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Posted on Jan 8, 2020 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 75 – Christmas time again, 2020 predictions and more

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Top Windows Tutorials
TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 75

Hi, welcome to the December 2019 TWT Newsletter!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and that means many of us are looking for last minute gifts for the family. If you’ve got a Windows user in your life who needs that special present, here are our run down of the top gadgets for PC users this year. We will also take a little look back at the year and give a few predictions for 2020. 

In this months issue:-

The top gifts and gadgets for Windows users
Tip of the Month – Check your Ransomware protection
Free Utility of the Month – Discord
Microsoft store app of the month – Create a Santa
2019 – A short retrospective and a look forward

 

The top gifts and gadgets for Windows users

Christmas is fast approaching and you better get that last minute shopping done fast if you want to avoid disappointment. If you’re still shopping for gifts online, first check out our Christmas shopping tips from last November’s newsletter. We talk about keeping your passwords and data safe, how to keep your browsing history hidden from the rest of the family and lots more.

If you still need some gift ideas, read on!

Premium gifts and gadgets

Perhaps you’re looking to buy a gift for the whole family this year, or there’s someone in your life that is going to be really lucky, or maybe you just won the lotto! Either way, if Santa can fit these gifts down the chimney, there will be some super excited Windows users in your house this year.  

LG C9 OLED TVs – LGs C9 range of 4K OLED TV’s aren’t designed specifically as computer monitors, but they just happen to make stunning ones for gamers. Starting at 55 inches, these HDTVs might not be the first choice for a monitor for productivity, but even when used for getting work done they provide excellent results thanks to the displays support for 4:4:4 RGB colour. Nevertheless, we would recommend against this as a display for regular productivity use due to the concerns over OLED image retention and burn in. There’s more information on that here.

For gaming however there’s simply no better TV on the market. Stunning picture quality and ultra low input lag (less than one frame) make for a dazzling experience. With HDMI 2.1 ports, this display even supports advanced gaming technology like variable refresh rates (on certain graphics cards only, check with the manufacturer for compatibility information).

Ideal as a living room TV too, with a range of smart TV features and apps, these sets are super versatile. If you need a TV for a games room/den that can also double as a monitor for homework and web surfing at a pinch, definitely check out the LG C9 range.

Samsung Ultrawide monitor – Samsung’s Ultrawide monitors are perhaps the ultimate monitors for productivity. With a huge area for your desktop, multitasking becomes a breeze. The 100hz refresh rate means an easy on the eye totally flicker free experience too.

With their unusual 32:9 aspect ratio, these monitors are not ideal for viewing traditional content, but they can do so if required. Standard content can be displayed centred on the monitor or even stretched if desired, though this tends to look very strange indeed. The monitor can even display two regular 1080p images side by side at the same time. If you have two PCs or games consoles then they can both be connected to the same monitor to play multiplayer games.

We’ve been lucky enough to have the Samsung KC49RG90  at the TWT HQ for some time now and it’s a fantastic device. We would not go back to our old multi monitor desktop. To get the best out of the display we recommend the DisplayFusion software which allows the huge display to be divided into several “virtual” monitors or areas, making it easier to organise your apps.

The monitor is great for gaming too. It even includes gaming specific features like low input lag and variable refresh rates. There are a surprising number of PC games that can take advantage of this unusual screen. Driving games like Forza Horizon 4  take on a whole new dimension when paired with this display, and first person games like Subnautica look breathtaking. Not every game is compatible, but those that are not can be run in traditional aspect ratio in the centre of the monitor if necessary.

Affordable gifts and gadgets

For those of you not looking to spend quite so much money, these gifts will make a great addition to any Christmas stocking and you won’t be paying for them come next Christmas!

Microsoft game pass – Treat a PC or Xbox gamer friend to a year of Microsoft Game Pass and they will never run out of new games to play. Instead of buying games each month, Games Pass gives the lucky gamer access to a huge catalogue that can be downloaded and sampled at any time. Great if you or the gamer in your life likes to dip in and out of lots of different games. You can buy a whole year of games for under 50 euros if you shop around, CDKeys.com have EU subscriptions for 45.19 at the time of going to press.

Buffalo Ministation Extreme – The gift of a backup might not be the most interesting or exciting present but, just like that pack of socks from your auntie, it will come in useful. If there’s a Windows user in your life that’s still not backing up his or her files, get them into the habit with this excellent external hard drive.

With full disk encryption, your data will be safe from theft should your drive get mislaid. With shock resistance, your data won’t be destroyed if the drive takes a tumble from the desk or a shelf and with USB3 technology you can ensure that you get the very fastest transfer speeds. At under 100 euro for 1TB, this neat little drive won’t break the bank either. Check out Buffalo’s website for the details or search in your favourite search engine for the best deals.

Yubico – YubiKey 5 – Looking for a way to easily beef up your security without learning new passwords? First and foremost, if you don’t have a password manager yet, get one of those! Still don’t think you’re secure, then why not try a YubiKey? The YubiKey adds an extra layer of security to 100s of websites and Windows itself by requiring you to plug in the device (or simply hold it close if your device supports NFC) before you can log onto a website.

Well loved by security professionals all around the world, adding a YubiKey is a great way to make yourself a difficult target for hackers and identity theft. Check them out here.

Stocking fillers

USB memory stick – In these days of Onedrive and Dropbox, do we need USB sticks any more? Personally, we would say yes. The ability to quickly store, back up and move your files between computers in the house, without worrying about WiFi or the internet can still be very useful. We should also remember that cloud storage can be expensive, especially for larger amounts of data.

The bane of USB sticks is that they are easily lost, so why not slip a new one into someone’s stocking this year? There are hundreds to choose from, so shop around!

Logitech G403 Hero mouse – Need a mouse that’s equally at home in a work or game environment? You simply can’t go wrong with the affordable Logitech G403. With variable speeds, the device will suit new users and Windows veterans equally well. Comfortable to use and without gimmicks, the G403 comes highly recommended. Check it out here.

Amazon basics gaming mouse pad – Speaking of mice, don’t neglect the humble mouse pad! Even modern optical mice work much better on a surface that’s been designed to properly accommodate them. There are all kinds of gimmicky gaming mouse pads, but all you need is something like this basic model from Amazon. Choose whatever size fits your desk.

Hopefully our gift ideas have at least given you some inspiration this year. TWT Newsletter is NOT sponsored by anyone, you can be assured that our recommendations are genuine and not paid for by anyone mentioned above. Have fun this year and we hope your friends and relatives love your gifts!

 

Tip of the Month – Check your Ransomware protection

Microsoft continue to beef up security in Windows and add protections that would have come at a premium in the past. One such new protection is anti-ransomware. Ransomware is a newer type of malware that seeks to encrypt all your files then ransom you for the password.

If you’re running the latest Windows 10 update you can check your ransomware protection by following the steps below. You will need to be administrator or have your administrator password to complete this.

On the search bar, type “Windows Security” and click the icon that appears.

From the options on the left choose “Virus and threat protection”.

Scroll to the bottom of the window and choose “Manage ransomware protection”.

You now have the option to turn controlled folder access on. When this is on, Windows will monitor apps trying to write to your files and prevent them if necessary. Turn the option on and continue to use your computer. If you have issues with apps or games not being able to save you may need to turn this option off again, or add an exception via the “allow an app through controlled folder access” option.

 

Free Utility of the Month – Discord

Discord started life as a service for games players to talk to their friends and indeed this remains the service’s focus to this day. However, the text messaging and VOIP (internet telephone) Services offered by the app have proven so popular and robust that many other communities have started to use it too.

If you need a chat room facility for your community, or if you need to join one that already exists, you can do so quickly and easily by downloading the Discord client here.

 

Microsoft Store app of the Month – Create a Santa

A silly app for Christmas, and why not? Create A Santa app will take any picture of you or any other volunteer/victim and turn it into a picture of St. Nick himself. The app will show an aged image of whomever is in the photo and deck them out in a Santa beard, eye brows, hats and other apparel. 

Once done, you can save your creations forever, or even print them for your home made Christmas cards. Download the app today using the following link.

 

2019 – A short retrospective and a look forward

What a crazy year 2019 was for us! In March we decided to make the move from the UK to the Republic of Ireland, leaving our family home in Lincolnshire where we had lived for more than 30 years. Our parent company, ACEL Systems, is still based in the UK, all our operations are now run from ROI.

Because of all the chaos of moving, we did miss a few months of newsletters this year, and we apologise for that. 

2019 was a year of bugs and exploits, with the Meltdown and Spectre bugs being joined by the likes of Bluekeep. More so than ever before, we learned that the price of making PCs faster often meant compromises in security, or at least new ways to exploit computer architecture that the original designers never thought of. 2020 is likely to continue this trend unfortunately. As more and more of us bank, shop and share personal data online, so the incentive for hackers and criminals to illegally access our data increases.

In 2019 we continued to face the ever growing problem of IP4 address exhaustion. Basically, the internet, as it was first conceived anyway, is full. Each device on the internet needs its own unique address, known as an IP address. For many years now there have been too many computers, phones and other devices in the world for each one to have its own unique address. This was solved partially by allowing networks to share an external IP address, so every computer, smartTV, games console etc in your home will have the same external IP address on the public internet.

Even so, the last block of IP4 addresses was exhausted in 2018, so by 2020 we really need to get a move on and shift over to IPV6, the new global internet standard, which, predictably, isn’t compatible with IPV4.

2020 promises to be a good year for gamers with the PlayStation 5, new Xbox and several new graphics cards coming out for the Windows PC. We’re also promised a new virtual reality “killer app” from Valve, makers and curators of the popular Windows game store “Steam”. Half Life – Alyx is the first new half life game in more than a decade. It remains to be seen if this is enough to tempt gamers to purchase expensive and often cumbersome VR headsets though.

We expect more Windows 10 updates next year, so as always, don’t get too used to where everything is on your PC, as Microsoft are bound to change it all around again!

From all of us here at TWT HQ, let us wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2020!

UK readers – Vote tactically this Thursday

We’ll keep this short as nobody likes political adverts! We respect everyone’s political views, but we strongly feel that UK businesses need access to the EU single market and a sensible Brexit deal. Boris Johnson’s botched Brexit deal will mean decades of decline as the UK scrambles to negotiate with world powers.

It’s time for a change, we need to send Boris packing and secure a brighter future for the UK. For the better part of a decade the Tories have failed the NHS, increased the national deficit, more than doubled the number of families in poverty and spectacularly failed British businesses with their non-existent negotiating skills.

If, like us, you want to see the back of this government, vote tactically for the strongest candidate in your constituency and take out a Tory! Check out tactical.vote for the recommended candidate in your area.

That concludes the newsletter for December. 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 January 2020 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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