What I’ve been up to over the last month or two (secret until now!)

By | August 15, 2009
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In Computers One Step at a Time this time:


  • What I’ve been up to over the last month or two (secret until now!)
  • Microsoft in the news (part 1) – a rare moment of common sense
  • Microsoft in the news (part 2) – why Word won’t stop working
  • An extra tip about backing up email addresses
  • My best ever recommendation about buying a new PC



It’s still busy here. I’m working on something called “Tim Wakeling’s PC Inner Circle” which will be a way of giving you technical help on your PC problems. It’ll include articles and videos that answer lots of common questions and it’ll give you a way to ask me questions about whatever you want and get the answers.

It’s going well, but last week I showed it to Dad – and he really liked it. But he also had a few questions. And I thought “If Dad’s asking those questions, other people will too.” So I’ve been busily recording another video answering his questions.

But to give you more of an idea of what’s covered, I’ve just finished an article explaining exactly how to protect yourself from viruses – how to download the programs you need, and exactly what settings to use, complete with full-colour pictures of the screen at every stage. And I’ve also finished a video showing you how to use a free program from Microsoft to turn your holiday snaps into a video – complete with captions, background music and voiceover… easily. I knew how to do it the hard way but I’ve only just found out the easy way myself.

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself – the PC Inner Circle isn’t ready yet, I just wanted to let you know a bit about what’s coming!

I’ve got lots for you today – and at last I’m answering a question I’ve been asked more times than I’ve had hot dinners (and cold ones, too).

But first…
Microsoft in the news – part 1: Windows 7
I’ve mentioned before that Windows 7, the next version of Windows, will be out in October. And until recently it looked like in the EU, we’d get a version without Internet Explorer. That would have meant that you couldn’t use the internet without getting it from somewhere. Some PC makers would have put it on or you could have got it on disk. It was all because of a ruling by the competition commission who said including it wasn’t fair to people who made other browsers.

I think leaving it out isn’t fair to people who buy Windows.

But Microsoft have come up with an alternative plan. If you buy Windows 7 it’ll come with the option to choose between several web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome. You choose the one you want and then it works as if that was the only one it came with in the first place.

Much better – it seems like common sense has won. But another snippet of news might have made you panic if you use Microsoft Word…

Microsoft in the news – part 2: Word
There have been headlines that a patent ruling means Microsoft have to scrap Word. But it’s not quite all it sounds. Here’s the truth:

  • There’s a ruling in the US saying that Word infringes someone else’s patent, so Microsoft have to stop selling Word.
  • If you already have Word, it won’t affect you – they just have to stop selling new copies.
  • This is only in the US – in the UK they can carry on selling it. And they don’t have too stop for 60 days.
  • They’re appealing anyway, though I doubt they’ll win.
  • If they lose the appeal, I’m sure they’ll re-write Word so it doesn’t infringe the patent – and then they’ll be able to sell it again.

So don’t worry – it’s really unlikely to affect you!

An extra tip from last time
Last issue I explained how to back up your address book. One thing I glossed over a bit is what to do with the file once you’ve created it. You should really back this up to a flash drive or CD – otherwise if it’s on your PC and you have trouble with your hard drive, you’ll lose the backup as well as the original.

You can copy it to a CD or flash drive in just the same way you would a phot or any other file: open up My Documents (or wherever you’ve put it), pop a CD or flash drive into the PC, then drag the file from My Documents to the CD/flash drive window.

A question I’ve been asked more often than I’ve had hot dinners…
It’s “where’s the best place to buy a PC?” And I’ve never had a good answer to give, despite the number of PCs I’ve had to buy for work. I’ve bought PCs from Dell and their prices are generally good. But their customer service is, well, I’m feeling generous so let’s say variable. I’ve bought a PC from PC World but I’ve never really felt most of the staff knew what they were talking about.

Anyway, a month or two ago I had to buy a new PC for work. And I looked around and found a company called EuroPC. They sell PCs at really low prices by selling discounted, end of line, surplus and refurbished PCs. But don’t be put off by the word refurbished – you still get a warranty and these aren’t tatty old PCs. In fact the one I got for my work had never been used.

But the real reason I’m recommending them was the service I had – much better than most PC companies. In fact a couple of days after it arrived I had a phone call to check it had arrived all right and that I was happy with it. I was stunned and thought I really should pass on their name.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a new PC, have a look at their range (I went for a HP- Compaq desktop PC). You can order over the internet and pay by card or cheque. Here’s a link to their website. Europc

If you’re really against buying an end of line or refurbished PC, I’d recommend Mesh as a decent company to buy from. You can see what they do here. Mesh Computers. But I’d suggest at least having a look at EuroPC first.

Right, that’s it for now – now that I’ve mentioned the Inner Circle in public I’d better make sure I get it finished before too long!


Tim Wakeling

All the above © Tim Wakeling 2009

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