TWT Newsletter, Issue #018 –, – OpenOffice 3 launches!
It’s time for the November 2008 TWT newsletter. As the credit crunch kicks in, lots of us are looking for ways to save money. Luckily, the new Open Office has just launched, letting you legally obtain a full office suite that is compatible with Microsoft Office, for free!
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In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) OpenOffice 3 Launches
3) Tip of the Month Update Your Chipset Drivers!
4) Free Utility of the Month – Impulse
5) Are you Buying Computer Games This Christmas or Just Renting Them?
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
This was one of our biggest months ever with regard to new content! At the start of the month we showed you the brilliant window skinning utility
Windowblinds in action.
Then, we showed you how you can easily and cheaply safeguard your data with a
simple off-site backup solution.
Next, we brought you a tutorial on the excellent
PC Tools Spyware Doctor.
We then (finally) got around to showing you
Eset Smart Security,
the excellent security package that integrates NOD32 and Eset Personal Firewall. Not content with that, we also brought you three tutorials on
Genie Backup Manager,
probably the most powerful file-level backup solution for Windows machines. Phew, we still have plenty more for you in the months to come so keep visiting.
OpenOffice 3 Launches
At Top-Windows-Tutorials.com, we always try to find you the best free software, as well as the best commercial software. When it comes to fantastic free software, it doesn’t get much better than Open Office. Do you need to edit Microsoft Word, Excel or Powerpoint documents at home? You can spend hundreds of pounds/dollars/euros on buying the real thing, or you can get OpenOffice for free.
What’s new in this version and can it really substitute for the real thing?
Firing up the new version of Writer (the OpenOffice substitute for Word) the most immediate change is the new, more colourful toolbar. This is certainly a big improvement over the drab greys of the original version which were distinctly last decade. Aside from the cosmetic changes, the most notable improvement is the ability to open the new Microsoft Word 2007 format documents (.docx format), though you can’t save in this format just yet. (You can still use the old Office .doc format of course).
What else is new? Writer can now display multiple pages at once, this is great for users who have bigger monitors. The Excel substitute, Calc spreadsheet, can now work with up to 1024 columns. Impress, the Powerpoint substitute, now enables you to insert tables directly into your presentation.
Performance-wise, the new version is still very good, though not noticeably faster on our test machines, we never had any complaints about the performance of the previous version.
So, can OpenOffice 3 really be a substitute for Office 2007? For most every-day tasks, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”. Every word document we tried opening opened without a hitch. The spreadsheet Calc fared a little worse, most general spreadsheets opened without any issues, but, as expected, spreadsheets with more advanced features like macros and VBScript caused problems. Finally, we tried a number of Powerpoint presentations in Impress and they all opened without any problems. As with previous versions, the same rule applies, the more complicated your MS Office document is, the more likely it is to have problems importing into Open Office. For most general documents however, Open Office is more than good enough to replace Office 2007 and it won’t leave a huge dent in your wallet either. Need to download OpenOffice 3?, then
Tip of the Month – Update Your Chipset Drivers!
Is your PC a do-it-yourself masterpiece? Home built computers are great, they can be built to your exact specification and include modifications and extras that owners of big-brand machines can only dream about. When things go wrong, however, there’s only you to sort out the problems. If you are a keen system builder, did you know about keeping your computers chipset drivers up to date? These are the drivers that take care of all kinds of things on your motherboard, from hard disk controllers to general input/output throughout your system. Often users install the drivers that come with their motherboard and then never update them, but if you have problems or unexpected lock-ups it might be a good idea to update them. Visit your motherboard manufacturers website to find out what kind of chipset your board has, then visit the chipset manufacturers website to download the latest drivers (often these are more up-to-date than the ones offered for download on the motherboard manufacturers website). If your computer was bought from a store, you should check with your manufacturer before you install any new chipset drivers.
Two of the most common chipset manufacturers are Intel and Nvidia. You can download the latest Nvidia chipset drivers directly from the
Nvidia download page,
the same page where the latest graphics card drivers can be downloaded. Upgrading my Nvidia chipset drivers on this very machine I’m using now resulted in greatly improved computer stability when running disk-intensive software like backup applications.
Free Utility of the Month – Impulse
With Digital Rights Management (DRM) becoming such a big issue for consumers it’s nice to know some companies are willing to respect your rights as a paying customer. (See our next article, Are you Buying Computer Games This Christmas or Just Renting Them? for more on DRM and its implications for you). Impulse is a free digital distribution platform from Stardock software. Instead of treating you like a potential criminal, Impulse keeps track of all the software you ever buy on a central server. No worrying about losing your CD keys, or invasive DRM preventing you from reinstalling your games on a new PC, so long as you remember your Stardock.net password, Impulse will take care of the rest.
There’s never been an easier or more customer friendly way to buy games and applications online. Start using Impulse today by
downloading it here.
Want a sneak peek of how it works?, check out our
Impulse tutorial/preview here.
Are you Buying Computer Games This Christmas or Just Renting Them?
Ah, the fun of unwrapping a brand new game at Christmas! Yours to keep and play for years to come, or is it? New, aggressive and frankly somewhat unfair Digital Rights Management (DRM) software seems to be changing your new video game purchases into extended rentals. The hit PC game
for example, can only be installed three times before you are locked out. Should you upgrade your PC, or even need to reinstall the game for troubleshooting purposes, one of these installations will be used up. You don’t even get one refunded to you when you uninstall.
Electronic Arts got quite a backlash from users who rightly pointed out that if they downloaded the game from illegal file-sharing sites they could play and reinstall it as many times as they liked. Still, it seems companies are not backing down. Another hotly anticipated PC game,
Far Cry 2,
has a similar installation limit but at least promises to refund you one installation for every uninstallation you do. Woe betide if your operating system or hard disk should crash, making an uninstallation impossible, however!
Sadly it looks like this trend will continue. What can you do to protect your precious video games from this assault? Lawsuits have already been launched against game publishers, if you are interested to see how this is commencing, or even filing a legal complaint yourself, visit the
Reclaim Your Game
Another alternative is to buy the download version of the game instead. Both of the major digital distribution networks, Impulse and Steam, have taken a stand against such unfair abuse of copy protection. Great as these services are, many of us still love a boxed product, especially to give as a gift. It is a real shame that the industry has to punish its loyal customers like this. Only recently, I tried to reinstall a game I bought just over a year ago, only to find that the DRM software had compatibility issues with my newer PC, rendering the game unplayable. I’m still waiting for a solution a week later, so much for enjoying my game!
That’s all for another month. We hope that you enjoyed our newsletter, if you didn’t then please let us know why, you can
contact us by visiting this page.
If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy! Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com and enjoy stress free computing and gaming.