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And reclaim hard-drive space 


Computer 


ISSUE 447 1 15-28APRIL2015 


Should MPs get free iPads? Vo te now p8 


Your friendly guide to technology 


NEVER MISS 

ANOTHER 
iSECURITY 
\ UPDATE 

And install 
them when 
I J YOU want to 
p58 



FROM THE WEB 



Watch lost treasures whenever you want 


BEST WAY TO TAKE 


TURN YOUR PHOTOS 


SCREENSHOTS 


How to test it page 42 


INTO PANORAMAS 





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Welcome 


EDITORIAL 

Group Editor Daniel Booth 
Features Editor Jane Hoskyn 
Reviews Editor Alan Lu 
Technical Editor Sherwin Coelho 
Contributing Editor Scott Colvey 
Production Editor Graham Brown 
Art Editor Katie Peat 
Sorry, no technical or buying advice. 

ADVERTISING 

Advertisement sales & media pack 
020 7907 6799 

Advertising Director Andrea Mason 
Deputy Advertising Manager Alexa Dracos 

MARKETING AND CIRCULATION 

Subscriptions Manager Sarah Aldridge 
Senior Direct Marketing Executive 

Rachel Evans 

Marketing Production Manager Gemma Hills 
For subscription enquiries ring 0844 815 0054 

PRODUCTION 

Group Production Manager 
Stephen Catherall 
Production Controller 

Anisha Mogra 

MANAGEMENT 

Managing Director John Garewal 
Deputy Managing Director Tim Danton 
MD of Advertising Julian Lloyd-Evans 
Commercial and Retail Director David Barker 
Group Managing Director Ian Westwood 
COO Brett Reynolds 
Group Finance Director Ian Leggett 
Chief Executive James Tye 
Company Founder Felix Dennis 

BRAND USAGE AND REPRINTS 

Companies can obtain a licence to use approved 
quotations from articles, the Computeractive 
logo and Buy It! logo. Reprints of articles are also 
available. 

Please contact Wrights Media for more 
information and rates: 

UK: 877-652-5295 ext 164 
International: 281-419-5725 ext 164 
Email: Niademarco(Swrightsmedia.com 
Requests to use quotations from articles will 
need to be approved by the editor. Please send 
requests to: editor@computeractive.co.uk 

OVERSEAS LICENSING 

Computeractive is available for international 
licensing. Contact Nicole Adams at nicole_ 
adams@dennis.co.uk or +44 (0)20 7907 6134 

ONWARD RESALE 

TTiis publication may not be resold or otherwise 
distributed, whether at, below or above face 
value. Nor can this publication be advertised for 
sale, transfer or distribution. 

PERMISSIONS 

Material may not be reproduced in any form 
without the written consent of the publisher. 
Please address such requests to John Garewal, 
Dennis Publishing, 30 Cleveland Street, 

London W1T4JD 

LIABILITY 

While every care was taken preparing this 
magazine, the publishers cannot be held 
responsible for the accuracy of the information 
or any consequence arising from it. All 
judgments are based on equipment available 
to Computeractive at the time of review. 
Computeractive takes no responsibility for the 
content of external websites whose addresses 
are published in the magazine. 


A DENNIS PUBLICATION 

I Computeractive is published 
fortnightly by Dennis Publishing 
Ltd, 30 Cleveland Street, London WIT 4JD. 
Company registered in England. Material may 
not be reproduced in whole or part without the 
consent of the publishers. ISSN 1461-6211 



Average sales, Jan-Dec 2014, 88,274 
copies per issue. 


© Copyright Dennis Publishing Limited 


From the Editor 

As a child growing up in the Eighties, I used 
to find lots of TV thrillingly scary, from the 
Daleks of Doctor Who to the killer plants in 
The Day of the Triffids (the latter’s credits 
really were terrifying: wwwsnipca. 
com/ 15 976). But my Dad always claimed 
that he was exposed to far more frightening 
telly back in the Fifties, namely the 
Quatermass series. I’ve since downloaded 
it, and have to admit he was right. It’s one 
of the classic shows and films we reveal 
how to record from the web in our Cover 
Feature (page 50). I hope you find some 
lost treasures. 

Before I go. I’ve got some good news. 



Following huge demand from readers, 
we’ve ordered a new batch of the 2013 
Back Issue CD, which you can now buy 
on Amazon (visit wwwsnipca. com/16010 
or search for ‘computeractive cd 2013’). 
The 2014 CD is still on sale (wwwsnipca. 
com/14981), though it’s selling fast. 
Daniel Booth 

editor@computeractive.co.uk 




HCPlVTOWWWSI CDITvemW 
iii5MapCro«iCBS 

And radipn Iw4h*i»4ip«t, 


NEVER MISSi 
, AHOTHEfi 
'< SECURITY 
V UPDATE 

J TiKJ PHi(.Ta 


RECORD. 

O^CLASSIC!l 


THIS ISSUE IN NUMBERS 


£ 200,000 

Annual cost of giving 
every MP a free iPad 
and laptop - p8 



12 hours 

Battery life of the 
'almost flawless' Asus 
ZenBookUX305 -p22 


50 miles 

Directions you get 
for free in TomTom's 
relaunched app - p44 


i HOW TO USE 
I SNIPC A URLs 

I We use snipcas to turn long URLs that I 
■ are hard to type into ones that are j 

] short and simple. They aren't websites \ 
i themselves, which means they won't \ 
\ be recognised if you type them into \ 
\ Google. Instead, you need to type them I 
] into your browser address bar, then \ 

I press Enter. Doing this will take you to | 
\ the correct website. \ 


15 -28 April 2015 



Contents 


15 -28 April 2015- Issue 447 




RECORD 

CLASSIC 

TV&FILM 


C O I^ever miss another 
9 O security update 
Get updates and fixes quickly to keep 
your system safe 


C O ^ messy files 

O w and folders 
Use these tools and tricks to bring 
order to your PCs clutter 


C Record classic TV & film 
9 w from the web 
Track down and save your all-time 
favourites online 


F ^ Things to do with an old 

3/ XPPC-Part2 

Make a home entertainment centre 


Organise 
files and 
folders 

p60 


In this issue... 


In every issue... 


Stuart sees the error 
of his ways p74 


6 News 

9 Question of 
the Fortnight 

When will robots take over 
from humans? 

10 Letters 

12 Consumeractive 

14 Protect Your Tech 

16 Best Free Software 
AdwCleaner 4.200 

30 Buy It! 


32 Competition 

Win a TP-LINK TD-W8980 

dual-band router 

49 What's All the Fuss 
About? Solid-state batteries 

64 Problems Solved 

70 Fast Fixes 
Microsoft Word 

73 Jargon Buster 

74 The Final Straw 
Stuart Andrews has a 
harsh word with himself 



4 15 -28 April 2015 






AsusZenBook 

UX305p22 



Panasonic Lumix GM5 p28 



BUY IT! 



Reviews 


18 Dell Venue 8 7840 
This flawed Dell tablet fails to 
measure up 

20 LG G Flex 2 

A self-repairing curved phone 

21 SonyQXl 

Odd add-on camera for smartphones 

22 Asus ZenBook UX305 

A brilliant ultra-portable laptop that 
carries all before it 

23 HP Stream 11 

A low-cost, low-performance laptop 

24 HP Colour LaserJet Pro M277 
A user-friendly colour MFP 

26 Canon Maxify MB5050 
A good little MFP for the price 

27 Cities: Skylines 
Build your own virtual city 

28 Panasonic Lumix GM5 
Pocket-sized camera with 
interchangeable lens 

29 Toshiba Kira 107 

A sleek laptop, but nothing new here 


Workshops & Tips 

14 pages of brilliant workshops and expert tips 


35 Make amazing panoramas 
from your photos 

38 Take screenshots using 
Windows 

40 Edit videos on your iPad 



42 Create a fake virus to test 
your PC's security 

43 Readers' Tips 

Set hotkeys for Skype actions 

44 Phone and Tablet Tips 
Dictate long text messages 

46 Make Windows Better 
Make your mouse easier to use 

47 Make Office Better 
Create an Outlook folder for emails 
with attachments 

48 Secret Tips For... Pixlr 


Computeractive 
offer of the fortnight 


Kaspersky Internet Security 
2015 page 68 



One PC for one year 
NOW ONLY £17.99 

Normally £39.99 

Three PCs for two years 
NOW ONLY £39.99 

Normally £89.99 


15 -28 April 2015 5 








News 


The top stories in the world of technology 


Hello Spartan! Microsoft's 
new browser makes its debut 



M icrosoft’s new browser, 
codenamed Spartan, has 
made its debut in the latest 
version of the Windows 10 
Technical Preview, called 
Build 10049. 

The browser will eventually 
replace Internet Explorer (IE), 
although the latter will still be 
available in Windows 10. 
Microsoft hopes Spartan will 
win back the millions of 
people who switched from IE 
to Eirefox and Chrome. 

Writing on the Windows 
blog (www.snipca. 
com/16029), Microsoft’s Joe 
Belflore said that Spartan “is 
fast, compatible and built for 
the modern web”. The 
company’s intention is to 
make a browser that contains 
fewer features than IE, and 
looks more minimal. 

However, Spartan will 
contain several key features 
that IE lacks, some of which 
are available in the version 
now available. This includes 
the ability to annotate web 


pages, which Microsoft calls 
‘inking’. Using your keyboard 
or a stylus (see image), you 
can type or write notes, and 
highlight areas. 

This version of Spartan also 
contains Reading List, a tool 
that lets you save web pages 
and PDEs to read later, and 
Reading View, which removes 
any unnecessary content from 
a web page, such as adverts, 
letting you see only text and 


relevant images. 

But Belfiore warned that 
this version of the browser is 
not “a polished, ready-for- 
everyone release”. It also lacks 
a browsing history, and 
contains some flaws. 

At the time of going to 
press. Build 10049 was 
available only to people on the 
Past ‘ring’ of Windows 10 
updates. To see which ring 
you’re on, click the Start 


COMMENT 


Using Spartan for the first 
time feels strange because 
it looks so basic compared 
with Internet Explorer (IE). 
That's not a criticism of 
Spartan though, more a 
comment on how messy 
IE has become. We like 
Spartan's features, especially 
the Reading View which 
de-clutters web pages so 
thoroughly they're as easy on 
the eye as ebook pages. But 
no amount of clever tools will 
compensate for a browser 
that's slow and prone to 
crashing, flaws that plague IE. 
If Spartan avoids these, it has 
a bright future. 

menu in Windows 10, 
Settings, ‘Update & recovery’ 
then ‘Advanced options’. 

We’ll explain how to use 
Spartan in a Workshop in 
Issue 448, out Wednesday 
29 April. 


Google's Chromebit turns your TV into a PC 



Google has launched a dongle 
that plugs into an HDMI slot 
to turn any display, such as 
your TV, into a computer 
running the Chrome 
operating system. 

The Chromebit, 
made by Asus, will go 
on sale in the US this 


summer priced $100. It comes Bluetooth. Google says it’s 


in blue, silver or orange, 
contains 2GB of memory, a 
USB 2.0 port and support 
for Wi-Ei 802.11ac and 


“smaller than a candy bar”. 

_ You’ll need to attach a 
mouse and keyboard 
via USB or Bluetooth 
to use your TV as a PC. 
The Chromebit’ s 
closest rival will be 
Intel’s forthcoming 


Compute Stick (see 
‘What’s All the Euss About?’, 
Issue 442), which comes 
with Windows 8.1. Google 
hasn’t confirmed whether 
the Chromebit will be on 
sale in the UK, but it’s likely 
to arrive here by the end 
of 2015. 


© You'll like this... 

Netflix wants to remove international TV 
restrictions (www.snipca.com/16035) 


© ...but not this ^ 

One in 10 children aged 12 and 13 fear they are 
addicted to web porn (www.snipca.com/16039) J 


6 15 -28 April 2015 




IN BRIEF 


New smart plug tells you if an 
elderly relative needs help 



A smart plug has been 
launched to help you 
keep track of relatives 
and friends who may 
need regular assistance. 

The Srings plug sends 
an alert to your phone, 
tablet or computer 
when the person you’re 
monitoring fails to 
switch on a kettle, 
television or other 
frequently used electrical 
device during a set time period 
- all of which may indicate 
they require urgent help. 

To set it up, you plug the 
device into Srings, then plug 
that into an electrical socket. 
It’s been developed by 
Cheshire-based company 
Assistage (www.assistage.com), 
which tests, recommends and 
sells technology that aims to 
support independent living 
for older people. 


The products Assistage 
sells are tested by the parents 
of the company’s bosses, 

Steve Purdham and Trevor 
Brocklebank. In March, 
after waking one morning, 

Mr Purdham’ s mother, 

83 -year-old Iris Purdham, 
found that she couldn’t move. 
Doctors would later identify 
three compression fractures 
at the base of her spine. 

Her son realised she needed 
help when he received a text 


message at 9am 
saying that her 
mother, who was 
testing Srings, had 
yet to switch on the 
kettle that day. 

Talking to The 
Times, Mr Purdham 
said: “Most 
technology will 
work, but it won’t 
necessarily work in 
the hands of my mum. It’s 
about making sure things work 
in the environment they’re 
supposed to”. 

His mother is also testing a 
system that sends a reminder 
to take medication and a 
thermometer that flashes blue 
when the house is too cold. 

Srings is available on a 
12-month (£183) or 24-month 
(£288) subscription from 
www.3rings.co.uk. We’ll aim 
to test it ourselves soon. 


Facebook 'tracks your web browsing' 
even if you don't have an account 



fgceboo L f 


fj fatebook x | 


ftmk 


Facebook has been accused 
of breaking European law by 
tracking the web browsing of 
anyone who visits the site, 
regardless of whether they 
actually have an account 
with the social network. 

The claim, which Facebook 
strongly denied, was made 
in late March in a report 
commissioned by the Belgian 
data-protection agency, 
following research at two 
universities in the country. 

It also said Facebook 
continues to track people even 
if they opt out of being tracked 
in the site’s privacy settings. 

Researchers said Facebook 
places a cookie on your 
computer, phone or tablet 
when you visit any of its 
pages, even if you don’t 
have an account. 


Once that’s done, 

Facebook knows 
when you visit a 
third-party web page 
that contains one of 
its plug-ins, such as 
a ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ 
button, even if you 
don’t click that 
button. These buttons 
appear on over 13 
million websites, including 
some run by the Government 
and the NHS. 

The cookie, called ‘datr’, 
allows Facebook to follow 
your activity for two years. 

Like many sites, Facebook 
uses this information to 
target adverts to you. 

If the claims are true, 
Facebook would be breaching 
EU privacy laws, which state 
that users must give consent to 


allow cookies when first 
visiting a website. 

However, Facebook said that 
the report contains “factual 
inaccuracies”. 

A spokesperson said: “The 
authors have never contacted 
us, nor sought to clarify any 
assumptions upon which their 
report is based. Neither did 
they invite our comment on 
the report before making it 
public”. 


AMAZON FIRE TV STICK 
NOW ON SALE 

Amazon is now selling its 
Fire TV Stick dongle in the UK 
(www.snipca.com/16005), 
following its US launch last 
year. At £35, it's £5 dearer 
than its direct rival, the Google 
Chromecast. By plugging the 
Fire TV Stick into an HDMi 
slot on your TV, you'll be able 
to watch, via Wi-Fi, channels 
and services including Netflix, 
BBC iPlayer, Sky News, 
Demand 5, Spotify and 
Amazon's Prime instant Video. 
We will review the Fire TV 
Stick soon. 

MAKE FREE PHONE 
CALLS IN WHATSAPP 

WhatsApp has updated 
its Android app to let you 
make free phone calls on 
your mobile phone, giving 
you an alternative to Skype. 
Previously the app only let you 
send messages. WhatsApp's 
co-founder Brian Acton said 
that the feature will be added 
to its iOS app soon. Download 
the Android app for free from 
the Google Play Store: www 
snipca.com/16020. We'll 
show you how to use it in our 
next issue, out Wed 29 April. 


: Advances in robotics are [ 

\ increasingly being used \ 

\ to help people who suffer 
\ from impaired movement. 

I Scientists at the University of 
[ Hertfordshire have spent the 
I past three years developing j 
\ a robotic glove to assist i 

[ the rehabilitation of stroke 
I patients. By pairing the glove j 
? with a PC game, users can [ 
\ regain some mobility in their [ 
I hands. Watch it in action on [ 

I BBC Click's YouTube channel: 

E www.snipca.com/15897. [ 


i Toiiiprrow's 

i'lyiihiworld 

I 


15 -28 April 2015 7 







News 


Want a free iPad Air and laptop? 
Simple - just become an MP 


IN BRIEF 


ANDROID DEVICES 
TO GET OFFICE 

Forthcoming Android devices 
made by Dell and Samsung 
will come with Office tools 
after the companies agreed 
deals with Microsoft. 
Selected phones and tablets 
made by the companies 
will contain Word, Excel, 
PowerPoint, OneNote, 
OneDrive and Skype. 
However, you'll need to pay 
for Office 365 subscriptions 
to use all the editing features 
in each tool. This costs £7.99 
a month or £79.99 a year 
(www.snipca.com/15957). 

BT OFFERS NEW MOBILE 
PHONE DEALS 

BT has launched its first 
new mobile phone deals in 
over a decade. It is offering 
three 4G subscriptions, with 
the cheapest priced just £5 
a month for its broadband 
customers (£10 for those 
without BT broadband). 

They are all SIM-only deals, 
and all offer unlimited texts. 
Visit BT's website for more 
information: www.snipca. 
com/15970. 


Controversial plans to give 
every MP a free iPad Air 2 
after the General Election on 
7 May have been branded 
“a mistake”. 

MPs will also receive a free 
laptop in a scheme that will 
cost £200,000 annually 
during the five-year 
parliament. 

Since 2012, following a 
proposal by the House of 
Commons Commission, 209 
MPs have been given taxpayer- 
funded iPads in order to read 
work on documents and read 
committee papers wherever 
they are. 

But some MPs have been 
caught misusing them. Last 
year Nigel Mills, the 
Conservative MP for Amber 
Valley, was photographed 
playing the game Candy Crush 
on his iPad when he was 
taking part in a committee 
hearing on pension reforms 
(see the evidence at www 
snipca.com/15934) . 

Shadow Cabinet Office 
minister Chi Onwurah, 

Labour MP for Newcastle 


upon Tyne Central, referred 
to Mills’ behaviour when 
criticising the decision to 
hand out free iPads: “As we 
saw with Nigel Mills and 
Candy Crush, MPs will be 
using the games, and the 
ITunes and other features 
on the iPad”. 

Talking to IT website 
ComputerworldUK, Onwurah 
slated the decision to lock MPs 
into the Apple’s iOS operating 
system at a time when the 
“digital community is pushing 
open source, open standards”. 

She added that it was wrong 
that MPs would be using a 
device that many of her 


constituents could not afford. 
Prices for the iPad Air 2 start 
from £399 on Apple’s website 
(www. snipca.com/15 940) . 

But Liberal Democrat John 
Thurso, the Commission’s 
chairman, claimed that 
sticking with Apple will 
actually save money. He said 
that the iPads are “linked 
to a programme to reduce 
hard-copy printing in favour 
of online publication that is 
already delivering savings in 
excess of £3 million per year”. 

• Should MPs get a free 
iPad? Vote now at www. 
computeractive.co.uk 



What the flip! Christian coupie removes ebooks 
from app that censors swear words 


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A Christian couple from Idaho 
have stopped selling ebooks 
through their app Clean 
Reader (www.cleanreaderapp. 
com), which censors swear 
words, following complaints 
from authors. 

Jared and Kirsten Maughan 
built the free app, available for 
Android and iOS, after their 
teenage daughter objected to 
swear words in a book she 
was reading at school. 

The app suggests 
alternatives to swear words, 
religious and sexual terms, 
and certain body parts. Lor 
example, the f-word becomes 


‘freak’, ‘penis’ becomes 
‘groin’, ‘vagina’ 
becomes ‘bottom’, 

‘sexy’ becomes ‘lovely’ 
and ‘Jesus Christ’ 
becomes ‘gee’. 

It has three settings: 

‘Clean’, ‘Cleaner’ and 
‘Squeaky Clean’. The 
last of these extends 
censorship to include 
“some hurtful racial terms”. 

But following a backlash 
from authors, the couple said 
that the app will no longer sell 
ebooks because “many 
authors do not want their 
books being sold in 


connection with Clean 
Reader”. 

Chocolat author Joanne 
Harris helped draw attention 
to the app by condemning it 
in a blog post titled “Why I’m 
Saying ‘L*** you’ to Clean 


Reader” (www.snipca. 
com/15979). Harris wrote: 
“Words, if used correctly, 
can achieve almost 
anything. To tamper 
with what is written - 
however much we may 
dislike certain words and 
phrases - is to embrace 
censorship”. 

She subsequently said 
she was “delighted” that the 
app had stopped selling 
“vandalised” books. 

Should Clean Reader be 
allowed to censor books? 
Please let us know at letters(P 
connputeractive.co.uk 



8 15 -28 April 2015 







Question 

of the 

Fortnight 




When will robots take 
over from humans? 


Threats posed by artificial intelligence are no longer just science fiction, 
leading technology figures have warned 



For decades the threats posed 
by robots have been the stuff 
of science-fiction nightmares. 
Film-makers, philosophers 
and authors have depicted 
dystopian futures in which 
humans are enslaved by their 
mechanised masters, or 
rendered obsolete as jobs 
become automated. 

That danger suddenly feels 
more real than ever as a 
growing number of tech 
experts warn that - if left 
unchecked - the growth of 
artificial intelligence (AI) 
could represent a serious 
threat to humanity. The latest 
prophet of doom is Apple 
co-founder Steve Wozniak, 
who in March revealed his 
unease about the rise of AI. 
Talking to the Australian 
Financial Review, Wozniak 
said that “computers are going 
to take over from humans, no 
question”. 

He fears that eventually 
computers will “think faster 


than us and they’ll get rid of 
the slow humans to run 
companies more efficiently”. 

Wozniak hasn’t always 
thought like this. He used to 
dismiss the claims of people 
like Ray Kurzweil, the hugely 
influential computer scientist 
and a director of engineering 
at Google, who predict a 
‘singularity’ moment at which 
point AI will exceed human 
intellectual capacity, and 


become impossible to control. 

Kurzweil has predicted this 
will occur in 2045, while 
others think it could arrive 
much earlier. Elon Musk, 
co-founder of PayPal and 
space-transport company 
SpaceX, has warned that 
“something seriously 
dangerous” could happen 
before 2020. 

It’s the rapid progress of AI 


that has made Wozniak 
more pessimistic about the 
future. His comments came 
a couple of months after 
hundreds of leading scientists, 
entrepreneurs and 
technologists, including 
Stephen Hawking, signed an 
open letter warning about the 
dangers of AI. The letter 
(www.snipca. com/15906) , 
drafted by the Future of Life 
Institute - an organisation 


working to “mitigate 
existential risks facing 
humanity” - says that while 
AI could eradicate poverty and 
disease, there are also “potential 
pitfalls”. AI systems “must do 
what we want them to do”. 

Elon Musk also signed 
the letter. Few people have 
been as vocal in highlighting 
the dangers of AI. He has 
described the development 
of thinking robots as 
“summoning the demon”, and 
says they represent mankind’s 
“biggest existential threat”. He 
has called for an international 
regulatory body to oversee the 
development of AI so “we 
don’t do something very 
foolish”. 

Step forward Google. In 
2014, it created an ethics 
board to monitor its work in 
artificial intelligence, 
following the purchase of 
several robotics companies. 
These include DeepMind, a 
British company that makes 
software to help computers 
think like humans. It was 
co-founded by Shane Legg, 
who is just as resigned as 


THE FACTS 


• Apple co-founder 
Steve Wozniak recently 
said he was worried 
about technology that 
could mimic human 
consciousness 

• In January, Stephen 
Hawking was one of 
hundreds of technologists 
and scientists who signed 
an open letter asking 

for controls on artificial 
intelligence 

• Google has created an 
ethics board to oversee its 
development of artificial 
intelligence 

Wozniak and Musk to the 
nature of humanity’s 
downfall: “Eventually, I think 
human extinction will 
probably occur, and technology 
will likely play a part in this”. 

Of course, the question of 
when robots will take over is a 
loaded one. It removes all 
doubt, and assumes they will. 
Other technology pioneers are 
less gloomy. Google chairman 
Eric Schmidt says that fears 
over AI are “misguided”, and 
sees a future in which the 
human race can only gain 
from advances in robotics and 
computing. 

But then he would say that, 
wouldn’t he? After all, is there 
another company that stands 
to benefit as much as Google 
does from a robotic future? At 
the moment Schmidt appears 
to be in a minority, so we can 
only hope the apocalyptic 
warnings of his peers will 
prompt him to take the threat 
more seriously. 


4 i Eventually human extinction 
will probably occur, and technology 
will likely play a part in this J | 


15 -28 April 2015 9 






Tell us what's on your mind 

Email: lettersCpcomputeractive.co.uk 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/computeractive 
Twitter: (SComputerActive 
www.twitter.com/computeractive 


lOOMbps? Not in my lifetime 

Two news stories in Issue 446 
caught my eye - Google’s desire to 
help people live to 500, and the 
Government’s proposal to deliver 
lOOMbps broadband to every home in the 
UK. Am I the only person to think the 
former is more likely than the latter? 

Warren Archibald 

Windows 8 is best 
version ever 

Like many of your readers I’m 
mystified by the continued 
negative feedback that Windows 8 gets. 
I’ve been using Windows forever and 
8.1 is by far the best of the crop. I’m 
using it loaded on a Vaio laptop with 
an SSD, which means that from 
switching on to being available for use 
takes less than 30 seconds. Because 
I’m a fan of the traditional Start menu, 
from the early days of Windows 8 I’ve 
been using the program Start8 (www 
stardock.com/products/start8) , which 
provides me with my familiar friendly 
Start screen and menu. I’ve also learnt 
to use the Charms bar, but I normally 
stay with what I’m used to. Obviously, I’ll 
be upgrading to Windows 10 as soon as it 
becomes available in the summer. We 
OAPs are still intent on staying ahead 
of the youngsters! 

Nick Jones 

Fast broadband should 
be available everywhere 

George Parks seems to be a 
spokesman for the Smug Urban 
Dweller Society (Letters, 445). 

Presumably, he also feels that those 
who live in the countryside should not 
have the benefit of telephone, gas, 
electricity and fresh water. 

As a countryside dweller I find that 
the Government, public services and 
private companies increasingly require 
me to use broadband to get anything, 
often providing no alternative means to 
get things done. It is high time that 
reasonable broadband speeds were made 
compulsory ever 5 Avhere, and before 
urban-dwellers get multi-megab34:e 
services. Whether Mr Parks likes it or not, 
broadband is already, and should be 
treated as, a utility service. 

Maurice Warwick 



XP's 'death' isn't a 
Shakespearean tragedy 

Harry Powell can quote Monty 
Python all he likes (Letters, Issue 
446), but he’s neither funny nor accurate 
in saying that Windows XP is dead. If it 
has shuffled off this mortal coil (if Mr 
Powell can quote Python, I should be 
allowed to paraphrase Shakespeare), 
then can someone please explain how it 
is that I use it every day. Perhaps XP has 
returned, like the ghost of Hamlet’s 
father, to haunt my PC? 

XP still works smoothly and safely on 
my PC. I also have a Windows 8 laptop, 
but it’s a pain to use. My XP machine is 
the first one I switch on every day. 

I still go online using it, and have yet to 
encounter the malware that Microsoft 
told us would be everywhere. Indeed, I 
would say that the supposed demise of 
XP is much ado about nothing! 

Arthur Evans 


No, PC World, 
you can't eat a 
Raspberry Pi 

I need to tell you of a recent 
experience I had at PC World in 
Manchester’s Arndale Centre. I am 
looking to buy a Raspberry Pi and, 
knowing that PC World have them in 
stock online, I visited their shop 
hoping to examine one. I asked the 
salesman if he had a Raspberry Pi. He 
looked at me and smiled in a quizzical 
way, as if I was asking for something 
sweet to eat. I sensed that he had no 
idea what I was talking about. He then 
called another member of the staff who 


1 found love online (no 
Tinder required) 

I share Stuart Andrews’ misgivings 
about dating apps (The Final Straw, 
Issue 446). I had never heard of Tinder 
before, but it sounds truly horrid. I don’t 
want to sound like a prude, but has the 
quest for love really been reduced to 
flicking through photos on a phone? 
What happened to writing love letters? I 
know you can be rude on a phone, but 
can you actually be wooed (with thanks 
to Carry On Matron)? 

However, I do want to challenge the 
prejudice that the older generation may 
hold about dating online. There have 
been lots of scare stories about scams in 
which lonely, vulnerable people (both 
male and female) have been conned by 
charming fraudsters, who pose as 
potential partners. But as long as you 
don’t abandon all sense when you date 
online, you should be safe. 

I certainly was. I felt very lonely when 
my first husband died in 2004, but I had 
no desire to meet someone new, let alone 
do so over the internet. But a few years 
later, with some help from my daughter 
(who had met her husband online), I gave 
it a go on cHarmony (www.eharmony. 
co.uk). Yes, there are some time-wasters 
online, full of swanky talk, but I found it 
easy to spot the genuine people from the 
chancers (or maybe I’m just naturally 
sceptical!). After a few months I started 



also seemed to think that I had lost my 
marbles. I am 69 and had to explain to 
these two twentysomethings what a 
Raspberry Pi was, and I am not sure 
that I convinced them. 

How disappointing it was from my 
perspective to And that the younger 
generation are not always as technically 
savvy as we are led to believe. 

Roger We(Jlake 







10 15 -28 April 2015 




chatting to a lovely man roughly the same 
age as me. Those chats turned into a few 
dates. Those dates turned into a ‘fine 
romance’. And that romance finally 
turned into a wedding. Despite using new 
technology it all seemed very quaint and 
old-fashioned. It proves you don’t have to 
be a sex-mad youngster to find love online. 

Dorothy O'Connor 


More places should ban 
'selfish' sticks 

1 1 applaud the National Gallery for 
I banning so-called selfie sticks 
(News, Issue 446). A recent trip there was 
ruined by some idiots who used these 
sticks so carelessly it almost seemed like 
they were jousting. I urge all galleries to 
follow suit, or some priceless artworks 
will be damaged. I can easily imagine a 
sculpture losing a head by a recklessly 
swung selfie stick. Also, can I propose a 
name change? Surely they should be 
called selfish sticks? 

Terence Macpherson 


Apple's 'gimmicky tests' are 
no substiture for a doctor 


I Apple’s ResearchKit seems like a 
I waste of time to me (‘What’s All 
the Fuss About?’, Issue 446). As a retired 
GP, I doubt any serious data will result 
from what seem like gimmicky tests. The 
only way you can truly ascertain the 
health of a patient is seeing them in the 
flesh. If I’m unfortunate enough ever to 
develop Parkinson’s, my first thought will 
be to visit the doctor, not to download a 
flipping app! And as for saying ‘Aaaaah’ 
into an iPhone, I’m much more likely to 
say ‘Arggghhhh!’ when I see how 
expensive they are. 

Christopher Ball 


Greenhouse heater 
killed my Wi-Fi 

1 1 had a similar problem to Stuart 
I Andrews (The Final Straw, Issue 
445) when my Wi-Fi stopped working. 
After tearing out what little hair I had 
left and reverting to an old router, I 
finally took stock of things I’d recently 
done in my house and I realised I’d 
switched on a greenhouse tube heater. 
Switching it off immediately fixed my 
Wi-Fi. I launched a Wi-Fi-detector app 
on my tablet and watched it while I 
switched the heater on and off, and 
noticed all the Wi-Fi spots disappear. 

Long live Ethernet cables! 

Roy Houghton 


STAR LETTER 


Slow broadband, £13k watches and 
free iPads for MPs: April Fool's? 



I thoroughly enjoyed 
your little quiz in Issue 
446 on tech hoaxes. You 
managed to fool me - I 
thought the Twitter marriage 
service was real. It’s the sort of 
ridiculous thing that seems to 
happen online these days. 

I’d like to pose a similar (if a 
little late) April Fool’s quiz. 

Can you guess which of these 
three crazy stories are fake? First of all, 
there’s the great broadband scandal of 
2015. Despite living in busy urban 
areas, there are lots of people in the UK 
(me included) who can only get a 
broadband speed of around 2Mbps (on 
a good day). This is the same country 
whose chancellor recently announced 
plans to deliver 100Mbps to every 
home. Could such a preposterous 
situation possibly be true? 

Secondly, Apple is now selling a fancy 
watch for over £13,000, much more 
than many people in the UK (me 
included) have to live on a year. It’s 
such a lot of money for a watch that 
you may think this story couldn’t 
possibly be true. My own watch cost a 
mere £20 from Argos. Are Apple really 


selling one for the cost of a VW Polo? 

And third, all 650 MPs will soon 
receive free iPads so they will find it 
easier to fiddle their expenses and 
write rubbish on Twitter. They are 
getting this freebie despite being paid 
more than twice the average UK wage, 
and at a time when many of their 
constituents (me included) are having 
their benefits slashed. Surely this 
can’t be true? 

So, can you guess which ones are 
fake? As indicated by my sarcastic 
tone, none of them are false. They are 
all true, and all demonstrate how 
bonkers the world is getting. Thank god 
for Computeractive for 
keeping me sane! 

Brian Dutton 


The Star Letter writer wins a Computeractive mug! 




It's hard not to abuse 
phone scammers 

Mr Ingrey (Letters, Issue 445) talks 
rather disparagingly about “the 
odd nuisance call”, saying the majority of 
calls are from people we want to hear 
from. I wish. I’m writing this at 
Wednesday lunchtime, and since Monday 
morning have received seven nuisance 
calls (the earliest at 6.45am when I was 
still asleep) and four from people I know. 

I try hard not to abuse those making 
these calls, but can understand why some 
people do. Perhaps 
Mr Ingrey should 
count himself lucky 
if he really only does 
receive “the odd” 
such call. 

Brian Hudson 


Online volunteers help to 
lead the blind 

Your reader Sylvia Nicholls, who 
asked about the best software to 
help her blind friend (‘What Should I 
Buy?’, Issue 445, page 24), might find a 
great new service called BeMyEyes.org 
(http://bemyeyes.org) of use. Blind 
iPhone users can download a simple app 
that lets them connect via video to 
sighted users, who can then describe 
what they see, read text or help them 
with whatever question they might have. 

At the moment there are 
10 sighted helpers for 
every blind person, so 
I’m sure Sylvia’s friend 
could get assistance 
really quickly. 

Han Dunsterville 





15 -28 April 2015 11 






Consumeractive 


I don't get promised 
broadband speed - 
can I get a refund? 



I’ve been with Virgin Media for 
over two years and was initially 
told I eould get 20Mbps. But I 
have never aehieved more than 9Mbps. I 
reeently upgraded to 50Mbps, but still 
ean’t get above 9Mbps. Virgin has said it’s 
beeause of ongoing installation work, but 
is still eharging me for the upgraded 
speed. Can I get a refund? 

Riyaz Mamdani 



Riyaz is entitled to a refund 
for the period since he upgraded 
to 50Mbps, but he’ll have to 
forget about getting any money back 
for the time before. Filing a complaint 
going back even a year is unlikely to 
be successful because if you let a 
situation rumble on for that long 
without taking action, then legally 
you are deemed to have accepted it. 

The onus is always on the customer to 
take action as soon as possible. 

To get a refund for the period since 
he upgraded to 50Mbps, Riyaz needs 
to write to Virgin explaining that it has 
sold him a service it can’t currently 
fulfil and is therefore in breach of 
contract. He should request a 
refund for the extra money 
he’s now paying for the 
50Mbps service. 




Are First Great Western's terms 
and conditions unfair? 



I paid £43 online for a train 
tieket and was about to print 
it using First Great Western’s 
app, but I eouldn’t get the app to open. 
Instead, I printed proof that I’d paid 
for the tieket, and showed this to the 
station staff on the day of my journey. 
But they told me they eouldn’t aeeept 
it beeause the terms and eonditions 
showed that printing the tieket was my 
responsibility. I had to pay £54 for 
another tieket. Is this fair? 

Judith Rowbotham 



It doesn’t seem fair to us 
because everyone suffers 
technical problems from time 
to time, and we’d have hoped First 
Great Western (FGW) would’ve had 
contingency plans to help passengers 
in these situations. But although 
FGW clearly states that printable 
tickets are non-refundable, we think 
Judith should try to get her money 
back using the legal protection under 
the Unfair Terms in Consumer 
Contracts Regulations (UTCCRs), 
which states that companies can’t 
set unfair conditions. 

First, Judith should write to FGW 
stating why she believes the terms are 
unfair, using this letter template from 



Which?: www.snipca.com/15801. The 
company may give her a refund, but if 
not she could take her complaint to the 
small claims court, because only a court 
can decide what’s fair and what’s not. 

If she doesn’t want to do this, she 
could report FGW to her local Trading 
Standards department. The best way to 
do this is through the Advice Guide 
website (www.adviceguide.org.uk), 
run by Citizen’s Advice, which will 
pass her complaint on to the relevant 
office. Judith can also file a complaint 
with the Competition and Markets 
Authority (CMA), though she should 
read its guidelines first: www.snipca. 
com/15802. She should then file her 
claim online at Gov.uk: www.snipca. 
com/15812. 

We’ve also contacted FGW 

for more information so 
we’ll update you with its 
response in a later issue. Ic- — 


Do I have to put up with repeated repairs? 



I bought an HP Envy Laptop 
from Currys on the 29 
Deeember for £899. After three 
months the motherboard developed a 
fault. Currys only offered 
to send it for repair. It 
eame baek with the 
same fault, so it’s been 
sent for another repair. 

Beeause it’s within six 
months of purehase, 
ean I demand a refund or 
replaeement instead? 

Chris Newbon 




No, Chris can’t demand a refund 
or replacement after one repair 
within the first six months. But 
he’s right to think that six months is a 
legally important period of time. 
Within six months, any fault is 
considered “inherent”, which 
means it has existed since the 
product was made. The onus is on 
the retailer or manufacturer to 
prove this isn’t the 
case. They are 
legally allowed to 
try to repair or refund 


the product, even more than once. You 
can only demand a replacement or a 
refund if a repair isn’t feasible. 

We feel that forcing people to put 
up with repeated repairs is wrong, so it’s 
good to know that the new Consumer 
Rights Bill, due to become law this year, 
will entitle customers to an automatic 
replacement after only one failed 
repair. We’ve contacted Currys to ask 
them to make sure it speeds 
up the repair, and takes 
extra care to properly 
fix the fault. 



12 15 -28 April 2015 










El Contact us so we can investigate your case 

Email: consumeractive(®computeractive.co.uk 
Write: Consumeractive, Computeractive, 30 Cleveland Street London W1T 4JD 
^ Please include both your phone number and address. 

Unfortunately, we can't reply to all your letters. 

We stand up for your legal rights 


Can you help us get a faulty PC fixed? 



My mother-in-law 
bought a Lenovo 
IdeaCentre B540 
eomputer in August 2013 from 
PC World. It eost £749.99 and 
hasn’t been used mueh. It 
stopped working in January 
2015, but PC World said it’s out of 
warranty so we’d have to pay for 
any inspeetion and repair. We 
think PC World should have 
done this without eharging us 
beeause we believe the PC is ‘not 
fit for purpose’. Can you help? 

Kenni Rollins 


Yes we can, but PC World is 
legally correct to refuse to repair 
it for free. This is because the PC 


ideaoentre 

j 



.... 



was brought more than six months ago. 
After six months, as we explain in Chris 
Newbon’s case (see opposite page), the 
onus is on the customer to prove a fault is 


inherent, and not the result of 
accidental damage or wear and 
tear. Paying for an independent 
inspection is usually the only 
way to do this. 

However, companies often 
respond to our plea for a 
goodwill gesture, so we’ll ask 
Lenovo and PC World to inspect 
the PC for free. If they won’t, 
Kenni could consider paying 
them to do so, but it would be 
cheaper to get the PC examined 
by a reputable local PC repair 
shop. If this shows there’s an 
inherent fault, PC World must 
repair the computer free ^ — 7 ; 
of charge, and pay for the \ \ 

cost of the inspection. \ 


CASE UPDATE 


South Korean Amazon Marketplace 
seller refunds HMRC charges 

We've got some good news to report on 
Hillary Duffy's complaint against HMRC, which 
appeared in Issue 446. She was annoyed HMRC 
was charging her £11.38 (20 per cent VAT plus a 
handling fee) for a package of plastic food containers that had 
been sent from South Korea by a company called Shopforyou. 

Hillary wanted to dispute the fee because she didn't realise 
Shopforyou was based in South Korea. Under HMRC rules, 
you can only avoid paying VAT on goods being sent from 
outside the EU if they cost less than £36 and are labelled as 
gifts. Shopforyou did actually label the goods as a gift, but for 
whatever reason HMRC still added VAT. 

Hillary almost definitely wouldn't have been able to persuade 
HMRC to drop the fee, but she did manage to get a refund for 
£11.38 from Shopforyou after leaving scathing feedback on the 
company's Amazon Marketplace account. Her main complaint 
was that the company didn't make it clear it was based in South 
Korea. After Hillary received the refund, she removed the 
negative feedback as a goodwill gesture. 

Her success shows the power of feedback in this internet 

age, but also serves as a reminder 
to always double-check the 
location and legitimacy of sellers 
on Amazon and eBay. Visit HMRC's 
website to see what fees you may 
be charged on imported goods: 
www.snipca.com/15803. 


THIS WILL COME IN USEFUL 


Solid-state drive manufacturers 

Corsair 

Contact: https: //corsair. 
secure.force.com 
Facebook: www.facebook. 
com/Corsair 

Crucial 

0800 013 0330 

Contact: 

www.snipca.com/15732 
Facebook: www.facebook. 
com/CrucialMemory 
Twitter: ©CrucialMemory 

Kingston 
01932 738888 

Email: customerservice@ 
kingston.eu 
Facebook: 

www.snipca.com/15733 

ocz 

01235 824900 

Contact form: 

WWW. snipca. com/15809 
Twitter: @OCZStorage 




Samsung 

03307267864 

Contact: 

WWW. snipca. com/15752 
Facebook: www.facebook. 
com/SamsungUK 

San Disk 
0203 3183 965 

Facebook: www.facebook. 

com/SanDiskUK 

Live chat: 

www.snipca. com/15808 

Seagate 

08004732 4283 

Contact form: http:// 
support2 . Seagate, com 
Facebook: 

WWW. snipca. com/15745 

Toshiba 

0871495 8944 

Facebook: www.facebook. 
com/toshibauk 
Twitter @ToshibaUK 




15 -28 April 2015 13 






Protect Your Tech 


Scams and threats to avoid, plus new security tools 


WATCH OUT FOR... 


'Activate your BT ID' scam emails 


What happened? 

We recently received a phishing email 
purporting to be from BT that was one 
of the most convincing scams we’ve 
seen this year, it came from ebilling@ 
bt.com and bypassed our spam filter 
using the subject line ‘Activate your BT 
ID to see your account online’. 

Headlined ‘important: You need to 
verify your BT ID’, the email tries to 
trick you into clicking a link to confirm 
your account. The email says you should 
do this so you can “go online to see your 
bills, products and extras, including the 
BT SmartTalk and BT Sport Apps”. 

To the unsuspecting eye it looks 
genuine. There are no spelling mistakes 
or grammatical errors, and it asks you to 
click www.bt.com/help if you have any 
questions. 

We could tell it was a spam simply by 


hovering our cursor over any of the 
links in the email. This shows you the 
web address you’ll be sent to if you were 
to click the link. In our case, that was 
the dubious-sounding ‘http://susdungo. 
Iv/engine/.all/’ (see screenshot right) 

- the suffix ‘.Iv’ means the website is 
based in Latvia. 

Bear in mind, when the email arrived 
in our inbox it contained BT logos and 
other professional-looking images 
where the red crosses are in our 
screenshot. We took this screenshot 
a day after, by which time the images 
had disappeared, making it look far 
less genuine. 

What should you do? 

If you receive this email, forward it to BT 
at phishing (a)bt. com, then delete it. BT 
has some great advice on its website 



(www.snipca.com/15859) on how to 
spot phishing scams. If you do 
accidentally click one of the links in 
the email, your browser should still 
protect you. The most recent versions 
of Firefox, Chrome and Internet 
Explorer all warned us that the site 
was malicious. 


m^m A I M Kaspersky Phound for Android 
wW www.snipca.com/15851 


Two thoughts race 
through your mind 
when you lose your 
phone or tablet. 

First, where is it? 

And second, is anyone 
using it? Kaspersky’s 
free Phound app for 
Android (there’s no 
iOS version planned) 
answers both those 
questions. 

To use it, you need 
to sign up to My 
Kaspersky (https : // 
center, kaspersky. 
com), and then 
log into it on your 
computer (assuming you’ve lost your 
device). If you think you’ve simply lost 
it around the house, trigger the Alarm 


feature and you’ll soon 
hear where it’s hiding. 
But if your device has 
been stolen, you can 
locate it using GPS, 
then lock it to 
abruptly end the 
thief’s fun. You can 
also make it display a 
message asking to be 
returned, complete 
with a tearful sad face 
(see screenshot). 

It’s another great 
product from 
Kaspersky, winner of 
our past four antivirus 
tests (see reader offer 
on page 68), though we don’t like the 
‘ph’ in the name. What’s wrong with 
the humble ‘f? 



A Scam Watch 

READERS WARN READERS 


Fake Facebook friend request 

1 got an email, purporting to be from 
Facebook, saying my friend Paul had 
indicated that I’m his friend. It asked 
me to accept his request to be a 
friend, and there were buttons for 
‘Cancel’ and ‘Accept’. Paul is an 
actual friend, but not a Facebook 
friend, so 1 knew it was a scam. 
Worryingly the email senders knew 
my name. 1 clicked ‘Cancel’ and was 
directed to a website for “login. 
flipora.com”, which triggered a WOT 
(Web of Trust) warning. 1 emailed 
Paul, and he’d had a similar email 
from a mutual friend. We chose not 
to go further into the website. 

Steve Hill 


Warn your fellow readers about scams at 
letters(pcomputera ctive.co.uk 


14 15 -28 April 2015 








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Best Free Software 


Brilliant new programs that won't cost you anything 


ADWARE REMOVER 

AdwCleaner 4.200 

www.snipca.com/16022 

What you need: Windows XP, Vista, 7 or 8/8.1 



Our favourite tool for getting rid of unwanted toolbars, browser 
hijackers and other adware is now even better. The new version 
of AdwCleaner doesn’t add loads of fancy functions; instead it’s 
been updated to work faster and remove more junk. 

We wouldn’t normally devote this page to a program that’s 
only had performance updates. But we’re making an exception 
for AdwCleaner because it’s one of the most useful tools on our 
PC and we wanted to show you, click by click, how to use it. 

As we mentioned in our Cover Feature in Issue 446 
(‘Remove Hidden Malware’), AdwCleaner scans your PC’s 
files, processes and browsers for evidence of adware and 
malware, including toolbars and other PUPs (potentially 
unwanted programs). It then lists the malicious files and lets 
you delete them all with one click. 


This new version is faster than its predecessor, especially in 
the scanning stage, and uses more powerful technology to kill 
infected processes. It can now detect infected preferences in 
Chrome, making it more effective against browser hijackers 
such as the horrendous Binkiland (www.snipca.com/16025). 

AdwCleaner is a portable tool, so you don’t have to install it, 
and you can copy its program file (‘adwcleaner_4.200.exe’) to 
a USB stick for running on any PC. To run it, click the EXE file, 
click Yes, and then click ‘1 agree’ to open the program window. 

The downside of portable software is that it isn’t updated 
automatically, so you’ll have to check for new versions. Only 
use the link above to download AdwCleaner; don’t click any 
pop-ups claiming to contain an update. Scammers have used 
this trick to sneak a fake version of AdwCleaner on to PCs. 


O - AdwCl^afWf - V42Q0 - Xplode - G4n^al Chang&log Team - 


Tilt Tooli Help 


1 OuArafltifte manner 

El 


■3|l/RduuCleoner 

Adjen 

Actions 




U 

Oeiani^ 


El 


RieiLt-f 





U 

^ ServKfrf ^ FdUea 


■( ShMtojCi 


^ S Hwthi Ext 


Type Key Value Data 

H Key NkaM\SOn^AHC\CI*SMi\ClSID\{«CMyXCE-FejS-4eS^7-AA3S-CiW«irr3}W2| 
a Kty HiaM\SO™ftHRCI«M*\lrt(erf4etV[i4(»ACOO-i10E-W8r8F7B-ee7D81F8SJJ4f 
14 Kty HICl.M\Wf™AFlt\CI(««NTy^*i\{D3771AfF-40«)-4AU-B71J-^5a7ttCJA3Fi) 


X 


D Click the Scan button to 
update AdwCleanefs 
database (this takes about 
two seconds, compared 
with up to half a minute in 
the previous version) and 
begin scanning your PC. 


B When the scan is finished, 
click the tabs, such as 
Registry and Internet 
Explorer, to see the infected 
files AdwCleaner found 
there. Untick anything you're 
sure is a false positive. 


EL To see all the infected files 
in one list, click Tools, then 
'Quarantine manager'. Also, 
click Logfile to open the list in 
Notepad and save it for your 
records. 


Q Click Cleaning to remove 
all the files discovered by 
AdwCleaner, then restart 
your PC to complete the 
process. Run AdwCleaner 
again to make sure 
everything's been removed. 


16 15 -28 April 2015 



USB TOOL 


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EBOOK EDITOR 

Sigil 

www.snipca.com/16026 

What you need: Windows Vista, 7 or 8/8.1 

Create your own illustrated EPUB ebook using this new 
open-source program. Unlike most ebook-writing services, 
such as Lulu (https://wwwlulu.com), Sigil uses a WYSIWYG 
(‘what you see is what you get’) editor so you don’t have to write 
or format any code. It’s easy to style your text and chapter 
headings, create a clickable table of contents and insert photos 
and illustrations, including your book’s cover. 

To install Sigil, go to the GitHub link above and click ‘Sigil- 
0.8. 5 -Windows-Setup.exe’ (or the link below it, if your PC is 
64bit), then run the installer. There are no extras in the setup 
wizard, but it will install Microsoft C++ (which is safe) if it’s not 
already on your PC. Read more about Sigil on its developer’s 
site: http://sigiI-ebook.com. 



SYSTEM TOOL 

Splat 

www.snipca.com/16037 

What you need: Windows 7 or 8/8.1 

Splat (short for ‘Simple Program Launching and Termination’) 
lets you open and close groups of programs and websites at 
once, using keyboard shortcuts. Lor example, if you’re working 
on a family tree project, create a Splat shortcut to open your 
genealogy program. Excel and your research bookmarks in 
Chrome, all with one click. Or if you’re about to run a memory- 
intensive program such as your antivirus or video editor, you 
could use a Splat shortcut to free up memory first by closing all 
unnecessary processes. To download the portable program, 
click the little orange ‘Splat.zip’ link halfway down the page. 


ImageUSB 

www.snipca.com/16024 
What you need: Windows 
XP, Vista, 7 or 8/8.1 


The humble USB stick 
may seem old-fashioned 
compared with SSDs, 
virtual machines and the 
like, but it’s as useful as 
ever - you can even use 
one to install Windows 

10. This new program lets you copy the contents of one USB 
stick or drive to another (or several, provided you have enough 
USB ports), and makes it easy to write a disk image to USB. To 
get the portable program, scroll down the page and click the 
grey ‘ImageUSB Lree download’ button, then extract the ZIP and 
run the program file (‘imageUSB.exe’). 


WHAT SHOULD I DOWNLOAD? 

We tell you what software to use 




Can I transfer photos to my 
iPad without iTunes? 

Can you suggest an alternative to the awful 
iTunes 12? All I want to do is drag photos and 
videos from my PC on to my iPad to show to 
friends, but iTunes won’t let me. It’s the most unhelpful 
program. What should I use instead? 

Tony Pritchard 

The best program is also an app: Photo Transfer App 
(www.phototransferapp.com). Lor £2.49 it gives 
you complete control over sending and receiving 
photos and videos between all your devices via Wi-Pi. Once 
you’ve paid for the iOS version (www.snipca.com/16033) 
you’re then free to install it on Android (www.snipca. 
com/16038) and your PC, as many times as you want. 

It’s worth mentioning (because Apple doesn’t exactly 
publicise it) that you can plug your iPad into your PC, just 
as if it were an external hard drive. All you need is your 
iPad’s USB cable. Plug the other end into your PC and you’ll 
see a message on your iPad: ‘Trust This 
Computer?’. Tap Trust, and your iPad 
will appear as a device in Windows 
(Pile) Explorer. Navigate to the 
DCIM folder and drag or copy files 
in and out of it. This is a more 
rough-and-ready solution than 
Photo Transfer App, but it’s ideal 
for occasional transfers. 


Do you need our advice on what software to use? 
Just email us at lettersCpcomputeractive.co.uk 



15 -28 April 2015 17 






New products tested by our experts 


Reviews 


TABLET I £320 from www.snipca.com/15973 




An Android tablet that lets you measure 
things with its camera 


Dell may be best known for its PCs and 
laptops, but the company is also one of 
the oldest manufacturers of Android 
tablets. None of them, it has to be said, 
have been particularly good. At first 
glance, the Venue 8 7840 (also known as 
the Venue 8 7000) seems to buck this 
trend. It’s incredibly thin, has a super- 
high-resolution screen and has a camera 
that can measure objects and distances. 
On closer inspection, however, the 7840 
isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. 

Size and weight 

With a thickness of just 6mm, the 7840 
is one of the thinnest tablets we’ve tested. 
You might expect it to be quite flimsy, 
but its metal casing feels incredibly 
robust. It’s also impressively lightweight 
at just 306g. The borders around three 
sides of its screen are incredibly narrow, 
and with so little purchase area for your 
fingers it’s not always easy to hold. The 
thin borders also means it’s far too easy 
to inadvertently trigger an onscreen 
control or cover up the rear camera 
when trying to take a photo. 

The bottom border (in portrait mode) is 
wider, but this houses the front-facing 
camera and speaker, so you have to be 
careful not to cover these with your 
fingers when having a video chat. The 
placement of the front-facing camera 
near the edge, rather than closer to the 


In theory, you can measure the width of a door with the Venue's 
three-lens camera 


middle as on most tablets, 
seems odd at first but it does 
make it a little easier to get a 
good view of your face in 
video chats while still 
maintaining eye contact 
with the other caller. 

Cameras 

The most striking feature of 
the 7840 is its rear-facing 
camera. This has three lenses 
which, using technology 
developed by Intel, can 
measure objects such as the 
dimensions of a picture frame 
or the width of a hallway. 

You use Dell’s camera app 
to take a photo, then its 
photo app to indicate what yoi 
want to measure by marking 
the object with your finger. 

That’s the theory. In practice 
the measurements were often 
off by around two inches or so 
- in some cases by as much as 
a whole foot. Despite the photc 
app’s insistence that the 
measurements would be more accurate 
the more photos we took, this yawning 
margin of error persisted throughout our 
efforts, making this potentially useful 
measuring feature no more than a 
gimmick. It might help settle a pub 

argument or two, but 
it’ll be of little use 
when planning some 
weekend DIY. To be fair 
to Intel and Dell, this 
is a difficult trick to pull 
off, given how even the 
clearest photos can suffer 
from subtle distortions 
in perspective and 
geometry, but they 
should have held back 
this technology and 
perfected it rather than 
releasing it in such a 


Dell Venue 8 7840 


flawed and under-developed state. 

Another problematic feature that 
uses the three-lens rear camera is the 
ability to change the focus of your photos 
after you’ve taken them, similar to the 
trick of the Lytro camera (see our review. 
Issue 404). However, much like other 
Android devices that have attempted to 
reproduce this focus-shifting ability 
(namely the HTC One M8 and the 
Samsung Galaxy S5 - see our reviews. 
Issues 421 and 423 respectively), the 
7840 ’s version of this feature is crude. 
Within a photo, certain parts of a 
building or a person, for example, will 
randomly appear out of focus. 

The rear cameras aren’t even good 
enough for standard photography. Photos 
are blighted by lots of noise and a 
blue-ish cast, even when shooting in 
broad daylight. It’s no match for a decent 


18 15 -28 April 2015 





smartphone camera, making it a 
camera of last resort only. 

Screen, responsiveness and 
performance 

It’s a shame this tablet’s camera isn’t 
up to scratch, because photos look 
gorgeous on the high-quality Sin 
screen. While contrast leaves a little 
to be desired, colour accuracy is 
excellent and the screen is so 
dazzlingly bright at its maximum 
setting, you may need sunglasses. 

Due to the screen’s very high 
resolution (2560x1440 pixels), text is 
razor sharp and images incredibly 
detailed. Disappointingly, the 
touchscreen often responded slowly 
to our swipes and prods, which was 
frustrating. 

At least the performance of the 
quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor 
was up to scratch. It sped through 
our 3D graphics and app-loading 
benchmark tests. It only fell down in 
our web page-loading test, where it 
was slower than the very fastest 
tablets such as the iPad Air 2 and the 
Nexus 9 (see our reviews. Issues 437 
and 438, respectively). But that means 
it’s still faster than most Android tablets 

i I Dell has neglected 
screen responsiveness 
and user-friendly 
design, resulting in 
a flawed tablet If 


we’ve put through this test. We have no 
complaints about its battery life though. 

It lasted an impressive 14 and a half hours 
when playing videos continuously. 

Operating system and speakers 

The 7840 comes with Android 4.4 
KitKat pre-installed, with a free upgrade 
to Android 5.0 Lollipop promised for 
late April. Thankfully, Dell has resisted 
the urge to tamper extensively with 
the standard Android interface. Aside 
from the inclusion of a few extra apps, 
including the ones necessary to use 
the camera’s measurement features, 
the only major alteration is the 
addition of an equaliser. 

Accessed from the notifications drawer. 



the equaliser greatly improves the 
sound quality of the otherwise tinny 
built-in speakers, increasing the clarity 
of spoken dialogue in both videos and 
audio (in podcasts and online radio 
streams, for example). There’s only so 
much the equaliser can do though, 
and it can’t hide the speakers’ lack of 
precision and bass sound. For the best 
audio quality, particularly for music, 
you’ll need a high-quality pair of 
headphones or external speakers. 

Conclusion 

Despite its quality screen and long 
battery life, the Dell Venue 8 7840 
is a pretty average tablet overall. By 
focusing on its slender construction 
and gimmicky camera features, Dell 
has neglected crucial aspects such as 
screen responsiveness and user-friendly 
design, resulting in a flawed and 
inconsistent tablet. At this price, we’d 
much rather have the Sony Xperia Z3 
Tablet Compact or the iPad Mini 2 
(see our reviews. Issues 440 and 416 
respectively), which are far better 
mini tablets. 


SPECIFICATIONS 

8.4in 2560x1600-pixel touchscreen •2.3GHz 
Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor •2GB 
memory • 16GB storage • Android 4.4 KitKat • 306g • 
216x124x6mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty 
www.snipca.com/15973 


HOW WE TEST 

Computeractive is owned by Dennis 
Publishing, which owns a hi-tech facility 
for testing the latest technology. You'll 
often read references to our benchmark 
testing, which is a method of assessing 
products using the same criteria. For 
example, we test the speed of every 
PC and the battery life of every tablet 
in exactly the same way. This makes 
our reviews authoritative, rigorous 
and accurate. 

Dennis Publishing also owns the 
magazines PC Pro, Computer Shopper, 
Web User, Micro Mo/tand MacUser, 
and the website Expert Reviews 
(www.expertreviews.co.uk). This 
means we can test thousands of 
products before choosing the most 
relevant for Computeractive. 

FAIR AND IMPARTIAL 

Our writers follow strict guidelines to 
ensure the reviews are fair and 
impartial. The manufacturer has no 
involvement in our tests. 

OUR AWARDS 

We award every product 
that gets five stars our 
Buy It! stamp of approval. 
It means we were 
extremely impressed by the product, 
and we think you will be too. 

Every product that gets a 
four-star review is given 
the Great Pick award. We 
highly recommend these 
products, although they just fail to meet 
the high standard of our Buy It! winners. 

PRICES 

Our reviews contain a link to the best 
price we found online at the time of press. 



iBUYirn 


VERDICT: A gimmicky camera and 
some bad design choices hobble what 
could've been an excellent tablet 


ALTERNATIVE: Sony Xperia Z3 
Tablet Compact £300 Smoother 
responsiveness 
and a waterproof 
design make this 
Sin Android tablet 
better value 



15 -28 April 2015 19 



Reviews 


SMARTPHONE I £500 (without contract) from www.snipca.com/15907 

LG G Flex 2 

The curved Android phone that can repair itself 


In Issue 446 we reviewed Samsung’s 
Galaxy Note Edge, an Android phone 
with a screen that curved over the 
phone’s right-hand edge. LG’s G Flex 2 
has an even more pronounced curve - a 
concave design (see image right) that 
makes it stand out from the crowd. That’s 
not the phone’s only futuristic feature - 
its rear casing can repair itself thanks to 
its clever chemical composition. 

LG claims the curved contours make 
the phone feel more comfortable when 
pressed up against your face while you 
make a call, and even when it’s stored 
away in your pocket, pressed against your 
body. We aren’t convinced by these 
claims - any increase in comfort levels is 
negligible. The curve is also supposed to 
make the large 5. Sin screen easier to use 
with one hand, but it’s just as unwieldy 
as screens on other phone of this size. 

The curved screen’s only plausible 
benefit is that it would be less likely to 
crack if dropped on the floor, given that 


The futuristic 
curved screen is 
unwieldy and of little 
practical benefit If 

most of the screen would avoid contact 
with the ground. We didn’t risk putting 
our theory to the test, but we did have 
the opportunity to test the self-repairing 
rear casing when an over-excitable 
child put a gash in it using a set of house 
keys. A few minor scratches healed 
within a few hours and the faint scuff 
marks left behind could only be seen 
when held up to the light. A more serious 
gouge healed in a couple of days. 
Although this did leave visible scratch 
marks behind, the recovery was 

SPECIFICATIONS 

5.5in 1920x1080-pixel touchscreen • 1.56GHz 
Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 eight-core processor 
• Adreno 430 graphics chip • 2GB memory • 16GB 
storage • 4G • Micro SIM • Android 5.0 Lollipop • 152g • 
149x75x9mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty 
www.snipca.com/15908 




nonetheless very impressive. 

The image quality of the screen is 
excellent. It’s very bright with spot-on 
colour accuracy and great contrast, 
while text is razor sharp, thanks to its 
1080p resolution. Responsiveness was 
somewhat disappointing though 
(which surprised us given the screen’s 
other attributes), with the touchscreen 
sometimes struggling to keep up with 
our finger prods and swipes. 

Unlike some older Samsung phones 
which claimed to have eight-core 
processors (even though only four 
of those eight cores could be used at 
any one time), the Snapdragon 810 
processor here has true eight-core 
credentials and is one of the fastest 
mobile processors we’ve ever seen. 

The phone did get warm when 
running very demanding apps 
though, but it never became 
uncomfortable. 

Battery life was nothing special. 

When connected to Vodafone’s 3G 
network in central London and used 
for calls, taking photos, web browsing 
and GPS, the battery lasted 26 hours 
15 minutes. When playing videos 
continuously, it only managed 11 hours 
11 minutes. Call quality was generally 
very good though. While callers did 
tend to sound hushed and distant to 
our ears, we came across loud and clear 
to them with background noises 
successfully filtered out. 

Although not flawless, the camera is 
better than those on many other Android 
phones of a similar price. Outdoor shots 
in bright daylight were sharp and 
detailed. The only flaw here were skies 
that were often oversaturated and looked 
unrealistic. Photos taken in low light 
were sufficiently illuminated with noise 
kept to a minimum, although the focus 
was a tad too soft. 

The G Flex 2 is one of the first phones 
to come with Android 5.0 Lollipop, but 
LG has let itself down with some of the 
changes it has made to the interface. A 
large widget for tracking health data 
occupies one home screen and can’t be 
removed, while a nagging dialogue box 
pops up to tell you the phone is using 


09:00 


3G/4G every time you wander out of 
Wi-Fi range. Lollipop’s handy new ‘do not 
disturb’ features are now buried deep in 
the settings app, making them a real 
hassle to reach. 

The G Flex 2 is a real mixed bag. The 
futuristic curved screen is of little practical 
benefit, while for every well implemented 
feature there’s another half-baked one. 

We hope the best ones will make it to 
LG’s other phones. For now though, even 
if you’re willing to spend this much, 
you’re better off waiting for rival Android 
phones from Samsung and HTC. 

VERDICT: A mixed bag of gimmicks and 
genuinely useful features make this 
phone only fair value 

★★★☆☆ 

ALTERNATIVE: Apple 
iPhone 6 Plus £619 A 
more expensive phablet, 
but with a superior camera 
ancJ almost flawless 
responsiveness 



20 15 -28 April 2015 



CAMERA I £249 from www.snipca.com/15875 


Sony QXl 

Upgrade your smartphone's 
camera with this odd add-on 



The Sony QXl is one of the oddest 
cameras we’ve ever seen. Sony calls it a 
Tens-style’ camera, because it lacks a 
screen and eyepiece. The idea is that you 
connect it wirelessly to your smartphone, 
then use your phone’s screen to take 
and view photos. This means the QXl 
is significantly smaller than your 
average camera, which lets you be 
more creative with your shots because 
you can place it in more unusual 
places and control it remotely. 

Sony also markets the QXl as an 
‘upgrade’ for your smartphone’s camera 
because you can clamp it to the back of 
your phone (you might also just hold it or 
mount it on a standard tripod). It uses the 
same 20.1 -megapixel sensor and image 
processor as Sony’s brilliant Alpha A5000 
camera (see our review. Issue 428). This 
is pretty impressive, given the A5000 
produces far superior image quality than 
any other smartphone. Much like with 
the A5000, you can use a variety of lenses 
with the QXl (as long as they use Sony’s 
E Mount fitting), which makes it more 
versatile than a standard smartphone 
camera. Bizarrely Sony doesn’t include 
a lens with the QXl. A basic zoom lens 
costs a whopping £259, which more 
than doubles the price. 

C t It's great fun, with 
superb image quality, 
but far too expensive f f 

Every time you use the QXl you have 
to pair it with your Android or iOS 
smartphone over Wi-Ei using the free 
PlayMemories app. If your Android 
phone supports NEC, then you can 
simply tap it against the QXl. iPhone 
owners will have to connect via the app, 
but it’s a quick process either way - 
we connected it to our Samsung Galaxy 
S5 in around three seconds. 

Once it’s paired, you use the app to 
take and view photos as well as change 
settings. Photos are saved directly to the 


microSD card inside the camera and can 
also be automatically backed up to your 
smartphone. Advanced settings control 
shutter speed, aperture size, ISO and 
white balance. You also have the option of 
shooting in RAW format instead of JPEG. 

Taking pictures when paired via 
Wi-Ei was very smooth in our tests, 
with only a slight delay between pressing 
the onscreen shutter button on our 
phone and the camera capturing an 
image. The live preview (showing what 
the camera is viewing) suffered from 
only negligible delay. If you aren’t 
shooting remotely, you just use the 
physical shutter and zoom controls 
on the camera itself for quick results. 

The QXl’s battery survived a whole 
day of shooting, more than could be 
said for our phone’s battery. While you 
can of course take photos with just the 
QXl, this is hardly ideal. 

When used with Sony’s basic zoom 
lens, image quality was unsurprisingly on 
a par with that of the A5000, and streets 
ahead of any smartphone. Colours were 
vibrant yet balanced, while autofocus was 
reliable and fast. The big SLR-style sensor 

SPECIFICATIONS 

20.1-megapixel sensor* Accepts microSD and 
Memory Stick Micro storage cards • 158g • 
70x74x53mm (HxWxD) • Requires Android or iOS 
device • One-year warranty www.snipca.com/15874 


kept noise to a minimum, so skin tones 
and other subtle textures were captured 
accurately, while shots in low light were 
respectable. Using an alternative lens 
with a wider aperture let us capture 
images in the sort of dark conditions 
that would defeat any smartphone or 
compact camera. 

We had great fun shooting with the 
QXl, but it’s just far too expensive. When 
bought with a basic zoom lens, it costs 
almost twice as much as an A5000 with 
the same lens. It might be worth your 
while if you already own a Sony CSC, 
and therefore already own a collection 
of Sony E Mount lenses, but most recent 
Sony CSCs have the same remote- 
shooting feature as the QXl, albeit in a 
bulkier package. All of this makes the 
QXl something of a luxury, for wealthy 
photography enthusiasts only. 


VERDICT: Superb image quality and 
flexible shooting, but it's too expensive 

ALTERNATIVE: Sony 
A5000 £259 Essentially 
the same camera in a 
bulkier design but at half 
the cost of the QXl when 
bought with the same lens 



15 -28 April 2015 21 


Reviews 


LAPTOP I £650 from www.snipca.com/15974 

Asus ZenBook UX305 

Long battery life and a thin, lightweight 
casing at a surprisingly reasonable price 



The best ultra-portable laptops tend to be 
expensive - slender lightweight casings, 
large long-lasting batteries and power- 
efficient components don’t come 
cheap. This makes the relatively 
low price and high quality of the 
Asus ZenBook UX305 all the 
more surprising. 

The UX305 is remarkably thin 
with its metal casing only just thick 
enough to accommodate its three 
USB 3.0 ports. Despite how slender and 
leightweight (1.2kg) it is, its metal build 
is robust with only a little flexing in its 
base and lid. Its mauve design is attractive 
too, as is the circular pattern etched 
into the lid. 

We were worried that such a thin 
casing would mean a less comfortable 
keyboard (thin casings tend to leave less 
room for the key mechanisms, resulting 
in less travel). But it still had enough, and 
combined with plenty of feedback, it 
made for fast, error-free typing. The keys 

I fit has the battery 
life, build and screen 
quality normally 
found in a laptop 
twice the price 

aren’t backlit for typing in low-lit 
conditions, but that’s a minor quibble. 
The touchpad is large and accurate, even 
though some of the gestures, such as 
scrolling by swiping two fingers up or 
down, feel a little juddery and imprecise. 

There’s no touchscreen, but we’ve 
never been fans of this feature on laptops. 
While the screen is a little grainy, it does 
have an anti-glare finish that keeps 
overhead light reflections to a minimum. 
Both contrast and colour accuracy are 
good, while the viewing angles are wide. 
Thanks to the generous 1920xl080-pixel 
resolution, text looks sharp, if a little 
on the small side. A small tweak of 
Windows’ display settings helps to 


compensate for this. 

The UX305 is completely silent 
because it uses one of Intel’s new Core 
M processors, which doesn’t need a 
cooling fan. Despite this, the underside of 
the laptop never became uncomfortably 
warm - even when we ran our most 
strenuous benchmark tests, designed to 
really stretch the processor. Its energy- 
efficient design helped the UX305 achieve 
an impressive 12 hours of battery life in 
our light-usage test - a significant 
achievement given the battery is smaller 
than those found in many rival laptops. 

The downside is that the Core M 
processor is noticeably slower than 
fourth- or fifth-generation Intel Core i5 
and i7 processors. While it’s on a par 
when it comes to image editing, it’s 
around 50 per cent slower when editing 
video, and about a third as fast when 
running multiple programs at the 
same time. It’s more than fast enough 
for more mundane tasks though. 

Starting up and waking from sleep are 
almost instantaneous, thanks to the 
128GB SSD. You can’t buy it with a bigger 
SSD though. And while it’s possible to 
upgrade the SSD yourself, disassembling 

SPECIFICATIONS 

800MHz Intel Core M 5Y10 dual-core processor* 
8GB memory • 128GB SSD • Intel HD 5300 integrated 
graphics • 13.3in 1920x1080-pixel screen • 802.11ac/ 
a/b/g/n - Windows 8.1 •1.2kg (1.4kg with charger) 

• 12x324x226mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty 
www.snipca.com/15975 


this laptop means dealing with lots of 
tiny, fiddly screws. Another thing to 
remember is that the SSD is an M.2 type, 
which cost more per gigab 5 fie than a 
SATA model. If you have lots of files 
then you’ll probably have to rely on 
external or online storage. 

The Asus ZenBook UX305 is a 
remarkably good-value laptop with the 
battery life, build and screen quality 
normally found in a laptop twice the 
price. The only downside is the so-so 
performance. If you want an ultra- 
portable laptop that’s powerful enough 
for use as your main computer, then the 
Asus ZenBook UX303LA is a better buy 
(see our review. Issue 442). Although 
thicker and a tad heavier, it’s far faster 
with a comparable battery life. Still, 
if you frequently work on the go and 
value portability above all else, then 
the UX305 is ideal. 


VERDICT: This almost flawless ultra- 
portable laptop is superb value 

★★★★★ 

ALTERNATIVE: Asus ZenBook 
UX303LAE695 
Thicker, a little noisier 
and 200g heavier, 
but with much faster 
performance and 
comparable 
battery life 



22 15 -28 April 2015 



LAPTOP I £180 from www.snipca.com/15929 


HP Stream 11 

A cheap and colourful laptop, but far from cheerful 


The best... 

Accessories 



HP’s Stream 11 stands out from 
the crowd with its flamboyant 
bright purple casing. The wrist rest 
has a subtle polka-dot pattern, 
which gets lighter from top to 
bottom. This isn’t as distracting as 
it sounds and the whole thing is 
sturdily made. 

At just £180, the Stream 11 is 
incredibly cheap for a Windows 
8.1 laptop. Despite its bargain 
price, it’s light (1.3kg) and its 
battery survived an impressive 
10 and a half hours in our 
light-usage test. This is a 
great return for such a 
low-cost laptop and is due in large 
part to its energy-efficient Intel 
Celeron N2840 processor. 

While it conserves battery life, the 
performance of this processor was 
disappointing. It’s too slow for 
demanding tasks like editing photos and 
videos. We could live with that, if it didn’t 
also struggle with more everyday tasks 
such as web browsing and office work. 
When we opened several browser tabs or 
programs simultaneously the laptop’s 
responsiveness came to a virtual 
standstill. While the slow processor is 
partly to blame, the measly 2GB of 
memory doesn’t help and just isn’t 
sufficient for a Windows computer. 

Among the extras is a Microsoft Office 
365 subscription (free for one year). 

You’ll probably need to rely on USB or 
online storage though, because almost 
half the 32GB SSD is already occupied 
out of the box. You get 1TB of OneDrive 
storage free for a year and 25GB of 
Dropbox storage free for six months. 

The keyboard feels a tad spongy, but it’s 
comfortable to type on, with large keys 
that provide enough feedback and travel. 
The touchpad is more flawed. Although 
spacious, it wasn’t particularly accurate 
and sometimes struggled to distinguish 


between a button tap and a movement 
of the cursor. 

The screen looks washed out with 
poor contrast and tight viewing angles. 
It’s reasonably bright, but we’ve tested 
other budget laptops with more vibrant 
screens. At 11.6in, the screen is relatively 
small and the 1366x768 resolution can 
make text hard to read if your eyesight 
is less than perfect. 

The Stream 11 - and other similar 
computers such as Toshiba’s Satellite 
CLIO (see our review. Issue 439) - 
is an attempt by Microsoft to take on 
Chromebooks by cramming Windows 
into the cheapest laptops possible. 
Unfortunately, the hardware just isn’t 
up to it. If you want a light laptop for 
around £200, you should opt for the 
Asus Chromebook C200 (see our review. 
Issue 432). If you want a cheap Windows 
laptop, then you’ll have to settle for the 
heavier and slightly more expensive 
Asus X555L (see Buy It! page 30). 


VERDICT: You'll need the patience of a 
saint when using this slow laptop 


Lindy Im USB-to-MicroB/ 


Lightning Combo Cable 

£20 from www.snipca. 
com/15993 
A handy micro 
USB cable that 
has a tethered 
Lightning adapter, so it can 
charge both Apple and 
non-Apple mobile devices. 










Motorola Moto Hint 

£74 from www. 
snipca.com/15994 
An impressively 
small Bluetooth 
headset for 
smartphones that also 
works with personal 
assistants such as Siri 
and Google Now. A lipstick- 
sized USB charging cradle is 
included. 



Native Union Night Cable 
£34 from www.snipca.com/15995 
A 3m cable for charging your 
smartphone or tablet that has a large 
weighted knot in it to prevent your 
device from sliding off your desk and 
falling into hard-to-reach nooks and 
crannies. It comes in Lightning and 
micro USB versions. 


SPECIFICATIONS 

2.16GHz Intel Celeron N2840 dual-core processor* 
2GB memory • 32GB SSD • Intel integrated graphics 

• 11.6in 1366x768-pixel screen • 802.11b/g/n 

• Windows 8.1 •1.3kg (1.6kg with charger) • 
20x300x206mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty 
www.snipca.com/15930 




ALTERNATIVE: Asus Chromebook 
C200 £200 A far superior budget 
ultra-portable 
laptop, as long 
as you're happy 
to use Chrome 
OS instead of 
Windows 



Maplin 1.5m Six Socket 
UFO Extension Cable 
£13 from www. 
snipca.com/15996 
A compact, 
space-saving 
gangplug with six 
plug sockets. 


15 -28 April 2015 23 






Reviews 


PRINTER I £227 from www.snipca.com/16007 

HP Colour LaserJet Pro M277 

A small and well-designed colour 
printer that also scans, makes 
copies and sends faxes 


HP’s Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw is a 
multi-function colour laser printer (MFP). 
Its basic functions include sending and 
receiving faxes, and making colour prints, 
scans or photocopies, but that’s just the 
start of things. Connect it to your network 
using either an Ethernet cable or the 
built-in Wi-Fi adapter, and you can share 
it with everyone at home. As expected for 
a modern MFP, it also supports a wide 
range of additional features, all of which 
are controlled using a colour touchscreen. 

The M277dw isn’t as big as you would 
expect for a laser printer and it has an 
impressively unfussy casing. The 
off-white plastic is broken up with the 
minimum of vents and flaps, and the use 
of a touchscreen means that the only 
physical button is the power switch. 

At more than 15 kilograms it’s deceptively 
heavy, though - we’d recommend 
getting help to lift it. 



tt The touchscreen 
is excellent - it's like 
using a smartphone 


At the base is the paper-input tray 
which is easy to pull out and load. It’s 
good for only 150 sheets, though; some 
rival MFPs manage 250 or more. Above 
this is a bypass slot for a single page of 
one-off media, such as an envelope or 
headed paper. Printed pages come to rest 
on top of the printer, above which is the 
scanner and its 50-sheet automatic 
document feeder (ADF). Using this, you 
can make unattended photocopies or 
scans of long multi-page documents. 

The touchscreen is excellent. While it 
isn’t that large, it has clear icons and 
responds quickly to taps and gestures 

SPECIFICATIONS 

600x600dpi maximum print resolution • 18ppm 
colour and mono quoted speeds • 1200x1200dpi 
maximum scan resolution • USB2 • Gigabit Ethernet • 
Wi-Fi • One-year warranty www.snipca.com/16008 


- it’s like using a simplified smartphone. 
From here you can control basic tasks 
such as faxes or copies, but there are 
more advanced options, such as printing 
a file stored on a USB stick or saving a 
scan to one. The USB port itself is located 
just underneath the touchscreen. 

There are multiple ways of printing 
from iOS and Android devices. You can 
use Apple’s AirPrint or HP’s ePrint - the 
latter lets you simply email the files you 
want to print to the printer itself. There’s 
also support for Google Cloud Print, 
which lets you print documents from a 
Chromebook or indeed any computer 
connected to the internet. Of course, you 
needn’t bother with any of this if you 
don’t own any of these devices; there’s 
conventional Windows software too. 

Tested with our PC, the M277dw 
printed five pages of black text in 27 
seconds, and took the same time to print 
five pages of business graphics. While 
that’s some way off the claimed rate of 
18 pages per minute (ppm), it began to 
approach this on longer jobs, reaching 
14.5ppm over 20 pages. Photocopies 
weren’t sluggish either, with a single 
black copy needing only 14 seconds, 
while a 10 -page copy completed in just 
45 seconds - it was barely any slower in 
colour. Scans were also fast: it took us 
just 12 seconds to capture an A4 
document at 300 dots per inch (dpi): 
a middling amount of detail. 


Scan quality was more than good 
enough for archiving documents and 
other office work, while black prints 
and copies were excellent. We were 
disappointed, however, with the 
accuracy of colours in photocopies and 
prints. The former were a little dark 
and dingy, while the latter tended to 
have a bluish tint. 

This MFP takes four separate colour 
toner cartridges which are available 
in both standard and high-capacity 
varieties. It’s cheaper to use the latter, 
resulting in a cost of 9.2p per page of 
mixed text and colour graphics, while 
printing just black text costs 2p per page. 
That’s not unreasonable for a laser MFP 
at this price, but a comparable inkjet MFP 
would cost less to buy and run. Despite 
some strengths, then, the Color LaserJet 
Pro MFP M277 is only fair value. 

VERDICT: This MFP has plenty of easy- 
to-use features, but we're disappointed 
by its colour prints and copies, and we 
wish it was cheaper to run 

★★★★☆ 

ALTERNATIVE: Epson WorkForce Pro 
WF-5620DWF £218 
An inkjet MFP with 
lower running costs 
and better print and 
scan quality 



24 15 -28 April 2015 



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Reviews 

PRINTER I £135 from www.snipca.com/15869 

Canon Maxify MB5050 

An attractive MFP for small and home offices 


Canon markets the Maxify MB5050 as a 
small office MFP and in theory, it’s 
superior to most inkjet printers aimed at 
the home. It can achieve print speeds of 
23 pages per minute (ppm) in black and 
ISppm colour and it has an Ethernet port 
in addition to USB and Wi-Fi. Plus, this 
model accepts high-capacity ink cartridges, 
which should mean lower running costs. 

The MB5050 is striking for a printer 
with a front panel that looks like brushed 
metal, despite being made from plastic. 

At the top, the 50 -page automatic 
document feeder (ADF) folds shut when 
not in use. The hinges of the scanner lid 
extend so that it can accommodate bulky 
material such as magazines. Unlike on 
Canon’s more expensive Maxify models, 
the ADF here can’t scan both sides of a 
document automatically, but the printer 
does support duplex printing. Sitting 
below the output tray is a reasonably 
high-capacity 250-sheet paper input 
tray, but there’s no special feed for items 
other than standard paper, such as 
envelopes and card stock. 

There’s a colour touchscreen which you 
can use to access files stored on online 


SPECIFICATIONS 

1200x600dpi maximum print resolution •23ppm 
colour and 15ppm mono quoted speeds • 1200x 
1200dpi maximum scan resolution • Ethernet • USB • 
Wi-Fi • One-year warranty www.snipca.com/15870 


storage services, 
such as Dropbox, 
and print them 
without using your 
computer. It’s 
unlikely you’ll want 
to do this often, 
though, because the 
touchscreen is very 
small and didn’t 
respond well to our 1 
presses. You can print from your tablet 
or smartphone using Apple AirPrint 
and Google Cloud Print. 

In certain areas, the MB5050 performs 
brilliantly. It’s an extremely quick mono 
printer, delivering 25 pages of text at 
21.4ppm, and a single mono photocopy 
in just eight seconds. Copying 10 pages 
took only 48 seconds. Scans are fast at 
low-to-middling resolutions, with a 
300 dots-per-inch (dpi) A4 capture 
taking just 14 seconds, but a 1,200dpi 
photo scan took a less impressive 68 
seconds. It printed colour pages quickly, 
with our 24-page graphics test arriving 
at 6.3ppm. It took a lengthy four minutes 
to duplex print 10 colour sides on five 
pages, however. 

Scan quality was of a very high 
standard, while mono prints and copies 
were also very good. We were a little 
disappointed with colour prints and 


copies on plain paper, however. Colours 
seemed drab, especially when compared 
to those from rival printers. Print costs 
are very attractive, though, at about 
4. Ip for a page of mixed text and colour 
graphics, and just 0.9p for a page of text. 

The MB5050 is a very good MFP, 
especially in terms of costs. Epson’s 
WorkForce Pro WF-5620DWF is more 
impressive, but it costs almost £100 more. 


VERDICT: Canon's Maxify MB5050 is a 
great MFP with a few colour flaws 

ALTERNATIVE: Epson WorkForce 
Pro WF-5620DWF £218 Dearer but 
faster colour-print speeds, 
speedier colour scanning, 
better colour-print quality 
and cheaper colour costs 


WHAT SHOULD I BUY? We solve your buying dilemmas 


What's the best keyboard and mouse for RSI? 



I’ve developed rather painful 
RSI after years of bad posture 
and other sloppy computer- 
usage habits. I’m now looking to replace 
the generic keyboard and mouse that 
came with my PC with more healthy 
alternatives. What would you suggest? 

Emilie Bertrand 

There are lots of ergonomic 
keyboards and mice available 
and which ones will suit you 
depend on the severity of your 



condition and your needs. We’d start 
with the Microsoft Sculpt Ergonomic 
Keyboard (£49 from www.snipca. 
com/16011). Its design is supposed to 
ensure your arms and hands are in a 
more natural position when typing - one 
of our RSI-afilicted writers swears by it. 

We’d suggest skipping a mouse in 
favour of a trackball. You only move the 
ball only using your fingers, instead of 
moving an entire mouse with your hand. 
It won’t suit everyone, but another of our 
writers won’t be parted from his 



Kensington 
Orbit Laser Trackball (£25 from 
WWW. snipca.com/16 012) . 

Finally, it may be worth trying 
voice-recognition software instead 
of a keyboard and mouse to type and 
control your PC. Nuance Dragon 
NaturallySpeaking 13 Home is the 
best available (£80 from www.snipca. 
com/16013). 


Do you need advice on what you should buy? 
Email us at lettersCpcomputeractive.co.uk 


26 15 -28 April 2015 






GAME I £23 from www.snipca.com/15991 


Cities: Skylines 

The city-building game 
better than SimCity 


City-building games are great fun and 
have been around for decades, but the 
genre is difhcult to get right. The latest 
SimCity (see our review, Issue 397), for 
example, may have beautiful graphics, 
but gameplay is over-simplified and 
unbalanced, and playing it requires a 
constant internet connection. However, 
Cities: Skylines gets it right. 

The game revolves around keeping the 
citizens of your city happy, employed and 
spending money. Keep them content by 
providing them with schools, parks, 
hospitals, police stations and other 
services and amenities. Key to this game 
are zones - residential, commercial, 
industrial and offices - which you place 
wherever you see fit. If there’s sufficient 
demand for new buildings, these zones 
automatically fill up with houses, fiats, 
offices, shops and industrial estates that 
your citizens will flock to for work and 

tt Cities: Skylines is 
the city-building game 
we've been clamouring 
for and beats the 
2013 SimCity Jf 

leisure. While planning these areas is 
up to you, the actual construction and 
management of these buildings is 
handled by the game, so your main 
responsibility is balancing the budget 
and smoothing out any problems. 

You unlock more types of building, 
transportation options and services as 
your city’s population grows. You can 
buy more land to expand your city’s 
borders - assuming you have also 
increased your finances - to 
accommodate your booming population. 
Thanks to the wonderfully detailed 
graphics, zooming into your city and 
watching a neighbourhood going about 
its business has a bewitching charm 
similar to that of a model railway. 



Each zone is divided into districts. To 
appease the citizens of each, you can 
choose specific policies, such as lower 
taxes, a ban on pets and free smoke 
detectors. You can also change a district’s 
economic speciality, effectively creating 
towns dedicated to, for example, ore 
mining, oil drilling, logging or farming. 
Get the right mix and you’ll boost both 
your finances and the happiness of your 
citizens. Plus, this also allows for 
enormous creative freedom, letting you 
effectively create multiple towns within 
one map, each with different specialities 
and residents, but all connected by your 
roads and public transport systems. 

Your city’s roads will become 
gridlocked if you fail to plan ahead, 
especially as traffic behaviour, while 
intriguing, is unrealistic and flawed, 
sometimes resulting in tricky-to-solve 
congestion. As the traffic piles up your 
ambulances can’t make it to their 
patients, fire trucks can’t get to 
emergencies and the bin men can’t 
pick up the rubbish. Everything 
quickly starts to fall apart. 

Although traffic behaviour is bizarre, 
troubleshooting your tailbacks is great 
fun. Going from a three-mile jam to 
free-flowing traffic with some road 
tweaking and public transport is very 
rewarding. It can be overwhelming at 
first: if you’re struggling, tutorials made 
by other players (such as the one at 


SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS 

Windows XP or later •3GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 
processor or faster • 4GB of memory • Nvidia 
GeForce GTX 260 or AMD Radeon HD 5670 
graphics card or faster •4GB of available hard-drive 
space www.snipca.com/15991 


www.snipca.com/15992) are great 
starting points. 

Despite this, the game can become a 
little too easy. There’s no equivalent to the 
disasters in the SimCity games, such as 
tornadoes and earthquakes, which keep 
you on your toes. 

There are other irritations: you can’t 
build tunnels, although the game’s 
developers say they’re working on it. 
There’s also an annoying Twitter-like 
news feed that displays messages from 
your citizens, which quickly become 
repetitive and lack the charm and humour 
of similar feeds in older SimCity games. 

Despite these quibbles. Cities: Skylines 
is the city-building game we’ve been 
clamouring after for a decade, and it 
beats the 2013 SimCity hands down 
thanks to more in-depth gameplay, bigger 
cities and better transport management. 

If you ever get bored, more than 10,000 
player-made add-ons are now available, 
adding even more depth to the game. 
Whether you’re a wannabe mayor or just 
want to while away a rainy day. Cities: 
Skylines is great fun. 

VERDICT: Not a perfect city builder, but 
hugely addictive and beautiful 

★★★★☆ 

ALTERNATIVE: 

SimCity 4 Deluxe 
Edition £10 The best 
SimCity game ever 
made now available at a bargain price. 
There are loads of player-made add- 
ons and it has less demanding system 
requirements, so it'll run on very old PCs 



15 -28 April 2015 27 


Reviews 


CAMERA I £649 from www.snipca.com/15911 


Panasonic 

Lumix GM5 

A tiny camera with 
interchangeable lenses 



The Panasonic Lumix GM5 is one of 
those rare cameras that have 
interchangeable lenses, but still fit into 
your pocket or small handbag. It’s a 
great selling point for anyone attracted 
to the benefits of a CSC, but still find 
them too big. It’s an update to the 
Lumix CMl (see our review. Issue 413) 
and while it adds new features, its 
weight has only nudged up by 5g. 

The most significant addition is the 
eyepiece. This comes into its own when 
shooting in direct sunlight and the 
reflections on the screen can make life 
difficult. Holding the camera up against 
your eye can also help to avoid camera 
shake. The image it shows is a tad small 
and not very bright, but we’re still happy 

it A great camera, 
if a little overpriced, 
given the modest 
improvements 99 

to have it. It’s a shame the screen isn’t 
hinged, which would provide even 
greater flexibility when shooting. 

The Sin screen now has a widescreen 
aspect ratio. That means your videos will 
display without any black bars, though 
they will be present when viewing 
photos shot in the standard 4:3 aspect 
ratio. It’s also a touchscreen, as before, 
making it very easy to change focus. 

The buttons and dials have been 
reorganised, with a new command 
dial that you push in to switch 
between various exposure controls. 

This is handy, even if it is a little stiff 
for our liking. Alongside the command 
dial are two buttons that can be 
customised to perform 46 functions. By 
default, one switches your view between 
the screen and the eyepiece, while the 
other button launches the wireless- 
related features, such as backing up 


photos to your smartphone. 

Another major change is that the 
flash is now a detachable unit. You’ll 
have to be careful you don’t lose it, 
but its detachability does give you 
more flexibility. It uses a standard 
hotshoe fitting, which lets you use 
larger flashguns, although there seems 
little point with such a compact camera. 
The ability to attach a trigger for a 
wireless flash is useful though. 

As with the CMl, it’s amazing how few 
compromises Panasonic has made in its 
quest for miniaturisation. The bundled 
lens has a respectable 3x zoom and 
retracts when not in use, so that it juts 
out just 29mm from the body of the 
camera. It’s comfortable to hold for such 
a slender device, but we’d still have 
preferred a built-in grip (an optional, 
very expensive add-on handgrip is 
available for £90 from www.snipca. 
com/15914). The battery life (around 210 
shots) is one casualty of the war on size. 

Performance is up to scratch. It took 
just one second to power up and take a 
photo, and half a second between shots in 
normal use. Autofocus is consistently 
quick, and no corners have been cut in 
video and photo quality. The quality of 
video in particular was impressive, with 
remarkably crisp, smooth details. Colour 


SPECIFICATIONS 

16-megapixel sensor -Sx zoom (12-32mm) • 
eyepiece • Sin screen • Accepts SD, SDHC, SDXC 
storage cards • Compatible with Micro Four Thirds 
lenses • 346g • 60x99x60mm (HxWxD) • 
One-year warranty www.snipca.com/15913 


accuracy was likevyise excellent, while 
noise levels were satisfyingly low. 

In photos, the finer details were 
incredibly sharp - even at the maximum 
3x zoom of the included lens. Subtle 
textures were reproduced faithfully 
with only the merest hint of noise. As 
usual, switching from JPEC to RAW file 
format gave the best results. Skin tones 
were smooth and natural, while tricky 
lighting conditions were handled well. 
Noise levels were a little high though 
compared with photos taken by Sony 
CSCs that have larger sensors. 

The Lumix GM5 is a great camera, 
but it’s a little overpriced given the 
modest nature of its improvements over 
the CMl. That earlier model (with the 
same lens) is still available for £429 
(fromwww.snipca.com/15915). If its 
pocket-sized dimensions don’t float your 
boat, then a slightly bigger CSC, such as 
Sony’s Alpha A5000, would be even 
better value. 


VERDICT: If s charmingly small and 
has great image quality, but unless you 
believe less is more, there are better- 
value alternatives 

★★★★☆ 

ALTERNATIVE: Sony A5000 £259 
A smaller selection of compatible 
lenses and a little 
bulkier, but image 
quality is just as 
good, if not better 



28 15 -28 April 2015 


LAPTOP I £1300 from www.snipca.com/15909 


COMING SOON 


Toshiba Kira 107 

A sleek and light laptop that's undergone a nip and tuck 



The Kira 107 is an updated version 
of Toshiba’s excellent Kira 101 
ultra-portable laptop (also knov^n 
as the Kirabook, see our reviev^ in 
Issue 424). The 107 retains the 
same slender, sturdy and stylish 
metallic casing as its predecessor, 
but inside you’ll find one of Intel’s 
latest processors. 

The dual-core Core i7 5500U 
runs at 2.4GHz and is paired with 
8GB of memory, so it’s certainly 
quick enough to be your main 
computer. That said, it’s only 
slightly faster than the 
previous-generation Core i7 
processor in the Kira 101. 

More frustrating is the 
irritatingly loud processor- 
cooling fan. Fiddling with Windows’ 
power options helped alleviate this 
somewhat, but it’s still a pain. 

Disappointingly, and despite the 
new energy-efficient processor, battery 
life is only on a par with the previous 
model. It’s still a decent 13 and a half 
hours, but other laptops can achieve 
even more. Nevertheless, this is still 
more than good enough for working 
on the go and the Kira’s weight (1.3kg) 
makes it easy to cany. 

The colour accuracy and contrast of the 
13in screen are excellent, although the 
colours can fall victim to the screen’s 
narrow viewing angles and slight grainy 
sheen. Just like the Kira 101, the display 
has a sky-high resolution of 2560x1440 
pixels (which is one of the main reasons 
the price is sky high too). This results in 
sharp text and exceptionally detailed 
images. There are a few Windows 
programs that still don’t work properly 
on compact, high-resolution screens like 
this (displaying tiny, illegible text), but 
most popular software is now compatible. 

The screen is touch-sensitive, but using 
it for extended periods of time is a recipe 

SPECIFICATIONS 

2.4GHz Intel Core 17 3500U dual-core processor 
• 8GB memory • 256GB SSD • Intel HD 5500 
integrated graphics chip*13.3in 2560x1440-pixel 
screen • 802.11ac/a/b/g/n • Windows 8.1 • 1.3kg 
(1.6kg with charger) •20x316x207mm (HxWxD) • 
One-year warranty www.snipca.com/15910 


for arm ache. It’s far more comfortable 
to use the keyboard and touchpad 
instead. While the touchpad is still 
not quite on a par with the very best, 
it’s far more responsive and accurate 
than that on the Kira 101. We could 
touch-type on the keyboard quickly 
and without making errors, but it 
could still be better. The keys lack a 
little travel and therefore feel quite 
shallow, but we got used to them 
after some practice. 

The Kira 107 is a good laptop with a 
lot going for it, but it adds up to a pretty 
modest upgrade on its predecessor. 

It’s still one of the best ultra-portable 
Windows laptops available, despite its 
irritating flaws, but we expect it to be 
overtaken soon by laptops made by 
Toshiba’s rivals that will also come 
equipped with Intel’s latest processors. 


VERDICT: A good laptop, but barely 
changed from its predecessor 

ALTERNATIVE: Asus ZenBook 
UX303LA £683 It's 200g heavier 
and has a lower-resolution screen, 
but it does come 
with a comparable 
keyboard and simil 
battery life at a mu 
lower price 



MAY 2015 



Microsoft has announced 
the Surface 3, a cheaper 
and lighter version of the 
Surface Pro 3 tablet. Itll 
have a lO.Sin 
1080p screen, 
the new Atom 
X7 processor and weigh 
622g. Unlike the Surface 2, it will use 
Windows 8.1 and not Windows RT. 


SUMMER 2015 

Sony has 
announced that 
all but one model 
in its 2015 range 
of smart TVs will 

use Google's Android TV interface 
and have YouView built in. 



AUTUMN 2015 

Humax has 
announced it will 
make Freeview 
Play-branded PVRs (personal video 
recorders). These set-top boxes will 
have catch-up TV apps and built-in 
Wi-Fi in addition to video recording. 


' FreeviewPlay 



AUTUMN 2015 

Apple is rumoured to be 
working on a 12in iPad 
Pro which will reportedly 
come with a stylus and 
the ability to run multiple 
apps on screen side by side. 



Tliese and much more... 


Subscribe to Computeractive at 
www.getcomputeractive.co.uk 


15 -28 April 2015 29 









LAPTOP 


ASUSX555LA-XX290H 

£320 from www.snipca.com/16014 
Tested: Issue 446 



Asus has made all the right choices 
with this budget Windows 8.1 laptop, 
its comfortable keyboard, fast 


performance, respectably lengthy 
battery life and bright screen are all the 
more impressive given its low price. 


ALTERNATIVE Asus Chromebook C200 

A cheap Chrome OS ultra-portable 
laptop with a bright screen, lengthy 
battery life and a great keyboard. 

£190 from www.snipca.com/15269 


PHONE 


Motorola Moto G 4G 

£150 (without contract) from 
www.snipca.com/14162 
Tested: Issue 432 



Motorola's budget Android smartphone 
is an absolute steal. It's very responsive, 
well made, fast and has a good screen. 
Plus, it's now been updated with 4G and 
a microSD card slot. 


ALTERNATIVE: Apple iPhone 5s 

An excellent smartphone with a great 
camera and performance. £459 without 
a contract from www.snipca.com/10171 




Find out what other products we liked in 2014. I 

Buy our Back Issue CD now; 
www.snipca.coin/14981 1 


OM! 

Fh-i b 

JjH 


Our pick of products that have won the Buy It award 


DESKTOP PC 


Palicomp AMD Kaveri 
Evolution 

£500 from www.snipca.com/11804 
Tested: Issue 422 



A budget PC with a fast overclocked 
processor. It also has good upgrade 
potential and comes with a surprisingly 
good 24in monitor, as well as a quality 
USB keyboard and mouse. 

ALTERNATIVE: Chillblast Fusion Rhino 

A very powerful and compact PC sold 
without a keyboard, mouse or monitor. 
£899 from www.snipca.com/15252 


TABLET 


Apple iPad Mini 2 

£239 from www.snipca.com/14467 
Tested: Issue 416 



Apple's mini tablet from 2013 is now 
available at an even lower price. The 
only thing it lacks compared with 
the Mini 3 is a fingerprint sensor and 
the option of lots of built-in storage. 
Otherwise, it's an absolute bargain. 


ALTERNATIVE: Apple iPad Air 2 A 

thin and lightweight lOin tablet with a 
fingerprint reader, an excellent screen 
and peerless selection of apps. £399 
from www.snipca.com/14309 


DIGITAL CAMERA 


Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF6 

£270 from www.snipca.com/12607 
Tested: Issue 405 



This compact interchangeable-lens 
camera is small and reasonably priced, 
yet it has well-designed controls, a wide 
range of available lenses and shoots 
excellent quality photos. The GF6 really 
is unbeatable value. 

ALTERNATIVE: Sony A5000 A rival 
CSC with better low-light performance, 
although its controls and range of 
available lenses aren't quite as good. 
£259 from www.snipca.com/15854 


E-READER 


Kobo Aura H20 

£140 from www.snipca.com/15490 
Tested: Issue 435 



A waterproof e-reader with an easy-to- 
read, high-resolution touchscreen that's 
easy on the eyes and great for reading 
in the bath. There's no 3G version, but, 
unlike the Amazon Kindle, you can buy 
ebooks from independent retailers that 
use the ePub format. 


ALTERNATIVE: Amazon Kindle Voyage 

The best Kindle yet, with a sharp, 
extremely responsive touchscreen 
and easy-grip design. £169 from 
www.snipca.com/14451 


30 15 -28 April 2015 












BUY IT! 

★★★★★ 


SECURITY SOFTWARE 


Kaspersky Internet 
Security 2015 

£17.99 from www.snipca.com/14212 
Tested: Issue 427 



Kaspersky Internet Security 2015 has 
won our past four antivirus tests - an 
unprecedented set of results. The 2015 
edition is available at an exclusive reader 
discount on our Software Store. Click the 
link above for a one-device licence, or buy 
a three-device licence for just £39.99 at 
www.snipca.com/14221. 


ALTERNATIVE: Norton Internet Security 
2014 An affordable program, but 
sometimes blocked legitimate software. 
£30 from www.snipca.com/15115 


PHOTO EDITING 


Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 

£98 from www.snipca.com/14348 
Tested: Issue 402 


PC MONITOR 


DellUltraSharpU2412M 

£214 from www.snipca.com/14610 
Tested: Issue 378 




Lightroom is a consistently elegant, 
powerful and fast photo-management 
program packed with sophisticated 
features. If you want to keep on top of 
your photos and make them look great, 
there's no better software to do it with. 


ALTERNATIVE: Adobe Photoshop 
Elements 13 A fast and polished 
photo-editing program with excellent 
advanced editing tools. £57 from 
www.snipca.com/14731 


An exquisite monitor with superb image 
quality, an adjustable stand, a high 
resolution and even a built-in U5B hub. 
it costs a little more than other monitors, 
but it's money well spent, it's easily the 
best-value monitor we've seen and is 
the one by which all others are judged. 

ALTERNATIVE: AOC i2360PHU A good 
quality budget 23in monitor that's easily 
adjustable and has a built-in U5B 2.0 hub 
too. £153 from www.snipca.com/15274 


SECURITY CAMERA 


Y-cam HomeMonitor HD 

£147 from www.snipca.com/11646 
Tested: Issue 420 





A home-security camera that's well 
priced and easy to set up. Plus, it has 
great picture quality, useful apps and 
there's no need to subscribe to any extra 
services, it's a worthy successor to the 
original HomeMonitor, our previous 
favourite security camera. 


ALTERNATIVE: D-Link Wireless N Day 
& Night Camera A good-value security 
camera with excellent night vision. £85 
from www.snipca.com/15275 


ROUTER 


Trendnet TEW-812DRU 

£112 from www.snipca.com/15855 
Tested: Issue 427 



An incredibly fast 802.11ac router 
that's also one of the cheapest we've 
seen. It's superb and it's the router to 
buy if you're ready to make the jump 
to 802.11ac. 

ALTERNATIVE: Linicsys WRT1900AC 

More expensive, but even faster and 
with loads of features too. £200 from 
www.snipca.com/14950 


NAS 


Synology DiskStation 
DS213j 

£125 from www.snipca.com/16015 
Tested: Issue 404 



This NA5 enclosure has it all - fast 
performance, easy configuration and 
plenty of extra features. It's not perfect 
- disk installation is a little fiddly and it's 
a tad pricey - but there are few other 
NA5 devices we would rather buy. 

ALTERNATIVE: Synology DS414j 

A four-drive NA5 that's generally fast 
and easy to set up and use too. £262 
from www.snipca.com/12545 


15-28 April 2015 


31 










WEB DESIGN 


Serif WebPlusXS 

£90 from www.snipca.com/15278 
Tested: Issue 443 



WebPlus X8 is one of the best programs 
available for designing a website 
without having to write a line of code, it 
comes with lots of templates, with more 
available for purchase if you need them, 
it also has lots of specialist tools for 
building a small business website. 


ALTERNATIVE: Jimdo Pro This browser- 
based program for creating websites is 
slick and feature packed, but lacking in 
high-quality templates. £60 a year from 
www.jimdo.com/pricing 


SMART TV 


Samsung UE32H6200 

£329 from www.snipca.com/16016 
Tested: Issue 427 




A stylish 32in smart TV with great picture 
quality and apps for all the terrestrial TV 
catch-up services, it has plenty of extras, 
too, such as recording-to-USB storage, 
3D, playing media files stored on a NAS 
or USB stick, and plenty of HDMi ports. 


ALTERNATIVE: Sony l<DL-42W705B 

Excellent image quality, stylish looks 
and a 42in screen. £400 from www. 
snipca.com/12931 



COMPETITION 


Win 1 of 2 

TP-LINK TD-W8980 dual- 
band routers 

Easy to set up and 
made from sleek, 
glossy plastic, 

TP-LiNK's 
TD-W8980 is 
one of the best budget routers we've 
tested recently (see our 'Great Pick' 
review in Issue 445). It's a dual-band 
router, so it can operate on the 2.4GHz 
and 5GHz bands, hitting top speeds of 
116.5Mbps at 10 metres and 93.2Mbps 
at 25 metres. TTiis is impressive for such 
a well-priced router. To enter, email 
your address to cacomp^dennis.co.uk 
by midnight 28 April. 


TP-LINK'S TD-W8980 router is 
available to buy now priced £59. 

For more info visit http://uk.tp-link. 
com, follow TP-LiNK on Twitter 
((Ptplinkgamin^) and 'like' TP-LINK's 
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ 
tplinkuk. 


MULTIFUNCTION PRINTER 


Canon Pixma MG4250 

£50 from www.snipca.com/12457 
Tested: Issue 382 



This budget multifunction printer (MFP) 
isn't the fastest available, but it's cheap 
to buy and inexpensive to run. Just as 
importantly, both prints and scans look 
great. Unless you need faster print 
speeds or separate ink tanks for each 
colour, this MFP is the one to buy. 


ALTERNATIVE: Canon Pixma MX535 

An MFP aimed at small offices with 
duplex, ADF and fax, but also good 
photo print quality. £68 from www. 
snipca.com/15117 


SOLID-STATE DRIVE 


Crucial BXlOO 1TB 

£318 from www.snipca.com/16017 
Tested: Issue 445 



A blindingly fast, high-capacity SSD at 
a lower price than ever before. If you've 
been put off buying a SSD because of 
the cost, then now is finally the time to 
take the plunge. If the 1TB model we 
reviewed is still too pricey or just overkill 
for your needs, cheaper 120GB, 250GB 
and 500GB models are also available. 


ALTERNATIVE: Samsung 850 Pro 
256GB An even faster SSD, but it is 
much more expensive per gigabyte. 
£87 from www.snipca.com/16018 


HOMEPLUCS 


Devolo dLAN 1200 Triple+ 
Starter Kit 

£119 from www.snipca.com/15369 
Tested: Issue 444 


Devolo's latest Homeplug adapters are 
the fastest we've ever seen. They're also 
well designed too, with a passthrough 
socket so you can still power another 
device and the design should avoid 
skirting boards and other obstacles. 

ALTERNATIVE: Devolo dLAN 650 Triple+ 
Starter Kit These Homeplug adapters 
have a space-saving design and three 
Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting 
multiple devices to your network. £77 
from www.snipca.com/16019 



32 15 -28 April 2015 









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Workshops & Tips 







14 pages of easy-to-follow workshops and expert tips 


35 Make amazing 
panoramas from your photos 
38 Take screenshots using 
Windows 


40 Edit videos on 
your iPad 

42 Create a fake virus to 
test your PC's security 


PLUS 


[ 43 Readers' Tips 
I 44 Phone & Tablet Tips 
I 46 Make Windows Better 


47 Make Office Better 

48 Secret Tips For... 
Pixlr 



Make amazing panoramas 
from your photos 


What you need: Image Composite Editor; Windows Vista, 7, 8 or 8.1 

Time required: 45 minutes 


I mage Composite Editor (ICE) is a 
free Mierosoft program (released 
in 2008) that ereates stunning 
panoramas of your photos by 
merging them. It has now been 
updated with a new interfaee and 


ineludes new tools that let you 
fill in any missing gaps in your 
panorama and upload it to 
Photosynth - a Mierosoft 
website that lets you zoom in 
and out of your photos. 



For convenience, you should first create a folder on 
your Desktop and save the photos you’re planning to 
use in your panorama there (in this Workshop, we’ll 
merge five images). Before downloading ICE, you’ll need to 
determine your version of Windows (64bit or 32bit). To do that, 
right-click Computer on your Desktop or Start menu, then click 
Properties and look under ‘System type’ □. Now go to www. 
snipca. com/16028 and click the Download ICE 2.0 option that 
corresponds to your PC. Next, click the Download button, then 
the setup file that downloads, and finally Run. 




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STEP 

2 


To work, ICE needs a feature called ‘Microsoft Visual 
C++ 2013 Runtime Libraries’. If you don’t have this, 
you’ll be prompted to install it from the Microsoft 
website. Click Yes to go to the site, click the red Download 
button, tick the file that corresponds to your version of 
Windows, then click Next. Now click the downloaded file. Run, 
tick the terms and conditions box, then Install. When that’s 
finished click Close. Now reopen your ICE setup file (in your 
Downloads folder), click Run, Next, tick 1 Agree □, click Next 
again 9, select Everyone, then click Next (twice) to install it. 
When it’s installed, click Close to open the program. 


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Next 


15 -28 April 2015 35 



Workshops 



STEP 


Click New Panorama From Images at the top left. 
Navigate to the folder you created on your Desktop, 
press Ctrl+A to select the photos, then click Open. You 
can add more by clicking ‘Add images’ O or by dragging and 
dropping them into the ICE window. To remove a photo, click it, 
then click ‘Remove selected’ B. You can organise your photos by 
name or by the time they were taken using the ‘Sort by’ 
dropdown menu B. 



Make sure your photos are positioned in the order you 
want them merged (from left to right), then click 
Stitch at the top. ICE will automatically merge them to 
create a single panoramic view. You can zoom in and out using 
the zoom slider D or by clicking the image and scrolling your 
mouse wheel. Click the different Projection styles B to try the 
visual effects and find the one that best suits your panorama. 

If your panorama isn’t straight, click ‘Auto orientation’ B. 



STEP 


After selecting your Projection style 
(we selected Mercator - see screenshot), 
click Crop at the top (to change the 
Projection style, click Stitch to go back, select 
another Projection style, then click Crop). Next, 
click ‘Auto crop’ □ to place a white (extendable) 
frame around your image. If there are empty black 
spaces a within your frame, click ‘Auto complete’ B 
to fill them spaces (this works best when filling flat 
expanses such as land or sky). The process can 
take a few minutes. 



When that’s finished, you should see a 
fully realised rectangular panoramic 
image. To compare this image to the 
pre-Auto complete version, untick ‘Use auto 
completion’ D. You can return to earlier stages of 
the process (such as Import or Stitch B) to make 
any changes. If you want to set the width and 
height (in pixels) of your panorama, type those 
values in the box on the right and click ‘Auto 
crop’. When you’re happy with your panorama, 
click Export B. 



36 15 -28 April 2015 














Make amazing panoramas from your photos 


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To save your panorama, click the 
Image dropdown menu, and 
select JPEG Image D from the 
‘File format’ dropdown menu (this is the 
best format for saving panoramas). Next, 
click the Quality dropdown menu and 
select Superb (it’s set to High by default). 
Now type 100 in the field beside Quality 0 . 
The resulting file will be larger but you’ll 
see more detail. Finally, click ‘Export to 
disk’ 0 , name the file, save it wherever 
you want on your PC, then click Save. 




The Deep Zoom dropdown 
menu D lets you create a high- 
resolution image that you can 
upload online, but it only works with 
certain Projection styles and on websites 
that support interactive (pan and zoom) 
elements. A better option is to upload 
your image to Microsoft’s free Photosynth 
website, where others can view it using 
pan and zoom options. To do this, 
click the Photosynth dropdown menu 0 , 
then click ‘Sign in’ and log in using your 
Microsoft (Outlook or Hotmail) accounts. 



Now, create a Photosynth ID, 
then click ‘Create account’. Next, 
give your panorama a title, tags 
(keywords for search purposes) and a 
description O' Tick ‘Use location from 
photos’ 0 (to pin your image’s location on 
a map - see Step 10). Now select Public 
from the Visibility dropdown menu to let 
anyone see your image, then click the 
‘Photo rights’ dropdown menu and select 
whether you want to copyright your 
image or make it freely available for 
others to use. Finally, click ‘Publish to 
Photosynth’ 0 . 



STEP 

IQ 


If you don’t have Microsoft Silverlight installed, you’ll 
be prompted to install it because panoramic photos on 
Photosynth can’t be viewed without it. Click Install 
Microsoft Silverlight, then the downloaded setup file, followed 
by ‘Install now’ and Close. You’ll now see an interactive (pan 
and zoom) version of your image on Photosynth. Use the 


controls □ to zoom in and out of and pan across your image. 
You can edit your Title and Description 0 if you want. Clicking 
the Focation tab 0 will display the precise location of your 
pictures in Bing Maps. If the pinned location is in the wrong 
place, click and drag it to the correct location, then click Save 
at the bottom. # 


15 -28 April 2015 37 







Workshops 


Take screenshots 
using Windows 

What you need: Windows Vista, 7, 8 or 10 Time required: 15 minutes 


Y ou don’t need to install a 
third-party program to take 
sereenshots on your PC beeause 
Windows lets you do this in a few 
easy steps. We’ll explain the various 
features of Windows’ Snipping Tool, 
whieh makes it easy to ereate 


sereenshots of your entire Desktop, 
seleeted areas of it, or any open 
window It also lets you draw on 
your sereenshot or highlight 
seetions of it. Finally, we’ll explain 
how to ereate sereenshots using 
keyboard shorteuts. 



H Click the Start button and type snipping tool to 
see the Snipping Tool listed D. Drag and drop 
this option on to your Desktop to create a 
shortcut Q (optional). Open the program and you’ll see 
three options B. Click the New dropdown menu to see 
four methods of creating a screenshot. Click the first 
option (Free-form Snip) and your entire screen will be 
greyed out and your cursor replaced by a scissors icon. 
Keeping your mouse clicked, drag your cursor carefully 
around the area you want to capture. When you release 
the mouse your screenshot will appear in a new window. 






If you’re happy with your screenshot, you can move to 
Step 3. Alternatively, you can try the other options. 
Click Rectangular Snip D to take a screenshot of a 
rectangular section of your screen (adjust it by clicking and 
dragging your cursor). Click Window Snip B, point your cursor 
at any open window on your Desktop (such as a browser or a 
program) to highlight it with a red border, then click to take a 
screenshot of that window. Full-screen Snip B takes a 
screenshot of your entire Desktop. 



If you’re using a screenshot to illustrate a problem on 
your PC to someone, use the Pen and Highlight tools to 
flag up up specific screen elements. Click the Pen 
dropdown menu D and select one of the four colours. Keeping 
your mouse clicked, draw around the area you want to flag up B. 
To change the colour, thickness and tip of the pen, click the Pen 
dropdown menu, then Customise to open the Custom Pen 
window. Use the dropdown menus B to change those values. 
Finally, click OK. 


38 15 -28 April 2015 









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H The Highlighter tool D lets you highlight an3^hing in 
your screenshot B, similar to highlighting text in a 
Word document. You can delete any mistakes you 
make by clicking the Eraser icon 0, then clicking the erroneous 
mark. 



You can email, copy or save your screenshot. Click 
the Email dropdown menu □ to see two options. 
Email Recipient adds the screenshot to the body of 
an email in your email program, while ‘E-mail Recipient (as an 
attachment)’ attaches it to an email. Click the Copy icon 0 to 
copy your screenshot, which you can then paste to any other 
program, such as Word or PowerPoint. Click the Save Snip 
icon 0 , select where you want to save it, name your screenshot, 
then click Save. 



Alternatively you can use keyboard shortcuts to create 
screenshots, which you can then edit in Paint. To take 
a screenshot of your entire Desktop, press the Print 
Screen key on your keyboard. To take a screenshot of a specific 
window (such as Eirefox), open the program and click the 
window, then keeping the Alt key pressed, press Print Screen. 
Your screenshot will be saved to your clipboard. To edit it in 
Paint, click the Start button, type paint and press Enter. Now 
click the Paste dropdown menu E| then click Paste 0 to see 
your screenshot 0. 




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To crop your screenshot, click Select at the top left in 
Paint, click and drag your mouse to select the area you 
want to retain, right-click inside this area, then click 
Crop. To add your own marks (as you did in Step 3), click the 
Brushes icon D. Use the Eraser 0 to delete any mistakes. Paint has 
an option to add a text box to your screenshot, which is useful if 
you want to explain a problem in greater detail. Click the A icon 0, 
then click and drag your cursor to position your text box. Next, 
click inside this box and start typing. You’ll see options to change 
your font style, size and format at the top left. Press Ctrl+S to save 
this screenshot to your PC. # 





TIhi 


15 -28 April 2015 39 








Workshops 



Edit videos on your iPad 


What you need: Clips Video Editor; iPhone or iPad 

Time required: 35 minutes 


E very iOS video-editing app 
has restrietions as to what 
you ean do before you need to 
‘unloek’ features with in- app 
purehases. Clips Video Editor 
is the best app of this type 
we’ve used. The free version 
lets you make professional 
edits with ease - ineluding 


positioning video elips and 
adding transitions, a 
soundtraek and a voieeover - 
but adds a small app ieon at 
the bottom left of your edited 
video. If you don’t want this, 
it’s worth upgrading to the 
paid-for version (£3.99 as a 
one-time purehase). 


H Install and open Clips Video Editor (www. 

snipca.com/16009) and follow the instructions. 
When you see the option, tap Continue at the 
top right (to skip the instructions). Now either tap 
‘Upgrade to pro - £3.99’ to purchase the app (this 
removes the app icon from your final edit) or Skip 
(if you don’t mind the icon). Next, tap the ‘ + ’ icon to 
create your first video. The app lets you save a copy of 
your edited video to your iPad (not all editing apps offer 
this). To do this, tap the Settings iconD, the slider 
beside ‘Auto Save to Camera Roll’, then Done at the top 
right. Now tap the ‘ + ’ symbol at the bottom to see two 
options: Imports (to import video clips from your 
device) and Camera B (to shoot your own clips). To 
import clips, tap Import, select the clips you want to add 
(in any order), then tap Next and go to Step 4. If you 
want to shoot your own clips, go to Step 2. 





If you tapped Camera, the first time you use this option 
you’ll be taken through mandatory instructions, for 
which you need to shoot a minimum of six clips. Hold 
your device in the landscape mode, then tap the small shutter 
icon D for options to change the area of focus, brightness and 
zoom range using sliders (other apps don’t offer this). To record 
using your front camera, tap the rotate icon B. Tap the Record 
button B to begin recording. A timer will appear at the top of 
your screen. Tap the Record button again to stop recording. 


Now point your device at something else and repeat 
Step 2 to record. The timer Q will continue from where 
you left off. If you’re doing this for the first time, you’ll 
need to repeat this step four more times. You’ll see optional 
suggestions to shoot different types of video (for example, 
moving your camera, close ups, a still recording and so on). 

Tap the Bin icon B to delete the clip you’re recording if you 
don’t like it. When you’ve finished recording your clips, tap the 
green tick B. 



40 15 -28 April 2015 








H You’ re now prompted to add background 
music, so tap the musical note icon. This 
brings up a list of 12 free-to-use music 
tracks. You can also use tracks stored on your iPad by 
tapping Songs □, selecting the track you want, then 
playing it. To start the song from a particular point, 
drag the white dot B to that point on the audio 
slider, tap the pause icon on the left, then tap Next B 
to add it to your video. 


STEP 


You’ll now see a simple editing screen with four icons at the top, 
the video player in the middle, a green video timeline and your 
video clips below. Tap the player to play your clips in succession. 
To play an individual clip, tap its thumbnail D. You can edit the length of a 
clip by moving its start and end sliders B. To reposition a clip within the 
video, tap and hold the three lines beside it B, then move it up or down. To 
remove a clip from the video, drag its slider from one end (left or right) to 
the other, then tap Remove. You can record or import another video clip by 
tapping the ‘+’ symbol at the bottom and choosing Camera or Import. 




By default, your clips will start and end 
quite abruptly within your montage. 

If you prefer more subtle fade in/fade out 
transitions, you can add dissolves. Tap the Transition 
icon at the top D. You can either tap All Dissolves B 
to add one between every transition or Dissolve B to 
add it to individual transitions. Drag the slider on the 
green timeline to the start, then tap the video to play 
it and check you’re happy with your edits. 


To add a voiceover to your video, tap the mic icon □, then the red 
mic at the bottom and speak your voiceover as your video plays. 
Next, tap the Speaker icon B. The blue, green and orange sliders 
represent the volume level of your clips, background music and voiceover 
respectively. Play your video and adjust the sliders. To save your edited 
video, tap Save El then tap the Photos icon at the bottom. If you didn’t 
purchase the app (in Step 1), you’ll see two options: ‘Export with 
watermark’ and ‘No more watermarks £3.99’. Tap the one you want. 

After your video is saved, you can watch it in the app, as well as through 
the iOS Photos app on your iPad. # 



15 -28 April 2015 41 








Workshops 


Create a fake virus 
your PC's security 

What you need: WinRAR (or a similar file-compression program); EICARgen 

Time required: 10 minutes 


Y ou depend on your PC’s 
antivirus to keep you safe, 
but how ean you be sure that it’s 
working properly? EICARgen is a 
fake virus that you ean download 
and run to assess how powerful 


your antivirus is. It’s an easy, free 
and eompletely safe way to eheek 
your antivirus is safeguarding 
your PC properly We’ll show 
you how to do this in a few 
simple steps. 



to test 


H EICARgen is a zipped file, so you need a program that 
manages those (such as 7-Zip, PeaZip, WinZip or 
WinRAR). We’re using the free WinRAR (www.snipca. 
com/15898), one of our favourite free programs. To download and 
install it, click the version (32bit or 64bit) that corresponds to your 
PC at the top of the web page. To find out your PC’s version, right- 
click Computer on your Desktop or Start menu. Properties, then 
look under ‘System type’ in the System section. Next, create a new 
folder on your PC to save the extracted EICARgen file to. Open 
Computer, C Drive, Users and the folder with your Windows 
username D. Now click ‘New folder’ B and name it Eicargen B. 









Now go to www.snipca.com/15896, scroll down and 
click the ‘ElCARgen_V2_l.zip’ link (below the video) to 
download it. To extract the contents of this file to the 
Eicargen folder you created, navigate to the ‘ElCARgen_V2_l’ 
zipped file (in your Downloads folder) O, right-click it, then 
click ‘Extract files’. In the pane that opens click the ‘+’ symbol 
next to your name B, select the Eicargen folder you created (in 
Step 1), then click OK. (This step may differ slightly if you’re 
using a different file-compression program). 



You now need to run the file from the Eicargen folder 
using Command Prompt. Navigate to the Eicargen 
folder, press and hold the Shift key, right-click the 
folder □, then click ‘Open command window here’. Type 
eicargen.exe write Bin Command Prompt, then press Enter. 
Our favourite antivirus program (Kaspersky Internet Security 
2015, see page 68) detected the file as malware B. If yours 
doesn’t, update your antivirus and repeat this step. If you still 
don’t see a security warning, then consider replacing your 
antivirus program with a better one, preferably Kaspersky. 


STEP 

3 


NEXT ISSUE 


• Transfer huge video files in seconds 

• Try Microsoft’s new Spartan browser 


/ ON SALE 

^29 April 


• Add music and videos to your documents 

• Make free mobile phone calls forever 


i 


( 5 ) 




Subscribe to Computeractive at getcomputeractive.co.uk 


42 15 -28 April 2015 










Readers' Tips 


Handy hints and tips from your fellow readers 

0 Email us your tips: letters(Scomputeractive.co.uk 


TIP OF THE FORTNIGHT 


Make your Skype font bigger and set hotkeys for calls 






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My son is spending a year travelling 
across India and Australia and we use 
Skype to keep in touch via video calls 
(when his bandwidth permits it). 

One niggle I have is with the size of 
the fonts on Skype, which are too small 
for my liking. I decided to delve into 
Skype’ s settings in an effort to make the 
font larger. While doing this, I also 
found a way to set keyboard shortcuts 
for certain actions within Skype (such 
as answering calls). 

Sk3^e usually updates itself 
automatically when you log in, but to 
make sure you have the latest version, 
click Help at the top, then ‘Check for 
Updates’ and follow the instructions. 

To change the font type, style and size, 
click Tools at the top, then Options. 
Next, click IM & SMS at the bottom left. 


‘IM appearance’, then 
‘Change font’. Choose a 
font, font style (regular, 
bold or italics) and size, 
click OK, then Save. 

All your Skype 
conversations will 
instantly change to 
reflect your new font. 

To change keyboard 
shortcuts for Skype 
actions, click Tools, 

Options, Advanced at 
the bottom left, then 
click Hotkeys. Now tick 
‘Enable hotkey shortcuts’. You’ll see 
pre-set hotkeys for actions such as 
answering a call with voice and video. 
Tick the action key you want to use, 
then double-click it. Next, tick the 


modifier keys (Shift, Ctrl or Alt) you 
want to use in conjunction, type any 
other key in the field beside that (see 
screenshot above), click 
OK, then Save. 

Laura Finn 


The winner of every Tip of the Fortnight wins this exclusive Computeractive mug! 



SCREEN BRIGHTNESS 

Reduce eye strain when using 
your PC at night 

I used to avoid using my PC late in 
the evening because, even with the 
lights turned on and the PC’s brightness 
set to a low level, the glare of the screen 
was often too much for my eyes, resulting 
in headaches and trouble sleeping. 

A friend recommended a free program 
called SunsetScreen, which gradually 
lowers the glare of your PC screen 
throughout the evening. Go to www 
snipca.com/15916 (where you can read 
the science behind how the program 
works), then click Download SunsetScreen 
at the top right. Click the setup file and 
follow the steps to install it. 

When it loads, enter the time of sunrise 
where you are (find this out online) at the 
top left. The program will now dim (or 
brighten) your PC’s screen depending on 
the time of day. As it gets darker outside. 


your PC will take on a slight orange tint, 
making it less of a strain on your eyes. 

If you want to modify its settings 
manually, then click the Night/Day 
Colour tabs and move the Sunset/ Sunrise 
colour (K) slider, or click the ‘Day/Night 
preset’ dropdown menu and choose one 
of the options (see screenshot below left). 
Now, I can use my PC late into the evening 
and still have a good night’s sleep. 

Brendan Perry 


FILE CONVERSION 

Save web articles as PDFs 

Thanks for your helpful Workshop 
on Cloud Convert (see ‘Convert any 
file without software’. Issue 444). The 
website really does live up to its boast to 
‘Convert anything to anything’. 

Another feature I discovered while 
using it was the ability to save web pages 
as PDFs. This is great if you enjoy reading 
web articles offline (as I do). I can even 
sync them to my cloud-storage 
account and read them on my 
tablet. And, because the quality is 
so good, I sometimes even print 
these PDFs to read when I’m on 
the train to visit my daughter. 

Go to www.cloudconvert.com, 
click the ‘Select files’ dropdown 
menu on the left, select ‘Add from 


URL’, paste the URL you want to 
convert, then click Add. Now click the 
‘select format’ dropdown menu, move 
your cursor to ‘document’, select ‘pdf’, 
then click the red Start Conversion 
button. After it’s finished, click the green 
Download button to download your file. 

Philip Dean 


MOVIE STREAMING 

See every NetfUx title at a 
glance in Chrome 

I love watching classic films on 
Netflix (www.netflix.com), but 
don’t have the patience to click the 
navigation arrows to browse films in each 
movie category. My son showed me a new 
way to modify Netflix so that it displays a 
long scrolling list of thumbnails within 
each category, which is a great way to 
see all the available films and TV 
programmes at a glance. 

To enable this in Chrome, you need to 
add the free bookmarklet called Netflix 
God Mode to your browser. Go to www. 
snipca.com/15917, then drag and drop 
the green Netflix God Mode icon on to 
Chrome’s bookmark bar. Next, go to 
www.netflix.com, sign into your account, 
then click the Netflix God Mode option 
in your bookmarks bar. 

David Weatherall 






15 -28 April 2015 43 





Phone and Tablet Tips 


Brilliant things to do on your device 


ANDROID 

Dictate long emails and 
text messages 

Sending long text messages or 
emails can be a bit of a chore, 

1 1 especially if your typing skills 
aren’t up to much. But you can dictate 
messages and emails into Google and let 
it compose them for you. Tap the text 
message or email you want to reply to 
or start composing a new one, then tap 
the microphone icon on your onscreen 
keyboard. If you use SwiftKey Keyboard 
as your third-party keyboard, then 
long-press the comma icon. 


Compose ® > 




Receipt atlaefieti 

Heikh please see attached Ihe receipt 
/ou requested sorry fuf the dele;;/ in 
sending it if you need any more info 
please tel me know tbarik youj 

Taplo pause 


A panel will open with a ‘Speak now’ 
option. Start dictating your message 
and it will automatically appear as text. 
For best results, speak slowly and ensure 
you’re in a quiet place. When we tried it, 
Google correctly recognised every word 
we spoke (see screenshot below left). 

When you’ve finished dictating, you 
may have to correct any misspelled 
words and punctuate your text. 


ANDROID 

Search for Wikipedia 
pages faster 

The latest update to the free 
I III Wikipedia app (www.snipca. 

com/15977) automatically gives 
you a list of suggestions as you type in 
the search bar and remembers your 
previous searches. 

Open the app and tap the search bar 
at the top to see a list of all your previous 
searches (most recent search terms 
appear first). Tap the Bin icon, then Yes, 
to delete any. Type your new search terms 
and you’ll see a list of relevant Wikipedia 
entries, which you can tap to open. 


ANDROID 

Play the hidden 
Android Lollipop game 


Google has a quirky habit of 
|^H| hiding certain features (known as 
vT ‘Easter eggs’) within its various 
products. One of the latest is a secret 
game, which can only be accessed on 
devices running the latest Android 


operating system (5.0) called Lollipop. 

To check your device version, open 
your Settings, scroll to the bottom, then 
tap ‘About phone /tablet/device’, then 
check ‘Android version’. Anything above 
5.0 means you have Lollipop. Keep 
tapping ‘Android version’ until you 
see a small dot on your screen. Tap the 
dot to see a lollipop icon (which will 
change colour when tapped). 

Tap and hold the Lollipop icon to begin 
playing the game, which requires you 
(represented by the Android logo) to 
navigate across a field of lollipops by 
tapping your screen. It’s addictive, 
tough to master (we couldn’t score more 
than 4 points) and is great fun if you 
have a bit of time to kill. 


ANDROID & lOS 

Use less of your data allowance 
while browsing in Chrome 


t| 




Google has introduced 
a new Data Saver mode 
in the latest version of its 
Chrome mobile app (Android www 
snipca.com/15978; iOS www.snipca. 
com/15980), which is particularly useful 
if you have limited data allowance. It 
works by compressing web pages before 
Chrome loads them, but the feature is 
switched off by default. 

To turn it on in Android, open Chrome, 
tap the three dots at the top right, then 
Settings. Now tap the new Data Saver 
setting at the bottom of your screen, 
then tap the slider to turn it on. 


Best New Apps 


What you should install this fortnight 


850 Sports News Digest 

Free 

Android: www.snipca.com/15982 
iOS: www.snipca.com/15983 

This app gets its name from the fact that 
you get a round-up of latest developments 
in your favourite sports (including relevant 
graphs and statistics) 
at exactly 8.50 every 
morning. By default, 
you'll see updates 
for all sports 
(including football, 
rugby and Formula 1), 
but you can narrow 
your selection 
within the My Sports 
section. 


i Enlight 

j £2.99 

; iOS: www.snipca. 

I com/15984 

[ This photo-editing 
; app has more 
I features than any 
I similar app we've 
= seen. Aside from 
i options that let 
^ you crop, rotate 
i and change 
brightness or 
saturation, you can 
add text, borders, filters and create a collage 
from your photos. It also lets you save the 
changes you make to one image, then apply 
them to others. 


TomTom GO Mobile 

Free 

Android: www.snipca.com/15985 

TomTom's latest app lets you navigate 
for 50 miles per month for free (paid-for 
options beyond that start at £14.99 a 
year). It includes all of TomTom's reliable 
features, including real-time traffic 
information and alerts for speed cameras. 





44 15 -28 April 2015 





On an iOS device, tap the three dots at 
the top right, Settings, Bandwidth, Data 
Saver, then tap the slider to turn it on. 
From now on, you’ll see a graph in this 
section that shows you how much data 
(as a percentage) you have saved using 
this mode. 


IOS 

Customise how you want 
Spotlight to work 

Spotlight is the iOS feature 

that lets you search for items 
X anywhere on your device when 
you tap a blank area of your home 
screen and swipe down. It lists your 
search results in categories, which 
appear in a specific order (Apps, 

Spotlight Suggestions, Contacts, Music, 
Podcasts and so on). Bing Web Results is 
the final option. However, it’s easy to 
change the order in which these search 
categories appear. 

So, for example, if you prefer web- 
search results to appear first, then tap 
Settings, General, then Spotlight Search 
to see all the search categories listed. 

Tap and hold the three horizontal lines 
next to the category you want to 
reposition (for example, Bing Web Results 
- see screenshot below), then drag it up 
the list. To exclude a category from 
Spotlight’s searches, tap it to untick it. 


Gener^ Spotlight Searuh 

SEAflOl RESULTS 

Bin^ Web Besolte 

^ Ap^icattons 

Spotlight Suggestions 
^ Coittacts 
^ Music 


iOS 

Find specific text within 
images using OneNote 

The latest update to the free 
( ' i Microsoft OneNote for iPad app 

(www.snipca.com/1598l) lets you 
search for text within an image, such as a 
photo of a page or magazine cover. This 
feature is already available in the PC 
version of OneNote and it works using 
OCR. We’ll show you how to use this 



using a photo of last 
issue’s Computeractive 
cover, then searching 
for the term ‘pc’. 

Open the app, tap the 
‘+’ symbol at the top 
right to create a new 
section, then name it. 

Tap above the date and 
time (at the top left) to 
name your page within 
that section, then tap 
the main body of the 
section. Next, tap the Insert tab at the 
top, then Camera, point your iPad at the 
page /cover containing text and tap the 
shutter icon to take a picture. Finally, 
tap the tick icon at the bottom right to 
add this image to your page. You can 


now search for any text within that 
image by typing in the search bar at 
the top right then tapping the relevant 
page. All instances of that text in your 
image will be highlighted (see 
screenshot). 


Games With Kids 

What to play together on your phone and tablet 


AGES 0-5 


Elmo Loves ABCs for iPad 

£3.99 www.snipca.com/15986 (iOS) 

Teach your kids to write and identify letters 
with this educational app, which features 
Sesame Street characters. After they 
correctly trace letters of the alphabet on 
screen with their finger, they'll see videos 
about objects that begin with that letter. 
You can keep track of your child's progress. 


AGES 6-10 


Little Things Forever 

Free www.snipca.com/15987 (Android) 

£2.29 www.snipca.com/15988 (iOS) 

This entertaining puzzle consists of a 
mosaic made up of many tiny, different 
objects. Children need to find all the objects 
listed at the top right by zooming into 
the mosaic and using the hints. As they 
improve, they need to complete mosaic 
puzzles by rotating and repositioning tiles. 



% 



AGES 11-16 


Heads Up! 

Free www.snipca.com/15989 (Android) 
79p www.snipca.com/15990 (iOS) 

This is a fun game for all the family. One 
person chooses a category (these include 
actors, movies and sea creatures), then 
places the device on their forehead, so the 
others can see the specific term (but the 
person can't). The others shout out clues 
about the term and the person needs to 
identify as many as possible in a minute. 



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15 -28 April 2015 45 









Make Windows Better Clever tips for every version 


WINDOWS 8. 10 

Bypass your login screen 

If you use a Desktop PC running 
Windows 8 or 10, you have to log 
in using your Microsoft (Hotmail 
or Outlook) account. This lets you sync all 
your settings and apps across multiple 
PCs and Windows devices, and makes 
setup easier when you buy a new PC. 

While this works well if you’re the only 
one using that Windows PC, it’s not ideal 
if you share your computer with other 
family members because it means you’ll 
need to log them in every time. There’s an 
easy way to bypass your login screen 
entirely, if you’re happy to share your 
PC with others. 

To do this, right-click the Start button 
to access the Quick Access Menu, then 
click Run. In the Run box, t 5 ^e netplwiz, 
then press Enter. Now untick the ‘Users 
must enter a username and password to 
use this computer’ box, then click Apply. 
You’ll now need to enter and confirm 
your password, then click OK twice. 

WINDOWS?, 8, 10 

Disable irritating tip boxes 

By default, whenever 
you move your cursor 
your 

Desktop or within File /Windows 
Explorer - you’ll see a small pop-up 
describing what the item is and what it 
does. For example, point to a file and 
you’ll see its name, type, size and when 
you last opened it. Point to a setting and 


Fibldej Oplkiiru 


WINDOWS VISTA. 7. 8, 10 


Make your mouse easier to use 



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There are a 
number of 
- --- ways you can 
customise how your mouse works 
if you find it awkward to use for 
any reason. For example, you can 
swap the functions of the left and 
right buttons, change how fast or 
slowly a double-click registers, 
and even change how you drag 
and drop items. 

Open Control Panel, click 
‘Hardware and Sound’, then click 
Mouse (in the ‘Devices and 
Printers’ section) to open the 
Mouse Properties window. 

Click Apply and OK after each 
change you make to activate it. 

To use the right button on your 
mouse to select and open items 
(instead of the default left button), 
tick the ‘Switch primary and secondary 
buttons’ box at the top. 

The ‘Double-click speed’ section lets 
you control how quickly successive 
clicks need to be made to register a 
double-click. To find your ideal speed, 
double-click the small folder on the 
right. If it doesn’t open, move the slider 
toward the Slow end and try again. 


you’ll see a small summary of what it 
_ does. These pop-ups are called 
tooltips and there’s an easy way 
to disable them if you find them 
distracting. 

Open Control Panel, click 
‘Appearance and Personalization’, 
then Folder Options (File- 
Explorer Options in Windows 10) 
at the bottom. Next, click the 
View tab, then untick ‘Show 
popup description for folder and 
desktop items’ (see screenshot 
left), click Apply, then OK. To 
re-enable this option, repeat the 
steps and tick the box. 



J 




OVk 






WINDOWS 7. 8. 10 

Change your Microsoft 
account picture 

Your account 
- picture 
■ ■ appears on 
your lock screen and Start 
menu. By default, this is the 


The third section, ClickFock, is 
useful if you find the whole process 
of dragging and dropping items a 
bit of a, well, drag (the action can be 
can be a strain for those with arthritis 
or RSI). Ticking ‘Turn on ClickFock’ 
lets you select an item, then long-press 
it (you’ll now see a small square below 
your cursor). Now move your cursor to 
where you want to move that item, 
then click your mouse. 


profile picture you’ve chosen for your 
Microsoft (Hotmail or Outlook) account. 
There’s an easy way to change the picture 
that displays on your PC, though the 
method varies slightly depending on the 
version of Windows. 

In Windows 7, open the Start menu, 
click your profile picture at the top 
right, then click ‘Change your picture’. 
You can choose from a list of graphical 
icons or click ‘Browse for more pictures’ 
at the bottom, navigate to the photo on 
your PC that you want to use, click Open, 
then Change Picture. 

In Windows 8.1, click your account 
name at the top right of the Modern 
tile interface, then click ‘Change account 
picture’. Now click Browse and add a 
picture from your PC or click Camera 
to take a photo using your PC’s front 
camera. In Windows 10, open the Start 
menu, click your account name at the top 
left, then click ‘Change account settings’. 
Now follow the steps we outlined for 
Windows 8.1. 


46 15-28 April 2015 




Make Office Better 

Expert tips for every program 




OUTLOOK 

Create a separate folder for emails with attachments 


There’s a fairly straightforward 
way to create a dedicated folder 
for emails with attachments. You 
can then quickly move all your emails 
with attachments to it and set up 
Outlook so that all future emails with 
attachments go directly to that folder. 

Click the Folder tab at the top, then 
New Folder at the top left. Name it 
Attachments (or similar), select your 
email account at the top, then click OK. 

The folder will now be added to your list 
of email folders in the left-hand panel 
(along with Inbox, Drafts, Sent Items 
and so on). 

Now click any email containing an 
attachment in your inbox. Click the 
Home tab, then the Rules dropdown menu (in the Move 
section). Next, click Create Rule, then Advanced Options 


Jp . I 



at 


the bottom right. You’ll see a list of 
different email rules you can tick. Tick 
the ‘which has an attachment’ rule, 
then click Next. 

Now tick ‘move it to the specified 
folder’, then click the ‘specified’ link in 
the box below, select the Attachments 
folder you created (see screenshot right), 
click OK, then click Next twice. Now give 
this rule a name (such as Attachments 
Rule), tick both the boxes below - 
‘Run this rule now on messages already 
in ‘Inbox” and ‘Turn on this rule’, then 
click Finish. 

Now all your current emails that contain 
attachments will move from your inbox to 
your Attachments folder, and any new 
emails you receive that contain attachments will 
automatically appear within this folder. 


EXCEL 

Represent your values with 
coloured bars 

It can be difficult to present a 
useful visual comparison of 
numerical data without resorting 
to filters in some way, and thereby 
changing its format. The best way of 
doing this without disrupting your data 
is to use Data Bars in Excel’s powerful 
Conditional Formatting option. 

This lets you represent each value as a 
bar within its cell. In the cell with the 
highest value, the bar will fill 100 per 
cent of the cell (see the 2400 green bar at 
the bottom of the screenshot below). All 
other (lesser) values will be represented 
by bars whose length is based on how 
they compare to the highest-value bar. 

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To do this, highlight the values you 
want to represent as data bars. Next, click 
the Conditional Formatting dropdown 
menu (in the Styles section of the Home 
tab), then move your cursor to Data Bars. 
You’ll see two sections: Gradient Fill and 
Solid Fill, with a choice of colours. The 
first adds a colour spectrum to the bar, 
while the second adds a uniform colour. 
Move your cursor to one of the options to 
preview how your cells will look, then 
click the one you want. 

If you want to remove this formatting 
later, simply highlight the formatted 
cells, click the Conditional Formatting 
dropdown menu, move your cursor to 
Clear Rules and click ‘Clear Rules from 
Selected Cells’. 


OFFICE 

Access earlier versions 
of your file 

□ Did you know that Windows 

saves copies of all older versions 
of your Office files and documents? 
This lets you, for the sake of comparison, 
open an older version of a document 
alongside the current one, and even lets 
you restore your current file to one of its 
previous versions. 

These versions are automatically 
created by Office whenever you update 
a file or when Windows creates restore 
points of your PC, for example. 



To see older versions of any Word, 
Excel or PowerPoint file, right-click 
the file’s icon, then click Properties. 
Now click the Previous Versions tab to 
see all older versions listed in categories 
(based on when they were last modified 
- Yesterday, ‘Earlier this week’, and so 
on). Click any previous version, then 
Open or Restore (depending on what 
you want to do). 


WORD 

Quickly save all images in a 
document to your PC 



J You may have been sent a Word 
document with a number of 
images within it and would like 
to save them to your PC. There are a 
number of ways you can do this. The 
most common is to right-click each 
image, click ‘Save as Picture’, name the 
image then save it. But this can take ages 
if there are a lot of images. 

Instead, to save all the images in one go, 
open the document, click File at the top 
left, then Save As. Now select where you 
want to save the file on your PC and 
name it. Next, click the ‘Save as type’ 
dropdown menu, select Web Page, then 
click Save. This will create a new folder 
called ‘Doc_files’ (where ‘Doc’ is the 
name you chose) in the location you 
specified containing all the images in 
their original format. 


15 -28 April 2015 47 



Secret Tips For. . . 


Blend images, resize them and 
get tons of free extras for this 
great online photo editor 




Download Pixlr to your PC 

Pixlr.com hosts a number of online 
image-editing tools that you can use 
within your web browser for free - Pixlr 
Express (apps.pixlr.com/express) is ideal 
for quick fixes, Pixlr Editor (apps.pixlr. 
com/editor) is a more serious Photoshop- 
like image editor, and Pixlr-o-matic 
(apps.pixlr.com/o-matic) is a fun tool for 
adding filters and effects. 

But did you know you can also 
download Pixlr to your PC and use it 
offline, too? Go to http://pixlr.com and 
click Desktop, then Download. You’ll 
need to set up a Pixlr account to 
download the program, but this is free 
(and unlocks some great additional 
features - see the next tip). Double-click 
the downloaded file and follow the 
steps to install. 

A Desktop version of Pixlr-o-matic is 
also available as a separate download 
(www.snipca.com/16030). You’ll need 
Adobe Air to run this, but you’ll be 
prompted to install it if you don’t already 
have it. Chrome users can install a free 
Pixlr Touch Up app from www.snipca. 
com/16021, and you can also get free 
Pixlr mobile apps for Android (www 
snipca.com/16032) and iOS (www. 
snipca.com/16031) . 


Pixlr’ s free web apps are great, but 
if there’s one slight irritation it’s the 
fact that Pixlr Editor, Pixlr-o-matic 
and Pixlr Express all feature large 
adverts prominently on the right-hand 
side of their respective interfaces. 



Use Adblock Plus to replace distracting 
adverts with a white space 


Sign in and get more 
features for free 

Subscribing to Pixlr’ s Pro membership 
unlocks advanced features for the 
Desktop and mobile versions, including 
enhanced colour channels. But you don’t 
have to pay the (£1.35) monthly fee to get 
more from Pixlr. Sign into the Desktop 
program with the free account (known as 
Essentials membership) you set up when 
you downloaded it and you’ll unlock lots 
of great extras, including new effects 
packs and creative tools - all for free. 

Click Membership, then Sign-in and 
enter your details. You’ll see some of the 
tools on the left are now adorned with 
pink ribbons, denoting free ‘gifts’ for 
account holders. Eor example, Pixlr has 



Sign into the Desktop version of Pixlr to get 
loads of free tools (marked with pink ribbons) 


That’s because Pixlr’ s free online 
tools are ad-supported. Currently, 
there’s no way to turn them off, even 
if you’ve paid for a Pro membership. 
There’s one simple solution, though - 
using a basic ad-blocker extension for 
your web browser you can eradicate 
the adverts altogether. 

In the screenshot left, we’ve 
used Adblock Plus for Chrome (www. 
snipca. com/16027), but most other 
ad-blockers will work too. Annoyingly, 
you still won’t get a full-screen 
editing experience (there’ll be a large 
block of white space where the advert 
was), but at least it’s much less 
off-putting. 


just released a great new Mermaid filter 
pack, which adds sparkling effects 
(known as ‘bokeh’) to your images. 

Cut out objects without hassle 

If you’re cutting out an object from one 
image to paste into another - for a 
collage, say - you can use Pixlr Editor’s 
lasso tool to select it. But if you don’t 
want the hassle of precisely tracing 
around the edges of an object, you could 
use this simple trick, which also creates a 
pleasing blending effect for your collage. 

Go to apps.pixlr.com/editor and 
open two images - one with the object 
to cut out and one for your background. 
Click the first image, then the lasso icon 
in the Tools palette. In the toolbar, make 
sure the Ereehand Lasso is selected, 
then click the dropdown menu next to 
Leather and drag the slider to around the 
28 mark. Ensure the Anti- alias box is 
ticked, then draw a rough outline 
around the outer edge of your object. 
Click Edit, then Copy. 

Now switch to your background image, 
then click Edit and Paste. Your cut-out 
object will appear with an attractive 
fade-out border around the edges. You 
can experiment with the Leather levels 
and how you draw the outline - tracing 
just inside the edges of your object, for 
example, can have a pleasing effect too. 

Resize objects without 
distorting them 

Have you ever resized an image only to 
find that it looks squashed or stretched? 

If so, there’s a simple trick that can prevent 
this. Let’s say you’ve added an object to a 
background image in Pixlr Editor (see 
above). You can resize it by clicking Edit, 
then ‘Eree transform’. A selection box 
will appear around the object. Instead of 
clicking and dragging to change the 
object’s dimensions, however, hold down 
the Shift key, then click one of the corner 
anchor points and drag inward to shrink 
or outward to enlarge. Doing so will 
resize your picture without affecting its 
relative dimensions. This essential 
resizing trick works in many other 
programs too, including Word. 


Banish adverts from Pixlr.com 


48 15 -28 April 2015 


Next issue Secret Tips For... Firefox 





What's All the Fuss About,.. 


Solid-state batteries 

The 'holy grail' of batteries could lead to thinner devices that last 
much, much longer when charged 




What are they? 

A new type of rechargeable battery that 
lasts twice as long as traditional lithium- 
ion batteries, currently found in most 
phones, tablets and laptops. Any device 
powered by a solid-state battery will last 
much longer between charges. They’re 
cheaper to make and are thinner too, 
which should lead to lighter devices. 

Are they similar 
to solid-state drives? 

Yes, in the sense that neither have any 
moving parts. As we explained in Issue 
443, solid-state drives use flash memory to 
store and read data, unlike traditional hard 
drives which use spinning platters and 
needle-like heads. Solid-state batteries are 
similarly revolutionary because they use 
solid lithium electrodes, rather than the 
liquid mix of chemicals found in current 
batteries, which store current and release 
it when needed. This makes solid-state 
batteries safer, and capable of holding 
more power in a smaller space. And 
because they don’t contain liquid, they 
can be made into any shape, meaning they 
could power a wide range of devices, not 
just phones and tablets. 

Solid-state technology has been around 
longer than you think. The first such 
device was the cat’s-whisker detector 
(www.snipca.com/15871), invented in 1906 
and used in early 20th-century radios. 

What's wrong with lithium-ion 
batteries? 

What’s right with 
them, you mean. They 
contain flammable 
liquid electrol 3 Te, which 
can cause products to 
overheat. This happened 
to millions of Sony VAIO 
laptops in 2006 and 2008, 
forcing the company to 
recall them from sale. It 
has even been suggested 
that an explosion of 


onboard lithium-ion batteries led to the 
disappearance of flight MH370 last year. 

They are also bulky, are prone to 
leaking, and have barely improved since 
Sony introduced them in 1991. Advances 
in battery technology haven’t kept pace 
with the progress of computing, severely 
limiting the power of devices. 

Why are they 
making news now? 

Because Sir James Dyson, inventor of the 
bagless vacuum cleaner, has invested 
£15m in a company that makes them - the 
Michigan-based Sakti3 (http : //sakti3 . com) . 
Dyson thinks they will prove as important 
an innovation as his company’s vacuum 
cleaners. Mark Taylor, 
the company’s head of 
research and development, 
says that they “are a bit 
of a holy grail”, and has 
called Sakti3’s technology 
“world-beating”. Ann 
Marie Sastry who founded 
Sakti3 in 2007, said that 

Sir James Dyson has invested 
£15m in a company that 
makes solid-state batteries 


Dyson’s money will help her company 
bring the batteries to market. 

Which products will have 
solid-state batteries first? 

Dyson’s investment means its products 
will be the first to be powered by solid- 
state batteries, probably in new versions of 
its cordless vacuum cleaners, replacing the 
lithium-ion batteries that currently power 
them. But Taylor admits the technology 
is “a few years” away from appearing in 
any of the company’s products. Eventually 
experts expect solid-state batteries to 
power anything that needs charging. 

What else could 
they be used for? 

Car companies such as General Motors, 
which has also invested in Sakti3, are 
excited because solid-state batteries could 
allow electric cars to be driven over 600 
miles between charges, enough to go 
from London to Aberdeen. At the moment 
they can only manage 300 miles, and 
recharging takes over an hour. At the 
current rate of progress, it’s clear that the 
benefits of solid-state batteries will stretch 
beyond vacuum cleaners. 



15 -28 April 2015 49 






TV&FUVI 

FROM THE WEB 



Jane Hoskyn shows you where to find your old favourites online 
and how to save them for watching in comfort 


R emember the first time you 
set the video to record a TV 
programme? VHS felt 
revolutionary (and a bit 
naughty) because it let you watch your 
favourite programmes when you 
wanted to, instead of when Auntie Beeb 
or ITV wanted you to. You no longer 
had to choose between going out or 
watching Doctor Who. Even better (or 
naughtier), you could watch it over and 


KEY POINTS 


• Record streaming video to watch 
when you want 

• Download YouTube videos safely using 
software you've already got 

• Find TV clips and entire series you 
haven't seen for decades 

• Discover the web's hidden vintage 
video gems 


over again at your leisure. 

Then the internet came along, 
with its streaming video services like 
YouTube and the BBC’s iPlayer, and 
you could watch what you wanted, when 
you wanted, where you wanted. You 
could search for an old favourite on 
YouTube and there it was, as clear 
(well, as fuzzy) as it was in the corner 
of your parents’ living room all those 
years ago. 


Keep lost treasures 

There’s a sizeable snag to internet video 
- it doesn’t belong to you. Whoever 
uploaded the video can remove it as 
well. Content on broadcasters’ sites, 
like iPlayer and the excellent TCM site 
(Turner Classic Movies, www.tcm.com), 
is available for a limited time period, 
usually between one and three months. 

Then there’s the buffering problem. 
Unless your broadband is particularly 


smooth and fast, streaming video is a 
stop-and- start affair. The iPlayer’ s 
built-in downloads tool lets you save 
shows to watch offline, but only for 30 
days. After that, the file self-destructs. 

So Auntie Beeb is still telling you what 
you can and can’t do, even though you 
pay her upwards of £145 a year for 
your licence. 

Here, we’ll show you how to save your 
long-lost favourite TV shows and films for 
as long as you want. We’ll reveal which 
video-downloading tools actually work, 
and explain how to record video as it 
plays on your screen. We’ll also outline 
the legal rights and wrongs of capturing 
online broadcasts. 

Once that’s out of the way, we can 
move on to the fun stuff. We’ll take you 
on a journey through the internet’s video 
vaults, showing you where and how to 
find lost classics before picking out our 
favourite hidden gems. 


50 15 -28 April 2015 







RECORD TV SHOWS AND FILMS FROM THE WEB 


Record online video for free 





Frame a video on your screen then click Rec to capture it using Any Video Recorder 


Screen-recording is the direct digital 
descendant of VHS. You simply record 
what’s playing or broadcasting on your 
PC’s screen, then save it as a video file to 
watch when you want. 

The very best tool for the job, Camtasia 
(wwwsnipca.com/15918), costs more 
than your first video recorder (£236.45 
inc VAT, to be precise). You can buy a 
new iPad Mini 2 for less (www.snipca. 
com/15926). Fortunately, Camtasia has a 
more affordable little sister, Snagit (www 
snipca.com/15919, £39.50; free 15-day 
trial) . If you become very keen on 
screen-recording and want excellent 
results, Snagit won’t disappoint. 

There are free alternatives, but most 
force you to compromise on recording 
time, ling (www.snipca.com/1592l) 
records great-quality video, but only 
up to five minutes in length. Screenr 
(www.screenr.com) also lets you record 
up to five minutes and works entirely in 
your browser, without the need to 
download anything. 

To record without time restrictions, 
use the free program Any Video Recorder 
(AVR, www.any-video-recorder.com). 
You can use it to record anything that 
moves, as long as it’s on your PC’s 
screen: YouTube videos, iPlayer 
broadcasts, Netflix shows and any TV 
or film gems you find. 

AVR lets you select an area of your 
screen to record (useful if you want to 
carry on working in a different window) , 


then automatically saves the recording to 
your hard drive as a good-quality MP4 
video file. 

AVR’s website has a strong hint of “too 
good to be true” and we braced ourselves 
for a truckload of adware in the installer, 
but there were no extras to opt out of at 
all. The installer correctly predicted that 
we’d see a Windows Security warning 
and assured us it was safe, so we clicked 
‘Install this driver software anyway’ and 
didn’t encounter any problems. 

When the program opens, give it a test 


WHY YOU SHOULDN'T USE C AMSTUDIO 


The best-known 
free Camtasia 
alternative, 

CamStudio, is 
worse than useless. 

In Issue 443's 
Cover Feature, we 
revealed that this 
screen-recording 

tool installs adware on your PC, with no 
chance to opt out. Software listings site 
Alternative To (http://alternativeto.net) 
has now removed CamStudio from its 
database and flagged it as malware, citing 
a damning safety report from VirusTotal 
(www.virustotal.com, see screenshot). 

CamStudio is not a lone offender. Online 
video recording is a security minefield. 
Video software is expensive to make, so 



free programs are 
often funded by 
bundled adware, 
and extensions are 
easy for hackers 
to embed with 
malware. 

If you find a 
new, free video- 
recording tool that you're determined to 
try, upload its installer (usually an EXE file) 
to VirusTotal before you attempt to run it. 
VirusTotal will tell you if any antivirus has 
flagged the file as malware. Make sure 
your antivirus software is updated and 
enabled, and have the latest version of 
AdwCleaner (www.snipca.com/15925) 
saved to your Desktop to remove any 
nasties that do sneak into your system. 


; RHV UmCQ RECORDEII 


0& 





Any Video Recorder is the easiest tool for 
recording video as it plays on your Desktop 

run by clicking the Record Now button. 
Your Desktop may disappear for a 
moment, which is a bit scary, but it will 
come back. Click Manual in the little blue 
window that appears. There’s an 
automatic option that tries to detect any 
video playing on your screen, but it 
doesn’t seem to work - at least not reliably. 

After a couple of moments a red square 
will appear on your screen. Drag it to fit 
round the video you want to record, 
input a time limit if you want, then click 
the Rec button. You can also start and 
stop recording by pressing Ctrl+F7. When 
you press Stop, AVR processes and saves 
the MP4 to your chosen folder, which 
opens automatically in Windows (File) 
Explorer. Click it to play it in your default 
video player, or copy it to your tablet or 
laptop to watch while out and about. 

If you want to crop or trim your 
recording, we recommend the excellent 
free online video editor We Video (https:// 
www.wevideo.com). You can also convert 


15 -28 April 2015 51 










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Use a hidden feature in VLC to safely download YouTube videos 



your MP4s and other video files to 
alternative formats using We Video. 

Download YouTube videos 
safely using VLC 

The best place to find classic clips and 
shows is YouTube, the web’s biggest video 
site (in fact it’s the third-most visited site 
of all, behind Google and Facebook). But 
YouTube is designed for watching videos 
online, not for saving them to watch 
offline, and its owner Google cracks 
down hard on attempts to get around 
this. That’s why most of the “YouTube 
downloader” extensions you’ll find 
online don’t work, and many are unsafe. 

Fortunately, there’s no need to use 
them. You can either record YouTube 
videos as they play using Any Video 
Recorder, or you can download them 
using a hidden tool in our favourite 
media player, VLC (www.snipca. 
com/15928, see Best Free Software, 

Issue 446). 

Downloading is more hit and miss than 
screen-recording, and in our experience 
it doesn’t work with all online videos. But 
it does work with most YouTube videos, 
and it frees you from the need to play a 
video while you capture it. 

First, go to YouTube and find a video 


you want to save, then copy its URL to 
your clipboard. Open VLC and click 
Media, then Open Network Stream. Paste 
the URL into the 
box and click Play. 
Your YouTube 
video will now 
start playing 
in VLC. 

That’s impressive 
enough, but here’s 
where it really gets 
clever. Click 
Tools, then Codec 
Information (see 
screenshot above) 
and, in the box that 
opens, right-click 
the long line of text 


in the Location box at the bottom and 
choose Select All. Press Ctrl+C to copy 
the text, then paste it into your browser’s 
address bar. When you press Enter, the 
video will open in YouTube’s server. 
Right-click the video as it plays and 
select ‘Save Video as’ (see screenshot 
left), then choose a location on your 
hard drive to download the file to. 

Type a name (say, quatermass) into 
the ‘File name’ box (where it says 
‘videoplayback’ by default), followed 
by .mp4 (so in our example, the whole 
thing would read ‘quatermass. mp4’). 

If you don’t include the file extension 
as well, the exported file will not 
work. Press Save, and the file will 
download. Click to play it in your 
default video player. 



GET YOUTUBE CLASSICS ON LASERDISC* 


*Sadly not. This was one of YouTube's better April Fool's Day jokes. 
On 1 April 2012, the site's visitors were greeted with a little DVD 
icon next to the main YouTube logo, and if they clicked the icon, up 
popped a promotional video for a new (and entirely fictitious) service 
called The YouTube Collection. Lucky users of this service could 
order any YouTube video for home delivery on DVD, VHS, Betamax 
and even Laserdisc, then enjoy "the complete YouTube experience 
completely offline". 

Sadly, the spoof never became reality, but we hope you 
can get a little closer to that "experience" using the tips and 
tools in this feature. 


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52 15 -28 April 2015 






FIND THE WEB'S BEST CLASSIC TV SHOWS AND FILMS 


Find classic shows in 
seconds on YouTube 

Now we’ve dealt with the technical 
stuff, we can move on to the fun part: 
watching telly. YouTube is still the 
first place we turn to for video clips, 
and its search engine is as powerful 
as you’d expect from a site that’s 
been owned by Google since 2006. 

It’s really good for finding clips and 
entire episodes of a programme when 
you can’t quite remember the full 
name. For example, type dixon dock 
into the search box, and YouTube 
instantly offers a wealth of content 
from vintage police drama Dixon of 
Dock Green, including the first and 
second episodes in full, the opening 
credits, the closing credits and an 
audio track of the theme (and that’s 
just the first page of results - see 
screenshot right). 

Narrow your search by clicking the 
Filters button at the top-left and 
clicking filters such as ‘Subtitles/CC’ 

(only see videos with closed-caption 
subtitles), ‘Long (> 20 minutes)’ (videos 
longer than 20 minutes; ideal for finding 
full episodes), and Programme (videos 
whose uploader has marked them as 
TV programmes). 

To find whole series or groups of clips, 
use the Playlist filter. Type your search 
term, click Filters, then Playlist. For 
example, our ‘dixon dock’ search found 
playlists containing several Dixon of Dock 
Green episodes; a ‘crime drama’ playlist 
containing 16 episodes of various series 
(www.snipca.com/15944), including the 
original Dragnet and Z Gars; and a 
playlist of TV shows starring PC George 
Dixon himself, actor Jack Warner 
(www.snipca.com/15945) . 

In most cases, you won’t have to 
record or download a YouTube video 
to watch it again later. There’s every 
chance it’ll still be there in a week, a 
month or a year. You can save videos to 
a Watch List by clicking the little clock 
icon under the player. You can also 
save entire playlists by clicking the ‘ + ’ 
symbol at the top right of the playlist 
player. Find your Watch Later list and 
saved playlists by clicking the three 
horizontal lines next to the YouTube 
logo whenever you’re signed into 
your account. 

However, YouTube videos can (and 
do) get taken off the site, either by 
YouTube or by the person who 



YouTube and its search filters will even help you find 
TV shows whose full titles you can't remember 


uploaded them. So if you record your 
favourites and save them to your hard 
drive, you’ll know you can watch them 
whenever you want - and without the 
need for an internet connection. 

What to record: 176 Monty Python 
sketches in one playlist (www.snipca. 
com/15922 - see screenshot above right). 
For more comedy gold, search for 
‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ to find plenty of 
TV and radio episodes from East Cheam’s 
finest. Britain’s greatest ever comedy duos 
- Morecambe and Wise and The Two 
Ronnies - also crop up a lot on YouTube, 
with Christmas specials in full and classic 
sketches (‘Four candles’, Andre Previn 
etc). You’ll even find some of Morecambe 
and Wise’s films from the 1960s, including 
the spy spoof The Intelligence Men. 



Watch the first episode of Steptoe and Son on The 
Internet Archive, and download it for free 



Watch hundreds of clips from a specific series 
or genre using YouTube's Playlist filter 


Download vintage TV from 
The Internet Archive 

In our Cover Feature in Issue 440 
(‘What you must Download in 2015’), 
we shared our love for The Internet 
Archive (https://archive.org), an 
incredible resource of TV shows, films, 
audio clips and even computer games 
that are old enough to be out of 
copyright. Because of their licence-free 
status, you don’t have to use third-party 
tools to record them - you can simply 
download them straight from the Internet 
Archive website, all for free. 

The site is US-based, so its Television 
section (www.snipca.com/15946) has a 
distinctly American flavour, with 
transatlantic treats including The Three 
Stooges and You Bet Your Life, the 
legendary quiz show presented by 
Groucho Marx. Click a video to view it, 
and click ‘MPEG4’ at the bottom right of 
the player to download it in MP4 format. 

To focus on home-grown content, 
click the British tag in the right-hand list 
(or go straight here: www.snipca.com/ 
15947) and browse the results. Here we 
found classic episodes of Goronation 
Street (www.snipca.com/15939). The 
Avengers (www.snipca.com/15949) 
and Armchair Theatre (www.snipca. 
com/15948), all with free download 
links below the player. 

To continue browsing, click 
the tags (blue links) below the video- 
player window. The site isn’t as well 
organised as YouTube, and the search 
tool is less powerful, but that actually 
makes it more fun to explore. Sometimes 
you uncover the best gems when you 
didn’t know you were looking for them. 

What to download: The first episode of 
perhaps the best sitcom of all time, 
Steptoe and Son (www.snipca.com/ 
15938). There are also episodes from 
the chilling 1950s sci-fi classic 
Quatermass and the Pit 


► 


15 -28 April 2015 53 








Got too many 
issues cluttering 
up your home? 






Save space by buying our 2014 Back 

on AM oa iooi 




You can buy the CD now on Amazon at 
www.snipca.com/14981, or by typing 
computeractive cd into Amazon’s search box 



Collect classic 
Doctor Who episodes 

As we mentioned, the BBC keeps a tight 
rein on its content. The corporation’s 
golden goose, Doctor Who, is particularly 
well guarded, and you won’t find any 
classic episodes on the iPlayer. 

YouTube has plenty of Doctor Who 
clips (such as Jon Pertwee’s regeneration 
into Tom Baker: wwwsnipca.com/ 
15950), but full episodes tend to get 
quickly removed following copyright 
requests. The Internet Archive has free 
downloadable Doctor Who audio clips, 
comics and ebooks (www.snipca. 
com/15955), but no episodes. 

What’s a Who fan to do? Go to Hell’s 
Library (www.snipca.com/15936). Here, 
you’ll find a link to nearly every episode 
of the ‘classic’ (20th century) Doctor 
Who, most of them uploaded by fans - 
and plenty of non-Doctor Who content, 
too. Most links open automatically in 
Google Docs (https://docs.google.com), 
where you can play the video in your 
browser or click the Download arrow at 
the top of the window to save the file. 

The Hell’s Library FAQ (www.snipca. 
com/15952) recommends saving files 
as MP4 and playing them in VLC for 
offline viewing. 

The Doctor Who ‘reboot’ (21st century 
series) is all currently available on Netflix 
(www.snipca.com/15953, £5.99 a month) 
but the classic series is not. We found 
classic episodes on Amazon Instant Video 
(www.snipca. com/16004), but again 
they’re not free. Most cost £1.89, with a 
series costing £5.99. 

The best-quality source of classic 
Doctor Who episodes is US streaming site 



Download classic Doctor Who episodes in Google Docs by clicking the arrow at the top 


Hulu (www.snipca.com/15932). However, 
to use it, you’ll have to pay a subscription 
($7.99 a month, around £5.40) and 
pretend you have a US IP address by 
using the free Chrome extension Hola 
(www.snipca.com/15933). To find out 
more about beating internet restrictions 
by using Hola and other tools that 
disguise your location, see our Cover 
Feature in Issue 441. 

Whatever geographical tricks you pull, 
you won’t be able to download episodes 
from Netflix, Amazon or Hulu using any 
built-in tools. You pay to watch them 
online only. The only way to keep them is 
to use a screen recorder. 

What to record: Watch and download 
the first Doctor Who episode, ‘An 
Unearthly Child’, from Hell’s Library 



You can see all the original Doctor Who on 
Hulu, but you'll need a subscription and a 
proxy IP address 


(www.snipca.com/15936). For just over a 
fiver, you can watch the whole classic 1973 
series ‘The Time Warrior’, with Jon Pertwee, 
on Amazon (www.snipca.com/15954). 
And for a special treat, here are 707 
Doctor Who episodes playing at the 
same time (www.snipca.com/15935). 


IS IT LEGAL TO RECORD ONLINE TV? 


In short, yes - as long as you're 
recording it for your own private 
use. UK copyright law currently 
lets you make a copy of an online 
broadcast, as long as you do so in 
your own home to watch at a more 
convenient time. The same is true 
whether you're recording to VHS 
or a hard drive. 

You need a valid TV Licence to 
record or watch shows as they're 
being shown on TV, regardless of 
what channel they're on, according 
to the TV Licensing website (www. 
snipca.com/15958). You don't 
currently need a licence to watch or 
record time-shifted content. 


But while recording web video 
is within legal boundaries, sharing 
your recordings is not. Don't 
make copies for your friends or 
for YouTube, and don't even think 
about selling them - that s piracy. 
For more on content theft and its 
grey areas, see Fact UK (www. 
snipca.com/15959). 

Be aware that a website's own 
terms and conditions may be more 
strict than the letter of the law, and 
some may prohibit recording or 
downloading of their video streams. 
Keep doing it (that is, keep being 
caught doing it), and you may find 
your account is deleted. 



TV lk:ensihC 



programmes as they're broadcast 


► 


15 -28 April 2015 55 







Save classic films and 
find lost treasures 

Unless you happen to have your very own 
cinema down the back of the garden, the 
best place to watch full-length films for 
free is Black And White Movies (www 
bnwmovies.com). Click a thumbnail to 
choose a genre (such as Animation, War, 
Western or Classic), then click a film’s 
thumbnail to watch it using the built-in 
player, which has a full-screen mode. 
Films rated highest by users are listed at 
the top, with the brilliant courtroom 
drama 12 Angry Men (www.snipca. 
com/15968) leading the pack. 

You can download films for free using 
Black And White Movies, but the process 
is trickier than with The Internet Archive. 
Click the little red download button a few 
lines below the player, then right-click 
one of the links (go for the one ending 
‘.mp4’ if available), click Save As and 
save the video file to your computer. 
Alternatively, use a screen recorder. 

The Internet Archive has a smaller 
selection of films. Go to the site’s Feature 
Films section (www.snipca.com/15960) 
for classics including the Cary Grant 
newspaper comedy His Girl Friday 
(www.snipca.com/15962) and more 
obscure gems such as West of Hot Dog 
(www.snipca.com/15963 - see screenshot 
below), a silent western that Stan Laurel 


1 ^ 35 ' 


^ ^ ' 




mj 


WATCH FULL MOVIE 
AT THE UNKIN THE DESCRIPTION 

JUt 


Some LAe n Full M«vl« 


mi* 

4 r 





Some Like It Not: be aware that full-length films on YouTube are not always genuine 



Find lost treasures like Stan Laurel's early silent film West of 
Hot Dog on The Internet Archive 


made before he teamed up with 
Oliver Hardy. 

For more recent blockbusters like 
The Godfather you’ll need a more 
conventional source such as TCM 
(www.tcm.com/watchtcm). The 
channel’s website makes films 
available to view online for around a 
month after they’ve been shown on 
TV, so the selection is changing all the 
time. Streaming quality is superb. 

YouTube has plenty of full-length 
films to watch for free. Tread carefully, 
though, because they’re not always 
what they seem. When 
we searched YouTube for 
Some Like It Hot and 
clicked ‘Some Like It Hot 
Full Movie’ (complete with 
reassuring ‘1:40:07’ 
timestamp), there was no 
video of the film - just a 
gaudy row of arrows and 
a link to a nameless “movie 
downloads” site (see 
screenshot above). There 
is plenty of good-quality 
film content on YouTube, 
but do be aware of these 
occasional scams. 

An inescapable problem 
with recording and 


* ^ y i i f I W ' r^*' 


i 






Download classics like 72 Angry Men for free 
from Black And White Movies 


downloading films is they devour hard- 
drive space. Even a relatively short feature 
like Laurel and Hardy’s The Flying 
Deuces, free to download from The 
Internet Archive (www.snipca. 
com/15961), is a 1.5GB file. So we’d 
recommend investing in an external hard 
drive and saving your recordings to that 
to avoid clogging up your PC. 

What to watch: If you’re in a serious 
mood, watch the stunning silent classic 
Battleship Potemkin (www.snipca. 
com/15964). If you’re not, join Charlie 
Chaplin for Twenty Minutes of Love 
(www.snipca.com/15965). IS 


NEXT ISSUE On sale Wednesday 29 April 


MAKE YOUR PC FASTER 
WITHOUT DOWNLOADING 
ANYTHING 

More speed, less PC junk 



Plus Get Wi-Fi in your 
garden shed 



Back up the photos 
and messages on your 
phone and tablet 


Subscribe to Computeractive at www.getcomputeractive.co.uk 


56 15 -28 April 2015 








Things to do with 
an old XP PC [“ 

Iar^ Create a home I / 
entertainment centre • 


This issue, Jonathan Parky n shows you 
how to convert your old XP PC into a 
music, video and photo player 




Set a suitable screen resolution for your TV 


Connect your PC to your TV 

One great way to repurpose your PC 
is to turn it into an all-in-one media 
centre that’s connected to your 
living-room TV. By far the easiest 
(and cheapest) way to connect the PC 
and TV is via HDMI cable. Modern 
TV sets come with multiple HDMI 
sockets and, if you’re lucky enough 
to have a PC with an HDMI output, 
then all that’s needed is a £3 HDMI 
cable, which will carry sound as 
well as picture. There are plenty on 
Amazon (www.snipca.com/15889). 

Annoyingly, Windows XP 
computers tend to pre-date HDMI, so 
it’s more likely that your old PC uses 
either VGA or DVI (or both) for its 
video output. It’s possible to buy a 
DVI-to-HDMI cable or adapter (www. 
snipca. com/15890), but DVI doesn’t 
carry sound. 

Some TVs offer a VGA connection 
(sometimes labelled ‘RGB’ or ‘PC’), often 
with a separate socket for audio. If yours 
does, connect your PC’s video output via 
a VGA cable, then use a male-to-male 
3.5mm mini jack cable (like this: www 
snipca.com/1589l) to connect the speaker 
or headphone socket on your PC to the 
audio input your TV. 

Another option is to get a converter 
box that lets you connect DVI and 
audio separately from your PC to a single 
HDMI socket on your TV, but they can 
be pricey (this one is £60: www. snipca. 
com/15876). 

See your PCs screen on your TV 

Once the connection is made, turn 
on your PC and switch your TV to the 


appropriate input. If the image appears 
distorted, you’ll need to adjust the 
computer’s resolution settings. Right- 
click the Desktop, select Properties, then 
click Settings and move the slider until 
the resolution suits your screen. 

If your TV and PC aren’t recognising 
each other, switch off your PC before 
making the connection, then try again. 

If that still doesn’t work, you may need 
to connect your PC to its old monitor 
(or use the built-in screen on a laptop) 
and set a suitable resolution before 
reconnecting to the TV. 

If you want to control your computer 
from your sofa, a keyboard and mouse 
won’t be the most convenient option, 
especially if they’re not wireless. Instead, 
get a remote control handset like this 


excellent infrared PC remote control 
(£3.59, www.snipca.com/15877; XP 
and Vista only). 

Install free photo and video 
software 

Windows Media Player (WMP) is 
fine for playing music, but to watch 
video you’re better off with VLC 
(www.snipca.com/15892), which 
supports a huge range of video 
and audio file formats, plus DVDs, 
CDs and even VCDs (see Best Free 
Software, Issue 446). 

VLC still works on XP, but you 
should download it using a Windows 
7 or 8/8.1 PC (which is much safer 
for going online) then save the 
EXE installation file to a USB stick 
and transfer it to your old XP PC. 

Similarly, XP’s built-in photo 
viewer has always been a bit lacking, 
but Google’s free photo tool Picasa 
(http://picasa.google.co.uk) still supports 
XP. Given the dangers of going online 
using XP, you won’t be able to use 
Picasa’ s web features, but you can still 
use its Desktop tools to organise your 
photos and play slideshows. 

Alternatively, install a media-centre 
program for playing your music, 
photos, movies and DVDs all from one 
place. Open-source program Kodi 
(http://kodi.tv) would be our choice 
if it still supported XP. Happily, you 
can get an XP-compatible version of 
Kodi’s forerunner, XBMC, for free 
(www.snipca.com/15878). As with 
VLC, download it using another PC, 
then transfer and install it on your 
XP computer. 


15 -28 April 2015 57 








Never miss 
another 

security 
update 

Security updates protect you from the latest 
malware and hacking attacks. Jonathan Parkyn 
explains how to be first in the queue for new fixes 


S oftware updates are a pain, but 
they’re a necessary evil. Besides 
allowing developers to fix bugs 
and add features, they plug 
(‘patch’) security holes. 

As demonstrated by the recent Freak 
flaw (see News, Issue 445), fresh 
vulnerabilities are discovered all the time. 
To make sure you’re protected from them, 
you need to get the latest software 
updates as soon as they’re issued. 

This is easier said than done. Microsoft 
hasn’t helped matters by “evolving” its 
Advanced Notification Service (www 
snipca.com/15893). Until January 2015, 
the service provided vital information 
about forthcoming fixes to all Windows 
users - but this is now sent to paying 
customers only. The good news is there 


are plenty of other ways to hear about the 
latest updates for your PC, tablet and 
phone as soon as they’re released, and 
even get them installed automatically. 

Scan your software for 
missing updates 

Virtually all the programs installed on 
your PC - from your browser to your 
email program - are potentially 
vulnerable. Some programs include 
an option to check for updates 
automatically, which you can usually 
find in the Options, Preferences or About 
menu. For example, most modern web 
browsers apply security patches and 
other updates automatically. 

But to make sure you’re getting the 
latest updates for all your programs. 


install a dedicated update scanner. Patch 
My PC (www.snipca.com/15894) is a 
great free program that checks the 
software on your PC and alerts you to 
any out-of-date versions by flagging them 
in red text (see screenshot below left). 
Better still, you can install any updates 
that are available with a single click of 
the Perform Updates button. 

Patch My PC doesn’t cover all programs, 
but it will help you keep more than 100 
of the most commonly exploited third- 
party programs and plug-ins on your PC 
updated safely, including Java, Flash, 
QuickTime and Adobe Reader. 

We also recommend Secunia PSI 
(www.snipca.com/15885), which is free 
and can be set to install most program 
updates automatically, including several 
not covered by Patch My PC. 

Get Windows patches 
automatically 

The Advanced Notification Service may 
be a thing of the past for most of us 
non-payers, but Microsoft hasn’t stopped 
releasing software updates. It still issues 
updates (‘security bulletins’) for Windows 
on Patch Tuesday, which is usually the 
second Tuesday of every month, though 
sometimes it’s the fourth Tuesday. Here’s 
a list of the most recent security bulletins: 
www.snipca.com/15895 (note that 
Microsoft writes dates in that annoying 
American way, putting the month first - 
so ‘3/10/2015’ means 10 March). 

As long as your PC is set to download 
and install updates automatically, you’ll 
get them without having to do anything. 



Use an update scanner like Patch My PC to check for out-of-date programs 


58 15 -28 April 2015 







Check for help using the Windows Update 
Troubleshooter 

Sometimes you may need to restart 
your PC in order to complete the 
installation process, though, so look 
out for notifications and restart as soon 
as it’s convenient. 

To check you’re receiving Windows 
updates automatically, open the Control 
Panel, click ‘System and Security’, 
Windows Update, then ‘Change settings’. 
Make sure ‘Install updates automatically 
(recommended)’ is selected under 
‘Important updates’ and that ‘Give me 
recommended updates the same way I 
receive important updates’ is ticked. 

Unfortunately, Windows Update 
doesn’t always work as it should, and 
some updates may not be installed 
automatically. To check whether anything 
has slipped through the net, go to 
Windows Update and click ‘Check for 
updates’, then install any that are listed as 
available. If an update still fails to install, 
or if you’re experiencing any other 
trouble with Windows Update, use the 
free Windows Update Automated 
Troubleshooter (www.snipca.com/15884, 
click ‘Run now’ in the blue box). 

You can also check for problems with 
specific updates. Go to Windows Update, 
click ‘View update history’ and then look 
for an update that’s listed as Failed. 
Right-click it and select ‘View details’. 

You should see an error code. Click ‘Get 
help with this error’ or type the code into 
Google to see if there’s a fix. 

Never miss another Office patch 

Last year a massive vulnerability was 
discovered in Word that could potentially 
let hackers take control of your PC using 
remote code execution (www.snipca. 
com/15899). 

Microsoft quickly released a patch, 
but unless you’re running Office 365 
the update may not have been installed. 
This is because other versions of Office 
(the ones most of us use) don’t receive 
patches and updates automatically via 
Windows Update. To ensure you get 
Office patches as soon as they’re 
released, tweak your Windows 
Update settings. 



Never miss another security update 


In Windows 8/8.1, press Win+C and 
click Settings, ‘Change PC settings’, 
‘Update and recovery’, Windows Update 
and then ‘Choose how updates get 
installed’. Make sure ‘Give me updates for 
other Microsoft products when I update 
Windows’ is ticked. 

In Windows 7, open Windows 
Update. If you see a message saying 
‘Get updates for other Microsoft 
products’, it means you’re only receiving 
updates for your operating system (OS) 
and not for other Microsoft products like 
Office. Click ‘Find out more’ and follow 
the instructions. If this doesn’t work 
(and we’ve noticed it doesn’t always), 
try this workaround: install Microsoft’s 
Silverlight plug-in (wwwmicrosoft. 
com/silverlight) and, at the end of the 
procedure, tick ‘Enable Microsoft 
Update (recommended)’. 



Yoy can enable Microsoft Update by installing 
Silverlight 


Check update settings for 
your phone or tablet 

The recent Freak bug didn’t just strike 
Windows - Android and iOS were 
affected too, with Microsoft, Google and 
Apple all racing to release fixes. There’s 
currently no way of setting your device 
to install Android or iOS updates 
automatically, but we recommend 
installing updates 
as soon as you see 
an on-screen 
notification telling 
you there’s one 
available. 

To check for 
available updates 
on your Android 
tablet or phone, go 
to Settings and tap 
‘About phone’ (or 
‘About tablet’), 

‘System updates’, 
then ‘Check for 
update’. In iOS, 
tap Settings, 

General and 


TWITTER CM 
BE USEFUL! 


You may think of Twitter as the preserve 
of trolls and celebrities, but it does have 
its useful side as well - in fact it's the 
web's best source of breaking security 
news. Most big security companies and 
experts post news and comments on 
Twitter, and if you 'follow' them you can 
be first to know about the latest threats, 
patches, products and tips. Here are a 
few of our favourites: 

(Smsftsecresponse 

Latest security bulletins from Microsoft's 
Security Response team. 

(^Symantec 

Breaking security news from antivirus 
firm Symantec. 

(Sgcluley 

News, comments and tips from one of 
the web's most prolific security experts, 
Graham Cluley. 

(Se.kaspersky 

Kaspersky is a person! Eugene 
Kaspersky, founder of the antivirus 
giant, posts interesting comments and 
links several times a day. 



Be first to hear about threats and updates 
by following security firms on Twitter 

then Software Update. 

It’s also a good idea to set your 
phone and tablet apps to update 
automatically, on Wi-Fi only 
(otherwise you could end up 
with a hefty mobile-data bill) . 

In Android, open the Google Play 
app and tap the menu (three 
lines). Settings, then ‘Auto-update 
apps’ and choose ‘Auto-update 
apps over Wi-Fi only’ (see 
screenshot left). In iOS, tap 
Settings, then ‘iTunes & App 
Store’ and make sure Updates is 
switched on under Automatic 
Downloads, but leave Use Mobile 
Data switched off. 



Make sure your mobile apps 
are set to update - but only 
over Wi-Fi 


15 -28 April 2015 59 




Sort your messy 

files and 
folders 

Your PC is full of folders, photos, documents 
and other clutter. Barry Collins reveals free 
tools and tricks for bringing order to the mess 



D uplicate photos, empty 

documents, long-abandoned 
folders and other clutter quickly 
turn a clean hard drive into a 
digital dump. 

The space problem is especially 
pressing if you’re using a modern PC or 
laptop with an SSD (solid-state drive), 
because these drives are built for speed 
rather than storage. Alas, Windows (or 
File) Explorer isn’t as helpful as it might 
be when it comes to de-cluttering your 
files and folders, so here we’ll show 
you the best free third-party tools for 
keeping your hard drive and external 
drives in good working order. 

Identify the space hogs 

New tool TreeSize Free (www.snipca. 
com/15900) reveals how much space is 


being taken up by every folder on your 
local hard drive (usually C:), including 
the stuff that doesn’t show up in 
Windows Explorer. You can also use it to 
scan external hard drives and partitions 
as well as your local drive (see Best Free 
Software, Issue 445). 

But the most powerful Explorer 
replacement is Disk Space Analyzer, 
which is built into Clary Utilities (www 
snipca. com/15901). Click the big green 
Download Now button to get Clary’s 
installer, which doesn’t contain any 
adware. To open Disk Space Analyzer, run 
Clary, click Advanced Tools, then click 
the bottom one of two dots at the right of 
the program window. Under Disk Space 
on the left, click ‘Explore disks’ (‘disk’ is 
another word for drive). As with TreeSize, 
you can choose to examine both built-in 



Find out which folders are hogging your hard-drive space using the Disk Space Analyzer tool in 
Clary Utilities 


and external drives. Clary will quickly 
come back with a clear breakdown of the 
drive space used by each folder (as 
percentages). Most of the space hogs 
will be in the Users folder. 

Clary is great at identifying large 
folders of photos and videos, and you can 
filter your search according to types of 
file using the relevant tabs at the top of 
your scan results (see screenshot below 
left) . If you find an unwanted folder you 
can delete it there and then, but don’t 
delete an54:hing you’re unsure of, 
especially in the Windows folder. 

Weed out duplicates 
and merge folders 

It’s very easy to end up with two or 
more folders containing lots of wasteful, 
duplicate files - maybe you’ve downloaded 
the same photos from a digital camera 
twice, for example. 

Open-source tool WinMerge (http:// 
winmerge.org) is a simple way to tackle 
this problem. Click the green Download 
Now button (there’s no adware to opt out 
of). When you run the program, click 
File, then Open and choose the first 
folder you suspect might contain 
duplicates (this will appear on the left) 
and then the second folder (this will 
appear on the right). WinMerge will scan 
them and reveal which files only appear 
in the left-hand or only in the right-hand 
folder, and which are exact copies. To 
clean up, click Edit, Select All and then 
right-click the files highlighted in blue. 
Choose ‘Copy Left to Right’ or ‘Copy 
Right to Left’, always moving to the folder 
that contains fewer files. All the files 
should now be in the target folder, 
meaning you can delete the other folder 
- but check that everything has been 


60 15 -28 April 2015 


Sort your messy files and folders 


WINDOWS EXPLORER SEARCH TRICKS 




Windows Explorer may not be very good at helping you 
organise your files, but it does have some great hidden 
filtering tricks for searching files. 

For instance, let's say you have a document called 'Club 
newsletter' that you edited last week, but now you can't find 
it. Type newsletter into the search box at the top right, then 
type datemodified: (including the colon). A little calendar 
will pop up, letting you narrow the search to this week, this 
month, this year or to a specific date. 

Alternatively, type size to filter your search results 
according to size, or kind to sort according to file type. You 
can combine more than one of these filters to help you find 
what you're looking for. Use search filters like 'datemodified:' in Explorer to find files or folders faster 




Compare and merge the contents of two folders you 
suspect are duplicates using WinMerge 


copied across safely first. 

If you simply want to find and delete 
duplicate files, try Auslogics Duplicate 
File Finder (www.snipca. com/15902). 

The installer doesn’t contain adware, 
but you should untick the offer of other 
Auslogics software. The program lets you 
target specific file types (photos, videos, 
documents and so on) or scan your 
entire hard drive. It also lets you ignore 
duplicates below a certain size. Once it 
has identified the duplicates, click the 
Select button, select all the duplicate files, 
then move them to the Recycle Bin. 

Batch-edit file names and dates 

If you’ve ever copied files from your 
digital camera to your computer, they 
probably arrived with unhelpful file 
names that are pretty useless should 
you ever try searching for them at a 
later date. The best free solution is 
Advanced Renamer (www advanced 
renamer.com), which comes in 
installable and portable versions. 

Run the program, click Add in the 
right-hand panel and select all the files 
you want to rename, then click Add 
Method and choose a renaming option. 
For example, to give them all the same 
name plus an incremental number, 
choose New Name, type a name (say. 


Crete Holiday) then choose 
‘Incremental numbers’ from the 
tags below. Click Start Batch, 
then Start in the window that 
appears, and the files will be 
renamed ‘Crete Holidayl’, 

‘Crete Holiday2’ and so on. 

Free tool EXIF Date Changer 
(www.snipca.com/15903) lets 
you batch-edit file dates. This is 
handy if, for example, you’d 
forgotten to set the correct time 
on your camera and all last year’s holiday 
photos think they were taken in 2007. If 
you use it, first go to the Options tab and 
untick Rename Files To - otherwise your 
files will be renamed as the date. 

Colour-code your 
files and folders 

One of the best ways to organise your 
files and folders is also one of the simplest 
- colour-code them. Folder Colorizer 
(www.snipca.com/15904 - scroll down 
to the Folder Colorizer and click Free 


Download) is a quick and simple tool 
for colouring specific folder icons to 
help them stand out in Explorer. The 
program is free, but make sure you click 
‘Custom installation’ and untick Install 
360 Total Security during installation. 

To colour a folder, right-click it in 
Explorer and click Colorize, then choose 
a default colour or mix your own using 
the Colors option at the bottom. 

To colour-code your files, use 
XYplorerFree (www.snipca.com/15905) . 
It lets you give each file a coloured label 
(for example, green for documents 
you’ve finished, red for ‘to-do’) so you 
can sort your work at a glance. The 
program is free and comes in installable 
and portable versions. Run either 
version, select a file, then click View, 
Columns and tick Label. Then, when you 
right-click in the empty space under 
Label to the right of the file, you can 
select a colour for that document. 

The file name is highlighted 
in your chosen colour. 


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Colour-code your files for easy sorting using XYplorerFree 


15 -28 April 2015 61 




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Problems Solved 


PROBLEM OF THE FORTNIGHT 


How do I access 
Google Play from 
the Isle of Man? 



I live on the Isle of Man (loM), 
whieh limits the apps I ean 
download from Google Play. 
The loM is part of the British Isles but 
not part of the UK, whieh is apparently 
the problem. For many apps, sueh as 
BBC iPlayer, Google Play simply says: 
“This app is unavailable in your 
eountry”. I assume that Google does 
not reeognise loM as part of Britain. 

Carlton Mealin 



You’re right that Google 
Play makes decisions based 
on location. It does this in 
a variety of ways, including the 
connected device’s IP address - and 
this is likely to be the root cause of 
your problem. 

There’s only a finite number of IP 
addresses, which internet service 
providers (ISPs) are issued in blocks. 
Typically, your ISP’s stock of IP 
addresses will reflect its geographical 
location (or at least the locations of its 
customers). However, some will hold 
stocks that don’t reflect actual 
locations. An loM IP address should 
work with Google Play but, even if your 
ISP is Manx Telecom, for example, 
there’s no guarantee that it’s issued 
you with an an loM IP address. 

Many domestic broadband 
connections are issued with dynamic 
IP addresses, which means the IP 
address changes from time to time. This 
could happen to a schedule decided by 
the ISP, or when you disconnect your 
router for a while. It’s usually also 
possible to force your router to drop its 
current IP address and request a new 
one (though your ISP might well issue 
you the same one, until it decides it’s 
time for a new one). To do this you’ll 
need to access your router’s admin 
page (typically by typing 192.168.0.1’ 
or something similar into a web 



Use a virtual private network to overcome 
geographic restrictions 


browser and pressing Enter), then look 
for the option to disconnect or reset 
your connection. You can also ask your 
ISP to issue you with a new IP address. 

Alternatively, you could use a virtual 
private network (VPN) to make it look 
as though your Android device is 
connected via a UK-based server. Many 
VPN services are paid-for but free ones 
do exist, though they usually have 
restrictions - such as limits on 
streaming. That’s no problem if you 
want to download apps, but if you then 
want to stream with BBC iPlayer you 
may need to consider a paid-for service. 

To set up a VPN in Android (4.4 
onwards), tap Settings followed by More 
and then VPN. Tap the ‘ + ’ symbol then 
enter the details of your chosen VPN 
service. A service called Free UK VPN, 
for example, has the account name 
‘FREEUKVPN’ (in capitals) and ‘ukvpn. 
freeukvpn.co.uk’ as the server address, 
so enter these details and tap Save. Now 
tap the new entry and enter the user 
name (‘FREEUKVPN’) and password: 
this changes regularly, but you can get 
it by visiting www.freeukvpn.co.uk. 

Download your apps from Google 
Play then, to disconnect, return to the 
VPN screen, tap the FREEUKVPN 
entry and tap Disconnect. 


Why can't I pay 
online using 
Microsoft Money? 



I use Mierosoft Money to 
manage my personal banking. 
I’ve been trying to to set up 
seheduled transaetions for my bank to 
pay bills. In the appropriate page I want 
to ehoose the Pay Online option, but this 
is always greyed out. The online option 
available on this page is ‘Write Cheque’. 
Do you have any idea why this might be 
happening and how I ean aetivate the Pay 
Online funetion? I’m using Windows 7. 

William Chalmers 



Yes, we can clarify things and 
it’s not good news. Microsoft 
Money was discontinued in 
2009, and all development of the 
program stopped in that year. Support 
actually continued until 2011 but, at that 
time, Microsoft effectively washed its 
hands of the product. It also switched 
off all the servers that enabled Money’s 
online services. 

The company did issue a ‘sunset’ 
edition of Money to allow people with old 
Money files to access their data. However, 
while this version of the program is still 
available as a free download (from www. 
snipca.com/15553) it has had all online 
features removed. 

Sadly, for you there is no fix - and 
never will be. Money is an abandoned 
program and it is highly unlikely that 
Microsoft will ever revive it, and no 
chance at all that the company will ever 
reactive online functionality in the old 
versions. 



64 15 -28 April 2015 












Our experts solve all your tech problems 

B Email us your problem and we'll try to help: noproblem(Scomputeractive.co.uk 


How do I move stuff from XP to Windows 8.1? 



I’m going to buy a new PC 
because for the sake of security 
I feel it’s time to retire my old 
Windows XP machine. I have my eye on a 
Windows 8.1 laptop, but I’m a bit worried 
about about some of the things I’ve read. 

I understand that Windows 8.1 is not 
compatible with the backup files 
produced by Windows XP? Is this true? 

If so, how am I supposed to move my 
personal files and folders from XP to 
my new computer? My backups are 
stored on an external hard drive. Also, 
how do I stop my old XP computer 
connecting to my Wi-Fi? 

Jeremy Cook 

Although it’s almost 
unbelievable, we’re afraid it’s 
true that Windows 8.1 cannot 
read the files created by Windows XP’s 
built-in backup tool. In fact, the same is 
true of Windows 7, but Microsoft did 
eventually release a tool that enabled 
people going from XP to Windows 7 
to restore the files (with a .bkf file 
extension) created by XP’s backup tool. 





Use free tool PCmover Express to transfer files from 
your old XP PC to a new Windows 8/8.1 computer 


It’s called ‘Windows NT Backup - Restore 
Utility’, and it’s a free download from 
WWW. snipca. com/15 575 . 

However, similarly unbelievably, that 
tool is not compatible with Windows 8.1 
- so it’s no help for people like you who 
want to jump from XP to 8.1. There is a 
way to get it to work by copying certain 
system files from your XP computer but 
there are still some problems using it. 


As you still have a working XP 
computer, it’s better to use another 
solution. Perhaps realising the 
idiocy of this situation, Microsoft 
struck a deal with file-transfer 
veteran Laplink to give away a free 
copy of PCmover Express, which 
you can download from www. 
snipca.com/15576. Install this on 
both your XP and new Windows 8.1 
PC and then, starting on the XP 
machine, work through the 
instructions to decide what data you 
want to transfer. The transfer can be 
handled wirelessly, via your Wi-Fi router 
(expect it to take a few hours though). 

Finally, to disconnect your XP 
machine from Wi-Fi, first right-click 
the network icon in the notification 
area of the Taskbar (bottom right, 
basically) and choose Properties. Now 
click your network name then click the 
Disconnect button. 


Can I use Google Maps offline 
with my iPhone? 


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f 





I have had an aeeount with 
Memory-Map (www.memory- 
map.eo.uk) for years and have 
it lieensed on a number of deviees, 
ineluding my handheld GPS and iPhone. 
I use it for walking and eyeling. I also 
use it on my laptop with a GPS dongle. 
This is great for planning tours in the 
ear, but I only have ordnanee survey 
maps for GB and IGN maps in Franee. 
When it eomes to Spain my serolling 
map ends at the border. So, is there a 
way to download maps from Google 
Maps (or any other mapping software) 
that I ean use in Spain without needing 
an internet eonneetion? 

John Ashe 


The iPhone version of Google 
Maps makes it possible to store 
maps offline, limited to blocks 



of 50km square. To do 
this, first search for an 
area then, when its 
label appears at the 
bottom, swipe up then 
tap the menu button 
(three dots) followed 
by ‘Save offline map’. 

Now pinch to zoom 
into the area and tap 
SAVE. Type a name 
then tap SAVE again. 

To call up saved maps, 
tap the app’s main 
menu button (three lines), then tap 
‘Your places’. 

We know of no current easy (or legal) 
way to save Google Maps data on a PC, 
because Google has changed the way 
the service works to make it difficult to 
do so. However, the free GMapCatcher 




Save maps for offline use on your iPhone in Google Maps 

program (www.snipca.com/15591) - 
which previously did the job for Google 
Maps - now lets you download maps 
from a variety of popular services, 
including Microsoft’s Bing Maps 
(www.bing.com/maps) and the 
popular OpenStreetMap (www. 
openstreetmap.org) . 


15 -28 April 2015 65 








Problems Solved 



How do I remove 
Avast signature 
from my emails? 

I read Keith Chessell’s letter 
(Problems Solved, Issue 445) 
with some interest. My 
problem isn’t the same as his, but it 
is related. Aetually, it was your reply 
that highlighted my problem: Avast 
2015 Free inserts its logo and 
aeeompanying marketing message 
into every email I send. 

I understand the program is free 
but I’d rather not have this banner 
attaehed to my emails. Is this 
beeause the program is free? Is there 
any way of stopping this, or will I 
need to upgrade to the paid-for 
version to remove it? I use Windows 
Live Mail 2012 with Windows 7 
Home Edition. 

Eric Hammond 

You don’t need to upgrade 
to the paid-for software to 
remove Avast’ s marketing 
signature, though the option to 
disable it is both thoroughly hidden 
and misleadingly named. 

To begin, right-click the Avast 
icon in the notification area of the 
Windows Taskbar and choose 
‘Open Avast user interface’. Next, in 
the left-hand pane, click Settings 
followed by Active Protection. Now 
click the Customize link alongside 
Mail Shield, then Behavior in the 
left-hand pane. Finally, in the 
General section, clear the tick from 
the ‘Insert note into clean message 
(outgoing)’ box (see screenshot 
below). Click OK twice and the Avast 
signature will be history. 




What's the actual price of 
this Android app? 


I’ve reeently 
upgraded my 
Nexus 7 tablet to a 
12.2-ineh Galaxy Note Pro. 

Up until now I have 
refrained from giving 
Google my eredit-eard 
details, but reeently I 
deeided I’d like to put a 
eouple of Android games on 
my tablet to go with all my 
musie. Speeifieally, I want 
the Football Manager game, 
whieh I also play on my 
desktop PC. I don’t mind 
paying the £6.99 demanded by Google 
Play Store, but on eheeking the details it 
said something about ‘in- app eharges’, 
with a priee range of 69p to £9.99. What 
are these? I never had extra eharges on 
the desktop version of the game, and I 
don’t want Google taking money from 
my aeeount willy-nilly. So what are these 
eharges? Fees for updates? Please help. 

Martin Fletcher 


In-app purchases are precisely 
that: purchases that can be made 
within the app. So, in this case. 



Apps in the Google Play store, such as Football Manager 
Handheld, come with optional in-app purchases 



the Football Manager app itself costs a 
fixed amount of £6.99. For that you’ll 
be able to download and play the game, 
which by most accounts is a pretty 
faithful reproduction of its desktop 
counterpart. 

However, the mobile version of 
Football Manager also offers extra stuff 
to buy inside the app, from extra 
challenges to an editing tool. It is to these 
that the published price range relates. 
You do not have to buy these to play the 
game, and will not be charged for them 
unless you choose to do so. 


What's causing this sudden fan noise? 




I followed your adviee to elear 
the dust from inside my desktop 
PC. However, mueh to my 
horror, I was greeted with a horrendous 
noise eoming mainly from the eabinet 
fan. What eould I have possibly done? I 
have diseonneeted both fans to get some 
peaee, but now I see an error message 
about them not being deteeted. Do I need 

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to replaee the fans? 


John Kinchington 



Ensure Avast doesn't leave signatures on 
your emails via its Behavior settings 




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If your PCs fans are making a lot of noise, use the free tool 
SpeedFan to control how fast they rotate 


Your PC needs fans, so reconnect 
them right away. It’s possible 
that you have disturbed the 
blades on their spindles, causing them 
to wobble at speed. Try a little thumb 
pressure to reseat and stabilise them. 

You could also try using 
the free SpeedFan tool (www. 
snipca.com/15603) to lower 
the fan speeds until the 
noise is acceptable. First, try 
ticking ‘Automatic fan speed’ 
on the Reading tab. If that 
doesn’t work, click the 
Configure button, select the 
Fans tab, then select a Fan to 
manually lower its speed - 
but keep an eye on the 
temperatures on the Readings 
tab, and don’t let them 
get too high. 


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66 15 -28 April 2015 










Why doesn't RunAsDate do anything? 



In Issue 442, you recommended 
a free program called 
RunAsDate (www.snipca. 
com/15069) to reset trial programs to 
their starting date. But there are no 
instructions. I browsed for the trial 
version of Microsoft Digital Image 
Starter Edition 2006, which is no 
longer available to buy so I couldn’t 
upgrade to the full version anyway. 

I then clicked Run in RunAsDate and 
absolutely nothing happened. I clicked 
on Create Desktop Shortcut and again 
nothing happened. Could I be doing 
something wrong? 

John Presland 

We tried RunAsDate with Digital 
Image Starter Edition (DISE) 
2006 and it works as expected. 
So, we assume that you must’ve done 
something wrong. Or, more accurately, 
we reckon it’s something you didn’t do. 

Clicking Run in RunAsDate won’t do 
anything unless you’ve selected a 
program file on which the utility should 


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Make sure you 
specify a program in 
RunAsDate and create 
a Desktop shortcut 


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work its magic. To make RunAsDate work 
with DISE 2006, click the Browse button 
and then navigate to the program’s 
installation folder. Assuming you didn’t 
change the default during installation, 
then this is C:\Program Files \ Microsoft 
Digital Image 2006. Next, click to select 
‘pi.exe’ (which is the relevant DISE 2006 
program file) and choose Open. Click 
Run, and RunAsDate will do its job. 


Incidentally, you might want to put a 
tick in the ‘Return to the current date/ 
time after’ box, otherwise any date and 
time stamps you create in DISE 2006 will 
be inaccurate. If you want to create a 
Windows Desktop shortcut to speed 
things up for subsequent launches, first 
type a name for the shortcut (in the box 
next to the button - see screenshot), then 
click Create Desktop Shortcut. 


How do I restore my missing 250GB partition? 



I have a Maxtor 
500GB external 
hard drive that, 
several years ago, I divided 
into two equal partitions 
by using EaseUS Partition 
Master. I’ve sinee 
uninstalled this program. 

Reeently, I wanted to restore 
the drive to a single 
partition and used Paragon 
Partition Manager (free 
edition) to do this. Naively, 

I used the Delete Partition 
faeility, whieh removed one 
of the partitions. However, I 
now find the eapaeity of my 
drive is only half of what it 
should be. What’s happened 
and how ean I restore the drive to its 
original 500GB? I run Windows 7 
Home Premium. 

Michael K Bell 

What happened is that by 
deleting a partition you have 
created ‘unallocated’ space on 
your drive. Until this space is allocated. 




Restore missing hard-drive space via Windows Computer Management tool 


either by creating a new partition or 
‘extending’ an existing partition to use 
the unallocated space, this part of your 
drive’s storage will remain invisible to 
Windows. 

Extending your existing (C:) partition 
into this unallocated space is easy with 
Windows 7, and you don’t need extra 
software to do it. First, click Start then 


right-click Computer 
and choose Manage. 
Now click Storage 
followed by Disk 
Management. In the 
lower, right-hand pane, 
you’ll see a list of all 
attached drives. In 
your case, you’ll 
probably see ‘Disk 0’ 
and ‘Disk 1’ - with 
Disk 1 almost certainly 
the external drive. 

You can double-check 
by taking note of the 
capacities on the 
left-hand side, or 
by disconnecting 
and reconnecting 
the external drive. 

Now right-click the existing working 
partition (with a blue banner), choose 
Extend Volume, click Next, accept the 
maximum amount for the extension, 
click Next and follow the prompts. 

After a minute or two, your drive will 
have just one large partition - and your 
missing 250GB will be restored. 


15 -28 April 2015 67 









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Why can't I run 64bit machines in VirtualBox? 



I have a laptop running the 64bit 
edition of Windows 7, but 1 
eannot get 64bit operating 
systems to run in VirtualBox - only their 
32bit eounterparts. Also, you reeently 
published a SoureeForge link to 
operating systems to use on VirtualBox. 

1 downloaded the Android link, but it 
wouldn’t run beeause the downloaded 
file was not ISO format. Please help. 

M J Fordham 



To run a 64bit operating system 
in VirtualBox your computer 
must have a 64bit processor 
with built-in support for hardware 
virtualisation. We know your PC has a 
64bit processor because you’re running 
64bit Windows and, while there are some 
64bit processors that lack hardware- 
virtualisation capabilities, this isn’t likely 
to be case for the Intel or AMD processor 
that’s probably at the heart of your PC. 

Most likely is that the relevant 
technology (Intel VT-x or AMD-V) is 



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When setting up a virtual machine make sure 
you select the correct version for your PC 


simply not enabled in your computer’s 
BIOS. So, restart your PC, tap the 
necessary key to access the BIOS 
(typically Delete/Del or F2) and then 
scour the BIOS pages for an option 
called ‘Virtualization Technology’ (or 
something similar) and set it to Enabled. 


Exit the BIOS, usually by pressing 
Escape (Esc), and save your changes. 
Einally, make sure when you set up 
a new virtual machine that you choose a 
64bit operating system template from the 
Version dropdown menu. 

As for the Android virtual machine, 
we’re assuming that you’re talking about 
the popular Android-x86 project? The 
SourceEorge page for this is www.snipca. 
com/15552 and clicking the green 
Download button in the middle of the 
page should download the ISO file. 

If you’re still struggling, try visiting 
the project’s own home page, at www. 
android-x86.org. Click Download in the 
left-hand side pane then, in the right- 
hand pane, scroll down to the ‘Android- 
X86-4.4’ section and click the View link 
next to the ‘Android-x86 4.4-rl live & 
installation iso’ entry: this redirects 
you to SourceEorge, but the download 
will begin right away, removing the 
potential for you to click the wrong 
download button. 


Why does my keyboard type duplicate characters? 


1 have a self-built 64bit 
Windows 7 PC that works well 
exeept for one problem. In some 
programs (but not all), my keyboard 





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duplieates eharaeters. Even typing this 
email required 15 or more deletions! I’ve 
aeeessed Keyboard Properties via Control 
Panel and set both ‘Repeat delay’ and 

‘Repeat rate’ to their minimum 
positions, but it hasn’t helped. 
It’s a Mierosoft Internet Keyboard 
eonneeted through a KVM 
(keyboard-video-mouse) switeh, 
and it works perfeetly on my 
old Windows 98 PC. 

Shane McLaughlin 


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If tweaking your Keyboard properties fails to resolve 
typing problems check your ICVM switch and cables 



There are numerous 
possible causes for this, 
but we suspect your 
KVM switch is to blame. In the 
first instance we’d suggest 
removing it from your setup 
to see if that helps. 

If the problem is resolved, 
reconnect the KVM but try 
reversing the connections 
(that is, swap the connections to 
the Windows 98 computer with 
the Windows 7 PC). If this also 
fixes the problem then there’s a 
fault with one half of your 
KVM’s connections. Buy a 
replacement, because a new 


model would be cheaper than a repair. 

Next, download and install Microsoft’s 
free IntelliType Pro tool, from www. 
snipca.com/15421 - this will ensure the 
drivers are the perfect match for your 
keyboard model. 

Einally, it’s possible that a bug in 
your motherboard’s USB controller is 
causing this problem. Because yours 
is a self-built PC, there won’t be any 
automated-update tools installed (other 
than Windows, obviously), so visit your 
motherboard manufacturer’s website to 
see if there’s a firmware update. Methods 
vary so we can’t tell you how to apply 
this - simply follow the manufacturer’s 
instructions. 



NEXT ISSUE 


* How do I wipe down my 
old PCs? 

» Why does Word launch with 
gibberish? 

* How do I add repeat reminders in 
Android? 

..And many more 


Subscribe to Computeractive 
at getcomputeractive.co.uk 


15 -28 April 2015 69 











% Fast Fixes 


Open documents that won't open, find 
lost footnotes and fix corrupted fonts 




Some documents won't open 

If you see an error message when you 
attempt to open an older document, it 
might be because Word is set to block 
files it considers unsafe - which can 
include documents created by older 
versions of the program. 

To fix this, click File followed by Word 
Options (2013) or, if you’re running Word 
2010, click File, Help, then Options. Now 
click Trust Center, then File Block 
Settings. Untick the blocked file types 
you’d like to open, then click OK. 

Doing the same in Word 2007 requires 
a Registry tweak that Microsoft has made 
available as a free ‘Fix it’ tool (www 
snipca. com/15740) . 



If Word refuses to open some document 
types, tweak the options in File Block Settings 

Word won't open 

If you can’t get Word to open at all, it’s 
probably due to faulty add-ins (Microsoft’s 
term for extensions for Office programs). 
The answer is to disable or reinstall the 
broken add-in - but that’s easier said than 
done if you can’t load Word. So, start by 
launching Word in its own safe mode. 

Click Start, type winword.exe /safe and 
press Enter. Word might look or act a bit 
different, but don’t worry - this is because 
all your add-ins have been disabled. 

You now need to work methodically, 
disabling one add-in at a time before 
restarting Word to see if the problem is 
fixed. Click File, Word Options and then 
‘Add-ins’. Select ‘COM Add-ins’ from the 
Manage dropdown menu. Clear a tick 
from one add-in and click OK, then start 
Word as normal (not in safe mode). If it 
fails, repeat this entire tip with a different 
add-in. When you find the offending 
add-in, leave it disabled or reinstall it. 


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When Word won't launch, use safe mode to 
diagnose and fix the problem 


Footnotes have disappeared 

In older versions of Word, footnotes 
were always visible in the program’s 
Normal or Print Layout views, but this 
changed with Word 2010. It’s now 
less easy to see footnotes at a glance, 
and much less obvious how to edit 
footnotes in groups. 

To fix the first problem, select the 
References tab and then click Show 
Notes (in the Footnotes group). Then, to 
view or edit all your footnotes in one 
place, choose the View tab and then 
click Draft in the Views group. 

Spell-checker doesn't work 

Word 2010 and 2013 have both a 
traditional spell-checker - where an 
entire document is checked in one 
run-through - and a live system that 
underlines errors in red as you type. If 
these aren’t working, or aren’t working 
as you’d expect, then try this. Select the 
Review tab, then choose Language in the 



Make sure Word's spell-checker is using the 
correct language and set to check as you type 


Language group followed by Set Proofing 
Language. First, make sure that your 
preferred language is selected. If it isn’t, 
select it and then click the Set As Default 
button. Next, check the ‘Do not check 
spelling or grammar’ box. If it’s clear. 
Word will not check your spelling as you 
type - so if that’s what you want it to do, 
tick the box. 

Can't change Recent 
Places in Word 2010 

When you click File in Word 2010 and 
2013, you see a box containing a list of 
Recent Documents (just like in previous 
versions of Word) and Recent Places 
(such as folders you’ve recently saved 
documents to). Normally you can 
change how many Recent Places 
are shown by clicking File, Options, 
Advanced and then changing the figure 
in the Display section. 

However, there’s a bug in Word 2010 
that can stop this from working. You 
can fix it by editing the Registry via 
Registry Editor, but it’s easier to 
download Microsoft’s free ‘Fix it’ tool 
(www.snipca.com/15743) . 

Word displays an 
Invalid Page' error 

If you see an error message about an 
‘Invalid Page’ when you try to open a 
document in any version of Word, it’s 
probably because some fonts are missing 
or corrupted. 

You can fix it in the same way in any 
version. Press Shift + FI to open the Reveal 
Formatting pane, then step through the 
document with the text cursor, noting 
down the fonts used. Now click Start 
followed by Control Panel, then click 
‘Appearance and Personalization’ 
followed by Fonts. Check that all the 
listed fonts are present. If any are 
missing, you’ll need to install them. 
Otherwise, start a new, clean document, 
type some text and format it with the first 
font on your list. Save, close Word, then 
restart and open the document just 
created. Change the font and repeat until 
the Invalid Page error appears. Re-install 
the corrupted fault, or stop using it. 


70 15 -28 April 2015 


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Jargon Buster 


1080p Of the common types of ^ 
high-definition video, this is the 
best quality: 1920x1080 pixels. 

32bit A measure of how much , 
information a PC can process at \ 
once. Most older PCs are 32bit. | 

64bit A technology that processes j 
information in larger chunks. Most 
modern computers are 64bit. 

802.11ac A standard for wireless | 

networks that allows for higher 
transfer speeds than 802.11n. | 

i 

ADF Automatic Document Feeder, j 
A device that feeds sheets of paper 3 
into a photocopier or scanner, one 
at a time. 

Aperture An opening that controls 
the amount of light entering a 
camera lens. 

Aspect ratio A measurement of 
the shape of a display. Traditional 
PC screens are 4:3. Widescreen 
displays are 16:9 or 16:10. 1 

Bandwidth A measure of how 
much data can be transferred 
through a connection at one time. 


BIOS Basic Input-Output System. 
Software built into every PC that 
connects the vital components. 

Bookmarklet A small, very simple 
program stored as a bookmark in 
your web browser. 


Cookie A small text file stored on 
your computer by a website. Used 
to store browsing preferences, 
website login details and so on. 

CSC Compact system cameras. A 
camera that uses interchangeable 
lenses, but doesn't have a 
viewfinder that uses a mirror. 

Disk image A file that contains all 
the information from a CD or DVD. 
Sometimes known as an ISO. 

dpi Dots per inch. A measure of 
printed image quality, or the size 
an object will be shown on screen. 

Dual band Wi-Fi routers with two 
wireless radios working on the 2.4 
and SGFIz frequencies. 


Duplex printing Printing on both 
sides of a sheet of paper. 


DVI Digital Visual Interface. A 
common type of display connector. 

Eight-core A PC that has eight 
processors on a single chip. 

EPUB A file format used by many 
popular ebook readers. 

Equaliser An equaliser changes 
the tone of music produced by a 
computer or portable player. 

Ethernet A standard used for 
almost all wired PC networks. 

EXE A program file designed to 
run in Windows. 

Exposure The amount of light 
collected by a camera's sensor. 


Extension A program that adds 
extra features to your browser. 

False positive When an antivirus 
program wrongly detects a 
malware infection. 

Feedback The tactile response 
that the keys on a keyboard give 
when they've been pressed. 

Firmware Basic software stored 
on a device, such as a music player, 
to control its operation. 

Flash memory A type of memory 
that can retain information without 
a power source. 

HDMI Fligh-definition media 
interface. A type of connection 
that transmits high-definition 
video and audio signals. 


I ISO file A type of image file that 
: contains all the data from a CD or 
I DVD disc. 

; ISO The light sensitivity of a 
; camera. A high ISO lets you shoot 
I in the dark without a flash. 

; Megapixel A measure of the 
j amount of detail that can be 
: recorded by a digital image. 

: MFP Multifunction Printer. A 
i combined printer and scanner 

i MicroSD card A small type of 
j memory card. 

t 

i Motherboard The main circuit 
: board inside every PC into which 
I all other parts connect. 


MP4 A type of digital movie file 
often used for portable players. 

NFC Near-field communication. 

Noise Visible dust-like speckles 
that appear in some images. 

Open source Software that can 
be modified by anyone. 

Partition A large hard drive can 
be split into two or more partitions 
or 'virtual' drives. 

Plug-in A small program that adds 
extra features to your web browser 
or to other applications, and is 
loaded only when it's needed. 

Processor The processor - or 
central processing unit - is the 
brain of a computer. 


i Quad core A PC that has four 
i processors on a single chip. 

i RAW A format for digital photos 
I that stores the image exactly as 
i the camera captured it. 

i Remote code execution When a 
i hacker is able to start a program 
i running on a remote computer 

i Resolution The amount of detail 
i shown in an image. 

j Restore points The collection of 
I system files stored by System 
j Restore on a given date and time 

j to which Windows can revert. 

i 

j 

I SATA Serial Advanced Technology 
j Attachment, 
i 

I Sensor The part of the camera that 
I captures each image. 

: Server A PC on a network that 
: distributes data to other PCs. 

I Shutter speed A way of 
measuring how much light is 
captured by a camera's sensor. 


SIM-only A mobile phone contract 
in which the network provider 
supplies the SIM, an agreed amount 
of usage, but not the phone. 

SLR Single-Lens Reflex. 

SSD Solid-state drive. 

Time-shift Recording a TV 
programme for later viewing. 

Travel The distance the keys of 
a keyboard have to be pressed 
before the keystroke is recognised. 

USB 2.0 Faster successor to USB. 

USB 3.0 A even faster version of 
the USB standard. 

VCD Video Compact Disc. 

Virtual machines A software- 
based computer running inside 
another computer. 

VGA Video Graphics Array. 

White balance Adjusts the 
balance of colours in an image. 

Widget A small program that runs 
on the Windows Desktop. 


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15 -28 April 2015 73 



The Final Straw 


This issue Stuart Andrews has no one to blame but. . . 



STUART ANDREWS is 

Computeroctive’s Mr Angry 


Himself 


L ast year my laptop refused to 
connect to the internet. It had a 
healthy wireless signal to the router, 
but a little yellow exclamation mark 
meant I wouldn’t be Googling any time 
soon. I picked up my trusty Android 
tablet and found that it too had come 
over all disconnected. So I marched into 
the living room and examined the router. 
Sure enough, the ADSL indicator glowed 
the kind of muted, passive-aggressive red 
that says ‘You’ve got a problem’. 

I turned the power on and off - to 
no avail. I checked the connections at 
the back, but nothing seemed amiss. 

I fired up my browser and checked the 
router set-up screen, still nothing 
untoward. And then, just as I was 
explaining sarcastically to my ISP’s tech 
support that, yes, of course I’d switched 
the router off and on, and, yes, of course 
I’d checked the connections, I noticed 
that the cable between the router and 
the ASDL splitter had been knocked out. 
In a split second, I went from irritated 
expert to red-faced, blithering, overly 
apologetic fool. 

We often blame hardware and software 
for so many of the problems we suffer 
with our devices, but how much actually 
comes down to us? Much as I’m happy to 
lay blame at the door of Microsoft, 


Google and Apple when things go 
pear-shaped. I’d have to admit that it’s 
sometimes the result of my own 
ineptitude. I’ve tested PC monitors that 
have left me cursing blank screens, only 
to read the manual and learn there’s a 
power switch beneath the frame. I was 
about to return a non-functioning 


II 


I was ready to return 
a non-working 
smartphone when I 
realised that I'd slotted 
the battery in 
upside down 


99 



smartphone, only to realise I’d slotted the 
battery in upside down. On more than 
one occasion I’ve complained that a printer 
or scanner was a 
worthless piece of 
scrap (especially 
when the USB cable 
hadn’t been plugged 
in). And like anything 
with a human brain, I forget 
usernames and passwords. 

Software errors can also be 
down to human error (or at 
the very least a failure to read 
what’s on screen). You haven’t 
got a leg to stand on if 
JPEGs no longer open in your 
favourite image editor after 
you’ve installed some dodgy photo 
app and said ‘yes’ when it asks 
to hijack aU your permissions. 


Hooray for the 
selfie sticks ban! 


So, the National Gallery has banned the 
selfie stick "in order to protect paintings, 
individual privacy and the overall visitor 
experience". Good. As I said a few 
months ago (in Issue 441 to be exact), 
the selfie stick has transformed the 
already irritating self-portrait mode into a 
genuine public menace, where you're in 
danger of a good whacking or prodding 
if you're within spitting distance of some 
famous landmark or other. What these 
halfwits thought they were doing, 
posing in front of The Hay Wain or Van 
Gogh's Sunflowers (URL????) boggles 
the mind, but at least we no longer 
have to put up with them waving their 
smartphones on stalks in the air. 


I’ve also got little sympathy for those who 
get hit by malware because they disabled 
Windows Update and removed their 
antivirus software because their prompts 
had become intrusive and intolerable. 

Things used to be worse. The more 
streamlined and restrictive computers 
get, the more idiot-proof they become. 
You no longer get a CD-ROM drive you 
can mistake for a coffee cup holder, and 
long gone are the days when you might 
try to fold a 5.25in floppy disc into a 
3. Sin floppy drive. 

Manufacturers and software developers 
have got smarter, and their testing is more 
geared toward identifying those areas 
where we can royally mess things up. 
They don’t always get it right, and bugs 
and errors keep on coming, but our tech 
is getting easier to use. So next time you 
let rip at at some flashing light or error 
message, stop and check: are you sure it’s 
not a mess of your own making? 


Have you made similar mistakes? 

Let us know at letters(a)computeractive.co.uk 


74 15 -28 April 2015 


Next issue Stuort mans the barricades against mob rule online 





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