TWT Newsletter, Issue#063 – Windows 8 RTM, trouble at Tesco and a new site launches!
Welcome to our August 2012 TWT Newsletter. We’re months away from the launch of another new version of Windows, which is an exciting but also busy time for us here at TWT HQ. In spite of this, we’ve still got some exciting news about a new, sister site that has just opened, and of course our regular newsletter features too.
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In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) Introducing our new site – Play-Old-PC-Games.com
3) Windows 8 news update – Excitement and controversy
4) Tip of the Month – Not sure if your PC can run a program? Use Performance Information and Tools to find out
5) Free Utility of the Month – Gladinet Cloud
6) Lack of security at Tesco supermarket website highlights the need for password managers
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
Just one new tutorial last month as we focus our efforts on Windows 8 related material behind the scenes. Have you ever tried to run an old game or program only to find it inexplicably crashed as soon as you started it or before you could start the first level? The problem could be due to incompatibility with a security technology known as DEP. Fortunately DEP can be disabled for older programs, you simply need to follow this tutorial to find out how.
Introducing our new site – Play-Old-PC-Games.com
At Top-Windows-Tutorials.com we love to bring you information on how to get more out of your PC and this new site in our network can certainly help you get more value from your software collection. If you’ve ever upgraded your PC and found that you were struggling to play some of your old favourite games on your new system, then our new site is for you. Play-Old-PC-Games.com finds the best and most fondly remembered older PC games and shows you how to run them on your new, modern PC. For each game we look at not only how to get them working, but how to get the best quality experience, in terms of sound, visuals and of course controller options. One of the great things about PC gaming is that many games can be altered and improved by fan communities way after the original publisher has abandoned them, meaning some of your old games might look and play even better than you remembered!
The site currently only has a handful of games covered, but we’re adding more every month and we also take requests on our Facebook page should you have an old title that you just can’t get working. So far we’ve not found one game that we couldn’t get running somehow on a modern PC, pretty amazing considering how much the PC has evolved over the years. To visit this site, click here.
A big thank you to Reimage
We’d like to say a big thank you to Reimage for their continued support of our site and for helping our readers quickly and efficiently repair their faulty Windows PC’s. If you’ve not familiar with this tool, read on to see how it can help you or anyone with a troublesome PC.
A clean reinstallation of Windows is often the recommended (and only) solution when a Windows computer develops certain critical faults. While many faults can be solved with simple troubleshooting, some issues, such as serious virus infection or corrupted operating system files will necessitate that the operating system be reinstalled. Although this shouldn’t be a common occurrence, some of our most popular tutorials are the ones which demonstrate how to reinstall the operating system from scratch.
However, a proper re-installation of the operating system is a time-consuming task that involves lengthy back-ups, long installations and days to find and install all your favourite applications again. There’s a better alternative to that long, unnecessary process, it’s called Reimage. You can reduce your computer’s downtime and reinstall the operating system, without resorting to an old-fashioned and often dangerous technique that’s best left to professionals.
One download, a few clicks, and the software will refresh your entire Windows OS. Start with the free scan to flag repair areas. An in-depth scan into your Windows operating system uncovers detailed information on hardware, stability and security. During the repair process, corrupted files are wiped out and fresh files are instantly downloaded to your computer. Reimage is the only PC Repair service that uses a content distribution network to store and deliver necessary files from a repository of over 25,000,000 files. End result, an OS that is quickly revived, error-free and stable, safely and securely.
To run a free scan of Reimage for yourself, visit this link.
Windows 8 news update – Excitement and controversy
Windows 8 is officially set to be released on the 26th October. This is the third new version of Windows since we launched our site and certainly the most controversial. The biggest news this month is that Windows 8 is officially complete. Microsoft have released their RTM build, which lets manufacturers install and test the finished version of the operating system. The final build of the OS shows the new Windows default theme, which has a much more minimalistic feel to it. Gone are the transparencies of Aero, to be replaced by bold primary colours and labels which more accurately mimic the metro look and feel. You can see some screen shots of the final look of the OS by visiting this page.
Let’s round up the rest of the relevant news from the web as we roll toward the release date.
Microsoft has also revealed several new customisation options for the Metro interface. Rather than the basic patterns, there look to be at least 20 wallpaper-like backgrounds you’ll be able to apply to the metro interface. No word as yet on whether you can add your own, but we suspect even if you can’t, third party apps allowing you to do this will appear at some point.
One of the problems of Windows 8 is that many of it’s most obvious changes simply don’t make sense on a traditional desktop computer or even a laptop. Of course, you’re free to ignore these changes and simply carry on using desktop applications and Microsoft hasn’t neglected the desktop entirely, as there are numerous improvements to features like Windows Explorer and the Task Manager. Last month we looked at a platform that took advantage of Windows 8’s dual functionality, the Microsoft Surface. Microsoft isn’t stopping there however, and has announced a host of new hardware to help desktop users get more out of Windows 8. Users will be able to buy the interesting looking “Wedge Touch Mouse” and the “Wedge Mobile Keyboard” as well as the more traditional looking Sculpt Touch Mouse and Mobile Keyboard later in the year. Take a peek at them over at this link.
Also creating headlines recently was Gabe Newell. Mr Newell is the managing director at Valve software. For those of you who don’t play games, Valve is the company that produces and runs a software service called Steam. Steam is by far and away the most popular digital download service for PC games in use today. Mr Newell called Windows 8 a catastrophe for PC game makers. At first, many believed he was referring to the new user interface in the operating system, but his comments were actually directed at the Windows Store. PC gaming stalwarts Blizzard and Notch (the creator of Minecraft) also voiced their concerns. Mr Newell is concerned that Microsoft will lock out competing services (such as his own) by introducing a Windows store, although considering his service is often criticized for holding a monopoly over PC download sales, that’s hardly surprising. Apple have had their own software store on the Mac for some time and the platform has remained open and accessible to developers and competitors, indeed, Steam itself has been available on the Mac for some time now.
Windows 8 continues to divide opinion. While we still disagree with some of the decisions Microsoft have made (somebody say “hot corners” ?) once you start to use the OS, there’s really not that big a difference between Windows 8 and Windows 7. All your existing programs will run in the same way and even in the consumer and release previews, we’ve not encountered any software that has refused to run. Perhaps for the operating system to be a compelling upgrade, it needs hardware like the Microsoft Surface (which we previewed in last months newsletter) to really demonstrate how Microsoft’s vision comes together.
Tip of the Month – Not sure if your PC can run a program? Use Performance Information and Tools to find out
Understanding the specs and capabilities of your PC can sometimes be confusing. You might know which version of Windows you are running, but what about the memory in your computer, or the hard drive space. Do you know what video card or chip your machine has? If you’re not sure, you can use the “Performance Information and Tools” section of the Control Panel. Just search for “Performance information and tools” on the Start Menu and click on the icon that appears in the search results. On the Window that now opens, click the link that says “View and print detailed performance and system information”, or on Windows Vista, “View and print detailed information”. If you can’t see this link, click the button labelled “Rate this computer” and wait for the assessment to run, then the link should appear.
You can now compare the specs in your computer to those quoted for the game or program you want to run. For an example of how to do this, see this page over on our new site, Play-Old-PC-Games.com.
Free Utility of the Month – Gladinet Cloud
Are you using cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Docs, Amazon S3 or others? If so, this handy utility can make using them even easier. Gladinet lets you use your cloud storage services as if they were a drive attached directly to your PC, making it easier than ever to access and store your data in the appropriate services.
Lack of security at Tesco supermarket website highlights the need for password managers
Tesco supermarkets are one of the biggest chains here in the United Kingdom. Every year the company posts huge profits and its stores are in virtually every town and city across the length of the UK. For a company that does such good business and deals with billions of pounds of turnover, it would be reasonable to expect a good level of security when dealing with the company online. Unfortunately, as security researcher Troy Hunt discovered, this is not the case.
The whole thing started when Tesco customer care tweeted the following message “Passwords are stored in a secure way. They’re only copied into plain text when pasted automatically into a password reminder mail.” For our readers who aren’t security professionals, this means that Tesco is way behind the industry standard with their security. Current best practises require passwords to be stored in such a way as they cannot be retrieved. Instead, mathematical formula known as “hashing algorithms” are used to compare passwords without ever revealing them. If a user loses his or her password, a modern secure system should offer to reset it for them, since it cannot recover the password.
With his curiosity piqued, Troy began to look at other areas of Tesco’s website and found a whole slew of other worrying security blunders. From false claims about e-mail security to outdated server software to incorrectly configured security for cookies, Troy concluded that the Tesco site was a sitting duck for any coordinated hack attack. If you’re technically inclined, or know someone who is, you can read the whole story over here.
What does this mean for you, since it’s unlikely you can have any influence over how Tesco, or other big companies that should know better, store their users information. If even big companies are getting password security fundamentally wrong, then its safe to assume that security breaches will continue to happen. The single best thing you can do to protect yourself is switch to using a password manager. Most people can only remember a few passwords and so re-use the same one for each site they visit on the web. The solution is to store your passwords in a password manager. This way, you can have unique passwords for each site you use, meaning that a security breach at one site does not put all your other sensitive information at risk. There are password managers that work by storing the data in the cloud or, if you’d rather not trust such a service, locally on your PC. If you do one thing to improve your own online security this year, make sure you switch to a password manager! You can find out about which password managers we recommend by visiting this link.
That rounds off our newsletter for August. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th September 2012 and will 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! We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page or by leaving us feedback in our forum. 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 happy, safe and stress-free computing!