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Posted on Oct 24, 2017 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 53 – Spooky arts & crafts!

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TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 53

Welcome to the October 2017 TWT Newsletter

Another year grows old and winter returns for many of us, but there’s no need to be sad. What better time to get creative with your PC than in autumn/fall? This month we’ve some fun little tips for keeping the kids amused during Halloween or the half term holidays.

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In this months issue:-

Keep the kids amused indoors as the weather gets colder
Tip of the Month – Prevent eye strain with Night light mode
Free Utility of the Month – Handbrake
Windows Store App of the Month – Fused
Microsoft ditches Groove Music pass

Keep the kids amused indoors as the weather gets colder

The weather might be getting colder and the nights drawing in for many of our readers here in Europe and the Americas, but there’s no shortage of fun events over the autumn/fall and winter seasons. Between now and the next newsletter we have Halloween and in the UK, Guy Fawkes night coming up. Our Canadian readers also have thanksgiving to look forward to this month. If you’ve got excitable kids under your feet, remember there are lots of activities you can organise or create using your PC. Below are just a few ways you can help keep the kids occupied over the next month.

Younger children love to colour and if you have a printer there are hundreds of free colouring pages on the internet. One of our favourite Halloween themed pages, with some great colouring activities for kids of all ages is here at activity village. Even if you don’t have a printer, there are colouring programs that children can use on the computer too. The venerable Microsoft Paint is available on Windows 7 Windows 8 and Windows 10 too, just search for “Paint” on your Start menu/screen. If you’re feeling really adventurous, why not try the new Paint 3D package that came in the latest Windows 10 update? This new version of paint lets you create in both 2D and 3D, opening up a whole new dimension for budding young artists!

Even more fun is the excellent free TuxPaint package. Designed specially for children to get creative with, this fun paint package is likely to be a hit with boys and girls alike. You can download it here. A word of warning if you do own a printer, children love to print their artwork and this can quickly drain your printer ink. To prevent over-zealous use of the printer, you can disable printing in TuxPaint, meaning your little artists will have to ask permission before printing their masterpieces.

Of course, if you have a scanner too, there are lots of great ways your family can use it. Obviously you can scan pictures your kids make and send them to family members around the world, but really that’s only the start of the fun. Why not create scanner art from buttons, ribbons, hair grips or other every-day household objects? Many items will work, as long as they aren’t too thick. Have your young artists arrange these items onto a clear sheet of Plexiglas or transparent plastic sheet, then carefully transfer their designs to the scanner and scan them into the computer. Once there, they can be used for desktop backgrounds or edited further in a paint package. Advanced digital artists might want to check out the superb package, where images can be combined, rotated and edited in all kinds of advanced ways. For more ideas on scanner art, check out the article at artful-kids here.

Children of all ages love videogames. If you’re not using your PC for gaming you’re really missing out. Even modest spec PCs can run some fantastic games. From the spooky (but kid friendly) Haunt The House – Terrortown to the hilariously slapstick Octodad, there are heaps of great games for Halloween or just any time the kids need amusing. Many great games can be downloaded and played for free too, or played online in your web browser. Older children in particular love the website Kongregate, which not only gives them thousands of games they can play instantly in their browser, but tracks their scores and achievements in their games too. Finally, if you want to give yourself a real scare this Halloween, try the incredibly creepy Resident Evil 7, definitely not one for the kids!

Don’t forget that if you’re having a house party, the PC can make an excellent jukebox for your music too. If you have classic Halloween tunes on CD, you can convert them to your PC and play them without needing the CDs any more, keeping your precious CD collection away from sticky fingers. Click here for a tutorial on how to convert your CDs for use on your computer.

As always we’d love to hear if you have any ideas for creative ways to use your PC. You can get in touch with us through our Facebook page or on Twitter @TopWindowsTuts.

Tip of the Month – Prevent eye strain with Night light mode

Those big changes in Windows 10, like Paint 3D and Hololens support, tend to get the lions share of the coverage, but the latest Windows 10 update had some other neat little features too. One that got overlooked by many is the new “Night light” mode. If you’re working late on your PC, the bright glare of the monitor can cause eye strain in a dimly lit room. Give your eyes a little reprieve by turning on Night light mode. Simply open the Action Center by swiping in from the right of the screen on a touch screen, or by clicking the speech bubble icon at the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Then, simply click the “Night light” button (click “Expand” if you can’t see it).

Your monitor will then dim to a more cool and comfortable shade of white. No substitute for a good nights sleep, but better than nothing!

Free Utility of the Month – Handbrake

If you’re working with video files on your PC, you may come across a time when you need to convert or re-encode a video file. Perhaps you need to play a home movie on a smart TV or other device that requires the clip to be in a specific format.

If that specific format is MKV or MP4, then Handbrake can help you. Designed specifically for encoding and re-encoding these formats, Handbrake can take and convert files into formats suitable for a variety of devices. Simply choose the most appropriate preset from the right hand menu in the program or, if you’re an expert, set the parameters yourself. The program will then quickly and efficiently convert your video file.

With advanced options like cropping, subtitles and batch encoding, Handbrake is an essential part of many users video tool-kit. You can download the program for free here.

Windows store App of the month – Fused

Still feeling creative after all our Halloween arts and crafts activities? If so, why not give this unique little Windows Store app a try. Fused is designed to blend photos together into a background and foreground image. It’s what photographers used to achieve on traditional cameras by something called a double exposure. You can create interesting or spooky mash-ups that look like ghosts, for instance!

Give Fused a try today for free, by clicking here.

Microsoft ditches Groove Music pass

Have you been buying much music in the Windows store lately? If you answered “No” to that question then, seems you’re not alone. Despite offering a good value music streaming service with Groove Music pass, Microsoft have failed to attract many of us over onto their ecosystem. As a result, the Groove Music pass and music purchases will no longer be available from the Groove Music app as of 2018.

So what next for music fans on Windows 10? Microsoft will be giving refunds to some customers and allowing others to transfer music and streaming services over to Spotify. New and improved Spotify apps are due to be launched for both Windows and Xbox consoles.

The Groove Music app will remain in Windows 10, but serve simply as an alternative to Windows Media Player for playing your own collection of music files, rather than as a gateway to purchase or stream new content.

Perhaps the writing was on the wall for Groove ever since Microsoft failed to gain momentum in the mobile market. Few of us listen to music exclusively on our PCs any more. Even those of us who like a jam on in the background while we work will want to take our music collections with us on our phones when we’re out and about. We still can’t help feeling Microsoft gave up too soon on mobile, but if they do take another crack at the market it will be without their own music streaming service.

This recent change leaves a real question mark over the Films & TV app too. Again, just like with music, many users like the option to watch Film & TV content on their mobile devices. With limited support for this from Microsoft, maybe it’s only a matter of time before Films and TV becomes nothing more than a simple media player.

That rounds off our newsletter for October. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I’d like to thank you all for your continuing support and we hope you all have a fun Halloween, Bonfire night and/or Thanksgiving. The TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th November 2017 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows 7 Windows 8 or Windows 10. 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, and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!

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