Microsoft, Apple, and The Helpful Book Company. What do they have in common? Well, it’s not the huge adulation and the way the press hang on every word of their bosses… No, it’s that there’s something about each of them in this email.
Let’s take Microsoft first because it’s about some emails that I know have worried quite a few people…
Emails from Microsoft – the ones I’ve seen are genuine (but…)
I’ve heard from a few people recently who’ve been concerned about some emails they’ve had. They appear to be from Microsoft, but Microsoft don’t usually go around emailing everyone with a PC… so people have understandably been worried these emails might be scams of some kind.
Well, the ones I’ve seen are genuine (but I’ll sound a small note of caution in a moment).
In fact there are basically two emails they’ve been sending out, about two different things.
The first is to do with some of Microsoft’s programs and Facebook. In the past some of their programs that help you organise yourself (Outlook for example) let you share details from your calendar with people you have contact with on Facebook.
Maybe if you want to book a meeting with someone.
But Facebook are stopping this – it’ll no longer be possible. You’ll still be able to book a meeting using Outlook (for example) if the other person uses some similar software, but not via Facebook.
And Microsoft are just letting people know about that. There’s not much point in clicking the links in their email because you can’t stop it happening, so even if you use this facility (and I bet most people don’t), there’s not much you can do!
The second email is even less relevant to most people! Microsoft are changing some of their terms and conditions. They’re taking a whole load of different sets of terms and conditions for different services, programs and so on and putting them together into one lot. The actual content isn’t changed much but it means less (virtual) paperwork.
Since it’s a change to terms and conditions of a program you might use, they have to let you know about it. Again, though, there’s nothing you need to do about it and it’s unlikely to really make any difference to you, so there’s not much point in clicking the links in the email unless you want to read about how Microsoft aren’t responsible if you use their software to create a global criminal mastermind ring or so on…
That note of caution? Well, as I say, these emails that I’ve seen are genuine. But if I was an evil scammer (don’t panic, I’m not, if I was, I’d be sat on the beach in the Caribbean somewhere… or in my private submarine lair…), this is exactly when I’d send out an email that looked just like the ones from Microsoft, but linked to something dodgy.
As far as I’m aware, there aren’t any scams or anything going round that have copied this email, but I wouldn’t bank on that staying true.
So, since these genuine emails aren’t particularly useful anyway, I’d suggest deleting them anyway. That way, if someone has brought out a scam that looks similar, you’re safe. And you don’t need to do anything with the genuine emails anyway!
By the way, if you haven’t had these emails, don’t worry. They won’t go to everyone, it’ll depend on what programs and services you use from Microsoft.
Change to how the iPad works: iOS9
I’ve been writing a lot about the new version of Windows over the last few months and it looks like Apple don’t want to be left out. They’ve just announced what’ll be new in the next version of iOS (version 9) which is what iPads and iPhones use.
It’s not as drastic as when there’s a new version of Windows. Apple tend to bring out new versions more often and therefore each one has smaller changes. And it’ll download automatically – a bit like the normal updates you get from time to time on a PC or a tablet.
It won’t be until September – that’s when they say the updates will be ready. But there are some interesting changes coming. (And a hint at what Apple might be planning afterwards, maybe in October.)
Some of the techies are getting excited about a change in the font used on the screen. But having looked at the old and new ones together, I doubt you’d notice unless someone pointed it out to you.
More importantly, they’ve made it much easier to use copy and paste with text. Now a lot of people probably don’t use this much anyway, but if you work with a PC keyboard much (like I do), then this is something that could make using an iPad much better.
There’s another big change, too. If you have a fairly new iPad, you’ll be able to run two different apps at once and have both on the screen at once.
Again, not everyone will find this terribly useful. But if you’re used to working on a PC, it might be very handy. For example, I’ll often be replying to an email while I look something up on the internet or in a spreadsheet (maybe if the accountant has emailed to ask me “How much do you spend on teabags and biscuits?” and I want to check…) or I’ll use the program I write books in and a graphics program at the same time.
The examples Apple give are using a notes program while researching something on the web or watching a video and then wanting to look something up on the internet that was mentioned in the video.
There are a few other changes, too, but those are what I see as the big ones.
I said there was a hint at what Apple might do next, too. Well, both the ability to run two apps at once and the ability to easier copy and paste are thing that you’re much more likely to use when working on an iPad than when using it for fun. So I suspect they’re planning to try to make the iPad more useful in business and maybe education. In particular I wouldn’t be surprised if they brought out one with a bigger screen… or made it easier to “dock” it into a bigger screen when you’re at home/at your desk.
That’d make it easier to use two apps at once without them looking small. And generally go with the idea of them being used more for work (though they’ll still be just as good for using for just browsing the web, doing emails or playing games, too).
A new face at The Helpful Book Company (or more to the point, a new voice on the phone)
A quick snippet to let you know that we’ve taken on a new person to help on the phones. I’m very picky about making sure only people who are really helpful and friendly are answering our phones and we put lots of applicants through a pretty gruelling interview.
Simone went through that with flying colours, and she started with us a few weeks ago. She’s gradually (well, pretty quickly) learning all about our range of books and videos and so on so she can live up to the standards Louize and Laura set.
She’s doing really well, though it does take a while to learn everything the others have got the hang of!
Having Simone here as well as Louize and Laura means you’re more likely to get through to someone here first time when you call, which means you can get the best service we can give.
(If all of our phones are already busy or we’re all out of the office when you call, we use an external company to make sure you can get through to someone. They can take a message and get one of our three to ring you back, so you still get the best service we can give.)