I’ve got a bit of a hodge-podge of tips today – one to do with Windows 10 and something that’s helpful on an iPad but even more important on other tablets.
But first, the Next Steps books that I’ve been banging on about are now in stock – they arrived from the printers on Friday.
If you’ve already ordered, yours will either already be in the post to you or if you’re one of the ones we didn’t manage to get packed on Friday, it’ll be in the post tomorrow (no post today with it being a bank holiday).
If you haven’t ordered but have thought about it, now’s a good time – we’ll get them straight out in the post to you. They’ve proved really popular but don’t worry, we haven’t run out (not yet anyway). Anyway, you can read more about them here (it’s a bank holiday today, but you can still place your order and we’ll post it out tomorrow).
One small snag if you upgrade to Windows 10 – and how to fix it
Opinions are varied on Windows 10 and whether to upgrade to it. Microsoft say it’s the best thing since sliced bread (or at least since Windows 8…) Some journalists think it’s great and some think it’s awful.
It’s not just to do with how “techie” you are, either. My Mum quite likes it and she’s no tech-whizz (as she’ll agree when she reads this – hi Mum!) But other people upgrade and find they don’t get on with it at all.
Often, it’s because they’ve had trouble with or after the upgrade (if you buy a new PC with it on, then you avoid all those problems, of course, but you might not want to buy a new PC).
Anyway, the last chance to get the free upgrade is getting closer (it’s towards the end of July). So here’s how to fix one of the most common problems. In fact we’re in the process of switching over most of the office PCs and this is something we’ve had to do a few times…
What happens is that for some reason after you’ve done the update, you PC seems to assume you’ve moved to the USA. So you might spot some amounts of money are listed in dollars instead of pounds. Not all, just enough to confuse you!
And dates will be written the wrong way round – with the month first, so today would be 5/30/16 instead of 30/5/16.
You can go into settings, rummage around and change these individually, but you don’t need to – here’s what to do.
First, click in that box near the bottom of the screen, next to the start button. It probably says “I’m cortana…” but it might just say “search”. Sometimes it seems to take two clicks – I’ve no idea why! Once you’ve clicked in it, type region. You should get a list of options and the top one is usually the one you want – it should say “Region – control panel”. Click on that one and you’ll get a screen.
Near the top of that screen, there’s a drop down box labelled “Format”. Click in that one and choose “English (United Kingdom)”. It’s usually the option above the one that’s selected, so you have to click the little arrow to go up one.
(Of course if you live in Australia, you might want to choose Australia and so on.)
Then click on Apply at the bottom, then OK and it should be sorted. I hope that makes it a little bit less confusing!
A tip for iPads but especially for Android tablets
If you have a tablet of any kind (or even a smartphone, come to that), you might know that to get it to do extra things, you need to download Apps – which basically means the same thing as programs on a PC.
For example, on my iPad I’ve got a few games for the boys, the BBC iPlayer app so I can watch TV on it, the Amazon Kindle app to read books, Skype to make video phone calls, a maps app and a few others.
And there are apps for almost anything you could think of – and many of them are free (or at least have a free version). You get them from the App store for your particular type of device.
Apple (for iPads) and Google (who run the store for Android devices) have tried to make them as easy to use as possible. And one thing they’ve done that is really handy is people who’ve downloaded the app can leave a rating out of five stars and a comment.
This can be really useful – if you want to know a bit more about what an app is like, you can see how other people rated it and what they said. Find out if they said it tends to work work, whether it’s easy to use, whether the latest version is a big improvement and so on.
So it’s useful to look down at that rating before downloading an app, whatever device you’re using.
But it’s especially useful if you’re using an Android device.
You see, with Apple devices, they won’t let an app into the store unless they’ve checked it over. So if you have an iPad, you can only get apps that Apple are happy with.
In some ways this can be frustrating – apps that would be really helpful but Apple don’t want you using simply aren’t available. Maybe because they prefer you use their version of that app… or simply they don’t like the idea of that app.
But on the other hand it means that each app has been checked out to make sure it shouldn’t crash and that it’s genuine – not a fake knocked together by some dodgy types.
In the store for Android devices on the other hand, Google do police it and remove apps that are are fakes or dodgy… but they don’t check every app before it goes into the store.
So you can get apps that are designed to look like (say) Skype but are actually a dodgy app designed to do something nasty to your device… or to spy on you… or whatever.
As soon as Google are aware, they’ll remove that app. But in the meantime, people will have downloaded it.
So if you’re downloading a well known app, it’s worth having a quick look at the comments – if it’s a well known one, there should be lots of them… and they should be proper reviews – if someone’s downloaded an app and realised that it’s not genuine, they’ll probably leave a comment here.
So checking the comments and ratings before you download an app gives you that bit more security that you won’t get caught out by a fake.