TWT Newsletter, Issue #030 – Cloud computing and new DVD’s
The 10th of the month comes around again, and that means it’s time for your TWT newsletter. What an exciting month October was! A whole new version of Windows released not to mention some exciting new developments on our site.
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In this months issue:-
1) What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
2) Decorate your PC with the festive Winter Wonderland theme!
3) Exciting New DVD-ROM discs available and coming soon from our store
4) What is “Cloud Computing” ?
5) Tip of the Month – Use Windows Easy Transfer to help transition to Windows 7
6) Free Utility of the Month – Google Desktop
7) Beat Christmas delivery blues with Stardock Impulse
What’s new at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com?
We’ve been busy in October with some new additions to our Superguide range, but more on that later. First of all, we brought you three tutorials on the Windows 7 backup utility, you can view them by clicking here.
Next up, we updated our popular free personal firewall comparison article to reflect the changes in the Windows 7 firewall compared to the XP and Vista firewalls and our two favourite free alternatives. You can find that article here.
Keeping your PC up-to-date is important if you want to stay one step ahead of the hackers, so we brought you two articles on Windows update in Windows 7. If you want to learn about manually updating a Windows 7 machine, click here or, if you want to configure automatic updates on a Windows 7 machine, click here.
Finally, on the Windows 7 front, we showed you how to use the Disk Ceanup Utility to delete temporary files and free up hard drive space, click here for that tutorial.
It wasn’t all about Windows 7 last month though. We also took the time to update our tutorial on updating DirectX. We also took a look at the newest version of the old favourite Ad-Aware, if you’re still using an old version of Ad-Aware we recommend you upgrade by downloading the new one. You can find our tutorials for the latest version of Ad-Aware here.
Last but not least, we looked at a useful Windows troubleshooting utility, ShellExView, which can help if you are experiencing strange behaviour in Windows Explorer. You can view that tutorial here.
Decorate your PC with the festive Winter Wonderland theme!
Christmas is coming and soon we’ll all be decking the halls and trimming the tree. Don’t let your desktop be left out of the festive fun, get the Winter Wonderland theme! This professionally made theme uses Stardock Softwares advanced skinning engine to completely transform Windows XP or Windows Vista. The theme includes a festive desktop background, weather gadget (so you’ll know if it’s going to be a white Christmas!), icons and complete visual style that totally transforms your desktop.
Bring some festive cheer to your PC or surprise your children by transforming their computers with this visually stunning theme. Go here for a Windows XP preview or go here for a Windows Vista preview. To get your windows desktop all decked out in just a few clicks, visit this link.
Exciting New DVD-ROM discs available and coming soon from our store
We wanted to let our newsletter subscribers know about some exciting new developments in our Windows Superguide range. The OpenOffice.org Writer Superguide has been available for several months now and has been universally well received by our customers. In October we launched a new product, the Offline Archive.
Do you have friends or family with dial up internet access, or no internet access at all? Now it’s possible to bring our website to them, thanks to the Top-Windows-Tutorials.com Offline Archive. The Top-Windows-Tutorials.com Offline Archive DVD is packed with every article, tutorial and video we have produced up to October 2009. With over 350 pages and 250 video tutorials, this disc is a gold mine of tricks, tips, techniques and information for Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 users. The disc also includes all back issues of our newsletter to date. All that information and content can be accessed at lightning quick speeds no matter where you are in the world, no more waiting for videos to load! With a fully functional offline search engine you can quickly search the contents of the disc without ever needing to connect to the internet. This disc is perfect as a Windows reference library or simply for use where an internet connection is not available.
Top-Windows-Tutorials.com Offline Archive DVD October 2009 is available for $10 plus shipping, we ship to most destinations worldwide, click here to learn more about this disc.
Coming soon – Windows 7 Superguide
Following on from the success of our OpenOffice.org Writer Superguide comes the Windows 7 Superguide. Over twice the size of the OpenOffice.org Writer Superguide, this disc will take the user from absolute basics to advanced topics like basic PC maintenance and understanding firewalls and UAC security measures. The release date of the disc is expected to be early January 2010.
What is “Cloud Computing” ?
If you’ve been surfing around some of the more technical sites on the internet you might have heard the buzzword “cloud computing”. If you ever wondered what that actually meant but were afraid to ask, now all will be revealed.
When IT types talk about cloud computing, what they usually mean is using other computing resources on the internet. For example, you might use Google Mail or a similar kind of service to read your e-mails. As the end user, you generally don’t have any control (or even any idea) about the details of the computers and servers that are storing your e-mail data. Because you can’t see them, the phrase “cloud computing” was coined. There’s more to cloud computing than e-mail however. Many users are starting to use online backup services, such as Mozy and iDrive which let you backup your valuable files to their Datacenters. At Top-Windows-Tutorials.com, we use the Amazon S3 cloud storage service to host our videos.
One of our favourite cloud computing applications is Dropbox. Dropbox backs up your files to the ‘cloud’ and also synchronises them between computers and can replace the trusty (but easily lost) USB memory stick too.
Did you know that there are cloud computing office applications too? Google Docs is a powerful word processor and spreadsheet that you can access across the internet. Because documents you produce in Google Docs are stored in the cloud, you can access them anytime and from anywhere you have an internet connection. You can also share them with other users on the internet and, because they are in the cloud, they are backed up by Google themselves, meaning no more lost work! While it’s fair to say that Google Docs isn’t as powerful as Office or OpenOffice.org, it is still very impressive.
Lots of us use cloud computing for fun too. Sites like Facebook, Flickr and Photobucket can store our photographs in the cloud for safe keeping or to show our friends. With sites like Youtube you can store video too.
Cloud computing sure sounds fun huh? While there are a lot of cool things you can do with online computing resources, there are some drawbacks too. Speed is often an issue, while Google Docs is certainly fast enough to be useful, OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office run natively on your computer and so are much faster and can offer features that Google Docs cannot. Perhaps the biggest concern over cloud computing is that of privacy. Once your data is in the cloud, you really cannot tell where it is stored and more importantly who has access to it. Google itself has come under scrutiny for the amount of personal data it collects and retains. In an attempt to silence the critics, Google recently released a privacy tool that lets you check what information the web giant holds about you. Google dashboard is available for anyone who has a Google account, click here to access it.
Privacy concerns aside, the cloud does offer some great opportunities for file storage and collaborative work. As internet connections become faster some believe that computing will shift entirely into the cloud. Perhaps Google, who are working on their own operating system, will shift the whole desktop into the cloud one day? It’s certainly possible, but something similar has been predicted before. When inexpensive, fast networks became available to businesses, many predicted that computing resources would be centralised in the business. Employees would not use desktop computers, but simple workstations that had little computing power of their own. These workstations would access the resources of bigger, faster server computers across the corporate network. Computers like this do exist, they are called “thin clients”. This computing model is supported in Windows and is used by some businesses and sometimes by libraries or public computers, but it has not been as widely adopted as many predicted. Who knows what the future holds, but we think it’s a safe bet that Windows will be on our desktops for some time yet.
Tip of the Month – Use Windows Easy Transfer to help transition to Windows 7
If you’re considering upgrading from Windows XP to Windows 7, you might have been disappointed to find out that an automatic upgrade is not possible. The same is true if you are upgrading from Vista ultimate to Windows 7 Professional, or from any 32 bit version to any 64 bit version. If you’ve spent a lot of time getting your PC just right, you might be interested in the Windows Easy Transfer utility. This utility can be used from the Windows 7 DVD to easily backup your files and settings.
The utility works by backing up your files to an external storage device (such as a USB hard drive). You’ll still need to reinstall any programs you’ve been using on your old operating system once you are done installing Windows 7, but at least your documents and other important files will be safe, as will most of your Windows settings. To find out more, visit the official Microsoft Technet page on Windows 7 upgrades.
Free Utility of the Month – Google Desktop
Google Desktop brings some neat features to the desktop that improve upon the ones provided by Microsoft. Firstly, there’s Google Gadgets and sidebar. These integrate with Googles online services to provide news and information from around the web. Then there’s Google Desktop Search. This can improve the search capabilities of your computer by ‘indexing’ network locations. If you have a network storage device, this is especially useful and something you cannot normally do with Windows Search alone.
Many of the gadgets for Google Desktop store data in the cloud and therefore make it available wherever you might roam. The notes application is one such gadget, now you can access your notes anywhere you have an internet connection.
If you find searching in Windows frustrating or not as straightforward as it should be, installing Google Desktop will make it as easy as searching the web. Many users prefer the Google sidebar and gadgets to the Vista/Windows 7 alternatives too. Of course, Google desktop is completely free. Visit this link to find out more.
Beat Christmas delivery blues with Stardock Impulse
If you’re shopping for Christmas gifts this year, maybe you’re pounding the streets or maybe you’re shopping online. If, like us, you’re in the UK and facing uncertainty about postal delivery times, then why not try Impulse for some of your Christmas shopping?
You may have heard us promote Impulse before, it’s a great way to buy software online, with no worries about losing CD/DVD discs or managing your software registrations. With some of the fairest digital rights management (copy protection) software in the PC industry today, Impulse has been a hit with many of our readers.
Perhaps you are already using Impulse? Even if you are, you may not have realised that it’s possible to send gifts through Impulse too. When browsing the Impulse store, add any game or utility to your basket. Then, at checkout time, just click the button “Purchase as a gift”.
If your friend already has an Impulse account, be sure to enter the e-mail address they use for their Impulse account. If they don’t already have an Impulse account, what better time to set them up with one than now! Of course, you can find some great tutorials for getting started with Impulse by clicking the above link too.
That concludes our Newsletter for November. Thank you to all our subscribers for reading, we hope that you found it informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. https://www.top-windows-tutorials.com/ContactUs.html 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.