Author Archives: Michaela Watkins

The path on the Two Moors Way Devon

A new path ahead

I am close now to finishing University, three years have gone quickly. It has been an amazing journey, lots of hard work and lots of fun, I’ve met some great people too. What I do next is not certain but I want to gain experience in a subject I feel most passionate about, grasses, plant science and the ecology surrounding that, with a little entomology thrown in. After May and in between work I will be out there somewhere studying something from the ground up, measuring and photographing. I will be creating mini projects and will share some of that information here. 

A current project I am working on is that of purple moor grass (Molinia caerulea). There is a lot of it around and its ecology is very interesting. More later.

 

Windows 11 – An introduction

Windows 10 has been with us since 2015, and at that time I’m almost certain that Microsoft announced it would be the last ‘numbered’ Windows edition and would be improved through major updates annually. These major updates in both spring and autumn were interspersed with many other, smaller monthly updates. This also heralded a change in the way updates were delivered.

Many users of Windows 10 have had a rough ride, it has got better but it’s far from perfect. Microsoft has done well over the past few years with strong growth of its cloud services and Office 365 however, Google has stolen some thunder by making excellent Chromebooks – fast laptops that get everyday tasks done at a budget price.

In response Microsoft has brought out many low-cost laptops with 32 and 64Gb capacities, the 32Gb versions being a complete disaster in my opinion with regard to storage and updates. Later offerings have 64Gb/120Gb storage and Windows S (designed to only use aps from the Microsoft Store) – this can be changed. So what comes next?

A new experience

New things are on the horizon and Microsoft have announced plans for the next version of Windows, a complete redesign, read more here. Support for Windows 10 Home and Pro versions will end on 14th October 2025. It seems current Windows 10 users will be able to upgrade for free, a little later in 2021.

The latest version of Windows 10 – 21H1 focuses on security and multi-camera support and installs more efficiently, here’s how to get it. Updating Windows 10 is an important part of staying current and secure whilst also getting the latest features.

Let’s hope that Windows 11 will be delivered as a finished, polished product that actually works well.

Best and Cheapest Internet Security

If you are looking for the cheapest and best security for your computer or Mac then you may just have found it here. Why do I personally recommend Sophos? Well I have used it for about four years now and there are, in my opinion, sound reasons for doing so.

Sophos just gets on with protecting your on line world without constantly offering you another level of protection that you didn’t know you needed and don’t understand. Once one has bought the Sophos home product there is nothing else to purchase.

Pricing is very keen and in my view excellent value with a one year subscription generally under £50 – compare that to others that are £80 a year or more. My own subscription has for 2020 and 2021 been under £40 on renewal – I have Sophos Home Premium that covers 10 computers.

So, go ahead and click the banner above for what I think is a really robust internet security product.

Email: Encrypted and not tracked

We may all be using instant messaging and texts these days but email is still important. Email is very important especially when you need to refer to something and have conversations with multiple people, without it vanishing in a conveyor belt of crap.

Two such email providers spring to mind for what I think, are the perfect solution. Fastmail and Protonmail. Protonmail offers a free account as well as paid plans. Fastmail offers only paid plans. Both, in my opinion offer a superb email experience.

Stay Safe Online

 

Read this first. If you are confronted with a website online or a pop up message telling you that your computer is infected or in danger – Do Not call the number given, it is a scam. You can try closing your web browser using the method below or just shut down your computer. Seek help.

Staying safe online and keeping your identity and money out of reach of cyber crime can seem a little daunting. Now, I’m no expert on this but I have developed a set of rules that are in place to help keep me safe, so here I will show you those same rules and strategies.

Ideally, you will need:

A second email address : A mobile phone : Two-Factor Authentication : PayPal

A second email address will serve you well simply to keep for all the important stuff and, if you are ever locked out of your regular email then that second email address will come in very handy, not only as an email address but to help you recover the one that’s locked out.

A mobile phone is almost essential for authentication and changing your password.

Your computer will need:

To be up-to-date and clean of any infections

For more information on ‘what you will need’ – please read my cyber security guide.

Also worth a read is my post on internet security software here.

Finally, passwords. Please consider using a password manager, watch this excellent video from Steve at Dotto Tech for more information.

 

 

 

A view from the Teign Valley

This was taken on 1st October 2018. I had taken a trip to Fingle Bridge with intention of getting up Wooston Hill fort as well as walking to Clifford Bridge. I never did make it to Clifford bridge because I found an old Land Rover (I think that’s was it is) in the woods off the left side of the main path, it’s well overgrown and I don’t think one would see it unless you were down there. Still, not much beats the sight of a valley of trees and the silence of nature. It was worth the climb. Bigger image here.

 

Laptop buying guide

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

Please also see notes at the bottom.

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 10 go for under £300

Ok here we go (Prices are approximate)

Novatech also offer great machines and excellent service – Check them out

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

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/Ryzen laptops / 4Gb memory / 1 or 2Tb hard drives (Typical specs) Check out Amazon Here

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/solid state drive Check out Amazon Here

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 guide was written in 2016, since then some things have shifted a little. Many of us use Ipads and Android tablets now and of course, the humble mobile phone is not very humble anymore – for many of us it does everything.

It is perfectly possible to both scan and print from your mobile phone without having to even touch a computer, I will post details of this in another document. 

Chromebooks

Again, since I wrote this guide Chromebooks have really come along in capability. Most if not all of them now have access to the Android Play Store, this means one can install Microsoft Office, the file management is pretty good too. There is also OneDrive and many more making a Chromebook a serious contender for business or to get the kids homework done. And at prices starting around £200 they are worth a look.

River Otter to Mutters Moor

I did this walk on 27th August 2018. During this lockdown I thought it would be something nice to see. The walk starts at South Farm Road, White bridge on the river Otter. It continues up alongside the river and up to Otterton Mill, then continuing from the other side of the bridge following the river Otter to Colaton Raleigh before heading up to Passaford Lane and Mutters Moor, this takes us to Peak Hill Sidmouth where one can walk the SW Coast path to Ladram Bay & Otterton and return to the car. 9.94 miles.Enjoy.

River Otter to Mutters Moor & Peak Hill Sidmouth