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Posted on Aug 29, 2019 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 72 – Be a smart entrepreneur and what are “loot crates” ?

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TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 72

Hi, welcome to the August 2019 TWT Newsletter!

August means the summer season is still in full swing for many of us, but the dreaded “back to school” times are looming up. We’ll have our back to school tips next month, for now, continue to enjoy the summertime and the good weather, if you are getting any!

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 topwindo@top-windows-tutorials.com to your contacts, buddy list or white list.

In this months issue:-

Top Tips for Windows PC Entrepreneurs
Tip of the Month – Use the volume mixer
Free Utility of the Month – DisplayFusion
Microsoft Store app of the Month – Microsoft Sticky Notes
Loot boxes and in-app purchases, do parents need to be wary?

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Top Tips for Windows PC Entrepreneurs

Thinking of starting your own little business, or already running one and struggling to keep on top of things? Your Windows PC is an incredibly powerful tool that can really help you get ahead as a SME (small, medium enterprise). No matter if you’re making websites, baking cakes or inventing and marketing the next must-have gadget, knowing how to keep things running like clockwork in the background is a great way to help you sleep more easily at night, and gain back some precious free time, the commodity that SME owners never have enough of! Here are our top tips for entrepreneurs and freelancers with Windows PCs.

Know when to delegate! – As a small business owner or entrepreneur you will be doing lots of jobs, everything from cleaning the office to deciding on capital expenditure and stock acquisition. Your Windows PC makes a lot of these tasks much easier, buying stock is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse, for instance, and on the big screen of your PC its easy to compare prices from suppliers. You should be careful not to take on too much yourself though. Maintain a balance between work and down time, especially if you still have a day job while you’re getting started. It might seem like a good idea to do all your taxes yourself, but this can be really time consuming and difficult unless you’ve had professional training, so consider delegating some of that to an accountant.

Use accounting software – Bookkeeping and accounting used to be a colossal pain, and while it’s still not some kind of activity you’d ever do for fun, it is way easier in the modern age. Your PC is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to keeping the books up to date. Our accounting package of choice is Xero. Xero runs in your web browser, meaning you can run it on PC or tablet or anywhere that has an internet connection. While we often prefer apps that run natively on your computer because they tend to perform better, Xero has proven to be rock solid in the several years we have been using it. 

Keep track of receipts – If you regularly get a lot of invoices and receipts you need to process, we can also recommend Receipt Bank. Using this tool, you can instantly send any invoice from e-mail or the web to your account, where it can be filed and processed and backed up. Install the app on your phone and you can photograph receipts and save them instantly. No more losing bits of paper, no more trawling through bank statements. 

If you get a lot of paper invoices, consider a scanning solution like ScanSnap which can instantly convert paper into a digital copy.

In many countries, you can then simply dispose of the old invoices or receipts once captured and backed up on Receipt bank, but check with your tax advisor before you do this in case there are record keeping laws in your jurisdiction that require physical copies.

Plan to integrate – Software like Xero and Receipt Bank work better with certain bank accounts than others. If you’re opening a business account, check that it is one that will work smoothly with your accounting software and can automatically import transactions. It will save you time and effort in the future.

Be smart with your smartphone – Modern smartphones are powerful and versatile and making the most of them can save you a great deal of time. Learn to use the apps that best help you when you’re away from your desk. Every smartphone now offers e-mail and your inbox will synchronise seamlessly between your PC and your mobile device, but that’s not all you can keep in sync.

Apps like Microsoft OneNote help you take notes that sync automatically with your PC. Other Microsoft Office apps can work seamlessly between mobile devices and your PC too.

Apps like Wunderlist let you make to-do lists that sync automatically with your PC. 

Apps like OneDrive let you synchronise files between your smart phone and your PC. 

Apps like WhatsApp Desktop, Telegram or Wire let you communicate with clients using either the big screen of your PC or the convenience of your mobile phone.

By intelligently integrating your phone into your work-space, you can work smart using the tools you have to hand, rather than having to pick up your phone and prod away at a tiny screen to send a client a message when sitting at your PC, with a keyboard and monitor.

Try to have fun – Running a small business will take up a lot of your time, so make sure it is something you are passionate about. If you enjoy the work, it never seems like work and you won’t get burned out so easily. If things become a chore, consider changing tack, selling your idea or product to someone else or at least taking on extra help.

Tip of the Month – Use the volume mixer

Have you ever had one app louder than another, or wanted to mute an app (for instance an e-mail or messaging program) temporarily while you work? You can do this easily using Windows Volume Mixer, which lets you set the volume of most individual apps.

To access the volume mixer, simply right click on the speaker icon in the notification area/system tray at the bottom right of your monitor. Then, from the menu that appears, choose “Open Volume Mixer”. 

The Volume Mixer window will then appear, and you can easily change the volume of any app that appears. Don’t forget you can use the scroll control at the bottom of the window to move through all your individual apps. If an app doesn’t appear in the list, it’s most likely not running and so can’t make any sound.

Free Utility of the Month – DisplayFusion

Got yourself a huge new monitor, or perhaps two or more monitors? Make the most of them with DisplayFusion, a powerful package that allows you to fine tune your multi monitor setup to your hearts content.

Set different wallpapers, manage task bars or quickly move monitors between windows using the software’s many functions. Create different profiles for work and play and easily recall them with a click of the mouse. If you need even more power, the Pro version of the software (available for $44) even allows bigger monitors to be split into smaller, virtual monitors.

Check out DisplayFusion today, by clicking this link.

Microsoft Store app of the Month – Microsoft Sticky Notes

Sticky Notes were one of our favourite ‘widgets’, back when desktop widgets were a thing. Now, just like the old fashioned paper sticky notes, you can write a quick note and pin it anywhere on your Windows desktop. Fantastic for any quick note that you need to make and simply cannot afford to forget. 

We’ve featured this app before, but a fresh new update makes it even more useful. Now you can synchronise notes between services like Microsoft OneNote, and your mobile phone and Microsoft Outlook.

Get sticky notes in the store today, and stop forgetting things or wasting paper! Click here to get a free copy.

Loot boxes and in-app purchases, do parents need to be wary?

Are you a parent that lets your child play computer games, either on Windows PC or on a games console? If so, you need to be aware of both “in app purchases” and “loot crates”. These are two relatively new phenomenons that have come to computer gaming in recent times, now that computers and consoles are permanently connected to the internet, and therefore your wallet.

What are in-app purchases? – In app or in game purchases mean that the game will offer the player the chance to spend real world currency on virtual items to use in the game. This could be a set of clothes for your virtual avatar, a new gun, car or power up item to give the player an advantage, or simply in game currency that can be spent on many different items in the game. 

If you’re not a games player (or even if you are!) you might find it surprising that people would spend real, hard earned money on items that can only be used in a game world, but people do. In-app purchases have become an incredibly effective way to monetise computer games, effectively turning them from a product you purchase once and enjoy for as long as you like, into a service that requires the player to continually invest to get the most out of the game. Players have coined the phrase “free to start” to describe this kind of monetisation model.

Take a look at the popular My Little Pony game on the Windows Store, for example. A seemingly innocent game but it hides a dark secret. Here is the store page for it.

 

Microsoft at least warn potential buyers and parents that the game offers this particular monetisation model. After extended hours of play, it becomes harder and harder to progress in the game without purchasing in-game currency using real-world currency. Players who do not keep putting their hands in their pockets will find it extremely difficult to progress.

We think that’s a shame, a game should be balanced for fun, not designed to be impossible to complete without keep coughing up for gems, bucks, or other in-game currency. If you have a child who becomes engrossed in a game like this, you will almost inevitably be asked to spend real world money to buy items for them so that they can continue to progress in the game. Keep in mind this may well not be a one off purchase, but something the game will encourage them to do repeatedly, to make as much money as possible. Be doubly sure if you do relent and enter payment information that your child can’t make further purchases without your consent.

What are loot boxes? – Loot boxes are another kind of in-app purchase, but an especially sinister one and have been subject to more scrutiny especially lately. Like other in-app purchases, loot boxes or loot crates are in-game items purchased with real world money. No physical item will be obtained when you buy one. 

Unlike other in-game or in-app purchases however, a loot box contains mystery items that are only revealed when you purchase them. Players are tempted into purchasing a crate for a few cents or pence that has a chance of containing a super rare or expensive item. Of course, usually it does not.

Right now, the game Fortnite is super popular with a younger audience and has courted some controversy for it’s loot box “llamas”. Fortnite does still have in-game purchases, but it actually stopped using blind “loot crates” a few months ago. Nevertheless, many feel the damage was done and a lawsuit is already under way against Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, for the practise . Many have likened the practise of buying loot crates to gambling, which is particularly worrying in a game that is played and enjoyed by children.

While this new trend is a little worrying, there are still thousands of really fun games for all ages and abilities that don’t have any of these monetisation models. From Paw Patrol to Sago Mini Friends for the littler ones, to Terraria or Stardew Valley for older children. These games will offer hours of creative fun without nagging you to reach into your wallet.

That concludes the 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 2019 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 Top-Windows-Tutorials.com, and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!

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