Well, going over to the new system worked – or you wouldn’t be reading this now!

By | July 15, 2009
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Well, going over to the new system worked – or you wouldn’t be reading this now!
We did have one or two small snags, like the fact the new system assumed everyone was new to the newsletter – and sent out all the emails I’ve written for new people.  Sorry if you got those when you didn’t need them!
On the other hand, some people emailed me to say they’d missed them the first time, or that they’d read them but found it useful to read them again.  So maybe it all turned out for the best after all.
Google Chrome OS
One snippet of news you might have heard is that Google are planning to bring out an Operating System.  I said a while ago that they were busy and it seems they haven’t stopped! 
If you’re not sure what an operating system is, Windows is one.  It’s what lets you use your PC.  Whenever you turn your PC on (and wait a few minutes for it to start up), you’re using an operating system (or OS).
Google’s is called Google Chrome OS, which is confusing as they already have a web browser called Google Chrome, which does the same job as Internet Explorer. 
They’re specifically aiming it at PC called netbooks – which are very small laptops that aren’t desperately powerful, but are fine for going on the internet and sending emails – and they’re very easy to carry about.  The only snag is, Windows doesn’t run so well on them because they’re not very powerful. 
Google think that you don’t need all the features of Windows.  You just want something that works well on the internet and doesn’t get attacked by viruses.  And doesn’t slow down as it gets older.
I can see this catching on – lots of people use their PC mainly for the internet.  But there are a few catches:
  1. The aim is that instead of having programs on you PC, and storing your letters, photos and other documents there, you’ll do it all online. So if you don’t have internet access at one point, you can’t use it.  If you’re using a laptop, the point is you can move about.  If you’re in a city, you can get wireless internet connection easily.  But I live in the Lake District (and occasionally use my laptop outside).  Try getting wireless connection on the banks of Lake Coniston!
  2. Running programs across the internet at the moment is not as quick as running them from your own PC.
  3. It feels more secure to actually have your files, physically on your own PC.  Even if it’s fine to have them on Google’s computers somewhere else, it doesn’t FEEL as good.
  4. One of these reasons they say it’ll be safe from viruses is because most viruses are aimed at Windows.  True enough – just as Apple Macs get fewer virus attacks.  But if Google Chrome OS becomes more popular, virus writers will attack it instead.
All the same, it’s an interesting idea – and there’s one more trump card Google have.  They’re not planning on charging for it.  Windows costs a fair sum – and if you buy a PC with it already on, the PC maker had to pay Microsoft to include it.  But if they use Google Chrome, they won’t have to pay a penny.
Maybe it will catch on, after all.
Reader’s Question
I had a question the other day:
On a website, what difference does it make what the ending it?
For example, you see sites ending in .co.uk .com .net .org and so on – what’s the difference?

Well, the short answer would be to say that they work the same way, so you can ignore them. 
But there’s a bit more to it.
Some are fairly simple. .co.uk means it’s in the UK.  .com.au is Australian and so on.
.gov or .org.gov means it’s a government site and .ac.uk is academic (though less common nowadays).
.com meant communications and is the standard all-purpose ending.  .net was originally for companies that supplied network services but is now
another all-purpose one.
There are others, too: .eu for the websites in the EU, .me for personal sites and .biz for businesses.
But don’t worry, you can use them all in exactly the same way.
A nifty website – www.zopa.co.uk
Banks are not my favorite organisations.  I’m probably not the only one, either.  Only recently I took out an ISA with a bank who will remain namel… oh, all right, it was Barclays.  The interest rate was pretty good.  Obviously, it’s gone down lately because interest rates have generally.
But then on top of that, they suddenly dropped it.  From a bit above average to virtually nothing. 
It turns out they do this all the time.  They set a high rate to lure you in, then once you’ve got the account, they drop it right down, assuming you won’t bother to move it elsewhere.  I don’t mean a special introductory rate, either.  That would be fair enough.  They just dropped the actual, main rate for the account once people had signed up.  The rotters.
So here’s an alternative – it’s called “peer to peer lending” or, as I’d put it, people lending to each other without giving a cut to the banks. It’s a website where you can lend to people who want to borrow.  They get a better rate than the banks would give.  And you get a better rate than you’d get in a bank savings account. 
Sounds great?  But what about the risk?
Well, they’ve thought of that:
  1. They only accept people as borrowers who have a good credit record.
  2. You can see their credit record before you accept.
  3. You can spread out your savings, lending to lots of people instead of just one, so any risk is spread
  4. As I understand it, if there is any problem, Zopa follow it up legally, not you – so there’s less hassle for you.
Of course, Zopa do take a cut.  But because it’s not their money, they can take a MUCH smaller cut than the banks.
I’m no financial expert and I can’t give financial advice but if you have a bit of money to invest, instead of just putting it into a savings account,
I think it’s at least worth having a look.  The website is www.zopa.co.uk 
Right, that’s all for this time.  Oh, except I wanted to mention you can still read all the old issues of this newsletter at www.helpfulbooks.co.uk/newsletterarchive.htm – there’s lots there so it’s well worth a read.

Tim Wakeling

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