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Computeractive — Issue 519 — 30 January 2018

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BEST WINDOWS TOOL EVER?
Shows you everything you’ve done on your PC
Turn to p35
UARY 2018
ISSUE 519 ❘ 17 – 30 JAN
SCAMS
EXPOSED
the track p9
Fast Wi-Fi coming down
ry issue
every
Learn something new in
What you must
NEVER search
for online p60
Made
Easy
Schedule
ANY TASK
ON YOUR PC
Set
Set a tim
timet
etab
able
le for
for vit
vital
al jobs
jobs that
that keep
keep
your
your PC fast
fast,, saf
safe
e and
and junk
junk free
free p5
p50
0
£2.10
PLUS
CREATE AUTOMATIC
EMAIL REPLIES page 38
BAD NEWS! YOUR PC
IS ABOUT TO GET SLOWER
Phone and tablet too – here’s why p6
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Welcome
EDITORIAL
Group Editor Daniel Booth
Technical Editor Sherwin Coelho
Production Editor Graham Brown
Art Editor Katie Peat
Contributors Adam Banks, Simon Brew,
Darien Graham-Smith, Dinah Greek, Jonathan
Parkyn, Wayne Williams
ADVERTISING
Advertising Director Charlotte Milligan
Advertising Manager Alexa Dracos
MARKETING AND CIRCULATION
Subscriptions Rachel Hare
Marketing Production Manager Gemma Hills
For subscription enquiries ring 0330 333 9493
PRODUCTION
Group Production Manager
Stephen Catherall
Production Controller
Sophie Griffin
MANAGEMENT
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
There are two kinds of arguments I have with
my PC. The most common is rather one-sided,
as I politely enquire why, of all times, it has
chosen to restart now, just as I was in the
middle of something more important than it
could ever comprehend. The other type is more
constructive. These ‘arguments’ are the
technical values that define how a computer
will perform a particular task.
In our Cover Feature, Jonathan Parkyn
explains how to use the second kind of
argument to schedule tasks on your PC. You
can order it to shut down and wake up at set
times, and even open your favourites websites
as soon as you log on. With the help of
BRAND USAGE AND REPRINTS
Companies can obtain a licence to use approved
quotations from articles, the Computeractive
logo and Buy It! logo. Reprints of articles are also
available.
p35
software, you can also schedule it to remove
junk, perform a backup, and send an email at a
later date.
One thing on our schedule is the next
Computeractive Back Issue CD, containing all
26 issues from 2017 as searchable PDFs. We’ll
let you know when it’s on sale.
Daniel Booth
editor@computeractive.co.uk
p60
Please contact Ryan Chambers for more
information and rates: 0203 890 4027
Email: anj_halai@dennis.co.uk
Requests to use quotations from articles will
need to be approved by the editor. Please send
requests to: editor@computeractive.co.uk
OVERSEAS LICENSING
Computeractive is available for international
licensing. Contact Nicole Adams at nicole_
adams@dennis.co.uk or +44 0203 890 3998
ONWARD RESALE
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.
p50
PERMISSIONS
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
LIABILITY
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.
A DENNIS PUBLICATION
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
THIS ISSUE IN NUMBERS
15%
Proportion of Google
searches every day
that are new - p60
1Gbps
Computeractive
Printed in the UK
p6
p38
Speed rail passengers
will enjoy by 2025,
says Govt - p9
1,500
Number of ‘HMRC
iTunes’ scams in past
12 months - p16
HOW TO USE
SNIPCA URLs
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.
17 – 30 January 2018 3
Contents
In this issue…
Schedule
Schedule any task on
50
your PC
Take the tedium out of your day-to-
day computing with our handy guide
to automating the tasks that take up
your precious time
58
Right-click tricks for your
favourite software
Make life easier by using handy options
in your context menu
60
What you must never
search for on Google
Look for the wrong thing on the search
engine and scammers will be lying in
wait to trap you. We explain how to
thwart their best efforts
ON YOUR PC
Careful what you search for p60
In every issue…
11 Question of
the Fortnight
Will artificial intelligence
save the NHS?
33 Competition
Win a Peli Memory Card
Case
49 What’s All the Fuss
About? Tacotron 2
12 Letters
64 Problems Solved
14 Consumeractive
71 Reader Support
Your tech problems fixed
16 Protect Your Tech
18 Best Free Software
BCUninstaller 4.1
30 Buy It!
4 17 – 30 January 2018
CO
FEA VER
TU
P50 RE
ANY TASK
Context menu is
everything
p58
6 News
17 – 30 January 2018 • Issue 519
73 Jargon Buster
74 Keep your brain active
Simon Brew tries to grow
his own brain
A&E or AI? p11
Subscribe
e
NOW!
See page 62
for our special
subs offer
Reviews
Lenovo Yoga
920 p21
20 Dell Inspiron 24 5000
All-in-one PC is slow on the uptake
Al
21 Lenovo Yoga 920
A flexible laptop with stamina
22 Asus Lyra MAPAC2200
Mesh router for much money
Me
23 Palicomp AMD Galaxy
This
Th Galaxy PC operates at the
speed of light
sp
24 Huawei Honor 7X
A phone for the bigger picture
Fitbit Ionic
Fi
Smart watch is fit for purpose
Sm
Palicomp AMD
Galaxy p23
Bakker Elkhuizen
UltraBoard 940
p26
25 Canon Pixma TS3150
A printer for simple pleasures
BUY IT!
★★★★★
26 Bakker Elkhuizen
UltraBoard 940
Portable keyboard for every type
28 Swann CCTV Kit
Keep an eye on your entire home
29 Seagate Backup Plus
Ultra Slim 1TB
Why not pop out for a quick drive?
BUY IT!
★★★★★
Workshops & Tips
14 pages of brilliant workshops and expert tips
35 Get complete history of
your Windows activity
42 Print images at exactly
the right size
38 Create automatic
email replies
43 Readers’ Tips
Type text quicker in LibreOffice
40 Fix hidden network
problems
44 Phone and Tablet Tips
Bring your photos to life
46 Make Windows Better
Use your keys to move your cursor
47 Make Office Better
Create a flowchart in Word
48 Secret Tips For…
Windows Firewall
BEST-SELLING
SOFTWARE ON
OURSTORE
1 Kaspersky Internet Security
2018 (3 devices, 2yr)
2 Norton Security Deluxe 2018
(3 devices, 1yr)
3 Acronis True Image 2016
4 Kaspersky Internet Security 2018
(1 device)
5 AVG Ultimate 2018 (2yr)
6 Norton Security Deluxe 2018 (3 dev, 2yr)
7 Iolo System Mechanic 17
8 McAfee Internet Security 2018 (10 dev)
9 Malwarebytes 3.1 Premium
10 CCleaner 5 Professional
Buy from
https://store.computeractive.co.uk
17 – 30 January 2018 5
News
The top stories in the world of technology
Huge processor flaws slow
down your PC and phone
E
very computing device
you own – PC, laptop,
phone and tablet – could
be slowed down by fixes to
two processor flaws that
have been described as
some of the worst
bugs ever found.
Tech companies have
been racing to fix the flaws,
called Meltdown and Spectre
by the researchers who
discovered them.
They affect billions of
devices worldwide powered
by Intel, AMD, ARM and
Qualcomm processors. These
include Windows and Linux
computers, Android phones
and tablets, and iPhones and
iPads. The flaws go so deep
that updates are not only
needed for processor firmware,
but also for browsers and
operating systems.
Intel pledged to release
updates in the second week of
January. These will be given to
manufacturers, who will add
them to your computer
through Windows Update. If
you built your own computer,
you’ll need to search for
updates on Intel or AMD’s
website, as well as from your
motherboard’s manufacturer.
Some experts expect these
fixes to slow down computers
and other devices by up to 30
per cent, though Intel said
performance loss will depend
on what you do on the device.
The more software you use the
bigger the impact, though it
COMMENT
claimed the slowdown
“should not be significant” for
average home computer users.
Speculative execution
Both flaws affect a practice
whereby processors – in
order to speed things up –
try to ‘guess’ what piece of
information a device needs
next. The technical term
for this is speculative
execution.
As the processor guesses,
it momentarily stores data
from other programs,
including sensitive
information such as passwords.
Meltdown, the most
pressing flaw, lets attackers
access this information
through an operating system.
It affects most Intel processors
made since 1995. Spectre,
which is more of a long-term
problem, allows hackers
to trigger speculative
execution in order to steal
important data.
You’ll like this…
Laptop prices have been slashed in the
January sales (www.snipca.com/26707)
6 17 – 30 January 2018
Other updates you
need
As the scale of the problem
unfolded, there were fears
that every affected device
would need to be replaced.
But some companies
responded quickly with fixes.
Microsoft released an
update, called KB4056892,
on 3 January, and said more
fixes are planned. However,
it warned that some
“incompatible” antivirus
programs are reacting to the
update by causing a Blue
Screen of Death crash.
Microsoft urged users
whose computers are crashing
to contact their antivirus
company. High-profile
security programs reported to
clash with the update include
Norton, F-Secure and Avast.
Microsoft said affected
antivirus companies will need
to update their software to
handle the update. The
company has published a help
What a great start to 2018!
The UK’s National Cyber
Security Centre said there’s
no evidence hackers are
using these flaws to steal
data, but that’s of little
comfort because the attacks
would be difficult to detect
anyway. The Meltdown
updates should be effective,
but more worrying is Spectre,
which could take years to fix
properly. Its complexity also
makes it hard for hackers to
exploit, though thousands
must be already trying.
Rarely has a flaw been so
aptly named: Spectre will
haunt PCs for years.
page, containing fixes for
blue-screen crashes: www.
snipca.com/26711.
Google also released a fix
in early January, covering its
mobile operating system
Android. Any device that has
received a security update
dated 5 January or later is safe.
A Chrome update is due on
23 January, while Mozilla
protected Firefox with an
update to version 57.0.4.
On 4 January, Apple
updated iOS, the operating
system that runs on iPhones
and iPads, to version 11.2.
Make sure you’ve got it by
going to Settings, General,
Software Update on your
device.
… but not this
Children struggle to cope with the pressures
of social media (www.snipca.com/26706)
Do you use an HP laptop? Check
whether it might catch fire
If you’ve bought an HP laptop
in the past two years you
should urgently check
whether its battery could
catch fire.
The company said that some
laptops sold worldwide
between December 2015 and
December 2017 contain faults
that make them overheat. It
has recalled the models after
eight reports of batteries
“overheating, melting or
charring”, according to the
United States Consumer
Product Safety Commission.
One incident caused a
first-degree burn.
Visit HP’s site to check
whether your laptop is at risk:
www.snipca.com/26700.
Models affected include those
in HP’s ProBook, Envy,
Pavilion and x360 range. If
your laptop is listed, you need
to download HP’s Battery
Program Validation Utility by
clicking the blue button in the
middle of the webpage (see
screenshot above).
If this tool identifies a
dangerous battery, it will issue
a BIOS update and the laptop
will reboot. You’ll be asked to
accept Battery Safety Mode,
which will let you safely use
your laptop by plugging it into
the mains, rather than using
the combustible batteries.
HP says the batteries are
internal and can’t be replaced
by users, so it will provide
“battery replacement services
by an authorized technician at
no cost”. It added that the
fault “pertains to 0.1 per cent
of the HP systems sold globally
over the past two years”.
This is the second time in 18
months that HP has warned
about dangerous laptops. In
June 2016 it recalled 41,000 of
them, expanding this to
101,000 in January 2017. Read
more on HP’s site: www.
snipca.com/26701.
Govt to ban touts buying tickets online
The Government has pledged
to ban touts using automated
software to bulk-buy tickets
for concerts and sports events
advertised online.
Touts often use programs
called ‘bots’ to snap up tickets
in larger numbers than
websites technically allow.
They then offer the tickets at
rip-off prices on secondaryticketing websites such as
Viagogo and StubHub.
The Government has told
the European Commission it
intends to enshrine a ban in
law. It says a new criminal
offence in the Digital Economy
Act will leave touts facing
unlimited fines for breaching
the rules.
Ministers are taking action
after tickets for the UK
production of the award-
winning US musical Hamilton
(pictured above) were re-sold
for £6,000 last year.
Hamilton’s producers are
trying to beat the touts by
using a paperless ticket system
that requires the ticket
purchaser to present their
credit card when they arrive
at the theatre.
Recent concerts by the
singers Adele and Ed Sheeran
have also been targeted by
touts. Last year, an £85 ticket
to see Adele at London’s O2
venue was being offered for
£24,840.
Matt Hancock, the minister
for the creative industries,
said: “We’re determined to
make sure 2018 is the year
we help real fans get the
chance to see their favourite
music and sports stars at a
fair price”.
The move is part of a
growing movement aimed at
preventing ticket touts from
exploiting fans online. In
November last year Google
said sites reselling tickets
would need to seek its
approval before advertising in
search results. Sites must also
disclose that prices may be
higher than the face value.
IN BRIEF
MICROSOFT EDGE IS
‘FASTER THAN CHROME’
Microsoft says its Edge
browser is 48 per cent faster
than Google Chrome, and
blocks 18 per cent more
phishing sites. The claims
appear in a new advert from
the company (www.snipca.
com/26681). Another advert
(www.snipca.com/26682)
boasts that Edge uses less
of a laptop’s battery when
playing videos. It quotes a
test run by Microsoft showing
that Edge lasted for over 16
hours, beating Chrome’s 13
hours, 31 minutes.
REPEAT OFFENDERS USE
PHONE WHILE DRIVING
Many motorists are
repeatedly using phones
while driving despite being
caught, new figures from
the DVLA show. More
than 6,000 were stopped
at least twice for driving
while distracted, over 400
three times, and 20 drivers
four times. The RAC said
responsible motorists will be
“shocked” by the numbers,
adding that repeat offenders
believe there is “little
chance of seeing a traffic
police officer”.
Tomorrow’s
world
On the left
is an image
of a swan,
shown
to volunteers by Kyoto
University. On the right is
the same image processed
by computers scanning
the volunteers’ brains. The
research could be used one
day to turn daydreams and
memories into videos. Watch
other computer recreations:
www.snipca.com/26680.
17 – 30 January 2018 7
News
IN BRIEF
THUNDERBIRD FIXES
SECURITY FLAW
Mozilla has updated
Thunderbird to fix five
security flaws, one of
which was rated ‘critical’.
This was a buffer overflow
flaw, which occurs when
a program doesn’t have
enough memory to read
or write data. Thunderbird
is set by default to update
automatically. To check
whether you have the new
version (52.5.2) follow
Mozilla’s instructions at
www.snipca.com/26653.
‘TAX FACEBOOK’ TO
FIGHT EXTREMISM
Tech giants like Facebook
and Google should be taxed
to help fund the battle against
extremism online, Security
Minister Ben Wallace has
said. He described the sites
as “ruthless profiteers”
who’d done little to fight
terrorism online. He claimed
the Government wouldn’t
need to spend “millions”
de-radicalising extremists if
websites took down terrorist
content quicker.
Want to switch phone network?
Just send a text under new rules
Switching your phone
network will be as easy
as sending a text, under
new Ofcom rules.
The regulator said
that from July 2019
you’ll only need to send
your existing mobile
network a text to tell
them you’re leaving.
They must reply
immediately with a PAC
(Porting Authorisation
Code), which you have
to give to your new
network within 30 days.
Their text must also
include any outstanding
costs that you owe, any
pay-as-you-go credit
you have, and whether
you need to pay termination
fees. Switching must then take
place within one working day.
Currently, if you want to
switch you have to speak to
your provider, which gives
them the chance to try to
persuade you to stay. Ofcom
says the changes mean
you’ll always avoid these
“unwanted attempts” to keep
Can I have my
PAC please?
you as a customer.
However, you’ll still be able
to cancel by calling your
provider if that’s what you
prefer. You’ll also have to
speak to them if you don’t
want to keep your number.
Over the next 18 months
mobile companies will work
together to set up a new
switching system. They will
have to agree on the codes
sent to customers.
Ofcom claims
switching will be so
“quick and easy” that
customers will be able
to request their code
while looking for a new
deal, such as when
shopping on the
high street.
The regulator says
reform is urgently
needed because
research shows that
38 per cent of people
who tried to switch –
2.5 million people –
have experienced major
problems.
The new rules will
also ban mobile
companies from charging
customers after the switch
date. This will put to an end
people paying for old and new
services at the same time.
Ofcom estimates this will save
customers around £10 million
each year.
For more details visit
Ofcom’s site: www.snipca.
com/26648.
•
Nvidia ends updates for
32bit graphics cards
Nvidia has announced plans
to end security updates for
graphics cards in computers
that run the 32bit version
of Windows.
The US company said that
version 390 of drivers for its
cards – likely to arrive in
January – will be the last to
support 32bit machines. It will
cease all 32bit security
updates in January 2019. If
you use an Nvidia card on a
32bit Windows PC, you should
consider upgrading to the
64bit version, or buying a new
computer that runs it.
Nvidia’s decision is another
8 17 – 30 January 2018
sign that 32bit
technology
is being
abandoned by
hardware and
software makers,
who now favour 64bit
systems. Apple, for example,
ended support for 32bit apps
when iOS 11 launched in
September last year. Sticking
with 32bit in future will
increasingly restrict what
your devices can do.
A 64bit computer is more
powerful because it handles
large amounts of RAM more
efficiently. 64bit processors
were first added to home
computers in 2003.
To check whether your
Windows 10 PC is 32bit or
64bit, open the Settings app,
then click System, About.
Look on the right for ‘System
type’. In Windows 8, check
System in the Control Panel.
In Windows 7, open the Start
menu, right-click Computer,
then choose Properties.
We suspect this couple (see
image below) suffer from
‘selfitis’, which researchers
at Nottingham Trent
University say is a genuine
mental disorder. They
have developed a ‘Selfitis
Behaviour Scale’ to assess
how addicted a person is to
taking photos of themselves.
Read more at www.snipca.
com/26665.
Super-fast Wi-Fi on trains, but not
until 2025
Rail passengers have been
promised a “world-class”
internet and 5G mobile
service, but will have to wait
until 2025 to enjoy it.
Under new Government
plans, fibre-optic cables could
be laid along tracks and
through tunnels, and wireless
transmitters placed on mobile
masts. The Government said
speeds could reach 1Gbps,
fast enough to let “everyone
onboard stream videos
simultaneously”.
At present, internet and
mobile signals are supplied by
phone networks, meaning
they are often patchy and
even non-existent in some
remote areas.
Transport Secretary Chris
Grayling said it was part of the
Government’s pledge to deliver
“the biggest rail improvement
plan since Victorian times”.
He added: “Improved
mobile connectivity will help
passengers to keep up with
work, connect with friends or
even check the latest journey
information online while on
the move”.
Bruce Williamson, from
passenger campaign group
Railfuture (https://railfuture.
org.uk), welcomed the
plans, saying that “seamless
connectivity” should be
standard on all trains.
“Very soon, trains without
Wi-Fi will become unthinkable,
and rail passengers will look
forward to the day when the
phone doesn’t cut out in
tunnels,” he added.
But senior MPs questioned
why it would take another
seven years. Damian Collins,
Conservative chair of the
Culture Committee, said:
“I would prefer this to be a
backstop date and we will be
able to deliver it much quicker
than that. I don’t know why it
should take this long”.
Work is already under
way on a trial on the transPennine route between
Manchester and York, in
partnership with Network
Rail. It’s part of the
Government’s £31bn National
Productivity Investment
Fund, announced by
Chancellor Philip Hammond
in the 2016 Autumn Budget.
The Government will now
consult on how the upgrades
will be funded. Read its
proposal on Gov.uk at
www.snipca.com/26647.
UK spies build stronger hacking weapons
British spies have substantially
increased their hacking
powers in recent years, an
official report has said.
The annual report from the
Intelligence and Security
Committee said GCHQ had
“over-achieved” in building
tools that let them hack
criminals and terrorists. More
than double the number of
cyber-weapons had been
developed than expected. It
added that GCHQ’s new digital
arsenal is on a “different scale”
to what it previously possessed.
Some of these tools could be
used to ward off attacks from
states like China, Iran, North
Korea and Russia, or threaten
retaliation that could target
their infrastructure.
In 2015, the Government
outlined ambitious plans to
boost GCHQ’s hacking
abilities, which it defined as
the power to “disrupt, deny,
degrade or destroy computer
networks and internetconnected devices”.
But not all projects have
been successful. GCHQ
admitted that a project to
hack encryption used by
enemies has been delayed due
to a skills shortage. Codenamed
Foxtrot, the project is GCHQ’s
“number one priority and
number one worry”.
The report was released in
late December, a day after the
White House and the Foreign
Office both publicly blamed
North Korea for the Wannacry
ransomware attack, which
devastated NHS computers
in May last year.
North Korea’s Ministry of
Foreign Affairs called the
accusation “absurd”. A
spokesman said: “Crystal clear
is the purpose of the US to try
to link to the issue of cyberattack at this very moment
when it is hell-bent on
making a harshest sanctions
resolution against us”.
IN BRIEF
CHROME TO BLOCK
ANNOYING ADS
Google’s Chrome browser
will start blocking annoying
adverts from 15 February.
The company said it will
penalise ads that make it less
enjoyable to browse the web.
These include ‘interstitial’
adverts that appear while
a web page is loading, and
noisy adverts that play
automatically. Google is part
of the Coalition for Better
Ads, which has set new
guidelines to tackle intrusive
adverts. It follows research in
which 25,000 internet users
were asked what they find
irritating online.
NOKIA MAKING 4G
RETRO PHONE
Nokia is making a 4G version
of its retro 3310 phone,
according to documents
leaked online. The £50 phone,
launched in 2G and 3G
editions last year, is a
modern remake of the
classic design, which sold
over 120 million between
2000 and 2005. Reports
say the new 3310 will be a
ble to run the hugely popular
messaging service WhatsApp.
REPORT CRIMES USING
AMAZON ECHO
Police in Lancashire will
soon start delivering daily
bulletins through the
Amazon Echo smart
speaker. Rob Flanagan from
Lancashire Constabulary
said that by the end of
January news about crimes
will be sent to users’
phones, which synchronise
with their Echo. He added
that in the
following months
the device will be
able to answer
questions such ass
‘How do I report
this crime?’.
17 – 30 January 2018 9
News
Darien Graha
Graham-Smith
S i puts the boot into tech villains,
jargon-spouting companies and software stuffed with junk
WARNING: JUNK AHEAD
Junk offender: EagleGet
I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes
to software downloads, so I’ve been
trying out a free download manager
called EagleGet. It features multithreaded downloading, to make
your files come down the line faster,
and interrupted downloads can be
seamlessly resumed. So far, so good.
Unfortunately, that’s not all it
does. When you install EagleGet,
you’re invited to add a Chrome
extension called EagleGet iNewTab,
with no explanation of what this is. I
assumed it was part of the download
manager, and installed it without a
second thought.
Big mistake. Huge, in fact. The
extension replaces Chrome’s familiar
‘New Tab’ page with a garish canvas,
packed with ugly buttons and cryptic
icons (see screenshot). It’s confusing to
say the least, and the Google search bar is
replaced by Yahoo, so your web searches
don’t work the way you’re used to either.
That’s not the most disturbing thing
though. iNewTab also shows how many
unread Facebook notifications and Gmail
messages are sitting in your inbox. How
does it know this? Well, if you dig into
the settings you’ll see that this extension
has the ability to – and I quote –
“read and change all your data on
the websites that you visit”.
That ought to scare the hell out of
you, because it means you’ve just
handed over an absolute treasure
trove of personal information to the
extension’s developer. There’s no
way of knowing what they might do
with all your private data, but the
deceptive way the software sneaks
on to your system in the first place
doesn’t auger well. It doesn’t help
that EagleGet is based in China, far away
from the data-protection rules we take
for granted.
If you like the idea of a download
manager, give EagleGet a miss and try
something like Free Download Manager
(www.freedownloadmanager.org). It
doesn’t look very slick, but it won’t try to
install junk on your system.
What are they
talking about?
Darien’s villains of the fortnight
Amazon & Google
What they say
I’m becoming increasingly exasperated
by the behaviour of not one, but two
tech giants – Amazon and Google – who
have got into a petty and unseemly brawl.
To be fair, Amazon
started it. The company
has long refused to sell
Google’s Chromecast
and Home products,
pushing shoppers
towards its own Fire TV
Stick and Echo smart
speakers instead. It has even blocked
Amazon Prime video services from
working on Chromecast devices. Now
Google has retaliated by removing
YouTube from all Fire TV devices,
leaving more than 50 million viewers
European Court of Justice
(www.snipca.com/26645)
“An intermediation
service the purpose
of which is to
connect, by means
of a smartphone
application and for remuneration,
non-professional drivers using their
own vehicle with persons who wish to
make urban journeys, must be classified
as a service in the field of transport
within the meaning of EU law.”
What they mean
Legally speaking, Uber is a taxi
company, not a software firm.
10 17 – 30 January 2018
around the world without their daily
dose of music clips and cat videos.
This tit-for-tat posturing does nobody
any favours. Reportedly, the two
companies have been
in talks for the past
month to find a
resolution, but while
that drags on, it’s the
likes of you and me
who are losing out.
Both Amazon and
Google are acting despicably, using
innocent customers as helpless pawns
in their billion-dollar spat.
Want to nominate a villain of the fortnight?
Email us at editor@computeractive.co.uk
?
Question
of the
Fortnight
Will artificial intelligence
save the NHS?
Computers can now diagnose faster and better than humans
I
n early January, as the NHS
cancelled all non-urgent
operations amid increased
pressure, an innovative trial
was announced that may
herald a brighter future for
the service. John Radcliffe
Hospital in Oxford said it
will start using artificial
intelligence (AI) to help
diagnose early signs of heart
disease. Experts say it could
save the NHS hundreds of
millions every year.
The system, called Ultromics
(pictured), was developed by
Paul Leeson, Professor of
Cardiovascular Medicine at
Oxford University. He taught it
to recognise heart disease by
feeding it 1,000 heart scans of
patients from the last seven
years. He also told it whether
the patient went on to develop
heart problems. It uses this
information as a baseline to
predict and diagnose the scans
of new patients.
Professor Leeson said this
method, which has been
tested in six cardiology units,
These errors cost the NHS
around £600m a year.
The trial results will be
published later this year in a
medical journal. If successful,
the system will be made
available for free to NHS
hospitals across the country.
Professor Leeson said: “As
cardiologists, we accept that
we don’t always get it right.
A fifth of the 60,000 heart
scans carried out each year by
doctors are misdiagnosed
shows signs of being much
more accurate than human
diagnosis. The current
approach, in which
cardiologists check the timing
of the heartbeat, is far from
perfect. Of the 60,000 heart
scans carried out each year,
around a fifth are
misdiagnosed. Patients are
either sent home and have a
heart attack, or undergo an
operation they don’t need.
But now there is a possibility
we may be able to do better”.
Another new system could
deliver breakthroughs in
diagnosing lung cancer.
Developed by Oxford-based
company Optellum, it checks
scans for clumps of cells called
nodules, which may be
cancerous. It can’t yet
diagnose cancer, though it can
rule out harmless cases earlier
than doctors can. Optellum’s
chief science and technology
officer, Dr Timor Kadir, says
the system could free up
enough medical resources to
give 4,000 extra patients an
early screening, boosting their
chances of survival.
Worldwide, there’s plenty of
evidence of AI’s potential,
from US researchers using it
to spot signs of schizophrenia
in brain scans, to Japanese
scientists identifying bowel
cancer from colonoscopies.
Dr Kadir says the focus for
using AI in the NHS shouldn’t
be about saving money, but
instead looking at “how to
offer better healthcare to more
people for the same
proportion of GDP”. However,
geneticist Sir John Bell, the
Government’s healthcare tsar,
said: “There is about £2.2bn
spent on pathology services in
the NHS. You may be able to
reduce that by 50 per cent. AI
may be the thing that saves
the NHS”.
His optimism is shared by
NHS England chief executive
Simon Stevens, who has said
THE FACTS
• A new artificial-intelligence
system is being used to
diagnose heart problems
• Errors in diagnosing heart
disease cost the NHS
around £600m every year
• The Government’s health
tsar says AI could cut some
NHS costs by 50 per cent
the service will invest more of
its £120bn budget in AI.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt
also sees AI playing a bigger
part in the NHS, saying that by
2028 computers could be
diagnosing conditions before
the patient has developed
symptoms. There are already
plans to use AI to analyse
X-rays and tissue samples.
AI isn’t a silver bullet for the
NHS, of course. But the money
it saves could be spent
tackling long-term NHS
problems, such as obesity and
an ageing population. Smarter
technology may mean no
more winter crises.
17 – 30 January 2018 11
Letters
Surrounded by annoying
Facebookers
Am I the only reader of your
magazine not on Facebook? At
work I can’t ‘talk’ to others at my break
because everyone is Facebooking. At
breakfast time in Premier Inns and in
eating places at night I am surrounded by
Facebookers. I stand in a queue to order
food and the person ordering in front of
me pauses the order to ‘like’ somebody.
A guy with a coffee in one hand and
Facebook in the other trips over my
wife’s wheelchair footplates and looks at
me as if I’d trod in something. Why build
a profile for people to read – is it to make
them feel inferior to you?
People who know the real me
don’t need to see a profile or a
photo of what I had for dinner.
Keith Norton
Tell us what’s on your mind
Email: letters@computeractive.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/computeractive
Twitter: @ComputerActive
www.twitter.com/computeractive
are also, ironically perhaps, excellent
places to browse the web. I sometimes
feel a twinge of nostalgia for local banks,
but times change, and so do people’s
habits.
Audrey O’Sullivan
Amazon Echo is my mother’s
best ever present
I want to echo (pun intended) your
advice to Steve Bentley in Issue 518
(‘What Should I Buy?’, page 26) about
which smart speaker he should buy for
his mother. I bought an Amazon Echo for
my elderly mother for Christmas. I wasn’t
sure whether it was right for her, but at
only £50 the Echo Dot (www.snipca.
com/26468) was worth a punt.
I’m writing this a week after Christmas
Day, and the verdict from my mother is
Use local banks or lose them
Having just read the Star Letter by
Len Bradshaw (Issue 518) about
online banking, I have to agree with him
about the importance of face-to-face
interaction with the counter staff.
Some time ago I booked a holiday on
the high street with a major tour
operator. After booking it, the girl said I
could have got it a little cheaper online. I
answered yes, but if we all did that you
would be out of a job. “I never thought
about that,” she said. If I book in store
and something goes wrong, I can go back
to the store and talk it over. If you book
online you have to sort it out online. I had
the same conversation in my bank. I can
bank online if I have to, but we need the
outlets. As they say, ‘use it or lose it’.
Alan Merser
Len Bradshaw paints a rosy picture
of local bank branches, but my
local community has actually been
boosted by their closure. Over the years
fewer and fewer people were using them,
choosing online services instead. Where
an old HSBC and Barclays once stood
now stand two high-street coffee chains.
You might think the coffee has daft
names and is expensive, and you’d
probably be right. But the stores are also
comfortable places to sit and socialise.
I’m a member of three groups who meet
weekly over a coffee and a muffin. They
12 17 – 30 January 2018
that the Echo Dot is the best present I’ve
ever bought her. She loves asking it
questions to test its knowledge, and
seeking information from the web. The
curious thing is that until now my
mother has shied away from technology.
Even though they are connected to the
web, devices like the Echo aren’t really
computing gadgets at all. Because they
are voice-controlled, they bypass all the
difficulties that people associate with
computers. Everyone should buy one for their mother, father, brother, sister,
and themselves!
Richard McNulty
Sat-navs as distracting
as phones
We all know it’s naughty and
dangerous to use our phones while
driving. It can be expensive too if caught.
However, how many of us realise that
where we position our phone holders,
sat-navs and safety cameras can be just as
distracting or worse?
The instructions that came with my
camera clearly stated the risks of
obstructing the swept area of the
windscreen wipers. If you have a large
chip in your screen in the wrong area it
Older volunteers have patience
on their side
In Issue 518’s Letters page, you
asked readers to let you know
about their volunteering in computer
clubs. I am a 78-year-old disabled
woman who loves technology and I
volunteer on a weekly basis for Age UK
in Bolton (www.ageuk.org.uk/bolton).
I’ve done one-to-one computer
instruction for the past five years. I feel
it is very worthwhile as a lot of older
people find it difficult to absorb
technology and need things to be
repeated often. This takes patience on
the tutor’s side that younger tutors
don’t seem to have. I get this, because I
am the same age as many of my pupils.
Pat Duckworth
Our local library in Matlock –
along with many others I expect
– organises one-to-one sessions for
those seeking help with computers. I
carry out this function as a volunteer to
assist people who have very limited
knowledge of using computers.
It might be worth mentioning that
local libraries offer this service free of
charge in case people are not aware
that this is available.
Geoff Akehurst
STAR LETTER
Facebook ‘ripping society apart’?
Hysterical nonsense!
constitutes an MOT failure. So what
about a device of about 60 square
centimetres stuck in the same critical
area?
I’ve seen people peering over the top of
their sat-nav-enabled phones, which are
right in their line of sight. Arms flailing
over the steering wheel, trying to prod a
touchscreen, is not a good idea.
My favourite one was the young lady
reaching to retrieve her charger cable
from the passenger footwell to plug into
her device. Her car looked like one of
those driverless things for a while. OK,
we were only creeping along in traffic at
the time, but she must have wrapped it
around her indicator stalk about three
times before she got it plugged in.
My camera is mostly tucked away
behind the mirror and I use a power
bank to keep it running on longer trips.
The power bank fits in the roof-mounted
glasses storage and negates the need for a
cable trailing over the dash (another
distraction).
Next time you are out, have a look at
the crazy places people put these things.
You’ll be amazed (unless it’s your car).
Happy gadget-distracted motoring.
Ted Drury
iPhone update flushes
battery life down toilet
I am an iPhone owner who cannot
afford the ridiculous (in my
opinion) £1,000 for the iPhone X so, I
bought a reconditioned iPhone 5s
instead. I recently replaced the battery
myself and reaped the
benefits immediately. I
understood that this was
done off my own back and
if anything went wrong I’d
have no complaints.
Contrary to reports that
this was a complicated
process, I found it quite
easy to do by following a
helpful YouTube video.
So what could be the
problem? I downloaded
I’m ancient enough
to have lived
through many moral
hysterias. I remember
when everyone thought
rock’n’roll would bring
about the end of
civilisation. Then it was
mods and rockers,
followed by punk
rockers. A few years
later computer games
were the devil’s work,
then it was video
nasties. When mobile
phones arrived, people
worried they would fry their brains.
Any new technology always gets
criticised for having a malign influence
on people, which is why I’m fairly
relaxed about concerns that Facebook
is “ripping society apart” (‘Question of
the Fortnight’, Issue 518).
Facebook is simply the latest target of
self-appointed moral guardians, who
always hate it when they can’t control
what the great unwashed masses use.
People may not be as nice online as
they are face to face, but it’s a fatuous
overreaction to say this represents a
worldwide crisis.
Also, I’m very
sceptical that fake
news is really that big
a problem. I think the
Facebook-haters are
so worried about it
simply because it
allegedly led to two
events they didn’t
approve of, namely the
Brexit referendum
vote and the election
of Donald Trump.
Would they be so
concerned if the results
had gone the other way?
The fuss about Facebook being an
echo chamber is also overblown.
There’s nothing new about people
seeking the opinion of like-minded
people. It’s why we buy newspapers
with columnists we agree with.
What puzzles me is why Facebook’s
former employees lament its success. I
suspect they hate the fact that it’s used
by millions of people they don’t
approve of. Their hysterical nonsense
reeks of snobbery.
Len Forshaw
The Star Letter writer wins a Computeractive mug!
Views expressed don’t necessarily reflect those of Computeractive
the latest iOS update (version 11.2.1) as
we are advised to do to remain safe.
That’s where the success story turns bad.
This update has almost rendered the
phone useless. The battery life has gone
down the toilet. So what options do I
have? Well, according to the Apple
fo
forums (https://discussions.
ap
apple.com), one solution is
to upgrade my phone, but I
ca
can’t afford that. Another
op
option is to take my iPhone
to an Apple Store and pay
th
them more than £90 for a
ne
new battery and installation,
ev
even though the battery is
on
only a couple of months old.
It seems that Apple don’t
wa
want my kind of custom.
Bob Prytherch
Cheap printer inks make
photos fade
In his letter about printer inks in
Issue 516, Ray Moss says that
“modern cheap alternatives are as good
as originals”. Well I can assure him they
are nothing like the original inks, which I
have found out to my cost.
One of my hobbies is photography and
I have a top-of-the-range Canon DSLR
camera. I also use a Canon Pixma printer.
Because I print lots of pictures at various
sizes I use a lot of printer inks, and have
tried lots of suppliers to keep the costs
down. Here’s where I have come unstuck,
because after using some inks from
Amazon (very, very cheaply) I was
horrified to find that the photos I’d
printed were fading!
John F White
17 – 30 January 2018 13
Consumeractive
Can a retailer
refuse to help in
the first 30 days?
It was immediately obvious that
an Asus laptop I’d bought was
faulty because it failed to boot
properly. But the retailer, Hughes TV and
Electrical (www.hughes.co.uk), said that
legally it didn’t have to replace it. They
blamed my internet connection for the
problems. Can you help?
Carl Hughes
Q
Hopefully, we won’t have to,
because since first emailing us
Carl got back in touch to say that
he has finally convinced Hughes that the
PC is broken. The company says it will
pick up the PC and refund him.
Hughes should have already picked up
this PC, of course. Within the first 30
days after purchase, if goods appear to be
inherently faulty, the consumer can reject
them, choosing a replacement or refund.
But Hughes doesn’t have to refund him
straightaway. Within six months retailers
are entitled to test whether a fault is
inherent. It must carry out these tests
within a ‘reasonable’ time, which is the
kind of ambiguous wording that can
frustrate consumers. There’s no definitive
time limit for tests, but
generally longer than
four weeks would be
considered unreasonable.
A
Should I return faulty phone to
the manufacturer or retailer?
I bought a Motorola Moto G5S
phone from Debenhams Plus
(www.debenhamsplus.com)
on 24 September 2017, but after a
couple of weeks the screen started
going blank when I was making and
receiving calls. I tried removing apps
and resetting the phone, but nothing
worked. Debenhams advised me to
contact Motorola because it would be
quicker to get a repair, and told me I’d
have to pay to return it. But Motorola
says I have to return it via Debenhams.
Is this acceptable?
Andy Armitage
Q
It appears Motorola and
Debenhams are trying to use
the manufacturer’s warranty
to get this phone repaired so, no, this
isn’t acceptable.
Generally, you shouldn’t use a
warranty to seek redress for inherently
faulty products unless there’s no
way of forcing the retailer to take
responsibility – such as they’ve gone
bust or it’s difficult to prove the fault
is inherent.
By using the warranty you’re letting
the retailer argue that you’ve not let it
use its rights to carry out one repair, as
A
allowed under the Consumer Rights
Act (CRA). So if Andy sent the phone
directly back to Motorola, and it wasn’t
fixed properly or another fault shows
up, Debenhams would be entitled to
offer another repair.
Our advice to Andy is to return the
phone to Debenhams, and tell the
company he won’t be paying for the
delivery. The terms and conditions of
Motorola’s warranty do state that the
customer must pay to return items, but
Andy should cite the CRA, which says
consumers must not be out of pocket if
they’ve been lumbered with inherently
faulty goods. So if Debenhams won’t
supply a pre-paid label or send a
courier once the inherent
fault has been proven, it
must refund Andy the
delivery costs.
Are gift cards covered by Section 75?
In Issue 516 you mentioned
the lack of protection that is
offered by Section 75 of the
Consumer Credit Act (CCA) when
using third-party payment providers
such as PayPal. An Amazon Marketplace
seller called Digimedia refused to
replace a defective external hard drive
I’d paid for with an Amazon gift
card. Its reason was that, like PayPal,
gift cards are not covered by the
CCA. Is there another way I can get
a refund?
John Hardman
Q
14 17 – 30 January 2018
You can claim under the CCA for
faulty goods paid for with a gift
card or voucher that’s been
bought with a credit card. John’s problem
is he only paid £100 for the gift card and
£67.36 for the external drive. Section 75
claims can only be made if a single
purchase costs a minimum of £100.01.
However, Amazon has agreed to examine
John’s claim. This is a goodwill gesture,
because John is outside the 90 days
allowed by the site’s ‘A-z Buyer Protection’.
But John is well within the six-month
deadline to return an inherently faulty
A
product without having to prove it’s
defective. We’ve said this to Digimedia,
and are waiting for a reply. The company
will be allowed to test the drive, but if it
can’t show that it was damaged
by user error, it will have
to refund John, repair the
drive, or replace it.
Contact us so we can investigate your case
Email: consumeractive@computeractive.co.uk
Please include both your phone number and address.
We sstand up for your legal rights
Can I cancell a rolling subscription I forgot about?
C
I bought photo software from
Magix last year but never used
it. I’d actually totally forgotten
about it, but the company has just
emailed me saying I’d not given it an
eight-week cancellation notice so I
will have to pay for another year. Can
I ignore their request without
being penalised?
Giles Washbourn
Q
Giles shouldn’t ignore this
email, but can cancel this
contract without penalty. The
Consumer Contract Regulations (CCRs)
give consumers up to 14 days in which
to cancel, provided the software hasn’t
been downloaded.
You may think the CCRs don’t
apply in Giles’s case because he did
A
download the software
(even if he never used it).
But a new contract begins
every year, when the
subscription is renewed.
So as long as he hasn’t downloaded
the software since this date, he
can cancel.
In addition, Magix’s terms and
conditions don’t sit well with changes
brought in by the Consumer Rights Act
(2015), which considers lengthy
cancellation-notice periods (such as the
eight weeks that Magix asks for) and
insufficient reminders about an
upcoming renewal as unfair.
Hopefully, newer and even clearer
protection is on the way. In last year’s
Spring Budget, Chancellor Philip
Hammond announced proposals to
CASE UPDATE
Epson ends reader’s torment by
refunding in full
It sometimes seems
that companies toy
with customers like
a cat torments a wounded bird. In
Issue 517 we reported how Martin
Day’s sanity was being tested
by Epson, which was offering a
refund one day, then withdrawing
it the next. In despair, he turned
to us, explaining that Epson had failed
to repair his printer, then sent him two
replacements that didn’t work.
After the first printer broke Martin wanted a refund. But
because more than 30 days had passed since purchase, Epson
was entitled to try to repair it. What it wasn’t allowed to do was
subject Martin to further repairs and replacements. Instead, it
should have refunded Martin when the first repair failed.
Happily, it has now agreed to give Martin his money back.
We were confident of a partially successful outcome, but not
necessarily that Martin would get a refund for the full RRP,
which was £309. This is because he used a £75 cashback deal
from Epson to cut the price to £234. However, Epson did refund
him the full amount, which we think is fair because Martin
easily spent £75 on wasted ink cartridges. Martin thanked us
for helping him, adding: “I was beginning to lose all hope in
rectifying this”.
“protect consumers from facing
unexpected payments when a
subscription is renewed or when a free
trial ends”. It remains unclear, though,
what form this greater protection
will take.
Giles is currently trying to cancel
the contract and explain to Magix
that legally he owes it nothing.
If this German-based company
doesn’t accept this, we’ll help
Giles by contacting the UK arm
of the EU consumerprotection network
(www.ukecc.net).
CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
YOU TELL US WHEN COMPANIES GET IT RIGHT
In Issue 516 Editor Daniel
Booth gave a considered
explanation why, despite
press reports, Kaspersky
was still a top-rated security
software and could be
trusted. I’ve used Kaspersky
Internet Security for years
and will continue to do so.
However, there is another
reason why I remain a
Kaspersky advocate. Their
customer support is second
to none! I cannot praise
them too highly. On
occasions when I have run
into a problem, the
response of their staff has
always been outstanding.
Only recently I had a
CONTACT KASPERSKY
• Tel: 0203 549 3495
• Live chat: www.snipca.
com/26567
problem which I couldn’t
resolve. I contacted
Kaspersky’s support and
within minutes I had a
reply asking for more detail.
How long did I have to wait
for the solution – two days,
two hours? No, just a few
minutes! That’s why I
continue to use Kaspersky’s
excellent security software.
David Clowes
Has a company impressed
you with its customer
service? Please let us know:
editor@computeractive.co.uk
17 – 30 January 2018 15
Protect Your Tech
Scams and threats to avoid, plus new security tools
WATCH OUT FOR…
iTunes gift-card HMRC scam
What’s the threat?
Scammers pretending to be phoning
from HMRC are conning elderly and
vulnerable people by saying that the
only way to pay a “large” tax bill is to
buy digital vouchers and gift cards,
including those for iTunes.
Victims are instructed to go and buy
the vouchers from a local shop, then
read out the redemption code to the
scammer, who has stayed on the
phone. They then spend the codes,
or sell them.
It’s not a new tactic, but just before
Christmas HMRC issued a warning
that it continues to “hit a large
number of people”, with incidences
rising in recent months. Between
January 2016 and August 2017 there
were 1,500 reports of the scam. Most
victims are aged over 65, and lose an
average of £1,150.
HMRC added that
the scammers are
extremely aggressive,
frequently using
“intimidation to get
what they want,
threatening to seize
the victim’s property
or involve the police”. HMRC’s Director
General of Customer Services, Angela
MacDonald, said they were “very
confident, convincing and utterly
ruthless”.
How can you stay safe?
If you receive a phone call from HMRC
scammers, hang up straight away and
report it to HMRC (email: phishing@
hmrc.gsi.gov.uk), and Action Fraud on
0300 123 2040 or at www.snipca.
New tools
When using public hotspots, you
should be wary of evil twins. These
aren’t axe-wielding doppelgangers, but
rogue Wi-Fi access points trying to
trick you by using a name very similar
to real access points. If you unwittingly
sign into one hackers will be able to
steal your passwords and redirect you
to malware sites.
Warning you about this form of
attack is a new feature in the second
version of the excellent networkmonitoring program GlassWire. This
launched a few days after we
recommended the program in Issue
518’s Cover Feature (‘The Missing
Manual: Home Wi-Fi’). Also new is
support for VirusTotal, the Googleowned website that uses technology
from dozens of security companies
(including Kaspersky and Symantec) to
16 17 – 30 January 2018
GlassWire 2
www.glasswire.com
com/26629. Make
sure you warn
people who may
be fooled by the
scam. It’s likely to
remain an attractive
ploy for scammers
throughout 2018
because gift cards
are hard for police to trace.
Tax fraudsters also try to con people
via emails and text messages.
Remember that HMRC will never use
these methods to tell you about a tax
rebate or penalty, or request personal
or payment information. You can
forward suspicious texts to 60599.
Also visit Apple’s page on gift-card
scams (www.snipca.com/26630), and
see examples on HMRC’s site (www.
snipca.com/26631).
ScamWatch
READERS WARN READERS
Abusive ‘Microsoft’ scammer
check whether a file or website is safe.
To turn it on, go to Settings, VirusTotal,
then click the Unlock button. Next,
tick either option - one lets you
manually analyse files, the other does
so automatically (see screenshot).
GlassWire reveals what else is new
on its blog (www.snipca.com/26646).
This includes firewall profiles – specific
rules you want to apply depending on
where your PC is connected (for example,
at home, at work or in public).
I read your article in Issue 517 (page
16) about ‘click to call’ tech-support
scams (also see page 43). I was the
target of one recently - a woman
called speaking from “Microsoft
Reading”. She said there was a
problem with my computer. I found
it very difficult to understand her, so
she said goodbye and rang off.
Shortly afterwards a man rang, with
no better English, demanding to
know why we’d been so rude to his
staff. I refused to give him control of
my PC, so he threatened to phone the
police. I laughed, so he called me a
“stupid b******”!
James Lindsay
Warn your fellow readers about scams at
letters@computeractive.co.uk
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Best Free Software
Jonathan Parkyn recommends new programs that won’t cost you anything
UNINSTALLER
BCUninstaller 4.1
www.snipca.com/26666
What you need: Windows 7, 8, 8.1 or 10
Our current favourite free uninstaller is Wise Program
Uninstaller (www.snipca.com/26667), which won a Gold
Award in our last group test of uninstallers (see Issue 504,
page 50). But if you want more advanced features and
customisation options, then we wouldn’t blame you for trying
BCUninstaller instead.
It might look more daunting at first glance than Wise’s
uninstaller, and it might have a rude name (BC stands for
‘Bulk Crap’). But BCUninstaller is an undeniably powerful
tool that gives you total control over both traditional desktop
programs and Windows Store apps.
BCUninstaller lets you uninstall multiple programs at the
same time, for example, and installed software is presented
using a colour-coded view that makes it easy to see what type
of program each one is. Every program is listed along with
plenty of useful information – not just the install date and
size, but also the version number, whether there’s a related
startup item and any associated registry keys. The brand new
4
version of BCUninstaller adds even more advanced features,
including a new treemap under the main program list that
shows installed programs by size. You can now safely
automate bulk uninstallations, so that you don’t have to click
through dozens of confirmation screens. It also automatically
detects related software when uninstalling and asks if you
want to uninstall them as well.
Download BCUninstaller from the link above. You’ll notice
there are two options – download the portable version if you
want to run the program without installing anything, or
download the ‘Installer and Portable’ version, which will give
you the option of installing BCUninstaller or running its
portable version when you launch it.
The first time you run BCUninstaller, you’ll see instructions
that let you configure some of its settings – language, layout
and so on. Don’t worry too much about these – the default
selections are fine, and you can always change them at a later
point by clicking Tools, then Settings.
2
3
1
1 To uninstall multiple
programs, hold down
the Ctrl button and
click the ones you want
to remove, then click
Uninstall. You’ll see a
confirmation screen –
click Continue (twice),
then Begin Uninstallation.
18 17 – 30 January 2018
2 To uninstall programs
automatically, so you don’t
have to see confirmation
screens for each one, select
the programs you want to
remove from the list and
click ‘Uninstall quietly’,
Continue (twice), then Begin
Uninstallation.
3 The new treemap
displays all installed
programs by size – bigger
blocks represent larger
programs. For more
information, right-click a
block and select Properties
to see a window with more
details.
4 Click the Tools menu for
some useful options,
including a Startup
Manager and a ‘Clean up
“Program Files” folders’
tool, which searches for
and removes files, folders
and other junk left over
from uninstallations.
MUSIC PLAYER
Plexamp 1.0
http://plexamp.com
What you need: Windows 7, 8/8.1
or 10 (64bit only)
If you use media-streaming tool
Plex, you should try this new
experimental program from its
developers. Like Station (see
below), Plexamp is a 64bit-only
program. It’s a compact music
player inspired by classic media
programs such as WinAmp. It lets you play tracks from your
Plex library via a tiny window on your desktop, complete with
album art and lyrics. You can find specific artists, tracks or
albums via the Search box. But Plexamp is all about
rediscovering forgotten tunes from your music library, so you
can also choose one of three ‘radios’. Library Radio plays
random tracks across your whole collection, Time Travel Radio
plays your oldest tracks first and Artist Radio plays tunes similar
to your initial selection.
PRODUCTIVITY
Station 1.0.11
https://getstation.com
What you need: Windows 7, 8/8.1 or 10 (64bit only)
Station is a very interesting new tool that lets you access
dozens of online tools – including Google Docs, WhatsApp,
Dropbox and more – from within a single tabbed ‘workstation’
interface, rather than via several different apps and browser
windows. It’s primarily targeted at business users but anyone
can use Station – as long as you have a newer 64bit computer.
One great way to use Station is to unite all your online storage
accounts. You’ll be prompted to ‘Log in with your work
account’ when you first run the tool, but you can simply log in
with a Google account. Once you’ve done that, shortcuts to
your Gmail, Google Drive and Google Calendar will magically
appear on the left. Click the plus (+) sign at the bottom left
to browse for and add other apps. Click the ‘Storage &
File-sharing’ category, for example, to add Box, Dropbox,
OneDrive and more.
WHAT SHOULD I DOWNLOAD?
We tell you what software to use
How can I make myself
look younger?
Q
Could you please tell me of a good free program
for touching up old photos? I’d like one that can
add hair to your head and hide wrinkles.
Malcolm J Reid
Removing blemishes and retouching portrait
photos can be done with many decent free imageediting programs, including Paint.net (www.
getpaint.net). Open your photo and zoom into the area you
want to retouch. To remove a wrinkle, click the Clone Brush
(rubber stamp) tool on the left. Hold down the Ctrl key and
click a smooth section of skin adjacent to the wrinkle, then
release Ctrl and click the wrinkle. Continue doing this until
the entire wrinkle is hidden. Use the Undo button to correct
mistakes. The same technique can be used in Gimp (www.
gimp.org) and other image-editing tools.
You may be able to use a similar trick to replace missing
hair, but this can be a little harder to get right. Try adjusting
the ‘Brush width’ and Hardness levels in the toolbar directly
above the main preview area to see if that helps.
If that all sounds like too much hard work, you could
consider a face-tuning app on your phone or tablet. These
are designed to improve portraits and selfies using simple,
touch-control tools. Facetune for Android (www.snipca.
com/26670) and iOS (www.snipca.com/26669) offers a
Smooth tool that lets you swipe away any offending
wrinkles with your finger, and a Patch tool that lets you
copy areas – such as hair – and place them somewhere else.
But this fountain of youth comes at a price: £3.99 to be
exact. There are free alternatives, but in-app purchases are
often required to unlock the best tools. The smoothing tools
included with Facetune 2 for iOS (www.snipca.com/26671)
and AirBrush for Android (www.snipca.com/26672) are
currently free, though.
A
Do you need our advice on what software to use?
Just email us at letters@computeractive.co.uk
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17 – 30 January 2018 19
Reviews
p
y our experts
p
New products
tested by
PC ❘ £949 from Dell www.snipca.com/26588
Dell Inspiron 24 5000
A simpler all-in-one computer
Compared to Dell’s bigger and pricier
XPS 27 all-in-one (see our review, Issue
517), the 24in Inspiron looks more
restrained and businesslike. Instead of
an in-your-face multi-speaker grille, you
get a neat, dark grey front with elegantly
slim bezels and a more conventional
grille below the screen, through which
the built-in audio sounds decent.
With its white back panel and matching
accessories, the Inspiron 24 looks
attractive for a relatively affordable PC,
and the 24in size is big enough for you to
work and watch films comfortably while
fitting the snuggest of studies.
One of the better
all-in-one PCs we’ve
seen, but multi-tasking
was slow
The range starts at a reasonable £699
with a Full HD screen, AMD A10-9700E
quad-core processor and 1TB hard drive.
We tested the top model, though, which
came with a touchscreen that could be
laid flat using the hinged stand supplied.
The touchscreen is standard on this and
the £829 mid-range configuration, which
both have the faster AMD A12-9800E
processor. However, the clever stand costs
extra, and Dell is not currently selling it
in the UK yet anyway. We’re not really
bothered, given that anyone who wanted
to use their PC like that would probably
require a pressure-sensing stylus, which
SPECIFICATIONS
3.1GHz AMD A12-9800E quad-core processor • 8GB
memory • 128GB SSD • 1TB hard drive • AMD Radeon
RX560 graphics • 24in 1920x1080-pixel screen •
802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.1 • USB Type-C port • 3x
USB 3.1 ports • 3x USB 2.0 ports • Gigabit Ethernet
• HDMI input • HDMI output • Windows 10 Home •
352x540x53mm (HxWxD) excluding stand • 7.5kg •
One-year warranty www.snipca.com/26588
20 17 – 30 January 2018
isn’t offered. In
n fact, we’d have preferred
the choice of saving a few quid by
skipping the touch feature altogether. But
the price is also justified by a 128GB SSD,
which comes in addition to the hard
drive for faster Windows startup and
loading, and a 4GB AMD Radeon RX460
graphics card.
That means most 3D games will run
smoothly, give or take a bit of fiddling
with quality settings for the most
demanding. The main processor is the
weak point, coming from the previous
generation of AMD chips, before the
impressive new Ryzen series, and
performing similarly to a low-end Intel
Core i3. Despite the four cores, we found
multi-tasking was slow, so although
everyday tasks didn’t pose any problem,
the system didn’t feel as nippy as we’d
have hoped for the money. If games aren’t
your thing, and you don’t need a
dedicated graphics card to speed up
video effects, the £699 model could offer
a better balance of price and performance.
We can’t comment on the quality
of that machine’s screen, but the
touchscreen on ours looked fine,
covering 91.4 per cent of the sRGB
colour range, according to our meter,
with high accuracy. Brightness and
contrast are modest, and this wouldn’t be
our first choice for serious photo editing,
but colours are punchy enough
regardless of viewing angle, and for
general tasks it won’t disappoint.
Like other all-in-one PCs, the Inspiron
24 has most of its connectors on the back,
but there’s a very handy set on the side,
too, where they’re easier to reach
reach,
including USB 3.1, an SD card reader and
a headphone jack. As well as an HDMI
output for a second monitor, there’s an
HDMI input, so you can use the built-in
screen with another PC – an enormously
useful feature that’s too often omitted
(particularly by Apple).
Annoyingly, although 802.11ac Wi-Fi
and Bluetooth 4.1 are built in, the
included wireless keyboard and mouse
require a separate wireless dongle, taking
up one of the three USB 2.0 ports – but
that still leaves plenty, including a
USB Type-C. The keyboard wasn’t our
favourite for typing, so you might want
to sacrifice the coordinated look for
something less spongy.
All-in-one PCs tend to be either
overpriced or compromised, and overall
this is one of the better efforts we’ve seen.
We’d hope for a processor upgrade soon
to make it a really solid buy.
VERDICT: This is a good all-in-one with
no major drawbacks, but the ageing
processors make it less of a bargain
than it should be
★★★☆☆
ALTERNATIVE: Apple iMac
ac 21.5in
£1,049 Apple’s Full HD
option is better built but
lacks the SSD and GPU,
and its i5 processor is
also due an update
LAPTOP ❘ £1,350 from Lenovo www.snipca.com/26607
Lenovo Yoga 920
All-round performance
2017 was the year the ‘two-in-one’ PC – a
laptop that folds into a tablet – began to
look less like an unwanted novelty and
more like something we’d genuinely
want. That’s partly because a laptop can
now be made slim and light enough
not to feel ridiculous
when wielded as a
tablet with the
keyboard still
attached. Windows 10 must
share the credit, too, for offering a Tablet
mode and Windows Ink features that
make switching from keyboard to
touchscreen feel natural.
Its battery lasts
12-and-a-half hours
playing video
The Yoga 920 embodies these virtues.
Starting at a penny under twelve hundred
quid, it’s not cheap, but you can see
where all of those other pennies have
gone. Lenovo’s all-metal case – available
in copper, bronze or platinum-coloured
finishes – combines matt and polished
surfaces for a strikingly upmarket feel.
With its ‘watchband’ hinge, an intricate
yet sturdy construction that holds the
screen at whatever angle you choose, the
whole machine feels like it would be
more at home in the window of Tiffany’s
than Currys. A nearly-14in screen is
squeezed into less volume than many
13in laptops, and the designers have still
found room for two Thunderboltcompatible USB Type-C ports to connect
accessories, drives or a monitor, and one
full-size USB 3.0.
Inside the £1,200 model is an i5-8250U
processor from Intel’s new eighth
generation, with four cores and built-in
UHD Graphics 620, enough to run many
3D games and keep creative software
ticking over. Our pricier test laptop went
one better with an i7-8550U and twice
the SSD storage, at 512GB. We’ve noted
before that this chip is a big step up in
performance, and in our tests the Yoga
920 scored as well as many seventhgeneration i5 desktop PCs in demanding
tasks. Just as importantly, it eked almost
12-and-a-half hours of video playback
out of its slim battery, making this a
practical all-day travelling companion.
That’s two hours more than Microsoft’s
new Surface Pro, and four hours more
than Dell’s bulkier XPS 13 2-in-1.
If there’s one let-down, it’s the screen.
The Full HD panel doesn’t go very bright,
and our meter found it could only show
84 per cent of the sRGB colours, with
poor accuracy. Photo and video editors
will want to steer clear. There’s an
alternative UHD (4K) display, which at
the time of writing was only available
on the limited edition Yoga 920 Vibes
(www.snipca.com/26610) at £100 extra.
Notably, Lenovo’s pressure-sensitive
Active Pen 2 is included.
SPECIFICATIONS
Intel Core i7-8550U processor • 8GB memory •
512GB SSD • 13.9in 1920x1080-pixel screen •
Webcam • 2x USB Type-C ports • USB 3.0 port •
802.11ac Wi-Fi • Fingerprint reader • Windows 10
Home • 13.95x323x223.5mm (HxWxD) • 1.37kg •
One-year warranty www.snipca.com/26607
HOW WE TEST
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.
expertreviews.co.uk) and Alphr (www.
alphr.com). This means we can test
thousands of products before choosing
the most relevant for Computeractive.
FAIR AND IMPARTIAL
Our writers follow strict guidelines to
ensure the reviews are fair and
impartial. The manufacturer has no
involvement in our tests.
OUR AWARDS
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.
PRICES
Our reviews contain a link to the best
price we found online at the time of press.
VERDICT: Despite a lacklustre display,
this is a highly capable Windows 10 PC
in an exceptionally flexible format
★★★★☆
ALTERNATIVE: HP Spectre x360 13
£1,299 Now with
eighth-generation
processors, this is
a close rival but
can’t match the
battery life
17 – 30 January 2018 21
Reviews
MESH ROUTER ❘ £380 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26632
Asus Lyra MAP AC2200
Better broadband for bigger budgets
Mesh routers (see Issue 518, page 58)
have quickly become the best choice in
Wi-Fi for most homes. Supplied as a set
of two or more boxes, they add on to
your existing broadband equipment and
spread the signal wider, using clever
new technologies to ensure all your
devices get the best connection. That
includes those that use Wi-Fi and those
with a wired Ethernet port.
The latter can be cabled to one of the
two sockets on each of the Asus Lyra’s
three puck-shaped units, a little bigger
than a stack of 10 CDs. BT’s rival Whole
Home WiFi dishes only have one
Ethernet apiece. Then again, they are
compatible with BT Sport, if you have it
– unlike Lyra.
As usual, there’s a free app that
you’ll need on your phone or tablet to
set up the system, after which you can
also use a web page to change its
settings. These include the option to run
it in PPPoE mode to replace an existing
router rather than adding on to it. This
option is initially simpler but means
you’ll be using two (or more) IP
addresses, making it more fiddly to set
up things that require port forwarding,
such as multiplayer games.
You can create a separate guest
network with its own password, and
like Google Home (see Issue 501) Lyra
SPECIFICATIONS
Three-router tri-band mesh network • Supports
802.11n and 802.11ac • App requires device running
Android 5.0 or iOS 8.0 or higher • 40x140x140mm
(HxWxD) • Three-year warranty
www.snipca.com/26633
22 17 – 30 January 2018
lets you create user profiles for members
of your family, letting you control what
they can access and when. You also get
Trend Micro’s AirProtection, which
helps to stop malicious websites
communicating with your PCs.
In our tests, we got high speeds of 200
to 350Mbps on the ground and first floor
of our test home, falling to a still very
fast 150Mbps in the attic. This puts the
Lyra on a par with BT Whole Home
Wi-Fi. It wasn’t quite as good at the
bottom of the garden, falling just below
50Mbps, but that still beat the likes of
TP-Link’s Deco M5.
So Lyra is a fine system all round,
but at more than twice the price of BT
Whole Home Wi-Fi, it’s clearly too
expensive. Asus insists its three-unit
pack will cover a home of up to 6,000
square feet, while BT recommends four
dishes for any property more than 4,500
sq ft – but that still works out at £140
less, and most UK homes are under
2,000 sq ft.
VERDICT: Asus’s blue-lit discs are
attractive and have lots of useful
features, but most people just don’t
need to spend this much
★★★☆☆
ALTERNATIVE: BT Whole
hole
le
Home Wi-Fi £170 It
was decent value at
£300, but discounted
to £170 this remains
unbeatable value
Do I really need...
water cooling?
What does it do?
Every PC needs to dissipate the heat
generated by its major components,
particularly the main processor (CPU)
and graphics processor (GPU). This is
most often done by air cooling – fans
at the front draw air
into the case, and fans
at the top, rear or sides
push it out, carrying the
excess heat with it. With
water cooling, you’ll
still need fans, but by
pumping water on to the back
of a metal plate fixed directly to the hot
component, and circulating this water
to a radiator that helps heat escape,
cooling is made more efficient.
Why would I want it?
It means you can get away with fewer
fans rotating at slower speeds while still
letting the chips reach their maximum
performance level – especially
important if they are overclocked. That
makes for a quieter computer.
What’s the catch?
Installing a water-cooling system can
be a complicated plumbing job, with
pipes to run around inside the case,
pumps and reservoirs, and multiple
joints with the risk of leaks.
So can I do without it?
Yes. Very few PCs really need a fullblown water-cooling system – it’s more
of an aesthetic option for those who
want an impressive-looking computer,
typically accompanied by colourcontrolled LED lighting (see the Cube
Aorus PC pictured above). But ‘closed
loop’ water-cooling units – like Cooler
Master’s MasterLiquid Pro 140 – pictured
below) come with everything sealed in,
and although they’re fiddly to fit, they
won’t need any maintenance or topping
up. So if a PC comes with one fitted, like
the Palicomp AMD
Galaxy (see page
23), it’s a valid
choice that shouldn’tt
cause you any
problems.
PC ❘ £1,300 from Palicomp www.snipca.com/26614
Palicomp AMD Galaxy
Star of the show
Have we mentioned that overclocked
AMD Ryzen processors are quite fast?
Stop us if you’re sick of hearing it,
but seriously, these chips have changed
our expectations of the performance
per pound you can expect from a
desktop PC. The AMD Galaxy is a case in
point. Its Ryzen 7 1700 processor isn’t
even at the top of the range, but with
eight cores and running at an ambitious
3.8GHz (with the help of a sealed
water-cooling unit), it gives this £1,300
desktop PC the kind of muscle that six
months ago you’d have struggled to find
for less than £2,000.
As long as you don’t
mind noisy fans this
is a powerful PC that
leaves rivals behind
We run our own set of benchmark
tests on every PC, so we can see just
how much difference each advance in
technology makes. In photo editing, the
AMD Galaxy was as fast as last year’s
seventh-generation Intel Core i7 PCs. In
video editing, where the eight cores could
demonstrate their full benefit, it left last
year’s PCs in the dust. We said at the time
that Intel’s eighth-generation Coffee Lake
series would finally give the Ryzens a run
for their money. Well, compared with a
BUY IT!
★★★★★
similar system based on the
new top-end six-core Intel
i7-8700, the AMD Galaxy was
over 10 per cent faster overall
and 15 per cent faster in
multitasking. And the Intel
PC was more expensive. To be
fair, you could overclock the
i7-8700K to make up the
difference, but AMD can trump
p
that with its even faster Ryzen 7
1800 – and still at a lower
component price.
The AMD Galaxy also features
es
Gigabyte’s version of the Nvidia
ia GeForce
GTX 1070 graphics card, which
h comes
co
with 8GB of its own memory and
nd a
performance level that comes close to the
market-leading GTX 1080. At Full HD
resolution, any game will run very
smoothly on the highest graphics
settings, and less demanding 3D games
are fine up to 4K.
There’s no current graphics card that
will handle the most demanding games
at 4K without some compromise. And
we got a very playable 50-frames-per
-second (fps) frame rates by turning off
anti-aliasing, which isn’t needed in a
picture that sharp. You won’t see any
jagged edges unless you’re a fighter pilot
who’s drunk way too much coffee.
Our only reservation is that the fans
both on the graphics card and on the
water cooler got annoyingly loud during
some processor-intensive tasks, including
ga
games. There were no overheating
pr
problems, though, and if you keep the PC
tu
tucked well under your desk, and you
li
like the sound turned up loud or use
he
headphones, it may not bother you.
A tempered glass side panel gives you a
ni
nice view of all this technology, illuminated
by controllable multi-coloured LEDs,
in
inside the Phanteks Eclipse P300 case.
SPECIFICATIONS
SP
3.8
3.8GHz AMD Ryzen 7 1700 eight-core processor •
16
16GB memory • 256GB SSD • 2TB hard drive •
7x USB 3.1 ports • 2x USB 3.0 ports • USB Type-C
port
por • Gigabit Ethernet • 2x HDMI ports • DVI port •
4x DisplayPorts • Windows 10 • 450x200x400xmm
(HxWxD)
(H
• One-year warranty www.snipca.
com/26614
co
There’s only room for one more 2.5in and
one 3.5in drive beyond the installed 2TB
hard drive and 256GB M.2 SSD, but the
latter is astonishingly quick, showing
read speeds of over 2400MB/s and nearly
1400MB/s write speeds in our tests – over
three times faster than basic SATA SSDs,
let alone hard drives.
There are also plenty of USB 3.1 ports
for external storage, although if you
want anything like the same speed you’ll
need to use the remaining M.2 slot. Two
memory slots are free to double the
supplied 16GB, and the available PCI slots
would support an SLI dual graphics card
setup as well as a couple of extras such as
a Wi-Fi card or a TV tuner.
The noise issue is not to be ignored, but
this PC is so powerful it would be
churlish not to recommend it. Let’s hope
we have more deals like this to talk about
in the coming months.
VERDICT: We’re not entirely convinced
by the cooling setup, but this kind of
performance at this price add up to an
offer we can’t refuse
★★★★★
ALTERNATIVE: Wired2Fire
Pyro Reactor £1,015 If you
want to spend a bit less,
this Ryzen 5 1600X PC
with GTX 1060 graphics is
another good deal
17 – 30 January 2018 23
Reviews
PHONE ❘ £270 from Honor www.snipca.com/26649
Huawei Honor 7X
A big phone for a mid-range price
The latest thing in smartphones is 18:9
screens, which are taller, so you can see
slightly more without having to scroll.
Another way of looking at it (literally)
is they’re wider, when held sideways,
which is actually a bit annoying because
films are still 16:9.
At least Huawei hasn’t chopped a funny
notch out of the screen like the 18:9
iPhone X. You get a proper rectangle,
with a narrow strip at the top containing
the camera and phone speaker. You also
have a narrow strip at the bottom with
‘Honor’ on, reminding you that while
iPhone X users paid a grand for their
phone, you got this one for £270.
SPECIFICATIONS
5.93in 2160x1080-pixel screen • 16-megapixel
and 2-megapixel rear cameras • 8-megapixel
front camera • 64GB flash storage • MicroSD
card slot • 802.11n Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.1 • 3G/4G •
157x75x7.6mm (HxWxD) • 165g • One-year warranty
www.snipca.com/26649
BUY IT!
★★★★★
At this price the Honor 7X is an
exceptionally attractive model. It’s big,
but thanks to the narrow format it’s
still comfortable to hold, and the slim,
rounded metal case feels classy. The
screen only covered 85 per cent of the
sRGB colour range in our tests, but with
sharp resolution, high contrast and
reasonable brightness it looks fine.
The eight-core Kirin processor is fast
enough to make the Honor version of
Android 7 (sadly not 8) work smoothly,
although it’s way behind pricier phones
in 3D games performance. The dual
cameras, with background-blur portrait
effect, work very well in good light. On
the back is a fingerprint sensor, which
unlocks the phone very quickly but
doesn’t support contactless payments.
Our main reservation is that the battery
only lasted us nine hours 47 minutes of
video playback. It’ll get you through a
whole day sometimes, but not always.
VERDICT:
RDICT: If you like the tall screen an
and
can live with the sub-par battery life
life,
the 7X has no competition in its price
bracket at the moment
★★★★★
ALTERNATIVE: Huawei Honor 9
£310 It’s slightly better all round,
but this smaller phone, now
widely discounted from £380,
has a standard 16:9 screen
SMART WATCH ❘ £239 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26650
Fitbit Ionic
A healthier option
Fitbit’s Surge smart watch was one of the
more popular models – even Barack
Obama was spotted wearing one – but
not everyone loved it. Its successor also
has an opinion-dividing design, making
no attempt to resemble a traditional watch.
Described as unisex, it looks like it might
suit a robot. But we found it comfortable
to wear, and its display is clear and
bright, protected by Gorilla Glass.
As you’d expect from the Fitbit brand,
fitness tracking is the Ionic’s big selling
point, although it also brings your online
notifications to your wrist, can run apps
made for Fitbit’s new OS, and store music.
SPECIFICATIONS
1.42in 348x250 pixel touchscreen • Heart-rate
monitor • GPS • 2.5GB storage • Bluetooth 4.0 •
Waterproof • One size • 12.2x26x39mm (HxWxD)
• One-year warranty www.snipca.com/26652
24 17 – 30 January 2018
GPS is built in, but not 3G/4G internet,
and you’ll need an Apple or Android
device to view your data. The Ionic is
fully waterproof, and Fitbit’s claims of
accurate swim tracking were borne out
in our tests, although neither GPS nor
the heart-rate monitor work in the water.
Whether running, swimming or cycling,
it can detect when you start and stop.
You can also shop with it using
contactless Fitbit Pay.
With battery life of about three days in
regular use, the Ionic is a practical smart
watch, and at this price it’s decent value.
iPhone users might prefer an Apple
Watch Series 1, at around £279, but the
Series 3, with GPS, is much pricier.
For a less chunky fitness tracker with
heart monitor and basic notifications,
consider Fitbit’s Charge 2 (£100, see our
review Issue 508) or Garmin’s GPSequipped Vivosmart HR+ (£130, see
Issue 479).
VERDICT: A smart watch still won’t feel
essential to most people, but if health is
a priority this one is worth considering
★★★★☆
ALTERNATIVE: Garmin
Vivosmart HR+ £130 This
is heart
monitor band, discounted
ed from
£170, lacks the ability to add
apps but has GPS and swim
wim
tracking
PRINTER ❘ £35 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26615
Canon Pixma TS3150
Print more for less
This budget multi-function inkjet printer
comes from the same new Canon range
as the TS8050 (see our review, Issue 504),
which costs £100 more. Sadly it doesn’t
share the sleek two-tone design, but the
TS3150’s more conventional black plastic
case is nonetheless neat and attractive. A
flap at the top rear folds up from the lid of
the scanner to guide paper into the printer.
Without a paper tray as such, you can
only load 60 sheets at one time, reflecting
this model’s suitability for occasional
rather than high-volume printing.
Rather than a big colour touchscreen
now found on pricier models, it has a tiny
monochrome LCD that doesn’t really help
with anything. There are, however,
buttons for basic photocopying.
Canon’s PC software makes the various
functions easy to access, though –
including Wi-Fi setup, which in most
SPECIFICATIONS
4800x1200dpi maximum print resolution •
600x1200dpi maximum scan resolution •
60-sheet top feed • USB 2 • 802.11n Wi-Fi •
145x435x316mm (HxWxD) • 3.9kg • One-year
warranty www.snipca.com/26618
cases will happen automatically.
toma
matically.
If anything does go awry
awry,
ry,
you can plug in a USB
B
cable temporarily to
do things the oldfashioned way. Canon
on
phone apps are also
available, and you can
an
print directly from
other iOS and Android
oid
apps via AirPrint and
d
Mopria. Unusually, the
he
TS3150 takes a black car
cartridge
artridge plus a
single cartridge for its
ts three colour inks.
Ideally, costs should work out at about
5.4p per colour page using Canon’s XL
cartridges, which is slightly cheaper than
average, but there could be some wastage
if you use one colour more than another.
Our tests found scanning acceptably
quick, while printing was noticeably slow
– a maximum rate of 7.4 pages per minute
(ppm) for plain black text and just
1.6ppm for colour graphics. A postcardsized colour photo on glossy paper took
two minutes 30 seconds, and we couldn’t
make the TS3150 print on full-size A4
WHY PAY MORE FOR AN INKJET?
It’s amazing that you can get a
multi-function printer for just 35
quid. Of course, there’s a catch
– ink. Using Canon’s XL
cartridges, it costs about 5.4p
to print a colour page using the
TS3150, which compares well
with 7p (and above) on some
budget models. The ISO-standard
pages used for these estimates are
sparse. For colour photos, you might
use five times more ink, which adds up
much faster. By contrast, the TS3150’s
black ink is relatively pricey, at around
4.3p. Even for text, that’s a tenner extra
for every pack of A4 (500 sheets). So
overall value depends on what you print.
Other factors might make the TS3150
unsuitable. It’s pretty slow. Canon’s old
but decent MG5750 is about twice as
fast and, if you shop around, less than
twice the price. For big photos on
glossy paper, on the other hand, the
HP Envy 5540 (£49 from Tesco Direct
www.snipca.com/26616, pictured)
could be a better buy.
None of these printers has an
automatic document feeder (ADF).
If you often need to scan or copy
multiple pages, Epson has affordable
options such as the WorkForce
WF-3720DWF (£80 from Amazon
www.snipca.com/26619).
A decent, basic
model for occasional
printing only
photo paper at all. Its advertised
borderless output only works at smaller
sizes. Canon’s test model had unfortunately
got wet on its way to us, causing vertical
lines in scans and copies, but ignoring
these one-off problems we were very
happy with the quality of both printing
and scanning.
You’d expect some compromises at this
price. The TS3150’s very slow printing
would be a frustration if you suddenly
needed a 100-page document in a hurry,
and it can’t print both sides (duplex). The
photo-printing restrictions will rule it out
for some. Within its limitations, however,
this is quite a decent printer-scanner for
very little money.
VERDICT: The TS3150 is definitely
basic, but not a bad buy if you don’t
need A4 photo enlargements or fast,
cheap text printing
★★★☆☆
ALTERNATIVE: Canon Pixma MG5750
£65 This older model takes five
separate inks, with
similar overall
running costs, and
remains our valuefor-money favourite.
17 – 30 January 2018 25
Reviews
KEYBOARD ❘ £79 from Wellworking www.snipca.com/26626
Bakker Elkhuizen UltraBoard 940
For travelling types
It’s a good thing we have internet
shopping now, because – given its name
– we wouldn’t fancy trying to order this
over the phone. The Dutch manufacturer
specialises in practical work accessories,
and while this portable Bluetooth
keyboard has a conventional design it’s
certainly very useful. Connected to a
PC or Mac via USB, it works as you’d
expect, but it can also be paired
wirelessly with up to five Apple or
Android phones or tablets.
A portable, practical
keyboard for devices at
home or away
The keys, though low-profile, have
some of the three-dimensional shape and
tight spacing of a traditional mechanical
keyboard. Underneath are scissor
switches like those used in most laptops.
They feel reasonably crisp when pressed,
SPECIFICATIONS
Bluetooth LE keyboard • Requires Mac, PC
with Bluetooth, iOS or Android mobile device •
19x285x147mm (HxWxD) • 430g • Two-year
warranty www.snipca.com/26627
BUY IT!
★★★★★
giving an audible click without being too
irritating, and we had no trouble typing
at speed. The single-deck Enter key is
easy to miss at first, as is the tiddly
Backspace, but there’s a full set of
function keys that provide the usual
options across the various operating
systems, plus a set of buttons at the top
left for Home, Mail, PrintScreen and
NumLock. The latter turns the keys below
7, 8 and 9 into a virtual number pad,
because a separate one wouldn’t fit in the
compact format. Fold-out legs let you
angle the keyboard, although they are
somewhat flimsy.
The instructions could be clearer, but
after a bit of fumbling we soon got our
devices connected. You can then assign a
number key to each one, making it easy
to switch between them. A slight
annoyance is that you have to unplug the
WHAT SHOULD I BUY?
USB cable before
re tthe
UltraBoard will resp
respond
spon to
Bluetooth devices, but at le
least the USB
connection also charges the ke
keyboard’s
battery, so if you cable it to you
your
ou PC while
at home it’ll always be ready to take out
with your mobile device. Alternatively,
you can connect it wirelessly to any Mac
or Bluetooth-ready PC.
It’s not as cheap as some, but the
UltraBoard is easily portable while still
feeling like a proper keyboard that you
could use every day.
VERDICT: The unusual key design
should suit a wide range of typing
tastes, and the multi-device
connectivity makes switching simple
★★★★★
ALTERNATIVE: Logitech K480 £45 This
Bluetooth-only keyboard
ey
pa
pairs with
three devices and is
good value, but
twice as heavy
and quite noisy
We solve your buying dilemmas
How can I hear my phone calls?
I’ve used two cheap Chinese
smartphones for some years
now, but always found the
quality of the speakers lacking. My
hearing is deteriorating, and even with
hearing aids I can’t hear calls well. Can
you recommend a phone, for under
£130, that has quality speakers to make
calls as clear as possible?
Ray Nipper
Q
A
Audibility is hard to assess
objectively, but a few models
stand out. You should consider
26 17 – 30 January 2018
a refurbished device. Not only will you
get more for your money, but you can rely
ely
on more reviews from users. Try Google’s
’s
Shopping tab or eBay, taking the usual
precautions to check the seller is within
the UK and doesn’t have bad reviews.
HTC’s One M9 has high call quality
and large speakers – refurbished, it costs
around £135. Apple’s iPhone 5s can also
be found in this price range, with
excellent audio quality. Among current
models, Vodafone’s Smart N8 (£79) has a
decent front speaker that should help,
although you’ll need to wait a month and
pay a tenner to switch to another
network.
You could also add earphones or a
speaker. A small Bluetooth speaker
such as the Anker SoundCore 2 (£40
from Amazon www.snipca.com/26622,
pictured) lets you take and make calls,
connected wirelessly to your phone.
Do you need advice on what you should buy?
Email us at letters@computeractive.co.uk
BEND YOUR REALITY
AG352UCG
AG352QCX
Reviews
SECURITY CAMERA ❘ £300 from Maplin www.snipca.com/26634
Swann 8 Channel Heat-Sensing
Camera CCTV Kit
Are four eyes better than one?
We’ve tested several Wi-Fi home-security
cameras, which connect wirelessly and
are controlled from an app, making them
simple and flexible to use. But they
mostly have the same two disadvantages.
First, they rely on visual motion-sensing
to start recording then send you a
notification, which is annoyingly prone
to triggering when nobody’s actually
there. Secondly, to store and replay what
they see for more than 24 hours (or in
some cases to store any footage at all),
you have to pay several pounds a month
for an online service.
This more traditional CCTV kit from
Swann avoids those issues, but has an
app too. The four cameras – which are
suitable for indoor or outdoor use – must
be wired to the base unit (18 metres of
cable is provided for each) and only
record video, not sound. No computer is
required: the digital recorder connects to
SPECIFICATIONS
4x 1080p cameras with PIR motion detection and
infra-red vision • 1TB digital video recorder with 8
channels • Camera 150x66x66mm (HxWxD) • Base
unit 47x230x210mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty
www.snipca.com/26638
your TV or monitor, and you can set it up
on screen using the supplied mouse. With
eight channels, there’s room to add four
more cameras later. The box also has an
Ethernet port to connect to your home
network, and by installing the Swann
HomeSafe View app you can then get a
live feed from the cameras on your phone
or tablet via the internet. A low-bandwidth
mode reduces the amount of data used,
but you can switch to Full HD quality if
you have fast broadband.
We found the picture very clear, and
thanks to the cameras’ infra-red
capability you can even see what’s
happening in the dark. The 102-degree
STORE ONLINE or ON YOUR PC?
Swann’s digital recorder can store more
ore
video than you’re ever likely to need on
its 1TB hard drive, with no ongoing
costs. But if a savvy intruder rips out
the box, you’ve lost all trace of their
visit. With online cameras, there’s a
monthly fee to store more than a littlee
bit of footage – typically what was
captured in the last 24 hours – but at
least the evidence is always safe online.
ne.
Netgear’s Arlo cameras (from £169,
9,
or £270 for three, see Issue 454,
pictured) work wirelessly from
batteries indoors and out, and come
with a week’s free online storage.
Backing up to a USB drive is possible
with Arlo Pro, but that’s pricey, at
around £300 with one camera. The
28 17 – 30 January 2018
mains-powered Netatmo Welcome
(£149 from AO www.snipca.com/
26637, see Issue 478) is the only
standalone Wi-Fi cam we’ve tested that
records to its own microSD card. It can
also back up footage to Dropbox. Face
recognition helps it to ignore irrelevant
motion. Netatmo Presence (£200 from
Amazon www.snipca.com/26635) is a
more sophisticated outdoor version.
field of view isn’t very wide, which
minimises the ‘fishbowl’ effect but
requires careful positioning. Recording is
triggered by passive infra-red (PIR)
sensors on the cameras – the ‘heat
sensing’ part – which is more reliable
than the image-processing methods used
by most cams. We found it worked very
well, and wasn’t falsely triggered by
events like the movement of shadows.
You can limit activation to scheduled
times, but this has to be set up using the
box’s own fiddly TV interface.
The app makes it easy to get a live view
from any camera, but finding recordings
to play back is a right old palaver, and
although you can opt to receive a
notification when motion is detected, this
stopped working for us after a while with
an obscure error message. Unlike with
most single security cameras, there’s no
option to recognise when you’re at home
with your smartphone and switch off
recording.
VERDICT: Lots of kit for the money,
without the expense or limitations of
online storage, but marred by
a fiddly setup and primitive
app features
★★★☆☆
ALTERNATIVE: Netatmo
Welcome £149 You could
buy two of these instead for
wireless simplicity. You’ll
need the pricier Presence for
outdoor installation
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE ❘ £57 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26673
Seagate Backup Plus
Ultra Slim 1TB
Move your stuff
BUY IT!
★★★★★
Inside is a traditional mechanical hard
drive, which explains why you can get a
terabyte of storage for less money than an
external SSD with a quarter of the
capacity. A 2TB version is also available
for around £75, which is even better
value. Of course, the downside is that it’s
nowhere near as fast, and certainly won’t
trouble the 640 megabytes-per-second
ceiling of its USB 3.0 interface.
In our tests, it peaked at 135MB/s
reading and 125MB/s writing, which is a
little faster than most portable hard
drives. A large batch of small files – the
most challenging prospect for disk-based
hardware because it has to find lots of
different places on the surface of the
spinning platters – didn’t slow it down
as much as some rivals.
Hard drives are inherently more
breakable than solid-state drives, and this
isn’t sold as a rugged device, but the
plastic case seems sturdy enough and
manages to stop most of the mechanical
SPECIFICATIONS
2.5in hard drive • 1TB capacity • 5400rpm • USB 3.0
interface • 9.6x76x114mm (HxWxD) • 137g
• Two-year warranty www.snipca.com/26674
This is now!
How technology
has changed
tech
FX-7
Casio FX-7000G
WHAT WAS IT?
Introduced in 1985, the FX7000G was the first graphing
Fo about $90
calculator. For
($200 toda
today, or £150), it
incorporated maths operations
such as squa
square roots and
logarithms, supported its own
programmin
programming language, and
could graph functions on its 64x96pixel mono
monochrome LCD screen. It was
the most pow
powerful computing device
anyone was likely to have in their pocket.
Seagate’s Backup Plus desktop
top drives
have been a popular choice for years, but
this portable model is a very different
proposition. Less than a centimetre
timetre thick,
it’s as portable as a mobile phone.
hone. The
case comes in a distinctive sandblasted
finish with a pattern of large circular
dimples, available in gold or platinum
colours. It looks very much like
something a particularly stylish
lish Bond
villain might slip in a suit pocket
ocket to keep
the plans for world domination
tion handy.
You can also get it in a plain brushed
silver, blue, red or black.
Portable as a mobile
phone and a bit faster
than most rivals
That was then…
noise escaping. The USB 3.0 interface will
suit the vast majority of PCs and Macs.
It’ll also work with USB 2.0 ports, but
that would cut speeds by more than half.
No mains power is needed.
The Ultra Slim drive is only available
formatted as NTFS, for Windows, but
Mac users can install Seagate’s Paragon
NTFS driver for macOS 10.10 or above,
making the drive usable across both
platforms, or reformat it themselves.
There’s nothing especially backup-related
about the drive itself, but it comes with
Seagate’s Dashboard software to back up
a Windows PC, while Mac users are
sensibly advised to use Apple’s built-in
Time Machine feature for that.
VERDICT: There’s not a huge difference
between big-name portable hard
drives, but Seagate gets speed, style
and value right
★★★★★
ALTERNATIVE:
E: WD My Passport 1TB
£54 This chunkier
unkier
kier drive
was a bit slower
ower
er in
our tests, but th
the
he
4TB version
is excellent
value at £100
HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED?
The FX-700
FX-7000G’s capabilities were
enabled by its processor, a variant of the
Zilog Z80. Th
This 8bit design permitted
16bit addres
addressing and could access up
to 64K of me
memory, although the FX7000G offered less than half a kilobyte.
Today, a basic Android smartphone
has millons of times more processing
power and at least a gigabyte of
memory (RAM), and can not only run
graphing calculator apps, but much
more powerful maths software.
Ironically, calculators made by Casio
and Texas Instruments are still popular
because phones aren’t allowed in
school and university exams.
NEXT ISSUE
ON SALE
Weds
31 Jan
Smart thermostats
Top ways to
manage your
heating
Medion Erazer P4408 D
Intel i5 PC with great
graphics for under £700
These and much more…
Subscribe to Computeractive at
www.getcomputeractive.co.uk
17 – 30 January 2018 29
Buy It
Find out what other products we liked.
Buy our new 2016 Back Issue CD:
£15 from www.snipca.com/23209
Our pick of products that have won the Buy It award
LAPTOP
DESKTOP PC
APPLE iPAD
Asus ZenBook UX310UA
Wired2FirePyroReactor
Apple iPad 9.7in
AMD’s six-core Ryzen 5 1600X is
overclocked to a blazing 3.8GHz in this
well-balanced system, paired with a
GTX 1060 graphics card, 16GB memory,
250GB SSD and 1TB hard drive. The
case is limited but it has plenty of ports.
The replacement for the iPad Air 2 iis
slightly bulkier and has a downgraded
screen but remains the best mid-sized
tablet, with a sensible 32GB of storage.
You’ll need the £619 iPad Pro if you
want to use the Pencil stylus (£99).
ALTERNATIVE: Palicomp i5 Titanium
Good all-round performance from a
Kaby Lake Intel i5 processor with a
250GB SSD and 1TB hard drive.
£500 from www.snipca.com/24543
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
from www.snipca.com/24080
APPLE iPHONE
ANDROID PHONE
Apple iPhone SE
Motorola Moto G4
£700 from www.snipca.com/26126
Tested: Issue 503
Gradually being replaced by the 410
(which we haven’t tested yet), the i5
processor version of this is now harder
to find, but the i3 version is more than
good enough for general use. The
highlight is the super-sharp QHD screen.
ALTERNATIVE: Dell XPS 13 This
premium laptop starts at £1,149, but
our pick is the i7 with QHD touchscreen.
£1,380 from www.snipca.com/26123
ANDROID TABLET
P
DRRIC
OP E
Samsung Galaxy Tab
b S3 9.7
£1,025 from www.snipca.com/26219
Tested: Issue 516
om/24140
£500 from www.snipca.com/24140
Tested: Issue 501
£349 from www.snipca.com/24854
Tested: Issue 474
Samsung’s
g’ss new
w mid-sized table
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.
Ha in on for
Hanging
f a third
rd year, A
Apple’s
le’s
le
’s
smaller phone is deservedly popular,
challenging Android rivals with decent
processing power, a great screen and
camera, fingerprint recognition and
Apple Pay. 32GB of storage should
suffice, but there’s no microSD.
ALTERNATIVE: Asus ZenPad 3S 10
With eight-hour battery life and 4GB
of memory for fast multitasking, this
iPad-like 9.7in tablet is great value.
£270 from www.snipca.com/24858
ALTERNATIVE: iPhone 8 Expensive and
a bit fragile, but superbly equipped. If
you can manage with 32GB, consider
the iPhone 7 at £150 less. £699 from
www.snipca.com/25789
30 17 – 30 January 2018
£339 from www.snipca.com/24079
Tested: Issue 500
P
DRRIC
OP E
om/21685
£145 from www.snipca.com/21685
Tested: Issue 479
With an attractive 5.5in screen, an
excellent 13-megapixel camera, a
13-hour battery and decent performance,
the G4 remains the best budget option.
ALTERNATIVE: Samsung Galaxy S8
The wraparound screen looks stunning
and this top-end phone has no real
flaws. Now that it’s getting discounted a
bit, even the price might not put us off.
£513 from www.snipca.com/24857
Ultra Wide-Color
with 4K in an immersive design
Colours like you’ve never seen before. This brilliant 4K UHD
resolution display with Ultra Wide-Color offers the richest
and most vivid colours wrapped in an immersive curved
design for a your best creations yet.
UltraWideColor
CurvedDisplay
4K UltraClear 4K Ultra HD
40" 4K curved display
(BDM4037U)
BUY IT!
★★★★★
Buy It
EBOOK READER
SECURITY SOFTWARE
PHOTO EDITING
Amazon Kindle (2016)
Kaspersky Internet
Security 2018
Serif Affinity Photo
£60from
£57
fromwww.snipca.com/21901
www.snipca.com/21901
Tested: Issue 483
£19.99 from www.snipca.com/21532
Tested: Issue 516
P
DRRIC
OP E
om/23739
£39 from www.snipca.com/23739
Tested: Issue 498
Here: All copy copied
and pasted from issue
489
Amazon’s
azon’s basic ebook reader is now
good enough to be our first choice
choice. It
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.
ALTERNATIVE Kobo Aura
Glo HD
H2O (2017)
Competing
This premium
with
waterproof
the Kindle reader
Paperwhite,
from
Kobo’s
Amazon’s
compact
main model
rival can’t
hasload
a clear
Kindle
screen
with
books,
controllable
but it’s very
lighting.
pleasant
£130
tofrom
use.
www.snipca.com/21905
£150 from www.snipca.com/24473
Kaspersky Internet Security has won our
past nine antivirus tests and the 2018
version is now available at an exclusive
reader discount on our Software Store.
Go to the link above for a one-year, onedevice licence or buy a two-year, threedevice licence for just £39.99.
ALTERNATIVE: Norton Security Deluxe
Almost as good as Kaspersky, but
blocks more legitimate software.
£21.99 from www.snipca.com/25004
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
Macs.
ALTERNATIVE: Xara Photo & Graphic
Designer For all-round design and
drawing plus photo filters, this
affordable app has a lot to offer.
£35 from www.snipca.com/26514
PC MONITOR
ROUTER
MULTIFUNCTION PRINTER
AOC Q2778VQE
TP-Link Archer C3200
Canon Pixma MG5750
Simply the best router you can buy for
under £150. It’s a tri-band device, giving
you one 2.4GHz band and two on 5GHz,
minimising Wi-Fi congestion on your
network. It is fastest at close range on
2.4GHz, peaking at 124Mbps. There’s no
MU-MIMO though.
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.
£210 fromwww.snipca.com/21902
£212from
www.snipca.com/25508
Tested: Issue 468
£147 from www.snipca.com/26568
Tested: Issue 503
£63 from www.snipca.com/21693
Tested: Issue 470
Here: All copy copied
and pasted from issue
489
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.
ALTERNATIVE: Dell UltraSharp U2414H
This 1920x1080, 24in screen has a
stand that can switch to portrait mode.
Colour accuracy is excellent. £190 from
www.snipca.com/21908
32 17 – 30 January 2018
ALTERNATIVE: Synology RT2600ac
Synology’s Router Manager software
make this the easiest router to set
up and control bar none. Advanced
parental controls let you restrict when
and for how long a device can go online.
£224 from www.snipca.com/26570
ALTERNATIVE: Brother MFC-J5330DW
This affordable A3 inkjet with A4
scanner is among the least expensive to
run, making it a very sensible buy.
£126 from www.snipca.com/24674
BUY IT!
★★★★★
COMPETITION
Computeractive
is hiring!
Want to write for the UK’s best-selling
technology magazine? We’re looking for
an outstanding Deputy Editor who has the
pride, vision and dedication to produce
exceptional features every fortnight.
You’ll need to share our readers’ passion for
computing. They expect excellent advice written in plain
English – it will be your job to deliver that in every issue.
You’ll be commissioning, writing and editing in-depth,
well-researched articles that our loyal readers read and keep,
not 50-word snippets online that are instantly forgotten.
For more details on the job and to
apply visit www.snipca.com/26041.
To contact the Editor (Daniel
Booth) directly email editor@
computeractive.co.uk.
HOMEPLUGS
P
DRRIC
OP E
TP-Link AV1200 Powerline
werline
Wi-Fi Kit WPA8730
£90 from www.snipca.com/23766
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.
ALTERNATIVE: D-Link PowerLine AV2
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.
£26 from www.snipca.com/21691
Win 1 of 5
Peli Memory Card Cases
This protective,
water-resistant case
contains room to
store 12 SD cards,
6 miniSD cards and
6 microSD cards.
It’s made of tough
polycarbonate resin,
has a shock-absorbent
entt
lining, and weighs justt
0.1kg. It’s small enough
gh to
carry with ease, at 141mm
1m
1mm
long, 83mm wide and
d 22mm
deep. To enter, email your address to cacomp@dennis.
co.uk with ‘peli’ in the subject line by midnight 30 January.
Peli’s Memory Card Case is available from Peli Products
UK (www.snipca.com/26699) and Amazon priced
£24.28. For more information on Peli’s products, including
military-grade cases for
phones, tablets and
laptops, visit www.peli.
com and follow @Peli_
Products on Twitter.
SOLID STATE DRIVE
WEB DESIGN
Samsung 960 Pro 512GB
Xara Web Designer
Premium
£285 from www.snipca.com/23389
Tested: Is
Issue 491
£50 from www.snipca.com/26200
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.
ALTERNATIVE: Kingston SSDNow
UV400 480GB Much slower, but still
faster than a hard drive, this gives you
more GB per pound. £133 from
www.snipca.com/22127
ALTERNATIVE: Incomedia WebSite X5
v13 Evolution It may feel a little basic,
but this straightforward program outputs
efficient HTML code and responsive pages.
£60 from www.snipca.com/19440
17 – 30 January 2018 33
!
K
C
O
T
S
N
I
K
C
A
B
NOW
Computeractive 2016
Back Issue CD
CON
T
ALLAINS
ISSU 26
FRO
M 20ES
16
Buy it now from Amazon at
www.snipca.com/23209
or search for ‘computeractive cd’ on Amazon
You can still buy our 2015 CD at www.snipca.com/21619
Workshops & Tips
PU
& LL
OU
Is K
su E
E
e
51 P T
9
Edited by Sherwin Coelho
14 pages of easy-to-follow workshopss and expert tips
35 Get complete history
of your Windows activity
38 Create automatic
email replies
40 Fix hidden network
problems
42 Print images at exactly
the right size
PLUS
43 Readers’ Tips
44 Phone & Tablet Tips
46 Make Windows Better
47 Make Office Better
48 Secret Tips For...
Windows Firewall
Get complete history of
your Windows activity
What you need: Multi Launcher Time required: 10 minutes
W
eb browsers record and store
every site you visit, as well as
every file you download. In Windows,
File Explorer’s Quick Access feature
remembers frequently accessed
folders and the 20 most recently
opened items. While these provide
handy snapshots of some activity
that’s taken place on your computer,
Multi-Launcher provides a much
more comprehensive breakdown,
listing all the files, folders, programs
and links that you (or anyone else)
has accessed on your PC.
STEP To download it, go to www.
1
snipca.com/26676 and click
the blue Multi-Launcher link
(in the paragraph beginning ‘New
release’). It’s a portable tool, so doesn’t
require installation. Launch it and the
program will run in the background,
keeping track of everything you do. The
window will be empty at first, but will
start to list programs as they come into
use 1 . You can hide the window until
it’s required by selecting it and pressing
Esc. You can also hide or show it at any
time by clicking on the icon in the
system tray 2 .
1
2
STEP The Programs list shows when each piece of
2
2
1
3
4
software last ran. This string of numbers 1
is made up of the date (year, month, day)
and time (in 24-hour format, including seconds).
The currently selected program appears at the top of
the list 2 . You can see the name 3 , and install
location 4 of all running programs. To use Multi
Launcher as a task switcher, double-click any name
in the list to bring that program’s window to the
forefront.
17 – 30 January 2018 35
Workshops
1
STEP The tabs at the top let you switch
3
between the Programs,
Documents, Folders, and Web
Pages sections 1 . The Documents section
doesn’t only contain Word or text files – it
lists most file types, including audio and
video formats. As a result, the list can
quickly get long, making finding a
particular item challenging. You can sort
the list by time, name, and file path 2 ,
but not by file extension (.pdf, for example).
2
2
STEP You can, however, find any
1
2
4
item quickly by using the search
box 1 . Press Shift+Pause to open
the program window, then start typing
any part of the name. The list will display
potential matches, refining the results as
you type 2 . If you’re looking for a
particular kind of file, such as an MP3
audio file, type MP3 into the box. Note,
unlike a lot of similar programs, Multi
Launcher doesn’t support wildcards, so
typing *.MP3, for example, won’t return
anything.
1 lists any folders that
you’ve opened or accessed in Windows.
This can be really handy if you want to
quickly reopen a folder in File Explorer – just
double-click a location in the list. There are a couple
of things to be aware of though. Some entries in the
list link directly to programs or documents rather
than locations, and while any searches you’ve
performed in File Explorer appear in the list,
double-clicking one will show an error message
rather than repeat the same search.
STEP The Folders tab
5
1 shows all the sites
you’ve visited, and all the links you’ve
clicked 2 . Double-clicking a URL will
switch to that tab (if it’s still open) or re-open that
page in a new tab. You can use the search box to find
and launch any previously visited site, and this will
also let you filter the list by browser, if you use more
than one. Type chrome into the box, for example, to
only show web pages visited using your Chrome
browser.
1
STEP The Web Pages tab
6
36 17 – 30 January 2018
1
2
Get complete history of your Windows activity
1
1
2
3
4
5
STEP You should be aware that Multi-Launcher records all
STEP Items in the list can be sorted by date (last used)
1 or
by usage 2 (most frequently accessed). That will help
you quickly find anything you’ve been working on
recently. Right-click any item – a program, document, folder
or web page – and the context menu that appears will offer
you a choice of actions. You can delete the item (only from the
list, not from your computer) 3 , filter it out of the list 4 , or
edit the filter 5 .
7
8
pages visited in your browser, including ones accessed
in Private Browsing/Incognito mode 1 . If you want to
see what sites friends or family members have been accessing
‘off the record’ on your PC, leave Multi-Launcher running in the
background and then switch to it once they’ve finished. If you
want to remove sites you’ve visited in this mode you can do so
via the right-click context menu.
3
2
3
4
5
2
6
1
1
4
STEP To configure Multi-Launcher, right-click its
9
icon in the system tray. This displays a list of
options. If you find the text in the program
too small, click Set Font Size 1 and increase it.
Untick ‘Use Tabbed View’ 2 to switch to the Stacked
(or vertical) view that shows the top results for each
section on one screen 3 . If you’re using the latest
version of Firefox (Quantum) and sites you visit
aren’t being recorded, untick ‘Use Firefox Legacy’ 4 .
STEP If you want to save the lists for future access, go to DATA
10
Options 1 . In the pop-up menu you can back up all lists 2 to a
location of your choice (create a new folder if required) and also
restore all lists 3 . This menu lets you clear the programs, documents,
folders or URL lists 4 and remove any invalid recent items 5 . The Set
Refresh Time option 6 lets you choose how often Multi-Launcher records
new items. This can be half a second, one second or two seconds. ●
17 – 30 January 2018 37
Workshops
Create automatic
email replies
What you need: PhraseExpress Time required: 10 minutes
A
ccording to market research
firm The Radicati Group,
around 3.1 billion people currently
have access to email, with 269
billion messages being sent every
day. Even if you only get a few
emails every week, the time spent
replying to them, or sending new
ones, can soon add up. Thankfully,
PhraseExpress can help save you
time. The free program lets you
create custom responses you can
paste into emails and messaging
services like WhatsApp.
STEP Install PhraseExpress (www.
1
phraseexpress.com) and open it.
The folders on the left 1 provide
features and tips on how to use the
program. We’ll start by creating our first
‘boilerplate’ response – a default message
you can send when you don’t have time
to write a proper response but want the
sender to know you’ve received and read
their message. Click the New Phrase
button.
1
1
2
8
2
3
1
3
4
5
6
7
STEP Next, create the keyboard shortcut (hotkey)
3
STEP Give your new phrase a description 1 , then enter your response
2
text in the ‘Formatted phrase content’ box below 2 . You can
format the text 3 , paste in content 4 , add pictures 5 , links 6 and
tables 7 . You can insert the current date and time in the format of your
choice 8 . PhraseExpress saves your changes as you make them, so you
don’t need to click a save button.
38 17 – 30 January 2018
you want to use to quickly paste this response
into your messages. To do this, type a
keyboard character into the box (for example, Q in
our screenshot 1 ) or click the down arrow and select
one from the dropdown menu. Some keys may
already be reserved by the operating system or
another program, in which case you’ll see the yellow
warning symbol 2 . Click any combination of the
Shift, Ctrl, Alt and Win buttons 3 to create your
keyboard shortcut (the yellow warning will disappear).
1
1
2
3
4
2
STEP There’s another easier method of pasting
4
your phrase into an email response. Simply
type a descriptive word (or short phrase)
into the Autotext box 1 . You can make it case
sensitive if you want 2 . Once set up, just type this
word into your message followed by the so-called
‘default delimiter’, which in this case is any
punctuation mark, or the Enter, Tab, or Space keys.
To avoid accidentally triggering the autotext, don’t
use an everyday word; use something like “xreply”
or “reply1” instead.
1 on the right lets you determine when the
autotext is triggered. The default option is ‘Execute after default
delimiter’, but you can have it run the moment you finish typing
your word. To avoid accidentally creating autotext you can set it so you
have to manually confirm the action 2 (by hitting the tab key when
prompted). SmartComplete 3 kicks in when you type the first three letters
of your message description. You can also unlock additional options by
switching to Expert Mode 4 but it’s not necessary.
STEP The dropdown menu
5
STEP PhraseExpress works in any text window,
6
so you aren’t limited to pasting your
response in emails. You can also paste it
into messaging programs, Word, Notepad and
more by using the keyboard shortcut or autotext
keyword you created. The built-in Clipboard
Cache remembers everything you’ve saved to the
clipboard. You can paste any into any text window
by tapping the default key combination (Ctrl+Alt+V)
and selecting the item you want from the list 1 or
pressing its saved message 2 .
1
2
STEP If you set up a lot of phrases, using
7
shortcuts and/or autotext, you might find
you start to forget those you don’t use
regularly. As a backup, you can export a particular
saved response as a text file or email 1 , or print the
full list of phrases 2 so you can refer to it as and
when you need to. ●
1
2
17 – 30 January 2018 39
Workshops
Fix hidden network problems
What you need: Complete Internet Repair; Any Windows version (XP to 10)
0)
Time required: 25 minutes
W
e are all increasingly
reliant on the internet,
but do you know what to do
if your home network starts
playing up? Free program
Complete Internet Repair
(CIR)contains several tools
that let you identify and fix
common problems with
your broadband with just a
few clicks. We’ll show you
how to use CIR to fix your
network problems without
needing to call a technician,
and how to find your
internet speeds.
STEP Go to www.snipca.com/26710 to see a list of
1
problems CIR can help you repair. To download
the program, scroll down the web page to the
Download Complete Internet Repair section, where you
can install the full version of the program (which we
selected) 1 or the portable version 2 . Open the
downloaded setup file 3 , click Yes, select ‘I accept the
agreement’, then click Next. Tick ‘Create a desktop
shortcut’, then click Install. Finally, click Finish, then Yes.
You can launch the program via its desktop shortcut
whenever you notice your internet isn’t working properly.
3
1
2
3
3
1
4
4
2
2
5
STEP When you open the program, click the Help tab 1 , then ‘Check for
2
updates’. If you’re not using the latest version, you’ll be prompted
to update it. CIR recommends you create a system restore point 2 .
To do this, click the Maintenance tab 3 , then ‘Create a Windows Restore
Point’ 4 . In the System Properties window that opens, click Create 5 , name
your restore point, then click Create. Once that’s done, click Close.
40 17 – 30 January 2018
1
5
STEP Next, click the dropdown arrow
1 to close
the bottom section. CIR contains 13 fixes 2
for your network. Move your cursor to the ‘i’
icon 3 beside any option for a description of when to
apply that fix. You can apply fixes by clicking the
arrow icon next to it 4 . Alternatively, to fix multiple
problems in one go, tick to select the fixes, then click
the Go button 5 .
3
1
1
2
2
STEP Your PC may freeze and cursor may flicker
4
momentarily as the fixes are applied. You’ll
see a blue progress bar under the fix as it’s
being applied. You can stop any fix by clicking the
Stop button (that replaces the Go button at the
bottom right). When all the fixes have been applied,
you’ll see the ‘All selected tasks Complete’ message
at the top. Next, click the File tab 1 , then click
Reboot Windows 2 to restart your PC and check
whether the problems have been fixed.
STEP If you still have problems, CIR has other tools that you can use to
5
find and fix them. For example, if you think your PC’s wireless
adapter is the cause, click the Troubleshoot tab 1 then click
Network Diagnostics Network Adapter. In the Network Adapter window
that opens, click Next 2 . After a short scan, you’ll be prompted to select the
network adapter that isn’t working - Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ‘All
network adapters’ etc. Any faulty items will display a red cross.
1
2
1
2
STEP Select the faulty item, then click Next to start applying
6
the fix. You’ll see a message when that’s finished.
If you think the problem is caused by your internet
connection, PCs connected to a home group or Windows
Update, click the Troubleshoot tab 1 , then select the relevant
option 2 . You’ll see a window similar to that in Step 5. Click
Next and follow the prompts to fix the problem.
STEP CIR also lets you measure your broadband speed and
7
find your router’s default password (this is not your
Wi-Fi password). To check your internet speed, click
the Troubleshoot tab, then click Internet Speed Test 1 . Click the
Go button on the screen that opens. To find your router’s default
password, click Get Router Passwords 2 . On the page that
opens, select your router’s name from the dropdown menu,
then click Find Password. ●
17 – 30 January 2018 41
Workshops
Print images at exactly
the right size
What you need: PicResize Time required: 5 minutes
I
t’s easy enough to resize photos for
sending or sharing – you just need
an image editor or an online tool like
PicResize (www.picresize.com). But
it can be harder to resize an image
for printing at a specific physical
size. If you’ve ever tried to print a
1
photo for a 6x4in frame, and ended
up filling an A4 sheet, you’ll know
what we mean. Resize.site (https://
resize.site) lets you easily print
images at whatever size you need,
and it’s perfectly safe as the photos
never leave your computer.
1
2
2
3
STEP Drag and drop the image you want to print on to the
STEP You’ll now be asked what size you want the printed
1
2
green banner 1 , or click Select Image 2 , navigate to
your picture, select it, and click Open. PicResize
recognises all of the popular image formats, including JPEG,
GIF, PNG, BMP and SVG. The developers plan to add support for
additional image formats in the future, but for now if you want
to resize something like a PSD (Photoshop) file, you’ll need to
convert it into a different format. There are many programs you
can use for this, like CloudConvert (https://cloudconvert.com).
image to be. Use the Units dropdown box 1 to choose
between centimetres (the default), millimetres, inches,
or pixels. Next, enter the width you want 2 , and the height 3 .
When you’ve done that, click Preview to take a look at the
resized image. If you change your mind, or want to print a
different picture, just click ‘Start over’ to begin again, and load
your new image.
STEP The Preview window
3
displays your photo 1 ,
with dotted lines
showing its size 2 . If it doesn’t
look right, click either the top
or side dimension 3 and enter
a new size 4 . You can start
over if you need to 5 . Provided
everything is right, select the
number of copies you need 6 ,
and click Print 7 . Your
browser’s default print option
will open, and you can make
any additional changes there.
Click Print on that screen. You
can also save the file as a PDF 8 .
2
1
3
• Use OneDrive to ON SALE
Weds
save space on
31 Jan
your PC
• Add a grammarchecking keyboard
to your phone
• Format your drives to
completely wipe data
• Test whether
hether you’re at
risk of Meltdown
Meltdo
do
down
6
7
5
42 17 – 30 January 2018
NEXT ISSUE
4
8
Subscribe to Computeractive at
getcomputeractive.co.uk
Readers’ Tips
Handy hints and tips from your fellow readers
Email us your tips: letters@computeractive.co.uk
TIP OF THE FORTNIGHT
T
Automatically complete words in LibreOffice
I gave a little squeal of delight
when I read in Issue 517 (page 59) that
you’ll soon be including LibreOffice
tips in Make Office Better. Not before
time, say I (and thousands of other
LibreOffice converts). May I get the ball
rolling with one of my favourite tools in
LibreOffice Writer - the ‘Word completion’
option within AutoComplete. This
auto-completes a word you’re typing
after recognising the first few letters.
Click Tools, move your cursor over
AutoCorrect, then click AutoCorrect
Options. In the next box click the Word
Completion tab, then tick the ‘Enable
word completion’ box (see screenshot).
In the ‘Min word length’ box select
after how many letters LibreOffice will
identify a word being typed (I’ve chosen
5 in the screenshot). Click OK.
Once that’s done, LibreOffice will
start remembering new words you type.
When you type a word again, you’ll see
it appear in a little box, prompting you
to complete it. You can do this by
pressing Enter, saving you the hassle of
typing more letters. I use lots of long
words when writing scientific
documents, so it’s a lifesaver for me.
Mark Dickinson
Mark wins a copy of our 2016 Back Issue CD
Buy it on Amazon www.snipca.com/23209
COMMAND LINE ACTIONS
Use NirSoft’s command-line
options
It didn’t surprise me to see NirSoft’s
DevManView (www.snipca.
com/24964) in the list of readers’ most
popular programs of 2017 (Issue 518, page
59). Computeractive introduced me to
NirSoft’s programs a few years back, and
I’ve been using them ever since. They
fulfill the key purpose of software for me,
which is to improve upon Windows’
built-in functions.
One of my favourite things about them
is they give you lots of command-line
options. This is a part of Windows I love
tinkering with. In DevManView, for
example, you can type /stext to save a list
of all your system devices as a text file.
The same command saves searches in
SearchMyFiles (www.snipca.com/26643),
probably the NirSoft tool I use most.
There are hundreds of others, all listed
and explained jargon-free on the page for
each program (scroll down to see them).
Any reader who loves the command-line
as much as I do will enjoy browsing the
options.
Colin Johnson
SECURITY
Use Task Manager to escape
tech-support scam
If when using the internet you get a
‘click to call’ tech-support scam
that threatens to ‘disable, lock or suspend
your device if you close this message’,
don’t be alarmed. Simply right-click
your taskbar, then click Task Manager.
On the Processes tab you’ll see an Apps
column, where you’ll see the name of the
browser you’re using. Right-click this
and left-click ‘End task’ (see screenshot
above). When you reopen your browser
the scam message will be gone.
Roy Davies
BROADBAND SPEEDS
Find broadband speeds in
properties on Rightmove
In Letters, Issue 517, Jeremy Rundle
reported problems finding out the
broadband speeds in properties he was
considering buying. May I recommend he
use online estate agents Rightmove
(www.rightmove.co.uk). Simply click a
property you’re interested in, then scroll
down and look at the bottom of the
‘Listing History’ box on the right. Click
‘Show fastest broadband speed at this
postcode’ (see screenshot above) to see
what speeds you can get, and with which
ISP. Nearly all estate agents use this – it
has made searching far simpler.
Michael Weaver
SCREENS
Use Windows Repair to
restore aspect ratio
The aspect ratio on my eMachines
laptop changed from 16:9 to 4:3
for no apparent reason, resulting in all
my icons and images becoming short
and fat. I could find no way of reversing
the change until I read Norman A
Clark’s tip in Issue 517 recommending
Tweaking.com’s Windows Repair
(www.snipca.com/26322). I downloaded
and ran it, and after a restart all was
well and I got my 16:9 screen back. Well
done Computeractive, Windows Repair
and Norman.
Edmund Spavin
17 – 30 January 2018 43
Phone and Tablet Tips
ANDROID & iOS
Add effects and messages
to your photos
ph
In Issue 517, we explained
how to use the free app
Pixlr to create a photo
collage. The app also lets you edit your
photos, add effects and frames, and even
scribble a message across your photo.
Open the app (Android www.snipca.
com/26683; iOS www.snipca.
com/26684), then tap ‘photos’ to see a list
of locations you can import photos from.
As well as your photo gallery, you can
import photos from your Downloads
Brilliant things to do on your device
folder, Google Photos, Google Drive or
Dropbox. Select the location, then tap to
choose the photo you want to edit.
You’ll now see your photo with five
icons along the bottom (see screenshot
below left). The first icon has options to
crop, rotate, blur and sharpen your photo.
The second lets you brighten, darken or
scribble something across your photo.
The middle icon offers several photofilter effects that you can apply. The
fourth icon lets you choose from a
selection of frames. And the fifth icon lets
you write a message across your photo.
Tap ‘done’ at the top left to see options to
save the edited photo to your device, or
share it on social media.
ANDROID
Type faster using Gboard
The Gboard keyboard app (www.
snipca.com/26685) has several
settings that can help speed up
your typing, but many of these are easy to
overlook. For example, Gboard doesn’t
include a numbers panel by default, but
it’s easy to add one. To do this, tap the
right-pointing arrow at the top left of the
keyboard, tap the three dots on the right,
Settings, then Preferences. Here, tap the
‘Number row’ slider to add a number row
to the top of your keyboard.
While you’re at it, tap ‘Text correction’
after tapping Settings to see a list of
settings that can make typing easier
(most of these sliders aren’t switched on
by default). We recommend enabling
Best New Apps
Storyboard
Free
Android: www.snipca.com/26689
This new Google app turns your video
footage into a comic book-style storyboard.
The app applies
a default layout
and effect to
your video, but
you can change
these by
swiping down.
Once you’re
happy, save the
storyboard to
your device or
share it with
others.
44 17 – 30 January 2018
‘Show suggestion strip’, ‘Next-word
suggestions’, ‘Auto-correction’, ‘Autocapitalisation’ and ‘Double-space full
stop’ (see screenshot above). Each option
has a brief description of what it does.
ANDROID
Use Google Assistant on older
phones and tablets
Google Assistant was previously
only available on the company’s
Pixel phones. However, Google
recently released the voice-activated tool
as a standalone app (www.snipca.com/
26686) for Android phones running
Android Lollipop (version 5.0) and later,
and Android tablets running Android
Marshmallow (version 6.0) and later.
To check which version of Android
you’re running on your device, tap
What you should install this fortnight
Haven
Free
Android: www.snipca.com/26692
Using Haven (currently in beta) you can turn
your old phone
(as long as it runs
Android 4 or
later) into a
security camera.
As well as the
camera and
microphone, it
uses your phone’s
motion and light
sensors to track
activity, then
sends you instant
notifications.
Selfissimo
Free
Android: www.snipca.com/26690
iOS: www.snipca.com/26691
Selfissimo, another new Google app,
lets you take
multiple ‘selfies’
(self-portraits using
your front-facing
camera) in black
and white and
turns them into an
old fashioned
photo booth-style
strip. You can then
save the entire
strip or only the
photos you like.
both devices will need to have the app
(www.snipca.com/26688) installed.
The sender needs to open the app, tap
the Files tab at the bottom right, scroll to
the bottom, then tap Send. The receiver
then needs to open their app, tap the Files
tab, then tap Receive. After doing so, the
receiver taps the slider to let their device
transfer files wirelessly. They then need to
type their name (for identification
purposes), then tap Next.
The sender will now see the receiver’s
name listed in their app. They need to
tap this to connect the two devices. The
receiver then taps Connect to confirm
this. The sender will now see various file
categories (Images, Videos, Audio, etc) at
the top. They need to select the relevant
category, tap to select the files they want
to send, then tap Send to transfer the file
between devices.
iOS
Take 3D photos on your
iPhone and iPad
Microsoft has added a new
Photosynth feature to its Pix
Camera app (www.snipca.com/
26687) that lets you take a threedimensional photo. To do this, move your
camera slowly to capture the subject
matter. The app takes several photos as
you move the camera, then stitches them
together to create your 3D photo.
When you first open the app, it launches
your device’s camera. Swipe to the right
to activate the Photosynth mode. Next,
point to the scene you want to capture,
then tap the shutter button. Now slowly
move your device to the left, right, up or
down. When you’ve finished, tap the
shutter button. The app will now begin
merging your video into one large photo.
Games With Kids
Settings, System, then ‘System update’.
Tap ‘Check for update’ to see if you have
an update pending – and install it if so.
When you first open Google Assistant,
you’ll see a list of useful requests –
‘What’s the weather tomorrow’ or ‘Set an
alarm’, for example – that you can tap.
Tap the mic icon to speak more
personalised requests. For example, say
‘Read the news’ to display a list of news
stories. Swipe across these, then tap to
read the article you want. Alternatively,
you could ask for something more
specific, like ‘Track Flight BA252’ to see
the status of an incoming flight.
You can also say ‘Traffic to Trafalgar
Square’ to check the route from your
current location and approximately how
long that journey will take. Get language
translations and currency conversions
by asking, for example, ‘How do I say
thank you in Spanish?’ (see screenshot
above) and ‘How many euros is £200?’
What to play together on your phone and tablet
AGES 0 5
Hey Duggee: Sandcastle Badge
Free www.snipca.com/26693 (Android)
Free www.snipca.com/26694 (iOS)
The object of this simple game is to
help squirrels build a sandcastle. In doing
so, your children will learn to identify
different colours and shapes. They can
then decorate their sandcastle with all
kinds of objects, including seaweed,
shells and flags.
AGES 6 10
Hidden Folks
£2.99 www.snipca.com/26695 (Android)
£3.99 www.snipca.com/26696 (iOS)
In this hide-and-seek game, you need to
find various objects within 20 hand-drawn
scenes representing different types of
location (a forest, a city, a factory, etc).
The items to find appear in a panel at the
bottom.
ANDROID
Transfer files without an
internet connection
In Issue 517 (see ‘Free up space on
your tablet’ Workshop, page 40),
we showed you how to use
Google’s new free Files Go app to recover
storage space on your device. One feature
we didn’t have space to cover is the option
to send files instantly from one Android
device to another, even without an
internet connection. For this to work,
AGES 11 16
HQ Trivia
Free www.snipca.com/26697 (Android)
Free www.snipca.com/26698 (iOS)
New to Android (and currently in beta), this
is a multiple-choice trivia quiz that’s similar
to Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?. It takes
place ‘live’ twice a day and you need to
answer all 12 questions correctly to win
cash prizes.
17 – 30 January 2018 45
Make Windows Better
Expert tips for every version
WINDOWS 10
Limit PC notifications to
specific apps
By default, you will receive
notifications for every built-in
Microsoft app, or any you’ve
installed from the Store. If you find this
annoying, there’s an easy way to specify
which apps provide notifications, or you
can simply switch off all app notifications.
Open Settings, click System,
‘Notifications & actions’ on the left,
then scroll down to the Notifications
section. Here, you’ll see sliders that let
you switch off notifications from your
apps, including any that appear on your
lock screen. Next, scroll down to the ‘Get
notifications from these senders’ section.
By default, all these sliders are switched
on (see screenshot below). Simply switch
off those apps whose notifications you
no longer want to see.
WINDOWS 10
Monitor global weather
at a glance
The Windows 10 Fall Creators
Update added some great new
features to Microsoft’s Weather
app. For example, you can now see
weather across the world at a glance and
check the levels of cloud cover over the
next 24 hours. When you first open the
app, choose Celsius or Fahrenheit, then
add your location. The app’s main screen
displays the current temperature in your
WINDOWS 7, 8, 10
Use Num Lock keys as a mouse
Windows
10 makes
it easier
to change your default
mouse settings (which you
can access in 7 and 8 by
pressing the Windows
key, typing mouse and
pressing Enter).
Open Settings, click
Devices, then click
Mouse on the left. You’ll
see the option to change
your primary mouseclick button (left or right)
and adjust the sensitivity
of your mouse wheel
using a slider.
Go back to the previous
screen, click ‘Ease of
Access’, then Mouse on the left.
Here, you’ll see options for changing
your cursor’s size and colour (there
are three of each to choose from).
The ‘Mouse keys’ section has three
sliders (see screenshot) that let you
use your numeric keypad (if your
keyboard has one) as a mouse.
The first slider lets you turn this
feature on/off. To use it, activate the
area and the weather forecast for the
next nine days.
To monitor the weather anywhere in
the world, click the Maps icon (see
screenshot below left). You’ll see a pin
at your location. The multi-coloured
key at the bottom right shows you the
temperature ranges represented by each
colour on the map. Use the + and arrows at the top right to zoom in and
out, and drag your mouse to navigate to
different areas. Click the Cloud tab at
the top to see the level of cloud cover for
the next 24 hours.
WINDOWS 10
Add website shortcuts to
your taskbar
One of the new features in
Microsoft Edge lets you
add favourite websites to
your taskbar for quick access. To
ensure you have the latest version
of Edge, make sure you’ve updated
46 17 – 30 January 2018
Num Lock key, then press the 8, 4, 2
and 6 keys on your numeric keypad to
move your cursor up, left, down and
right respectively. You can move faster
or slower by pressing Ctrl or Shift + the
relevant direction key (enabled by the
second slider). The third slider lets you
choose whether you want to use these
keys when Num Lock is turned on
(default) or off.
your PC. Open Settings, click ‘Update &
Security’, then click ‘Check for updates’.
You’ll be prompted to restart your PC
after the updates are installed.
Now open Microsoft Edge and open the
website you want to pin to your taskbar.
Next, click the three dots at the top right
of Edge, then the new ‘Pin this page to
the taskbar’ option (see screenshot above).
You’ll now see the website’s logo on your
taskbar. Click it to open the site in Edge.
Make Office Better
Expert tips for every program
WORD
Create a simple flowchart
If you want to create a simple
flowchart (with just a few
boxes and arrows), then Word
has a range of useful shapes that you
can add and customise to your liking.
First, it’s a good idea to add gridlines to
your document so you can precisely
position the shapes in your flowchart.
To do this, click the View tab, then
tick Gridlines in the Show section on
the left.
To add your first shape, click the
Insert tab, then click the Shapes
dropdown menu in the Illustrations
section on the left to see a variety of
shapes. Click to select the one you
want, then click and drag your cursor
to add it to your document. You can
click and drag the shape to reposition
it, or click and drag its borders to resize
it. Now select the shape, then click the
Format tab at the top.
In the Shape Styles section, you’ll
see three dropdown menus (Shape Fill,
Shape Outline and Shape Effects) that
you can use to customise your shape
(see screenshot left). Click inside the
shape and start typing whatever you
full settings’ link. On the page that opens,
change the Language to ‘English (United
Kingdom)’ and the Date format to
day-month-year (see screenshot left).
You can also check and change your time
format and time zone. Click Save at the
top right when you’re done.
EXCEL
Access hidden statistics
in a sequence of cells
There’s an easy way to instantly
get the total, average and
maximum and minimum values
of any range of cells. This is handy if you
don’t know the correct Excel formula.
First, click inside the cell at the bottom of
the list of values. Next, click the AutoSum
dropdown menu at the top right of the
Home tab. You’ll see five options that let
you calculate the total or average, count
all the cells, and find the maximum and
minimum value within the cells. Clicking
the option in the dropdown menu adds
that formula within the bottom cell
(see screenshot below). Press Enter to
get your answer.
want. You can customise
this text using the
dropdown menus in the
WordArt Styles section of
the Format tab. To change
the text font and size, click
the Home tab and use the
dropdown menus in the
Font section on the left.
Once you’ve created the
first shape in your
flowchart, it’s easy to add
arrows and other shapes.
To do this, click the Format
tab, then click the Insert
Shapes dropdown menu
on the left, select another shape, then
repeat the process. Customise the
shape and add text if needed. When
you finish creating your flowchart,
click the View, then untick Gridlines
in the Show section to remove them.
ONENOTE
OUTLOOK.COM
Switch to UK language and date
settings in the new Outlook
In Issue 516’s Make Office Better,
we told you how to use the new
(beta) version of Outlook.com.
Outlook has now rolled out this version
to more users and made it easier to
switch back and forth between the beta
and the stable version. First, go to www.
outlook.com and log in using your
Microsoft account. You’ll now see the
‘Outlook beta’ slider at the top right. This
lets you switch between versions. Turn
on the slider to start using Outlook Beta.
The page will refresh and you’ll notice a
slightly different interface.
By default, the language and date
format of Outlook Beta is set to US
English, but it’s easy to change this. Click
the cog-shaped icon at the top right,
scroll to the bottom then click the ‘View
Let OneNote do your sums
Microsoft OneNote is a great
note-taking program, but you
can also use it to make quick
calculations. For example, simply type
95+65+45=, then press Enter to see the
answer. Similarly, you can use subtraction
(-), division (/) and multiplication (* or x)
symbols to find those values instantly.
You can calculate percentages by typing,
for example, 20%x400=, then pressing
Enter (see screenshot below). Note that
these calculations only work in the
OneNote program. They don’t work in
OneNote Online (www.onenote.com).
17 – 30 January 2018 47
Secret Tips For…
Windows Firewall
Enable or disable Windows Firewall, control programs’ access to the web,
find and remove invalid entries, and manage your ports
Check that Windows Firewall
is enabled
Windows Firewall is switched on by
default, but it can be disabled by
malware, or taken over and managed by a
a security program you’ve installed.
To check the status of your firewall in
Windows 10 (and enable it if it isn’t
already), type firewall into the Start
menu, and launch ‘Windows Defender
Firewall with Advanced Security’ to see
whether the firewall is enabled. Click the
Windows Defender Firewall Properties
link, and in the box that opens (see
screenshot below) use the tabs at the top
to set whether the firewall is on or off
when connected to a domain, a private
network, or a public network.
good idea to switch the firewall on for all
your connections, but this is optional.
Type firewall in the Start menu, and click
‘Windows Defender Firewall with
Advanced Security’. Click the Windows
Defender Firewall Properties link. Select
a network profile type, then click
Customise next to ‘Protected network
connections’. Untick any connections
you don’t want securing with the firewall.
Preventt certain
Pr
rtai programs from
f
accessing
in th
the
web when you’re on a public Wi-Fi network
Control which programs go online
You can make Windows Firewall more
secure when accessing a public network
by preventing certain programs (filesharing ones, for example) from going
online when you’re out and about.
Type control panel in the Start menu
and press Enter. Click ‘System and Security’,
then Windows Defender Firewall. Click
the ‘Allow an app or feature through
Windows Defender Firewall’ link, then
click Change Settings and block/allow
programs (called apps here) on private and
public networks (see screenshot above).
Keep a record of Firewall activity
You can make Windows Firewall log every
successful inbound connection. To enable
logging, type firewall into the Windows
search box, launch ‘Windows Defender
Firewall with Advanced Security’, and
click the Windows Defender Firewall
Properties link. Click Customise under
logging, and change ‘Log successful
connections’ to Yes (see screenshot
below). You can view the log at the
location listed at the top of the window.
Apply firewall to PC connections
Ch
Choose
which
hich networks
rk to enable
bl your
firewall on and manage their settings
Firewall can be enabled on your PC’s
wired and wireless connections. It’s a
Open and shut ports
Ports in Windows Firewall allow
information to flow between your PC
and the internet. Different ports are
used for different purposes, such as
Port 80 and 8080, which are used for
web browsing over HTTP. For security
purposes, firewalls close ports to
prevent unwanted access. To open a
port in Windows Firewall, open the
‘Windows Defender Firewall with
Advanced Security’ window, and click
Inbound Rules on the left. Click New
Rule, then select Port. Click Next, and
choose the internet protocol you
require – TCP (Transmission Control
Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram
48 17 – 30 January 2018
Windows Firewall can record all successful
inbound connections
Remove unwanted
Firewall rules
You can block or open any port on a domain
or private and public network
Protocol). For most people, TCP will be
the right choice. Type the port number
you want to open (see screenshot),
click Next, then choose to allow the
connection, allow the connection if it’s
secure, or block the connection.
Choose when to apply the rule (on a
corporate domain, a private network,
or a public network). Finally, enter a
name and description, then click Finish.
Free software Windows Firewall Control 5
(www.binisoft.org/wfc.php) expands the
capabilities of the Windows Firewall. It
can display invalid rules for programs
that are no longer installed, letting you
remove them. First, export your Firewall
rules by clicking Action, then ‘Export
policy’. In Firewall Control, click Rules,
then select ‘Import Windows Firewall
rules from a file’ and navigate to the saved
rules file. Load it. Next, click the Manage
Firewall Rules button at the bottom left of
Firewall Control, then click ‘Show invalid
rules’ on the right.
Next issue Secret Tips For… Web bookmarks
What’s All the Fuss About...
Tacotron 2
Google reckons it has cracked text-to-speech technology, but can a computergenerated voice really be indistinguishable from a human one?
What is it?
It’s a new text-to-speech system
developed by Google, which aims to
make computers and other devices speak
with a much more natural, human-like
voice.
“Good morning,
master. . .”
Why is it important?
Currently, text-to-speech (TTS) is
commonly used for getting our devices to
read text files – documents, web pages,
ebooks and so on – aloud to us. Microsoft
Narrator, which is built into Windows,
is a good example. So, one obvious
benefit would be to make TTS
applications like these sound more
natural and less robotic.
But current technology trends point to
a future where we will increasingly find
ourselves using our voices to interact
with technology – not just voicecontrolled virtual assistants like Cortana,
Siri and Google Now, but also smart
speakers, such as Google Home and
Amazon Echo (pictured below), smart
TVs and – eventually – cars, heating
systems and any number of devices in
between. These devices rely heavily on
speech-recognition technology to
understand our spoken commands. But
they also have to use an effective TTS
engine to generate their vocal responses.
The less artificial and stilted our devices
sound when they talk, the more
comfortable we feel when we use them,
which is why creating natural TTS is an
ongoing goal for many tech companies.
How does it work?
In its Research blog (www.snipca.
com/26677), Google explains that
Tacotron 2 is, in fact, powered by the best
bits of two of the company’s previous TTS
technologies, namely Tacotron and
WaveNet. Firstly, Tacotron technology is
used to convert a sequence of text into a
spectrogram (a visual representation of a
spectrum), which can capture subtle
differences – such as pronunciation,
volume, speed, intonation and so on. This
data is then interpreted into actual audio
output, using a WaveNet-like technique,
which generates raw, natural-sounding
speech waveforms from scratch, rather
than artificially sticking snippets of
pre-recorded spoken text together.
But it still sounds fake, right?
Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo need to
sound natural to be popular
Google admits that the system still has
difficulties pronouncing complex words
including, apparently, ‘merlot’ and
‘decorum’. But, aside from its inability to
order wine in a swanky restaurant,
Tacotron 2 is actually pretty convincing.
You can even see (or rather hear) for
yourself by playing the audio samples
Google has posted online at www.snipca.
com/26678. In each case you can listen to
both a Tacotron 2 sample and a real
human voice reading the same text, and
see if you can tell which is which. In
many cases it’s genuinely too close to call.
So, when will we all be chatting
with our computers, then?
Tacotron 2 is still very much in
development. A research paper was
only submitted just before Christmas
(www.snipca.com/26679), and it’ll be
a while before the technology makes it
to our devices. Currently, it can’t
generate audio in real-time and Google
is still working on a way to reproduce
emotions, such as sadness and happiness.
On top of that, the current voice used is
that of an American female, so to
generate male speech patterns or other
localised accents and languages, the
whole system would need to be trained
again. Whether or not Stephen Hawking
has his eye on a Tacotron 2 upgrade
is unknown.
17 – 30 January 2018 49
Schedule
ANY TASK
ON YOUR PC
Time is precious, so don’t waste it on tedious PC tasks.
Jonathan Parkyn shows you how to get your computer
to carry out almost anything automatically
S
adly, technology hasn’t reached
the point where we all have our
own robot butlers to handle the
most boring everyday chores.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
• Set security, maintenance and backup
tasks to happen automatically
• Schedule print jobs, reminders,
alarms, downloads and much more
• Uncover settings and software
to automate other PC, tablet and
smartphone functions
• Find out how to use Windows’ hidden
Task Scheduler tool
50 17 – 30 January 2018
But you don’t necessarily need a cyborg
Jeeves to do the jobs you hate – instead
you can delegate many routine tasks to
your PC.
The principles of task scheduling are
simple – you’re effectively telling your
computer to carry out a particular action
when specific criteria – a time, date or
event – are met. One simple example
might be an alarm clock, where the
action is a sound scheduled to occur at a
specific time every day. But your PC’s
scheduling abilities go way beyond that.
Behind the scenes, your computer is
actually running dozens of tasks on
schedules already – checking for updates,
defragging your drives and more. You can
also set up your own schedules, ordering
your computer to manage everything
from waking itself up in the morning to
downloading files at night when nobody
is using your broadband.
Scheduling can help keep your PC safe
and running smoothly. It can save you
time by taking care of repetitive tasks
automatically. And it can remember to
carry out important duties, so that you
don’t have to.
In this feature, we’ll be looking at some
of the most useful tasks that you can get
your PC to take care of all by itself. We’ll
explain how to set each one up using
either Windows’ built-in tools and
settings or free software.
Schedule any task on your PC
USE WINDOWS’ HIDDEN SCHEDULING TOOL
Later in this feature we cover essential
programs and settings that let you
schedule tasks on your PC, but Windows
also has its own dedicated scheduling
tool. Task Scheduler has been part of
Windows in one shape or another since
Windows 95, but often gets overlooked
– partly because it’s not easy to find, but
also because it’s not the easiest tool to
use. Nevertheless, once you’ve learned
the basics, you’ll find that it’s pretty
powerful.
Task Scheduler is tucked away in
Windows’ Computer Management
console, so the easiest way to find it is by
clicking Start, typing schedule and
pressing Enter. Its main screen is split
into three panes, with the Task Scheduler
Library on the left, an Overview in the
middle and a list of Actions on the right.
Click the Task Scheduler Library heading,
and the middle pane will change to show
existing scheduled tasks at the top and
details about each below.
You’ll notice that your PC already has
quite a few items scheduled. These are
tasks that have been automatically
configured by programs you have
installed on your PC. Your graphics card,
for example, may have set up a task that
automatically checks for updates at
specified intervals. Click the arrow next
to Task Scheduler Library to reveal
further folders. Click the arrow next to
the Microsoft folder, then click the arrow
next to Windows to show all the tasks
Windows runs on a schedule, without
any input from you.
Each task has a Trigger and an Action,
and settings you can specify. The Trigger
could be a scheduled time or a specific
occurrence, such as when you log into
your PC. The Action usually involves
starting a program, but you can use
Type this
‘argument’
to schedule
your PC to
shut down
Tick ‘Wake the
computer to
run this task’
after setting a
time for your
PC’s wake-up
call
‘arguments’ (a computer-science term)
to further define the Action that the
program carries out when it runs. That
might all sound somewhat complicated,
so the best way to make it clearer is by
talking you through a few different
examples.
your PC to
1 Schedule
shut down every night
Launch Task Scheduler as described
above, then click Create Basic Task on the
right. This will launch the Create Basic
Task Wizard. Type a name for your task
– Shut down at night, for example – and a
longer description if it’s helpful, then
click Next. In the Trigger options, select
Daily, then click Next. Now, choose the
time you want your PC to turn off and
make sure there’s a ‘1’ in the ‘Recur
every… days’ box.
Click Next, ensure that ‘Start a
program’ is selected in the Action list and
click Next again. In the ‘Program/script’
box, type shutdown, then in the ‘Add
arguments’ box, type /s /f /t 30 (see
screenshot below). The ‘/s’ element of the
argument tells the program to shut down
your PC, the ‘/f’ tells it to force programs
to close and the ‘/t 30’ sets a time-out
period of 30 seconds, which provides
a brief on-screen warning before your
PC switches off. If you want to restart
your PC instead of shutting it down, you
could substitute the ‘/s’ for ‘/r’. Click
Next, then Finish.
your PC up
2 Wake
every morning
Setting your PC to go to sleep
automatically doesn’t require any
tinkering in Task Scheduler. In Windows
10, for example, the easiest way to do this
is to click Start, Settings, System, ‘Power
& sleep’, then select how long you want
to wait before automatically entering
Sleep mode in the ‘When plugged in,
PC goes to sleep after’ menu. However,
making it wake up again at a specific
time of day – say, every morning at 8am
– will require a spot of scheduling.
Follow the steps above to launch the
Task Scheduler and work your way
through the Create Basic Task Wizard
as before, selecting Daily in the Trigger
options, then entering the time of day
you want the PC to wake up. This time,
when you see the ‘Program/script’
box, type cmd.exe and, in the ‘Add
arguments’ box, type /c “exit”, then
click Next, followed by Finish.
Before you exit Task Scheduler,
though, click Task Scheduler Library,
then right-click your newly created task
in the middle pane and select Properties.
On the General tab, tick the ‘Run with
highest privileges’ box and select the
‘Run whether user is logged on or not’
option. Click the Conditions tab in the
window that opens, then tick the ‘Wake
the computer to run this task’ box (see
screenshot above), then click OK. Enter
17 – 30 January 2018 51
your Windows password, if prompted.
Note that your PC will automatically
go back to sleep if you don’t use it before
the time you set in the ‘Power & sleep’
settings. And, if you’re using a laptop,
your PC won’t wake up unless it’s
plugged into the mains.
ALTERNATIVES TO TASK SCHEDULER
Though powerful, Windows Task
Scheduler is undeniably clunky and dated.
We’d love to see a modern scheduling tool
incorporated into Windows 10’s Settings
app at some point, though this seems
unlikely. Instead, Microsoft is adding
scheduling options, such as Cortana’s
recurring reminders (see page 56), across
the operating system.
Several free alternatives to Task
Scheduler are available, such as Z-Cron
(www.z-cron.com) and Splinterware
System Scheduler (www.snipca.com/
26586). But, to be honest, these tend to
be just as unwieldy as Microsoft’s built-in
option. If you don’t like Task Scheduler,
then you’re probably better off using
3Fetch the morning papers
If you like to read the news
headlines first thing in the morning
when you start your PC, create a
schedule that not only automatically
launches your web browser, but also
opens your favourite news websites as
soon as you log on (or at another time
of your choosing).
Open Task Scheduler and create a
new basic task (as described above).
Under Trigger options, choose ‘When I
log on’, and under Action, choose ‘Start a
program’. If you use the Chrome browser,
type chrome.exe into the ‘Program/script’
box. In the ‘Add arguments’ box, enter
the URL for the website you want to open
– http://bbc.co.uk/news, for example
(see screenshot right).
If you want to open several websites
in individual tabs, enter their URLs
into the ‘Add arguments’ box, separating
each with a space. In the ‘Start in’
box, type the location of the directory
where the program you want to launch is
stored. In the case of Chrome, for
example, that would normally be
C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\
Application. Make sure the address is
typed correctly, and don’t leave an extra
‘\’ at the end. Click Next, followed by
individual tools and settings that provide
alternative ways to schedule specific
tasks, rather than several in one go. For
example, Wise Auto Shutdown (free from
www.snipca.com/26529, see screenshot)
provides a much simpler way to set your
PC to switch off, restart or go to sleep.
Finish, then restart your PC
to test it.
If this procedure doesn’t
work and you’re using a
laptop on battery power,
right-click your task in the
Task Scheduler Library, then
select Properties. Click the
Conditions tab, untick the
‘Start the task only if the
computer is on AC power’
option then click OK.
Type a URL in Task Scheduler to make your PC go straight to
To avoid slowing your
certain sites when it starts
PC’s startup, you could also
opt to delay the task slightly. Right-click
settings’, tick the ‘Delay task for’ option
the task, select Properties, Triggers, then
then select ‘15 minutes’ in the dropdown
double-click ‘At log on’. Under ‘Advanced
menu. Click OK twice.
SECURITY & BACKUP
Automatically clean up
4your
PC
Tick these boxes and Windows 10 will remove
temporary files on a schedule
52 17 – 30 January 2018
Before the Windows 10 Creators Update
in April last year, if you wanted to rid
your PC of junk on a regular basis,
you’d either have to remember to run
Windows Disk Clean-up manually
or set up a convoluted scheduled task
involving advanced command-line
switches. Worse still, many junkcleaning tools – including CCleaner
– don’t let you schedule junk clear-outs
unless you pay for the premium version.
Now, though, there’s an easy, free way
to run this type of task on an automatic
schedule from within Windows. Click
Start, Settings, System, Storage, then
click ‘Change how we free up space’
under ‘Storage sense’. Click the slider at
the top to turn Storage Sense on, then
tick the boxes to select the files you
want to get rid of (see screenshot left).
Tick them all and Windows will erase
temporary files on an ongoing basis and
delete unused files that have been in the
recycle bin or the Downloads folder for
over 30 days.
a
5Schedule
system-image backup
Windows 10’s built-in backup tools
aren’t bad, but they lack the option
to perform scheduled system-image
backups – copies of your entire hard
drive that you can restore in the
event of hardware failure or damage.
Thankfully, EaseUS Todo Backup Free
has this covered. You can download
the program free from www.snipca.
com/26589, though take care to deselect
Cover
Schedule any task
on Feature
your PC
Click ‘Restart options’ (under ‘Change
active hours’), switch it on and select a
time and day in the dropdown menus
(17.37 and ‘today’ in our screenshot
below).
Schedule a regular
7security
scan
We recommend setting a monthly backup schedule in EaseUS Todo Backup
any unwanted options when installing.
To set up an image-backup schedule
in EaseUS Todo Backup Free, click
System Backup, then select your
System Name from the top pane and
click the folder icon under Destination
to browse to a connected external drive
that you want to save the backup to.
Next, click Schedule and select your
options – we’d suggest scheduling a
Monthly backup (see screenshot above).
Choose the time and day you want
the backup to occur, then click Save,
followed by Proceed.
restart (8.00 to 20.00 in our screenshot
below). Just click a ‘Start time’ and an
‘End time’, then click Save. The latest
version of Windows 10 lets you stipulate
a period of up to 18 hours.
Another recent improvement is
an option to schedule a time for any
pending updates to finish installing.
6 Schedule Windows Updates
Windows 10 is notorious for forcing
automatic updates on PC users but,
with a bit of simple scheduling, you
can make sure you’re never again
interrupted by annoying update-related
restarts. Click Start, Settings, ‘Update
& security’, then click ‘Change active
hours’. Here, you can schedule a section
of your working day when you don’t
want to have to contend with a random
Most paid-for security programs let you
set security scans on a schedule. For
example, in Kaspersky Internet Security
(winner of our past nine antivirus tests
– see our Reader Offer page 70), click
Scan, ‘Scan schedule’ and choose the
type of scan you want (Full Scan,
Quick Scan or Vulnerability Scan).
Next, select the frequency from the ‘Run
scan’ dropdown menu (see screenshot
below), set a time, then click Save.
Many free security tools limit the
control you have over scheduling
scans. Windows 10’s built-in Defender,
for example, runs on an automated
schedule but doesn’t let you stipulate
when or how the scans are carried
out. If you use AVG AntiVirus Free,
though, you get a very decent amount
of scheduling options without having to
pay for the premium version.
Launch the AVG dashboard and click
the cog icon next to Scan Computer,
then click Schedule Scan in the bottom
right of the next screen. Give the scan
a name and select which drives you
want to scan under Scan Areas. You can
use the tabs on the left to choose other
options for your scan, such as Sensitivity
(how thorough you want your scan to
be) and Exceptions (files and folders you
want your scan to ignore). Next, click
the Scheduling tab at the bottom, tick
the ‘Schedule this scan’ box and set
your Schedule Type (Once, Daily,
Weekly or Monthly) then choose the
time, days, and any other options you
require. Click OK.
Schedule an ideal time for pending updates to
finish installing
Prevent
Windows
from
installing
updates at
certain times
of the day
Set how regularly you want Kaspersky to run
a scan in the ‘Scan schedule’ settings
17 – 30 January 2018 53
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Schedule any task on your PC
ESSENTIAL TIME SAVERS
8Schedule a print job for later
Most printers have a hidden setting
that makes it extremely easy to schedule
print jobs to occur at a specific time of
day. To access this, open Windows 10’s
Settings app, click Devices, then ‘Printers
& scanners’. Click your printer in the
list, Manage, then ‘Printer properties’.
Click the Advanced tab, then check the
‘Available from’ option and enter the
period of the day you would like your
print jobs to take place in the From and
To boxes – say 19.00 to 20.00 (as in our
screenshot below), then click OK. Next
time you print a document outside of
these hours, you’ll see a message telling
you that the print job will occur when
the printer is available.
Choose which times you want to print
Send an email at a
9particular
time and date
It can be extremely useful to draft an
email in advance, then set it to be sent at
a specified time in the future. If you have
Microsoft Office, you can use Outlook’s
Delay Delivery tool (under the Options
tab in the Message window), but very few
free email programs include this feature.
You can, however, add a similar ability
to Gmail if you use Chrome. Install the
free Right Inbox extension from www.
snipca.com/26592, then log into Gmail.
You’ll be asked to sign in with your
Google account again to finish setting up
the extension. Now, whenever you write
an email, you’ll see a Send Later option
Write an email then select a time to send it
with Chrome’s Right Inbox extension
SCHEDULE AUTOMATIC TASKS WITH IFTTT
If you really want to go to town with your
PC scheduling, you could use a service
called IFTTT (https://ifttt.com). Its name
stands for ‘If This Then That’ and it’s a
surprisingly simple way to automate all
kinds of tasks, from saving attachments
to Dropbox whenever you receive one via
email, to setting up a weekly email digest
of all the songs you’ve liked on Spotify.
IFTTT basically works by connecting the
various services you use. And you can
also connect web-connected ‘smart’
devices, such as a fitness tracker, Philips
Hue lighting or a Hive home-heating system.
For a list of all the services and products
IFTTT supports, go to www.snipca.com/
26600. Click each one for a few examples
of what’s possible. To use IFTTT, sign
up for a free account, then click My
Applets, followed by New Applet. Click
the large blue ‘+this’ link and choose the
first service you want to connect - scroll
down for YouTube, for example. Click the
Connect button, then sign in with your
YouTube account. You’ll see a selection of
triggers. Choose the one you want – for
example, you could choose to trigger an
action every time a YouTube user you
subscribe to posts a new video (third from
the left in the screenshot above).
Once you’ve created the trigger, click
the blue ‘+that’ link to set up the action.
For example, you could connect your
Gmail account here and choose ‘Send
yourself an email’ as the action, so that
you’ll automatically receive an email
message whenever the YouTube user
posts a new video.
at the bottom. Click this, then select
from one of the preset times or click ‘At a
specific time’ to schedule a precise date
and time (see screenshot below left).
It will then be sent at that time even if
you’re not using Chrome or your PC is
switched off.
file downloads
10Schedule
at any time of day or night
If you’d rather not have large, disruptive
downloads clogging up your bandwidth
during the day and slowing down your
broadband speeds, you could schedule
them to happen in the wee hours of
the morning by using Free Download
Manager (www.snipca.com/26596).
Download and install the latest
version (5.1.33, at time of writing).
Now, whenever you want to download
something large, instead of clicking the
download button (or link) on the web
page, drag and drop it into the main
Choose where to download files using Free
Download Manager
section of Free Download Manager’s
main screen. In the ‘New file’ window
that opens, select where you want to
save the file to (your Downloads folder
is the default location, see screenshot
above), then tick the bottom-left
Scheduler box to reveal more scheduling
options. Select the day and time you
want the download to occur then click
Download.
17 – 30 January 2018 55
AUTOMATE YOUR DAILY LIFE
yourself to
11 Wake yourself up to music 12 Remind
exercise
By definition, alarms are alarming.
It’s much nicer to be woken up – or
reminded of something you need to
do – by your favourite piece of music.
Windows 10’s built-in ‘Alarms & Clock’
app is pretty simplistic and doesn’t allow
much tweaking. But free Microsoft Store
alternative Alarm Clock HD (www.
snipca.com/26599) lets you play the
song of your choice at a specific time.
You can even set it to play on a recurring
schedule. To do this, click Alarms, then
click ‘+New Alarm’. Give the alarm call a
name, choose the time and the regularity,
then select ‘Custom (mp3)’ from the
Alarm Sound options (see screenshot
below). Click Choose Sound File, browse
to the MP3 file of choice, click Open,
then click Save.
In the Creators Update addition is
Microsoft expanded support for
scheduling recurring reminders in
Cortana. To set yourself a reminder to,
for example, stretch your legs or walk the
dog, click inside the Start menu search
box, then click the Notebook icon (circle
in a box) and select Reminders. Click the
plus (+) sign, then enter a short reminder
description in the ‘Remember to…’ box
(see screenshot right). Click the Time
box and select one of the time options,
or click ‘Another time…’ and enter the
time and day you want in the options.
Click the ‘Only once’ menu to select from
the available recurrence options – for
example, ‘Every day’ or ‘Every Saturday’ –
then click Remind.
Save your
favourite track
as ‘Custom
mp3’ and have
it wake you up
in the morning
Get Cortana to remind you to walk the dog at
a certain time
your monitor
13Adjust
for low light
Another excellent Creators Update
addition was the Night Light setting. This
alters your screen’s colour temperature
(by degrees of orangey-red) to make it
easier on the eye in dark conditions, thus
preventing your screen’s blue light from
ruining a good night’s sleep.
To set Night Light to come on and go
off at times that suit your routine, click
Start, Settings, System, Display, then click
‘Night light settings’. Under Schedule,
click the slider under ‘Schedule night
light’ to turn it on. Microsoft’s default
schedule is sunset to sunrise, but select
the ‘Set hours’ option and you can specify
your own ‘Turn on’ and ‘Turn off’ times
(see screenshot below).
SCHEDULE TASKS ON PHONE OR TABLET
Smartphones and tablets
have a lot of scheduling
and automation features,
from setting alarms to
automatically downloading
updates when connected
to Wi-Fi. One of the most
useful is Do Not Disturb,
which lets you specify
periods where you won’t
be interrupted by calls or
notifications.
To set this up in iOS,
tap Settings, then Do Not
Disturb. Tap the slider next
to Scheduled and select
your time period (see
screenshot).
In Android, tap Settings, then Sound,
56 17 – 30 January 2018
then ‘Do not disturb
preferences’. Tap ‘+ Add
more’, then ‘Time rule’
and follow the prompts to
select the days, time period
and other settings.
For more automation
and scheduling, IFTTT (see
page 55) is available for
both iOS (www.snipca.
com/26604) and Android
(www.snipca.com/26603),
and there are a number
of other excellent taskscheduler apps available
for Android users, including
Automate (free from www.
snipca.com/26601) and Tasker (£2.99
from www.snipca.com/26602).
Tell Windows when to activate its Night Light
mode so your screen doesn’t ruin your sleep
Schedule any task on your PC
AUTOMATE TASKS WITH MICROSOFT FLOW
Like all tech giants, Microsoft copies
some of its best ideas from smaller
companies. One of its better efforts is the
task-automating service Flow, a rival to
IFTTT. It works in much the same way,
though it leans more heavily towards
Microsoft’s own online tools (in
particular its Office web apps).
The other big difference is that the free
version limits you to 750 free ‘flows’ a
month (at 15-minute intervals). This
should be enough for most people.
Paid-for accounts with more flows, aimed
at business people, start from $5 per
month. Both the iOS (www.snipca.
com/26655) and Android (www.snipca.
com/26656) apps are free.
To use it, create an account at https://
flow.microsoft.com. Next, either type the
name of a service (such as Outlook or
Excel) in the search bar at the top, or
click the Templates tab (see screenshot
above right). This will show you the tasks
- called ‘templates’ – you can set up. You
need to sign into the services you’re
linking, then click the blue Create Flow
button (see screenshot below). Here are
five of the most useful templates.
14
Save Outlook.com email
attachments to OneDrive
www.snipca.com/26657
Once you’ve created this template,
attachments you receive in Outlook.com
will be saved in a OneDrive folder called
‘Email attachments from Flow’. There’s
Click the
Templates tab
to see which
services you
can link in
Microsoft Flow
also a template for saving Gmail
attachments to Google Drive: www.
snipca.com/26660.
Save OneDrive files to
15Google
Drive
www.snipca.com/26659
This template automatically backs up files
saved in OneDrive to Google Drive, forming
an effective defence against ransomware.
To set it up, you need to select the folders
containing the files you want to back up.
Outlook.com
16Track
emails in Excel
www.snipca.com/26658
You can keep a record of Outlook.com
emails in the online version of Excel.
You need to create a Table in a
spreadsheet with Subject, From, CC and
Received Time columns. Once created,
select a file and table name (see
screenshot below left).
warned about
17Bepassword
thefts
www.snipca.com/26661
One website you need to check regularly
is ‘Have I Been Pwned?’ (https://
haveibeenpwned.com). It contains
databases of nearly five billion passwords
and usernames that have been stolen by
hackers. This template will notify you
when the site is updated with a new
batch of stolen details. It will send you an
email, an RSS alert, or a push notification
on your phone (so you’ll need to install
the Flow app).
emails about
18 Receive
Facebook posts
Once you’ve set up a template click the blue
Create Flow button
Set a file and table name to save Outlook.com
emails in an Excel spreadsheet
www.snipca.com/26662
Set up this template to receive an email
when something appears on your
Facebook timeline. To track Facebook
messages in Excel use this template:
www.snipca.com/26664.
ON SALE
NEXT ISSUE On sale Wednesday 31 January
The problem-fixing guide to
WINDOWS UPDATES
Weds
31 Jan
Plus • Which printer ink
Stop them causing chaos on your PC
should you buy?
• Where to find local
computing clubs
Subscribe to Computeractive at www.getcomputeractive.co.uk
17 – 30 January 2018 57
Right-click
tricks for your
favourite software
Your mouse can reveal hidden commands with a simple right-click.
Joseph Fox picks the most useful for essential software
WORD
scroll through your sheets. Better still,
right-click the arrows to display all the
sheets in a handy list for quicker
switching.
Make formatting options
easy to access
You can add the Bold, Italic, Underline or
‘font select’ dropdown menus to the top
of your Word window in what’s known
as the ‘Quick access toolbar’. This is
handy if you’re jumping between tabs
on the ribbon just below it. In fact, you
can add almost anything to it. Right-click
the button you want to add, then select
‘Add to Quick Access Toolbar’ in the
dropdown menu.
See alternative words instantly
If you think something you’ve typed isn’t
quite what you want to say, right-click
the word you’re not satisfied with and
you’ll see a ‘Synonyms’ option (see
screenshot above right). Move your cursor
over it to see a list of alternative words.
Add a header or footer
You can quickly add a header or a footer
to your document by right-clicking the
Sort data with two clicks
Got writer’s block? Right-click a word then
move your cursor over ‘Synonyms’
white space at the top or bottom of the
page, then selecting Edit Header or Edit
Footer.
EXCEL
Navigate multiple sheets quicker
If your workbook has more sheets than
can be displayed at once, navigating
between them can be time consuming.
You could use the little arrow buttons in
the bottom-left corner of the window to
BEAT WINDOWS’ RIGHT CLICK RESTRICTIONS
Windows is very protective of its rightclick options. Making changes typically
requires tweaking the registry. You can
free yourself from these restrictions by
installing Right Click Enhancer (www.
snipca.com/26608, see screenshot),
which lets you edit what appears when
you right-click anywhere in Windows.
It adds new programs to the menu, file
types to the ‘New’ option, and lets you
choose where to send or move files
to. There’s a paid-for version for $9.99
58 17 – 30 January 2018
Select the data in a column that needs
sorting, then right-click any of the
highlighted cells. Click Sort at the the
bottom of the menu to see a menu of
sorting options. This menu is dynamic,
meaning it changes depending on the
type of data being sorted. For example, if
you’ve select a list of names, it will offer
to sort them alphabetically; or if you
select a series of numbers it will offer to
sort them in numerical order.
Add a hyperlink to another cell
Typically, hyperlinks take you to a
website, but you can also link two cells in
your workbook, making it even quicker
and easier to navigate. Right-click the
relevant cell, click Hyperlink, and an
Insert Hyperlink window will pop up.
In the left-hand pane select ‘Place in This
Document’, select the sheet you want and
enter the cell you want to link to in the
text field above it, then click OK. Now
when you return to your worksheet and
click the first cell, you will jump straight
to the second cell you specified.
LIBREOFFICE
Add options to the
right-click menu
(around £7.46) containing advanced
options, but the free edition should be
sufficient for most people.
You can add useful options to the
right-click menu in LibreOffice Writer
(the suite’s word-processing program).
Select Tools at the top, then Customize.
Click the Context Menus tab, then select a
Add files to CCleaner’s ‘Exclude list’ to stop the program wiping them
type of content (such as Image, Shape or
Text) in the top-left menu. In the Menu
Content below you’ll see which rightclick options this type of content has
by default. Next, click Add Command
on the right, then click a category on
the left to display the right-click
commands that appear with it on the
right. To add a command, click it then
click Add at the top right. You can
continue adding commands, or click
Close. To save these options, click OK in
the Customize box.
CCLEANER
Prevent certain files
from being wiped
PC-optimisation program CCleaner is
such a powerful tool there may be times
when you want to rein it in a little.
Perhaps there’s a particular file you don’t
want wiped every time you run CCleaner’s
scan – such as your internet history.
Select the Cleaner option in the
left-hand pane then click Analyze, as you
normally would to run a scan. When the
list of files to be deleted appears, doubleclick the type you want to preserve (for
example, ‘Google Chrome – Internet
History’). Now select all the files you
want to retain, right-click them, then
select ‘Add to Exclude list’ (see screenshot
above). From now on whenever you run a
SWAP LEFT AND RIGHT
CLICK ON A LAPTOP
If your laptop has a separate
physical right-click button, then
you’re probably all sorted. However,
left-handers may be interested
to know that you can swap left
and right-click around. To do this
in Windows, open Settings, click
Mouse (or ‘Mouse and touchpad’),
then choose Left or Right in the
‘Select your primary button’.
Select ‘Volume Analysis’ to make tracks play at the base level
scan with CCleaner these files will be
left untouched.
If you want to undo your actions and
add files you previously excluded, click
Options in the left-hand pane, followed
by Exclude. Select all the files you want to
include in your regular scans, then click
Remove.
VLC MEDIA PLAYER
Change a video’s aspect ratio
Videos can be unwatchable in the wrong
aspect ratio. If you’re watching a video in
VLC media player and it looks squashed
or stretched, right-click anywhere on the
video, move your cursor over Video, then
Aspect Ratio, and select one. If it still
doesn’t look right, repeat the process
until it does.
MUSICBEE
Play songs by genre
If you don’t feel like listening to an entire
album of songs by the same artist, you
can ask MusicBee to play random tracks
from a selected genre. Right-click any
track, move your cursor down to ‘Play
More…’, then select Play Genre ‘X’ (‘X’
being the genre of the track you selected).
You can see which songs have been
included in this random playlist in the
top-right corner of the program window.
Adjust your music’s volume
If you find that certain albums play
at a lower volume than others, or that
certain tracks are louder, you can fix the
problem using MusicBee’s built-in
volume analyser. To make tracks play at
the optimum level, select them, then
right-click. Next, move your cursor to
‘Send to’, click Volume Analysis (see
screenshot above), then Proceed. If the
optimum level isn’t right for you, adjust
the slider labelled ‘adjust calculated
replaygain values’, then click Proceed.
Find the location of a
track’s file on your PC
Once you’ve imported a track to
MusicBee, you may still need to locate the
original file saved on your PC. To do this
in MusicBee, right-click the track you’re
looking for and move the cursor down to
Search, where you’ll see the option
‘Locate in Windows Explorer’. Click it
and a new window will open showing
the actual file for that track.
P
PAINT.NET
Rotate an object
There’s no need to go into a menu every
time you want to rotate an object or layer.
Simply select the ‘Move selected pixels’
tool in the Tools window and, instead of
holding left-click to move an object, hold
right-click
– moving your
mouse will now
rotate it (see
screenshot left).
Right-click an object
or layer in Paint.net
to rotate it
17 – 30 January 2018 59
What you must
never search for on
Google
Google provides a vast amount of knowledge
at your fingertips, but scammers lie in wait if
you search for the wrong thing. Daniel Booth
reveals what you should never look for
O
f the trillions of searches Google
processes every year, 15 per cent
are brand new, meaning nobody
has ever typed those specific
queries before. It’s unlikely they’ll
produce fake search results because they
are not common enough to attract the
attention of fraudsters. Scammers aim
big, trying to exploit search terms that are
typed millions of times every day. To
avoid those traps, make sure you never
search for any of the following.
Software that’s been
discontinued
When companies stop supporting a
program and remove download links to
it, scammers see a chance to con people
who still want to use it. Search for it on
Google and you’ll see results promising to
provide a download, but it’s often malware.
AVOID OTHER GOOGLE
SCAMS
Google’s ubiquity is a gift to fraudsters.
They use the company’s (generally
positive) reputation to give a veneer of
legitimacy to their shameless scams.
The company exposes some of these
on its website, including emails claiming
you’ve won the ‘Google Lottery’ (which
doesn’t exist), and text messages
saying that the company needs to
phone you to confirm your identity (it
never does this). Visit www.snipca.
com/26702 for more details. You’ll also
find ways you can report scams.
60 17 – 30 January 2018
Searching for Windows Movie Maker
produced this scam result in Google
Search for ‘Microsoft tech support’ and GuruAid
often appears at the top – don’t be tempted
Sometimes the link will download the
genuine program, but charge a fee when
previously it had been free. That was the
tactic used late last year by fraudsters
tempting searchers with Windows Movie
Maker, which Microsoft stopped offering
in October. Click the link in the search
result (see screenshot above) and you’ll
be charged $29.95 to unlock the “full
version”. It’s a crafty con trick that preys
on people’s natural desire to stick with
software they’re familiar with.
support’ and typically one of the top
sponsored results is for GuruAid. Its
headline sounds promising: ‘Tech
Support for Microsoft - Call Now
(UK Toll Free) - UK.com’ (see screenshot
above). At first glance, that sounds
like official support for Microsoft
products. Click through to their (very
ugly) website and you’re asked to phone
a number for “toll-free assistance”. But
instead of contacting UK experts, you’ll
reach workers at an Indian call centre
who will subject you to the hardest of
hard sells, pestering you to cough up
hundreds of pounds to fix minor
problems.
GuruAid has been around for some
time. Back in 2011 someone on the
Microsoft Forums asked whether they
could trust the company (www.snipca.
com/26704). Complaints last year show
it’s as awful as ever (www.snipca.
com/26703). For genuine help from
Microsoft, bookmark its Support page
(https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb)
or ring 0344 800 2400.
Tech support for Microsoft
Many tech-support scammers actively
target you over the phone. They claim to
be calling from Microsoft, and declare in
an ominous voice (often with an Indian
accent) that your computer is riddled
with malware. The ‘miracle’ cure is to
give them control of your computer. Once
in, they waste no time stealing your
sensitive info, such as banking passwords.
There are other ne’er-do-wells who set
traps on Google, just waiting for naive
searchers to fall in. Type ‘Microsoft tech
Charities’ phone numbers
We’re not saying you should stop
donating money over the phone, but
searching Google for the correct number
is fraught with risk. In November last
year, the RSPCA complained to Google
and Ofcom about sites appearing in
search results that were advertising
expensive premium-rate phone numbers
for the charity. People calling the number
are put through to the RSPCA’s National
Control Centre, so they may not realise
they’ve been scammed.
The RSPCA said it found eight rogue
sites in the first 10 pages of results. It’s
hard to remove these entries completely,
but the charity asked Google to make
sure they don’t appear too highly.
As this proves, scammers don’t just
exploit people’s curiosity and confusion;
they also take advantage of their kindness.
Only use the phone number that you find
on a charity’s official website.
The web’s most popular sites
In 2016, Google removed 1.7bn fraudulent
adverts from its results (2017 figures
haven’t been released yet), but some still
sneak through, particularly those for the
world’s most popular sites. Amazon was a
favourite for criminals last year, and they
are experts at making the scams seem
convincing. For a while in February, the
top paid-for result when searching for
‘Amazon’ was ‘www.amazon.com/
Amazon’. Cleverly constructed to fool
even careful clickers, this link directed
people to a Windows-support scam.
The scam reappeared in November, a
few days before the Black Friday sale
frenzy began (see screenshot below). The
greedy fraudsters were hoping to steal
some of the millions spent by shoppers.
A similar scam using YouTube search
results was also reported.
Scammers will always exploit the
SHOULD YOU SWITCH TO BING?
Look at the screenshot below showing a
search results page on Bing. Can you see
what’s missing? In May 2016, Microsoft
banned adverts on its search engine for
third-party tech-support companies like
GuruAid. As the image shows, search for
‘Microsoft tech support’ and Microsoft’s
own support page appears first. There are
no dodgy adverts above it, so no danger
that you’ll be scammed.
So why hasn’t Google followed
Microsoft’s lead? Could it possibly be
popularity of such sites, so it’s best to
bookmark them if you’re likely to visit
them regularly. That applies not just to
Amazon and YouTube, but also eBay,
Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo and Netflix.
Local services on Google Maps
This is the kind of scam that makes you
mourn the passing of the Yellow Pages. In
April last year, Google said it would crack
down on criminals listing fake businesses
in its Maps service. This scam peaked in
2014-15, when Google detected 100,000
fake listings.
The company said fraudsters were
posing as “locksmiths, plumbers,
electricians, and other contractors”.
When customers phone them, they are
quoted an incredibly cheap price. But
once the work is done, they end up being
charged a much higher fee.
This advert for Amazon looks genuine, but it’s the work of scammers
because the company makes most of its
money from advertising? Banning adverts
isn’t as lucrative as turning a blind eye.
According to recent data (www.snipca.
com/26709), only 6.6 per cent of all UK
searches were made on Bing. Google
dwarfs it on 90.5 per cent. But we
recommend using Bing for a while to see
whether its search results are accurate
enough for you. If so, then you can stick
with it knowing you won’t be scammed by
so-called tech ‘gurus’ offering ‘aid’.
Google now says it detects and disables
85 per cent of fake listings before they
even appear on Google Maps. And to
check that a new listing is genuine, it
sends a postcard to the company’s
claimed address. When a business has
new owners, Google phones them to
verify the change.
While these measures are reassuring,
nothing beats word of mouth when
booking a local service. A friend’s
recommendation can’t be hacked.
Bitcoin investment advice
Scammers love it when a fad becomes a
hysteria, because they know it makes
people less cautious when clicking results
in Google. And nothing generates more
hysteria at the moment than Bitcoin,
the cryptocurrency which rocketed 1,000
per cent in value last year.
There’s nothing wrong with searching
Google for more information about
Bitcoin, or the Blockchain technology
behind it. The safest option is to type a
question, such as ‘What is Bitcoin?’
You’ll have a choice of hundreds of
safe websites, all explaining how the
currency works and examining (in other
words, speculating) whether it’s a real
investment opportunity or a bubble
waiting to burst. Nobody really knows –
and don’t trust anyone who says they do.
But what you shouldn’t search for is
‘Bitcoin investment advice’, or similar
phrases. This will generate dubious
get-rich-quick schemes guaranteeing a
crypto-fortune. Don’t get sucked in.
17 – 30 January 2018 61
Problems Solved
Why won’t my
phone display
Can I install SwiftKey on a Kindle Fire? sent emails?
PROBLEM OF THE FORTNIGHT
I bought my first tablet, a
Kindle Fire 7, on Black Friday
for £30. I can’t complain about
the price but I’ve discovered the app
store doesn’t have all the same apps as
my iPhone. In particular, I wanted to
use the SwiftKey swipe-typing keyboard
that I’ve installed on my smartphone
but it seems that’s not available for
Kindle. Do you know why this is? Is
there any way to get the iPhone app
working on my Kindle Fire? A friend
says I should look in the Google Play
Store but I can’t find that either.
Sally-Ann Davies
Q
Your Kindle runs a forked
version of the Android
operating system, called Fire
OS. This is not compatible with iOS,
the operating system that runs on your
iPhone, which is why you can’t run the
Apple version of SwiftKey on your Fire.
Because Fire OS is based on Android
it is actually capable of running very
many apps designed for Android,
including the Android version of
SwiftKey. However, that particular app
is not yet available in Appstore, which
is Amazon’s name for its own app store
— so you can’t obtain it that way.
Tablets running ‘real’ Android
usually include Play Store, which is the
app store run by Google. This is what
your friend was talking about, and
SwiftKey is indeed in the Play Store.
However, the Fire does not come with
Play Store, so you can’t get SwiftKey
that way, either.
But there is a way to get SwiftKey
— and other Android apps — running
on your Fire, and that’s to use a
technique known as ‘side loading’.
You’ll first need to find and download
an app’s installation file, known as an
Android Package Kit or APK. Some
developers make these freely available
from their own websites, while others
will have to be sourced from elsewhere.
SwiftKey falls into the latter category,
though its APK is available from a few
I have five email accounts all set
up using the IMAP protocol –
one each for Sky, Yahoo,
Outlook, Hotmail and Gmail. I use the
stock email app on my Samsung Galaxy
S7 smartphone and Thunderbird on my
laptop. All emails sent from the laptop
show in the Sent folder on my phone and
vice versa, except for Gmail where emails
sent on the laptop show in the Sent
folder on the phone, but emails sent from
my phone do not show in the Sent folder
on my laptop. I have Googled the
problem several times and found various
‘solutions’, but none solve the problem.
Can you help?
John Lattimore
Q
A
64 17 – 30 January 2018
It is possible to ‘side-load’ SwiftKey on your
Kindle Fire using an Android Package Kit
reliable sources. That means you can
use side-loading to install it on your
Fire. However, you proceed at your own
risk because you’ll be installing
software that hasn’t been officially
vetted by Amazon or Google.
Grab your Kindle Fire, then tap
Apps followed by Settings and then
Applications. Flip the ‘Apps from
Unknown Sources’ switch to the On
position, and then tap OK to confirm.
Now launch the Kindle Silk browser
and visit www.snipca.com/26507.
This is the APKMirror website run by
the trusted Android Police website
(www.androidpolice.com). Click the
link for the latest (non-beta) version of
SwiftKey, which when we visited was
6.7.3.28, and then click for the latest
‘arm’ (ARM) version for ‘Android 4.1+’.
Now click the Download APK button.
The download should take just a few
seconds. Tap Silk’s menu button (three
horizontal lines) and then choose
Downloads. Now tap the Swiftkey APK
file just downloaded, followed by Next
and then Install. Finally, return to your
Fire’s Settings screen to flip the ‘Apps
from Unknown Sources’ back to Off.
This appears to be a persistent
bug in Samsung’s email app, as
many users report similar or
related problems. As such, we’re unable
to offer an easy or elegant solution –
because it’s down to Samsung to fix these
hiccups by updating the app.
We can’t tell you if or when that will
happen but, while you’re waiting, one
option is to install a different email app.
You could either use this as a replacement
for the Samsung app, or just for
synchronising the problematic account.
Google’s own Gmail app is an obvious
choice, and the Sent folder will
synchronise perfectly to both your S7
and laptop. Grab it free of charge from
www.snipca.com/26496.
A
To avoid a bug on Samsung’s email app,
switch to Google’s app for syncing Gmail
Our experts solve all your tech problems
Email us your problem and we’ll try to help: noproblem@computeractive.co.uk
Why can’t I install
graphics card
drivers?
I took advantage of the last-ditch
chance to upgrade my old
Windows Vista desktop PC to
Windows 10, using the accessibility
loophole that you detailed in Issue 516
(see the Workshop on page 38). As I had
a legitimate copy of Windows 7 on DVD
I first used that to do a clean install to
wipe Vista, and then used Microsoft’s
generosity to upgrade to Windows 10. All
seemed to go without a hitch, but I can’t
seem to install the graphics card drivers.
I found out, perhaps too late, that
this PC’s Nvidia 7900 graphics card
apparently isn’t compatible with
Windows 10, so there are no Windows
10 drivers! I thought I’d try my luck with
the Windows 7 drivers but they refuse
to install, with the only error message
being a terse ‘Failed’. The PC is working
fine apart from the graphics, which are
slow and clunky (and they weren’t under
Vista, so I know it’s not the hardware).
I contacted Nvidia, who told me the card
Q
the version number you want is
309.08. And just to be crystal clear,
if you’re making your selection
from the dropdown menus in the
Manual Driver Search section, then
choose GeForce 7 Series (see
screenshot), and not GeForce 700
Series. The latter drivers are for
Select GeForce 7 Series when installing drivers for
Windows 7/8.1 on an old Nvidia graphics card
much-more-recent graphics cards.
Next, you’ll need to fool both
was unsupported and it had no plans to
Windows and Nvidia’s drivers into
introduce Windows 10 drivers. Do you
running the new drivers. To do this,
know of any way around this?
right-click the downloaded file (called
Daniel Burroughs ‘309.08-desktop-win8-win7-winvista64bit-international-whql.exe’) and
We’re afraid your graphics card
choose Properties. Now click the
is over a decade old and there is
Compatibility tab, tick the box labelled
no prospect of Nvidia releasing
‘Run this program in compatibility mode
drivers for Windows 10. However, while
for’ and from the dropdown menu below
this card is officially not supported it is
this choose Windows 7. Now click OK.
actually possible to install the most recent
Finally, double-click the driver file
drivers for Windows 7 and 8.1.
to begin the installation and follow
It sounds like you already have those but the prompts, restarting your PC when
do check at www.geforce.co.uk/drivers –
it’s finished.
A
How do I open this encrypted file?
I was reviewing files stored
on an old hard drive when
I came across one with a .tc
extension. Windows wouldn’t open
this, saying that there was no program
associated with it. Then I remembered
it was an archive of personal stuff that
I’d encrypted with TrueCrypt. I
uninstalled that program ages ago,
because I read somewhere that it was
no longer secure. I’d like to open this
file but don’t want to install insecure
software on my PC. Am I right to
worry? What should I do?
Bob Farnworth
Q
It’s certainly sensible to be
cautious. TrueCrypt’s
anonymous developers gave
up on their program in 2014, and have
stated that it contains “unfixed security
issues”. The last version is still available,
A
You can use VeraCrypt in TrueCrypt mode to access unsupported .tc file content
from http://truecrypt.sourceforge.net,
but the programmers state clearly that
it should be used only for data migration
– opening .tc files and retrieving
the contents for use elsewhere.
However, the better option would be
to install VeraCrypt (www.veracrypt.fr).
This is a forked version of TrueCrypt
that is considered secure. It will
also open some TrueCrypt files. To do
this, first launch VeraCrypt, then click
Select File, navigate to your .tc archive,
click to select it then click OK. Now
select a drive letter for the mounted
archive, then click Mount. Tick the
TrueCrypt Mode box (see screenshot),
type the file’s password and then
click OK.
17 – 30 January 2018 65
Problems Solved
How do I hide
LibreOffice
marks?
My problem isn’t a serious
one but I hope you can
help. I bought a new laptop
and installed LibreOffice, which
I already use on my desktop PC. The
trouble is that at some point on
my desktop version I somehow
tweaked the settings to display
paragraph marks but no other
marks. This means that when I click
the carriage-return icon in the
toolbar I’m able to see where I’ve
inserted line breaks. That button
works on the laptop but it shows
other ‘invisible’ marks as well, like
spaces. I find those in particular
intensely distracting and would like
to hide them. I know it’s possible
because I’ve done it once, but can’t
remember how. Help!
Louise Thurston
Q
It’s all too easy to forget
how little settings like
these were made, so we
empathise. In this case, begin by
opening the Tools menu and
clicking Options. Then, in the lefthand pane of the Option box, click
the plus (‘+’) symbol to expand the
LibreOffice Writer category then
click to select Formatting Aids
(see screenshot).
All you need to do now is add or
remove ticks to configure the marks
you want to see. So, in your case,
remove the tick at least from Spaces
and then click OK.
A
Can I disable my scroll-wheel button?
As I’ve gotten older my
fingers have become less
nimble, so I find it harder
to use the mouse. In particular, the
scroll wheel on my mouse is rather
stiff, so needs a lot of pressure to
turn it. I find myself pressing too
hard and clicking the button that
this wheel also has. That activates an
annoying scroll mode that I never
use. So, I’d like to disable my scrollwheel button. Could you tell me
how to do this, please?
Eric Harman
Q
It depends on your mouse
or, more accurately, its
You can disable the scroll-wheel button in the
‘Mouse and Keyboard’ settings
driver. You didn’t tell us
the make and model, but in most
cases changing the setting is easy. In
click ‘basic settings’ followed by ‘Wheel
the first instance, click Start followed
button’, then choose ‘Disable this button’.
by the Settings cog, and then Devices
Click the Back button (the left arrow),
followed by Mouse. Next, click ‘Additional and you’re done.
mouse options’ (see screenshot). This
If you don’t see a mouse-specific tab in
opens the Mouse Properties box.
the Mouse Properties box, then head to
Now click the tab relating to your
the mouse manufacturer’s website to
mouse. For a Microsoft mouse, for
download and install the latest driver.
instance, click the ‘Mouse and Keyboard
The ‘Mouse and Keyboard Center’, for
Center’ tab followed by ‘Click here to
example, is a free download from
change Microsoft mouse settings’. Next,
www.snipca.com/26502.
A
What is my PC’s
graphics card?
My computer automatically
updated to Windows 10 Fall
Creators Update (FCU). There
was an error message saying my Nvidia
graphics display wouldn’t start, so it was
changed to Microsoft’s basic display
adapter. How do I find the model of my
Nvidia graphics card to update the driver?
Terry Sutton
Q
Your problem is very similar to
that of Daniel Burroughs, on
page 65, so following similar
steps could get your graphics card back
up to speed. However, first you need to
figure out what the card is.
If your computer is a desktop PC you
could simply open up the case to take a
look: the graphics card model will be
printed somewhere on the card.
Alternatively, if you have a laptop then
install the free GPU-Z program, from
www.snipca.com/26503. Run this, then
A
LibreOffice’s Options menu lets you pick
which document marks are displayed
66 17 – 30 January 2018
Run the free utility GPU-Z to see what model
of graphics card you have
check the card model in the Name box
(see screenshot). Now go to www.geforce.
co.uk/drivers, download the latest drivers,
then proceed as per our answer to
Mr Burroughs.
Is this free Wi-Fi connection safe?
While testing my broadband
speed I saw a new Wi-Fi name,
alongside my and my
neighbour’s Sky routers. My neighbour’s
connection is blocked but this new
connection said it was free and open for
use, so I assumed it was a hotspot. I
connected my PC to it and immediately
noticed a welcome speed boost, and
nothing untoward happened. But when
I told my son he was very suspicious, and
thought that it could be used to steal my
personal information. I have returned to
my Sky router, but do you think this free
connection is safe to use?
Ian E Mitchell
Q
A
You didn’t tell us the name of
this mystery Wi-Fi device,
but there’s no way we’d
recommend connecting to a random
router or hotspot. Even using a hotspot
in a public space such as a café or
library carries risk, but at least you’ll
normally know who’s providing
the service.
If you’re lucky then there was nothing
malicious behind this, because a
neighbour or nearby business had failed
to secure their own connection. If that’s
the case, there’s no harm done — and
they’ll probably never know that you
connected, either.
But your son is also spot on: this
could’ve been set up with malicious
intent, and you fell into someone’s trap.
So, sensibly, you should now change
all logins and passwords that you
might’ve typed while connected to this
rogue Wi-Fi.
Beware of rogue Wi-Fi networks that may
appear on your home router
Is it safe to delete previous Windows installations?
After downloading the
Windows 10 Fall Creators
Update (version 1709) I was
alarmed to see a large number of
gigabytes of space disappear from
my computer’s C drive. During my
investigations I went to the
Administrative Tools section of Control
Panel and launched Disk Clean-up. I
used this to scan C drive, then noticed
an unticked box labelled ‘Previous
Windows Installation(s)’ that’s hogging
a massive 30.8GB of disk space. I’m not
sure what they mean by ‘Previous
Windows installation(s)’ as my PC is
just over a year old, and was preinstalled with Windows 10 Home. Is it
safe to tick the box to delete all the
stuff and recover the missing storage?
Eric Lake
Q
In the context of your
particular setup, ‘Previous
Windows installation(s)’
means the files that allow you to revert
to an earlier version of Windows 10.
So, in your case, most if not all of the
data will be related to the original
Creators Update (CU, April 2017) and,
possibly, the Anniversary Update (AU,
August 2016) that preceded it.
For a few days after installing each
major update you have the opportunity
to ‘roll back’ to the previous version,
A
You can use Disk Clean-up to clear old Windows installations and free up disk space
should something be awry with the latest
edition. To do this, you’d first need to
click Start followed by the Settings cog,
and then ‘Update & security’ followed by
Recovery. Next, under ‘Go back to the
previous version of Windows 10’, click
‘Get started’ and then follow the prompts.
AU (1607) allowed 31 days for rolling
back, but with CU (1703) this was cut to
just 10, and it’s the same for FCU (1709).
As all those deadlines will have long
since passed for you there’s no good
reason not to tick this box next time
you run Disk Clean-up.
17 – 30 January 2018 67
COMING
SOON!
Computeractive
2017
Back Issue CD
?
?
Problems Solved
What’s the difference between…
Intel Core and AMD Ryzen?
Your explanation of Intel
Core processor differences
(Problems Solved, Issue 514)
was interesting. However, it left me
wondering about the difference
between Intel and AMD. AMD’s Ryzen
has been getting a lot of publicity
recently. Is it basically the same as an
Intel Core processor? If I bought a PC
with a Ryzen chip, would it run all the
same software?
Mark Metcalfe
Q
Your second question is both
the easiest to answer and the
most relevant so, yes — an
AMD Ryzen processor will run all the
same software as an equivalent Intel
Core chip. Or, more accurately, a
computer with a Ryzen CPU will run
any major PC operating system, and
that operating system will in turn run
all the software it normally does. For
most PC users, that obviously now
means Windows 10.
Beyond that, things quickly become
A
much more complicated. If you digested
our previous answer then you’ll know
that there are a dizzying number of Core
processors in existence, beyond the
primary designations of i3, i5, i7 and i9.
These processors differ by multiple
specifications, with the key ones being
number of processor cores, clock speeds
and cache, and the presence or otherwise
of integrated graphics (a PC powered by a
processor with integrated graphics
needn’t have a graphics card, though
many still do). There are also various
‘generations’ of each Intel Core processor,
with the most recent generation being
the eighth.
The generation and number of cores
are key. When AMD launched Ryzen,
midway through 2017, the (then-top)
seventh-generation Core i7 had just four
cores. The equivalent Ryzen 7 has eight.
AMD’s chip was also considerably
cheaper at all tiers (Ryzen 3, 5 and 7
models are pitched against the Core i3, i5
and i7). That made it a very attractive
option, particularly for users most able to
Until recently Intel’s Core i7 had just four
cores, compared with Ryzen 7’s eight
benefit from the extra cores — such as
gamers and video producers.
With its eighth-generation Core
range, Intel has caught up in the
processor-core stakes but, like for like,
Ryzen is typically still cheaper.
Want to know the difference between
technical terms? Email noproblem@
computeractive.co.uk
Why have my searches stopped working?
My Windows 10 PC recently
applied the Fall Creators Update
(FCU). I watched as it did this,
and saw it crash midway through.
Windows said that it would recover itself,
Q
which it duly did. My PC seems to be
running okay, but since this event when
I execute a search in a File Explorer
window it doesn’t seem to find what I
want. All I get is the message ‘No items
match your search’. Previously, I could
type a word or phrase I knew to be in a
particular document and that document
would appear in the results list right
away. Oddly, searches still work on my
C drive, but not on drive D or E, where
I respectively keep my photos and
documents. Could this have been
caused by the crash I witnessed? And
do you know how to get my searches
working again?
Kev Concannon
It sounds like the index File
Explorer uses for searches has
either been disabled or has been
corrupted, which could indeed have been
the result of the crash during the FCU
update. Re-enabling or rebuilding the
index will fix this.
A
If your files have become corrupted, you can
delete and rebuild them in Index Settings
First, click Start, type index then click
Indexing Options. If your D and E drives
are listed under the Included Locations
heading, then the index is most likely
corrupt. To fix this, click the Advanced
button and then, in the Troubleshooting
section, click Rebuild (see screenshot)
followed by OK to confirm.
If the drives aren’t listed then you
need to re-add them to the index. Click
Modify and then, under ‘Change selected
locations’, tick both drive D and E, and
then click OK.
NEXT ISSUE
ON SALE
Weds
31 Jan
• Has Microsoft resurrected
Windows Live Mail?
• How do I open my ancient docs?
• Can I transfer Windows 10 Pro to
a new PC?
...And many more
Subscribe to Computeractive
at getcomputeractive.co.uk
17 – 30 January 2018 69
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Email editor@computeractive.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help
How do I replace my antivirus?
Q
Following your review of antivirus
software in Issue 516, I would like to
change programs. However, I don’t know
how to delete my old antivirus software
from my system before installing a new
one. Any advice that you can give me
would be very helpful.
Paul Wynn
A
Removing security software is usually
no different to uninstalling any
other kind of program. First, open the
security tool in question and choose the
option to exit or fully close the program.
You’ll probably be confronted by a box
warning that you’ll be left unprotected,
and confirming that you wish to proceed:
click Yes or Agree. Now it’s disabled, you
can remove it just like any other program.
In Windows 10, click Start followed by
the Settings cog and then Apps. Now
click the app, followed by Uninstall (see
screenshot below) and then Uninstall to
confirm. In earlier Windows editions,
launch Control Panel and then, under
Programs, click ‘Uninstall a program’,
then proceed as above.
0x800703f9”. I’ve tried troubleshooting
it many times but it always comes back
to these messages. Can you help, please?
Colin Roberts
A
There are many possible reasons
for errors like this. The sure-fire
way to get the update installed is to use
Microsoft’s media-creation tool to create
an installation disc or USB stick, as this
takes the current Windows 10 installation
out of the loop. It’s a free download from
www.snipca.com/26587. Choose the
‘Create Windows 10 installation media’
option (see screenshot above), then
create a DVD or USB stick. Now restart
your PC with this disc or stick inserted,
then follow the prompts to apply FCU.
all manufacturers have released fixes yet,
and not all manufacturers will release
them for all motherboards. If you can’t
remember who made your motherboard,
first press Windows key+R, then type
msinfo32 and press Enter. Now, in the
left-hand pane, click System Summary:
your motherboard maker’s name will
be listed in the right-hand pane, next to
System Manufacturer.
Why won’t web version of
WhatsApp work?
Q
The ‘Problem of the Fortnight’ in
Issue 516’s Problems Solved section
explained a workaround for using the
web version of WhatsApp on an iPad.
This doesn’t work for me, as I don’t have
the Request Desktop Site button in the
Share menu. My iPad runs the latest
version of iOS 11. Could this be anything
to do with the fact that previously I had
installed another version of WhatsApp,
called Messenger? I have deleted this, but
I wonder if my iPad still ‘sees’ it.
Peter Lewin
How do I fix my custom PC?
Q
How do I install the
Fall Creators Update?
Q
I followed the Windows Update
Workshop in Issue 514 and
discovered that version 1709 – the Fall
Creators Update (FCU) – had not been
installed. I get a message saying: “One
or more Windows Update components
are configured incorrectly. Error
After reading the story in Issue 516
about the flaw with Intel processors,
I turned to the Workshop on page 42
and used the company’s Detection Tool,
which advised me that I ‘may’ be liable to
being hacked and to download a fix from
my PC manufacturer. However, therein
lies the rub: I built the PC myself in 2010,
with an Intel i5 750 2.6GHz processor.
Obviously, I do not have a maker to turn
to, so can you offer any advice as to what
to do next?
Trevor Stanswood
A
If a fix is available, or becomes
available, it will be in the form
of a BIOS update for the computer’s
motherboard. So, in your case you’ll need
to visit the website of your motherboard
manufacturer, and check the relevant
support pages for updates. Note that not
A
It’s not because of the now-deleted
Messenger app. Rather, it’s probably
that you yourself can’t see the Request
Desktop Site button. That’s because it’s
not always in view, and it’s not at all
obvious that the displayed strip of icons
icons is scrollable. So, just swipe from
right to left to bring the button into view
(see screenshot above), then tap it and
the web version of WhatsApp will appear,
as per our original instructions.
17 – 30 January 2018 71
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In the next issue of our sister title
Web User...
●
BLOCK AUTOPLAY VIDEOS & ADS
Eliminate the web’s biggest annoyance
●
ACCESS YOUR PC FROM ANY BROWSER
Use Chrome Remote Desktop online
●
STOP LEAKING PERSONAL DATA
To prevent sites from exploiting it
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We test so-called signal-boosting ‘hacks’
BACK
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Buy the Web User 2016
Back Issue CD on Amazon at
72
5 - 18 August 2015
www.snipca.com/23280
Next issue on sale Weds 24 January
Subscribe to Web User at http://subscribe.webuser.co.uk
Jargon Buster
32bit/64bit A measure of how
much information a computer
can process at once. Most older
computers are 32bit, more modern
ones are 64bit.
CPU Central Processing Unit. A
computer processor.
3G/4G/5G Technologies that
deliver faster mobile broadband.
Defragging To reorganise the data
stored on a hard drive so files can
be accessed quickly.
4K Video with a resolution of at
least 3840x2160 pixels.
802.11ac A standard for wireless
networks that allows for much
higher transfer speeds than 802.11n.
Access point Links wireless
network users to a wired network.
Addressing How PC memory
accesses data.
Anti-aliasing Used to smooth
jagged edges of 3D objects in PC
software and video games.
Aspect ratio A measurement of
the shape of a display.
Bandwidth A measure of how
much data can be transferred
through a connection at one time.
Benchmarking Comparing
software and products with an
accepted standard.
Beta A version of software that’s
being tested.
BIOS Basic Input-Output System.
Software built into every PC that
connects its vital components.
Blue light Light given off by PC
and phone screens that can disrupt
sleep patterns.
Blue screen of death Technically
called a ‘Stop error’, this is shown
when your PC crashes.
Cache A temporary space for
storing information.
Clock speed The speed at which a
processor can perform operations.
Colour temperature How blue
and yellow-orange combine to
produce the colour of your screen.
Command line A way to control a
computer by typing instructions.
Core Units on a processor that
carry out program instructions.
Cryptocurrency A digital currency
not backed by any country.
Domain These are used to
identify one or more IP addresses.
Driver A file that tells Windows how
to work with an external device.
DSLR Digital single-lens reflex. A
digital camera that uses a moving
mirror so its viewfinder looks out
through the lens.
Extension A program that adds
extra features to your browser.
File extension The letters after
the full stop in a computer file name.
Firewall Software or hardware
that prevents unauthorised access
to a computer over a network.
Firmware Basic software stored
on a device, such as a music player,
to control its operation.
Hyperlink A clickable link that
takes you to a new document or
website.
IMAP Internet Message Access
Protocol. Lets you manage emails
stored on a remote server.
IP address Internet Protocol
Address. A unique set of numbers
used to identify computers and
websites on the internet.
ISO The light sensitivity of a camera.
LCD Liquid-crystal display. The
technology used to create almost
all flatscreen monitors.
LED Light-Emitting Diode. An
electronic device that emits light.
Used on most electronic devices
M.2 A standard specification for
internal PC expansion cards.
Mesh router Uses multiple,
connected routers to stretch Wi-Fi
further than a traditional router.
MicroSD card A small type of
memory card. Can be converted to
SD size using an adapter.
Forked When developers take
source code from software to
make another program.
Multi-threaded download
Splitting a file into several
pieces and downloading them
simultaneously.
Frame rate The number of still
images, or frames, shown per
second to create a moving image.
NTFS New Technology File
System. A file system used by all
recent versions of Windows.
GHz Gigahertz. A measure of
how many instructions a chip can
process per second.
Overclock Make a processor work
faster to improve performance at
the cost of it getting hotter.
Gorilla Glass Scratch-resistant
glass that’s used to protect the
screens of tablets and phones.
PCI Peripheral Component
Interconnect. A high-performance
expansion slot for desktop PCs.
Graphics card A component in a
computer that produces the image
shown on the monitor.
Phishing A form of internet
fraud that tries to trick you into
revealing personal details.
HDMI High-definition media
interface. Connection that transmits
high-definition video and audio.
Port forwarding Choosing which
computer in your network a router
should connect to.
Hotspot A public area covered by
a Wi-Fi network that allows you to
access the internet.
PPPoE Point-to-point protocol
over Ethernet. A network protocol
for connecting users to the internet.
HTTP Hyper Text Transfer
Protocol. The technology that
sends data between your browser
and the web.
Push notification A message
from an app that appears on a
phone or tablet, even when you’re
not using the app.
Quad core A computer that has
four processors on a single chip.
RAM Random-access memory.
The computer’s working area.
Ransomware Malware run by
hackers who lock files and demand
a payment to release them.
Read speed How long it takes
a hard drive to ‘read’ data, and
respond to it.
Refurbished A second-hand
device that has been repaired by
its manufacturer.
RSS Really Simple Syndication.
Distributes news headlines and
other content from the web.
SATA Serial ATA. An interface for
connecting modern hard drives
and optical discs to a computer.
SD card Secure Digital card. A
popular type of memory card.
sRGB A standard RGB colour
space for use on monitors,
printers and the internet.
SSD Solid-state drive. Storage that
uses no moving parts.
System restore point System files
stored on a given date and time to
which Windows can revert.
TCP Transmission Control
Protocol. Used to transfer data
between web-connected PCs.
Temporary file A file created by a
browser to store website data.
Thunderbolt A very fast port for
connecting external storage to a PC.
Treemap Presents data in rectangles,
showing hierarchy and quantity.
UDP User Datagram Protocol.
Faster than TCP, but less reliable.
USB 2.0/3.0/3.1 Faster successors
to USB.
USB Type-C A new connector
that’s reversible.
Wi-Fi card Adds Wi-Fi
connectivity to a computer.
Wildcard A character in a search
term that represents others.
17 – 30 January 2018 73
Keep Your Brain Active
Simon Brew tries to grow more brain cells, but ends up
being riled by a dancing vegetable
H
mmm. I feel that, three
Again, it’s light on explanation,
columns in, my tenure
but the likes of Concentration,
on this prized back
which prompts you to find
page is under threat already.
matching pairs of pictures in a
Over a cup of better-thangrid, are straightforward
usual instant coffee, I
enough. And actually very
persuaded the editor of this
addictive. Likewise,
organ that brain training is the
Imagination (see screenshot
in-thing, and that scientific
below left) cleverly asks you to
research would back me up.
identify objects from different
This would send sales of the
angles, such as from above.
magazine through the roof.
One for the sparrows in my
Then the science came in.
garden, perhaps.
Latest example? The Practice
After all this strenuous
Center of Minnesota issued a
mental exercise, my head
study suggesting that brain
needed a friend, so gleefully
training has no impact at all on
ignoring the one-star review
slowing dementia. On the
bestowed upon it in the
Want more brain cells? Try spotting the same shape twice running
upside, they suggested it can
Microsoft Store, I downloaded
improve cognitive skills. Inspired by this,
Brain Buddy (www.snipca.com/26625).
I tried three free apps from the Microsoft
But it’s not your Buddy at all. One star
Store that might help.
might be a little harsh, but there’s little
My challenge for 2018 is, via the power
cerebral pleasure to be had by matching
of computer software, to play games that
poorly designed pairs. Worse, when you
claim to physically grow my brain. They
finish you’re rewarded with a dancing
won’t just make me smarter; they’ll
green vegetable (see screenshot below)
actually add new brain cells. Wow! That’s
that I wouldn’t want as part of my
the promise in the title of the game Gain
Sunday roast. It’s harsh to grumble when
More Brain (www.snipca.com/26623).
something is free, but then I’m old, and
I soon became fascinated by it, not
having a good moan is one of the perks of
least because it takes effort just to work
ageing. In an eerie parallel of my career,
out what you need to do. I realise I have
this game does nothing that hasn’t been
the male gene that makes reading
done a lot better elsewhere.
instructions optional, but still. When this
game shows you what to do, it’s great.
When it tries to explain things, it
struggles a bit.
exercise that really, really got me was a
You take a bunch of tests, get a score,
simple one: that if you’re shown the same
then compare it to others worldwide (I
shape twice running, you click a tick (see
declined, fearing humiliation). The one
screenshot above). As simple as that. So
simple that every time I tried, the game
gave me a minus score, and if it could,
would have mockingly told all its mates at
the Microsoft Store. That aside, I’m very
Whatever this is, we don’t like it
happy to recommend it, though I’m not
sure my brain gained anything, as was
promised.
After playing three games in an hour, I
With some trepidation, I moved on to
closed my computer with my brain firmly
Brain Calculator (www.snipca.com/
the same size as it was just over 600
26624), which comes with a ‘12’ age
words ago. Maybe watering it with more
rating for some reason. At first I thought
coffee will help it grow.
it was because there was too much maths
for younger minds, because the first
Which games should Simon try?
Play Brain Calculator to improve your bird’sEmail us at editor@computeractive.co.uk
exercise just wanted me to do sums.
eye view
You take a bunch of
tests then compare
your score to others
worldwide (I declined,
fearing humiliation)
74 17 – 30 January 2018
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