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Posted on Sep 24, 2013 in Newsletter | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 4 – Be a super student!

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Top Windows Tutorials
TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 4

Welcome to the September 2013 TWT Newsletter

Four months have passed since our big site redesign and we’re not slowing down. With Windows 8.1 on the horizon we’re planning some great new beginner tutorials for the OS. If you’re still using an older version of Windows then don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten you either.

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In this months issue:-

What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
Windows 8.1 to release on the 17th October 2013
Six stupid things in Windows 8
How to save money and be more productive with your PC this term
Tip of the Month – Do unit conversions using the calculator
Free Utility of the Month – LAN Messenger
So long Microsoft Points – No more confusion for Xbox and Windows 8 users
Games for Windows Live service to close

What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?

In August, we updated all of our videos for full compatibility with mobile devices. All of our video content should now play pack on Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone platforms. Of course, it will still look great on Windows desktops too.

We also added several new tutorials to the site:-

 

picture Google Mail (Gmail) tutorials updated

We’ve updated all four of our Google Mail (Gmail) tutorials. Google have significantly changed their web interface for accessing Gmail, and our new tutorials make it easier to learn how to use this powerful web-based e-mail service. You can view the tutorials by clicking here.

 

picture TWT Benchtests – The 2013 multi-protocol instant messaging showdownInstant messaging is still a popular way to stay in touch with friends and family all around the world. Of course, there’s still the same problem of several different, incompatible services. To partially solve this problem, the multi-protocol instant messaging program was invented. Now there are several programs which can connect you to multiple chat services, but which is the best, and can they replace the official versions? Find out in our 2013 multi-protocol instant messaging showdown!

 

Windows 8.1 to release on the 17th October 2013

Microsoft have now finalised the release date for their newest Windows update, Windows 8.1. On the 17th October 2013, all Windows 8 users will be able to download and install this update. You will also be able to buy a new PC with Windows 8.1 pre installed. You won’t need to reinstall your operating system or any applications unless you have already installed the Windows 8.1 preview.

Although Windows 8.1 has been finalised and sent out to manufacturers, there will be no further preview versions available for IT experts, even those subscribed to Microsoft’s developer programs. Leaked information suggests there are further refinements for the touch UI, to make navigating around more intuitive for first time users. We will launch our updated tutorials as soon as possible after Windows 8.1 ships.

 

Six stupid things in Windows 8

Speaking of Windows 8, don’t miss our informal Youtube video, Six Stupid Things in Windows 8. With all the discussion around the new touch-centric tiles in Windows 8, it seems like several little niggles were overlooked entirely. In this video we take a light hearted look at some questionable design choices Microsoft made, not only with the new touch interface but on the desktop too. You can watch the video here.

 

How to save money and be more productive with your PC this term

If you’re heading back to school, starting a new college course or moving away to study at college or university this September, then like most students your PC is a vital part of your student itinerary. For those of you who are leaving home to complete your studies, getting more out of your PC won’t just mean doing better in class. Make the most of the resources your Windows PC can tap into and you will save time and money. Here are a few great tips to get more out of your PC.

Become a research expert – Many students find the transition from school to higher education to be something of a culture shock at first. In school, teaching staff typically research and plan class topics. College and University on the other hand, requires much more directed research from the student. Managing your research notes can be tricky, so here are two great tools to help.

Diigo – Get used to the fact that, you will be using lots of different computer terminals and devices as you work at college or university. Diigo is an excellent tool for saving your bookmarks and related research notes to the cloud. With this tool, you can bookmark sites, add notes, clip images and more and have those resources available anywhere you have an internet connection. Diigo’s toolbar is particularly good on Firefox, but the app also runs on Chrome and IE and on Smartphones, or anywhere you can get an internet connection. Remember that, when writing reports, you will be expected to quote ALL of your references or risk having your report disqualified for plagiarism. Don’t lose a valuable web resource, make sure all your websites are saved and easily referenced. Open your Diigo account today by visiting the Diigo homepage.

Evernote – Feeling a little overwhelmed with life on campus? Get yourself a better memory by using Evernote. Evernote is a note-taking app that saves all your notes in the cloud. You can take a note on your PC back at your digs, then access it on your smartphone while on campus. See a poster for an event you need to attend? Take a photo with your phone camera and Evernote will not only save the note but convert it into searchable text too. Evernote is ideal for saving revision notes, organising web snippets and much more. Remember that Evernote stores all information online, so do not store highly confidential information such as social security numbers, passwords or bank account details. Download Evernote or find out more by visiting this link.

Use free cloud storage – USB drives can be useful for transporting projects to and from campus, but they are easily lost too. Nowadays, you can get a huge amount of free storage online by subscribing to one or more cloud storage services. Dropbox, Google Drive and Skydrive all offer you free storage for your files. Store a file in your Dropbox at your digs, then access it through a PC on campus easily. If you have concerns about security, check out Boxcryptor, which helps secure your files while they sit in the cloud.

Type your essays for free – Save money on office software by using free alternatives. LibreOffice is a fully featured office suite, with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation package and more. Don’t be fooled into thinking free means poor quality, all three of our Superguide books were written using either the free LibreOffice or free OpenOffice suites.

Perhaps you have an Android or Windows RT tablet that you want to work on? In this case, check out Google Docs. Google Docs is a free to use online word processor. While working like this on the web isn’t quite as elegant as running a dedicated word processor, all your documents are automatically backed up into the cloud and you can access them anywhere you have an internet connection. Again, be wary of storing confidential information with services like this.

Manage your time effectively – Make sure you don’t miss lectures or social events by taking advantage of Google Calendar. You can check your calendar on your phone, on the web or even on your Windows desktop using Thunderbird and the popular Lightning extension.

Make sure you have a backup – If you lose your work due to a hard drive failure, don’t expect your lecturers to give you an extension. Make sure you have an effective backup strategy. You can save your essays in the cloud using Dropbox, Google Drive or Skydrive as previously discussed. If you need to back up larger files, check out the completely free Genie Timeline product , which will allow you to save a copy of your precious files to an external hard drive. What’s more, if you make a mistake and overwrite or damage a project, Genie Timeline lets you go back in time and restore an old copy.

Keep in touch – Many students feel a little homesick at the start of the new term, but luckily these days it’s easier than ever to stay in touch. With your Windows PC you can make free voice and video calls back home as long as you have an internet connection. Microsoft’s Skype remains a popular program for this, but you may also want to consider Jitsi, as this program has more robust privacy safeguards.

By using your PC and your other gadgets more effectively, you can make your time at college or university more productive and more fun. Your PC is so much more than a web browser and a word processor, take full advantage of the technology and your education will benefit!

 

picture Tip of the Month – Do unit conversions using the calculator

In Windows 7 and Windows 8, the calculator app is actually a lot more powerful than many users realise. If you only use the calculator for a little lazy addition, subtraction and multiplication, did you know that the calculator can do unit conversions too? Open the calculator application and select the view menu, then choose the Unit Conversion option. An extra window will then open in the calculator and allow you to perform several unit conversions, such as Centimeters to Inches and Celsius and Fahrenheit, easily from your desktop.

 

picture

Free Utility of the Month – LAN Messenger

Last month we brought you a roundup of the best multi-protocol instant messaging software. Sometimes however, the best solutions to problems are the most simple. If you live in a multi-PC household, you might find LAN Messenger to be useful. This program installs easily on any PC in the house (including Windows, Macintosh and Linux machines) and allows users on your local network to send messages and files to one another easily. Broadcast messages can be sent to all the PC’s in the house too, a good way to summon internet-addicted teens from their rooms perhaps?

LAN Messenger can be downloaded for free by visiting this link.

 

picture So long Microsoft Points – No more confusion for Xbox and Windows 8 users

Those early Windows 8 adopters amongst you may remember seeing Microsoft Points in the Music and Video tiles on their new computers. As we explained in our Windows 8 Superguide, Microsoft Points were a currency Microsoft created originally for their Xbox 360 console. Users could purchase points, which could in turn be used to purchase games or add-on content. With the latest Xbox Dashboard update however, Microsoft have phased out points altogether, putting the final nail in the coffin of this payment system.

Here at TWT HQ we fired up our Xbox 360 console to be told that we had £11 in our Microsoft account, converted from unspent Microsoft points. However, when we went to the Windows store in Windows 8, our balance was still zero. Seems like Xbox money is still distinct from Windows 8 money, disappointingly. Although some games on Windows 8 are referred to as “Xbox” games, it does not seem that Xbox top-up cards are yet compatible. Seems Microsoft still has some work to do before all of its online services are as neatly integrated as we’d have hoped.

 

Games for Windows Live service to close

In related news, Microsoft’s gaming service for Windows, Games for Windows Live, is due to close down on the 1st of July 2014. As of this moment, we’re not sure what that means for anyone who purchased games using this service. Microsoft issued a statement that they remain firmly committed to Windows gaming, but haven’t released any further details since. Games for Windows Live titles require online authentication each time they are installed, meaning a closure of the service could cause end users a number of complications when they play their games in the future. Hopefully this is the start of Microsoft streamlining some of its online services, rather than shutting off access to purchased content altogether.

That concludes our newsletter for September. On behalf of the team here at TWT, I’d like to thank you for reading and for your continued support. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th October 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. 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!

 

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