Mini-article – Getting hold of Windows XP… and reconditioned PCs 

By | April 1, 2007
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April 2007 Newsletter

Hello and welcome to the April newsletter – the first one using our new system. If you can read this, then you’re successfully transferred onto the new system. It can cope with up to 90,000 people… and even then it can be expanded. So this should last us a good while! On to the good stuff…

Mini-article – Getting hold of Windows XP… and reconditioned PCs
Whenever a new version of Windows has come out over the years, my advice has always been: don’t feel you have to get it straight away. There will be a few bugs that Microsoft will sort out over the next few months. Now, they’ve had long enough with Vista that they really ought to have them sorted but I can definitely understand someone buying a new PC wanting to stick with what they know – Windows XP.

Unfortunately, all the shops seem to disagree. Last week someone I know who works from home had her PC pack up. She’s in the middle of a big piece of work (PCs NEVER break when it’s quiet and you could take your time to replace them…) So she doesn’t want to have to learn a new system – XP does everything she needs anyway. But all the shops have Vista, and even Dell who shout about how you can “choose your own system” when you buy a PC only list different versions of Vista.

But there’s a trick. Well, two tricks.
The first one is that there are plenty of businesses who have networks built up around XP. And although they might switch to Vista in the future, if they need a new PC now, they don’t want to have to change their set-up. So Dell (www.dell.co.uk) and lots of other PC shops still have XP available to businesses. And what do you have too do to buy “as a business”? Nothing much, just select on “small business” instead of “home” on their web page. If you work from home (or even if you do car-boots or look after pets when people go on holiday occasionally or…) then in a way you’re a small business anyway.

The second trick is to buy a reconditioned or returned PC. Now there are some places that sell rubbish PCs that don’t work properly as “reconditioned”. Obviously that’s no good. But there are other places (see below) that take PCs that have been sent back to the maker because the buyer changed their mind, the maker had sent the wrong one, the monitor was no good but the PC was fine or there was a scratch on the case. Or sometimes they have end-of-line models. In fact the laptop I’m typing this on was 1/4 off because it had been returned as unwanted and didn’t look brand new. But it’s worked fine and (touch wood!) been more reliable than several new ones I’ve known!

I won’t list all the suppliers of returns and reconditioned because I don’t want to risk giving you one that’s no good, but here are two that I’ve personally used and found good:
www.itcsales.co.uk (a huge range but the website is a bit hard to find your way around)
www.sterlingxs.co.uk (especially good for laptops)

To get back to the point, a lot of these PCs will have been made before the makers stopped doing XP (ie about a month ago). So they’ll have XP on instead of Vista. Not all of them, so you need to make sure, but there are definitely some there.

Website of the month: tv listings
You might have noticed that this is website of the month instead of download of the month. I’m changing it so it can cover any useful websites – including downloads but also information pages.
This month it’s TV listings. If you don’t want to buy TV papers or you just forgot this week, you can look up TV listings on the web. There are loads of sites that have them but most are hard to scan through. The easiest to use I’ve found is www.tveasy.co.uk, which shows you just today’s programmes all on one page. The advertising on it is unobtrusive as well, which makes it better to use. If you want to plan your viewing ahead or see satelite or cable channels, try www.onthebox.com – you can choose what channels to show and what day.

Reader’s Question
I’ve tried emailing you but it keeps saying the message didn’t get through. I’ve used the www.helpfulbooks.co.uk address. Am I doing something wrong?
This question came in through the post! It’s one I get asked every so often and it boils down to the difference between an email address and a web address.
A web address starts with www (short for world wide web) and takes you to a web page – a page of information that the person has created for all to see. An email address always has an @ symbol in it. It’s the address to send email to that person.
Most people understand email and web pages but don’t realise that web addresses and email addresses are never the same address. It might be handy if they were, I’ll grant you! Although, a company might have one website but email addresses for queries, customer service, accounts and so on – or separate email addresses for each person. So if you want to send an email, look for the @ symbol. If the address doesn’t have it and it starts with www, then it’s a web address.

Word to the Wise – Phishing
Phishing (pronounced fishing) is when some con-artist sends out emails that try to get you to send your personal details to them. Then they try to use them to access your bank accounts or accounts with, say, ebay.
The most common approach is to send you an email that looks like it’s from, say, Nat West. It’ll say they need to confirm your details for security reasons and could you put your name and password into this form. They’ll probably say that if you don’t, your bank account will be frozen “to keep it safe”. Another scam is to send an email that looks like it’s from ebay saying you haven’t paid for something you bought. You’ll reply saying you never bought it and they’ll ask for your details to confirm it’s you. If you get emails like this, ignore them. Banks use the post to send out anything like this, not email.

That’s all for now. By the way, in a day or two I’ll send out an email using the old system as a last reminder to anyone who didn’t “opt-in” for the new emails. But since you have, you can ignore it.


Tim Wakeling

All the above © Tim Wakeling 2007

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