13-megapixel dual
rear camera • 5-megapixel front camera • 32GB
flash storage • MicroSD card slot • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
• Bluetooth 4.2 • 3G/4G • Android 7.0 Nougat •
149x72x7.9mm (HxWxD) • 163g • One-year warranty
HDR IPS LCD display looks fantastic. It
only covers 93 per cent of the sRGB
colour range, but a nice balance of
contrast and brightness make up for it.
The back, in black or silver, is also glass,
with Gorilla technology that makes it
harder to break, (the phone is rated IP68
for high protection from water and dust).
Even so, there’s a proper headphone
socket as well as the USB Type-C charging
and data port and a fingerprint reader.
The impressive-looking dual rear camera
combines regular and wide-angle lenses
for quality pictures in most situations, as
well as 4K video and Full HD slow motion.
The processor isn’t as powerful as the
Samsung Galaxy S8, and the heaviest 3D
games suffered – but only slightly. The
battery only lasted 12 hours 52 minutes in
our video-playback test (nearly four hours
shorter than the S8), but fared better in
everyday use and charged quickly.
VERDICT: Already discounted to around
£550, the G6 is cheaper than the S8
and an excellent all-round phone
ALTERNATIVE: Samsung Galaxy S8
£650 Prices are wavering, but this
admittedly excellent edge-to-edge
phone is still too expensive, albeit
with 64GB
SECURITY CAMERA ❘ £146 from Amazon
D-Link Vigilance DCS-4602EV
A tougher security camera
The Vigilance DCS-4602EV does a similar
job to the Neatgear Arlo (£196, see our
review, Issue 454) or Google’s Nest Cam
Outdoor (£179, Issue 498). You mount it
inside or outside your house, and it
records whatever’s going on. While the
other two are slickly packaged consumer
products, the DCS-4602EV is more the
kind of thing bought from a catalogue by
someone who owns a high-viz jacket,
requiring a bit more technical nous to get
it set up.
While consumer security cameras
come integrated with cloud services
that make the live stream or
Wired 1080p camera with motion detection •
Infra-red LEDs • IP66/IK10 rated • 10/100 Ethernet
connection • Requires 12V external power supply •
72x110x110mm (HxWxD) • Two-year warranty
28 21 June – 4 July 2017
motion-triggered clips accessible from
anywhere, D-Link provides a browser
interface and a D-ViewCam program,
for Windows 10, that manages your
camera(s) and recordings. It’s a bit clunky,
and if you want to access the feed from
D-Link’s mobile app, for example, you
may need to figure out how to enable port
forwarding on your router. But if you
don’t mind a bit of tinkering, it means
you don’t have to pay for a cloud service
to record from the camera. Google’s Nes
Cam might be easier to use, but it’ll cost
you £80 a year.
The night vision LEDs are effective,
but picture quality generally was only
fair, despite the resolution of up to
Full HD. Motion detection, which can
trigger recording or snapshots, was
flexible. It needs a wired connection, and
the required 12V Power over Ethernet
(PoE) adapter costs a few pounds extra,
but it’s fully waterproof and even
VERDICT: This isn’t the easiest option
for first-time security camera users and
picture quality could be better, but it’s
robust and good value
ALTERNATIVE: Google Nest Cam
sy to
Outdoor £179 This is very easy
set up, but at £80 a year for a
basic recording subscription it
works out expensive
ROUTER ❘ £80 from Currys
Asus DSL-AC55U
A router for all connections
These days, signing up for super-fast
broadband with one of the major internet
service providers gets you a decent Wi-Fi
router as part of the deal. If you have an
older model, though, it may be holding
back your connection speeds around the
house. A budget 802.11ac router could be
the cost-effective fix you need.
Some routers have no built-in modem,
and must connect to an existing cable
modem or switchable modem/router,
while others support ADSL2+ (for copper
phone lines) or VDSL2 (for fibre). The
Asus DSL-AC55U caters for all these,
which simplifies your choice. As you’d
expect for the very reasonable price, it’s
not the world’s most advanced router,
but it has a broad set of features.
You’ll appreciate its
versatility, but it runs
in the slow lane
Alongside the WAN (modem) and
ADSL2+/VDSL2 ports, there are four
Gigabit Ethernet sockets for top-speed
wired networking and a single USB 2.0
socket. This can be used to connect and
share storage (albeit at limited speeds) or
a printer across your home network, or to
plug in a 3G/4G pay-as-you-go data
dongle from your mobile-phone network
as a backup if your broadband
connection fails.
It’s difficult to miss the router’s four
adjustable, removable aerials, which let
you tweak the wireless signal for the best
That was then…
This is now!
How technology has changed
Palm Pilot
Launched in 1996, the Palm
Pilot was a PDA (personal
digital assistant). Cheaper
and more compact than the
earlier Apple Newton MessagePad,
it was popular enough to inspire a
decade of imitators before the whole
category was overtaken by touchscreen
reception. Blue LEDs along the front
let you know what’s going on. The
DSL-AC55U is configured from your PC
through an online interface, which gives
access to a huge array of features. You can
set up one or more guest networks and
apply parental controls to individual
devices that let you block internet access
at specific times of day.
A dual-band 802.11ac model like
this, supporting both 2.4GHz and the
less congested 5GHz, should give you
a step up in speed and reliability from
older 802.11n devices. However, the
DSL-AC55U offers maximum connection
rates of 300Mbps on 2.4GHz and
867Mbps on 5GHz respectively, which is
quite slow for a modern router.
This was borne out in our performance
tests. At close range we got up to
436Mbps, which is good, but 10 metres
away at the back of the house this fell to
22.3Mbps on 5GHz and 25.2Mbps on
2.4GHz. That’s below average, and
significantly slower than BT’s latest
Smart Hub or Virgin Media’s Hub 3.0,
across all distances.
VERDICT: It’s cheap and versatile, but
the DSL-AC55U won’t break any speed
records. It might be worth paying more
for better results
Archer D9 AC1900 £100
This ADSL2+ modem
router is much faster over
longer distances
The Pilot 1000 was about the size and
weight of a modern phone, but squarer
and thicker. Its greenish monochrome
LCD screen had 160x160 pixels.
Tapping the screen with your finger
woudn’t do anything; it needed a prod
from the small stylus stowed in the
top, which was also used to enter text,
handwritten one character at a time, in
the absence of any kind of a keyboard.
Today, Apple or Android users can
pick from around 2.5 million apps. The
Pilot came with a dozen, and eventually
had over 1,000. With no Wi-Fi, anything
you wanted on your Pilot had to be
synced via cable from your PC. Later,
Palm released an add-on modem
that produced speeds of 14.4Kbps
– 140 times slower than the slowest
broadband connection today
July 5
Fire HD 8
budget tablet
gets Alexa,
from just
PC Specialist Enigma K3
£500 Kaby Lake PC with
an Intel Optane boost
These and much more…
Subscribe to Computeractive at
21 June – 4 July 2017 29
Buy It
Find out what other products we liked.
Buy our new 2016 Back Issue CD:
£15 from
Our pick of products that have won the Buy It award
Dell Inspiron 15 5000
Apple iPad 9.7in
Now updated with Intel’s seventhti processors, thi
this lapt
laptop ((nott th
2-in-1 version) now edges the ZenBook
below and starts at just £449, but
mid-range configurations with SSD and
AMD R7 graphics are the best choice.
Teaming Intel’s latest i5 processor with
a Radeon RX 460 graphics card, this
delivers great all-round performance
and adequate gaming, helped by a fast
M.2 SSD plus a generous 2TB hard
drive and 16GB of memory.
The replacement for the iPad Air 2 is
slightly bulkier and has a downgraded
screen but remains the best mid-sized
tablet, with a sensible 32GB of storage.
You’ll need the £549 iPad Pro if you
want to use the Pencil stylus (£99).
If you want something sleeker, this offers
basic performance in a superbly slim
and light metal case. £600 from
ALTERNATIVE: Chillblast Fusion
Hubble For advanced performance, this
overclocked Kaby Lake i5 PC comes
with a GTX 1060 graphics card. £1,000
ALTERNATIVE: iPad Mini 4 The smaller
7.9in iPad is excellent, but Apple’s
decision to sell it only with a huge 128GB
makes it unreasonably expensive. £419
Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 9.7
Apple iPhone SE
Motorola Moto G4
£699 from
Tested: Issue 459
£804 from
ed: Issue 497
£600 from
Tested: Issue 501
£330 from
Tested: Issue 474
g’ss new
w mid-sized tablet
et has a
wonderful HDR screen and comes with
a pen included, unlike Apple’s iPad Pro.
But its processor isn’t the fastest and it’s
disappointingly expensive, especially
compared to the £339 iPad 9.7in.
It may be
b Appl
e’ ‘budget’
ud t’ phone,
ho but
the smaller SE beats most others in the
market with top-end processing power,
a great screen and camera, fingerprint
recognition and Apple Pay. You should
consider paying £439 for the 64GB
model, though.
ALTERNATIVE: Asus ZenPad 3S 10
This 9.7in tablet is like an Android
version of the iPad Air. It has an eighthour battery life and 4GB RAM. £298
ALTERNATIVE: iPhone 6s A bigger
screen, better camera and 3D Touch
justify the price, but as with the SE the
64GB model (£619) is the best choice.
£499 from
30 21 June – 4 July 2017
£339 from
Tested: Issue 500
£139 from
Tested: Issue 479
With an attractive 5.5in screen, an
excellent 13-megapixel camera, a 13hour battery and decent performance,
the G4 is the best budget option.
ALTERNATIVE: Samsung Galaxy S7
Restoring the microSD slot to allow
extra storage makes this an even
better top-end phone than the S6,
with a fantastic screen and camera and
incredible 18-hour battery life. £410
Buy It
Amazon Kindle (2016)
Kaspersky Internet
Security 2017
Serif Affinity Photo
Kaspersky Internet Security 2017 has won
our past eight antivirus tests. Compatible
with Windows 10, the 2017 edition is
available at an exclusive reader discount
on our Software Store. Go to the link
above for a one-year, one-device licence
or buy a two-year, three-device licence for
just £34.99.
Designed for both full-time professional
image retouchers and the rest of us
keen amateurs, this is a beautifully
designed and comprehensive program
for both Windows and Mac users,
although so far it performs better on
ed: Issue 483
£17.99 from
Tested: Issue 493
£49 from
Tested: Issue 498
Here: All copy copied
and pasted from issue
azon’s basic ebook reader is now
good enough to be our first choice. It’s
plasticky, but slim and lightweight, with
a decent 4GB storage and good battery
life. Consider the £110 Paperwhite if you
want backlighting or (for £60 extra) 3G.
Glo HD
Competing with Amazon’s
the Kindle Kindle
a clear
7.8in screenlighting.
and is comfortable
£130 from to
read. £190 from
ALTERNATIVE: Avast Free Antivirus
Almost as good as Kaspersky, but
sometimes blocks legitimate software.
Free from
ALTERNATIVE: Xara Photo & Graphic
Designer 365 For all-round design
and drawing plus photo filters, this
affordable app has a lot to offer.
£50 from
Synology RT1900ac
Canon Pixma MG5750
£209 from
Tested: Issue 468
£144 from
Tested: Issue 474
Here: All copy copied
and pasted from issue
It comes with no extras, such as
built-in speakers or a USB hub, but
this 2560x1440 panel gives you a full
27in screen with excellent contrast and
colour accuracy at a very reasonable
price. It’s a little laggy for gamers, but
there’s no ghosting on motion.
If you’re looking to upgrade an outdated
Here: All copy copied
router, there are lots of dual-band
and pasted
models to from
choose from.
one suits
all broadband
that don’t require
and has
of options,
has plenty
as sharing
of options,
a connected
such asprinter
connected printer or storage.
ALTERNATIVE: Dell UltraSharp U2414H
This 1920x1080, 24in screen has a
stand that can switch to portrait mode.
Colour accuracy is excellent. £195
£199 from
Not quite as fast, but this or the D9 (with
ADSL modem built in) is a simple and
capable router with a stylish design.
£109 from
32 21 June – 4 July 2017
£55 from
Tested: Issue 470
You don’t get many frills, but this
compact all-in-one printer/scanner
includes all the essentials, like Wi-Fi
and printing both sides of the paper
(duplex), at a reasonable price. It’s
fairly quick, running costs are better
than average, and the five-ink system
ensures photos and black text both
come out looking great.
For more business-type tasks, this
all-in-one has automatic paper feed
for the scanner and the ability to print
occasional A3 pages. £233 from
Win 1 of 5
vie Studio Platinum
MAGIX Vegas Movie
MAGIX has released the most
powerful versions ever of its
video-editing software Vegas
Movie Studio. There’s a new
clutter-free interface that makes
it significantly easier to use,, and
multicam editing that lets you
combine up to four cameras
into one timeline. As well ass the
Platinum version there’s a basic
version (£39.99) and a Suite
(£119.99). To enter this competition, email your address
to with ‘vegas’ in the subject line
by midnight 4 July. Good luck!
You can buy this software from
Each version
gives you a
30-day free trial.
For more
information on
MAGIX software
follow @MAGIX_
INT on Twitter.
TP-Link AV1200 Powerline
Wi-Fi Kit WPA8730
Samsung 960 Pro 512GB
Xara Web Designer
Premium 365
£125 from
Tested: Issue 495
HomePlug adapters use your mains
wiring to extend your network where
Wi-Fi won’t reach. This kit provides
Wi-Fi at the far end too, so phones and
tablets can connect as well as PCs and
other Ethernet-equipped devices.
1000HD Gigabit Starter Kit Fast (speeds
of up to 1000Mbps), much cheaper and
very easy to set up, but the lack of a
passthrough socket is frustrating.
£22 from
£295 from
Tested: Issue 491
£70 from
Tested: Issue 453
Made for the fast M.2 interface that’s
increasingly common inside PCs, this is
not a cheap option, but if you want an
SSD you want speed, and this has it in
spades. Samsung’s 850 Evo (£150 for
500GB) is a good budget choice.
This visual web-design program makes
creating sites more like laying out a
document than writing HTML code, and
sites can be responsive, meaning they
look right on both big and small screens
without extra work. A basic version is
also available for half the price.
UV400 480GB Much slower, but still
faster than a hard drive, this gives you
more GB per pound. £129 from
ALTERNATIVE: Incomedia WebSite X5
v12 Evolution It may feel a little basic,
but this straightforward program outputs
efficient HTML code and responsive pages.
£50 from
21 June – 4 July 2017 33
Back Issue CD
M 20ES
Buy it now from Amazon at
or search for ‘computeractive cd’ on Amazon
You can still buy our 2015 CD at
Workshops & Tips
& LL
Is K
su E
50 P T
Edited by Sherwin Coelho
14 pages of workshops, tips, guides, problem
roblem solving
35 Customise Windows
10’s secret Start menu
38 Share photos using
Google’s new tool
40 Turn your life story
into a podcast
42 Save mobile data on
your iPhone
43 Readers’ Tips
44 Phone & Tablet Tips
46 Make Windows Better
47 Make Office Better
48 Secret Tips For...
Magix Music Maker
Customise Windows 10’s
secret Start menu
What you need: Win+X Menu Editor; Windows 8.1 or 10
Time required: 25 minutes
henever you press Windows key+X
or right-click the Start button at
the bottom left of your PC screen, you
open what’s known as the Power User
Menu which provides quick access to
several useful options. Microsoft doesn’t
make it easy to customise this menu so
we recommend using the brilliant free
program Win+X Menu Editor. It lets you
add programs and other items you use
often, and rearrange and remove
existing menu items.
STEP Win+X Menu Editor downloads
as a zipped setup file, so you’ll
need a file-compression
program to open it. We recommend
PeaZip ( In the
installation wizard choose Standard
Installation 1 (there are no unwanted
extras). After you’ve finished, download
Win+X Menu Editor by going to www., then clicking the long
Download link above the Donate button.
STEP Go to your Downloads folder
and launch the WinX Menu
Editor Release setup file 2 ,
which will open in PeaZip. Here, click
Extract 3 , then click OK at the bottom
right. After that’s done, double-click the
WinXEditor.exe setup file within PeaZip,
then click Yes to open the program. The
program doesn’t add a desktop shortcut.
If you want one, drag and drop the
WinXEditor app icon 4 from your
Downloads folder to your desktop.
21 June – 4 July 2017 35
STEP Now right-click the Start button to reveal your Power
User Menu 1 . You’ll notice that Win+X Menu Editor
has similar options 2 (though some are named slightly
differently). In your Power User Menu each section is separated
by a line 3 , while in the Win+X Menu Editor these sections
appear as groups 4 . We’ll now show you how to use the
program to customise your Power User Menu.
STEP To remove an option from your Power User Menu (for
example, Event Viewer), click to select it 1 , then click
Remove 2 . Click Restart Explorer 3 after making any
change, then re-open your Power User Menu to see the change
you’ve made. If it isn’t applied immediately, you may need to
restart your PC. It’s a good idea to make all your changes
(including those in this Workshop), then click Restart Explorer,
then restart your PC.
STEP Win+X Menu Editor also lets you add items to the
Power User Menu – such as programs, settings and
tools you use often. To add a program, such as Chrome,
first select the group you want to add it to 1 , click the ‘Add a
program’ dropdown menu 2 , then click ‘Add a program’. Now
navigate to and select that program’s setup file 3 (in the
Program Files folder in your C Drive), click Open, rename the
option as you want it to appear in your Power User Menu
(optional), then click OK. Repeat this step to add more programs.
36 21 June – 4 July 2017
STEP Click Restart Explorer
1 to see your added
program(s) 2 in the Power User Menu. The process is
similar to add presets (built-in Windows tools). Select
the group you want to add presets to, click the ‘Add a program’
dropdown menu 3 , then move your cursor to ‘Add preset’ 4 .
Now select one of the seven options 5 , then click Continue.
Click Restart Explorer, then reopen your Power User Menu to
see the option(s) you added.
Customise Windows 10’s secret Start menu
STEP We’ll now show you how to add options from your
Control Panel. Select the group you want to add these
to, click the ‘Add a program’ dropdown menu again,
then click ‘Add a Control Panel item’. In the window that opens,
click the option you want 1 , then click Select 2 . ‘All Control
Panel items’ 3 adds the Control Panel as an option to the Power
User Menu. Alternatively, type the name of a specific Control
Panel item in the search field 4 , then click to select it.
STEP You can also add Administrative Tools, including
useful options such as Disk Clean-up, Disk
Defragmenter, Windows Firewall, Windows Services,
and Resource Monitor. Click the ‘Add a program’ dropdown
menu, then click ‘Add an Administrative Tools item’. You’ll see a
list of 18 options 1 that you can select 2 or search for 3 , then
add (as you did in Step 7).
STEP Like the Power User Menu, the Win+X Menu Editor is
divided into three groups. If you want to add another
group to the former, click ‘Create a group’ 1 . You’ll see
Group 4 2 added to the menu. Repeat to add more groups if you
want. Right-click any item in Win+X Menu Editor 3 for options
to rename it and move it. To place it in another group, move
your cursor to ‘Move to group’, then select the group 4 . You can
also reorder items using the arrows on the right 5 .
STEP When you’re happy with your changes, click Restart
Explorer 1 , close Win+X Menu Editor, then open your
Power User Menu to see your customised version 2
(restart your PC if necessary). Make any changes using the above
steps. If you want to undo all your changes, open Win+X Menu
Editor, click the ‘Restore defaults’ button 3 , click Yes, then click
Restart Explorer. ●
21 June – 4 July 2017 37
Share photos using
Google’s new tool
What you need: Any website; Android or iOS device Time required: 20 minutes
oogle has launched a new
tool called Families that
makes it easier than ever to share
photos, reminders and events
with your loved ones. It lets you
add up to five contacts to your
Family group. You can then share
items with everyone in your
group with the click of a button.
We’ll show you how to create
your own group, then share
photos, reminders and events
using Google’s Photos, Keep
and Calendar services.
STEP Go to, log in using your
Google account, click Get Started, then click Create
Family Group. You’ll see all your Gmail contacts listed.
Click to select up to five contacts 1 . A dropdown menu 2 will
appear next to any contact with more than one email address.
To add people who are not in your contact list, type their email
address 3 , then click ‘Add recipient’. Once you’ve compiled
your group, click Send 4 .
STEP Group members will receive an email invitation. They
need to click Accept Invitation 1 within two weeks of
receipt. After that, they need to click Get Started, Join
Family, then View Family to see all group members. You’ll
receive an email confirmation as each person accepts your
STEP It’s easy to manage your group. There are two ways to
do this. In Gmail, click your profile icon at the top
right, click My Account, then click the ‘Family group’
link in the ‘Account preferences’ section on the right.
Alternatively, go to, then click
Manage Group. In both cases, you’ll see how many more
people you can invite to your group 1 . Here you can also send
invitations 2 , remove any members 3 and delete the entire
group 4 .
38 21 June – 4 July 2017
STEP To share things with your group, go to
4, then scroll
down to Google Calendar, Google Keep and
Google Photos. To share photos, click the Go button
beside Google Photos 1 . This takes you to the Google
Photos website in your browser (but you can also
use the following features in the Google Photos app).
STEP Move your cursor to the top left of the first photo, then click to
select it. You’ll now see tickboxes on your other photos, so click to
select the other ones you want to share 1 (as many as you want),
then click the share icon 2 . In the pop-up menu that appears, you’ll see a
green ‘Family group’ icon with a heart at the top left. Click this icon to
share your photos with your group. They can now access your photos and
upload their own to the group.
STEP We’ll now show you how to create notes that the group can
collaborate on. Go to (or use the
Google Keep app). Here, name your note 1 , click inside the
‘Take a note’ field, then start typing your note 2 . The ‘Remind me’
icon 3 lets you set a reminder (you can choose a time, date and
place), while the palette icon 4 lets you add a colour to that note. To
share the note with your group, click the Collaborator icon 5 , the
‘Family group’ icon, Save, then Done. Members in your group can
now edit this note from their account.
STEP To add events to your family group, go to
com/calendar (or the Google Calendar app) and click the
Create button at the top right. Here, name your event 1 ,
then fill in the details in the boxes below 2 (place, description,
event colour, notification). Now in the Guests field, type family,
then select the ‘Family (group)’ option 3 to share your events. You
can set group permissions using the tickboxes below 4 . When
you’ve finished, click Save 5 to share your event invitations. ●
21 June – 4 July 2017 39
Turn your life story
into a podcast
What you need: Android phone or iPhone Time required: 30 minutes
here are lots of free podcast apps, but
CastBox is our favourite – and it’s now
available on Android for the first time. It
lets you subscribe to your favourite podcast
channels and download episodes to listen
to offline. Besides that, you can record your
own podcast episodes and upload them to
your own channel. We’ll show you how to
turn your life story into a podcast, then
share your channel with others. If you’d
like to share it with fellow readers, email us
a link and we’ll publish it.
STEP Install and open the app
(Android www.snipca.
com/24569; iOS www. You’ll see
several podcast category tiles.
Select at least three based on
your interests 1 , then tap Next 2 .
You’ll now see a list of popular
podcast channels based on your
selections. Tap the Save (floppy
disk) icons beside the ones you
want to subscribe to, then tap
Done. You’ll now see your main
podcast screen with four tabs at
the top.
STEP We’ll now show you how
to record your own
podcast episodes, then
upload these to your own podcast
channel. First, tap the Profile
tab 1 , then the ‘Click Here to Log
In’ link 2 for options to log in via
Google or Facebook. Select the
account you want, then log in.
Next, tap the microphone icon 3 ,
then Allow. You’ll see a blank
screen with three buttons Listen, Record and Save. Tap
‘File name’ at the top left to see
options to import audio files
from your device’s Audio folder,
Downloads folder or your
Google Drive account.
40 21 June – 4 July 2017
STEP To record, tap the Record/Pause button
to start (and pause) the recording, then
narrate the first episode you’ve prepared.
Tap Listen 2 to play it back. When you’re happy with
it, tap Save 3 . This saves your recording as a draft.
Tap the orange microphone icon and repeat the
process to record the next episode(s). The Drafts
section lists your recorded episodes.
STEP We’ll now show you how to create your own channel.
Return to the Drafts section, then tap the Upload
button (up arrow) beside the first episode you want to
upload. Now tap ‘Create a Channel’ at the bottom. Personalise
your channel by adding a photo from your device 1 , giving your
channel a title 2 and a typing a brief description 3 . Next, tap
the Categories field 4 then tap to select three categories that
relate to your podcast. Finally, tap the Save icon 5 to create
your channel.
STEP It’s optional, but we think it’s a good idea to add a
photo 1 , title 2 and description 3 to each episode you
upload. Finally, select your channel name 4 , then tap
the Publish icon 5 to add this episode to your channel. Next, tap
the Upload button beside your second episode and repeat this
step. When you return to your profile tab, you’ll now see your
channel name. Tap to select it, tap the share icon at the top, then
send the link that appears to whoever you want via email or
social-media apps.
STEP CastBox offers other great features. The Explore icon
displays podcast channels by category 2 . Tap one 3 to
read a description, check out its episodes and subscribe
to it. You’ll see download icons beside each episode. Tap these to
download episodes to your device. Tap the Search icon 4 to
search for a particular podcast channel or category, then tap the
‘+’ icons beside the channels you want to subscribe to.
1 to see all the channels
you’ve subscribed to 2 . The View icon 3 lets you see
these as a list or tiles. Tap Download 4 to access
episodes you’ve downloaded. The app tends to bombard you
with notifications about new episodes in your subscribed
channels or new channels you might be interested in. To control
these notifications, tap the Profile icon 5 , Settings, Notification
Settings, then switch off the notifications you don’t want. ●
STEP Finally, tap the Subscribe icon
21 June – 4 July 2017 41
Save mobile data
on your iPhone
What you need: iPhone or iPad Time required: 10 minutes
n Issue 503 (page 40) we
showed you how to keep track
of your mobile-data usage on
your Android phone. If you use
an iPhone or iPad and have a
monthly limit on your mobile
data, then the free app My Data
Manager will help you keep on
top of it. It lets you set your
monthly data limit, then activate
useful notifications to ensure you
never exceed it.
STEP Install and open the app (,
tap the box at the bottom to agree to the T&Cs, then
tap ‘Let’s get started’. Next, tap Later on the first two
screens, tap ‘Yes, alert me!’ on the ‘Data usage’ screen, then tap
Allow to confirm that. Finally, tap ‘No thanks’ on the ‘Help us
improve My Data Manager’
section. The app tells you how
much data you’ve used 1 using
data 2 and Wi-Fi 3 ,
and in roaming mode 4 . It also
estimates your monthly data
usage 5 based on your current
STEP Select the mobile-data section, tap the green Add Your
Plan button, then tap Set Individual Plan. Here, you
can set your plan type (recurring or pre-paid 1 ), set
your data-renewal period (options include ‘daily’, ‘weekly’, or
‘monthly’) 2 , and enter your mobile-data limit 3 in MB or GB 4 .
Tap Next 5 then select the
day/date on which your
monthly plan restarts (call
your service provider if you
don’t know this). Finally, tap
Do Later, then Close.
STEP We’ll now show you how to set up alerts to ensure you don’t exceed your data
limit. Tap Settings at the bottom right, My Alarms, then select the Mobile tab 1 .
Here, ensure that the Enable Alarms slider is switched on 2 . You’ll see that
several types of alerts are switched on by default 3 . Tap to uncheck the ones you don’t
want. Finally, tap Set Custom Alarms 4 to create your own alerts – for example, when
you near a mobile-data daily limit or use up a certain amount of your overall allowance.
Go back, then tap Done 5 to set these alerts.
42 21 June – 4 July 2017
July 5
Back up files to a memory card
Stop hackers spying on your family
Turn your phone into a scanner
Record video highlights using Skype
Subscribe to Computeractive at
Readers’ Tips
Handy hints and tips from your fellow readers
Email us your tips:
Access the Control Panel with one click
In Issue 503, you mention that updating
your Windows 10 PC to the Creators
Update makes access to your Control
Panel more difficult. However, that’s
not the case with my PC, which has
two versions of the Control Panel only
a click away. To set this up, you need to
add your desktop as a shortcut option
on your taskbar.
Right-click an empty section of
your taskbar, move your cursor to
Toolbars, then click Desktop. This adds
a desktop shortcut to the right of your
taskbar. Click the two arrows next to
Desktop to see a pop-up menu with lots
of useful options, including all the
programs on your desktop. You can
click and drag to reorder these items
however you want.
Here, you’ll also see two Control Panel
options (see screenshot). Move your
cursor to the option with the arrow to
access several Control Panel sections
(‘Appearance and Personalisation’, ‘Ease
of Access’ and so on). The other Control
Panel option opens the Windows 7
version, where you can view items by
category, ‘Large icons’ or ‘Small icons’
using the dropdown menu at the top
Ramsey Dugdale
Ramsey wins a copy of our 2016 Back Issue CD Buy it on Amazon
Listen to music from YouTube
videos wherever you are
I liked your Workshop on
downloading YouTube videos to
watch offline using the free app ‘Hyper
for YouTube’ (Issue 503, page 42). While
you mainly covered the option to
download videos offline, the app also
lets you download just audio from any
YouTube video, which – being a big
music fan – I’ve taken advantage of.
To do that, open a music video of your
choice in Hyper, click the three dots at
the bottom right, click Download, then
click the Audio option (see screenshot
below). Your downloaded audio files are
stored in the Hyper subfolder within your
PC’s default Music folder. I tend to copy
these files to my phone or tablet to listen
to them offline whenever I like.
Dave Robertson
Turn off annoying Facebook
event notifications
I live in a busy part of London,
where events are taking place all
the time, especially now that summer’s
here. Recently, I’ve been inundated by a
lot of Facebook notifications telling me
that friends of mine are ‘attending an
event near you’ – even when I’ve
expressed no interest in the event at all.
Thankfully, I have found a way to turn off
these annoying notifications. You can do
this via your PC’s browser or via the
Facebook app on your phone or tablet.
On your PC, click the Notifications
globe icon at the top right of your
Facebook page, scroll to the most recent
of these notifications, click the three dots,
then click ‘Turn off notifications about
friends attending events near you’ (see
screenshot below left). On your phone or
tablet, open the Facebook app, scroll to
the notification, long-press it, then tap to
select the above option.
Jenny Myers
Use Fitbit’s brilliant features
After my last medical check-up, the
doctor recommended I take long
walks everyday. Upon hearing this, my
son bought me a Fitbit fitness tracker
( It looks sleek on
my wrist and tells the time, so I don’t
wear a watch anymore. Apart from this,
the tracker tells me how many steps I’ve
walked and gently vibrates when I
complete 10,000 steps in a day.
The feature that most impressed me,
however, is that you can set it to vibrate
whenever someone calls or messages you
on your phone, and even set it to vibrate
when you set an alarm. It’s very useful for
someone like me who wears a hearing aid
and often misses calls and alarms. You
can activate these by tapping Notifications
and Silent Alarm in the free Fitbit
Android, iOS or Windows 10 app.
Alex Carlisle
21 June – 4 July 2017 43
Phone and Tablet Tips
Play your photos as a
slideshow on your TV
If you use Google’s
Chromecast dongle
there’s an easy way to play photos from
your Google Photos albums (in random
order) as a slideshow on your TV.
To do this, switch on your TV to the
input you use for your Chromecast using
your remote control (you’ll see a default
Google image on your TV screen). Next,
open the Google Home app – formerly
called Chromecast – on your phone or
tablet (Android;
iOS, tap the
three lines at the top left, then tap Devices.
You’ll see your Chromecast name and
PIN code. Tap the three dots at the top
right, then tap ‘Backdrop settings’ (see
screenshot below left). Now tap Google
Photos, then switch on the slider at the
top. You’ll see all your photo albums
listed with tick boxes beside them. Tick
the albums containing images you want
to display on your TV. Images from those
albums will now play in random order on
your TV screen.
Stop unwanted newsletters
and keep
ep track of travel plans
‘Email – Fast & Secure’
was previously only
available on iOS but is
now launched on Android. What’s more,
it has some great features. As well as
letting you unsubscribe from newsletters
quickly, it gives you easy access to your
travel bookings you have stored and lets
you track your Amazon orders.
Install and open the app (Android; iOS www., swipe across the
introductory screens, log into your email
account (the app supports Gmail, Yahoo,
Microsoft and all IMAP accounts), then
tap To Inbox at the top right. The app
automatically organises your emails into
handy categories. Tap the three lines at
the top left (menu icon), then look at the
Assistant section to see these categories
– Subscriptions, Travel, Packages, Bills &
Receipts and Entertainment.
Tap Subscriptions to see emails you’ve
subscribed to. Here, tap the X icon to
unsubscribe from any or the star icon to
Best New Apps
Microsoft has given its Android Skype app
a complete makeover and added improved
tools. The
best of these
is Highlights,
which lets you
capture photos
and videos then
them with text
and drawings.
We’ll show you
how to use this
in our next issue.
44 21 June – 4 July 2017
Brilliant things to do on your device
mark them as important (see screenshot
above). These emails are then assigned to
the relevant tabs.
The Travel category contains any flight,
train or coach bookings you’ve made via
email with all the relevant information
(departure time, arrival time, booking
reference and seat number). The Packages
category lets you track any outstanding
email orders you’re expecting (such
as Amazon deliveries) or any parcels
you’ve sent.
Make your iPhone or iPad
easier to use
There are several ways you can
make your iPhone or iPad easier
to use, such as making the text on
your screen larger and darker. You can
also add a permanent onscreen button
that gives you easy access to the main
What you should install this fortnight
Path Guide
This app (also from Microsoft) lets you create
indoor navigation paths. It traces where
you walk and
creates step-bystep directions
that you can
share with others.
Shop owners, for
example, can use
it to create a path
for customers to
find their store
from the entrance
of a shopping mall.
Filmr makes video editing easy. Select
as many photos or videos as you want.
These appear on
a vertical editing
flow. Tap and
drag to reorder
them and move
their sliders to
trim files. Tap
and hold a video
file for options
to duplicate or
delete it.
*Contains in-app
sections of your device. We’ll show you
how to do both.
Open Settings, tap General, then
Accessibility. Here, tap Larger Text, then
move the slider to the right to increase
the size of your onscreen text. Tap the
Bold Text slider to bold up text, making
it easier to read.
Next, tap AssistiveTouch, then switch
on the AssistiveTouch slider. This displays
a white button that stays on your screen
permanently – tap and drag to reposition
this wherever you want. Tap the button
to access various sections of your device,
including the Notification Centre, Control
Centre and Home (see screenshot below).
Tap Device to see options to lock your
screen, rotate it, change the volume or
take a screenshot. You can also use
AssistiveTouch if your device’s Home or
volume buttons stop working.
features is the option to read ebooks in
Microsoft Edge. You can download free
titles by going to in
Microsoft Edge, tapping an ebook, then
tapping its EPUB link.
Swipe right to turn pages. Tap any
page to see a list of options at the top and
a scroll bar at the bottom. You can also
move the bar to scroll through the pages.
Tap the three lines at the top to display
the book’s table of contents and tap any
chapter to go to it.
The search icon lets you find any word
or phrase within that page. Tap the Aa
icon (see screenshot right) to change your
display settings. To hear text on that page
(and any following pages) dictated out
loud, tap the speaker icon. To bookmark
the page you’re on tap the icon at the top
right – these then are accessible in the
bookmarks section at the top left.
Games With Kids
What to play together on your phone and tablet
AGES 0 5
Little Fire Station*
Locate friends and family
Using Apple’s Find My Friends
app, you can locate friends or
family members on your iPhone
and iPad – and also share your location
with them.
To set this up, open the preinstalled
Find My Friends app, tap All Friends at
the top left, then tap Add. Now enter the
email addresses of those you want to track,
then tap Send. They will receive a locationtracking request that they need to agree
to. Once the’ve granted permission, you’ll
both be able to see each other’s precise
location on a map by opening the Find
My Friends app or by going to
and logging in with your Apple ID. To
stop sharing your location, open the app,
tap Me, switch off the Share My Location
slider, then tap Done.
Read ebooks in Microsoft Edge
In Issue 502 (page 45), we
explained how to update your
phone to the Windows 10 Mobile
Creators Update. One of the update’s new
Free (Android)
Free (iOS)
The games in this app will keep your
toddler entertained and teach them how
a fire station works. Our favourites involve
rescuing a cat from a tree, putting out a
house fire and identifying objects found in
a fire station.
AGES 6 10
Jump Cube*
Free (Android)
Free (iOS)
This simple game can be both very
addictive and very frustrating. You need to
guide your character along a path of tiles
of two different colours, tapping the left of
your screen to reach one colour and the
right to reach the other.
AGES 11 16
Monument Valley 2
£4.99 (iOS)
Monument Valley is a beautifully designed
puzzle game where you help the character
Ro reach a specific point in each scene
by tapping and moving her architectural
surroundings. In this sequel Ro is joined by
her child in a series of new puzzles
and landscapes.
*Contains in-app purchases
21 June – 4 July 2017 45
Make Windows Better
Expert tips for every program
Find out how long your
journey will take
Cortana can now tell you how
long it’ll take you to get home or
to work. It does this by determining
the fastest route based on the traffic at the
current time. You first need to add your
home and/or office address to your PC. To
do this, open the default Maps app, then
click the star icon at the top right to see
the Home and Work tabs (see screenshot
below). Select the one you want, enter
your postcode, then select the correct
autosuggest option.
From now on, simply click your search
bar at any time and Cortana should
display the journey time to get home or to
work, with a rating for traffic congestion
(Heavy, Moderate or Low). If you don’t
see this, click the speaker icon to activate
Cortana and ask ‘How long will it take me
to get home/to work?’. Next, click the
map tile to get directions to your location
using the Maps app.
Upload all your tracks to
Groove Music
Microsoft has updated its Groove
Music app to automatically
import any music stored within
the Music folder on your PC. Therefore,
you should consider moving your music
collection to this folder. However, if you
prefer having your music files stored
WINDOWS 7, 8, 10
Connect a Bluetooth keyboard or
mouse to your PC
If you have a
keyboard or
mouse, it’s easy to connect them
to your Windows PC. You first
need to turn on the Bluetooth on
both your PC and the device
you’re connecting to. On the
keyboard or mouse, you should
find a button you can switch on.
Refer to the device’s manual if you
don’t see this.
To switch on Bluetooth in Windows
7 and 8.1, open the Start menu,
right-click Computer, click Properties,
then Device Manager at the top left. At
the top, you’ll see a Bluetooth
dropdown menu. Click this, right-click
the option below it, then click Enable.
To connect your PC to your Bluetooth
keyboard or mouse, open your Start
menu, click ‘Devices and Printers’, ‘Add
a device’, then wait for it to detect your
Bluetooth device. Next, select the
device, click Next and follow any
across multiple PC folders, then we’ll
show you how to add these folders to
the app.
Open Groove Music, then click the
‘My music’ section on the left to see all
music files stored in your Music folder.
Next, click the cog icon at the bottom
left, then click the ‘Choose where we
look for music’ link in the ‘Music on
this PC’ section (see screenshot below
left). You’ll see your Music folder
selected. To add another folder, click
the ‘+’ icon, navigate to the folder
want, click ‘Add this folder to Music’,
then click Done.
The app will begin importing your
music from that folder. Repeat this
process if you have tracks stored in
other folders on your PC.
WINDOWS 7, 8, 10
See all the folders and
subfolders on your C Drive
There’s a simple
Command Prompt trick
that lets you display all
the folders and subfolders on your PC’s
C Drive as a ‘tree’ dropdown menu. To
46 21 June – 4 July 2017
onscreen instructions to pair them.
The process is easier in Windows 10.
Go to Settings, click Devices, then
switch on the Bluetooth slider (see
screenshot). Next, click ‘Add Bluetooth
or other device’ at the top and select
Bluetooth. Once your PC detects your
keyboard or mouse, click to select it,
click Pair, then follow any onscreen
instructions to complete pairing. From
now on, your PC should automatically
recognise your device whenever the
two are within range.
open your Command Prompt, press the
Windows key, type cmd, then press Enter.
Now type tree, then press Enter.
You’ll see a tree dropdown menu of
your entire C Drive (see screenshot above).
Lines connecting to the C Drive indicate
folders, with further lines connecting to
their subfolders. It’s a good idea to copy,
paste and save this information to a
Notepad file or Word document so you
can see the contents of your C Drive
whenever you want.
Make Office Better
Expert tips for every program
Save oft-used text to insert when needed
If there’s a block of text that
you tend to type often in
documents (for example, your
home or email address, or a specific
quote), there’s an easy way to save it
in Word, so that you can quickly insert
it when you need to. The feature is
called AutoText.
First, type the text you want to
save, format it however you like,
then select it. Next, click the Insert
tab, then the Quick Parts dropdown
menu in the Text section at the top
right (see screenshot), move your
cursor to AutoText, then click ‘Save
Selection to AutoText Gallery’.
Never miss your favourite
team’s matches has a useful feature
called ‘Bing calendars’ that lets
you keep track of your favourite
sports teams. To use it, go to www. and log in using your
Microsoft account. Next, click the small
calendar icon at the bottom left to access
your Outlook calendar. To add sporting
events to it, click ‘Interesting calendars’
at the top. You’ll see a ‘Bing calendars’
panel on the right with several options,
including Sports and TV. Select Sports for
a list of 11 to choose from.
Now, simply select the sports and teams
you follow to add their fixtures to your
calendar. For example, to get reminders
when your favourite Premier League
team is playing, select Soccer, England,
In the pop-up window that appears
(see screenshot), name your text, ensure
the Gallery dropdown menu is set to
AutoText and the Category dropdown
menu is set to General. Type a text
description in the relevant field
(optional), then click OK. Repeat this
process for other passages of text you
want to save.
From now on, whenever you want to
add your saved text, click the insertion
point in your document, then click the
Quick Parts dropdown menu and move
your cursor to AutoText. You’ll see all
your saved passages of text listed. Simply
click the one you want to add.
English Premier League, then the
club you follow. To follow the England
cricket team, select Cricket, Countries,
then England. You can also follow cricket
teams playing in the County Championship
(see screenshot below left).
You’ll now see all your team’s fixtures
have been added to your calendar, and
you’ll receive a notification before each
match is about to begin.
Record your own narration
If one of your PowerPoint slides
contains a lot of information, it
might be a good idea to add an
audio commentary to explain it.
To do this, open your presentation,
then go to the slide in question. Click the
Insert tab, the Audio dropdown menu at
the top right, then click Record Audio. In
the pop-up window that appears, name
the recording, then click the red circular
(Record) icon and dictate your audio
track. Click the Stop icon when you’ve
Next, click the blue Play icon to hear
your recording. If you don’t like it, click
the Record icon again to re-record. When
you’re happy, click OK. You’ll now see a
small speaker icon on your slide. Click
and drag to reposition this wherever you
want. Moving your cursor to this icon
displays a play icon with options to fast
forward/rewind and change volume (see
screenshot below left).
Get rid of unwanted rows
and columns quicker
There’s an easy way to highlight
and delete all data in a particular
row or column in Excel using
keyboard shortcuts. To highlight a row,
click any cell within it, then press
Shift+spacebar. You can now delete all
data in that row by pressing the Delete
key, or copy and paste it to another row.
Similarly, to highlight a column, click
any cell within the column, then press
Deleting data in a column or row will
leave you with blank cells. A better
option is to delete the entire row or
column itself. There’s a keyboard shortcut
for that, too. To delete a row, select any of
its cells, then press Ctrl+9. Similarly, to
delete an entire column, select any of its
cells, then press Ctrl+0.
21 June – 4 July 2017 47
Secret Tips For…
Magix Music Maker
Add effects to your recorded music, connect instruments to your PC,
use a virtual amp and fix distorted recordings
Add effects to your
musical compositions
Magix’s free music-production program
Music Maker (
music-maker) is a great virtual studio
that lets you record and mix your own
music on your PC. One of its best features
is the ability to add effects like reverb,
echo and distortion so you can give your
compositions a more professional feel.
To try these effects, first select the bars
within your composition that you want
to add effects to (click the first bar, then
hold the Ctrl key down and click the last
bar). Next, click the Inspector tab (see
screenshot below) above the piano keys
to see a list of effects, such as Compressor
and ‘10-band equalizer’. Click an effect,
then adjust the knobs or drag the white
circle to change its intensity (see screenshot
below). Play your track as you do this to
hear how your music changes
with each tweak. The only
effect that is controlled
differently is the ‘10-band
equalizer’. It splits your track
into 10 frequency bands and
lets you adjust each one
separately. For more info, click
‘10-band equalizer’, then the
question-mark icon to the
right of ‘Graphic equalizer’.
Identify and fix
distorted sections
Lower a distorted section’s volume to reduce pops and
crackles on your recording
If you hear pops and crackles when you
play back your composition, you can use
Music Maker’s Peak Meter to reveal the
problem bars. Click View, ‘Video
monitor’, ‘Show video monitor’, then
click the Peak Meter tab. Play your track
and you’ll see a visual representation of it.
Look out for any
red graphics at the high
decibel (dB) range – these
indicate heavy distortion.
To fix distortion you
need to lower the
affected section’s volume.
To select the entire
distorted section, click its
Add effects to your music using Music Maker’s Inspector control opening bar and then,
Connect a real instrument to your PC
While you can import tracks into
Music Maker, play pre-recorded loops
and record your own tunes using the
program’s virtual keyboard, you’ll want
to connect real instruments to your PC
if you want a more authentic sound.
You can do this in a couple of ways.
The easiest and cheapest way is to use a
k cable.
USB-to-audio jack
There are plenty to
choose from on
Amazon (such as
the one pictured,
£13 from Amazon:
48 21 June – 4 July 2017, but such
cables do add latency – a split-second
delay between playing a note and
hearing it through your PC speakers/
headphones. If removing this latency is
essential consider buying a USB Midi
box – like the M-Audio Midisport (£44
from Amazon:
24526). This lets y
you connect
multiple ins
to your PC
d re
removes the
problem of
with the Control key held down, click its
end bar. The section you’ve selected will
be highlighted orange. Right-click it, then
click Volume, ‘Set volume’ and choose
any of the negative dB ‘Set volume to’
options (see screenshot above).
Experiment with the volume settings
until you reduce the levels from red to
orange in the Peak Meter when you play
it back. If you’re unsure where to start,
you could try the ‘Automatic volume
reduction’ option – right-click the
selection, then click Volume to see it.
Play through a virtual amp
If you have a USB-to-audio jack cable (see
box) you can connect your electric guitar
(and other analogue instruments) to your
PC and use it as an amp. You can then use
Music Maker’s virtual amp (Vandal) to
tweak your instrument’s output.
To access the Vandal amp, click Effects
(in the bar at the top), Audio, Audio
Effects, then Vandal SE. Anyone who has
ever used a physical amp will recognise
the gain, voicing and equalization knobs
that let you change the sound. To apply
preset effects – such as ‘60s Twang’ and
Blues Solo – click Programs at the top of
Vandal’s window, then select a preset.
Refer to Music Maker’s manual
If you get stuck, you can access Music
Maker’s manual by clicking Help,
Documentation, then ‘Table of contents’.
Click the search tab to search for specific
Next issue Secret Tips For… Copy and paste
What’s All the Fuss About...
Google Lens
Your phone’s camera can now search the web as well
What is it?
A clever new technology that integrates
your phone’s camera with Google’s
search engine. Your camera will
recognise what’s being shown on the
screen, then automatically search for
information about it online. The results
will appear in a box on screen. If it
works as well as Google claims, it’ll be
the best use of augmented reality yet.
What’s augmented reality?
It places a computer-generated image
on top of what’s being shown on a
phone’s screen, merging the real-world
environment with a digital one. It was
the technology behind the Pokémon Go
game, which became hugely popular
last summer. In it, players collect digital
characters hiding in real locations. These
type of games are all a bit gimmicky,
unlike the benefits of Google Lens.
Can you give me some
Yes. Point your camera at a flower, and
it will tell you what species it is (‘Milk
and Wine Lily’ in the image above
right). Point it at a restaurant, and it will
search for reviews and opening times.
Eat out while on holiday abroad and it
will translate foreign-language menus.
If you’re at a zoo, Google Lens might
identify not only the type of animal, but
also the species, and show facts about it
on screen. It can even log your phone
into your Wi-Fi by reading the ‘setting
sticker’ on your router (see image
below left).
How does it work?
By using what so many technologies
now depend on: artificial intelligence.
Google claims that its algorithms have
learned how to recognise objects in a
photo better than humans can. The
company’s boss Sundar Pichai dipped
into his Big Book of Jargon to call Lens
“an inflection point with vision”. He
then gushed: “The fact computers can
understand images and videos has
profound implications for our core
What is Google’s core mission?
Officially, it’s to “organize the world’s
information and make it universally
accessible and useful”. Unofficially, it’s
to make enough money to send Croesus
mad with envy.
How will it make money?
Google Lens signs into your Wi-Fi by ‘reading’
your router’s settings sticker
Advertising. With Google, it always
comes back to advertising. In an
interview with Campaign website, Ray
Dollete, a director at marketing firm
Phenomenon, revealed the kind of
personal data companies could get from
Google Lens: “The simple act of taking a
photo of a boarding pass could tell you a
lot about a person: their travel plans,
lifestyle, airline preference, seating
preference”. This would be priceless for
companies wanting to target their
adverts to individuals.
Hasn’t Google released similar
things before?
Yes – you may be thinking of Word
Lens, which is part of the Google
Translate app. It can translate words in
photos in 37 languages. Or perhaps you
mean the dreadfully named Google
Goggles, which recognises landmarks,
paintings and barcodes to give you more
information about them. It seems that
both will be superseded by Google Lens.
When will it be available?
Not sure yet, but we’d be surprised if
it doesn’t arrive by the end of the year.
What we do know is that it will appear
first as part of Google Photos, now
used by 500 million people, and
Google Assistant, which lets you
perform tasks – such as sending
messages and searching the web – by
speaking into your phone. Soon we
could all be looking at the world
through a different Lens.
21 June – 4 July 2017 49
Your PC will be riddled with programs that
look like junk, but should you install
them? Jonathan Parkyn explains how
to separate the junk from the essential
programs you must keep
here are few certainties in
life beyond death and taxes?
But another thing we’re pretty
sure of is that every single one
of our readers’ PCs is unique. No two
will have the same make, model,
processor, amount of RAM, graphics card,
hard drive or operating system. And, of
course, no two will have exactly the
• The pros and cons of the best
uninstallers and which is best for you
• Which programs, apps and browser
extensions you should uninstall now
• What you must do before you delete
anything from your PC’s registry
• How to remove stubborn files that
refuse to be deleted
• Which startup items you can remove,
and which you should keep
50 21 June – 4 July 2017
same programs, apps and browser
extensions installed.
Consider your own PC. Some of its
software will have been pre-installed
by your PC’s manufacturer – all these
programs are often referred to as
bloatware. Microsoft will have embedded
its own products into Windows as
part of its relentless quest to force us to
use its own apps and services. Then
there’s the software you installed
yourself – either intentionally or not
(yes, we’re talking about all those
hideous PUPs, browser hijackers and
unwanted extras that get smuggled in
whenever you try to install a program
you do want).
You can get an overview of the
programs and apps installed on your PC
by checking Windows’ list. Click the Start
button, type add remove, then press
Enter. From here you can remove any
listed program or app, but we wouldn’t
recommend it. Some of these might
be integral to the functioning of your
computer, and removing them may
have a serious impact. Other programs –
for example, browser extensions –
won’t be listed at all. Your first step,
therefore, is to produce a definitive list
of everything that’s squirrelled away
on your PC, before working out what’s
safe to remove.
In this feature we’ll show you how to
do exactly that. We’ll explain which
dedicated uninstallation programs are
best for rooting out hidden programs,
apps and browser extensions. More
importantly, we’ll help you make an
informed decision on which programs
you should keep, and which you can
safely delete.
Finally, we’ll explain how to scour your
registry for program leftovers and how to
remove those stubborn ‘we shall not be
moved’ programs.
Remove Hidden Junk Without Killing Your PC
Before you uninstall anything from
your PC, you’ll need to make sure you
have the best tool for the job. Here are
our top picks.
Wise Program Uninstaller 2.01
What’s great
Wise Program Uninstaller is a lightweight
tool that’s simple to use and effective at
what it does. Run it and it will quickly
provide a list of software installed on
your PC. Click an item for the option to
carry out a Safe Uninstall (the standard
method) or a Forced Uninstall (for
persistent programs that refuse to
budge). After every uninstallation, Wise
Program Uninstaller carries out a deep
scan for leftover files and registry entries
and lets you remove these, too (see
screenshot below). This proved to be
better than the other uninstallers at
ferreting out residual junk.
Windows 10’s built-in apps can be
uninstalled too, and you can choose to
list apps and programs together or
separately (click the icons in the top-right
corner). You can also eject troublesome
Windows Updates and there’s a Custom
Uninstall option for persistent programs
that won’t respond to the Safe or Forced
Could do better
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that
Wise Program Uninstaller is on the plain
side. We’re not expecting pretty colours
and flashy icons, but a bit of a rethink in
the design department
wouldn’t go amiss.
The lack of tools to
manage your startup
items and remove
browser extensions is
also a bit disappointing,
though you can easily
use Windows Task
Manager and your
browser’s own
extension manager
instead (see page 53).
It’s no oil painting,
but Wise Program
CCleaner speedily loads its list of removable programs
Uninstaller is easy to use
and was also the most thorough program
files, fix registry problems, scan for
uninstaller we tested.
duplicates and more.
CCleaner 5.30 Free
What’s great
You’ll find CCleaner’s uninstaller listed
under Uninstall in the Tools menu,
alongside a startup manager (Startup)
and a tool for removing browser
extensions and tools (Browser Plugins).
CCleaner loads its list of removable
programs much quicker than Windows’
built-in uninstaller does and lets you
remove Windows 10’s built-in apps as
well as desktop programs and tools (see
screenshot above).
Of course, uninstalling programs is
just one of the many things CCleaner
can do. It can also purge your PC of junk
Could do better
As an all-in-one junk-busting suite of
tools, CCleaner is great, but as an
uninstaller, it’s a little lacking in features.
Crucially, there’s no deep-cleaning
option when removing programs, which
meant that, in our tests, CCleaner
removed fewer leftover files than Wise
Program Uninstaller. There’s also no
option to uninstall programs in bulk –
you’ll need to remove them one at a
time – and no tool to force-uninstall
stubborn programs.
CCleaner is a great all-rounder, and still
essential for removing junk, but there are
better dedicated uninstallers available.
We judged the uninstallers by
ease of use and features offered,
but we also tested each one to see
how effective it was at removing
stubborn software and leftover
files. We pitted each uninstaller
against several notoriously hardto-remove programs and some
tools performed better than
others. IObit Uninstaller, for
example, had problems removing
the infamous Ask toolbar when
using standard uninstall methods
(we had to resort to a Powerful
Scan removal), while Wise Program
Uninstaller got rid of it without
batting an eyelid.
Wise Program Uninstaller does a deep scan to search for leftover registry entries
21 June – 4 July 2017 51
IObit Uninstaller
makes it easy to
select and remove
programs, toolbars
and Windows 10
IObit Uninstaller 6.3 Free
What’s great
IObit Uninstaller’s relative lack of features
is actually one of its selling points. It’s
lightweight and less complicated to use
than many of its rivals. Choose your
category – Programs, Toolbars & Plug-ins
or Windows Apps – from the left-hand
pane, then select what you want to
remove and click the bin icon. For
bulk removal, tick all the items you
want to remove, then click Uninstall
(see screenshot right).
You can ditch Windows 10 apps and
easily remove problematic Windows
Updates, too. The browser extensions
uninstaller (under ‘Toolbars & Plug-ins’)
now works for Edge.
Could do better
IObit Uninstaller doesn’t try to install any
unwanted software on to your PC, but
during setup we had to click ‘No thanks’
to sidestep the free ‘gift’ of a Windows
Tweak ebook, which was annoying. More
importantly, IObit Uninstaller spotted
fewer leftover files and registry entries
than Wise Program Uninstaller. And
we’re not certain why some of IObit
Uninstaller’s best features – its Cleanup
Residual (which deletes files in Windows’
archive of security fixes) and Force
Uninstall tools, for example – are tucked
away in a separate Tools menu, rather
than being listed on the left with the others.
Easy to use but not as effective as some
of its rivals.
Eagle-eyed readers will have spotted that
Revo Uninstaller (www.revouninstaller.
com), the program we recommended as
our favourite free uninstaller in Issue
500’s Cover Feature, didn’t make the top
three. In this test, Revo finished a close
fourth. We still recommend it, but under
closer scrutiny we found that some of its
best features (leftover scanning and
forced uninstall, for example) weren’t
included in the free version. We also
tested PC Decrapifier (
24408), which provides recommendations
from other users to help you decide what
to uninstall, and BC Uninstaller (www., which specialises in
bulk removal.
Or, if you’d rather not install any tools
at all (you’re presumably in the business
of uninstalling after all), then you could
consider sticking with Windows’ built-in
uninstaller. It has zero frills or features
beyond the standard removal of programs
and apps. If you’ve upgraded to the latest
Windows 10 version (April’s Creators
Update), you’ll find that the default
uninstaller is now in the ‘Apps & features’
tool (found under Start, Settings, Apps),
where desktop programs and Windows
Store apps are all lumped together in a
big, searchable list.
Programs you can safely
Software you can safely uninstall from
your computer falls into three main
categories: programs you don’t use
any more, pre-installed junk you don’t
need and Windows 10 apps you have
no use for.
Open your uninstaller tool of choice
and cast your eye down the list of
programs. If there are any programs here
you don’t recognise or no longer use,
then it’s fairly safe to assume you won’t
miss them – most can be reinstalled if
necessary, anyway.
Programs and apps that came
pre-installed with your PC are often
mostly surplus to requirements –
unnecessary media players, short trial
versions of paid-for security suites and so
on. These can usually be removed
without worry and are often available to
download from your manufacturer’s
support website, should you need them.
It’s safe to remove apps you’ve installed
52 21 June – 4 July 2017
from the Windows Store, too. These can
be easily downloaded again by opening
the Windows Store app, clicking your
user icon, then selecting My Library. Click
‘Show all’ to reveal all the apps you’ve
previously installed, then click the
download icon for any you want back.
As a general rule, always create a
system restore point before uninstalling
any programs – most dedicated
uninstaller tools will prompt you to do so.
That way you can always roll back and
restore the program if you need to.
Programs you should keep
Before uninstalling any paid-for
programs you own, check you have the
original CD – or installation file if the
program was downloaded – and the
product key, if the program needs one to
be activated. This is usually provided with
the disc or, for downloads, it may have
been emailed to you. If you’ve lost these,
you can use Belarc Advisor (www.snipca.
com/24384) to view (and print) product
keys for programs currently installed –
they’re listed under ‘Software licenses’ in
the report Belarc produces after scanning
your PC (see screenshot above right).
Without the original CD or product code,
you might never be able to reinstall the
software without paying for it again.
Most types of files – such as JPEG
images, MP3 audio files and Word
documents – can be opened in a variety
of programs. But some files can only be
opened in the program you created them
in. Some genealogy programs, for
example, store data in GEDCOM (.ged)
files, which you may no longer be able to
open if you uninstall the program itself.
In some cases, you may be able to
export the files to a different format from
within the program or convert them using
an online tool, like Zamzar (www.snipca.
com/24386). But this can sometimes have
unforeseen consequences, such as
document-formatting errors, so check
your files before you dump the original
Remove Hidden Junk Without Killing Your PC
Use Belarc Advisor to recover lost product keys before you uninstall
paid-for programs
Some uninstaller tools let you remove
the pre-loaded apps that come with
Windows 10, but we’d suggest that it’s
worth leaving most of these in place,
because they don’t take up much space
and have little impact on your PC’s
performance. Removing certain apps can
also have a knock-on effect on others. For
example, the Mail, Calendar and People
apps are all closely connected and
uninstalling one can cause problems with
the others, so it’s best to leave these as
they are. And under no circumstances
should you uninstall the Windows Store
app – doing so will prevent you from
downloading apps. Reinstalling the Store
app is tricky, too, and may require
reinstalling Windows 10 itself.
Startup items you can
safely remove
A great many of the programs your PC
launches at startup can be disabled,
though you may want to keep the
associated program installed if you still
use it. Apple’s iTunesHelper is a typical
offender – there’s no need for this to run
at startup, even if you use iTunes to
manage your music collection.
IObit Uninstaller has a startup
manager built in – click the Tools icon
You can disable a program’s startup items in
Task Manager without uninstalling it
To remove toolbars like AOL’s, open Windows 10’s ‘Apps & features’
and select Startup. Here, you can either
click Enabled in the ‘Status & Operation’
column to stop the program launching
when you boot, or click the bin icon to
uninstall the associated program.
You can also disable or enable startup
items using Windows 10’s built-in Task
Manager (see screenshot below left). To
access it, right-click the taskbar, select Task
Manager, then click the Start-up tab. To
access the same in Windows 7, click Start,
type msconfig, then press Enter and click
the Startup tab.
Startup items you
must keep
Any startup items relating to your
security software should be left enabled
and installed – switching these off could
leave your PC unprotected against
malware and hackers.
Do you use online storage? OneDrive,
Dropbox and others run at startup to sync
files and keep your storage up to date, so
you should leave the service enabled in
your startup items.
Startup items that relate to hardware
– audio devices or your mouse/trackpad,
for example – should be left enabled,
otherwise your devices may not work
properly. Similarly, anything relating to
your graphics card (Nvidia or AMD), an
SSD or your PC’s processor (Intel or
AMD), should also be left alone, because
removing these can affect stability and
performance. If you encounter a problem
after you’ve disabled a startup item, fixing
it is usually just a case of re-enabling it
It’s also technically possible to disable
Windows services – background
operations that run automatically when
you start your PC. However, we’d strongly
advise against doing so, because
accidentally disabling the wrong service
could cause your PC to crash, freeze or
otherwise misbehave.
Which tools are safe to uninstall
from your browser?
Toolbars are menu bars that appear in
addition to your browser’s standard
toolbar. Yahoo, Bing, Ask, AOL and
Google are among the most common.
They usually contain a search box and
some extra tools or shortcuts. Most
toolbars are unnecessary and all can be
removed safely.
Open Windows’ ‘Apps & features’
setting (Windows 10, see screenshot
above) or ‘Add or remove programs’
control panel (Windows 7), or use your
dedicated uninstaller tool. The toolbar
should be listed among the other
software installed on your PC. If it isn’t,
the toolbar could be malware, so scan
your PC with your security program.
Extensions are mini-tools that add
extra functions to your browser, such as
blocking adverts, but having too many
running can slow down your browsing.
None are essential, so we recommend
keeping only the ones you use often
enabled. Disable those you use
infrequently, and uninstall those you
never use. Extensions are usually disabled
or removed via your browser’s own
settings, though many uninstaller
programs, including IObit Uninstaller
and CCleaner, have a specialised tool for
removing browser extensions. IObit
Uninstaller, for example, lists these in its
(confusingly named) ‘Toolbars and
Plug-ins’ section.
Should I uninstall plug-ins?
There was a time when plug-ins were
essential for playing certain online
content, such as films, or running certain
types of code – Java, Flash and Silverlight
are the most well-known. These days,
though, plug-ins are far less necessary
than they once were, thanks to newer
web technologies (such as HTML5) and
the fact that modern browsers are
21 June – 4 July 2017 53
In the new and updated Definitive Guide
to Google Hidden Tools, the experts at
Computeractive lift the lid on Google’s most
popular services to reveal more than 390 ways
to make them even more efficient, useful and
tailored to your needs. These include clever new
add-ons for Chrome, smart hacks for YouTube,
and the best things you can do in Google Maps,
Drive, Gmail and more. It’s an essential guide
to unlocking the hundreds of secret settings,
options and tools that Google offers. You’ll learn
tips and tricks that you can use every day online.
This 196-page
guide is packed
with expert
advice in plain
English, to help
you unlock
every hidden tool. You’ll learn
how to customise Windows
10 so it works how you want
it to, and how to reverse
settings that Microsoft keeps
changing. It’s also the ideal
troubleshooting guide, with
fixes for every problem.
This A-Z guide
contains over
900 definitions
of computing
and tech jargon,
helping you
take back control of your PC.
It tells you in plain English
what so-called ‘experts’ say
in gobbledygook. Keep it next
to your computer and you’ll
never again be bamboozled,
befuddled or bemused by
technical twaddle.
This easyto-use
contains all
26 issues of
2016, giving
you one-click access
to thousands of tips,
workshops, reviews, free
programs, superb apps and
problems solved. It has a
searchable index, which
makes it easy for you to find
what you want to read.
Remove Hidden Junk Without Killing Your PC
It’s usually not
worth cleaning
your Windows
registry but
if you do, use
Registry Cleaner
Most browsers now block Flash, but usually
notify you when it is detected
capable of handling most types of online
content on their own. Plug-ins can also
be a security risk – older versions of both
Java and Flash have been vulnerable to
zero-day attacks.
If you’re worried, you could uninstall
Java, Adobe Flash Player and Microsoft
Silverlight from you PC. If they are
installed, you’ll find them listed alongside
all your other programs in your chosen
uninstaller tool. If you do remove them,
though, be aware that some online
content may no longer work. Many
websites haven’t been updated to use the
latest technologies and still rely on
Most modern browsers, including
Firefox, Edge and Chrome, now block
Flash by default (see screenshot above),
so you could leave it installed and only
enable it when you need to – your
browser should automatically prompt
you when Flash content is detected.
Is it safe to remove items from
your PC’s registry?
The Windows registry is a file that
contains all the information and
configuration options for your entire
computer. It can be used as a powerful
tool to unlock hidden features or change
secret settings, but we definitely don’t
recommend manually deleting or
changing anything if you can help it –
even the smallest slip-up could have
drastic consequences for your system.
We occasionally suggest registry tweaks
and hacks in Computeractive, but
whenever we do, we always make it
clear that you’ll need to back up first
(by creating a system restore point) and
follow our instructions to the letter.
Annoyingly, programs you install all
add to the registry, and often remain
there, even after you’ve uninstalled the
program itself. Many uninstaller tools
perform an optional deep clean to look
for redundant registry entries and other
files left behind – see page 56 for more.
Some tools, including CCleaner,
offer the option to scan for and
automatically clear up any registry
clutter they find (see screenshot above).
As long as you back up your registry
first, it’s unlikely that running a
clean-up of this type would ever cause
irreparable damage to your computer.
Establishing whether a program is
worth keeping is often harder than it
might seem. You may have dozens of
tools installed that you’ve never used
or don’t even recognise, but how do
you know whether to ditch them or
not? Researching the programs online
will help. But you could also try using
a free tool called Should I Remove It
scans your computer and lists all your
programs with crowdsourced ratings
and rankings. This won’t necessarily
provide a definitive answer to whether
the tool is worth leaving installed, but it
can help you form an opinion.
However, we would argue that the
benefits are rarely worth the risk.
De-cluttering your registry in this way is
unlikely to fix any pre-existing PC
problems or provide much of a tangible
performance boost.
How to force stubborn
programs to uninstall
There are several reasons why a program
might refuse to uninstall. If a file is in use,
for example, you might see an error
message while uninstalling. Perhaps the
program’s installation has become
corrupted, or it could be part of a larger
suite of tools that was left behind when
the rest of the software was removed.
You can try uninstalling stubborn
programs while in Safe Mode as an
administrator. To start Windows 10 in
Safe Mode, click Start, then click the
power icon. Hold down the Shift key and
Force stubborn
programs off
your PC with
Wise Program
21 June – 4 July 2017 55
Remove Hidden Junk Without Killing Your PC
click Restart. From the blue ‘Choose an
option’ screen, click Troubleshoot,
‘Advanced options’, ‘Startup Settings’,
then Restart. Press 5 or F5 to launch
Windows in Safe Mode. In Windows 7,
click Start, type msconfig, then press
Enter. Click the Boot tab, check the ‘Safe
boot’ box, then click OK, Restart. Once
Windows has loaded, right-click the
icon for your uninstaller tool and select
‘Run as administrator’, then try to
uninstall the program again.
Many of the uninstaller tools
mentioned on pages 51-52 include an
option to force a program to uninstall,
which you can also try. In Wise Program
Uninstaller, for example, click the
program you want to remove, select
Forced Uninstall (see screenshot on page
55), click Yes, then click Remove.
Some programs and toolbars that
refuse to be uninstalled may be malware,
so it’s worth running a full scan on your
PC to see if your antivirus picks up
anything nasty. Try running a security
scan in Safe Mode, too.
It’s easy to end up with a hard drive full of
duplicate files – photos, documents and
so on. You can remove these using tool
built into uninstallers.
In CCleaner, for example, click Tools,
then Duplicate Finder to run a scan.
There are also several free duplicate
finders available, such as Duplicate
Files Finder (
However, deleting duplicate files can
be risky, whether you do so manually,
or use an automatic tool. You might
accidentally delete important system files,
for example, or backup copies of your
personal files.
No matter how you discover duplicates
we suggest you take great care when
removing them. Never remove anything
you don’t recognise and consider moving
any duplicate images, documents and so
on to an external drive rather than deleting
them altogether. This will free up space
on your PC’s main hard drive, but provide
you with a backup of your suspected
duplicates, should you ever discover that
you’ve removed something important.
you want to remove was
installed. Click this, then click
‘Scan for affected programs’ –
you’ll see a list of other programs
that will be removed or restored
as a result of restoring your PC to
this point. Make a note of these
so that you can reinstall or
remove as required once the
Restore your PC to before you
restore process is complete.
installed the program
As a last resort, you could
Another way to get rid of stubborn
consider restoring from a system
programs is to use System Restore. Click
image backup made before the
Start, type system restore, press Enter,
program was installed (if you
Good uninstaller tools, like Wise Program Uninstaller,
also clean up leftover files after removing a program
then click System Restore. Check ‘Choose have one). However, bear in
a different restore point’, click Next, then
mind that doing this will also
tick the ‘Show more restore points’ box
return all your files to the state
What you shouldn’t do is manually delete
(see screenshot below) and look for a
they were when you made the backup.
files and folders you find in your Program
restore point created before the program
One way around this would be to make a
Files, Program Data or Windows folders.
separate backup of your files
Randomly removing files here can cause
as they currently are, then
other programs – and possibly even
restore these after you restore
Windows itself – to become unstable.
your system image, but the
Many dedicated uninstaller tools
process is a hassle and best
will prompt you to perform a deep clean
avoided, if possible.
after you carry out any standard
installation, and some appear to work
What if a program I
better than others. IObit Uninstaller’s
uninstall leaves files
Powerful scan, for example, often missed
registry entries and residual files that
Sadly, far too many programs
Wise Program Uninstaller was able to
leave clutter in their wake
uncover (see screenshot above). It’s safe
when you uninstall them.
to carry out a deep clean but, as ever, we
Most of this is harmless, but
recommend creating a system restore
If you can’t uninstall a program, restore your PC to a time
it’s messy and takes up space. point before any uninstallation.
before it was installed to remove it
NEXT ISSUE On sale Wednesday 5 July
Expert instructions for secret tools in
Search, Gmail, Chrome, Maps & more
5 July
Plus • Change the settings that
keep your PC slow
• Can you really make
money using Bing & Edge?
Subscribe to Computeractive at
56 21 June – 4 July 2017
Help With Hobbies
There’s so much more to the weather than what the
weatherman says. Mike Plant explains how to keep
an eye on the sky – without leaving your house
Turn your phone into a
If you have a smartphone it’s probably
fitted with a barometer. It helps to correct
inaccuracies in your phone’s GPS tracking
when you’re at any kind of altitude. Most
people don’t make use of the barometer
itself because they don’t know it’s there,
but by installing the right app you can
use your phone to monitor atmospheric
Android users should try Barometer
Reborn ( or mu
Barometer (also known as µBarometer:, while iOS
users should install Barometer &
Altimeter (
Don’t be disappointed if the apps don’t
show you too much information at first
– they can take about three hours before
they display pressure charts and other
data (this will all happen in the bakground
so you can continue using your phone as
normal). To access charts and trends in
mu Barometer, for example, tap the Settings
icon (the cog at the bottom left), then tick
‘Show pressure graph’ and ‘Show
Altimeter Indicator’ (see screenshot left).
Record rainfall in an app
Tick these boxes to see atmospheric pressure
trends on the mu Barometer Android app
Coin collecting
As a keen coin collector, I was eager to
see what programs you might suggest
for cataloguing a collection (Issue 501,
page 57). As it turns out you
recommended OpenNumismat, a
program I’d dabbled with in the past
myself. As good as it is, I wanted to
suggest another program: Excel. I
customised a spreadsheet to make it
perfect for my collection and can even
paste images of each coin into it. Even
better, as it’s an Excel spreadsheet, I can
open it on my friends’ PCs without any
trouble. Sometimes the easiest
solutions really are the best.
Douglas Cook
Send your own tips covering any of
our past Help With Hobbies pages to
Tracking how much rain falls on your
garden or allotment can help if you grow
fruit and vegetables. Free Android app,
Rainlogger ( 24640),
lets you keep track of multiple rain
gauges (like this one available for £6 from
Amazon: that
you place across your garden. You need to
check on each rain gauge at roughly the
same time each day.
First install the app, choose a unit of
measure, then tap the ‘+’ icon to start
adding your rain gauges. Add a name (for
example, ‘allotment’), then enter the size
of your rain gauge (250mm, for example).
As you place your rain gauge, tap ‘Get
current GPS’ to add your gauge’s exact
location. Tap Save, then tap the name of
the gauge to open it.
When the calendar screen opens, tap
the relevant date, use the slider to record
the amount of rainfall and add any notes
in the ‘More information’ section. To see
graphs of your recorded rainfall, tap the
Settings icon (the three horizontal lines at
the top left), then Charts. iOS users can
use the similar Rain Log app (www., $2.99 – around £2.30).
Where the wind blows
Windy’s website (
24607) and app (Android: www.snipca.
com/24619, iOS:
24620) lets you keep track of wind
Click this to access Windy’s hidden settings
menu to see more information
strength and direction across the world.
You can also add overlays of cloud cover,
temperature, rainfall and so on using the
icons on the right. For even more control,
click the three vertical dots (see
screenshot above) to see a series of sliders
that will let you tweak it.
Scientific cloud gazing
If you want to categorise passing clouds a
little more scientifically than the usual
‘that one looks like a dog’, then the
International Cloud Atlas – the official
site of the World Meteorological
Organization – is well worth a visit
( It has pages
of information on clouds, but if you’re
only after the basics you’ll find photos of
the recognised cloud types at www., and you’ll find a flow
chart designed to help you correctly
identify any cloud that’s overhead at
Where is it snowing now?
We might be in the midst of a British
summer, but it’s still snowing somewhere.’s maps (www.snipca.
com/24609) let you see where it will
snow in the next week. Snowfall is
indicated by colour gradients, starting
with green (1-10cm) and progressing
through orange, cyan, purple, yellow and
red (150-250cm). Click any map to
enlarge it. Some maps are covered by live
camera feeds. To see if any are available,
click the Webcams link at the bottom of
each map, then click the icons that
appear on the map to see footage.
21 June – 4 July 2017 57
adverts from
Windows 10
Windows 10 is rife with adverts, suggestions and nags intent on selling you
Microsoft products. Mike Plant explains what you need to do to switch them off
ou’ll recognise the screenshot
below as Windows 10’s Start
menu. To be exact, it’s the
untouched, mint condition Start
menu that greets you when you reset
Windows 10 using the ‘Reset this PC’ tool
(see Issue 498, page 58, for more on that).
Now take a closer look: how many
adverts can you see? We’ll give you a clue,
there are more adverts than you have
fingers on one hand… no make that two
hands – we counted 13 in total.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Microsoft subjects you to all kinds of
promotional material as you use
Windows 10. Keep reading and we’ll tell
you how to stop all of Windows 10’s
adverts – starting with those in the
Start menu.
Disable every Start
menu advert
Look at the screenshot below left and
you’ll see the Start menu is indeed a rife
with sponsored content. We’ve ringed
two obvious examples – the advert for the
game Dead Rising 4 available on the
Microsoft Store app and the orange Get
Office tile just above it – but others are
more subtle.
The Skype Preview app, for example,
isn’t the full Skype app (which you can
get from
Instead it’s a beta version that’s not fully
developed. The five games in the Play
section (after the Solitaire app) aren’t
apps you have installed on your PC, but
adverts that take you to the Windows 10
Store if you click them.
The Phototastic tile (to the
left of Get Office) also directs
you to the Store, as does the
Keeper Password Manager tile
(the padlock at the bottom
right of the Explore section)
and the Facebook, Twitter and
MSN News tiles.
Fortunately, getting rid of
tiles that take you to the
Windows Store is pretty
straightforward. Right-click
each in turn and select ‘Unpin
from Start’. The Skype Preview
app is a little different. For this
you need to right-click it, click
Uninstall, then Uninstall again.
Removing the advert from
Windows Store app (Dead
The Start menu comes riddled with adverts that look like
standard tiles
Rising 4 in our example, but it
58 21 June – 4 July 2017
Stopping app suggestions reduces the
number of adverts and tidies your Start menu
could be any app) is different again.
Right-click the tile, click More, then
‘Turn Live Tile off’.
Remove ‘suggested’
Start menu apps
Another irritating intervention on your
Start menu are app suggestions, which
appear in the Suggested section of your
Start menu (see screenshot above). The
way to stop these nuisances is to hide the
Suggested section entirely.
To do that, right-click the suggested
app in the list, click ‘Turn off all
suggestions’, then in the window that
appears, switch off the ‘Occasionally
show suggestions in Start’ slider.
Avoid lock screen adverts
There’s a good chance that the last time
you logged on to your PC you saw an
Disable ‘Windows spotlight’ to stop adverts on
your lock screen for Microsoft products
advert. They sit on the Windows 10 lock
screen and try to flog you Microsoft’s
apps and programs (see screenshot
above). However, some adverts completely
takeover the lock screen. The most famous
example was an advert for a Tomb Raider
computer game that took you directly to
its listing on the Windows Store.
To block these adverts, you need to
change your lock-screen type from
‘Windows spotlight’ to Picture. To do
this, click Start, Settings, Personalization,
‘Lock screen’ (on the left), then select
Picture from the Background dropdown
menu. Choose an image (click Browse to
select one of your own), then move the
‘Get fun facts...’ slider to Off.
If you want to continue using
‘Windows spotlight’, you can control the
image shown while on the lock screen.
Simply click the ‘Like what you see?’ link
in the top-right corner, then ‘Not a fan’.
This won’t prevent adverts from appearing,
but will let you dismiss them when they do.
Tame taskbar pop-ups
Keen to increase the take-up rate of its
Edge browser, Microsoft bombards you
with pop-ups on the taskbar urging you
to give it a go. If you’re tired of seeing
‘Learn more with Microsoft Edge’
notifications, for example, you can
stop them.
With its recent Windows 10 Creators
Update (see our Cover Feature in Issue
501), Microsoft managed to smuggle in a
new advertising method buried within
File Explorer.
These adverts only appear from time
to time, but when they do they typically
take up the top third of the File Explorer
window. So far they’ve been used to steer
people towards OneDrive (Microsoft’s
Click Start, Settings, System,
‘Notifications & actions’, scroll down
to the Notifications section, then switch
off the ‘Get tips, tricks and suggestions
as you use Windows’ slider (see
screenshot below left). While you’re
here, you should also switch off the
slider immediately beneath it to stop
Microsoft bombarding you with
messages about Windows latest features
whenever there’s an update.
Stop seeing Office365 offers
Besides slapping a Get Office tile on
your Start menu, Microsoft also nags
you with pop-ups that try to sell its
Office365 subscription package. One way
to stop these is to delete the Get Office
app altogether. Open the Start menu,
right-click the app, click Uninstall, then
Uninstall again.
However, Get Office can reappear –
following major Windows updates
(such as the Anniversary and Creators
Updates). Therefore, instead of
uninstalling the app entirely, you can
simply banish its nags. To do that, click
Start, Settings, then ‘Notifications &
actions’. Scroll down to the ‘Get
notifications from these senders’ section
and switch off the Get Office slider.
If you don’t see the Get Office slider,
it means you’ve uninstalled the app
already or the app hasn’t yet nagged
you with any offers. If the latter is
the case, when the Office365
pop-ups appear go through the
instructions above.
Banish OneDrive nags
Stop Microsoft promoting its Edge browser and
other features by turning these sliders off
online storage service), but there’s nothing
to stop Microsoft using the space to sell
just about anything.
To stop these adverts, open File
Explorer, click View, Options, ‘Change
folder and search options’, the View tab,
then scroll down through the ‘Advanced
settings’ and untick the ‘Show sync
provider notifications’ box. Click Apply to
save your changes.
Should you ever fill the free 5GB
space you get with your OneDrive
account, you’ll soon start seeing
pop-ups advising you to buy extra
space. To stop these notifications,
click Start, Settings, System,
‘Notifications & actions’, then scroll
down to the ‘Get notifications from
Even Windows Ink displays suggested apps –
but you can turn them off
these senders’ section and switch off the
slider next to OneDrive.
Silence Cortana
Left unchecked, Microsoft’s digital
personal assistant Cortana is likely to pipe
up with suggestions and Microsoft offers
– known as ‘Taskbar tidbits’. To disable
these you need to delve into Cortana’s
settings. Click the Cortana search bar (it’s
usually just to right of the Start menu
button), the Settings (cog) icon, then
switch off the ‘Taskbar tidbits’ slider.
Stop Windows Ink suggestions
Microsoft’s stylus-supporting tool
Windows Ink might be more suited to use
on a tablet or touchscreen PC, but you
can still use it to draw and jot down notes
on a non-touchscreen PC. To open it,
right-click the taskbar, click ‘Show
Windows Ink Workspace button’, then
click the button that appears in the
notifications area. Annoyingly, this also
launches adverts for suggested apps (see
screenshot above). To stop seeing these,
click Start, Settings, Devices, ‘Pen &
Windows Ink’, then switch off the ‘Show
recommended app suggestions’ slider.
21 June – 4 July 2017 59
the world
from your PC
From planes to trains, and eagles to sharks,
the web can be used to track just about
anything in real time. Mike Plant reveals
the best websites and apps to watch
the world go by
t the very moment we write
this a great white shark is
patrolling the waters just a few
miles off the coast of Brentonon-Sea, South Africa; the International
Space Station (ISS) is directly above the
North Atlantic Ocean (at 6.523, -12.789
to be exact); an East Midlands Train
(registration C81986) has just left
Derby bound for Crewe; and a bald
eagle is having a rest in the Plum Tree
Island National Wildlife Refuge in
Virginia, USA.
How do we know? Because we’ve
found apps and websites that turn
complex satellite and tracking data into
real-time maps that we can watch on
our PC, tablet and mobile phone
whenever we want. Read on to find out
how you can track all of the above and
plenty more besides.
Ocearch shark tracker
Find out if it really is safe to go back in
the water by keeping tabs on sharks
Thankfully – for us, at least – ‘Carl’ the great
white shark doesn’t leave US waters
60 21 June – 4 July 2017
around the world.
thrown in for good
Ocearch’s website shows a
measure). Download the
map of the world with
Animal Tracker app
tracked sharks represented
(Android or iOS). Once
by a dot (see screenshot
done, you’ll see the world
below left). The red dots
map with numbered icons
indicate sharks that have
on it. Tap any icon to zoom
recently been tracked,
in and see the individual
while the blue dots are
birds, then tap one to see
those that haven’t been
its information and
seen for 30 days because
movement data (see
the shark hasn’t come near
screenshot). You can also
the surface. Click a dot,
tap the star icon to mark
then click ‘Shark profile’ to Keep tabs on bird migration
it as a favourite so you can
patterns using the Animal
find out the species and
find it more quickly
Tracker app
gender of the shark, and to
next time.
see any available photos. You can also
click the ‘View track’ button to see an
overlay of the shark’s movements on
the map.
WWF polar bear map
Flightradar24 lets you identify any
plane flying overhead, or see the air
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) uses
traffic across the entire world. Just go
data from radio collars fitted to female
to the website to see a map displaying
polar bears to map their locations
thousands of moving plane icons – each
(apparently the collars won’t fit on males
one representing a real aircraft. Click an
as their necks are broader than their
aircraft to see its designation, destination,
heads). Click any of the polar bear icons
speed and more – you’ll also see a blue
on the map to get more information
line indicating its flight path so far. Click
about that bear, including images and
the ‘+’ and ‘-’ signs on the right, or use
details of any cubs it has.
the scroll wheel on your mouse, to zoom
in and out. You can subscribe for $9.99 a
Animal Tracker
year (around £7.70) for even more plane
information and to remove the adverts.
Ideal for ornithologists, Animal Tracker
There are also Android (www.snipca.
lets you follow the migratory routes of
com/24583) and iOS (www.snipca.
birds around the world, including bald
com/24584) apps that let you access
eagles, black vultures and ospreys (there
the same information on your tablet
are even a couple of flying fox bats
and phone.
By plotting live data from the UK’s
various train operators on a map, Raildar
pinpoints the exact location of the
locomotives across the country’s rail
network. You won’t quite see the trains
move in real-time as with Flightradar24;
instead the map refreshes every few
seconds. Each train is colour coded
according to its operator. Click one to
see its timetable information.
going. You can also get a free Vessel
Finder app for Android (www.snipca.
com/24586) and iOS (www.snipca.
ISS Tracker
Until we started watching the
International Space Station orbit the
earth we hadn’t fully appreciated just
how quickly it’s moving – around
17,000mph. ISS Tracker overlays a live
feed of the ISS’s location, showing where
on Earth it’s passing over. You can tweak
the horizon line, the orbital path and the
units (Imperial or Metric) using the tick
boxes at the bottom of the map (see
screenshot below).
Click any train on Raildar to see its timetable
and news of delays
Traffic England
You won’t see individual cars, but Traffic
England does show you a live map of
traffic flow across the UK’s major roads
based on information provided by
sensors on the roads. Green means the
traffic is flowing freely, while yellow, red
and black (in order of decreasing traffic
flow) indicate slow-moving traffic and
jams. A road that displays a chequered
pattern is currently closed.
Earth weather map
ISS Tracker gives a good sense of just how
quickly the space station is moving
The Sky Live
This online planetarium shows an
interactive map of space that lets you
monitor planets, asteroids, comets and
space probes. Use your mouse to rotate
the view and zoom in and out using the
slider at the top-right (or the mouse
wheel). To find a particular type of space
object, click it in the bar along the top
(Comets for example), then click or
search for the object’s name. Click the
High Precision Live Sky Chart link (see
screenshot below) to see information of
that object’s present, past and future
journey through space.
Called simply ‘earth’, this planet-wide
view displays weather systems, oceansurface temperature, ocean waves and
pollution levels. Click and drag the earth
to spin it and use the mouse wheel to
zoom in and out. Click ‘earth’ at the
bottom-left to change the info displayed.
For example, click Ocean (to the left of
Mode), then Waves (see screenshot
below) to see an overlay of average wave
speed and direction.
Earth lets you see overlays
of weather, ocean
temperature, waves and pollution
UK rainfall
The MET Office’s UK rainfall radar map
shows rain across the country. Blue areas
indicate light showers, with green,
yellow, orange, red, purple and white
indicating ever heavier rainfall. Click the
play button at the map’s base to watch
the last few hours of rain.
Vessel Finder
The nautical equivalent of Flightradar24,
Vessel Finder shows the location of
ships across the seven seas. Zoom out
to see global sea traffic and click
individual ships to see information
including a photo, the ship’s
designation and details of where it’s
To save yourself
having to text the
person you’re on
the way to meet
that you’re ‘nearly
there’, you can let
them track your
location via Google
Maps instead.
Open Google Maps
on your tablet or
phone, tap the
three horizontal
lines to the left of the search bar, then
tap ‘Share location’. Click the contact
icon (top-right – see screenshot), then
choose an amount of time you want to
share your location with this person.
Next, tap ‘Select people’, select the
relevant contact(s), then tap Share. The
recipient will receive an email with a
link that opens Google Maps with your
location shown in real time.
Tube Map Live
For those interested in the London
Underground, the Tube Map Live app for
iOS is a must (sadly the app, or an
equivalent, isn’t available on Android). It
shows trains as they move in real-time
and also displays a live ticker-tape feed of
the current status of each line. Pinch the
screen to zoom in and out and tap any
line shown on the ticker tape to hide the
trains on that particular line.
Once you have chosen a space object to keep
an eye on, click this to see its exact location
• See Help with Hobbies, page 57, for more
meteorological tips
21 June – 4 July 2017 61
Problems Solved
Can I still use
dial-up internet?
We’re retiring to a green and
pleasant part of this country.
Broadband is coming to our
remote region but not until the end of
the year. Obviously, I need a way to
connect in the meantime. I thought a
mobile broadband dongle might do but
scouting trips suggest that the signal is
patchy — so there’s no guarantee we’ll
get a connection that way. It occurred
to me that I still have my old 56Kbps
modem somewhere, last used over a
decade ago. Would it be possible to use
this for a basic online connection?
Would it work with my Windows 10
PC? If so, how would I go about it?
Whatever happened to the dial-up
panel in Windows? I really don’t know
where to begin, or even if it’s
worthwhile — but I only need an email
link, so perhaps dial-up would do?
Pat Fuller
My laptop is out of action so I’m
having to use an ancient
(second-generation) Nexus 7
tablet. Control is either via very amateur
finger tapping at the on-screen keyboard
together with an unresponsive stylus, or
a Bluetooth keyboard in use for the first
time. My productivity is currently
severely curtailed, and I really miss not
being able to use a mouse. Is there any
way to use a mouse with my tablet? I
currently have two PC mice — a wireless
Logitech and very old wired Dell.
David Bensley
Yes, it’s possible. A 56Kbps
connection would be painfully
slow but it would suffice for
We can’t say for certain whether or
not your current modem would work
with your Windows 10 PC. If the
modem is on an expansion card and
you have a desktop PC, open up your
PC, plug the modem into a spare PCI
slot and see what happens. Windows 10
has a load of basic drivers built in, but
it’s also good at downloading the latest
versions of software where available.
The same is true for an external
modem that connects via USB, so if
that’s what your modem is then plug it
in and see what happens. If you’ve
retained the modem’s original driver
disc and Windows prompts you for it,
then pop it in and hope for the best.
If your PC won’t recognise or work
with the old modem then modern
replacements are reasonably affordable
(such as this £11 model from Amazon
64 21 June – 4 July 2017
Can I use a mouse
with my tablet?
You can, and it’s really easy. All
you need is what’s known as a
USB OTG (on-the-go) cable,
which can be bought very cheaply (99p
from Amazon, for example, from www., pictured below). Pop
the small (male) end of this into your
Nexus 7 and then slot your mouse’s
standard USB connector into the OTG
cable’s (female) socket. No further setup
is required. A mouse pointer should
appear on your tablet’s screen in just a
few seconds.
Incidentally, we’re assuming that the
wireless mouse has its own USB wirelesstransmitter dongle. This should work just
as well when plugged into the OTG cable.
However, be warned that your Nexus will
have to power the wireless connection
and this will cause the battery to drain
much quicker whenever you’re using the
Set up a dial-up connection in Windows 10
via the ‘Network & Internet’ setting
Once you have the modem installed
then you’ll need to set up a dial-up
connection. Once upon a time this
would have involved a monthly
subscription to an ISP. But today, and
for your purposes, a pay-as-you-go
service such as Freeola (www.freeola.
com) will do the job — it charges 2p per
minute for access.
In Windows 10, click Start followed
by the settings cog, then ‘Network &
Internet’ followed by Dial-up. Next,
click ‘Set up a new connection’ (see
screenshot), ‘Connect to the Internet’,
then Next. Now click Dial-up and then
fill in the form with the connection
details (for Freeola, this means typing
0845 123 2035 in the ‘Dial-up phone
number’ box and then anything in the
‘User name’ and Password boxes). Tick
‘Remember this password’, then click
Create followed by Close.
When you’re ready to connect, return
to the Dial-up screen in ‘Network &
internet’, click Dial-up Connection
followed by Connect, then Dial.
Finally, wait for those familiar
dial-up screeches — and perhaps
prepare to emit some yourself when
you’re reminded just how slow this
form of internet is!
Connect a USB OTG cable like this to control
your tablet using a mouse
Our experts solve all your tech problems
Email us your problem and we’ll try to help:
Can I add my Wi-Fi card to my laptop’s
white list?
I bought an 802.11ac
wireless router, and
wanted to update my
HP laptop to make full use of
802.11ac’s faster speeds. I bought a
replacement Wi-Fi card, which I
fitted without problems. However,
when I powered up I got an error
message. This is apparently down to
the BIOS having a ‘white list’ that
won’t allow such upgrades. Is this
Make sure you can upgrade your laptop’s Wi-Fi
correct? If so, am I stuck with the
card before trying to fit a replacement
old card, or is there a way to get around
the white list? The new network card is
includes the Wi-Fi card.
an Intel Wireless-AC 7260 (pictured).
HP is not alone in applying firmwareMark Brittain level white lists, though they very rarely
affect the most commonly upgraded parts
You’re not going to like our
(meaning the hard drive and memory).
answer but you’ve almost
But a Wi-Fi card is a radio transmitter
certainly wasted your money.
and HP must adhere to all sorts of
For better or worse the ‘white list’ is real,
international and local regulations. So,
and implemented by HP at the firmware
even though it’s relatively easy to replace
level to prevent the installation of parts
the physical component, getting the
not considered to be officially compatible. necessary legal permissions to use a
The white list applies only to certain
particular part in a particular territory is
components, but sadly for you this
a whole different ball game.
The only way to get around this
would be to replace the BIOS with a
‘hacked’ version that removes the
built-in white list. While this is not
impossible it can be very difficult, and
is also fraught with risk. Getting it
wrong could render your laptop
permanently useless.
In the first instance we’d suggest
checking your laptop’s manual for a list
of supported (‘white listed’) components.
If that list happens to include an 802.11ac
Wi-Fi card then you’re in luck – you can
buy and fit that part. If you don’t have the
manual, you should be able to download
it from
The only alternative is to ‘flash’ the
BIOS with a hacked version. For security
reasons alone we wouldn’t recommend
this but if you’re determined to proceed
visit the forums at
Search for your exact laptop model and
BIOS version and see what the
community has to say.
Why does Windows break my touchpad?
I have this strange problem.
When I switch on my
Windows laptop the built-in
touchpad works right up until I actually
access Windows. What I mean is that
on the Windows login screen I can
move my finger across the touchpad
and the cursor will move, as expected.
However, when Windows properly
launches that’s it – no more touchpad
control! It’s driving me potty. Any
Jonathan Willis
Your laptop relies on a basic,
default driver right up until
Windows has finished
launching. At that point, the touchpad’s
driver should take over, enabling any
additional features that it might have —
such as smartphone-style multitouch
gestures or swipes to scroll through
The fact that your
touchpad is working
right up until Windows
takes over means that –
for whatever reason – the
device’s own driver has
been disabled. We can’t
say how or why this
happened but it’s easy
enough to switch it
back on.
Click Start, then the
settings cog, then click
Devices followed by
Touchpad. Next, in the
Re-enable your failed touchpad’s driver in Mouse Properties
right-hand pane under
‘Related settings’ click
‘Additional settings’. In the Mouse
(there should be only one), then click
Properties box that appears, select the
Enable (see screenshot) followed by OK.
Device Settings tab, make sure the
Your touchpad should work right
touchpad is selected under Devices
away but, if not, a restart should fix it.
21 June – 4 July 2017 65
Problems Solved
How do I ditch
Windows 10
I have been a subscriber to
Computeractive for many
years and always found it
very useful. I now need your help
with a specific problem. I am not
happy with the Windows 10 Photos
app, and want instead to be able to
access each photo for editing or
repair using another image-editing
program that I have always used. Can
you please tell me how to do this? At
one time it was easy, but since
Windows 10 everything seems more
difficult to find.
Paul Bentley
You didn’t tell us which
program you want to use,
but can you first check it’s
definitely installed. If not, do so and,
if prompted, allow it to manage all
the file types it’s able to handle — or
at least JPEG, which is the file format
used by most digital photos. Once
that’s done, simply double-clicking a
photo file in File Explorer will launch
your preferred image-editing tool.
If this doesn’t work, or you had
the other tool installed before
upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1 to
Windows 10, then you need to tell
the operating system to use that tool
instead of the Photos app. First, press
Windows key+E to launch File
Explorer, then right-click a photo
file, point to ‘Open with’, then click
‘Choose another app’.
Next, under the ‘Other options’
heading (see screenshot), scroll
through the list of programs to find
the one you want, click to select, tick
the ‘Always use this box to open
[.jpg] files’, then click OK.
Can I speed up random-text creation?
I’ve been dabbling with
document design using Word
2013. For layout purposes, I
sometimes need to create placeholder
text columns that I fill with dummy
(random) ‘Lorem Ipsum’ text (see
screenshot below) from the website This website is very
useful because it generates an exact
number of paragraphs, and I then cut
and paste the results into Word. However,
I wonder if there’s a way to automate this
process. Is a macro the answer?
Carl Holland
You don’t need a macro. Word
2013 actually has its own Lorem
Ipsum text generator, which is
accessed at any time simply by typing
=lorem() within the document and then
pressing Enter. That will create five
paragraphs of random text. If you want to
specify a specific number, type a number
in the brackets, such as =lorem(7). You
can even specify how many sentences
there are in each paragraph. Typing
=lorem(7,2) (see screenshot below), for
instance, will give you seven paragraphs
of two sentences in length.
‘Lorem Ipsum’ text is useful as a placeholder
when laying out documents
Adding numbers to this formula gives you a
specific quantity of Lorem Ipsum paragraphs
a photo file,
then click
app’ for
options to
edit your
66 21 June – 4 July 2017
Do I need all these Nvidia updates?
It’s always sensible to have
the latest drivers installed.
However, GeForce Experience
itself is really all about ensuring your
system is optimised for specific games.
If you’re not playing these games then
these drivers and settings are unlikely
to be of any benefit to you so no, you
don’t need them.
In fact, you don’t need GeForce
Experience either. It’s not itself a driver,
but a ‘companion’ app that both keeps
the card’s driver up to date and optimises
the settings for a wide variety of popular
games. If you don’t
use anything that it
offers then feel free
to uninstall it.
In Windows 10,
first click Start,
the settings cog,
followed by Apps.
Now scroll through
the list of installed
apps to find then
click GeForce
Experience. Finally,
Uninstall twice
Uninstall GeForce Experience in ‘Apps & features’ to stop unnecessary
(see screenshot).
I recently installed an Nvidia
GeForce GT 740 graphics card.
Because of the regularity of
its driver updates I have disabled the
automatic driver update option in
GeForce Experience. The updates all
seem to be associated with optimising it
for the latest video games and are usually
hundreds of megabytes in size. Video
games will never feature on my PC,
although I like to dabble with video
editing. Do I really need these regular
driver updates?
John Reynolds
Can I dial with voice commands alone?
I have a hands-free device
clipped to my car’s sun visor
for receiving calls. However, I
cannot make a call without going to
Contacts on my Nexus 5 phone, so cannot
make calls on the move. Could you advise
me whether there is an app that would
dial entries in the Contacts app by using
voice commands? It would have to work
offline as I don’t have data as part of my
John Miller
Your phone can already do this.
If you have Android 6.0.1
installed, which is the latest and
last edition available for the Nexus 5, then
it should be enabled by default.
The Nexus 5’s voice commands are
truly hands-free, so you can dial without
taking even a finger off the wheel. This
makes it legal to use, but not necessarily
safe. Visit Gov.UK’s website (www.snipca.
com/24568) to review the law and
government advice on using a mobile
phone when driving.
To use it, say “OK Google” followed by
“Call” and then the name of the relevant
contact — “OK Google call John Smith”,
for example. No internet connection is
required for using basic commands
like this. If it doesn’t work, first check
that your phone is up to date. From the
home screen tap Settings, then swipe up
and tap ‘About phone’ — right at the
bottom. Now tap ‘System updates’ and, if
an update is available, tap Download
followed by ‘Restart & Install’. You might
need to repeat this several times to bring
your phone right up to date.
If voice dialling still doesn’t work,
check that the feature is enabled. Return
to Settings but this time tap ‘Language &
input’ followed by ‘Google voice typing’.
Enable voice dialling on your phone by
switching this setting on
Now tap ‘”Ok Google” detection’ [sic],
and slide the ‘From any screen’ and
switch to the On position.
Why am I upside down in Skype?
Why am I upside down when
making video calls with Skype?
Several people have tried to
help me correct this, but to no avail.
Can you help?
Julie Bird
This will be because of an
option in your webcam’s
driver. These often include a
setting to flip or mirror the image,
because the screens of many laptops
can now be rotated through 180 degrees.
In Skype, click Tools followed by
Options. Now, in the left-hand pane,
click ‘Video settings’ and then, in the
right-hand pane, click ‘Webcam
settings’. The settings panel will depend
on your laptop’s webcam, but you’re
probably looking for a tickbox labelled
Flip: either tick or clear it, as appropriate.
If you can’t find such an option then
you can install a ‘virtual’ webcam driver
to give you the options you need, and
many more besides. Grab and install the
free version of ManyCam from www.
In ManyCam’s virtual webcam driver click ‘Flip vertically’… We’d suggest clearing
the tick from the ‘Add MyStartShield
extension to Google Chrome’ box when
prompted, because you don’t want
or need it.
In ManyCam, select the Video tab
then, under the ‘Flip & Rotate’
heading near the bottom, click ‘Flip
vertically’. Now switch back to the
‘Video settings’ pane in Skype,
open the dropdown menu next to
‘Select webcam’ and choose
ManyCam Virtual Webcam.
…then select ManyCam in Skype’s Video settings
21 June – 4 July 2017 67
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Problems Solved
What’s the difference between...
megabits and megabytes?
I switched to Virgin
broadband for its 300Mbps
speed. In my chats with Virgin
its staff kept saying ‘megabits per
second’, when I always thought it was
‘megabytes per second’. It was then
that I realised I don’t actually know the
difference! I was too embarrassed to
ask Virgin, so will you help me out?
I’ve see both megabits and megabytes
mentioned in your magazine.
Sid Haslam
These two terms sound very
similar but they’re
fundamentally different units,
and by an order of magnitude.
There’s history behind why megabits
per second (or ‘Mbps’) became the
preferred measurement for broadband
speeds. In the online world’s earliest
days connections were measured in
‘bits per second’ (‘bps’), meaning
literally the number of individual bits
of computer data that could be
transported across a
line each second. Later,
as speeds improved,
this became thousands
of bits (kilobits) per
second and then
millions — megabits.
However, an
individual bit isn’t
much use to humans:
it’s either a one or a
Eight megabits are equal to one megabyte
zero. A group of eight
of those ones and zeros represents a
broadband. Modern broadband speeds
‘byte’. A byte can be used to store an
are actually fast enough to be usefully
individual character, such as a letter of
measured in MB/s — a 300Mbps
the alphabet. A kilobyte is a thousand
connection is 37.5MB/s, for example —
bytes (actually 1,024, but let’s keep it
but that’s just not the convention.
simple), and a megabyte just over a
This question is a fine example of
million of them.
how easily some terminologies and
Like most of the industry we use ‘Mbps’ technologies are all too easily confused,
to denote ‘megabits per second’, and
so we’ve decided to make a regular
‘MB/s’ for ‘megabytes per second’. The
feature of it in Problems Solved.
latter is generally used when referring to
Want to know the difference between
memory or drive-transfer speeds, as these
technical terms? Email us at noproblem@
devices work much quicker than
What are all these and desktop.ini files?
I am using Windows 10 and I’ve
recently noticed some small files
appearing in various places
usually called or desktop.ini.
It seems the files can be deleted without
causing problems, but why have they
suddenly appeared? What are they
for? Can they be stopped?
John Castree
those thumbnails. Desktop.ini, on the
other hand, stores specific information
about a folder, such as how and where it’s
displayed when you open it.
No harm will come of deleting these
files but the operation of the related
These files are completely
normal and you’ll find
them all over your hard
drive, but only if you’ve enabled an
option to show system files. Our
guess is that you did that recently,
perhaps in response to some
unrelated advice we’ve offered.
They’re created automatically by
Windows, both to save time and to
remember settings. Thumbs.db will
be created in any folder that
contains images and in which you’ve
viewed those images as thumbnails.
It’s a cache file used by Windows to
Select this option in the Folder Options settings to
hide thumbnail and desktop information files
speed up subsequent display of
folders might slow down slightly. They’ll
also be recreated regularly, so it’s a bit
pointless. There is a registry hack to
prevent the creation of thumbs.db, but
it’s better to hide system files unless or
until you need to deal with them.
In any folder window, select the View
tab, click Options, then ‘Change folder
and search options’. Now, in the Folder
Options box, select the View tab and,
under ‘Advanced settings’, choose ‘Don’t
show hidden files, folders, or drives’ (see
screenshot), then click OK.
July 5
• How do I remove words
from’s dictionary?
• Why is Outlook slowing down
my PC?
• What’s wrong with my System
...And many more
Subscribe to Computeractive
21 June – 4 July 2017 69
Problems Solved
Reader Support
Having a problem with our recommended software or expert tips?
Email and we’ll do our best to help
Can an old Chromecast
cast my desktop?
In Issue 503 (page 27), you describe
how to use a Chromecast to use a TV
as a monitor, but I have a first-generation
Chromecast and the method doesn’t
work. Am I correct in assuming that
only the new Chromecast (www.snipca.
com/24595) can stream my PC’s desktop
to the TV?
Ron Duncan
The original Chromecast should be
able to cast your PC’s desktop in
the same way as the second-generation
version. First, plug your Chromecast into
your TV as normal, then use your TV
remote to select it from your TV’s input
options. Next, open Chrome, click the
menu icon (the three vertical dots at the
top right), then click Cast. When the ‘Cast
to’ box opens, look for the small arrow
just to the right of the ‘Cast to’ header,
click it, then click ‘Cast desktop’ (see
screenshot below). Now click the name
of your Chromecast in the box. Click Yes
if a ‘Google Cast Screen Sharing Request’
pop-up message appears. Your PC’s
desktop should now appear on your TV
The firstgeneration
Chromecast can
cast your PC’s
desktop to your
TV but you must
make sure you
select the correct
Why won’t StExBar install?
option to ‘Run as Administrator’ doesn’t
appear. Any suggestions?
Dave Pearce
We didn’t encounter any problems
when installing StExBar, but it
sounds like your PC is struggling to gain
access to its registry, which is necessary
if it’s to install new programs. Because
the ‘Run as Administrator’ option isn’t
working for you, try logging on to your
PC’s Administrator account directly.
To do this, right-click the Start button,
then click Windows PowerShell (Admin).
Note, if your PC hasn’t updated to the
Creators Update yet, you’ll need to select
Command Prompt (Admin) instead. Either
way, next type net user administrator /
active:yes in the PowerShell box (or copy
the text from
raw/1NPpy9jx), then press Enter. Now
restart your PC. On the login screen,
select the new Administrator account,
which won’t require a password.
Try installing the program again. Once
it’s installed, restart your PC again and
log in using your own account, from where
you should be able to access StExBar.
Is ‘Mouse without Borders’
I was eager to try the ‘Mouse without
Borders’ tool covered in Issue 501
(page 58). I tried to set it up for two PCs,
but I didn’t see the ‘No’ prompt you
referred to when setting it up, meaning I
couldn’t get a security code.
Robert Brody
PC 1
The first thing to ensure when
setting up ‘Mouse without Borders’
(MWB) is that both of your PCs are
connected to the same network. Once
done, open MWB on both PCs. If this
was the first time you were opening it
you would see the prompt we referred to.
However, because you’ve already been
trying to use it, we’re going to assume
that it now opens to its main window
(the one with three tabs at the top –
Machine Setup, Other Options and
IP Mappings).
In this window (on both PCs), click
‘Go through the setup experience’ at the
bottom right, then click Yes. This will
make the ‘Let’s get started’ screen appear,
just as it would have done the first time
you opened MWB.
It’s important you set up each PC in
turn. So go first to the PC you consider
your main computer (we’ll refer to this as
PC 1), then click No on the ‘Let’s get
started’ screen. You’ll see an ‘Almost
done’ message, and under that you’ll see
a security code and your PC’s name (see
PC 1 screenshot below left).
Now go to your second computer (PC 2)
and click Yes. You’ll now see a screen
with two empty fields – ‘Security code’
and ‘Other computer’s name’. Enter the
code and the name of your main
computer into these fields exactly as they
appear on PC 1’s screen (it is case
sensitive – see PC 2 screenshot below).
Click Link (beneath the two fields) and
you should be able to control both PCs
with one mouse.
I tried to install StExBar while
following your Workshop in Issue
503 (page 38), but I keep seeing a
pop-up message that says ‘The system
administrator has set policies to prevent
this installation’. I’ve seen this message
before and the usual solution is to rightclick the installer, then click ‘Run as
Administrator’. This time, however, the
70 21 June – 4 July 2017
Enter the security
code and PC name
exactly as they
appear so that
‘Mouse without
Borders’ can connect
your PCs
PC 2
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PG540XL Black 21ml
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CL541 Colour 8ml
CL541XL Colour 15ml
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PGi5 Black 27ml
£4.99 Set of 6
CLi8 Colours 13ml
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PGi520/CLi521 Set of 5 £19.99
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PGi525/CLi526 Set of 5 £19.99 Frog Inks
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CLi551XL Colours 12ml
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PGi550/CLi551XL Set of 5 £19.99 Colours 13ml each
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CL41 Colour 24ml
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CL511 Colour 11ml
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Albums & Frames
We now stock a comprehensive range of frames, mounts, albums
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Jargon Buster
3G/4G A set of technologies that
delivers faster mobile broadband.
4K Video with a resolution of at
least 3840x2160 pixels.
720p A resolution of highdefinition video: 1280x720 pixels.
802.11ac A standard for wireless
networks that allows for higher
transfer speeds than 802.11n.
802.11n A standard for wireless
networks that allows for high
transfer speeds.
ADSL2 A newer, faster type of
ADSL broadband.
Bust more jargon in our A-Z book:
eMMC Flash storage commonly
found in cheap laptops and tablets.
It’s slower than a solid-state drive.
Expansion card A card that can
be fitted inside a desktop PC to
add extra functions or sockets.
Extension A program that adds
extra features to your browser.
Firmware Basic software stored
on a device, such as a music player,
to control its operation.
Frame rate The number of still
images, or frames, shown per
second to create a moving image.
LED Light-Emitting Diode. An
electronic device that emits light.
Used on almost all electronic
devices, and to provide the
backlight for some LCDs.
Loops A set musical pattern that
repeats itself.
M.2 A standard specification for
internal PC expansion cards and
Macro An automated series of
commands or options that can be
run at any time.
GHz Gigahertz. A measure of
how many instructions a chip can
process per second.
Megapixel A measure of the
amount of detail that can be
recorded by a digital image. A onemegapixel image is made up of a
million dots (pixels).
Beta A version of software that’s
being tested.
Gigabit Ethernet A very fast
networking standard that can
transfer data at up to 1,000Mbps.
MHL Mobile high-definition link. A
technology that lets you connect a
smartphone or tablet to a TV.
BIOS Basic Input-Output System.
Essential software that connects a
PC’s vital components.
Graphics card A component in a
computer that produces the image
shown on the monitor.
MicroSD card A small type of
memory card. Can be converted to
SD size using an adapter.
Blue light Light given off by PC
and phone screens.
HDMI High-definition media
interface. A type of connection that
transmits high-definition video and
audio signals.
Mini HDMI Downsized version of
the HDMI cable and connector to
accommodate smaller devices.
Benchmarking Comparing
software and products with an
accepted standard.
Browser hijackers Programs that
change your default browser, its
homepage and search engine.
Cache A temporary space for
storing information.
Cast To send content from your
PC, tablet or phone to a TV.
Crowdsourcing Obtaining ideas,
information or money from a large
group of people, usually online.
DirectX A Microsoft technology
required to run many games in
DisplayPort A new socket for
connecting monitors that’s still
relatively rare.
Driver A file that tells Windows how
to work with a connected device.
Dual band A mobile phone that
can work at two radio frequencies.
DVI Digital Visual Interface. A type
of display connector.
EPUB A file format used by many
popular ebook readers.
Hotspot A public area covered by
a Wi-Fi network that allows you to
access the internet.
HTML Hypertext Markup
Language. The language used to
write most web pages.
IMAP Internet Message Access
Protocol. A method for email that
lets the user manage messages
stored on a remote server.
IP68 International Protection
marking. IP68 means a device is
resistant to dust, dirt and sand, and
can be placed underwater for 30
minutes at depths of up to 1.5m.
IPS A screen technology. Monitors
that use it have wider viewing
angles and better, more accuratelooking colours.
JPEG Joint Photograph Experts
Group. A common type of image
file created by digital cameras.
LCD Liquid crystal display. The
technology used to create almost
all flatscreen monitors.
Modem A device that allows two
computers to communicate via a
phone line.
MP3 Audio file format.
Open source Software that can
be modified by anyone, rather
than just by the employees of the
company that created it.
Overclocking Making a
processor work faster to improve
performance at the cost of
requiring more power.
PCI slot Peripheral Component
Interconnect. A high-performance
expansion slot for desktop PCs.
Phishing A form of internet
fraud that tries to trick you into
revealing personal details.
Plug-in A small program that
adds extra features to software or
to your web browser.
Product key A unique serial
number that must be typed in by
the user before a program will
launch for the first time.
PUP Potentially unwanted
program. A program that may
not be desired, despite the user
consenting to it being downloaded.
Roaming charge Fee incurred for
using your phone to receive data
via overseas mobile networks.
SATA III The latest and fastest
version of the SATA interface
for connecting internal storage
devices to a computer.
SD card Secure Digital card. A
popular type of memory card.
Shadow copy The most recent
version of a file as saved by
SIM Subscriber Identity Module.
The smart card used by all digital
mobile phones.
sRGB A standard RGB colour
space for use on monitors,
printers and the internet.
SSD Solid-state drive. Storage
that, unlike a hard drive, uses no
moving parts.
System restore point Collection
of system files stored by System
Restore on a given date and time
to which Windows can revert.
USB 2.0/3.0 Faster successors to
USB that are used by devices such
as external hard drives.
USB Type-C A new connector
that’s reversible, letting you plug it
in upside down.
VDSL2 Very-high-bit-rate digital
subscriber line 2. Broadband data
tansmission technology capable
of upload and download rates in
excess of 100Mbit/s.
VGA Video Graphics Array. A
standard socket for connecting a
monitor to a computer.
VPN Virtual private network. A
technology for keeping all internet
communication safe and private.
Wi-Fi card A card inserted into
a laptop that makes it work over
Zero-day attack A malware or
security exploit that depends on a
previously unknown software flaw.
21 June – 4 July 2017 73
The Final Straw
This issue Ken Rigsby is being swamped by…
Computeractive’s Mr Angry
Windows overload
id you hear that there’s a new
version of Windows 10 on the way?
It’s called Windows 10 S. Microsoft
hasn’t revealed if the ‘S’ stands for
anything in particular but the company
boasts that it’s “streamlined for security
and superior performance”. Much of the
marketing is aimed at students, and it
will also come pre-installed on the new
Microsoft Surface laptop.
So, streamlined, secure, superior,
students, Surface. With all that alliteration
I imagine Microsoft’s marketing folks
looked at each other, shrugged, and quickly
agreed just to stick an ‘S’ on the end.
A key selling point is that if you use
Windows 10 S then your only source for
new apps will be the Windows Store. You
won’t be able to buy or install anything
from anywhere else. You’ll also have to
use Microsoft’s Edge browser, as that’s
the default – no change will be
countenanced. If you want to ‘Google the
web’ then you’ll have to, er, use Bing.
Don’t like it? Well, you could always
upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for a few
quid, because Microsoft is offering that as
an option to disgruntled Windows 10 S
buyers. The Pro edition has a few features
that you’ll probably never use, but at least
you can install whatever programs you
want, such as Chrome. And actually
Google the web using Google.
Alternatively, forget S and Pro and just
go for Windows 10 Home. It’s better than
S, but a bit worse than Pro. But, if you’re
buying pre-installed, make sure your PC
manufacturer hasn’t installed Windows
10 Home N, because that’s a bit worse
than Windows 10 Home (but still a bit
better than Windows 10 S). Or Windows
10 Pro N for that matter, which is a bit
worse than Windows 10 Pro but a bit
better than Windows 10 Home and Home
N. You can’t buy an N edition separately
but there’s a chance you’ll end up with it
when you buy a new PC. What’s the N
Henry Ford said car
buyers could have any
colour, as long as it’s
black – Microsoft could
take inspiration
from that
stand for? I imagine Microsoft’s miserable
marketing folks also had no idea, hence…N.
Clear so far? Great! Of course if you’re
an enterprising sort and setting up in
business then perhaps Windows 10
Enterprise has caught your eye. Sadly,
that’s probably not for you, because it’s
aimed at companies that want to manage
their own IT affairs. For the same reasons,
you can also write off Windows 10 Mobile
Enterprise and Windows 10 LTSB. That’s
short for Long Term Servicing Branch, in
case you were wondering.
Oh, did I mention Windows 10 Mobile
(without the Enterprise)? It’s the
Windows version you need if you want to
use Windows on a tablet or smartphone,
if you can actually find such a device.
Except in enterprise, where you need
Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise.
We’re not done yet. There’s also
Windows 10 IoT for the Internet of
Things, which means a version for any
device that might conceivably connect to
the internet. But make sure you get the
right version of Windows 10 IoT because
there’s Windows 10 IoT Core, Windows 10
IoT Enterprise and Windows 10 IoT
Mobile Enterprise. Oh, there’s also
Windows 10 IoT Core Pro, which is like
Windows 10 IoT Core but presumably
more professional.
Don’t worry, we’re nearly at the end.
But I must also mention Windows 10
Education! That version obviously has
echoes of Windows 10 S but, for some
reason, no Cortana. So that’s a bonus.
Henry Ford once famously said that
customers could have any colour car they
wanted, as long as it was black. Microsoft
could take inspiration from that, scrap
the countless versions and consolidate
them into a single version for everyone –
Windows 10 Black. Mind you, considering
Microsoft’s track record, it’d probably
turn out being the Blue Screen edition.
Do Windows versions confuse you?
Let us know at
74 21 June – 4 July 2017
Next issue Ken spreads the message about annoying email inboxes
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