Mini-article – Windows XP & Windows Vista

By | May 1, 2008
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Well, I’ve got lots of different things to tell you this month, so some of the usual features (mini-article, reader’s question and so on) have been squashed out. They’ll be back next month, if all goes to plan!

Mini-article – Windows XP & Windows Vista
Any time now (possibly even before this gets to you!) Microsoft will be releasing the third service pack for Windows XP. Service packs are lots of improvements put together and it’s a really good idea to have them. They don’t cost anything (or rather, they’re included in the cost of Windows in the first place) and they usually make your PC a bit more secure against internet nasties. The rumours are that there aren’t many big changes coming in Service Pack 3 – but I’d still recommend having it. Microsoft usually fix a few bugs every time they realise a service pack, so you might find your PC crashes less once you have it.

If you have Windows Update turned on, then your PC will eventually download Service Pack 3 itself. Or you can go to and download it from there.

If you don’t have broadband, it’ll take AGES and you might be better off waiting until some PC magazines have it on the CD on their front cover. Or get a friend who has broadband to download it for you and put it onto a CD.

And if you have Windows Vista
The first service pack for Windows Vista came out last month. It seems like only a few weeks ago that Windows Vista itself came out but it was over a year ago! So Microsoft have come up with several tweaks and improvements since. They recommend letting your computer automatically download the service pack through Windows updates, but if you really want you can get it from the Microsoft website.

As above, if you don’t have broadband it’ll take ages. Look for it on a magazine CD or get a friend to put it on CD for you.

Helpful Book Company website updated –
We’ve finally finished a long-overdue update of our website. Now, it doesn’t look much different – we haven’t been trying to make it look pretty or anything. We’ve been concentrating on making it work better. So:

  • You can now order books online. Just go to, choose the book you want to order, read about it and select ‘add to basket’. You can order several books at once or just one at a time.
    Of course, you can still ring up to talk to Laura or Emma to order books, if you prefer.
  • You won’t be able to tell by looking the pages, but the website is now set up to work much better with ‘screen-readers’. These are programs you can use if your eyesight is poor or if you’re blind. They literally read out the webpage to you and let you select a particular part to hear again. Our old site half worked, but now it should work well – making it easier to use.
  • We’ve also made the site more ‘search-engine-friendly’. That means that if someone searches for a particular book on Google or Yahoo, they’re more likely to find our site. Or if they search for ‘PC tips’ they’re more likely to find our page about this newsletter.
  • We also have a new page about technical help. You can see it here

Have a look and let me know what you think!

That last point, about technical help, is one I’ve very happy about. I’ve lost count of how many people have asked me to set up a technical helpline, where you can ring up and pay to get help with your PC problems. We’re just not big enough to set up a proper system (BT recruited over a thousand people to set up theirs – with us it’s Laura and Emma, in between packing books!). But I didn’t want to tell everyone to use the BT service – I simply don’t want to endorse something that I’m not sure is always good enough.

So we’ve always tried to help – but as more and more people know about us we can’t really keep on helping everyone who rings up and doing it for nothing. There are just too many people needing PC help!

So what we’ve done is set up a way for anyone who we do help to make a donation. There’s no set amount of money and we’re not saying we’ll be able to help with every problem, but if we do help you via email or on the phone, you can go to the webpage and make a donation of what you think is fair via credit card. Or you can send a cheque.

There’s more about this on the web page:

Word to the Wise – URL
URL stands for Unique Resource Locator. None the wiser? Thought not. What it means is the web address of a webpage. For example is a URL. I don’t mean the actual page you get to – just the address itself. Normal people talk about ‘web addresses’ but computer geeks say ‘URLs’.

Phew – as I said, a bit of a mix this month – getting the website done has kept us busy. We’re also hard at work on a book that’s nothing to do with computers – as crazy as it sounds I’m editing a book about Olive Oil!
When the author approached me I thought ‘Sounds weird, but I might as well have a read of it’. And it was so good I couldn’t resist publishing it for him (with a bit of editing).

Anyway, next month all this extra work will be finished and the newsletter will be back to normal!

Oh – one more thing. The Helpful Book Bulletin (which I mentioned a couple of issues ago) is now printed. So if you’d like a printed copy, just send us your address to [email protected] and we’ll pop one in the post to you.

That really is it for this month!

Bye for now,

Tim Wakeling

All the above © Tim Wakeling 2008

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