Still using Free Antivirus?

Loads of us use the free offerings from AVG, Avast and Panda and we put up with the nag screens that keep offering premium features for a discount or trial period.

What I find some people don’t realise or simply forget is that they could get a full internet security suite from one of two places. Many banks offer free Internet Security Software with on line banking and many Internet Service Providers also offer free Internet Security software with your subscription. If you are running free software then you should check with your ISP or bank and see what’s on offer with your current level of service.

Current as of 26/05/2016

Talktalk have a product called HomeSafe that you set up on line via your account and also a downloadable product called SuperSafe Boost (provided by F-Secure) that you can install on your computer for added protection. Check out your level of service as some subscribers can protect up to 8 devices with SuperSafe Boost.

BT provide McAfee Internet Security in the form of BT Net Protect Plus. Also BT Protect that you can activate from your account on line (nothing to install) and they also offer parental controls. Information of what you have will be available to you once you log into your BT account.

EE offer Norton Security Premium for up to 10 devices.

Any of these security packages can be complimented with the free Trusteer Rapport

Pebble Time

Pebble Time
Pebble Time

My first step into this world of smartwatches. The Pebble Time is one of the cheaper smartwatches on the market. on a basic level it vibrates on your wrist to alert and show you text messages, emails and your schedule. There are other apps and watch-faces you can install from the Pebble App on your phone if you wish.

There is one button on the left hand side that turns it on, activates quiet time and activates the back-light. apart from turning it on a quick press activates the back-light while a longer press activates or deactivates quiet time.

On the right there are three buttons. The top one takes you back over your schedule up to 48 hours in the past while the bottom button takes you up to 48 hours ahead. The middle button both actions things and gets you into settings and apps. Press the middle button from the clock screen and you can then use the top and bottom buttons to scroll through the apps and other standard options, another press of the middle button starts the desired app or gets you into whatever option you have displayed. Pressing the middle button from a message or email screen gives you various options, again the top and bottom buttons highlight your desired option and the middle button actions it.

If you press the middle button on one of your appointments then you get all the information that you put with the appointment when you created it (tested on Google Calendar). I use Google calendar and if I put notes with the IMG_20160523_122627appointment they are displayed using the scroll option.

There is an option in the settings to increase the text size as well. Charging only takes an hour and they say it will last for a week although I have not had it that long yet so time will tell. Android wear is installed on my phone but it only serves to share fitness data, I find that starting the Android Wear app simply asks me to pair with my device but of course as the Pebble is not android it does not pair (not for me anyway) – data is simply shared so just ignore the presence of the app.

In conclusion the one thing I find very useful is that because our smartphones are bigger and more breakable they are often secure in a case, in a bag or pocket and it’s not always convenient to get it out. I have a basic bluetooth headset in my ear and when my phone rings the Pebble tells me who is calling and if I choose to answer I can simply press the button on my headset and I’m away – no need to even reach for the phone. it is very comfortable to wear and saves me reaching for the phone to check the details of my next appointment. As for replying by voice to a text it works fine so long as you have a wifi or 3G signal. It serves my needs perfectly and possibly yours too.

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Remove / Uninstall Windows 10

You have one month from the day you install Windows 10 to be able to go back to your previous version of Windows

If you suddenly find out your computer has upgraded to Windows 10 and you don’t want it then it is easy to remove. This is a quick help guide without photos.

1. Click the Windows button and choose ‘Settings’.

2. Click the ‘Update & Security’ option’.

3. Click the ‘Recovery’ option on the left.

On the right you will find an option to revert to your previous version of Windows be it 7 or 8.1. Click this and follow the prompts (and decline the offer to look for updates). Your computer will reboot and should restore you back to your previous version.

Laptop buying guide

Laptop Buying Guide : Not from the point of view of gaming : May 2016

Download the pdf version here

There is so much to choose from when you find yourself looking to either buy your first laptop or simply replace what is worn out or broken. You can purchase a top of the range laptop such as a MacBook Pro or a top end Lenovo, Dell, Asus, HP or any of the many well known quality brands that sell top of the range models. These usually come complete with backlit keyboards and solid state or hybrid hard drives and the best in class Intel processors and, they will do just about everything you demand of them. All of these features come at a cost, upwards to £1000 and beyond but also, in some cases with the benefit of next day on-site business warranty options. Getting your hands on one is not always easy as they are not always in plentiful stock and often made to order by the manufacturer and then shipped to the UK from wherever in the world their factory is – you might wait a week or two.

Before I go on about the various options I will mention some very simple guidelines;

  • Always buy the best you can afford
  • For good productivity work a laptop with an Intel i5 or i7 processor is best £450+
  • As far as memory is concerned 8gb or more is good (See section on memory upgrades)
  • If you are on a tight budget consider the refurbished market. Refurb Dell Latitude, Lenovo Thinkpads or HP Elitebooks  with Windows 7 Pro go for under £300

Ok here we go (Prices are approximate)

Bargain basement – up to £250 – Great for web browsing, Facebook, web based games, writing, email, watching films and listening to music.

There are plenty of netbooks on the market offering 11.6” to 15.6” screens with Windows 10. They also come with a 32gb of solid state drive (ssd) and generally 2gb of memory and an Intel Atom processor. Be aware that at least 60% of the 32gb drive will be used by the operating system leaving very little to the user for storing files although a micro sd card or an external hard drive can be used for this purpose. And due to the very nature of these small machines it’s not a good idea to install loads of programs as it will slow down considerably, after all a netbook is a book for the net.

Intel Celeron / AMD A8 laptops / 4Gb memory / 1 or 2Tb hard drives (Typical specs)

There is nothing wrong with these computers at all. They will power through most everyday tasks quite well and have plenty of storage for your files, updates and programs.It is highly recommended to have a memory upgrade at the same time as often these machines share the memory between the graphics card and the operating system. Check out how much memory the laptop can take before you purchase as it’s often very cost effective to upgrade it giving your new laptop the best possible start.

Intel i3 / i5 / i7 / 8Gb memory / standard or hybrid or solid state drive

These machines are the real work horses. The i3 being for basic stuff not too different from an AMD A8 but the i5 and i7 will get the hard work done if you are working with demanding video and photo tasks. Still consider a memory upgrade as well.

Memory upgrades : Fitting is generally very easy

Whatever computer you are looking to purchase always take a look at a memory upgrade at the same time. If you are buying from the manufacturer directly then they often offer an upgrade straight away. You can hop along to www.crucial.com/uk , search for the laptop and you will get precise information on upgrades for that model. If it’s not listed then sending Crucial a message is a good idea as they reply with exact upgrade info.

This is a general guide from Michaela Watkins – www.mwatkins.net