All 1047 of you!

By | May 1, 2009
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First of all, I want to say a big thank you to everyone who filled in the survey last time. All 1047 of you! It took some going to read all of them but it made interesting reading.

Aside from the numbers (for example, it’s useful to me to know that 64% of you are using Windows XP and most of the rest of you are using Windows Vista) there were some interesting snippets.

A big thank you to everyone who said how much they enjoy the newsletter – it’s nice to know it’s doing some good.
To answer a few of the questions and comments that were asked:

  • Don’t worry, I won’t start using techno-gobbledegook – unless I’m explaining what it means, of course
  • Several people asked for a kind of index or contents of previous issues, to make it easier to look back for a specific bit. Watch this space!
  • Another request was to put the main article title in the subject line for the email, instead of it just saying “Computers One Step at a Time – May Issue” so it’s easier to look back through them in Outlook Express. Good idea – I’ve started today!
  • One person requested a series of articles on specific programs and what you can use them for (Word, Excel, Photoshop etc) – again, watch this space.
  • Ahem, bit embarrassing this but several people pointed out that you couldn’t tick more than one option in question 4 – sorry! But don’t worry, where you mentioned which other options you would have chosen, I’ve read that bit.
  • How often should it be: answers were split between weekly, fortnightly and monthly. A few people said more often than it currently is but a bit shorter, so it’s easier to digest. It sounds an interesting idea – I’m going to think about this. (And phew, there wasn’t a huge mass of people clamouring for it every day!)
  • Another interesting idea was a place where you can type in any problems or tips you have on the website and anyone else can read it and answer with things like “Oh, I had that problem, we did so and so and it sorted itself out…” Another one for me to think about.
  • I loved the comment: “increased my standing with my grandchildren when they actually ask me what to do, and it comes out right”
  • Several people said they’ve been using the “Tame Your PC” and “Tame The Internet” video CDs and wondered if I’m going to bring out any more, following on from those. I haven’t got anything up my sleeve at the moment but if it looks like they’d be popular, I just might!
  • Another common question as about who the best Internet Service Providers are. I’ve never really answered this, partly because I’ve never found one I’m really confident in. I personally use Tiscali and they’ve been fine for me but I know several people who’ve had problems with them. I have heard good things about Waitrose (yes, they do Internet connections as well!) but I haven’t tried them myself – not yet, anyway.

There were lots more questions – and I’ll be working through them in future newsletters, so don’t worry if you questions hasn’t been answered here. After all, I need to get on to the first actual article of the newsletter:

Mini-article – Will Windows XP stop working?

There was an announcement recently that Microsoft are stopping supporting Windows XP. And a lot of the newspapers made a big deal of it. But don’t panic – here are a couple of misconceptions cleared up:

  • If you have Windows XP on your PC, it won’t stop working because of this. In fact, when you turn it on it will work just as well (or, to be fair just as badly…) as it did before.
  • You will still be able to use the Internet with Windows XP.
  • Programs will still run just as they did before.
  • And although they announced they’re stopping supporting Windows, it’s not actually true. You’ll still get security updates for any problems they spot, thought Windows update (assuming you have it turned on). This will continue until 2014 – no need to panic JUST yet.

So what HAVE they stopped? Well…

  • Bugs that Microsoft find won’t be fixed (unless they’re security ones as mentioned above). But then, they’ve had 7 years to fix any bugs they’d find – I’d suggest that the big ones should be sorted by now.
  • It will be even harder to buy a new PC with Windows XP… except for on “mini-laptops” as they aren’t powerful enough to run Windows Vista.
  • Microsoft will stop giving any free phone support for Windows XP (though you can still buy a phone support contract). Have you ever rung Microsoft for support? Me neither. So this isn’t really one to worry about.
  • And there won’t be any new help articles written by Microsoft on their website – unless they’re about security. If you’ve ever read some of their articles, you might consider this no loss. I mean, I’m sorry to be a bit negative but I found some of them pretty hard to understand – and I was programming computers since before Windows was released. It’s not just the technical language – it’s the fact they can’t write in sentences.

The last point is probably the only one that could be any worry at all. But there are plenty of other websites that will cover any problems that do come up. Plenty of people will find out how to fix any problems, and put the answers on their website. Not least me, of course!

So my advice? Just don’t worry. No matter what headlines the newspapers dream up. Don’t feel you need to run out and buy an upgrade to Windows Vista (I still use Windows XP myself – and run our office on it, including records of thousands of customers).

Website of the month – Home Pages Friends
Most people who use the web use search engines. Whether you go to or use the search box in the top of Internet Explorer. That’s how you can type in “holidays in tunisia” and be given a list of relevant webpages.

Most people use google, msn (microsoft) or yahoo for their searches. But I’ve just found out about a new one where you can actually get paid every time you make a search. Now don’t get your hopes too high, this will not make you rich. But the search companies get paid when you search and this company gives you a small proportion of that. I’ve been trying it out and it works fine – I’ve forgotten that I’ve changed it, really, except when I have a peek to see how much my searches have earned that day!

If you’d like to do the same, you can go to their website and set up an account (it’s not too hard – just give name and email address and so on). Then click to set their webpage as your home page – or click to use it as your ‘in browser search’ (that means the one in the top of internet explorer).

You also get a small amount added to your account if someone else signs up because you told them about the website. But the main point is every time you do a search (that you would have done anyway), you get a small payment. Over a year it can add up to enough to be worth having.

By the way, if you’re wondering, they don’t send 5p to your bank every time – it builds up until it gets to £20 and then you can get your hands on it! Here are the links:
You can use this one if you want to sign up through my account with them.
Or this one to sign up directly via them:
It won’t make any difference to you which link you use but if you use the first one I get the credit for having told you about them!

Reader’s Question
I had a question recently about installing java. It’s one of those fancy things that some websites use and every so often you’ll be looking at a website and it’ll say ‘Need to instal java to continue’ or words to that effect. Normally it’s fine – you wait a few seconds and it’s done. But this chap had done that and it wouldn’t work.
If you have this problem (with java or with something else) there are a few things to try:

  • First, shut down internet explorer and any other windows you have open, then start them up again. Sometimes Internet Explorer hasn’t realised java (or whatever) been installed, so doesn’t know t use it.
  • If that doesn’t help, try restarting the PC – sometimes Windows itself doesn’t realise you’ve installed the new program.
  • If that doesn’t work, try reinstalling it again – it might have not installed properly the first time. If you’re not sure how to do it, use system restore (which is covered in Computers One Step at a Time) to go back to a setup before it installed, then visit the website again.
  • And if that doesn’t work, kick the table and decide you didn’t want to use that website anyway. Or try going to the website of the company who made the program (you can find it by searching for java or flash or whatever the program is called) and see if they have a section covering problems like this – usually best to look in the FAQs section.

Word to the Wise – java, flash, plug in
A plug-in is a extra bit for a program that doesn’t come with it, but adds some extra feature to it. For example you can get plug-ins for Internet Explorer to allow it to show fancy animations. Flash and java are two specific plug-ins that lots of websites use.

Phew – that was a long issue. Thanks for reading to the end! Next time, more answers to questions from the survey!


Tim Wakeling

All the above © Tim Wakeling 2009

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