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Posted on Mar 11, 2020 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 78 – The Grand Finale

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Top Windows Tutorials
TWT Newsletter NG – Issue 78

Hi, welcome to the March 2020 TWT Newsletter!

We’re sad to announce that this will be the last ever TWT Newsletter, a collectors edition, if you will (maybe I will print this one out and put it on my wall!).

There will be plenty of time for reminiscing in our opening article, so let’s get on with things.

In this months issue:-

TWT Newsletter says goodbye – This is the last ever issue
Tip of the Month – Stop using administrator accounts!
Free Utility of the Month – Thunderbird
Microsoft Store App of the Month – Windows Calculator
We’re bowing out, but there’s still a lot to look forward to

 

TWT Newsletter says goodbye – This is the last ever issue

It has not been an easy decision but we feel that the the time has come for us to end the TWT Newsletter. We apologise for any disappointment this might cause.

We’ve been producing the TWT newsletter since June 2007, nearly 13 years! In that time we’ve seen some huge changes. Our first ever issue asked “do you need to upgrade to Windows Vista?”, now, Vista is a distant memory and even its successor, Windows 7 has been retired. 

Many of you will be wondering why we’re retiring the newsletter. Astute visitors cannot fail to notice that there hasn’t been a site content update, other than the newsletter, for quite some time. There are several reasons for this, but mainly it simply boils down to a question of priorities for us. Top-Windows-Tutorials has always been a pleasure to work on, but unfortunately it hasn’t been financially viable for some time now.

TWT started back in 2007, at this time PCs were most peoples primary (and many peoples only) computing platform. During this time, like many PC enthusiasts, we were regularly providing technical support, virus removal and other services to friends, family and other clients. While other companies gladly welcomed this trickle of income from hapless home users, we felt that it was unfair that our friends should suffer while we used our PCs relatively trouble free. Just a little, easy education could help millions of people avoid malware, scams and other internet nasties and enjoy happy, stress free computing.

With that philosophy, TWT was born, bringing easy, beginner friendly video tutorials to the masses. The site was instantly successful, attracting audiences from all around the world. At the height of our popularity we attracted thousands of visitors daily and we were ranked in the top 100,000 websites worldwide.

The site went from strength to strength. in June 2009 we introduced our first TWT Superguide, a professionally written and edited suite of tutorials for OpenOffice, with guides for Windows 7, 8 and 10 following afterwards. We launched more and more useful free tutorials on tricky subjects like security, backup and other often complex topics and helped users worldwide go from beginner to expert.

However, over the last five years or so, while we were reaching new visitors every day, behind the scenes the site was starting to struggle. Despite growing our audience, our advertising revenue was dwindling, how could this be? It’s all due to a little browser extension called “ad block”.

Blocking of website adverts has gone from something only a relatively niche audience did to something that’s mainstream. In the heyday of the web, websites got greedy with advertising and splashed adverts all over their sites. What started as simple text banners grew to adverts within content, then to videos, sometimes with automatically playing audio. It’s hardly a wonder many users said enough is enough and decided to block adverts. Unfortunately, even sites like us, who always placed adverts considerately, without ruining the content of the site, had to suffer the same loss of revenue.

We dabbled with videos on other platforms to try to reach a wider audience, but the likes of Youtube never really suited us. The big disadvantage of Youtube is that content is extremely poorly curated. You could be watching a tutorial by a professor of computer science one minute, then be directed to a video made by a call centre scammer the next. Multiple times we were offered lucrative deals to lace our content with spyware and offer it for download to unsuspecting visitors, but we always refused.

Our “Super Guide” discs and downloads were very successful, but when Windows 10 hit, things changed. With Windows 7 and all versions of Windows before it, the OS was relatively static. You bought Windows XP, Vista or 7 and Windows stayed the same for most of its life. Occasionally, there would be a big “service pack” update, that introduced new features, but that was all. Windows 10 has turned out to be totally different. Every six months there’s a major upgrade that changes things around significantly enough that dozens of our tutorials are out of date.

Writing our Superguide content to the highly professional standards we strived for takes time, several months of intensive work usually. To illustrate just how bad this issue now is, we had started working on an update to the Windows 10 Superguide, but had to abandon it before it was finished as Windows was updated and changed AGAIN while we were working on the guide. Our content was obsolete before we could even launch it!

With this rapid pace of change, there simply isn’t a way that a small team like us can keep up, so regrettably we have come to the decision to end the TWT newsletter and axe any planned updates to the site or the Superguides.

What a run we’ve had though, from a bedroom in Lincoln, UK we grew to thousands of subscribers and our content has been used everywhere, from schools and colleges to local government to the wonderful Seniornet New Zealand who used it all across the country in their learning centres. We really can’t thank you readers and customers enough for your support over the years.

The newsletter is ending but the website is staying up for the foreseeable future, although it will most likely receive only security updates. Our intention is to keep the site alive as long as it is cost effective to do so. Right now, enough people find us useful that the hosting costs are covered by advertising, but if any major upgrades were required we may simply have to close. We’re looking at ways we can provide the Superguide content for free, though this is proving more challenging than expected (hosting large files for download at no cost to ourselves is difficult!).

Well that’s just great, now where can I get friendly PC tips and advice, without the techno babble? – There are a lot of good technology sites on the web and not all of them designed for geeks We particularly like HowToGeek.com for its user friendly content. Several of our readers also recommend BbleepingComputer.com. GCF Global also have a good selection of beginner tutorials.

 

Tip of the Month – Stop using administrator accounts!

For our final tip, it’s time to roll out what we think is the best security tip that most windows users still don’t do. With this “one weird trick” you can make your PC way more secure from hackers and malware. Use a “standard user” account rather than an administrator one!

To do this in Windows 10, simply open the settings app, click on “Accounts”, then click on “Family and other users” and click “Add someone else to this PC”. You can see how we do it in this video tutorial.

If you’ve set up your existing account just the way you like it, you may prefer to convert your existing account to standard user, and then the new account to be an administrator, that’s fine, you can change the account type from the Settings app, simply click on the account in the list and choose “Change account type”. Note that you always need at least one administrator, and only an administrator can change an account type. If you’re confused, just follow these steps:-

1) Create your new account

2) Change the account type to Administrator

3) Log out of your existing account

4) Log into the new account

5) Access “Accounts” and then “Family and Other Users” again, and make your old account into a standard user.

6) Log out of your administrator account and back into your old account

7) Enjoy stress free computing!

You should use your administrator account only when necessary, and your standard user account for all your day to day computing. On modern versions of Windows, it’s easy to run as a standard user, thanks to the magic of User Account Control. If you need to do something that requires a computer administrator, Windows UAC will ask for your admin password, so that you can complete the operation safely and then go back to running more securely as a standard user. There are only a very small number of tasks you might need to do by logging into your admin account, such as resetting your PC.

 

Free Utility of the Month – Thunderbird

For our last issue it’s time to once again champion what must be our favourite free Windows app ever.

We don’t care what anyone says, using e-mail via the web is slow and clunky. Get a dedicated e-mail app and you will soon be writing, sorting and organising your e-mails like a pro. Forget the halfway house that is Windows 10 Mail, which can’t decide if it wants to be running on a tablet or a PC and go with Thunderbird. 

Mozilla Thunderbird is a modern, powerful and feature rich e-mail client that supports almost all popular mail services. With automatic configuration for most popular services you can be up and running in seconds.

Need more features? The program has plug-ins for calendars, security (PGP and MIME) spell checking and much more.

Download Thunderbird for free by visiting this page.

 

Microsoft Store app of the Month – Windows Calculator

Yep, Windows Calculator. Hey, this is the last newsletter, we’ve pretty much exhausted everything useful in the Windows store! It’s fair to say the Windows store hasn’t been the success Microsoft hoped it would be. Finding a useful app some months has been quite difficult.

For anyone who thinks this is too obvious a choice, here’s a little story. We once visited a customers house and he had a powerful PC, with a calculator Blu-tacked to the monitor. That’s a bit like Duck taping an abacus to your calculator. Your PC is a computer, is there to compute! So do any kind of sums quickly and easily with the Windows Calculator.

Heck, you shouldn’t even need to install this app from the store, as it is pre installed on almost all PCs. Just search for “calculator” in the search bar. If you’ve uninstalled it for some reason, take that pocket calculator OFF your monitor and install it from this link in the store.

 

We’re bowing out, but there is still a lot to look forward to

This may be the end for the TWT Newsletter and for any major updates to the site, but there’s still plenty to look forward to for Windows users. 

Later in the year, we hope to see new graphics cards from both ATI and Nvidia. These new cards will finally take full advantage of modern, HDMI2.1 televisions, allowing for a dazzling array of new features that previously have only worked with PC monitors. Windows remains the best choice for gamers!

Speaking of games, another new games console generation is due to hit later this year. This is always good news for PC gamers, consoles are typically less powerful than PCs, but modern games need to run on a wide range of platforms. By improving the power of games consoles, PC games can improve too thanks to this extra breathing room afforded to game developers.

Competition is hotting up between rivals AMD and Intel for the fastest PCs. Intel, having had the performance crown for some time, is now feeling the heat from AMDs new CPU range which is outperforming many of their processors that did (until recently) cost a lot more. Competition will drive prices down, meaning faster and cheaper devices for us all.

There’s still the promise of exciting new PCs from Microsoft, with the Surface Book still to launch, will dual screen PCs be the next big thing? We talked about this device back in TWT Newsletter Issue 73.

Windows 10 itself continues to evolve. Although these changes can be a colossal pain, we do sometimes get some exciting new features too. Who knows what Microsoft may cook up next? As prices fall on virtual reality and augmented reality headsets, perhaps these devices will become accessible to a wider audience. Imagine being able to virtually visit relatives, or even perhaps a location from your childhood, even if you can’t physically be there yourself! All that and more could be right around the corner for many of us.

There’s never been a more exciting time to be a Windows computer user, and we hope you will all continue to use and love your devices!

That concludes the newsletter for March, and concludes the TWT Newsletter for good. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, a massive thank you to all our readers throughout the years. Without you, we wouldn’t have lasted 13 months let alone nearly 13 years.

As this is the last ever issue, I want to thank not only all our loyal readers, but especially my Mum, Pat Buxton. For more than a decade now she’s helped out by proof reading each and every newsletter, tutorial and superguide and providing valuable feedback. Hats off to you mum, TWT probably wouldn’t be here without you and, with mothers day just around the corner, hats off to mums all over the world.

And finally, to you all, we wish you happy, safe and stress-free computing. May your machine be speedy, may malware never trouble you, may your data always be backed up and your internet connection always fast.


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