From idiot to evil genius? Not me…

By | January 25, 2016
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Well, after last time I confessed to being an idiot (one or two people were kind enough to disagree!) this time I feel like maybe I’ve been some kind of evil genuis… You see, in the last newsletter I mentioned I’d re-written the page covering security/anti-virus software for Android tablets to use a different app. But I didn’t mention which one.

But it wasn’t a sneaky method to try to get everyone to buy the book, Android Tablets One Step at a Time (or to buy it again, if they had one of the earlier version that covered Norton). I wasn’t being an evil genius, I just didn’t think to mention the name!

So here you are: I used Avast Mobile Security. I’m not saying you should necessarily switch – if you’re happily using one of the others (even Norton, the one I said had become more confusing), then you might as well stick with it. (Which is why I didn’t think to mention which I’d changed it to). But if you haven’t got a security app on your Android tablet and you want to get one, I’d probably go for Avast as it seems to make a bit more sense than some of the others.

Is your Windows out of date… and does it matter?
I’m actually typing this on a PC running Windows 7 – and it does everything I need. So I’m by no means one of these techies who thinks you should upgrade everything as soon as possible.

But recently, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 8 – and this is important because that means they’re no longer bringing out automatic updates for it. And some of these automatic updates were really important because they fixed “holes” that a virus could use to attack your PC.

It’s not a big cause to panic, because it’s only Windows 8 that’s no longer supported – Windows 8.1 is still fine (and chances are if you had Windows 8 it’s already updated to Windows 8.1 anyway).

Some people aren’t happy that Microsoft aren’t continuing to bring out updates for Windows 8 – if you have Windows 8 you need to update to Windows 8.1 (or Windows 10 if you prefer) to continue to get updates. But another way of looking at it is that Windows 8.1 is an update to Windows 8 – so they’re really just saying if you want the updates, you have to have this particular one, or the future ones won’t work.

Anyway, if you’re still using Windows 8 and you haven’t let it update to 8.1, now’s the time to let it go ahead. (And if it hasn’t happened automatically, here’s how to tell your PC to do it)

And if you’re not sure what version of Windows you have, I’ve put together a simple webpage that (for most people) will tell you what version is on your PC.  I say “for most people” because if you have certain settings turned off on your PC, it won’t be able to tell you.  But if you’re not sure whether you have Windows 8 or 8.1, try this webpage.

What about your Internet Explorer?
Several newspapers have been up in arms, recently, that Microsoft are also stopping supporting old versions of Internet Explorer.

Some papers have even said they’re stopping supporting Internet Explorer completely, in favour of their new browser Edge (this isn’t true at all).

It is true that Microsoft will now only be bringing out updates to the latest version – version 11.

If you have one of the earlier versions, it won’t get updates. And just like with Windows 8, that matters because it means they won’t be fixing problems that could let viruses and the like in.

So if you have an earlier version of Internet Explorer, you need to update it to version 11 so you carry on getting the updates – if it hasn’t already updated itself (most will have).

Again, some people aren’t happy about it and I can see why – but on the other hand, Microsoft’s point of view is that if you want the updates, you have to have the important updates that makes the others work properly – and moving to version 11 is the most important update.

To check whether you already have the newest version of Internet Explorer, start it up, click on the cogwheel over near the top right of the screen and then click on About Internet Explorer. It’ll tell you what version you have – you want version 11.

If you do need to update Internet Explorer because it’s an earlier version, look for a little box in that window that says “install newer versions automatically” and tick that.

That should get you the newest version, which will carry on getting the security updates.

Phew, it’s been a bit of a dry email this week, I’m afraid. Important, though. Better to read one slightly dull email than have to worry about clearing up after a virus!

I’ll try to talk about something a bit more interesting next time – there’s lots going on…

28 thoughts on “From idiot to evil genius? Not me…

  1. Charles

    I have already come across one laptop (Toshiba) that cannot update to 8.1. So that’s one stuck on version 8. There will be others it there. Normally it’s the screen drivers tha are the problem.

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      That’s a problem – I suppose the other option is to take up the free upgrade to Windows 10. Generally I think desktop PCs are less likely to have problems with the update since the screen is separate and more likely to have suitable drivers.
      Tim

      Reply
  2. John Holliday

    I checked my laptop for what system is running and it says I have Windows Vista. So my question is where does Vista fit into all this Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Hello
      Vista came before Windows 7 – you can think of it as Windows 6 (if only Microsoft used sensible names).
      It’s not affected by the 8 to 8.1 issue but if you’re using Internet Explorer, it is affected by that – and there’s a snag which I’ll be going over in the next newsletter, on Monday (and a solution to the snag).
      As Trevor says, extended support (which is the most important kind) for it runs out in April next year, so until then you’re fine using Vista on the internet.
      Tim

      Reply
  3. Alan

    Whatever people do they should not move to Windows 10 unless they are an enthusiast. I have never experienced problems with other operating systems in more than 30 years of computer ownership. The internet is full of reports of problems with Windows 10 but few solutions, especially from Microsoft. So far only my touchpad has stopped working and updated software will not install because of registry permissions. Skype will not update for the same reasons but the installed copy is still working. Some people seem to find solutions but they don’t work for me and even the laptop manufacturer has nothing to offer. Some people have taken the step of reinstalling Windows and even this does not solve the problems. Windows 10 is a complete disaster but yet the computer magazines make no mention of the problems. I guess that serious problems with an major operating system do not sell computers or magazines.

    Reply
  4. heatherkensall

    Reading your Monday morning notes is the start of my week.
    Thank you for all your tips and infomation.
    I am still waiting for you to say time to update from 8.1 to windows 10.
    In the meantime im happily still using (one step at a time 5th edition)

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Thanks for the kind comments!
      I’ll be talking more about Windows 10 and whether to upgrade (or more to the point, giving some advice on who should upgrade – it’s not as simple as a yes or no for everyone, but I’ll try to give guidance to help you know what’s right for you) a little further into the year, in time before the free upgrade offer expires.
      Quite a lot of people have happily upgraded now but if you’re happy using 8.1, there’s no desperate need to switch.
      Tim

      Reply
  5. Richard Hodgkinson

    Avast. Consumer Association Which? has just published recommended security programs for mobiles and tablets and gave Avast a Best Buy status at 72%. But when I came to look at it on the Google Play Store, there were a lot of negative reviews about a plethora of unwanted messages popping up on the screen telling you how secure you were. The highest rated Best Buy was Lookout Security and Antivirus Premium on 79% at a cost of £20pa. In the end I loaded the free version of Lookout, which at 67% wasn’t as highly rated as Avast – but Im not getting unwanted messages popping up on my screen. What does Tim think?

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      I think the free version of Lookout is fine. I mainly chose Avast because it was clear what the free version did vs the paid one, which Norton seem to be trying to make unclear – but there are several that do the job just as well!
      Tim

      Reply
  6. Trevor

    Tim,
    You say that “if you have an earlier version of Internet Explorer, you need to update it to version 11 so you carry on getting the updates” – but you fail to mention that those still using Vista cannot update & are stuck with IE9.

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Very good point – I’ll talk about this in my next newsletter. There aren’t too many people still using Vista, but for the people who are, it’s really important… watch this space. (And thanks for pointing it out!)
      Tim

      Reply
  7. Jeanne M Turner

    Like Trevor my Desktop computer is still Vista and will not update IE to anything higher than 9. I don’t want to part with this computer yet as I am waiting as long as I can for aa many as possible of all the reported bugs with W10 to be addressed. My Laptop is W7 and IE 11, and I don’t want to upgrade to W10 yet. I don’t want Google as a browser, which other do you suggest?

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      If you don’t want Google Chrome, I’d agree with Trevor to go with Firefox. I tend to alternate between using IE, Chrome and Firefox (I deliberately use all sorts to make sure I keep current with them all) and in my view there’s not that much to choose between Chrome and Firefox – they’re both quick and generally pretty solid. You might find it runs a little quicker than you were used to with IE.
      Tim

      Reply
  8. Leigh Treymaine

    Tim,
    when are you going to do one of your simple books for android mobile phones?
    Leigh

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Hello
      It’s on my list of “I’d like to do” projects – just a question of getting round to it with everything else! But I’ll definitely mention it here when/if I finally get it written… and I really hope it’s a when, not and if!
      Tim

      Reply
  9. Paul Smith

    If Microsoft are insisting we update to IE 11 this could have consequences for customers that pay online for services like British Gas and their top up system that uses IE 9 I can see why people are in uproar.

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      It is possible to use IE 11 with the British Gas service – IE 11 is pretty good at “pretending” to be an earlier version when it needs to (whilst still having the relevant security features that they didn’t have). (If anyone’s having trouble, have a look at this webpage: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/apps_windows_10-msedge/how-can-i-use-british-gas-top-up-services-on/856794ad-e689-4445-9406-bee632f1912e?auth=1 )
      But really, British Gas should code their webpage properly, so it works on Chrome, Firefox and so on as well as new versions of Internet Explorer, without the customer having to tinker around like that. I’d guess their developers used unofficial features that aren’t meant to be there – and that always ends badly in the end.
      But at least there’s a way around it for now…
      Tim

      Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Windows 7 is still fine – in fact it’s what I’m using to type this on (and I don’t plan on upgrading this – at least not for a good while).
      Tim

      Reply
  10. George

    I installed Windows 10, didn’t like it so attempted to go back to Windows 7. It locked my computer, wouldn’t reboot so put in original Windows 7 disk and rebooted from CD – it would not load at all. It cost me almost £100 to have it removed by an expert and I spent several weeks getting back old data.
    My view is if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and ask yourself what does Windows 10 do that Windows 7 doesn’t. Windows 7 is supported until 2020 !!!!
    gwr

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      I definitely agree with the idea of asking yourself what you actually want from a new version or whether what you have does all you want. I wish techies didn’t make everyone feel like you always have to upgrade everything (of course, there are some times when you should upgrade things for security reasons, but you don’t always need the newest version of everything).
      Eventually, Windows 7 won’t have security updates any more – but off the top of my head I think it’s 2020 before that happens, so we’ve got a while yet!
      Tim

      Reply
  11. pamela wercholuk

    I wonder if you could help me , I have Vista given to me by my cousin, I’m always resetting the time and realized that when I shut down and take the plug out it stops. I’ve been told that it shouldn’t do that. How do I correct it?

    Pam

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      It sounds like it’s just the battery – a lot of people don’t realise but there’s a watch battery inside the PC that keeps the time when it’s turned off. If you take it to a PC shop they should be able to replace it pretty easily. Or if you know someone who’s comfortable with this sort of thing, it’s not much different to replacing the battery in a watch – just make absolutely sure that it’s not plugged into the mains while you do it (and if it’s a laptop I’d remove the main laptop battery as well).
      Tim

      Reply
  12. dave latchem

    Thanks for your help. Just to possibly help others. I am colour blind & find the pale blue ? bits are very hard to read. I do not mean this comment badly. Cheers Dave.

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Thanks – that’s a good point. I’ve had a go at replacing them. Are the new colours easier?
      Tim

      Reply
  13. Barry Sheppard

    I have windows 7 home and in the last week I am unable to use the browser as Norton, my security has blocked my use because of a site http.omigas-plus.com., is dangerous to computers. I am having to use another browser.

    Reply

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