Big Thank Yous and answers

By | February 15, 2013
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First of all I want to say thank you to everyone who emailed in with thoughts about what their technology bugbears are.  It really helped to be able to see what’s causing people trouble and I’ll definitely be including some of the ideas in the videos.  In fact, I’ve answered a couple of the most common questions in this newsletter!

There’s also some more information about the up and coming videos and exactly what they’ll help with.

But first, I also want to say thanks to someone else – or not someone exactly…

Thank You Spain
Only last issue I was talking about various scams that happen via email and wishing the police could catch more of the gangsters behind them.  And lo and behold, they have.  Before I get too excited, it doesn’t mean all online scams will disappear but Spanish police have caught one of the bosses behind one of Europe’s biggest scam group.  I’m hoping that means they’ll be able to catch some of the others, too.

They specialised in nasty software that locked up your PC, stopping it working properly, then charged you to get rid of the problem.

There are other groups doing this sort of thing and as I say, at the moment it’s only one of them that’s been caught, but still: Three cheers for the Spanish Police!

Another quick thank you
This time to one of my readers, Bill, who told me about the website http://stellarium.org, where you can download a program that shows you the night sky – but unlike most other programs or websites, it updates it in “real time” so instead of getting what it was like when the photos were taken, you get what you’d see now if you went outside and looked up with a telescope (and assuming there was no cloud, no pollution or glare from streetlamps).

If you want to download it, the links to download are at the top of that webpage – and if you’re not sure, you probably want the “Windows 32 bit” one.

If you’re interested in astronomy, it’s great (and even if you use a telescope I imagine it’s helpful in finding the bit you’re after).  Anyway, it cheered my wife (who did physics and astrophysics at Uni) up when she was bemoaning the fact that they’ve just taken a bit chunk of astrophysics out of the secondary school curriculum.

A couple of answers
Two of the questions lots of people asked in emails last time were “What’s a smartphone?” and “What’s Android?”

They’re both answered in the videos in a bit more detail but I thought I’d give a quick answer here.  I haven’t got space to go over examples and why you’d want to use them in the same way here as in the videos, but here’s the “in a nutshell answer”
There’s no official definition of a Smartphone, but in practice it’s a mobile phone with a touch sensitive screen that you control it through (usually no buttons or only one) and that you can use on the internet and download new apps (ie programs) onto to do things it couldn’t do when you got it.

In a way, it’s a bit like a mobile phone with a PC in it.

For example you can use one to browse the web, send and read emails, keep a to do list, take photos and videos, play games, watch videos from the internet, check where you are on Google Maps, even (on most of them) use it as a Sat Nav.

Android is something Google have come up with that does the same kind of job Windows does but for smart phones or touch sensitive tablet PCs.  On your PC, Windows “runs” the PC and tells it what to do, interprets each key press and mouse movement and decides what you’re trying to do.  On some smartphones and tablet PCs, instead of Windows, Android does the same sort of thing.  (On other machines, made by Apple, like the iPad and Iphone, a program called iOS does it – that’s Apple’s equivalent).

It’s a bit confusing – when I first started writing books about computer virtually everyone used computers with Windows on, but now there are smart phones, tablet PCs and computers – running Windows or Android or iOS.  So even though each option is probably no harder than before, it’s more complicated (which is why I’ve been hard at work on these new videos to make all the different technology you might use simpler).

Anyway, the videos aren’t out yet (I’m hoping to announce the launch date on the first of March) but if you’re curious to read a bit more, you can click here: www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/NL150213moreinfo.htm

Right, that’s all for now.  I’ve awarded myself the afternoon off as it’s ten years since Julie and I got engaged, so I’m off to spend some time with her and the boys.  If the weather holds it might be a trip to the beach!