TWT Newsletter, Issue #069 – Getting the most out of your gadgets, Windows 8 pitfalls and more
Welcome to our February 2013 TWT Newsletter. After the excitement of Christmas and then the CES show, we’re pushing forward with several new improvements to the site this month. We will reveal more details in next months newsletter. For now, you can enjoy our top tips for getting the most out of whatever gadgets Santa brought you this year and check out our latest Windows 8 update.
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In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) Special reader offer – Get up to 15% off Acronis products
3) Are you getting the most from your Christmas gizmos?
4) Tip of the Month – Restore safe mode and early boot options to Windows 8
5) Free Utility of the Month – PickPic
6) Windows 8 update – One pitfall we missed
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
We had lots of fantastic updates and new content for January, starting with several new Windows 8 tutorials. These tutorials covered the Windows store and several other tiles, including the Music and Video, News and Sport and Maps. View these tutorials and several others by using this link.
If you’d rather avoid the tiles entirely in Windows 8, you will probably want to download a start menu replacement. Start8 is a great way to turn Windows 8 back into a more familiar, desktop centric operating system. We updated our Start8 tutorial for the latest version of the program and you can view it here.
Acronis True Image remains one of our favourite backup and disk imaging programs and the new 2013 version is the most powerful yet. We added several tutorials for this great new version, you can view them here. If you’re considering buying this great backup package, be sure to use our coupon codes given later in the newsletter.
If you have friends and family across the country or all around the world, Skype could save you serious money on long distance phone calls and even allow you to video chat to your loved ones. We updated our Skype tutorials for the very latest version, version 6. You can view them here.
Keeping Windows up-to-date is important if you want to keep your PC secure. The latest security updates will make it much harder for hackers to compromise your system. We added two new tutorials to help Windows 8 users manage updates. This brief tutorial shows how to access automatic update options in Windows 8 and this tutorial shows how to manually update a Windows 8 machine. Our article all about Windows updates also got an update of it’s own, you can read the article here.
Finally, to round off January, we added a whole new set of Office 2013 tutorials. You can view these tutorials from our Microsoft Office page here. These tutorials are great if you’ve just upgraded to Office 2013 or if you want to see what’s new in the latest version.
Special reader offer – Get up to 15% off Acronis products
Thanks to our friends at Acronis, we’re able to offer you these special offer coupons for some of the companies best selling backup and data protection software.
Acronis True Image 2013 – Use coupon code FMATI10 at checkout for 10% off!
Acronis Disk Director 11 Home – Use coupon code FMADD15 for 15% off!
Acronis Migrate Easy 7.0 – Use coupon code FMAME15 at checkout for 15% off!
Coupon codes are valid until the 3rd May 2013.
Are you getting the most from your Christmas gizmos?
After the excitement of Christmas and the flurry of fresh new gadget related activity at CES last month, it’s worth remembering while we all peer at the desirable gadgets available in the future, that most people don’t use the gadgets they do own now to their full potential. With the desktop PC, that potential is almost limitless and of course it’s a given that many of us just want to get our work done, without delving into the possibilities of becoming a digital artist, composer or computer programmer. Nevertheless, here are a few tips that we could all use to help us boost our productivity.
Your phone and your PC work better together – There was a time when most of us only had one computer, but now many of us have two or three. I’m not talking about Windows PC’s, but the mobile telephone in your pocket. Typical mobile phones have greater processing power than the computers we were using ten years ago. By using the internet connection on your PC and your phone, you can share data between them. Photographs are an obvious example, but there’s no need to stop there. If you have an e-mail account, you can use a service called IMAP to synchronise your inbox between your phone and your desktop, that way any e-mails you read, delete or move on your phone will show up in the same way when you’re using your PC too. Most e-mail providers offer this service at no extra cost, simply ask your ISP or provider for instructions.
If you’re often on the go and need to take notes or save any kind of information then don’t rely on an old fashioned notepad or sticky note that you might lose. Evernote is an ideal solution that installs both on your Smartphone and on your PC. Make a note on your smartphone then read and edit it back later when you are at your desk. Take a photograph of a business card, advertisement or even a restaurant menu and Evernote will save it for you and convert it into a searchable text file. Find out more about the service here.
Perhaps you want to store some files on your phone for transportation or even backup? Apples popular range of iPhones do have a limitation that makes it difficult to transfer documents to the device. To work around this problem, use a service like Dropbox or Skydrive. Install the Dropbox/Skydrive programs on your PC, then use the apps on your phone to synchronise selected files and folders between your devices. Great if, for instance, you need to save a PDF file onto your phone to refer to while your on the road. These apps work on Android and other types of phone too.
Your PC can make using other devices more fun – If you were lucky enough to get a games console for Christmas, then you’ve probably noticed that they do a whole lot more than just play games. One of our favourite features on the Xbox 360 games console is its custom soundtracks feature. If you have Windows Media Player on your Windows PC, make sure that sharing is enabled. You can now press the guide button on your Xbox console and choose the “Media” tab. Next, navigate to “Select Music” and you should be able to browse to your media collection on your PC and play tunes as if they were on your console, neat huh? Many games consoles support streaming movies from Windows Media Center too, consult the user guide that came with your hardware.
Perhaps your family got a new TV for Christmas? TV’s are getting smarter too, and many now include media playback functionality. Using Windows Media Center again, or suitable software, you can play back video, audio and picture files on your TV. This can be a great way to watch home movies, for instance. The range of TV’s that can do this is too broad to give you a tutorial but, check the owners manual and online for some hints and tips, it’s not as difficult as it sounds!
Tip of the Month – Restore safe mode and early boot options to Windows 8
As we discussed in last months issue, Microsoft have seen fit to remove the early startup options from Windows 8, making accessing popular troubleshooting tools like Safe Mode potentially very difficult on the latest version of the OS. We’re not sure why Microsoft made this decision, we can only assume that it was done to shave off a second or two from the OS’s boot times.
We’re still investigating ways to restore this functionality, but for now, you may want to follow this video on Youtube. By following this procedure, you can access Safe Mode even if your PC can’t start normally, but it’s a little fiddler than it used to be. We’re continuing to research this issue and we will post a final tutorial video once we’re satisfied we have found the best way.
Free Utility of the Month – PickPic
There are lots of times you might want to make a screen shot, or take a picture of a window on your desktop. Perhaps you need to submit a screenshot in with a troubleshooting report, or make a simple tutorial for a friend or family member. Pressing the “Print Screen” or “Prt Scr Sys Rq” key will take a copy of your screen as a graphic and allow you to paste it into any compatible image editing program. PickPic makes this process much easier however, giving you the tools to capture a specific window or region, without having to mess around trimming or editing the result in a paint package. The tool also includes a screen magnifier, colour picker, ruler and several other neat little power toys.
Find out more about PickPic and download your own copy by visiting this link.
Windows 8 update – One pitfall we missed Windows 8 continues to divide opinions, with some users convinced that the operating system is unusable while others are sure that the new UI is a bold step towards the future. Having lived with the OS for a while now, we are planning a full, updated review for the site and of course new users can rely on our Windows 8 Superguide while they get used to the quirks of the new OS. Clearly, there’s never been a Windows where so much needs to be tweaked by the typical desktop/laptop user.
Last issue we highlighted a few other quirks of the new OS, but there was one issue we overlooked. While researching legacy software compatibility, we noticed that some options had been removed from the Compatibility options. The option “Disable visual themes” and “Disable desktop composition” are now gone. These options disabled the new, 3D accelerated desktop in Windows 7 and Windows Vista.
What programs will this effect? There are several examples, such as:-
Emulators:- Emulators are programs that let you run software designed for other (usually older) machines on your PC. Emulators such as Higan, which emulate the old Nintendo videogame consoles, require desktop composition mode to be disabled to perfectly emulate the video timing of the old hardware. This software will still work in Windows 8, but performance may be degraded.
Games:- Many old games require these options to be disabled. Games such as Bug! which we were able to get working perfectly on our Windows 7 machine, are now incompatible.
Video capture software:- For technical reasons involved with video timing, video capture software is often configured to run by disabling desktop composition. This software may still work under Windows 8 but with degraded performance.
Microsoft have made it extremely difficult for anyone to implement a solution which disables desktop composition, this is because the new Start screen will not work without it enabled. Nevertheless, a solution may eventually appear to work in conjunction with start menu replacements like Start8.
In spite of our recent articles, we don’t want to sound too negative about Windows 8. With a few tweaks it makes a great desktop operating system and as more touch screen and hybrid machines appear on the market, it will make a super-powerful tablet OS too.
That’s the end of our February newsletter. 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 March 2013 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8! 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.