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Jun 3
Sponsored Video: GALAXY Note II – Photo Editing with PicsArt

Graphic designer and blogger Shini introduces the PicsArt photo editing app for the GALAXY Note II. PicsArt has been optimised for the GALAXY Note II, to include functions such as Air View allowing a preview of gallery images and the effects on images.

Shini is always on the go, and the GALAXY Note II helps her create and share wherever she may be. With PicsArt, she can use the S Pen to add colour, tone down colour, and use the erase mode to remove parts of a filter. She can also use the S Pen button to switch between the applied effect and the original image.

PicsArt for GALAXY Note II is available on the Google Play Store and Samsung Apps.

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May 24
Microsofts Skydrive

sky drive for windows desktopMicrosoft’s SkyDrive now has 250 million users according to a recent news report. So what can SkyDrive offer you?

Microsoft’s offering gives you 7GB of free cloud storage but does charge a monthly fee if you wish to use even more online storage for all your files. This compares with the likes of Google who offer 5GB of free storage and Drop Box who offer only 2GB.

By storing all your files and photos in the cloud you will be able to sync your documents across all your computers in your home. You can even edit and collaborate on Microsoft Office documents in the cloud. You can even access the latest version of your Microsoft Office documents from any computer or Windows Smartphone and no cables or USB flash drives are necessary.

For greater control over SkyDrive and your files, download the SkyDrive for Windows program. The desktop program creates a special folder on your computer that mirrors what’s stored in the cloud. That makes SkyDrive particularly easy to use, because when you change the contents of that special folder on your computer, Windows automatically updates SkyDrive, as well. All you need to do is drag and drop files into your Desktop SkyDrive folder to automatically upload them to your cloud storage account. When the files are synced a green checkmark appears to show the upload is complete.

With the desktop app, you can sync individual folders or you can choose single file. If you want to later change which folders or files are synced, right-click the SkyDrive desktop icon in the notification area at the far right of the taskbar. Then click Settings, and then click the Choose folders tab.

Incidentally, once you have SkyDrive, Microsoft’s OneNote becomes even more powerful. You can save your notebook to your SkyDrive folder and then access it from anywhere. Check your study notes, review your shopping lists, or just stay organized right from your Windows 8 phone.

Note: The Windows 8 SkyDrive app makes it fairly easy to open files you’ve already uploaded to the cloud, but it offers little control. If the Windows 8 Start screen’s SkyDrive app is too simple for your needs, head for the Windows 8 desktop and visit SkyDrive to download the desktop program.

Apr 29
Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10

Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 is designed to scan, disinfect and restore an infected operating systems but it should only be used when it is impossible to boot the operating system from a cold start.

Kaspersky Lab products are always upgraded and renewed. So to its best to keep your rescue disk up to date. You can easily download the distributive of Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 from Kaspersky Lab’s servers.

Once Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 is downloaded, record it to a CD/DVD or any USB device and then start your computer from it.

In order to successfully record Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 to a removable USB device, the amount of free space on the drive must not be not less than 256 MB. The connected USB device must also be formatted as a FAT16 or FAT32 file system. If the NTFS file system is already on the USB device, you are will have to format it as a FAT16 or FAT32 file system.

The Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 is built on a Linux-based core so will start up in any PC that has a non boot problem. You’ll be pleased to know that Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10 is very easy to use and has a Windows-like interface to work with.

You get the equivalent of a taskbar which shows running applications and a start button that pops up a menu. Multiple windows can be opened on the desktop and there is the Rescue Disk software itself, a registry editor, web browser and file manager.

There are quite a few customisation options in Rescue Disk 10 and these are accessed through the gear icon in the top right corner. For example, you can choose what to scan and how deeply to scan.

As the registry editor is so like the Windows version you will immediately feel at home when using Kaspersky Rescue Disk 10.

Apr 23
Sponsored Video: Microsoft 365

Take a look at Microsoft’s cloud based Office 365.

Apr 15
Microsoft updates its own Windows 8 apps

microsoft office entranceMicrosoft is pushing out updates to six of the Windows 8/Windows RT applications built by the Bing AppEx team, company officials announced on April 15.

Five of these app updates – Finance, News, Maps, Sports and Travel – are available today in the Windows Store. The Weather app updates will be “shipping over the course of the coming weeks,” according to company officials.

All six of these apps were built by the couple of hundred developers in the Bing AppEx (Application Experiences) team. AppEx primarily used HTML5 and JavaScipt to build these showcase apps. The AppEx deliverables are meant to visibly demonstrate to customers and other developers what what well-designed Windows 8 apps look like. (The AppEx team did not build the Windows Mail or SkyDrive apps – those were built by the Windows client team.)

Source: ZDNet

Mar 26
Acer Travelmate 2312LM-L power jack broken

acer travelmate 2312I recently had an Acer Travelmate 2312 laptop, running Windows XP, in for repair and it would not start up as no power was getting into this machine.

Using my electrical tester I checked out the AC Adapter (a Liteon PA 1650-02) to see if was still producing a charge, and it was – so there had to be a problem with the power jack that it plugs into.

So I took the laptop apart to check the power jack and it was badly damaged. It had been pulled away from its mounting point and part of it was broken off. I phoned my client to see how this could have happened and he told me that his laptop had been dropped with the power lead still attached. It must have landed really badly to cause such damage!

So I removed the damaged power jack and purchased a new one over the Internet (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ACER-TravelMate-2312-6231-DC-Power-Jack-Socket-Port-Connector-Pin-/150825477854). This then had to be soldered into place.

Plugging into this new power jack started to charge the flat battery so the repair was complete.

So if you have a laptop that only operates when you hold the AC Adapter power plug in a certain direction or only runs on battery power (until the battery runs out of power and can’t be recharged) a broken or loose power jack may well be your problem. The only way to verify this is to open up the laptop so you can see the power jack itself to check if its damaged.

Mar 8
Installing Windows XP Home on a SATA Hard Drive

Recently I had a Mesh Windows XP Home PC to sort out as my friend wanted it wiped and the Operating System reinstalled. He kindly left me with a blue Mesh Recovery Disc to work with.
mesh pcThe PC was very sluggish and had pop ups on the desktop that could not be cancelled, so as the friend had asked I tried using the Mesh Recovery Disc to wipe the PC and install Windows XP Home but the Mesh disc was not recognised.

Not to be beaten, I wiped the drive using my Microscope Toolkit, and thoroughly formatted the drive, back to factory standards. I then tried the Recovery disc again and Windows XP started to install but halted complaining it couldn’t find any hard drives.

I opened the PC’s Case and discovered two SATA drives. I know from past experience that Windows XP does not recognise SATA drives unless you load the SATA drivers during Windows set up. As my friend did not have a SATA drivers disk, the fun really started!

Grabbing a torch I opened the PC’s Case yet again and checked the make and model of the motherboard so I could go to the manufacturers web site and download the right drivers for this Windows XP set up. It turned out to be an ASUS A7N8X Deluxe board so using Google I searched for the SATA drivers and found this page which lists all the necessary drivers for this particular motherboard – http://support.asus.com/Download.aspx?SLanguage=en&m=A7N8X+Deluxe&p=1&os=

I then downloaded a copy of nLite and using Nero 10 turned a copy of the Mesh CD into an ISO file. Using nLite I then compiled a new disc that contained Windows XP and all the necessary driver files. Using this compilation CD I was able to successfully install Windows XP Home onto the Mesh PC.

For a step by step example of how to use nLite take a look at my article – How to Install Windows XP on a SATA Hard Drive without access to a Floppy Disk Drive.

Feb 28
Sponsored Video: 4GEE vs 3G Speedtest from EE

EE put their 4GEE network up against 3G to compare speeds all over the UK and what a revelation!

Feb 19
Microsoft’s Fix It Tool

Microsoft fixitA large proportion of PC software problems are fairly easy to fix but the other 10% or 20% often need specialist help.

Microsoft can also help with its Fix It Tool.

The Fix it website can be used to diagnose and solve many different software issues that can occur within a Windows computer.

The Microsoft Fix it site is very easy to use as it splits the various problem areas into Top Solutions, Windows, Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, Entertainment, Office and Other. By clicking on these top levels a detailed list of possible fixes is displayed, some of which may help to fix your ailing PC. There’s also an optional list of task based activities that you can select from.

So before you rush of to get your PC repaired by the ‘guy down the street’ try Microsofts Fix It tool it just might be the solution you need!

Feb 11
Microsoft to release fixes for 57 security flaws

Patch Tuesday Microsoft will release 12 patches for 57 vulnerabilities this week for Windows, Internet Explorer, and Office.

A spattering of enterprise products, including Microsoft Office and Windows Server, and developer tools, such as .NET Framework, will also be patched.

Five of the updates are labeled “critical,” in which malicious code can be remotely executed on users’ machines. Another vulnerability that allows remote code execution is labeled “important.”

The company’s pre-release bulletin warns of two major vulnerabilities for Internet Explorer, which will patch a flaw allowing hackers to run remotely executed code on vulnerable machines. All versions from IE6 to IE10 are affected, including Windows RT-based Surface tablets, which will also need to be updated. With this in mind, users are advised to switch to another browser for the next few days until the updates are released.

Another critical update will address a flaw in Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2003—but does not affect later versions of the operating system, such as Windows 7 or Windows 8.

The fourth critical vulnerability patches Microsoft’s email server, Exchange, while the fifth critical vulnerability affects only Windows XP-based machines.

In other “important” updates, Microsoft will also patch SharePoint which could be subject to code injection attacks.

Feb 8
Child hackers ‘targeting games’

hackingChildren as young as 11 years old are writing malicious computer code to hack accounts on gaming sites and social networks, experts have said.

A report from antivirus company AVG detailed evidence of programs written to “steal” virtual currency.

Most were written using basic coding languages such as Visual Basic and C#, and were written in a way that contain quite literal schoolboy errors that professional hackers were unlikely to make – many exposing the original source of the code.

In one instance, a program that gathered login details from unsuspecting users of online game Runescape contained code that sent the information back to an email address in Canada. Researchers traced the email to an 11-year-old boy.

The company said children must be educated on coding “rights and wrongs”. “As more schools are educating people for programming in this early stage, before they are adults and understand the impact of what they’re doing, this will continue to grow.” said Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer at AVG. Mr Ben-Itzhak added: “You teach your children that you can’t take a toy without paying – so I think this type of a message needs to get to the kids when they’re writing software too.”

Source BBC Tech

Jan 20
Windows 8 upgrade offer is ending on 31st January

Windows 8 ProWhen Microsoft announced last year a “limited time offer” for Windows 8 upgrade pricing, some thought or at least hoped that the heavily discounted price might be on offer indefinitely. However, Microsoft officials announced on 18th January that this will not be the case.

After 31st January, the £24.99 ($39.99 in the USA) upgrade price will end.

Starting on 1st February the Windows 8 upgrade will cost around £75 ($119.99 in the USA). The Windows 8 Pro upgrade will cost a staggering £126 ($199.99 in the USA). Microsoft may up these prices for its UK buyers. However, the cost may be slightly discounted by the likes of Amazon and Ebay.

Currently, Microsoft is charging £24.99 for an upgrade license to Windows 8 Pro from Windows XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7.

Source: ZDNet

Jan 4
Is Microsoft Surface Beginning to Sink?

microsoft surfaceThe latest prediction that things are not all well with Microsoft Surface comes from J.P. Morgan analyst John DiFucci, who predicts unit sales for the tablet of around 700,000 for December, and 2.6 million for the entire fiscal year.

Supply chain chatter suggested that Microsoft had initially ordered one million Surface units, so that 700,000 figure is certainly in the right ballpark.

As to what’s wrong with Surface, DiFucci has no shortage of ideas. “We believe a number of factors, including price, the lack of cellular connectivity, and relatively lukewarm critical reviews will limit its broad appeal at this time,” DiFucci wrote in a note to his clients. “In addition, at least some Surface sales will be cannibalistic to traditional laptop sales,” he added.

So not only is the existence of the Surface tablet harmful to other tablet makers, it is also having a negative effect on PC OEMs (PC makers). The PC industry is not alone here, with analysts predicting that Apple is seeing the same thing happen with the iPad mini cannibalizing iPad sales. Biggest difference here is that either way consumers are buying a high-margin Apple product, rather than a competitor’s product.

DiFucci also spreads gloom over the remainder of the PC industry, quoting Gartner figures that suggest PC unit shipments for December are down some 5.5 percent compared to the same period last year.

Compare these estimated Surface sales of 2.6 million for the whole year to the 14 million iPads that Apple sold last quarter and you begin to see that Microsoft has a long way to go before the Surface is a serious contender in the tablet market.

Source ZDNET

Dec 17
Word 2010 keeps crashing

While preparing an eBook containing 190 plus pages I found that Word 2010 randomly crashed as soon as text or pictures were added.

I therefore ran Word in safe mode (hold the ctrl key while Word starts up) and the program was then stable and did not crash anymore. This showed that Add-ins must be causing the problem, so I uninstalled some of these and Word behaved a bit better.

Word add-insTo uninstall Add-ins, open Word 2010 and from the file menu choose Options and then Add-ins from the left hand menu.

This shows you a list of the Add-ins in Microsoft Word.

From the Manage dropdown box at the foot of the page select Com-Add-ins and then click the Go button.

This now shows the Com-Add-ins that load when you open up Word 2010.

Just untick the ones that you suspect are causing the problems. Then close and open up Word 2010.

However Word was still not performing well enough so I opened up Regedit and deleted Words Data Key. To do this click Start and in the Search programs and files box type Regedit and then select this program from the top of the resulting list.

word data tabIn Regedit open HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\14.0\Word. Under this Word Key click on the Data subkey and on the Edit Menu click Delete (or right click the Data subkey and select Delete from the list). If the following message appears: Are you sure you want to delete this key? Click Yes. On the Registry menu, click Exit. Now restart Word 2010.

This Windows Registry change finally speeded up Word 2010 and made it stable in use.

Dec 1
How to fix a Windows PC

Easy PC Repair GuideIf your computer is slow to start up, or you get blue screens of death, or have programs that keep crashing, or web pages that take forever to load up, then you are in very good company.

There are many people out there with these and many other PC problems that have to be solved by someone.

When problems do occur it can be very frustrating if you don’t know how to fix it. And if you search online for information you might find that some suggestions work but others do not. So what’s the solution?

Should you take your PC to a computer repair shop and pay for it to be fixed? As a PC Technician I can tell you that some so called experts can charge between £50 to £60 just to tune up your PC. And a decent tune up should only take 30 minutes or so and cost no more than £35, including a call out charge!

You will be pleased to know that there is a far cheaper way to get your PC working well. My Easy PC Repair Guide is a step-by-step system which is very well indexed so you can easily track down solutions to all you computer problems.

This amazing 191 page eBook will take you by the hand and solve your problems in just a few simple steps. It’s so easy, almost anyone can do it!

And to help maintain your PC in tip top condition I have decided to slash the price of my most popular eBook from the current asking price of £12.99 way down to only £2.99! So don’t delay, check out the full details of this essential PC toolkit now.

Buy your own personal copy now, you won’t regret it – The Easy PC Repair Guide can really keep your PC in tip top shape!

P.S. If you are not 100% satisfied with my Easy PC Repair Guide just send me a quick email and I’ll be happy to refund your money in full.

Nov 23
Windows 8 Shortcuts (2)

start 8Making your way around Windows 8 is sometimes like being placed in a thick fog, wondering which way to turn!

In a previous post I mentioned a few key combinations that can help to get you around Windows 8 as you go between the tiled interface and the traditional desktop.

Here are a few more key combinations that you will no doubt find very useful.

  • From the tiled layout the Windows key and D key will take you to the traditional Windows desktop.
  • Pressing the Windows and M keys minimizes everything that is showing on the traditional desktop.
  • Windows plus E key opens Explorer for quick access to folders.
  • Windows plus Tab key opens a list of currently running programs.
  • Windows plus Print Screen key takes a screenshot and saves it in a Screenshots folder within your Pictures folder.
  • Windows plus Q key opens a global search menu. Type what you’re looking for and where you would like to look.
  • Windows plus R key opens the Run command which is useful for quickly launching apps and other routines using a command prompt.
  • Windows plus X key opens the Quick Access Menu, exposing system functionality such as the Command Prompt, Disk Management, File Explorer, Run, and more. Alternately, you can right-click on the bottom right corner of the screen to spawn the Quick Access Menu.
  • Windows plus I key opens the settings menu, giving you quick access to the Control Panel, Personalization, and your Power button, among other features.

And finally to replace the Start Menu on the traditional desktop view try either Start 8 from Stardock (shown in the above image) or Classic Shell from sourceforge.net.

Nov 20
Restore your Windows 7 PC from a System Image

Windows 7 LaptopYou can use a system image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or entire computer ever stops working (as long as you have saved a recent system image backup on an external drive).

When you restore your PC from a system image, it’s a complete restoration. You can’t choose individual items to restore, and all of your programs, system settings, and files are replaced with those on the system image.

Before you start make sure that the removable media that your backup is stored on is available. Also, make sure that the disk that you’re restoring the backup to is the same size or larger than the disk that you backed up.

1. To restore your PC using the Recovery Control Panel (this is the favoured option)

If your computer is still working and you can access Control Panel, or if you want to restore your system image backup onto a different computer, follow these simple steps:

In Windows 7 or Vista’s ‘Search programs and files’ search box type ‘Recovery’ without the brackets and select Recovery from the list of Control panel items that appear.

On the Recovery page click ‘Advanced recovery methods’. And now click ‘Use a system image you created earlier to recover your computer’, and then follow the simple steps to bring your PC performance back to where it should be.

2. To restore your PC using a Windows installation disc or a System Repair Disc

If you can’t access Control Panel, you can still restore your computer using a Windows installation disc or a system repair disc (see how to prepare a system repair disc just below).

Preparing a system repair disc

Open Backup and Restore by clicking the Start button, and then click Control Panel to open it up. Under the System and Security sub heading , click on Backup your computer. On the Backup or Restore page in the left column click Create a system repair disc, and then follow the instructions. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type your password (normally the one you use to log-in) and/or provide the required confirmation.)

Insert the installation disc or System Repair Disc and restart your computer. If prompted, press any key to start the computer from the installation disc or system repair disc.

If your computer is not configured to start from a CD or DVD, check the information that came with your computer. You might need to change your computer’s BIOS settings. For information about which settings to change, check your computer manufacturer’s website.

Choose your language settings, and then click Next. Click ‘Repair your computer’. This step only applies if you are using a Windows installation disc. Select a recovery option, and then click Next. Your PC will now be repaired.

These advanced options can help resolve software-based problems by returning your computer to an earlier state, but because they can delete personal files and programs, it’s best to try them only if nothing else has fixed the problem with your particular PC.

Nov 9
Start8 gives Windows 8 a Start Menu

Stardock Start 8 for Windows 8It did not take long for Stardock to come up with a solution for the missing Start Menu in Microsoft’s Windows 8. It’s called Start8.

They have in fact recreated the most used desktop feature billions of users depend on every day and packed it with additional functionality.

Start8 Lets You:

  • Search for Windows 8-style (Modern UI) apps
  • Pin desktop and Metro apps to the start menu
  • Use Jump List support Search for apps, settings and files
  • Boot directly to the Windows 8 desktop
  • Use one click access to shut down, devices, music, documents, and videos

Start8 works really well and eliminates the need to access the Windows 8 tiled desktop unless you want to. You can install a free 30 day trial of Start8 but it costs $4.99 to buy. Just see how much of a difference a Start Menu can make!

PS. If you don’t like ‘Start8′, try ‘Classic Shell‘. This has similar features and is free.

Nov 1
Kindle Fire HD, 7″ 32GB

kindle fire hdRich, HD video. Beautiful, vivid photos. Crisp, detailed text. Kindle Fire HD features a new 1280×800 high definition LCD display that brings your content to life.

It uses a fast dual-core processor with an Imagination PowerVR graphics core that can process 6.2 billion floating-point operations per second, so even graphically intensive games run smoothly and render stunning imagery.

And Kindle Fire HD uses the power of Dolby Digital Plus to create a world class audio experience, with or without headphones.

Kindle Fire HD is optimised to deliver high performance with low battery consumption, delivering over 11 hours of watching videos, browsing the web, playing music, or reading.

Kindle Fire HD also has access to over 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, and magazines, plus tens of thousands of popular apps and games such as Cut the Rope HD, Angry Birds Space HD, Skyscanner, Jamie’s 20-minute meals and Auto Trader. There’s even a one month trial of LOVEFiLM Instant video streaming for unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV series.

Find out more about Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.

Oct 31
Windows 8 Shortcuts

windows 8Windows 8 (not the RT version) love it or hate it -  for those that inherit the tiled start screen as part of a new purchase and need to use applications for their work or gaming pleasure may find that the Start screen and its tiles more of a hindrance than a help.

To get around the new tiled layout and the traditional Desktop layout its a good idea to learn about the new shortcuts available in this new Windows Operating System.

Pressing the Windows and D keys will take you to the traditional Windows desktop, while Windows + B takes you from the new tiled interface to the currently active traditional desktop application. Finally, Windows + M loads the traditional Windows desktop from the start screen, and minimises all applications.

Right now these shortcuts are the only way to get around the newly styled interface but they still don’t give you the flexibility of the Start Button when accessing traditional applications such as Outlook 2010, PhotoShop CS5, iTunes, TweetDeck, an accounts package, CAD and other essential programs.

See a whole lot more Windows 8 shortcuts by checking out my new post – Windows 8 Shortcuts (2) – http://www.qbs-pchelp.co.uk/blog/2012/11/windows-8-shortcuts-2/

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