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Posted on Sep 10, 2007 in Newsletter, Welcome | 0 comments

TWT Newsletter, Issue #004 –, Brilliant back-to-school software


Welcome to the latest issue of the TWT Newsletter. Summer is drawing to a close once again, for most of us here in England this summer has been a wash out, with just the odd day or two of sunshine. If you are reading this newsletter elsewhere in Europe, you’re probably wondering what I’m talking about as you have been enjoying or enduring a bit of a heat wave. The end of the summer means one thing for children and students all over the world, yes, it is back to school/college/university. How I remember those last few weeks of summer, every other television advertisement reminding me that it was soon “back to school”. Mums and Dads across the world may well be feeling the pinch from buying their children new clothes, shoes and stationary, but there’s no need to break the bank when it comes to PC software for school work, as you’ll soon find out!

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In this months issue:-

1) Back to School – Software for students – For free!

2) Tip of the Month – Keep DirectX up-to-date!

3) Free Utility of the Month – Yahoo Widgets

4) The end of Autopatcher?

Back to School – Software for Students – For Free!

If your school/college/university uses Microsoft Office on all its computers, then someone somewhere has probably told you that you need to buy a copy of Office for your home PC. Well, luckily for the vast majority of us, that simply isn’t true! Open Office is a superb suite of Office applications that contains almost all the functionality of Microsoft Office and is available absolutely free. The great thing about Open Office is that it can open most types of Microsoft Office documents, so you can bring home that project you are working on and finish it on your home PC. Need to take a document back into school? No problem, simply select “File/Save As” in Open Office, then select “Files of Type” and choose the appropriate Microsoft format.
Open Office comes with a Word Processor (which I am using right now), Spreadsheet, Presentation Software (similar to Microsoft Powerpoint) Database software (similar to Access) and more. Unfortunately Microsoft Publisher, the fun to use desk top publishing component of Microsoft Office, does not have an equivalent within Open Office and Open Office lacks some of the more advanced features of Microsoft Office such as Visual Basic Macros (if you don’t know what they are, then you don’t use them). For most users however, Open Office contains more than enough functionality to cover everything they need to do. Try it today, it is free after all.
Click here to go to the Open Office Homepage.

Need to schedule all that work? Want your friends and family to know when you’re free? Why not try Googles excellent online calendar? You can check your schedule wherever you have an internet connection, print out a daily timetable and even share some calendars with your friends and family. Once again, this service is totally free and at that price, you simply cannot complain. Go to
the Google calendar homepage
to find out more.

Researching on the internet? Don’t just copy from Wikipedia, get yourself a proper research tool! Teachers are getting smart too you know, with special anti-cheating software it is more important than ever that you save and quote all your references. Diigo is a great tool for researchers that lets you save and easily categorise your bookmarks. Need to quote text from a web page? Highlight it using Diigo and you can always quickly and easily find your references. Add sticky notes to web pages or even send them directly to your friends or to your blog. Diigo is a research tool no web savvy student should be without! Go to
the Diigo homepage
to find out more.

Tip of the Month – Keep DirectX up-to-date!

Do you play games on your PC, or watch films, or work with video? If so, then you are utilising DirectX. DirectX handles the bulk of multimedia tasks on Windows PC’s, but did you know that it is not updated automatically by Windows update? Up until around 6 months ago, when a support representative from Big Huge Games told me, neither did I! Microsoft release updates to DirectX around every other month. Go to
this page
to download the update for August.

Free Utility of the Month – Yahoo Widgets

Picking Yahoo Widgets as our free utility of the month is perhaps cheating. Yahoo Widgets is a utility that let’s you use lots of smaller programs, or widgets, to enhance your desktop. On it’s own, Yahoo Widgets isn’t very useful, but when you browse through the hundreds of available Widgets, you quickly see how useful and exciting it is. My favourite widget is
Smarter Stickies.
I’m always losing my post-it notes, now these digital ones stay on my screen forever (well, until I delete them). Now if I could only pick them up and take them with me…
Of course, there are Widgets to do all sorts of other things too, from viewing pictures to showing weather forecasts. You can download Yahoo Widgets for free by visiting the
Yahoo Widgets homepage.

The end of Autopatcher?

It was our free utility of the month in our very first newsletter but now it seems Microsoft have put a stop to this great little utility. For those of you who don’t know, Autopatcher was a handy way of downloading Windows updates in one file, which could then be burned to a CD and used to update computers without having to connect them to the internet. Perfect for computers with a fresh Windows installation on them. On August 29th, 2007, received a formal request from Microsoft to take down the Autopatcher download page. Despite protests from all corners of the internet, Microsoft were steadfast. Quite why Microsoft would want to make it harder for users to keep their computers up-to-date is something of a mystery, especially considering un-patched systems are far more vulnerable to malware. The official word from Microsoft was that they were concerned about malicious code being included with Autopatcher, though many believe it is so that Microsoft can ensure that users who download updates must pass the Windows Genuine Advantage checks. Here at we are very disappointed and really believe Microsoft have made the wrong decision in stopping such a useful and time saving piece of software.

On that sad note it is time to say goodbye for another month. We hope you have enjoyed our newsletter, if not, be sure to contact us and tell us what we can do to improve it! If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends, family, co-workers or anyone you know, better still, encourage them to sign up for their own copy! Until next month, keep checking and enjoy happy and safe computing!

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