TWT Newsletter, Issue #031 – Seasons greetings from the TWT team!
Time to open the 10th door on your advent calendar and enjoy the Christmas edition of the TWT newsletter. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers. We hope you enjoy this bumper festive edition of the newsletter.
Important! A number of our subscribers have had difficulty receiving our newsletter. At Top-Windows-Tutorials.com we never send out unsolicited e-mails. To make sure your TWT newsletter reaches your inbox, please add TWT_Newsletter@top-windows-tutorials.com to your contacts, buddy list or white list.
In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) Fantastic festive theme fun!
3) Announcing the new Windows 7 Superguide!
4) Windows shopping this Christmas? Here are our top picks for the discerning PC owner
5) Tip of the Month – Free up hard disk space with the Disk Cleanup Utility
6) Free Utility of the Month – Fishbowl
7) What is a “Black screen of death?”
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
In November we were particularly busy with finishing the new Top-Windows-Tutorials.com Windows 7 Superguide. We still found time to bring you some great new content though. Firstly we brought you two tutorials on the excellent StartupDelayer utility. If you have lots of programs which all load when you first start your machine, this utility can delay starting some of them. This makes startup smoother and faster as programs don’t fight to get access to the hard drive. You can view our tutorials for this utility by clicking here.
Fans of windows customizations will be delighted to know that Stardock Software introduced several major updates to their popular Windows skinning software range last month. Stardock WindowBlinds 7 introduces several new features such as fully customizable textured window backgrounds and full support for Windows 7. You can view our updated tutorials for this excellent skinning utility by clicking here.
Also receiving a major update last month was the amazing Stardock Deskscapes. Deskscapes brings fully animated desktop backgrounds to Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 users. Animated wallpaper makes your PC look so amazing that it really has to be seen to be believed, to view our updated DeskScapes tutorial, click here.
Finally, we started a whole new section on the site about “Desktop Enhancements”. You can click here to take a look. We started this new section with a look at Google Desktop, which gives you new desktop widgets, sidebars and the power of Google search on your desktop, click here to view our Google Desktop tutorials.
We plan to add more tutorials to our Desktop Enhancements section in December, so keep visiting Top-Windows-Tutorials.com and be sure to subscribe to our site blog/RSS feed.
Fantastic festive theme fun!
It seems several of our users like to decorate their desktops ready for the festive season. We told you about the fantastic Winter Wonderland theme last issue. That stunning theme uses Stardock Softwares advanced skinning engine to completely transform Windows XP or Windows Vista. It is still available, go here for a Windows XP preview or go here for a Windows Vista preview. To get your windows desktop all decked out in just a few clicks, visit this link. Stardock Deskscapes version 3 has recently been released and now you can get your hands on a free trial which includes an animated snow scene wallpaper! You can use the free trial for as long as you like (you cannot add new animated wallpapers to the trial version however). Click here to learn more!.
Announcing the new Windows 7 Superguide!
We are excited to tell our newsletter subscribers about our most ambitious Superguide DVD yet! The Windows 7 Superguide is the definitive guide to Microsoft’s newest operating system. Over twice as big as the OpenOffice.org Writer Superguide, the disc includes an amazing 46 lessons and 44 video tutorials, all available in three different resolutions to suit a wide range of monitors. We are pleased to announce that the Windows 7 Superguide is available now, just in time for the holidays! Our Windows 7 Superguide will take you from absolute beginner to competent, confident professional user. You’ll learn how to manipulate windows, install and uninstall software, backup your computer, share files between computers in your home and much much more.
If you know someone who is upgrading to a Windows 7 PC this festive season, the Windows 7 Superguide is the perfect gift for them. Help them get the most out of their new investment and avoid frustration. Is your family lucky enough to find a new computer under the tree? Be ready for the big day by learning all about the new operating systems features. Create and secure user accounts for all the family and protect your investment from curious youngsters!
Is Santa bringing you a portable PC to take on the road? Learn about Windows 7’s new firewall and how it can help you connect to WiFi networks more securely. The skills you can learn about in the Windows 7 Superguide will be invaluable no matter how or where you work with your Windows 7 PC.
The Windows 7 Superguide is available from our online store now, for $20 plus shipping. Click here to order your copy or click here to learn more. Hurry, order today to get your copy in time for Christmas. We ship to most destinations worldwide. (Please check estimated delivery dates before confirming your order to avoid disappointment).
Windows shopping this Christmas? Here are our top picks for the discerning PC owner
Christmas is fast approaching now but if you still need to find the ideal gift for someone then we are here to help (as long as that someone is a Windows computer user of course!) There are some fantastic software and hardware presents and stocking fillers available online and in the stores, on our santa wish list this year are:-
For the serious PC user in your life, treat them to one of the following great PC utilities!
Want to get your hands on the worlds best Windows skinning and desktop enhancement utilities, including Windowblinds, Deskscapes, Fences Pro and LogonStudio? Now you can get all these fantastic programs in one package AND receive free and exclusive premium themes. A fantastic gift for the Windows geek in your life!
Password managers are an essential part of any power users setup and Roboform is the best password management tool for Windows computers. If you know someone who’s always forgetting their passwords, this is the ideal tool for them. Buy the special RoboformToGo version along with a USB stick/thumb drive for busy users who work on lots of different computers.
Games for gamers
Know a serious PC gamer in your life? Treat them to one of these fantastic new PC games!
The dark knight returns in this fantastic action game which takes full advantage of cutting edge PC hardware! The inmates of Arkham have been set free – and it is up to Batman to bring order to the chaos and take back the Asylum. Stunning graphics and physics effects (on compatible hardware) make this one of the best looking PC games of the year. The game is available now from all popular retailers.
The popular (adult only) zombie survival game is back in this explosive sequel. This co-operative action horror FPS takes you and your friends through the cities, swamps and cemeteries of the Deep South, from Savannah to New Orleans across five expansive campaigns.
You’ll play as one of four new survivors armed with a wide and devastating array of classic and upgraded weapons. In addition to firearms, you will also get a chance to take out some aggression on the infected with a variety of carnage-creating melee weapons, from chainsaws to axes and even the deadly frying pan. A fantastic, frightening and fun co-operative play game for hardcore PC gamers everywhere
Family friendly games
If fighting Zombies or Asylum inmates sounds more like your idea of a bad dream than of a relaxing game then check out our selection of family friendly casual games.
Ok so we lied when we said no zombies, but don’t worry, in this crazy fun action strategy game, a mob of fun-loving zombies is about to invade your home, but rather than blasting them with guns, your defence is an arsenal of 49 zombie-zapping plants. Use peashooters, wall-nuts, cherry bombs and more to mulchify 26 types of zombies before they can reach your front door.
The colourful match three action puzzler returns. Conquer over 60 levels by firing stone spheres to make matches and destroy the deadly stream of balls, then take on six tiki boss battles and guide your agile amphibian to victory!
Our favourite jewel busting puzzle game gets better and better with new locations to visit, new opponents to beat and new items to use and master as you search for the legendary Golden Jewel Board.
There’s always some neat new accessory to buy for your computer. Here are two of our favourite gizmo’s to enhance your computing experience.
These days everyone needs a USB stick/pen drive to move their documents around on. While we are big fans of the Ironkey, we also like to have a Sandisk cruzer or two around. The cruzer is our drive of choice for transporting files which do not need encryption. We especially like how the cruzer has a retractable USB connector meaning you’re never in danger of losing the protective cap from the top of the drive, something that even the uber expensive Ironkey can suffer from!
If you know someone who still is not backing up their files, then adding an external hard drive to their stocking is a great idea. At capacities of 1 terrabyte and more, your loved ones will be able to store all kinds of precious digital files with the Western Digital Mybook and thanks to tumbling storage costs, it won’t break the bank either.
Don’t forget our Superguide and offline archive discs make great gifts too. Have friends on dial up connections? Treat them to our Offline Archive DVD. Have family members at college or university? Help them save hundreds with the OpenOffice.org Writer Superguide, rather than buying Microsoft Word. For those of you lucky enough to be getting Windows 7 this year, our Windows 7 Superguide is the perfect gift!
Tip of the Month – Free up hard disk space with the Disk Cleanup Utility
If you’ve had your computer for some time now, you may have accumulated lots of temporary files and folders that are consuming disk space. Using the Disk Cleanup utility which comes bundled with Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7, you can sweep away all those useless files. If you have never run the Disk Cleanup utility before, you might be surprised at just how much temporary file junk there is on your hard drive.
Removing these temporary files will free up space on your computer. Although you wont notice any direct performance benefit from removing them, you may find that things like disk defragmentation and routine antivirus scanning will become faster as a result of removing the clutter. To learn how to use the Disk Cleanup utility in Windows 7, click here. For Windows Vista, click here. Finally, if you are a Windows XP user, click here.
Free Utility of the Month – Fishbowl
For those of us who love Facebook, Christmas can be a busy time. Friends and family to contact, pictures to share and parties to arrange, Facebook can help with it all.
Now Microsoft have made using Facebook quicker, easier and more fun. Fishbowl brings Facebook to the desktop with its own dedicated client. Now you can post and view pictures, contact your friends and even see real time status updates. Faster and with less advertising than the Facebook on the web, Facebook addicts never had it so good with Fishbowl!
While Microsoft are keen to stress that Fishbowl is still in development and that some features may not work correctly yet, we’ve tested Fishbowl here and we already prefer it to using the Web for Facebook for most tasks. To learn more or to download your copy, click here.
What is a “Black screen of death?”
We have all heard of the “Blue Screen of Death” that can occur when your PC encounters a serious problem. Hopefully most of us will not encounter it too often. The Blue Screen of Death, when it does occur, is usually due to a hardware error either from a faulty component or a faulty hardware driver (drivers are the software components that let windows talk to the hardware).
At the start of the month it seemed like Windows users had a new problem to worry about, namely the “Black Screen of Death”, a new fatal Windows error discovered by security firm Prevx.
According to Prevx, millions of PC’s could be affected with this horrible new error, which simply displayed a black screen after logging on to the PC. Prevx claimed to have identified “at least 10 different scenarios which will trigger the same black screen conditions” and implied that recent Windows security updates were to blame. This prompted some users to turn off automatic updating until the problems were investigated.
In the fine traditions of web journalism, soon the internet was flooded with sites reporting on this dire new threat to Windows PC’s all over the world. Strangely enough however, there was a distinct lack of people coming forward to say they had an affected system. For an issue that was supposed to affect millions of PC’s, that seemed a little odd.
Eventually, Microsoft themselves investigated the claims and later it transpired that the whole thing was basically a hoax. The black screen conditions can be caused by malware, as can any number of other nasty side effects. The best way to avoid malware is to keep your antivirus and your operating system up-to-date. If you were taken in by this black screen story and decided to disable your automatic updates, please turn them back on. As we’ve said before, problems due to updating are rare and much easier to fix than problems due to malware.
That is the end of the last Newsletter for 2009! Don’t worry, we will be back in 2010 to bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7! Thank you to all our subscribers for reading throughout the year, we hope that you found all our newsletters informative and useful. If you did not 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 a happy, safe and stress-free Christmas!.