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BEST WINDOWS TOOL EVER? Shows you everything you’ve done on your PC Turn to p35

UARY 2018 ISSUE 519 ❘ 17 – 30 JAN

SCAMS EXPOSED

the track p9 Fast Wi-Fi coming down

ry issue every Learn something new in

What you must NEVER search for online p60

Made Easy

Schedule

ANY TASK

ON YOUR PC Set Set a tim timet etab able le for for vit vital al jobs jobs that that keep keep your your PC fast fast,, saf safe e and and junk junk free free p5 p50 0

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CREATE AUTOMATIC EMAIL REPLIES page 38

BAD NEWS! YOUR PC IS ABOUT TO GET SLOWER

Phone and tablet too – here’s why p6


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Welcome EDITORIAL Group Editor Daniel Booth Technical Editor Sherwin Coelho Production Editor Graham Brown Art Editor Katie Peat Contributors Adam Banks, Simon Brew, Darien Graham-Smith, Dinah Greek, Jonathan Parkyn, Wayne Williams ADVERTISING Advertising Director Charlotte Milligan Advertising Manager Alexa Dracos MARKETING AND CIRCULATION Subscriptions Rachel Hare Marketing Production Manager Gemma Hills For subscription enquiries ring 0330 333 9493 PRODUCTION Group Production Manager Stephen Catherall Production Controller Sophie Griffin MANAGEMENT Managing Director John Garewal MD of Advertising Julian Lloyd-Evans Commercial and Retail Director David Barker CFO/COO Brett Reynolds Chief Executive James Tye Company Founder Felix Dennis

From the Editor There are two kinds of arguments I have with my PC. The most common is rather one-sided, as I politely enquire why, of all times, it has chosen to restart now, just as I was in the middle of something more important than it could ever comprehend. The other type is more constructive. These ‘arguments’ are the technical values that define how a computer will perform a particular task. In our Cover Feature, Jonathan Parkyn explains how to use the second kind of argument to schedule tasks on your PC. You can order it to shut down and wake up at set times, and even open your favourites websites as soon as you log on. With the help of

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.

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software, you can also schedule it to remove junk, perform a backup, and send an email at a later date. One thing on our schedule is the next Computeractive Back Issue CD, containing all 26 issues from 2017 as searchable PDFs. We’ll let you know when it’s on sale. Daniel Booth editor@computeractive.co.uk

p60

Please contact Ryan Chambers for more information and rates: 0203 890 4027 Email: anj_halai@dennis.co.uk 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 0203 890 3998 ONWARD RESALE This 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.

p50

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, 31-32 Alfred Place, London, WC1E 7DP 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 Computeractive is published fortnightly by Dennis Publishing, 31-32 Alfred Place, London, WC1E 7DP. 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 2016, 83,856 copies per issue. © Copyright Dennis Publishing Limited

THIS ISSUE IN NUMBERS 15%

Proportion of Google searches every day that are new - p60

1Gbps Computeractive Printed in the UK

p6

p38

Speed rail passengers will enjoy by 2025, says Govt - p9

1,500

Number of ‘HMRC iTunes’ scams in past 12 months - p16

HOW TO USE SNIPCA URLs We use snipcas to turn long URLs that are hard to type into ones that are short and simple. They aren’t websites themselves, which means they won’t be recognised if you type them into Google. Instead, you need to type them into your browser address bar, then press Enter. Doing this will take you to the correct website.

17 – 30 January 2018 3


Contents In this issue…

Schedule

Schedule any task on 50 your PC Take the tedium out of your day-to-

day computing with our handy guide to automating the tasks that take up your precious time

58

Right-click tricks for your favourite software Make life easier by using handy options in your context menu

60

What you must never search for on Google Look for the wrong thing on the search engine and scammers will be lying in wait to trap you. We explain how to thwart their best efforts

ON YOUR PC Careful what you search for p60

In every issue…

11 Question of the Fortnight Will artificial intelligence save the NHS?

33 Competition Win a Peli Memory Card Case 49 What’s All the Fuss About? Tacotron 2

12 Letters

64 Problems Solved

14 Consumeractive

71 Reader Support Your tech problems fixed

16 Protect Your Tech 18 Best Free Software BCUninstaller 4.1 30 Buy It! 4 17 – 30 January 2018

CO FEA VER TU P50 RE

ANY TASK

Context menu is everything p58

6 News

17 – 30 January 2018 • Issue 519

73 Jargon Buster 74 Keep your brain active Simon Brew tries to grow his own brain

A&E or AI? p11


Subscribe e

NOW!

See page 62 for our special subs offer

Reviews

Lenovo Yoga 920 p21

20 Dell Inspiron 24 5000 All-in-one PC is slow on the uptake Al 21 Lenovo Yoga 920 A flexible laptop with stamina 22 Asus Lyra MAPAC2200 Mesh router for much money Me 23 Palicomp AMD Galaxy This Th Galaxy PC operates at the speed of light sp 24 Huawei Honor 7X A phone for the bigger picture Fitbit Ionic Fi Smart watch is fit for purpose Sm

Palicomp AMD Galaxy p23

Bakker Elkhuizen UltraBoard 940 p26

25 Canon Pixma TS3150 A printer for simple pleasures

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26 Bakker Elkhuizen UltraBoard 940 Portable keyboard for every type 28 Swann CCTV Kit Keep an eye on your entire home 29 Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim 1TB Why not pop out for a quick drive?

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Workshops & Tips

14 pages of brilliant workshops and expert tips 35 Get complete history of your Windows activity

42 Print images at exactly the right size

38 Create automatic email replies

43 Readers’ Tips Type text quicker in LibreOffice

40 Fix hidden network problems

44 Phone and Tablet Tips Bring your photos to life 46 Make Windows Better Use your keys to move your cursor 47 Make Office Better Create a flowchart in Word 48 Secret Tips For… Windows Firewall

BEST-SELLING SOFTWARE ON OURSTORE 1 Kaspersky Internet Security 2018 (3 devices, 2yr) 2 Norton Security Deluxe 2018 (3 devices, 1yr) 3 Acronis True Image 2016 4 Kaspersky Internet Security 2018 (1 device) 5 AVG Ultimate 2018 (2yr) 6 Norton Security Deluxe 2018 (3 dev, 2yr) 7 Iolo System Mechanic 17 8 McAfee Internet Security 2018 (10 dev) 9 Malwarebytes 3.1 Premium 10 CCleaner 5 Professional

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17 – 30 January 2018 5


News

The top stories in the world of technology

Huge processor flaws slow down your PC and phone

E

very computing device you own – PC, laptop, phone and tablet – could be slowed down by fixes to two processor flaws that have been described as some of the worst bugs ever found. Tech companies have been racing to fix the flaws, called Meltdown and Spectre by the researchers who discovered them. They affect billions of devices worldwide powered by Intel, AMD, ARM and Qualcomm processors. These include Windows and Linux computers, Android phones and tablets, and iPhones and iPads. The flaws go so deep that updates are not only needed for processor firmware, but also for browsers and operating systems. Intel pledged to release updates in the second week of January. These will be given to manufacturers, who will add them to your computer through Windows Update. If you built your own computer, you’ll need to search for updates on Intel or AMD’s website, as well as from your motherboard’s manufacturer. Some experts expect these fixes to slow down computers and other devices by up to 30 per cent, though Intel said performance loss will depend on what you do on the device. The more software you use the bigger the impact, though it

COMMENT

claimed the slowdown “should not be significant” for average home computer users.

Speculative execution

Both flaws affect a practice whereby processors – in order to speed things up – try to ‘guess’ what piece of information a device needs next. The technical term for this is speculative execution. As the processor guesses, it momentarily stores data from other programs, including sensitive information such as passwords. Meltdown, the most pressing flaw, lets attackers access this information through an operating system. It affects most Intel processors made since 1995. Spectre, which is more of a long-term problem, allows hackers to trigger speculative execution in order to steal important data.

You’ll like this… Laptop prices have been slashed in the January sales (www.snipca.com/26707) 6 17 – 30 January 2018

Other updates you need

As the scale of the problem unfolded, there were fears that every affected device would need to be replaced. But some companies responded quickly with fixes. Microsoft released an update, called KB4056892, on 3 January, and said more fixes are planned. However, it warned that some “incompatible” antivirus programs are reacting to the update by causing a Blue Screen of Death crash. Microsoft urged users whose computers are crashing to contact their antivirus company. High-profile security programs reported to clash with the update include Norton, F-Secure and Avast. Microsoft said affected antivirus companies will need to update their software to handle the update. The company has published a help

What a great start to 2018! The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre said there’s no evidence hackers are using these flaws to steal data, but that’s of little comfort because the attacks would be difficult to detect anyway. The Meltdown updates should be effective, but more worrying is Spectre, which could take years to fix properly. Its complexity also makes it hard for hackers to exploit, though thousands must be already trying. Rarely has a flaw been so aptly named: Spectre will haunt PCs for years. page, containing fixes for blue-screen crashes: www. snipca.com/26711. Google also released a fix in early January, covering its mobile operating system Android. Any device that has received a security update dated 5 January or later is safe. A Chrome update is due on 23 January, while Mozilla protected Firefox with an update to version 57.0.4. On 4 January, Apple updated iOS, the operating system that runs on iPhones and iPads, to version 11.2. Make sure you’ve got it by going to Settings, General, Software Update on your device.

… but not this Children struggle to cope with the pressures of social media (www.snipca.com/26706)


Do you use an HP laptop? Check whether it might catch fire If you’ve bought an HP laptop in the past two years you should urgently check whether its battery could catch fire. The company said that some laptops sold worldwide between December 2015 and December 2017 contain faults that make them overheat. It has recalled the models after eight reports of batteries “overheating, melting or charring”, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission. One incident caused a first-degree burn. Visit HP’s site to check whether your laptop is at risk: www.snipca.com/26700. Models affected include those in HP’s ProBook, Envy, Pavilion and x360 range. If your laptop is listed, you need to download HP’s Battery Program Validation Utility by clicking the blue button in the

middle of the webpage (see screenshot above). If this tool identifies a dangerous battery, it will issue a BIOS update and the laptop will reboot. You’ll be asked to accept Battery Safety Mode, which will let you safely use your laptop by plugging it into the mains, rather than using the combustible batteries. HP says the batteries are internal and can’t be replaced by users, so it will provide

“battery replacement services by an authorized technician at no cost”. It added that the fault “pertains to 0.1 per cent of the HP systems sold globally over the past two years”. This is the second time in 18 months that HP has warned about dangerous laptops. In June 2016 it recalled 41,000 of them, expanding this to 101,000 in January 2017. Read more on HP’s site: www. snipca.com/26701.

Govt to ban touts buying tickets online The Government has pledged to ban touts using automated software to bulk-buy tickets for concerts and sports events advertised online. Touts often use programs called ‘bots’ to snap up tickets in larger numbers than websites technically allow. They then offer the tickets at rip-off prices on secondaryticketing websites such as Viagogo and StubHub. The Government has told the European Commission it intends to enshrine a ban in law. It says a new criminal offence in the Digital Economy Act will leave touts facing unlimited fines for breaching the rules. Ministers are taking action after tickets for the UK production of the award-

winning US musical Hamilton (pictured above) were re-sold for £6,000 last year. Hamilton’s producers are trying to beat the touts by using a paperless ticket system that requires the ticket purchaser to present their credit card when they arrive at the theatre. Recent concerts by the singers Adele and Ed Sheeran

have also been targeted by touts. Last year, an £85 ticket to see Adele at London’s O2 venue was being offered for £24,840. Matt Hancock, the minister for the creative industries, said: “We’re determined to make sure 2018 is the year we help real fans get the chance to see their favourite music and sports stars at a fair price”. The move is part of a growing movement aimed at preventing ticket touts from exploiting fans online. In November last year Google said sites reselling tickets would need to seek its approval before advertising in search results. Sites must also disclose that prices may be higher than the face value.

IN BRIEF MICROSOFT EDGE IS ‘FASTER THAN CHROME’

Microsoft says its Edge browser is 48 per cent faster than Google Chrome, and blocks 18 per cent more phishing sites. The claims appear in a new advert from the company (www.snipca. com/26681). Another advert (www.snipca.com/26682) boasts that Edge uses less of a laptop’s battery when playing videos. It quotes a test run by Microsoft showing that Edge lasted for over 16 hours, beating Chrome’s 13 hours, 31 minutes.

REPEAT OFFENDERS USE PHONE WHILE DRIVING

Many motorists are repeatedly using phones while driving despite being caught, new figures from the DVLA show. More than 6,000 were stopped at least twice for driving while distracted, over 400 three times, and 20 drivers four times. The RAC said responsible motorists will be “shocked” by the numbers, adding that repeat offenders believe there is “little chance of seeing a traffic police officer”.

Tomorrow’s

world

On the left is an image of a swan, shown to volunteers by Kyoto University. On the right is the same image processed by computers scanning the volunteers’ brains. The research could be used one day to turn daydreams and memories into videos. Watch other computer recreations: www.snipca.com/26680.

17 – 30 January 2018 7


News IN BRIEF THUNDERBIRD FIXES SECURITY FLAW

Mozilla has updated Thunderbird to fix five security flaws, one of which was rated ‘critical’. This was a buffer overflow flaw, which occurs when a program doesn’t have enough memory to read or write data. Thunderbird is set by default to update automatically. To check whether you have the new version (52.5.2) follow Mozilla’s instructions at www.snipca.com/26653.

‘TAX FACEBOOK’ TO FIGHT EXTREMISM

Tech giants like Facebook and Google should be taxed to help fund the battle against extremism online, Security Minister Ben Wallace has said. He described the sites as “ruthless profiteers” who’d done little to fight terrorism online. He claimed the Government wouldn’t need to spend “millions” de-radicalising extremists if websites took down terrorist content quicker.

Want to switch phone network? Just send a text under new rules Switching your phone network will be as easy as sending a text, under new Ofcom rules. The regulator said that from July 2019 you’ll only need to send your existing mobile network a text to tell them you’re leaving. They must reply immediately with a PAC (Porting Authorisation Code), which you have to give to your new network within 30 days. Their text must also include any outstanding costs that you owe, any pay-as-you-go credit you have, and whether you need to pay termination fees. Switching must then take place within one working day. Currently, if you want to switch you have to speak to your provider, which gives them the chance to try to persuade you to stay. Ofcom says the changes mean you’ll always avoid these “unwanted attempts” to keep

Can I have my PAC please?

you as a customer. However, you’ll still be able to cancel by calling your provider if that’s what you prefer. You’ll also have to speak to them if you don’t want to keep your number. Over the next 18 months mobile companies will work together to set up a new switching system. They will have to agree on the codes

sent to customers. Ofcom claims switching will be so “quick and easy” that customers will be able to request their code while looking for a new deal, such as when shopping on the high street. The regulator says reform is urgently needed because research shows that 38 per cent of people who tried to switch – 2.5 million people – have experienced major problems. The new rules will also ban mobile companies from charging customers after the switch date. This will put to an end people paying for old and new services at the same time. Ofcom estimates this will save customers around £10 million each year. For more details visit Ofcom’s site: www.snipca. com/26648.

Nvidia ends updates for 32bit graphics cards Nvidia has announced plans to end security updates for graphics cards in computers that run the 32bit version of Windows. The US company said that version 390 of drivers for its cards – likely to arrive in January – will be the last to support 32bit machines. It will cease all 32bit security updates in January 2019. If you use an Nvidia card on a 32bit Windows PC, you should consider upgrading to the 64bit version, or buying a new computer that runs it. Nvidia’s decision is another 8 17 – 30 January 2018

sign that 32bit technology is being abandoned by hardware and software makers, who now favour 64bit systems. Apple, for example, ended support for 32bit apps when iOS 11 launched in September last year. Sticking with 32bit in future will increasingly restrict what your devices can do. A 64bit computer is more powerful because it handles large amounts of RAM more efficiently. 64bit processors

were first added to home computers in 2003. To check whether your Windows 10 PC is 32bit or 64bit, open the Settings app, then click System, About. Look on the right for ‘System type’. In Windows 8, check System in the Control Panel. In Windows 7, open the Start menu, right-click Computer, then choose Properties.

We suspect this couple (see image below) suffer from ‘selfitis’, which researchers at Nottingham Trent University say is a genuine mental disorder. They have developed a ‘Selfitis Behaviour Scale’ to assess how addicted a person is to taking photos of themselves. Read more at www.snipca. com/26665.


Super-fast Wi-Fi on trains, but not until 2025 Rail passengers have been promised a “world-class” internet and 5G mobile service, but will have to wait until 2025 to enjoy it. Under new Government plans, fibre-optic cables could be laid along tracks and through tunnels, and wireless transmitters placed on mobile masts. The Government said speeds could reach 1Gbps, fast enough to let “everyone onboard stream videos simultaneously”. At present, internet and mobile signals are supplied by phone networks, meaning they are often patchy and even non-existent in some remote areas. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said it was part of the Government’s pledge to deliver “the biggest rail improvement plan since Victorian times”. He added: “Improved mobile connectivity will help passengers to keep up with work, connect with friends or

even check the latest journey information online while on the move”. Bruce Williamson, from passenger campaign group Railfuture (https://railfuture. org.uk), welcomed the plans, saying that “seamless connectivity” should be standard on all trains. “Very soon, trains without Wi-Fi will become unthinkable, and rail passengers will look forward to the day when the phone doesn’t cut out in tunnels,” he added. But senior MPs questioned why it would take another seven years. Damian Collins, Conservative chair of the Culture Committee, said:

“I would prefer this to be a backstop date and we will be able to deliver it much quicker than that. I don’t know why it should take this long”. Work is already under way on a trial on the transPennine route between Manchester and York, in partnership with Network Rail. It’s part of the Government’s £31bn National Productivity Investment Fund, announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond in the 2016 Autumn Budget. The Government will now consult on how the upgrades will be funded. Read its proposal on Gov.uk at www.snipca.com/26647.

UK spies build stronger hacking weapons British spies have substantially increased their hacking powers in recent years, an official report has said. The annual report from the Intelligence and Security Committee said GCHQ had “over-achieved” in building tools that let them hack criminals and terrorists. More than double the number of cyber-weapons had been developed than expected. It added that GCHQ’s new digital arsenal is on a “different scale” to what it previously possessed. Some of these tools could be used to ward off attacks from states like China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, or threaten retaliation that could target their infrastructure.

In 2015, the Government outlined ambitious plans to boost GCHQ’s hacking abilities, which it defined as the power to “disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy computer networks and internetconnected devices”. But not all projects have been successful. GCHQ admitted that a project to hack encryption used by enemies has been delayed due

to a skills shortage. Codenamed Foxtrot, the project is GCHQ’s “number one priority and number one worry”. The report was released in late December, a day after the White House and the Foreign Office both publicly blamed North Korea for the Wannacry ransomware attack, which devastated NHS computers in May last year. North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the accusation “absurd”. A spokesman said: “Crystal clear is the purpose of the US to try to link to the issue of cyberattack at this very moment when it is hell-bent on making a harshest sanctions resolution against us”.

IN BRIEF CHROME TO BLOCK ANNOYING ADS

Google’s Chrome browser will start blocking annoying adverts from 15 February. The company said it will penalise ads that make it less enjoyable to browse the web. These include ‘interstitial’ adverts that appear while a web page is loading, and noisy adverts that play automatically. Google is part of the Coalition for Better Ads, which has set new guidelines to tackle intrusive adverts. It follows research in which 25,000 internet users were asked what they find irritating online.

NOKIA MAKING 4G RETRO PHONE

Nokia is making a 4G version of its retro 3310 phone, according to documents leaked online. The £50 phone, launched in 2G and 3G editions last year, is a modern remake of the classic design, which sold over 120 million between 2000 and 2005. Reports say the new 3310 will be a ble to run the hugely popular messaging service WhatsApp.

REPORT CRIMES USING AMAZON ECHO

Police in Lancashire will soon start delivering daily bulletins through the Amazon Echo smart speaker. Rob Flanagan from Lancashire Constabulary said that by the end of January news about crimes will be sent to users’ phones, which synchronise with their Echo. He added that in the following months the device will be able to answer questions such ass ‘How do I report this crime?’.

17 – 30 January 2018 9


News

Darien Graha Graham-Smith S i puts the boot into tech villains, jargon-spouting companies and software stuffed with junk

WARNING: JUNK AHEAD Junk offender: EagleGet

I’m a bit of a magpie when it comes to software downloads, so I’ve been trying out a free download manager called EagleGet. It features multithreaded downloading, to make your files come down the line faster, and interrupted downloads can be seamlessly resumed. So far, so good. Unfortunately, that’s not all it does. When you install EagleGet, you’re invited to add a Chrome extension called EagleGet iNewTab, with no explanation of what this is. I assumed it was part of the download manager, and installed it without a second thought. Big mistake. Huge, in fact. The extension replaces Chrome’s familiar ‘New Tab’ page with a garish canvas, packed with ugly buttons and cryptic icons (see screenshot). It’s confusing to

say the least, and the Google search bar is replaced by Yahoo, so your web searches don’t work the way you’re used to either. That’s not the most disturbing thing though. iNewTab also shows how many unread Facebook notifications and Gmail messages are sitting in your inbox. How does it know this? Well, if you dig into the settings you’ll see that this extension

has the ability to – and I quote – “read and change all your data on the websites that you visit”. That ought to scare the hell out of you, because it means you’ve just handed over an absolute treasure trove of personal information to the extension’s developer. There’s no way of knowing what they might do with all your private data, but the deceptive way the software sneaks on to your system in the first place doesn’t auger well. It doesn’t help that EagleGet is based in China, far away from the data-protection rules we take for granted. If you like the idea of a download manager, give EagleGet a miss and try something like Free Download Manager (www.freedownloadmanager.org). It doesn’t look very slick, but it won’t try to install junk on your system.

What are they talking about?

Darien’s villains of the fortnight Amazon & Google

What they say

I’m becoming increasingly exasperated by the behaviour of not one, but two tech giants – Amazon and Google – who have got into a petty and unseemly brawl. To be fair, Amazon started it. The company has long refused to sell Google’s Chromecast and Home products, pushing shoppers towards its own Fire TV Stick and Echo smart speakers instead. It has even blocked Amazon Prime video services from working on Chromecast devices. Now Google has retaliated by removing YouTube from all Fire TV devices, leaving more than 50 million viewers

European Court of Justice (www.snipca.com/26645) “An intermediation service the purpose of which is to connect, by means of a smartphone application and for remuneration, non-professional drivers using their own vehicle with persons who wish to make urban journeys, must be classified as a service in the field of transport within the meaning of EU law.”

What they mean

Legally speaking, Uber is a taxi company, not a software firm.

10 17 – 30 January 2018

around the world without their daily dose of music clips and cat videos. This tit-for-tat posturing does nobody any favours. Reportedly, the two companies have been in talks for the past month to find a resolution, but while that drags on, it’s the likes of you and me who are losing out. Both Amazon and Google are acting despicably, using innocent customers as helpless pawns in their billion-dollar spat. Want to nominate a villain of the fortnight? Email us at editor@computeractive.co.uk


?

Question of the

Fortnight

Will artificial intelligence save the NHS?

Computers can now diagnose faster and better than humans

I

n early January, as the NHS cancelled all non-urgent operations amid increased pressure, an innovative trial was announced that may herald a brighter future for the service. John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford said it will start using artificial intelligence (AI) to help diagnose early signs of heart disease. Experts say it could save the NHS hundreds of millions every year. The system, called Ultromics (pictured), was developed by Paul Leeson, Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Oxford University. He taught it to recognise heart disease by feeding it 1,000 heart scans of patients from the last seven years. He also told it whether the patient went on to develop heart problems. It uses this information as a baseline to predict and diagnose the scans of new patients. Professor Leeson said this method, which has been tested in six cardiology units,

These errors cost the NHS around £600m a year. The trial results will be published later this year in a medical journal. If successful, the system will be made available for free to NHS hospitals across the country. Professor Leeson said: “As cardiologists, we accept that we don’t always get it right.

A fifth of the 60,000 heart scans carried out each year by doctors are misdiagnosed shows signs of being much more accurate than human diagnosis. The current approach, in which cardiologists check the timing of the heartbeat, is far from perfect. Of the 60,000 heart scans carried out each year, around a fifth are misdiagnosed. Patients are either sent home and have a heart attack, or undergo an operation they don’t need.

But now there is a possibility we may be able to do better”. Another new system could deliver breakthroughs in diagnosing lung cancer. Developed by Oxford-based company Optellum, it checks scans for clumps of cells called nodules, which may be cancerous. It can’t yet diagnose cancer, though it can rule out harmless cases earlier than doctors can. Optellum’s

chief science and technology officer, Dr Timor Kadir, says the system could free up enough medical resources to give 4,000 extra patients an early screening, boosting their chances of survival. Worldwide, there’s plenty of evidence of AI’s potential, from US researchers using it to spot signs of schizophrenia in brain scans, to Japanese scientists identifying bowel cancer from colonoscopies. Dr Kadir says the focus for using AI in the NHS shouldn’t be about saving money, but instead looking at “how to offer better healthcare to more people for the same proportion of GDP”. However, geneticist Sir John Bell, the Government’s healthcare tsar, said: “There is about £2.2bn spent on pathology services in the NHS. You may be able to reduce that by 50 per cent. AI may be the thing that saves the NHS”. His optimism is shared by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, who has said

THE FACTS • A new artificial-intelligence system is being used to diagnose heart problems • Errors in diagnosing heart disease cost the NHS around £600m every year • The Government’s health tsar says AI could cut some NHS costs by 50 per cent the service will invest more of its £120bn budget in AI. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt also sees AI playing a bigger part in the NHS, saying that by 2028 computers could be diagnosing conditions before the patient has developed symptoms. There are already plans to use AI to analyse X-rays and tissue samples. AI isn’t a silver bullet for the NHS, of course. But the money it saves could be spent tackling long-term NHS problems, such as obesity and an ageing population. Smarter technology may mean no more winter crises. 17 – 30 January 2018 11


Letters Surrounded by annoying Facebookers

Am I the only reader of your magazine not on Facebook? At work I can’t ‘talk’ to others at my break because everyone is Facebooking. At breakfast time in Premier Inns and in eating places at night I am surrounded by Facebookers. I stand in a queue to order food and the person ordering in front of me pauses the order to ‘like’ somebody. A guy with a coffee in one hand and Facebook in the other trips over my wife’s wheelchair footplates and looks at me as if I’d trod in something. Why build a profile for people to read – is it to make them feel inferior to you? People who know the real me don’t need to see a profile or a photo of what I had for dinner. Keith Norton

Tell us what’s on your mind

Email: letters@computeractive.co.uk Facebook: www.facebook.com/computeractive Twitter: @ComputerActive www.twitter.com/computeractive

are also, ironically perhaps, excellent places to browse the web. I sometimes feel a twinge of nostalgia for local banks, but times change, and so do people’s habits. Audrey O’Sullivan

Amazon Echo is my mother’s best ever present

I want to echo (pun intended) your advice to Steve Bentley in Issue 518 (‘What Should I Buy?’, page 26) about which smart speaker he should buy for his mother. I bought an Amazon Echo for my elderly mother for Christmas. I wasn’t sure whether it was right for her, but at only £50 the Echo Dot (www.snipca. com/26468) was worth a punt. I’m writing this a week after Christmas Day, and the verdict from my mother is

Use local banks or lose them

Having just read the Star Letter by Len Bradshaw (Issue 518) about online banking, I have to agree with him about the importance of face-to-face interaction with the counter staff. Some time ago I booked a holiday on the high street with a major tour operator. After booking it, the girl said I could have got it a little cheaper online. I answered yes, but if we all did that you would be out of a job. “I never thought about that,” she said. If I book in store and something goes wrong, I can go back to the store and talk it over. If you book online you have to sort it out online. I had the same conversation in my bank. I can bank online if I have to, but we need the outlets. As they say, ‘use it or lose it’. Alan Merser Len Bradshaw paints a rosy picture of local bank branches, but my local community has actually been boosted by their closure. Over the years fewer and fewer people were using them, choosing online services instead. Where an old HSBC and Barclays once stood now stand two high-street coffee chains. You might think the coffee has daft names and is expensive, and you’d probably be right. But the stores are also comfortable places to sit and socialise. I’m a member of three groups who meet weekly over a coffee and a muffin. They 12 17 – 30 January 2018

that the Echo Dot is the best present I’ve ever bought her. She loves asking it questions to test its knowledge, and seeking information from the web. The curious thing is that until now my mother has shied away from technology. Even though they are connected to the web, devices like the Echo aren’t really computing gadgets at all. Because they are voice-controlled, they bypass all the difficulties that people associate with computers. Everyone should buy one for their mother, father, brother, sister, and themselves! Richard McNulty

Sat-navs as distracting as phones

We all know it’s naughty and dangerous to use our phones while driving. It can be expensive too if caught. However, how many of us realise that where we position our phone holders, sat-navs and safety cameras can be just as distracting or worse? The instructions that came with my camera clearly stated the risks of obstructing the swept area of the windscreen wipers. If you have a large chip in your screen in the wrong area it

Older volunteers have patience on their side In Issue 518’s Letters page, you asked readers to let you know about their volunteering in computer clubs. I am a 78-year-old disabled woman who loves technology and I volunteer on a weekly basis for Age UK in Bolton (www.ageuk.org.uk/bolton). I’ve done one-to-one computer instruction for the past five years. I feel it is very worthwhile as a lot of older people find it difficult to absorb technology and need things to be repeated often. This takes patience on the tutor’s side that younger tutors don’t seem to have. I get this, because I am the same age as many of my pupils. Pat Duckworth Our local library in Matlock – along with many others I expect

– organises one-to-one sessions for those seeking help with computers. I carry out this function as a volunteer to assist people who have very limited knowledge of using computers. It might be worth mentioning that local libraries offer this service free of charge in case people are not aware that this is available. Geoff Akehurst


STAR LETTER

Facebook ‘ripping society apart’? Hysterical nonsense! constitutes an MOT failure. So what about a device of about 60 square centimetres stuck in the same critical area? I’ve seen people peering over the top of their sat-nav-enabled phones, which are right in their line of sight. Arms flailing over the steering wheel, trying to prod a touchscreen, is not a good idea. My favourite one was the young lady reaching to retrieve her charger cable from the passenger footwell to plug into her device. Her car looked like one of those driverless things for a while. OK, we were only creeping along in traffic at the time, but she must have wrapped it around her indicator stalk about three times before she got it plugged in. My camera is mostly tucked away behind the mirror and I use a power bank to keep it running on longer trips. The power bank fits in the roof-mounted glasses storage and negates the need for a cable trailing over the dash (another distraction). Next time you are out, have a look at the crazy places people put these things. You’ll be amazed (unless it’s your car). Happy gadget-distracted motoring. Ted Drury

iPhone update flushes battery life down toilet

I am an iPhone owner who cannot afford the ridiculous (in my opinion) £1,000 for the iPhone X so, I bought a reconditioned iPhone 5s instead. I recently replaced the battery myself and reaped the benefits immediately. I understood that this was done off my own back and if anything went wrong I’d have no complaints. Contrary to reports that this was a complicated process, I found it quite easy to do by following a helpful YouTube video. So what could be the problem? I downloaded

I’m ancient enough to have lived through many moral hysterias. I remember when everyone thought rock’n’roll would bring about the end of civilisation. Then it was mods and rockers, followed by punk rockers. A few years later computer games were the devil’s work, then it was video nasties. When mobile phones arrived, people worried they would fry their brains. Any new technology always gets criticised for having a malign influence on people, which is why I’m fairly relaxed about concerns that Facebook is “ripping society apart” (‘Question of the Fortnight’, Issue 518). Facebook is simply the latest target of self-appointed moral guardians, who always hate it when they can’t control what the great unwashed masses use. People may not be as nice online as they are face to face, but it’s a fatuous overreaction to say this represents a

worldwide crisis. Also, I’m very sceptical that fake news is really that big a problem. I think the Facebook-haters are so worried about it simply because it allegedly led to two events they didn’t approve of, namely the Brexit referendum vote and the election of Donald Trump. Would they be so concerned if the results had gone the other way? The fuss about Facebook being an echo chamber is also overblown. There’s nothing new about people seeking the opinion of like-minded people. It’s why we buy newspapers with columnists we agree with. What puzzles me is why Facebook’s former employees lament its success. I suspect they hate the fact that it’s used by millions of people they don’t approve of. Their hysterical nonsense reeks of snobbery. Len Forshaw

The Star Letter writer wins a Computeractive mug!

Views expressed don’t necessarily reflect those of Computeractive

the latest iOS update (version 11.2.1) as we are advised to do to remain safe. That’s where the success story turns bad. This update has almost rendered the phone useless. The battery life has gone down the toilet. So what options do I have? Well, according to the Apple fo forums (https://discussions. ap apple.com), one solution is to upgrade my phone, but I ca can’t afford that. Another op option is to take my iPhone to an Apple Store and pay th them more than £90 for a ne new battery and installation, ev even though the battery is on only a couple of months old. It seems that Apple don’t wa want my kind of custom. Bob Prytherch

Cheap printer inks make photos fade

In his letter about printer inks in Issue 516, Ray Moss says that “modern cheap alternatives are as good as originals”. Well I can assure him they are nothing like the original inks, which I have found out to my cost. One of my hobbies is photography and I have a top-of-the-range Canon DSLR camera. I also use a Canon Pixma printer. Because I print lots of pictures at various sizes I use a lot of printer inks, and have tried lots of suppliers to keep the costs down. Here’s where I have come unstuck, because after using some inks from Amazon (very, very cheaply) I was horrified to find that the photos I’d printed were fading! John F White 17 – 30 January 2018 13


Consumeractive Can a retailer refuse to help in the first 30 days? It was immediately obvious that an Asus laptop I’d bought was faulty because it failed to boot properly. But the retailer, Hughes TV and Electrical (www.hughes.co.uk), said that legally it didn’t have to replace it. They blamed my internet connection for the problems. Can you help? Carl Hughes

Q

Hopefully, we won’t have to, because since first emailing us Carl got back in touch to say that he has finally convinced Hughes that the PC is broken. The company says it will pick up the PC and refund him. Hughes should have already picked up this PC, of course. Within the first 30 days after purchase, if goods appear to be inherently faulty, the consumer can reject them, choosing a replacement or refund. But Hughes doesn’t have to refund him straightaway. Within six months retailers are entitled to test whether a fault is inherent. It must carry out these tests within a ‘reasonable’ time, which is the kind of ambiguous wording that can frustrate consumers. There’s no definitive time limit for tests, but generally longer than four weeks would be considered unreasonable.

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Should I return faulty phone to the manufacturer or retailer? I bought a Motorola Moto G5S phone from Debenhams Plus (www.debenhamsplus.com) on 24 September 2017, but after a couple of weeks the screen started going blank when I was making and receiving calls. I tried removing apps and resetting the phone, but nothing worked. Debenhams advised me to contact Motorola because it would be quicker to get a repair, and told me I’d have to pay to return it. But Motorola says I have to return it via Debenhams. Is this acceptable? Andy Armitage

Q

It appears Motorola and Debenhams are trying to use the manufacturer’s warranty to get this phone repaired so, no, this isn’t acceptable. Generally, you shouldn’t use a warranty to seek redress for inherently faulty products unless there’s no way of forcing the retailer to take responsibility – such as they’ve gone bust or it’s difficult to prove the fault is inherent. By using the warranty you’re letting the retailer argue that you’ve not let it use its rights to carry out one repair, as

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allowed under the Consumer Rights Act (CRA). So if Andy sent the phone directly back to Motorola, and it wasn’t fixed properly or another fault shows up, Debenhams would be entitled to offer another repair. Our advice to Andy is to return the phone to Debenhams, and tell the company he won’t be paying for the delivery. The terms and conditions of Motorola’s warranty do state that the customer must pay to return items, but Andy should cite the CRA, which says consumers must not be out of pocket if they’ve been lumbered with inherently faulty goods. So if Debenhams won’t supply a pre-paid label or send a courier once the inherent fault has been proven, it must refund Andy the delivery costs.

Are gift cards covered by Section 75? In Issue 516 you mentioned the lack of protection that is offered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (CCA) when using third-party payment providers such as PayPal. An Amazon Marketplace seller called Digimedia refused to replace a defective external hard drive I’d paid for with an Amazon gift card. Its reason was that, like PayPal, gift cards are not covered by the CCA. Is there another way I can get a refund? John Hardman

Q

14 17 – 30 January 2018

You can claim under the CCA for faulty goods paid for with a gift card or voucher that’s been bought with a credit card. John’s problem is he only paid £100 for the gift card and £67.36 for the external drive. Section 75 claims can only be made if a single purchase costs a minimum of £100.01. However, Amazon has agreed to examine John’s claim. This is a goodwill gesture, because John is outside the 90 days allowed by the site’s ‘A-z Buyer Protection’. But John is well within the six-month deadline to return an inherently faulty

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product without having to prove it’s defective. We’ve said this to Digimedia, and are waiting for a reply. The company will be allowed to test the drive, but if it can’t show that it was damaged by user error, it will have to refund John, repair the drive, or replace it.


Contact us so we can investigate your case

Email: consumeractive@computeractive.co.uk Please include both your phone number and address.

We sstand up for your legal rights

Can I cancell a rolling subscription I forgot about? C I bought photo software from Magix last year but never used it. I’d actually totally forgotten about it, but the company has just emailed me saying I’d not given it an eight-week cancellation notice so I will have to pay for another year. Can I ignore their request without being penalised? Giles Washbourn

Q

Giles shouldn’t ignore this email, but can cancel this contract without penalty. The Consumer Contract Regulations (CCRs) give consumers up to 14 days in which to cancel, provided the software hasn’t been downloaded. You may think the CCRs don’t apply in Giles’s case because he did

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download the software (even if he never used it). But a new contract begins every year, when the subscription is renewed. So as long as he hasn’t downloaded the software since this date, he can cancel. In addition, Magix’s terms and conditions don’t sit well with changes brought in by the Consumer Rights Act (2015), which considers lengthy cancellation-notice periods (such as the eight weeks that Magix asks for) and insufficient reminders about an upcoming renewal as unfair. Hopefully, newer and even clearer protection is on the way. In last year’s Spring Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced proposals to

CASE UPDATE Epson ends reader’s torment by refunding in full It sometimes seems that companies toy with customers like a cat torments a wounded bird. In Issue 517 we reported how Martin Day’s sanity was being tested by Epson, which was offering a refund one day, then withdrawing it the next. In despair, he turned to us, explaining that Epson had failed to repair his printer, then sent him two replacements that didn’t work. After the first printer broke Martin wanted a refund. But because more than 30 days had passed since purchase, Epson was entitled to try to repair it. What it wasn’t allowed to do was subject Martin to further repairs and replacements. Instead, it should have refunded Martin when the first repair failed. Happily, it has now agreed to give Martin his money back. We were confident of a partially successful outcome, but not necessarily that Martin would get a refund for the full RRP, which was £309. This is because he used a £75 cashback deal from Epson to cut the price to £234. However, Epson did refund him the full amount, which we think is fair because Martin easily spent £75 on wasted ink cartridges. Martin thanked us for helping him, adding: “I was beginning to lose all hope in rectifying this”.

“protect consumers from facing unexpected payments when a subscription is renewed or when a free trial ends”. It remains unclear, though, what form this greater protection will take. Giles is currently trying to cancel the contract and explain to Magix that legally he owes it nothing. If this German-based company doesn’t accept this, we’ll help Giles by contacting the UK arm of the EU consumerprotection network (www.ukecc.net).

CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE

YOU TELL US WHEN COMPANIES GET IT RIGHT In Issue 516 Editor Daniel Booth gave a considered explanation why, despite press reports, Kaspersky was still a top-rated security software and could be trusted. I’ve used Kaspersky Internet Security for years and will continue to do so. However, there is another reason why I remain a Kaspersky advocate. Their customer support is second to none! I cannot praise them too highly. On occasions when I have run into a problem, the response of their staff has always been outstanding. Only recently I had a CONTACT KASPERSKY

• Tel: 0203 549 3495 • Live chat: www.snipca. com/26567

problem which I couldn’t resolve. I contacted Kaspersky’s support and within minutes I had a reply asking for more detail. How long did I have to wait for the solution – two days, two hours? No, just a few minutes! That’s why I continue to use Kaspersky’s excellent security software. David Clowes Has a company impressed you with its customer service? Please let us know: editor@computeractive.co.uk

17 – 30 January 2018 15


Protect Your Tech Scams and threats to avoid, plus new security tools WATCH OUT FOR…

iTunes gift-card HMRC scam What’s the threat?

Scammers pretending to be phoning from HMRC are conning elderly and vulnerable people by saying that the only way to pay a “large” tax bill is to buy digital vouchers and gift cards, including those for iTunes. Victims are instructed to go and buy the vouchers from a local shop, then read out the redemption code to the scammer, who has stayed on the phone. They then spend the codes, or sell them. It’s not a new tactic, but just before Christmas HMRC issued a warning that it continues to “hit a large number of people”, with incidences rising in recent months. Between January 2016 and August 2017 there were 1,500 reports of the scam. Most victims are aged over 65, and lose an

average of £1,150. HMRC added that the scammers are extremely aggressive, frequently using “intimidation to get what they want, threatening to seize the victim’s property or involve the police”. HMRC’s Director General of Customer Services, Angela MacDonald, said they were “very confident, convincing and utterly ruthless”.

How can you stay safe?

If you receive a phone call from HMRC scammers, hang up straight away and report it to HMRC (email: phishing@ hmrc.gsi.gov.uk), and Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or at www.snipca.

New tools When using public hotspots, you should be wary of evil twins. These aren’t axe-wielding doppelgangers, but rogue Wi-Fi access points trying to trick you by using a name very similar to real access points. If you unwittingly sign into one hackers will be able to steal your passwords and redirect you to malware sites. Warning you about this form of attack is a new feature in the second version of the excellent networkmonitoring program GlassWire. This launched a few days after we recommended the program in Issue 518’s Cover Feature (‘The Missing Manual: Home Wi-Fi’). Also new is support for VirusTotal, the Googleowned website that uses technology from dozens of security companies (including Kaspersky and Symantec) to

16 17 – 30 January 2018

GlassWire 2

www.glasswire.com

com/26629. Make sure you warn people who may be fooled by the scam. It’s likely to remain an attractive ploy for scammers throughout 2018 because gift cards are hard for police to trace. Tax fraudsters also try to con people via emails and text messages. Remember that HMRC will never use these methods to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty, or request personal or payment information. You can forward suspicious texts to 60599. Also visit Apple’s page on gift-card scams (www.snipca.com/26630), and see examples on HMRC’s site (www. snipca.com/26631).

ScamWatch

READERS WARN READERS

Abusive ‘Microsoft’ scammer

check whether a file or website is safe. To turn it on, go to Settings, VirusTotal, then click the Unlock button. Next, tick either option - one lets you manually analyse files, the other does so automatically (see screenshot). GlassWire reveals what else is new on its blog (www.snipca.com/26646). This includes firewall profiles – specific rules you want to apply depending on where your PC is connected (for example, at home, at work or in public).

I read your article in Issue 517 (page 16) about ‘click to call’ tech-support scams (also see page 43). I was the target of one recently - a woman called speaking from “Microsoft Reading”. She said there was a problem with my computer. I found it very difficult to understand her, so she said goodbye and rang off. Shortly afterwards a man rang, with no better English, demanding to know why we’d been so rude to his staff. I refused to give him control of my PC, so he threatened to phone the police. I laughed, so he called me a “stupid b******”! James Lindsay Warn your fellow readers about scams at letters@computeractive.co.uk


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Best Free Software Jonathan Parkyn recommends new programs that won’t cost you anything UNINSTALLER

BCUninstaller 4.1 www.snipca.com/26666 What you need: Windows 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 Our current favourite free uninstaller is Wise Program Uninstaller (www.snipca.com/26667), which won a Gold Award in our last group test of uninstallers (see Issue 504, page 50). But if you want more advanced features and customisation options, then we wouldn’t blame you for trying BCUninstaller instead. It might look more daunting at first glance than Wise’s uninstaller, and it might have a rude name (BC stands for ‘Bulk Crap’). But BCUninstaller is an undeniably powerful tool that gives you total control over both traditional desktop programs and Windows Store apps. BCUninstaller lets you uninstall multiple programs at the same time, for example, and installed software is presented using a colour-coded view that makes it easy to see what type of program each one is. Every program is listed along with plenty of useful information – not just the install date and size, but also the version number, whether there’s a related startup item and any associated registry keys. The brand new

4

version of BCUninstaller adds even more advanced features, including a new treemap under the main program list that shows installed programs by size. You can now safely automate bulk uninstallations, so that you don’t have to click through dozens of confirmation screens. It also automatically detects related software when uninstalling and asks if you want to uninstall them as well. Download BCUninstaller from the link above. You’ll notice there are two options – download the portable version if you want to run the program without installing anything, or download the ‘Installer and Portable’ version, which will give you the option of installing BCUninstaller or running its portable version when you launch it. The first time you run BCUninstaller, you’ll see instructions that let you configure some of its settings – language, layout and so on. Don’t worry too much about these – the default selections are fine, and you can always change them at a later point by clicking Tools, then Settings.

2

3 1

1 To uninstall multiple

programs, hold down the Ctrl button and click the ones you want to remove, then click Uninstall. You’ll see a confirmation screen – click Continue (twice), then Begin Uninstallation.

18 17 – 30 January 2018

2 To uninstall programs

automatically, so you don’t have to see confirmation screens for each one, select the programs you want to remove from the list and click ‘Uninstall quietly’, Continue (twice), then Begin Uninstallation.

3 The new treemap displays all installed programs by size – bigger blocks represent larger programs. For more information, right-click a block and select Properties to see a window with more details.

4 Click the Tools menu for

some useful options, including a Startup Manager and a ‘Clean up “Program Files” folders’ tool, which searches for and removes files, folders and other junk left over from uninstallations.


MUSIC PLAYER

Plexamp 1.0 http://plexamp.com What you need: Windows 7, 8/8.1 or 10 (64bit only) If you use media-streaming tool Plex, you should try this new experimental program from its developers. Like Station (see below), Plexamp is a 64bit-only program. It’s a compact music player inspired by classic media programs such as WinAmp. It lets you play tracks from your Plex library via a tiny window on your desktop, complete with album art and lyrics. You can find specific artists, tracks or albums via the Search box. But Plexamp is all about rediscovering forgotten tunes from your music library, so you can also choose one of three ‘radios’. Library Radio plays random tracks across your whole collection, Time Travel Radio plays your oldest tracks first and Artist Radio plays tunes similar to your initial selection.

PRODUCTIVITY

Station 1.0.11 https://getstation.com What you need: Windows 7, 8/8.1 or 10 (64bit only) Station is a very interesting new tool that lets you access dozens of online tools – including Google Docs, WhatsApp, Dropbox and more – from within a single tabbed ‘workstation’ interface, rather than via several different apps and browser windows. It’s primarily targeted at business users but anyone can use Station – as long as you have a newer 64bit computer. One great way to use Station is to unite all your online storage accounts. You’ll be prompted to ‘Log in with your work account’ when you first run the tool, but you can simply log in with a Google account. Once you’ve done that, shortcuts to your Gmail, Google Drive and Google Calendar will magically appear on the left. Click the plus (+) sign at the bottom left to browse for and add other apps. Click the ‘Storage & File-sharing’ category, for example, to add Box, Dropbox, OneDrive and more.

WHAT SHOULD I DOWNLOAD? We tell you what software to use

How can I make myself look younger?

Q

Could you please tell me of a good free program for touching up old photos? I’d like one that can add hair to your head and hide wrinkles. Malcolm J Reid

Removing blemishes and retouching portrait photos can be done with many decent free imageediting programs, including Paint.net (www. getpaint.net). Open your photo and zoom into the area you want to retouch. To remove a wrinkle, click the Clone Brush (rubber stamp) tool on the left. Hold down the Ctrl key and click a smooth section of skin adjacent to the wrinkle, then release Ctrl and click the wrinkle. Continue doing this until the entire wrinkle is hidden. Use the Undo button to correct mistakes. The same technique can be used in Gimp (www. gimp.org) and other image-editing tools. You may be able to use a similar trick to replace missing hair, but this can be a little harder to get right. Try adjusting the ‘Brush width’ and Hardness levels in the toolbar directly above the main preview area to see if that helps. If that all sounds like too much hard work, you could consider a face-tuning app on your phone or tablet. These are designed to improve portraits and selfies using simple, touch-control tools. Facetune for Android (www.snipca. com/26670) and iOS (www.snipca.com/26669) offers a Smooth tool that lets you swipe away any offending wrinkles with your finger, and a Patch tool that lets you copy areas – such as hair – and place them somewhere else. But this fountain of youth comes at a price: £3.99 to be exact. There are free alternatives, but in-app purchases are often required to unlock the best tools. The smoothing tools included with Facetune 2 for iOS (www.snipca.com/26671) and AirBrush for Android (www.snipca.com/26672) are currently free, though.

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

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17 – 30 January 2018 19


Reviews

p y our experts p New products tested by

PC ❘ £949 from Dell www.snipca.com/26588

Dell Inspiron 24 5000 A simpler all-in-one computer Compared to Dell’s bigger and pricier XPS 27 all-in-one (see our review, Issue 517), the 24in Inspiron looks more restrained and businesslike. Instead of an in-your-face multi-speaker grille, you get a neat, dark grey front with elegantly slim bezels and a more conventional grille below the screen, through which the built-in audio sounds decent. With its white back panel and matching accessories, the Inspiron 24 looks attractive for a relatively affordable PC, and the 24in size is big enough for you to work and watch films comfortably while fitting the snuggest of studies.

One of the better all-in-one PCs we’ve seen, but multi-tasking was slow The range starts at a reasonable £699 with a Full HD screen, AMD A10-9700E quad-core processor and 1TB hard drive. We tested the top model, though, which came with a touchscreen that could be laid flat using the hinged stand supplied. The touchscreen is standard on this and the £829 mid-range configuration, which both have the faster AMD A12-9800E processor. However, the clever stand costs extra, and Dell is not currently selling it in the UK yet anyway. We’re not really bothered, given that anyone who wanted to use their PC like that would probably require a pressure-sensing stylus, which SPECIFICATIONS

3.1GHz AMD A12-9800E quad-core processor • 8GB memory • 128GB SSD • 1TB hard drive • AMD Radeon RX560 graphics • 24in 1920x1080-pixel screen • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.1 • USB Type-C port • 3x USB 3.1 ports • 3x USB 2.0 ports • Gigabit Ethernet • HDMI input • HDMI output • Windows 10 Home • 352x540x53mm (HxWxD) excluding stand • 7.5kg • One-year warranty www.snipca.com/26588

20 17 – 30 January 2018

isn’t offered. In n fact, we’d have preferred the choice of saving a few quid by skipping the touch feature altogether. But the price is also justified by a 128GB SSD, which comes in addition to the hard drive for faster Windows startup and loading, and a 4GB AMD Radeon RX460 graphics card. That means most 3D games will run smoothly, give or take a bit of fiddling with quality settings for the most demanding. The main processor is the weak point, coming from the previous generation of AMD chips, before the impressive new Ryzen series, and performing similarly to a low-end Intel Core i3. Despite the four cores, we found multi-tasking was slow, so although everyday tasks didn’t pose any problem, the system didn’t feel as nippy as we’d have hoped for the money. If games aren’t your thing, and you don’t need a dedicated graphics card to speed up video effects, the £699 model could offer a better balance of price and performance. We can’t comment on the quality of that machine’s screen, but the touchscreen on ours looked fine, covering 91.4 per cent of the sRGB colour range, according to our meter, with high accuracy. Brightness and contrast are modest, and this wouldn’t be our first choice for serious photo editing, but colours are punchy enough regardless of viewing angle, and for general tasks it won’t disappoint. Like other all-in-one PCs, the Inspiron 24 has most of its connectors on the back,

but there’s a very handy set on the side, too, where they’re easier to reach reach, including USB 3.1, an SD card reader and a headphone jack. As well as an HDMI output for a second monitor, there’s an HDMI input, so you can use the built-in screen with another PC – an enormously useful feature that’s too often omitted (particularly by Apple). Annoyingly, although 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 are built in, the included wireless keyboard and mouse require a separate wireless dongle, taking up one of the three USB 2.0 ports – but that still leaves plenty, including a USB Type-C. The keyboard wasn’t our favourite for typing, so you might want to sacrifice the coordinated look for something less spongy. All-in-one PCs tend to be either overpriced or compromised, and overall this is one of the better efforts we’ve seen. We’d hope for a processor upgrade soon to make it a really solid buy. VERDICT: This is a good all-in-one with no major drawbacks, but the ageing processors make it less of a bargain than it should be

★★★☆☆ ALTERNATIVE: Apple iMac ac 21.5in £1,049 Apple’s Full HD option is better built but lacks the SSD and GPU, and its i5 processor is also due an update


LAPTOP ❘ £1,350 from Lenovo www.snipca.com/26607

Lenovo Yoga 920 All-round performance 2017 was the year the ‘two-in-one’ PC – a laptop that folds into a tablet – began to look less like an unwanted novelty and more like something we’d genuinely want. That’s partly because a laptop can now be made slim and light enough not to feel ridiculous when wielded as a tablet with the keyboard still attached. Windows 10 must share the credit, too, for offering a Tablet mode and Windows Ink features that make switching from keyboard to touchscreen feel natural.

Its battery lasts 12-and-a-half hours playing video The Yoga 920 embodies these virtues. Starting at a penny under twelve hundred quid, it’s not cheap, but you can see where all of those other pennies have gone. Lenovo’s all-metal case – available in copper, bronze or platinum-coloured finishes – combines matt and polished surfaces for a strikingly upmarket feel. With its ‘watchband’ hinge, an intricate yet sturdy construction that holds the screen at whatever angle you choose, the whole machine feels like it would be more at home in the window of Tiffany’s than Currys. A nearly-14in screen is squeezed into less volume than many 13in laptops, and the designers have still found room for two Thunderboltcompatible USB Type-C ports to connect

accessories, drives or a monitor, and one full-size USB 3.0. Inside the £1,200 model is an i5-8250U processor from Intel’s new eighth generation, with four cores and built-in UHD Graphics 620, enough to run many 3D games and keep creative software ticking over. Our pricier test laptop went one better with an i7-8550U and twice the SSD storage, at 512GB. We’ve noted before that this chip is a big step up in performance, and in our tests the Yoga 920 scored as well as many seventhgeneration i5 desktop PCs in demanding tasks. Just as importantly, it eked almost 12-and-a-half hours of video playback out of its slim battery, making this a practical all-day travelling companion. That’s two hours more than Microsoft’s new Surface Pro, and four hours more than Dell’s bulkier XPS 13 2-in-1. If there’s one let-down, it’s the screen. The Full HD panel doesn’t go very bright, and our meter found it could only show 84 per cent of the sRGB colours, with poor accuracy. Photo and video editors will want to steer clear. There’s an alternative UHD (4K) display, which at the time of writing was only available on the limited edition Yoga 920 Vibes (www.snipca.com/26610) at £100 extra. Notably, Lenovo’s pressure-sensitive Active Pen 2 is included. SPECIFICATIONS

Intel Core i7-8550U processor • 8GB memory • 512GB SSD • 13.9in 1920x1080-pixel screen • Webcam • 2x USB Type-C ports • USB 3.0 port • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Fingerprint reader • Windows 10 Home • 13.95x323x223.5mm (HxWxD) • 1.37kg • One-year warranty www.snipca.com/26607

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 and Web User and the websites Expert Reviews (www. expertreviews.co.uk) and Alphr (www. alphr.com). 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! 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.

VERDICT: Despite a lacklustre display, this is a highly capable Windows 10 PC in an exceptionally flexible format

★★★★☆ ALTERNATIVE: HP Spectre x360 13 £1,299 Now with eighth-generation processors, this is a close rival but can’t match the battery life

17 – 30 January 2018 21


Reviews MESH ROUTER ❘ £380 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26632

Asus Lyra MAP AC2200 Better broadband for bigger budgets

Mesh routers (see Issue 518, page 58) have quickly become the best choice in Wi-Fi for most homes. Supplied as a set of two or more boxes, they add on to your existing broadband equipment and spread the signal wider, using clever new technologies to ensure all your devices get the best connection. That includes those that use Wi-Fi and those with a wired Ethernet port. The latter can be cabled to one of the two sockets on each of the Asus Lyra’s three puck-shaped units, a little bigger than a stack of 10 CDs. BT’s rival Whole Home WiFi dishes only have one Ethernet apiece. Then again, they are compatible with BT Sport, if you have it – unlike Lyra. As usual, there’s a free app that you’ll need on your phone or tablet to set up the system, after which you can also use a web page to change its settings. These include the option to run it in PPPoE mode to replace an existing router rather than adding on to it. This option is initially simpler but means you’ll be using two (or more) IP addresses, making it more fiddly to set up things that require port forwarding, such as multiplayer games. You can create a separate guest network with its own password, and like Google Home (see Issue 501) Lyra SPECIFICATIONS

Three-router tri-band mesh network • Supports 802.11n and 802.11ac • App requires device running Android 5.0 or iOS 8.0 or higher • 40x140x140mm (HxWxD) • Three-year warranty www.snipca.com/26633

22 17 – 30 January 2018

lets you create user profiles for members of your family, letting you control what they can access and when. You also get Trend Micro’s AirProtection, which helps to stop malicious websites communicating with your PCs. In our tests, we got high speeds of 200 to 350Mbps on the ground and first floor of our test home, falling to a still very fast 150Mbps in the attic. This puts the Lyra on a par with BT Whole Home Wi-Fi. It wasn’t quite as good at the bottom of the garden, falling just below 50Mbps, but that still beat the likes of TP-Link’s Deco M5. So Lyra is a fine system all round, but at more than twice the price of BT Whole Home Wi-Fi, it’s clearly too expensive. Asus insists its three-unit pack will cover a home of up to 6,000 square feet, while BT recommends four dishes for any property more than 4,500 sq ft – but that still works out at £140 less, and most UK homes are under 2,000 sq ft. VERDICT: Asus’s blue-lit discs are attractive and have lots of useful features, but most people just don’t need to spend this much

★★★☆☆ ALTERNATIVE: BT Whole hole le Home Wi-Fi £170 It was decent value at £300, but discounted to £170 this remains unbeatable value

Do I really need...

water cooling? What does it do?

Every PC needs to dissipate the heat generated by its major components, particularly the main processor (CPU) and graphics processor (GPU). This is most often done by air cooling – fans at the front draw air into the case, and fans at the top, rear or sides push it out, carrying the excess heat with it. With water cooling, you’ll still need fans, but by pumping water on to the back of a metal plate fixed directly to the hot component, and circulating this water to a radiator that helps heat escape, cooling is made more efficient.

Why would I want it?

It means you can get away with fewer fans rotating at slower speeds while still letting the chips reach their maximum performance level – especially important if they are overclocked. That makes for a quieter computer.

What’s the catch?

Installing a water-cooling system can be a complicated plumbing job, with pipes to run around inside the case, pumps and reservoirs, and multiple joints with the risk of leaks.

So can I do without it?

Yes. Very few PCs really need a fullblown water-cooling system – it’s more of an aesthetic option for those who want an impressive-looking computer, typically accompanied by colourcontrolled LED lighting (see the Cube Aorus PC pictured above). But ‘closed loop’ water-cooling units – like Cooler Master’s MasterLiquid Pro 140 – pictured below) come with everything sealed in, and although they’re fiddly to fit, they won’t need any maintenance or topping up. So if a PC comes with one fitted, like the Palicomp AMD Galaxy (see page 23), it’s a valid choice that shouldn’tt cause you any problems.


PC ❘ £1,300 from Palicomp www.snipca.com/26614

Palicomp AMD Galaxy Star of the show Have we mentioned that overclocked AMD Ryzen processors are quite fast? Stop us if you’re sick of hearing it, but seriously, these chips have changed our expectations of the performance per pound you can expect from a desktop PC. The AMD Galaxy is a case in point. Its Ryzen 7 1700 processor isn’t even at the top of the range, but with eight cores and running at an ambitious 3.8GHz (with the help of a sealed water-cooling unit), it gives this £1,300 desktop PC the kind of muscle that six months ago you’d have struggled to find for less than £2,000.

As long as you don’t mind noisy fans this is a powerful PC that leaves rivals behind We run our own set of benchmark tests on every PC, so we can see just how much difference each advance in technology makes. In photo editing, the AMD Galaxy was as fast as last year’s seventh-generation Intel Core i7 PCs. In video editing, where the eight cores could demonstrate their full benefit, it left last year’s PCs in the dust. We said at the time that Intel’s eighth-generation Coffee Lake series would finally give the Ryzens a run for their money. Well, compared with a

BUY IT!

★★★★★ similar system based on the new top-end six-core Intel i7-8700, the AMD Galaxy was over 10 per cent faster overall and 15 per cent faster in multitasking. And the Intel PC was more expensive. To be fair, you could overclock the i7-8700K to make up the difference, but AMD can trump p that with its even faster Ryzen 7 1800 – and still at a lower component price. The AMD Galaxy also features es Gigabyte’s version of the Nvidia ia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, which h comes co with 8GB of its own memory and nd a performance level that comes close to the market-leading GTX 1080. At Full HD resolution, any game will run very smoothly on the highest graphics settings, and less demanding 3D games are fine up to 4K. There’s no current graphics card that will handle the most demanding games at 4K without some compromise. And we got a very playable 50-frames-per -second (fps) frame rates by turning off anti-aliasing, which isn’t needed in a picture that sharp. You won’t see any jagged edges unless you’re a fighter pilot who’s drunk way too much coffee. Our only reservation is that the fans both on the graphics card and on the water cooler got annoyingly loud during some processor-intensive tasks, including ga games. There were no overheating pr problems, though, and if you keep the PC tu tucked well under your desk, and you li like the sound turned up loud or use he headphones, it may not bother you. A tempered glass side panel gives you a ni nice view of all this technology, illuminated by controllable multi-coloured LEDs, in inside the Phanteks Eclipse P300 case. SPECIFICATIONS SP

3.8 3.8GHz AMD Ryzen 7 1700 eight-core processor • 16 16GB memory • 256GB SSD • 2TB hard drive • 7x USB 3.1 ports • 2x USB 3.0 ports • USB Type-C port por • Gigabit Ethernet • 2x HDMI ports • DVI port • 4x DisplayPorts • Windows 10 • 450x200x400xmm (HxWxD) (H • One-year warranty www.snipca. com/26614 co

There’s only room for one more 2.5in and one 3.5in drive beyond the installed 2TB hard drive and 256GB M.2 SSD, but the latter is astonishingly quick, showing read speeds of over 2400MB/s and nearly 1400MB/s write speeds in our tests – over three times faster than basic SATA SSDs, let alone hard drives. There are also plenty of USB 3.1 ports for external storage, although if you want anything like the same speed you’ll need to use the remaining M.2 slot. Two memory slots are free to double the supplied 16GB, and the available PCI slots would support an SLI dual graphics card setup as well as a couple of extras such as a Wi-Fi card or a TV tuner. The noise issue is not to be ignored, but this PC is so powerful it would be churlish not to recommend it. Let’s hope we have more deals like this to talk about in the coming months. VERDICT: We’re not entirely convinced by the cooling setup, but this kind of performance at this price add up to an offer we can’t refuse

★★★★★ ALTERNATIVE: Wired2Fire Pyro Reactor £1,015 If you want to spend a bit less, this Ryzen 5 1600X PC with GTX 1060 graphics is another good deal

17 – 30 January 2018 23


Reviews PHONE ❘ £270 from Honor www.snipca.com/26649

Huawei Honor 7X A big phone for a mid-range price The latest thing in smartphones is 18:9 screens, which are taller, so you can see slightly more without having to scroll. Another way of looking at it (literally) is they’re wider, when held sideways, which is actually a bit annoying because films are still 16:9. At least Huawei hasn’t chopped a funny notch out of the screen like the 18:9 iPhone X. You get a proper rectangle, with a narrow strip at the top containing the camera and phone speaker. You also have a narrow strip at the bottom with ‘Honor’ on, reminding you that while iPhone X users paid a grand for their phone, you got this one for £270. SPECIFICATIONS

5.93in 2160x1080-pixel screen • 16-megapixel and 2-megapixel rear cameras • 8-megapixel front camera • 64GB flash storage • MicroSD card slot • 802.11n Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.1 • 3G/4G • 157x75x7.6mm (HxWxD) • 165g • One-year warranty www.snipca.com/26649

BUY IT!

★★★★★

At this price the Honor 7X is an exceptionally attractive model. It’s big, but thanks to the narrow format it’s still comfortable to hold, and the slim, rounded metal case feels classy. The screen only covered 85 per cent of the sRGB colour range in our tests, but with sharp resolution, high contrast and reasonable brightness it looks fine. The eight-core Kirin processor is fast enough to make the Honor version of Android 7 (sadly not 8) work smoothly, although it’s way behind pricier phones in 3D games performance. The dual cameras, with background-blur portrait effect, work very well in good light. On the back is a fingerprint sensor, which unlocks the phone very quickly but doesn’t support contactless payments. Our main reservation is that the battery only lasted us nine hours 47 minutes of video playback. It’ll get you through a whole day sometimes, but not always.

VERDICT: RDICT: If you like the tall screen an and can live with the sub-par battery life life, the 7X has no competition in its price bracket at the moment

★★★★★ ALTERNATIVE: Huawei Honor 9 £310 It’s slightly better all round, but this smaller phone, now widely discounted from £380, has a standard 16:9 screen

SMART WATCH ❘ £239 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26650

Fitbit Ionic A healthier option Fitbit’s Surge smart watch was one of the more popular models – even Barack Obama was spotted wearing one – but not everyone loved it. Its successor also has an opinion-dividing design, making no attempt to resemble a traditional watch. Described as unisex, it looks like it might suit a robot. But we found it comfortable to wear, and its display is clear and bright, protected by Gorilla Glass. As you’d expect from the Fitbit brand, fitness tracking is the Ionic’s big selling point, although it also brings your online notifications to your wrist, can run apps made for Fitbit’s new OS, and store music. SPECIFICATIONS

1.42in 348x250 pixel touchscreen • Heart-rate monitor • GPS • 2.5GB storage • Bluetooth 4.0 • Waterproof • One size • 12.2x26x39mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty www.snipca.com/26652

24 17 – 30 January 2018

GPS is built in, but not 3G/4G internet, and you’ll need an Apple or Android device to view your data. The Ionic is fully waterproof, and Fitbit’s claims of accurate swim tracking were borne out in our tests, although neither GPS nor the heart-rate monitor work in the water. Whether running, swimming or cycling, it can detect when you start and stop. You can also shop with it using contactless Fitbit Pay. With battery life of about three days in regular use, the Ionic is a practical smart watch, and at this price it’s decent value. iPhone users might prefer an Apple Watch Series 1, at around £279, but the Series 3, with GPS, is much pricier. For a less chunky fitness tracker with heart monitor and basic notifications, consider Fitbit’s Charge 2 (£100, see our

review Issue 508) or Garmin’s GPSequipped Vivosmart HR+ (£130, see Issue 479). VERDICT: A smart watch still won’t feel essential to most people, but if health is a priority this one is worth considering

★★★★☆ ALTERNATIVE: Garmin Vivosmart HR+ £130 This is heart monitor band, discounted ed from £170, lacks the ability to add apps but has GPS and swim wim tracking


PRINTER ❘ £35 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26615

Canon Pixma TS3150 Print more for less This budget multi-function inkjet printer comes from the same new Canon range as the TS8050 (see our review, Issue 504), which costs £100 more. Sadly it doesn’t share the sleek two-tone design, but the TS3150’s more conventional black plastic case is nonetheless neat and attractive. A flap at the top rear folds up from the lid of the scanner to guide paper into the printer. Without a paper tray as such, you can only load 60 sheets at one time, reflecting this model’s suitability for occasional rather than high-volume printing. Rather than a big colour touchscreen now found on pricier models, it has a tiny monochrome LCD that doesn’t really help with anything. There are, however, buttons for basic photocopying. Canon’s PC software makes the various functions easy to access, though – including Wi-Fi setup, which in most SPECIFICATIONS

4800x1200dpi maximum print resolution • 600x1200dpi maximum scan resolution • 60-sheet top feed • USB 2 • 802.11n Wi-Fi • 145x435x316mm (HxWxD) • 3.9kg • One-year warranty www.snipca.com/26618

cases will happen automatically. toma matically. If anything does go awry awry, ry, you can plug in a USB B cable temporarily to do things the oldfashioned way. Canon on phone apps are also available, and you can an print directly from other iOS and Android oid apps via AirPrint and d Mopria. Unusually, the he TS3150 takes a black car cartridge artridge plus a single cartridge for its ts three colour inks. Ideally, costs should work out at about 5.4p per colour page using Canon’s XL cartridges, which is slightly cheaper than average, but there could be some wastage if you use one colour more than another. Our tests found scanning acceptably quick, while printing was noticeably slow – a maximum rate of 7.4 pages per minute (ppm) for plain black text and just 1.6ppm for colour graphics. A postcardsized colour photo on glossy paper took two minutes 30 seconds, and we couldn’t make the TS3150 print on full-size A4

WHY PAY MORE FOR AN INKJET? It’s amazing that you can get a multi-function printer for just 35 quid. Of course, there’s a catch – ink. Using Canon’s XL cartridges, it costs about 5.4p to print a colour page using the TS3150, which compares well with 7p (and above) on some budget models. The ISO-standard pages used for these estimates are sparse. For colour photos, you might use five times more ink, which adds up much faster. By contrast, the TS3150’s black ink is relatively pricey, at around 4.3p. Even for text, that’s a tenner extra for every pack of A4 (500 sheets). So overall value depends on what you print. Other factors might make the TS3150 unsuitable. It’s pretty slow. Canon’s old but decent MG5750 is about twice as fast and, if you shop around, less than

twice the price. For big photos on glossy paper, on the other hand, the HP Envy 5540 (£49 from Tesco Direct www.snipca.com/26616, pictured) could be a better buy. None of these printers has an automatic document feeder (ADF). If you often need to scan or copy multiple pages, Epson has affordable options such as the WorkForce WF-3720DWF (£80 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26619).

A decent, basic model for occasional printing only photo paper at all. Its advertised borderless output only works at smaller sizes. Canon’s test model had unfortunately got wet on its way to us, causing vertical lines in scans and copies, but ignoring these one-off problems we were very happy with the quality of both printing and scanning. You’d expect some compromises at this price. The TS3150’s very slow printing would be a frustration if you suddenly needed a 100-page document in a hurry, and it can’t print both sides (duplex). The photo-printing restrictions will rule it out for some. Within its limitations, however, this is quite a decent printer-scanner for very little money. VERDICT: The TS3150 is definitely basic, but not a bad buy if you don’t need A4 photo enlargements or fast, cheap text printing

★★★☆☆ ALTERNATIVE: Canon Pixma MG5750 £65 This older model takes five separate inks, with similar overall running costs, and remains our valuefor-money favourite.

17 – 30 January 2018 25


Reviews KEYBOARD ❘ £79 from Wellworking www.snipca.com/26626

Bakker Elkhuizen UltraBoard 940 For travelling types It’s a good thing we have internet shopping now, because – given its name – we wouldn’t fancy trying to order this over the phone. The Dutch manufacturer specialises in practical work accessories, and while this portable Bluetooth keyboard has a conventional design it’s certainly very useful. Connected to a PC or Mac via USB, it works as you’d expect, but it can also be paired wirelessly with up to five Apple or Android phones or tablets.

A portable, practical keyboard for devices at home or away The keys, though low-profile, have some of the three-dimensional shape and tight spacing of a traditional mechanical keyboard. Underneath are scissor switches like those used in most laptops. They feel reasonably crisp when pressed, SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth LE keyboard • Requires Mac, PC with Bluetooth, iOS or Android mobile device • 19x285x147mm (HxWxD) • 430g • Two-year warranty www.snipca.com/26627

BUY IT!

★★★★★

giving an audible click without being too irritating, and we had no trouble typing at speed. The single-deck Enter key is easy to miss at first, as is the tiddly Backspace, but there’s a full set of function keys that provide the usual options across the various operating systems, plus a set of buttons at the top left for Home, Mail, PrintScreen and NumLock. The latter turns the keys below 7, 8 and 9 into a virtual number pad, because a separate one wouldn’t fit in the compact format. Fold-out legs let you angle the keyboard, although they are somewhat flimsy. The instructions could be clearer, but after a bit of fumbling we soon got our devices connected. You can then assign a number key to each one, making it easy to switch between them. A slight annoyance is that you have to unplug the

WHAT SHOULD I BUY?

USB cable before re tthe UltraBoard will resp respond spon to Bluetooth devices, but at le least the USB connection also charges the ke keyboard’s battery, so if you cable it to you your ou PC while at home it’ll always be ready to take out with your mobile device. Alternatively, you can connect it wirelessly to any Mac or Bluetooth-ready PC. It’s not as cheap as some, but the UltraBoard is easily portable while still feeling like a proper keyboard that you could use every day. VERDICT: The unusual key design should suit a wide range of typing tastes, and the multi-device connectivity makes switching simple

★★★★★ ALTERNATIVE: Logitech K480 £45 This Bluetooth-only keyboard ey pa pairs with three devices and is good value, but twice as heavy and quite noisy

We solve your buying dilemmas

How can I hear my phone calls? I’ve used two cheap Chinese smartphones for some years now, but always found the quality of the speakers lacking. My hearing is deteriorating, and even with hearing aids I can’t hear calls well. Can you recommend a phone, for under £130, that has quality speakers to make calls as clear as possible? Ray Nipper

Q

A

Audibility is hard to assess objectively, but a few models stand out. You should consider

26 17 – 30 January 2018

a refurbished device. Not only will you get more for your money, but you can rely ely on more reviews from users. Try Google’s ’s Shopping tab or eBay, taking the usual precautions to check the seller is within the UK and doesn’t have bad reviews. HTC’s One M9 has high call quality and large speakers – refurbished, it costs around £135. Apple’s iPhone 5s can also be found in this price range, with excellent audio quality. Among current models, Vodafone’s Smart N8 (£79) has a decent front speaker that should help, although you’ll need to wait a month and

pay a tenner to switch to another network. You could also add earphones or a speaker. A small Bluetooth speaker such as the Anker SoundCore 2 (£40 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26622, pictured) lets you take and make calls, connected wirelessly to your phone. Do you need advice on what you should buy? Email us at letters@computeractive.co.uk


BEND YOUR REALITY AG352UCG

AG352QCX


Reviews SECURITY CAMERA ❘ £300 from Maplin www.snipca.com/26634

Swann 8 Channel Heat-Sensing Camera CCTV Kit Are four eyes better than one? We’ve tested several Wi-Fi home-security cameras, which connect wirelessly and are controlled from an app, making them simple and flexible to use. But they mostly have the same two disadvantages. First, they rely on visual motion-sensing to start recording then send you a notification, which is annoyingly prone to triggering when nobody’s actually there. Secondly, to store and replay what they see for more than 24 hours (or in some cases to store any footage at all), you have to pay several pounds a month for an online service. This more traditional CCTV kit from Swann avoids those issues, but has an app too. The four cameras – which are suitable for indoor or outdoor use – must be wired to the base unit (18 metres of cable is provided for each) and only record video, not sound. No computer is required: the digital recorder connects to SPECIFICATIONS

4x 1080p cameras with PIR motion detection and infra-red vision • 1TB digital video recorder with 8 channels • Camera 150x66x66mm (HxWxD) • Base unit 47x230x210mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty www.snipca.com/26638

your TV or monitor, and you can set it up on screen using the supplied mouse. With eight channels, there’s room to add four more cameras later. The box also has an Ethernet port to connect to your home network, and by installing the Swann HomeSafe View app you can then get a live feed from the cameras on your phone or tablet via the internet. A low-bandwidth mode reduces the amount of data used, but you can switch to Full HD quality if you have fast broadband. We found the picture very clear, and thanks to the cameras’ infra-red capability you can even see what’s happening in the dark. The 102-degree

STORE ONLINE or ON YOUR PC? Swann’s digital recorder can store more ore video than you’re ever likely to need on its 1TB hard drive, with no ongoing costs. But if a savvy intruder rips out the box, you’ve lost all trace of their visit. With online cameras, there’s a monthly fee to store more than a littlee bit of footage – typically what was captured in the last 24 hours – but at least the evidence is always safe online. ne. Netgear’s Arlo cameras (from £169, 9, or £270 for three, see Issue 454, pictured) work wirelessly from batteries indoors and out, and come with a week’s free online storage. Backing up to a USB drive is possible with Arlo Pro, but that’s pricey, at around £300 with one camera. The

28 17 – 30 January 2018

mains-powered Netatmo Welcome (£149 from AO www.snipca.com/ 26637, see Issue 478) is the only standalone Wi-Fi cam we’ve tested that records to its own microSD card. It can also back up footage to Dropbox. Face recognition helps it to ignore irrelevant motion. Netatmo Presence (£200 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26635) is a more sophisticated outdoor version.

field of view isn’t very wide, which minimises the ‘fishbowl’ effect but requires careful positioning. Recording is triggered by passive infra-red (PIR) sensors on the cameras – the ‘heat sensing’ part – which is more reliable than the image-processing methods used by most cams. We found it worked very well, and wasn’t falsely triggered by events like the movement of shadows. You can limit activation to scheduled times, but this has to be set up using the box’s own fiddly TV interface. The app makes it easy to get a live view from any camera, but finding recordings to play back is a right old palaver, and although you can opt to receive a notification when motion is detected, this stopped working for us after a while with an obscure error message. Unlike with most single security cameras, there’s no option to recognise when you’re at home with your smartphone and switch off recording. VERDICT: Lots of kit for the money, without the expense or limitations of online storage, but marred by a fiddly setup and primitive app features

★★★☆☆ ALTERNATIVE: Netatmo Welcome £149 You could buy two of these instead for wireless simplicity. You’ll need the pricier Presence for outdoor installation


EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE ❘ £57 from Amazon www.snipca.com/26673

Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Slim 1TB Move your stuff

BUY IT!

★★★★★

Inside is a traditional mechanical hard drive, which explains why you can get a terabyte of storage for less money than an external SSD with a quarter of the capacity. A 2TB version is also available for around £75, which is even better value. Of course, the downside is that it’s nowhere near as fast, and certainly won’t trouble the 640 megabytes-per-second ceiling of its USB 3.0 interface. In our tests, it peaked at 135MB/s reading and 125MB/s writing, which is a little faster than most portable hard drives. A large batch of small files – the most challenging prospect for disk-based hardware because it has to find lots of different places on the surface of the spinning platters – didn’t slow it down as much as some rivals. Hard drives are inherently more breakable than solid-state drives, and this isn’t sold as a rugged device, but the plastic case seems sturdy enough and manages to stop most of the mechanical SPECIFICATIONS

2.5in hard drive • 1TB capacity • 5400rpm • USB 3.0 interface • 9.6x76x114mm (HxWxD) • 137g • Two-year warranty www.snipca.com/26674

This is now! How technology has changed tech FX-7 Casio FX-7000G

WHAT WAS IT? Introduced in 1985, the FX7000G was the first graphing Fo about $90 calculator. For ($200 toda today, or £150), it incorporated maths operations such as squa square roots and logarithms, supported its own programmin programming language, and could graph functions on its 64x96pixel mono monochrome LCD screen. It was the most pow powerful computing device anyone was likely to have in their pocket.

Seagate’s Backup Plus desktop top drives have been a popular choice for years, but this portable model is a very different proposition. Less than a centimetre timetre thick, it’s as portable as a mobile phone. hone. The case comes in a distinctive sandblasted finish with a pattern of large circular dimples, available in gold or platinum colours. It looks very much like something a particularly stylish lish Bond villain might slip in a suit pocket ocket to keep the plans for world domination tion handy. You can also get it in a plain brushed silver, blue, red or black.

Portable as a mobile phone and a bit faster than most rivals

That was then…

noise escaping. The USB 3.0 interface will suit the vast majority of PCs and Macs. It’ll also work with USB 2.0 ports, but that would cut speeds by more than half. No mains power is needed. The Ultra Slim drive is only available formatted as NTFS, for Windows, but Mac users can install Seagate’s Paragon NTFS driver for macOS 10.10 or above, making the drive usable across both platforms, or reformat it themselves. There’s nothing especially backup-related about the drive itself, but it comes with Seagate’s Dashboard software to back up a Windows PC, while Mac users are sensibly advised to use Apple’s built-in Time Machine feature for that. VERDICT: There’s not a huge difference between big-name portable hard drives, but Seagate gets speed, style and value right

★★★★★ ALTERNATIVE: E: WD My Passport 1TB £54 This chunkier unkier kier drive was a bit slower ower er in our tests, but th the he 4TB version is excellent value at £100

HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED? The FX-700 FX-7000G’s capabilities were enabled by its processor, a variant of the Zilog Z80. Th This 8bit design permitted 16bit addres addressing and could access up to 64K of me memory, although the FX7000G offered less than half a kilobyte. Today, a basic Android smartphone has millons of times more processing power and at least a gigabyte of memory (RAM), and can not only run graphing calculator apps, but much more powerful maths software. Ironically, calculators made by Casio and Texas Instruments are still popular because phones aren’t allowed in school and university exams.

NEXT ISSUE

ON SALE

Weds 31 Jan

Smart thermostats Top ways to manage your heating Medion Erazer P4408 D Intel i5 PC with great graphics for under £700

These and much more… Subscribe to Computeractive at www.getcomputeractive.co.uk

17 – 30 January 2018 29


Buy It

Find out what other products we liked. Buy our new 2016 Back Issue CD: £15 from www.snipca.com/23209

Our pick of products that have won the Buy It award

LAPTOP

DESKTOP PC

APPLE iPAD

Asus ZenBook UX310UA

Wired2FirePyroReactor

Apple iPad 9.7in

AMD’s six-core Ryzen 5 1600X is overclocked to a blazing 3.8GHz in this well-balanced system, paired with a GTX 1060 graphics card, 16GB memory, 250GB SSD and 1TB hard drive. The case is limited but it has plenty of ports.

The replacement for the iPad Air 2 iis slightly bulkier and has a downgraded screen but remains the best mid-sized tablet, with a sensible 32GB of storage. You’ll need the £619 iPad Pro if you want to use the Pencil stylus (£99).

ALTERNATIVE: Palicomp i5 Titanium Good all-round performance from a Kaby Lake Intel i5 processor with a 250GB SSD and 1TB hard drive. £500 from www.snipca.com/24543

ALTERNATIVE: iPad Mini 4 The smaller 7.9in iPad is excellent, but Apple’s decision to sell it only with a huge 128GB makes it unreasonably expensive. £419 from www.snipca.com/24080

APPLE iPHONE

ANDROID PHONE

Apple iPhone SE

Motorola Moto G4

£700 from www.snipca.com/26126 Tested: Issue 503

Gradually being replaced by the 410 (which we haven’t tested yet), the i5 processor version of this is now harder to find, but the i3 version is more than good enough for general use. The highlight is the super-sharp QHD screen. ALTERNATIVE: Dell XPS 13 This premium laptop starts at £1,149, but our pick is the i7 with QHD touchscreen. £1,380 from www.snipca.com/26123

ANDROID TABLET

P DRRIC OP E

Samsung Galaxy Tab b S3 9.7

£1,025 from www.snipca.com/26219 Tested: Issue 516

om/24140 £500 from www.snipca.com/24140 Tested: Issue 501

£349 from www.snipca.com/24854 Tested: Issue 474

Samsung’s g’ss new w mid-sized table tablet et has a wonderful HDR screen and comes with a pen included, unlike Apple’s iPad Pro. But its processor isn’t the fastest and it’s disappointingly expensive, especially compared to the £339 iPad 9.7in.

Ha in on for Hanging f a third rd year, A Apple’s le’s le ’s smaller phone is deservedly popular, challenging Android rivals with decent processing power, a great screen and camera, fingerprint recognition and Apple Pay. 32GB of storage should suffice, but there’s no microSD.

ALTERNATIVE: Asus ZenPad 3S 10 With eight-hour battery life and 4GB of memory for fast multitasking, this iPad-like 9.7in tablet is great value. £270 from www.snipca.com/24858

ALTERNATIVE: iPhone 8 Expensive and a bit fragile, but superbly equipped. If you can manage with 32GB, consider the iPhone 7 at £150 less. £699 from www.snipca.com/25789

30 17 – 30 January 2018

£339 from www.snipca.com/24079 Tested: Issue 500

P DRRIC OP E

om/21685 £145 from www.snipca.com/21685 Tested: Issue 479

With an attractive 5.5in screen, an excellent 13-megapixel camera, a 13-hour battery and decent performance, the G4 remains the best budget option. ALTERNATIVE: Samsung Galaxy S8 The wraparound screen looks stunning and this top-end phone has no real flaws. Now that it’s getting discounted a bit, even the price might not put us off. £513 from www.snipca.com/24857


Ultra Wide-Color

with 4K in an immersive design

Colours like you’ve never seen before. This brilliant 4K UHD resolution display with Ultra Wide-Color offers the richest and most vivid colours wrapped in an immersive curved design for a your best creations yet.

UltraWideColor CurvedDisplay

4K UltraClear 4K Ultra HD

40" 4K curved display

(BDM4037U)


BUY IT!

★★★★★

Buy It

EBOOK READER

SECURITY SOFTWARE

PHOTO EDITING

Amazon Kindle (2016)

Kaspersky Internet Security 2018

Serif Affinity Photo

£60from £57 fromwww.snipca.com/21901 www.snipca.com/21901 Tested: Issue 483

£19.99 from www.snipca.com/21532 Tested: Issue 516

P DRRIC OP E

om/23739 £39 from www.snipca.com/23739 Tested: Issue 498

Here: All copy copied and pasted from issue 489

Amazon’s azon’s basic ebook reader is now good enough to be our first choice choice. It It’s plasticky, but slim and lightweight, with a decent 4GB storage and good battery life. Consider the £110 Paperwhite if you want backlighting or (for £60 extra) 3G. ALTERNATIVE Kobo Aura Glo HD H2O (2017) Competing This premium with waterproof the Kindle reader Paperwhite, from Kobo’s Amazon’s compact main model rival can’t hasload a clear Kindle screen with books, controllable but it’s very lighting. pleasant £130 tofrom use. www.snipca.com/21905 £150 from www.snipca.com/24473

Kaspersky Internet Security has won our past nine antivirus tests and the 2018 version is now available at an exclusive reader discount on our Software Store. Go to the link above for a one-year, onedevice licence or buy a two-year, threedevice licence for just £39.99. ALTERNATIVE: Norton Security Deluxe Almost as good as Kaspersky, but blocks more legitimate software. £21.99 from www.snipca.com/25004

Designed for both full-time professional image retouchers and the rest of us keen amateurs, this is a beautifully designed and comprehensive program for both Windows and Mac users, although so far it performs better on Macs. ALTERNATIVE: Xara Photo & Graphic Designer For all-round design and drawing plus photo filters, this affordable app has a lot to offer. £35 from www.snipca.com/26514

PC MONITOR

ROUTER

MULTIFUNCTION PRINTER

AOC Q2778VQE

TP-Link Archer C3200

Canon Pixma MG5750

Simply the best router you can buy for under £150. It’s a tri-band device, giving you one 2.4GHz band and two on 5GHz, minimising Wi-Fi congestion on your network. It is fastest at close range on 2.4GHz, peaking at 124Mbps. There’s no MU-MIMO though.

You don’t get many frills, but this compact all-in-one printer/scanner includes all the essentials, like Wi-Fi and printing both sides of the paper (duplex), at a reasonable price. It’s fairly quick, running costs are better than average, and the five-ink system ensures photos and black text both come out looking great.

£210 fromwww.snipca.com/21902 £212from www.snipca.com/25508 Tested: Issue 468

£147 from www.snipca.com/26568 Tested: Issue 503

£63 from www.snipca.com/21693 Tested: Issue 470

Here: All copy copied and pasted from issue 489 It comes with no extras, such as built-in speakers or a USB hub, but this 2560x1440 panel gives you a full 27in screen with excellent contrast and colour accuracy at a very reasonable price. It’s a little laggy for gamers, but there’s no ghosting on motion. ALTERNATIVE: Dell UltraSharp U2414H This 1920x1080, 24in screen has a stand that can switch to portrait mode. Colour accuracy is excellent. £190 from www.snipca.com/21908

32 17 – 30 January 2018

ALTERNATIVE: Synology RT2600ac Synology’s Router Manager software make this the easiest router to set up and control bar none. Advanced parental controls let you restrict when and for how long a device can go online. £224 from www.snipca.com/26570

ALTERNATIVE: Brother MFC-J5330DW This affordable A3 inkjet with A4 scanner is among the least expensive to run, making it a very sensible buy. £126 from www.snipca.com/24674


BUY IT!

★★★★★ COMPETITION

Computeractive is hiring! Want to write for the UK’s best-selling technology magazine? We’re looking for an outstanding Deputy Editor who has the pride, vision and dedication to produce exceptional features every fortnight. You’ll need to share our readers’ passion for computing. They expect excellent advice written in plain English – it will be your job to deliver that in every issue. You’ll be commissioning, writing and editing in-depth, well-researched articles that our loyal readers read and keep, not 50-word snippets online that are instantly forgotten.

For more details on the job and to apply visit www.snipca.com/26041. To contact the Editor (Daniel Booth) directly email editor@ computeractive.co.uk.

HOMEPLUGS

P DRRIC OP E

TP-Link AV1200 Powerline werline Wi-Fi Kit WPA8730 £90 from www.snipca.com/23766 Tested: Issue 495

HomePlug adapters use your mains wiring to extend your network where Wi-Fi won’t reach. This kit provides Wi-Fi at the far end too, so phones and tablets can connect as well as PCs and other Ethernet-equipped devices. ALTERNATIVE: D-Link PowerLine AV2 1000HD Gigabit Starter Kit Fast (speeds of up to 1000Mbps), much cheaper and very easy to set up, but the lack of a passthrough socket is frustrating. £26 from www.snipca.com/21691

Win 1 of 5 Peli Memory Card Cases This protective, water-resistant case contains room to store 12 SD cards, 6 miniSD cards and 6 microSD cards. It’s made of tough polycarbonate resin, has a shock-absorbent entt lining, and weighs justt 0.1kg. It’s small enough gh to carry with ease, at 141mm 1m 1mm long, 83mm wide and d 22mm deep. To enter, email your address to cacomp@dennis. co.uk with ‘peli’ in the subject line by midnight 30 January. Peli’s Memory Card Case is available from Peli Products UK (www.snipca.com/26699) and Amazon priced £24.28. For more information on Peli’s products, including military-grade cases for phones, tablets and laptops, visit www.peli. com and follow @Peli_ Products on Twitter.

SOLID STATE DRIVE

WEB DESIGN

Samsung 960 Pro 512GB

Xara Web Designer Premium

£285 from www.snipca.com/23389 Tested: Is Issue 491

£50 from www.snipca.com/26200 Tested: Issue 453

Made for the fast M.2 interface that’s increasingly common inside PCs, this is not a cheap option, but if you want an SSD you want speed, and this has it in spades. Samsung’s 850 Evo (£150 for 500GB) is a good budget choice.

This visual web-design program makes creating sites more like laying out a document than writing HTML code, and sites can be responsive, meaning they look right on both big and small screens without extra work. A basic version is also available for half the price.

ALTERNATIVE: Kingston SSDNow UV400 480GB Much slower, but still faster than a hard drive, this gives you more GB per pound. £133 from www.snipca.com/22127

ALTERNATIVE: Incomedia WebSite X5 v13 Evolution It may feel a little basic, but this straightforward program outputs efficient HTML code and responsive pages. £60 from www.snipca.com/19440

17 – 30 January 2018 33


! K C O T S N I K C A B NOW Computeractive 2016 Back Issue CD CON T ALLAINS

ISSU 26 FRO M 20ES 16

Buy it now from Amazon at www.snipca.com/23209 or search for ‘computeractive cd’ on Amazon You can still buy our 2015 CD at www.snipca.com/21619


Workshops & Tips

PU & LL OU Is K su E E e 51 P T 9

Edited by Sherwin Coelho

14 pages of easy-to-follow workshopss and expert tips 35 Get complete history of your Windows activity 38 Create automatic email replies

40 Fix hidden network problems 42 Print images at exactly the right size

PLUS 43 Readers’ Tips 44 Phone & Tablet Tips 46 Make Windows Better

47 Make Office Better 48 Secret Tips For... Windows Firewall

Get complete history of your Windows activity What you need: Multi Launcher Time required: 10 minutes

W

eb browsers record and store every site you visit, as well as every file you download. In Windows, File Explorer’s Quick Access feature remembers frequently accessed folders and the 20 most recently opened items. While these provide

handy snapshots of some activity that’s taken place on your computer, Multi-Launcher provides a much more comprehensive breakdown, listing all the files, folders, programs and links that you (or anyone else) has accessed on your PC.

STEP To download it, go to www.

1

snipca.com/26676 and click the blue Multi-Launcher link (in the paragraph beginning ‘New release’). It’s a portable tool, so doesn’t require installation. Launch it and the program will run in the background, keeping track of everything you do. The window will be empty at first, but will start to list programs as they come into use 1 . You can hide the window until it’s required by selecting it and pressing Esc. You can also hide or show it at any time by clicking on the icon in the system tray 2 .

1

2

STEP The Programs list shows when each piece of

2

2

1

3

4

software last ran. This string of numbers 1 is made up of the date (year, month, day) and time (in 24-hour format, including seconds). The currently selected program appears at the top of the list 2 . You can see the name 3 , and install location 4 of all running programs. To use Multi Launcher as a task switcher, double-click any name in the list to bring that program’s window to the forefront.

17 – 30 January 2018 35


Workshops 1

STEP The tabs at the top let you switch

3

between the Programs, Documents, Folders, and Web Pages sections 1 . The Documents section doesn’t only contain Word or text files – it lists most file types, including audio and video formats. As a result, the list can quickly get long, making finding a particular item challenging. You can sort the list by time, name, and file path 2 , but not by file extension (.pdf, for example).

2

2

STEP You can, however, find any

1

2

4

item quickly by using the search box 1 . Press Shift+Pause to open the program window, then start typing any part of the name. The list will display potential matches, refining the results as you type 2 . If you’re looking for a particular kind of file, such as an MP3 audio file, type MP3 into the box. Note, unlike a lot of similar programs, Multi Launcher doesn’t support wildcards, so typing *.MP3, for example, won’t return anything.

1 lists any folders that you’ve opened or accessed in Windows. This can be really handy if you want to quickly reopen a folder in File Explorer – just double-click a location in the list. There are a couple of things to be aware of though. Some entries in the list link directly to programs or documents rather than locations, and while any searches you’ve performed in File Explorer appear in the list, double-clicking one will show an error message rather than repeat the same search.

STEP The Folders tab

5

1 shows all the sites you’ve visited, and all the links you’ve clicked 2 . Double-clicking a URL will switch to that tab (if it’s still open) or re-open that page in a new tab. You can use the search box to find and launch any previously visited site, and this will also let you filter the list by browser, if you use more than one. Type chrome into the box, for example, to only show web pages visited using your Chrome browser.

1

STEP The Web Pages tab

6

36 17 – 30 January 2018

1 2


Get complete history of your Windows activity

1

1

2

3 4 5 STEP You should be aware that Multi-Launcher records all

STEP Items in the list can be sorted by date (last used)

1 or by usage 2 (most frequently accessed). That will help you quickly find anything you’ve been working on recently. Right-click any item – a program, document, folder or web page – and the context menu that appears will offer you a choice of actions. You can delete the item (only from the list, not from your computer) 3 , filter it out of the list 4 , or edit the filter 5 .

7

8

pages visited in your browser, including ones accessed in Private Browsing/Incognito mode 1 . If you want to see what sites friends or family members have been accessing ‘off the record’ on your PC, leave Multi-Launcher running in the background and then switch to it once they’ve finished. If you want to remove sites you’ve visited in this mode you can do so via the right-click context menu.

3

2

3

4 5 2

6

1

1 4 STEP To configure Multi-Launcher, right-click its

9

icon in the system tray. This displays a list of options. If you find the text in the program too small, click Set Font Size 1 and increase it. Untick ‘Use Tabbed View’ 2 to switch to the Stacked (or vertical) view that shows the top results for each section on one screen 3 . If you’re using the latest version of Firefox (Quantum) and sites you visit aren’t being recorded, untick ‘Use Firefox Legacy’ 4 .

STEP If you want to save the lists for future access, go to DATA

10

Options 1 . In the pop-up menu you can back up all lists 2 to a location of your choice (create a new folder if required) and also restore all lists 3 . This menu lets you clear the programs, documents, folders or URL lists 4 and remove any invalid recent items 5 . The Set Refresh Time option 6 lets you choose how often Multi-Launcher records new items. This can be half a second, one second or two seconds. ●

17 – 30 January 2018 37


Workshops Create automatic email replies What you need: PhraseExpress Time required: 10 minutes

A

ccording to market research firm The Radicati Group, around 3.1 billion people currently have access to email, with 269 billion messages being sent every day. Even if you only get a few emails every week, the time spent

replying to them, or sending new ones, can soon add up. Thankfully, PhraseExpress can help save you time. The free program lets you create custom responses you can paste into emails and messaging services like WhatsApp.

STEP Install PhraseExpress (www.

1

phraseexpress.com) and open it. The folders on the left 1 provide features and tips on how to use the program. We’ll start by creating our first ‘boilerplate’ response – a default message you can send when you don’t have time to write a proper response but want the sender to know you’ve received and read their message. Click the New Phrase button.

1

1 2

8

2

3

1 3

4

5

6

7

STEP Next, create the keyboard shortcut (hotkey)

3

STEP Give your new phrase a description 1 , then enter your response

2

text in the ‘Formatted phrase content’ box below 2 . You can format the text 3 , paste in content 4 , add pictures 5 , links 6 and tables 7 . You can insert the current date and time in the format of your choice 8 . PhraseExpress saves your changes as you make them, so you don’t need to click a save button.

38 17 – 30 January 2018

you want to use to quickly paste this response into your messages. To do this, type a keyboard character into the box (for example, Q in our screenshot 1 ) or click the down arrow and select one from the dropdown menu. Some keys may already be reserved by the operating system or another program, in which case you’ll see the yellow warning symbol 2 . Click any combination of the Shift, Ctrl, Alt and Win buttons 3 to create your keyboard shortcut (the yellow warning will disappear).


1 1 2 3 4

2

STEP There’s another easier method of pasting

4

your phrase into an email response. Simply type a descriptive word (or short phrase) into the Autotext box 1 . You can make it case sensitive if you want 2 . Once set up, just type this word into your message followed by the so-called ‘default delimiter’, which in this case is any punctuation mark, or the Enter, Tab, or Space keys. To avoid accidentally triggering the autotext, don’t use an everyday word; use something like “xreply” or “reply1” instead.

1 on the right lets you determine when the autotext is triggered. The default option is ‘Execute after default delimiter’, but you can have it run the moment you finish typing your word. To avoid accidentally creating autotext you can set it so you have to manually confirm the action 2 (by hitting the tab key when prompted). SmartComplete 3 kicks in when you type the first three letters of your message description. You can also unlock additional options by switching to Expert Mode 4 but it’s not necessary.

STEP The dropdown menu

5

STEP PhraseExpress works in any text window,

6

so you aren’t limited to pasting your response in emails. You can also paste it into messaging programs, Word, Notepad and more by using the keyboard shortcut or autotext keyword you created. The built-in Clipboard Cache remembers everything you’ve saved to the clipboard. You can paste any into any text window by tapping the default key combination (Ctrl+Alt+V) and selecting the item you want from the list 1 or pressing its saved message 2 .

1

2

STEP If you set up a lot of phrases, using

7

shortcuts and/or autotext, you might find you start to forget those you don’t use regularly. As a backup, you can export a particular saved response as a text file or email 1 , or print the full list of phrases 2 so you can refer to it as and when you need to. ●

1

2

17 – 30 January 2018 39


Workshops Fix hidden network problems What you need: Complete Internet Repair; Any Windows version (XP to 10) 0) Time required: 25 minutes

W

e are all increasingly reliant on the internet, but do you know what to do if your home network starts playing up? Free program Complete Internet Repair (CIR)contains several tools that let you identify and fix

common problems with your broadband with just a few clicks. We’ll show you how to use CIR to fix your network problems without needing to call a technician, and how to find your internet speeds.

STEP Go to www.snipca.com/26710 to see a list of

1

problems CIR can help you repair. To download the program, scroll down the web page to the Download Complete Internet Repair section, where you can install the full version of the program (which we selected) 1 or the portable version 2 . Open the downloaded setup file 3 , click Yes, select ‘I accept the agreement’, then click Next. Tick ‘Create a desktop shortcut’, then click Install. Finally, click Finish, then Yes. You can launch the program via its desktop shortcut whenever you notice your internet isn’t working properly.

3 1 2

3 3

1

4

4

2

2

5

STEP When you open the program, click the Help tab 1 , then ‘Check for

2

updates’. If you’re not using the latest version, you’ll be prompted to update it. CIR recommends you create a system restore point 2 . To do this, click the Maintenance tab 3 , then ‘Create a Windows Restore Point’ 4 . In the System Properties window that opens, click Create 5 , name your restore point, then click Create. Once that’s done, click Close.

40 17 – 30 January 2018

1

5

STEP Next, click the dropdown arrow

1 to close the bottom section. CIR contains 13 fixes 2 for your network. Move your cursor to the ‘i’ icon 3 beside any option for a description of when to apply that fix. You can apply fixes by clicking the arrow icon next to it 4 . Alternatively, to fix multiple problems in one go, tick to select the fixes, then click the Go button 5 .

3


1 1

2

2 STEP Your PC may freeze and cursor may flicker

4

momentarily as the fixes are applied. You’ll see a blue progress bar under the fix as it’s being applied. You can stop any fix by clicking the Stop button (that replaces the Go button at the bottom right). When all the fixes have been applied, you’ll see the ‘All selected tasks Complete’ message at the top. Next, click the File tab 1 , then click Reboot Windows 2 to restart your PC and check whether the problems have been fixed.

STEP If you still have problems, CIR has other tools that you can use to

5

find and fix them. For example, if you think your PC’s wireless adapter is the cause, click the Troubleshoot tab 1 then click Network Diagnostics Network Adapter. In the Network Adapter window that opens, click Next 2 . After a short scan, you’ll be prompted to select the network adapter that isn’t working - Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ‘All network adapters’ etc. Any faulty items will display a red cross.

1 2

1

2 STEP Select the faulty item, then click Next to start applying

6

the fix. You’ll see a message when that’s finished. If you think the problem is caused by your internet connection, PCs connected to a home group or Windows Update, click the Troubleshoot tab 1 , then select the relevant option 2 . You’ll see a window similar to that in Step 5. Click Next and follow the prompts to fix the problem.

STEP CIR also lets you measure your broadband speed and

7

find your router’s default password (this is not your Wi-Fi password). To check your internet speed, click the Troubleshoot tab, then click Internet Speed Test 1 . Click the Go button on the screen that opens. To find your router’s default password, click Get Router Passwords 2 . On the page that opens, select your router’s name from the dropdown menu, then click Find Password. ● 17 – 30 January 2018 41


Workshops Print images at exactly the right size What you need: PicResize Time required: 5 minutes

I

t’s easy enough to resize photos for sending or sharing – you just need an image editor or an online tool like PicResize (www.picresize.com). But it can be harder to resize an image for printing at a specific physical size. If you’ve ever tried to print a

1

photo for a 6x4in frame, and ended up filling an A4 sheet, you’ll know what we mean. Resize.site (https:// resize.site) lets you easily print images at whatever size you need, and it’s perfectly safe as the photos never leave your computer.

1

2 2 3

STEP Drag and drop the image you want to print on to the

STEP You’ll now be asked what size you want the printed

1

2

green banner 1 , or click Select Image 2 , navigate to your picture, select it, and click Open. PicResize recognises all of the popular image formats, including JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and SVG. The developers plan to add support for additional image formats in the future, but for now if you want to resize something like a PSD (Photoshop) file, you’ll need to convert it into a different format. There are many programs you can use for this, like CloudConvert (https://cloudconvert.com).

image to be. Use the Units dropdown box 1 to choose between centimetres (the default), millimetres, inches, or pixels. Next, enter the width you want 2 , and the height 3 . When you’ve done that, click Preview to take a look at the resized image. If you change your mind, or want to print a different picture, just click ‘Start over’ to begin again, and load your new image.

STEP The Preview window

3

displays your photo 1 , with dotted lines showing its size 2 . If it doesn’t look right, click either the top or side dimension 3 and enter a new size 4 . You can start over if you need to 5 . Provided everything is right, select the number of copies you need 6 , and click Print 7 . Your browser’s default print option will open, and you can make any additional changes there. Click Print on that screen. You can also save the file as a PDF 8 .

2 1

3

• Use OneDrive to ON SALE Weds save space on 31 Jan your PC • Add a grammarchecking keyboard to your phone • Format your drives to completely wipe data • Test whether hether you’re at risk of Meltdown Meltdo do down

6 7 5

42 17 – 30 January 2018

NEXT ISSUE

4

8 Subscribe to Computeractive at getcomputeractive.co.uk


Readers’ Tips

Handy hints and tips from your fellow readers Email us your tips: letters@computeractive.co.uk

TIP OF THE FORTNIGHT T

Automatically complete words in LibreOffice I gave a little squeal of delight when I read in Issue 517 (page 59) that you’ll soon be including LibreOffice tips in Make Office Better. Not before time, say I (and thousands of other LibreOffice converts). May I get the ball rolling with one of my favourite tools in LibreOffice Writer - the ‘Word completion’ option within AutoComplete. This auto-completes a word you’re typing after recognising the first few letters. Click Tools, move your cursor over AutoCorrect, then click AutoCorrect Options. In the next box click the Word Completion tab, then tick the ‘Enable

word completion’ box (see screenshot). In the ‘Min word length’ box select after how many letters LibreOffice will identify a word being typed (I’ve chosen 5 in the screenshot). Click OK. Once that’s done, LibreOffice will start remembering new words you type. When you type a word again, you’ll see it appear in a little box, prompting you to complete it. You can do this by pressing Enter, saving you the hassle of typing more letters. I use lots of long words when writing scientific documents, so it’s a lifesaver for me. Mark Dickinson

Mark wins a copy of our 2016 Back Issue CD

Buy it on Amazon www.snipca.com/23209

COMMAND LINE ACTIONS

Use NirSoft’s command-line options

It didn’t surprise me to see NirSoft’s DevManView (www.snipca. com/24964) in the list of readers’ most popular programs of 2017 (Issue 518, page 59). Computeractive introduced me to NirSoft’s programs a few years back, and I’ve been using them ever since. They fulfill the key purpose of software for me, which is to improve upon Windows’ built-in functions. One of my favourite things about them is they give you lots of command-line options. This is a part of Windows I love tinkering with. In DevManView, for example, you can type /stext to save a list of all your system devices as a text file. The same command saves searches in SearchMyFiles (www.snipca.com/26643), probably the NirSoft tool I use most. There are hundreds of others, all listed and explained jargon-free on the page for each program (scroll down to see them). Any reader who loves the command-line as much as I do will enjoy browsing the options. Colin Johnson SECURITY

Use Task Manager to escape tech-support scam

If when using the internet you get a ‘click to call’ tech-support scam that threatens to ‘disable, lock or suspend your device if you close this message’,

don’t be alarmed. Simply right-click your taskbar, then click Task Manager. On the Processes tab you’ll see an Apps column, where you’ll see the name of the browser you’re using. Right-click this and left-click ‘End task’ (see screenshot above). When you reopen your browser the scam message will be gone. Roy Davies BROADBAND SPEEDS

Find broadband speeds in properties on Rightmove

In Letters, Issue 517, Jeremy Rundle reported problems finding out the broadband speeds in properties he was considering buying. May I recommend he use online estate agents Rightmove (www.rightmove.co.uk). Simply click a property you’re interested in, then scroll down and look at the bottom of the ‘Listing History’ box on the right. Click ‘Show fastest broadband speed at this

postcode’ (see screenshot above) to see what speeds you can get, and with which ISP. Nearly all estate agents use this – it has made searching far simpler. Michael Weaver SCREENS

Use Windows Repair to restore aspect ratio

The aspect ratio on my eMachines laptop changed from 16:9 to 4:3 for no apparent reason, resulting in all my icons and images becoming short and fat. I could find no way of reversing the change until I read Norman A Clark’s tip in Issue 517 recommending Tweaking.com’s Windows Repair (www.snipca.com/26322). I downloaded and ran it, and after a restart all was well and I got my 16:9 screen back. Well done Computeractive, Windows Repair and Norman. Edmund Spavin 17 – 30 January 2018 43


Phone and Tablet Tips ANDROID & iOS

Add effects and messages to your photos ph

In Issue 517, we explained how to use the free app Pixlr to create a photo collage. The app also lets you edit your photos, add effects and frames, and even scribble a message across your photo. Open the app (Android www.snipca. com/26683; iOS www.snipca. com/26684), then tap ‘photos’ to see a list of locations you can import photos from. As well as your photo gallery, you can import photos from your Downloads

Brilliant things to do on your device

folder, Google Photos, Google Drive or Dropbox. Select the location, then tap to choose the photo you want to edit. You’ll now see your photo with five icons along the bottom (see screenshot below left). The first icon has options to crop, rotate, blur and sharpen your photo. The second lets you brighten, darken or scribble something across your photo. The middle icon offers several photofilter effects that you can apply. The fourth icon lets you choose from a selection of frames. And the fifth icon lets you write a message across your photo. Tap ‘done’ at the top left to see options to save the edited photo to your device, or share it on social media. ANDROID

Type faster using Gboard

The Gboard keyboard app (www. snipca.com/26685) has several settings that can help speed up your typing, but many of these are easy to overlook. For example, Gboard doesn’t include a numbers panel by default, but it’s easy to add one. To do this, tap the right-pointing arrow at the top left of the keyboard, tap the three dots on the right, Settings, then Preferences. Here, tap the ‘Number row’ slider to add a number row to the top of your keyboard. While you’re at it, tap ‘Text correction’ after tapping Settings to see a list of settings that can make typing easier (most of these sliders aren’t switched on by default). We recommend enabling

Best New Apps Storyboard

Free Android: www.snipca.com/26689 This new Google app turns your video footage into a comic book-style storyboard. The app applies a default layout and effect to your video, but you can change these by swiping down. Once you’re happy, save the storyboard to your device or share it with others.

44 17 – 30 January 2018

‘Show suggestion strip’, ‘Next-word suggestions’, ‘Auto-correction’, ‘Autocapitalisation’ and ‘Double-space full stop’ (see screenshot above). Each option has a brief description of what it does. ANDROID

Use Google Assistant on older phones and tablets

Google Assistant was previously only available on the company’s Pixel phones. However, Google recently released the voice-activated tool as a standalone app (www.snipca.com/ 26686) for Android phones running Android Lollipop (version 5.0) and later, and Android tablets running Android Marshmallow (version 6.0) and later. To check which version of Android you’re running on your device, tap

What you should install this fortnight Haven

Free Android: www.snipca.com/26692 Using Haven (currently in beta) you can turn your old phone (as long as it runs Android 4 or later) into a security camera. As well as the camera and microphone, it uses your phone’s motion and light sensors to track activity, then sends you instant notifications.

Selfissimo

Free Android: www.snipca.com/26690 iOS: www.snipca.com/26691 Selfissimo, another new Google app, lets you take multiple ‘selfies’ (self-portraits using your front-facing camera) in black and white and turns them into an old fashioned photo booth-style strip. You can then save the entire strip or only the photos you like.


both devices will need to have the app (www.snipca.com/26688) installed. The sender needs to open the app, tap the Files tab at the bottom right, scroll to the bottom, then tap Send. The receiver then needs to open their app, tap the Files tab, then tap Receive. After doing so, the receiver taps the slider to let their device transfer files wirelessly. They then need to type their name (for identification purposes), then tap Next. The sender will now see the receiver’s name listed in their app. They need to tap this to connect the two devices. The receiver then taps Connect to confirm this. The sender will now see various file categories (Images, Videos, Audio, etc) at the top. They need to select the relevant category, tap to select the files they want to send, then tap Send to transfer the file between devices.

iOS

Take 3D photos on your iPhone and iPad

Microsoft has added a new Photosynth feature to its Pix Camera app (www.snipca.com/ 26687) that lets you take a threedimensional photo. To do this, move your camera slowly to capture the subject matter. The app takes several photos as you move the camera, then stitches them together to create your 3D photo. When you first open the app, it launches your device’s camera. Swipe to the right to activate the Photosynth mode. Next, point to the scene you want to capture, then tap the shutter button. Now slowly move your device to the left, right, up or down. When you’ve finished, tap the shutter button. The app will now begin merging your video into one large photo.

Games With Kids

Settings, System, then ‘System update’. Tap ‘Check for update’ to see if you have an update pending – and install it if so. When you first open Google Assistant, you’ll see a list of useful requests – ‘What’s the weather tomorrow’ or ‘Set an alarm’, for example – that you can tap. Tap the mic icon to speak more personalised requests. For example, say ‘Read the news’ to display a list of news stories. Swipe across these, then tap to read the article you want. Alternatively, you could ask for something more specific, like ‘Track Flight BA252’ to see the status of an incoming flight. You can also say ‘Traffic to Trafalgar Square’ to check the route from your current location and approximately how long that journey will take. Get language translations and currency conversions by asking, for example, ‘How do I say thank you in Spanish?’ (see screenshot above) and ‘How many euros is £200?’

What to play together on your phone and tablet AGES 0 5

Hey Duggee: Sandcastle Badge

Free www.snipca.com/26693 (Android) Free www.snipca.com/26694 (iOS) The object of this simple game is to help squirrels build a sandcastle. In doing so, your children will learn to identify different colours and shapes. They can then decorate their sandcastle with all kinds of objects, including seaweed, shells and flags. AGES 6 10

Hidden Folks

£2.99 www.snipca.com/26695 (Android) £3.99 www.snipca.com/26696 (iOS) In this hide-and-seek game, you need to find various objects within 20 hand-drawn scenes representing different types of location (a forest, a city, a factory, etc). The items to find appear in a panel at the bottom.

ANDROID

Transfer files without an internet connection

In Issue 517 (see ‘Free up space on your tablet’ Workshop, page 40), we showed you how to use Google’s new free Files Go app to recover storage space on your device. One feature we didn’t have space to cover is the option to send files instantly from one Android device to another, even without an internet connection. For this to work,

AGES 11 16

HQ Trivia

Free www.snipca.com/26697 (Android) Free www.snipca.com/26698 (iOS) New to Android (and currently in beta), this is a multiple-choice trivia quiz that’s similar to Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?. It takes place ‘live’ twice a day and you need to answer all 12 questions correctly to win cash prizes.

17 – 30 January 2018 45


Make Windows Better

Expert tips for every version

WINDOWS 10

Limit PC notifications to specific apps

By default, you will receive notifications for every built-in Microsoft app, or any you’ve installed from the Store. If you find this annoying, there’s an easy way to specify which apps provide notifications, or you can simply switch off all app notifications. Open Settings, click System, ‘Notifications & actions’ on the left, then scroll down to the Notifications section. Here, you’ll see sliders that let you switch off notifications from your apps, including any that appear on your lock screen. Next, scroll down to the ‘Get notifications from these senders’ section. By default, all these sliders are switched on (see screenshot below). Simply switch off those apps whose notifications you no longer want to see.

WINDOWS 10

Monitor global weather at a glance

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update added some great new features to Microsoft’s Weather app. For example, you can now see weather across the world at a glance and check the levels of cloud cover over the next 24 hours. When you first open the app, choose Celsius or Fahrenheit, then add your location. The app’s main screen displays the current temperature in your

WINDOWS 7, 8, 10

Use Num Lock keys as a mouse

Windows 10 makes it easier to change your default mouse settings (which you can access in 7 and 8 by pressing the Windows key, typing mouse and pressing Enter). Open Settings, click Devices, then click Mouse on the left. You’ll see the option to change your primary mouseclick button (left or right) and adjust the sensitivity of your mouse wheel using a slider. Go back to the previous screen, click ‘Ease of Access’, then Mouse on the left. Here, you’ll see options for changing your cursor’s size and colour (there are three of each to choose from). The ‘Mouse keys’ section has three sliders (see screenshot) that let you use your numeric keypad (if your keyboard has one) as a mouse. The first slider lets you turn this feature on/off. To use it, activate the

area and the weather forecast for the next nine days. To monitor the weather anywhere in the world, click the Maps icon (see screenshot below left). You’ll see a pin at your location. The multi-coloured key at the bottom right shows you the temperature ranges represented by each colour on the map. Use the + and arrows at the top right to zoom in and out, and drag your mouse to navigate to different areas. Click the Cloud tab at the top to see the level of cloud cover for the next 24 hours. WINDOWS 10

Add website shortcuts to your taskbar

One of the new features in Microsoft Edge lets you add favourite websites to your taskbar for quick access. To ensure you have the latest version of Edge, make sure you’ve updated 46 17 – 30 January 2018

Num Lock key, then press the 8, 4, 2 and 6 keys on your numeric keypad to move your cursor up, left, down and right respectively. You can move faster or slower by pressing Ctrl or Shift + the relevant direction key (enabled by the second slider). The third slider lets you choose whether you want to use these keys when Num Lock is turned on (default) or off.

your PC. Open Settings, click ‘Update & Security’, then click ‘Check for updates’. You’ll be prompted to restart your PC after the updates are installed. Now open Microsoft Edge and open the website you want to pin to your taskbar. Next, click the three dots at the top right of Edge, then the new ‘Pin this page to the taskbar’ option (see screenshot above). You’ll now see the website’s logo on your taskbar. Click it to open the site in Edge.


Make Office Better

Expert tips for every program

WORD

Create a simple flowchart If you want to create a simple flowchart (with just a few boxes and arrows), then Word has a range of useful shapes that you can add and customise to your liking. First, it’s a good idea to add gridlines to your document so you can precisely position the shapes in your flowchart. To do this, click the View tab, then tick Gridlines in the Show section on the left. To add your first shape, click the Insert tab, then click the Shapes dropdown menu in the Illustrations section on the left to see a variety of shapes. Click to select the one you want, then click and drag your cursor to add it to your document. You can click and drag the shape to reposition it, or click and drag its borders to resize it. Now select the shape, then click the Format tab at the top.

In the Shape Styles section, you’ll see three dropdown menus (Shape Fill, Shape Outline and Shape Effects) that you can use to customise your shape (see screenshot left). Click inside the shape and start typing whatever you

full settings’ link. On the page that opens, change the Language to ‘English (United Kingdom)’ and the Date format to day-month-year (see screenshot left). You can also check and change your time format and time zone. Click Save at the top right when you’re done.

EXCEL

Access hidden statistics in a sequence of cells

There’s an easy way to instantly get the total, average and maximum and minimum values of any range of cells. This is handy if you don’t know the correct Excel formula. First, click inside the cell at the bottom of the list of values. Next, click the AutoSum dropdown menu at the top right of the Home tab. You’ll see five options that let you calculate the total or average, count all the cells, and find the maximum and minimum value within the cells. Clicking the option in the dropdown menu adds that formula within the bottom cell (see screenshot below). Press Enter to get your answer.

want. You can customise this text using the dropdown menus in the WordArt Styles section of the Format tab. To change the text font and size, click the Home tab and use the dropdown menus in the Font section on the left. Once you’ve created the first shape in your flowchart, it’s easy to add arrows and other shapes. To do this, click the Format tab, then click the Insert Shapes dropdown menu on the left, select another shape, then repeat the process. Customise the shape and add text if needed. When you finish creating your flowchart, click the View, then untick Gridlines in the Show section to remove them.

ONENOTE OUTLOOK.COM

Switch to UK language and date settings in the new Outlook

In Issue 516’s Make Office Better, we told you how to use the new (beta) version of Outlook.com. Outlook has now rolled out this version to more users and made it easier to switch back and forth between the beta and the stable version. First, go to www. outlook.com and log in using your Microsoft account. You’ll now see the ‘Outlook beta’ slider at the top right. This lets you switch between versions. Turn on the slider to start using Outlook Beta. The page will refresh and you’ll notice a slightly different interface. By default, the language and date format of Outlook Beta is set to US English, but it’s easy to change this. Click the cog-shaped icon at the top right, scroll to the bottom then click the ‘View

Let OneNote do your sums

Microsoft OneNote is a great note-taking program, but you can also use it to make quick calculations. For example, simply type 95+65+45=, then press Enter to see the answer. Similarly, you can use subtraction (-), division (/) and multiplication (* or x) symbols to find those values instantly. You can calculate percentages by typing, for example, 20%x400=, then pressing Enter (see screenshot below). Note that these calculations only work in the OneNote program. They don’t work in OneNote Online (www.onenote.com).

17 – 30 January 2018 47


Secret Tips For…

Windows Firewall Enable or disable Windows Firewall, control programs’ access to the web, find and remove invalid entries, and manage your ports

Check that Windows Firewall is enabled

Windows Firewall is switched on by default, but it can be disabled by malware, or taken over and managed by a a security program you’ve installed. To check the status of your firewall in Windows 10 (and enable it if it isn’t already), type firewall into the Start menu, and launch ‘Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security’ to see whether the firewall is enabled. Click the Windows Defender Firewall Properties link, and in the box that opens (see screenshot below) use the tabs at the top to set whether the firewall is on or off when connected to a domain, a private network, or a public network.

good idea to switch the firewall on for all your connections, but this is optional. Type firewall in the Start menu, and click ‘Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security’. Click the Windows Defender Firewall Properties link. Select a network profile type, then click Customise next to ‘Protected network connections’. Untick any connections you don’t want securing with the firewall. Preventt certain Pr rtai programs from f accessing in th the web when you’re on a public Wi-Fi network

Control which programs go online

You can make Windows Firewall more secure when accessing a public network by preventing certain programs (filesharing ones, for example) from going online when you’re out and about. Type control panel in the Start menu and press Enter. Click ‘System and Security’, then Windows Defender Firewall. Click the ‘Allow an app or feature through Windows Defender Firewall’ link, then click Change Settings and block/allow programs (called apps here) on private and public networks (see screenshot above).

Keep a record of Firewall activity

You can make Windows Firewall log every successful inbound connection. To enable logging, type firewall into the Windows search box, launch ‘Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security’, and click the Windows Defender Firewall Properties link. Click Customise under logging, and change ‘Log successful connections’ to Yes (see screenshot below). You can view the log at the location listed at the top of the window.

Apply firewall to PC connections Ch Choose which hich networks rk to enable bl your firewall on and manage their settings

Firewall can be enabled on your PC’s wired and wireless connections. It’s a

Open and shut ports Ports in Windows Firewall allow information to flow between your PC and the internet. Different ports are used for different purposes, such as Port 80 and 8080, which are used for web browsing over HTTP. For security purposes, firewalls close ports to prevent unwanted access. To open a port in Windows Firewall, open the ‘Windows Defender Firewall with Advanced Security’ window, and click Inbound Rules on the left. Click New Rule, then select Port. Click Next, and choose the internet protocol you require – TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram

48 17 – 30 January 2018

Windows Firewall can record all successful inbound connections

Remove unwanted Firewall rules You can block or open any port on a domain or private and public network

Protocol). For most people, TCP will be the right choice. Type the port number you want to open (see screenshot), click Next, then choose to allow the connection, allow the connection if it’s secure, or block the connection. Choose when to apply the rule (on a corporate domain, a private network, or a public network). Finally, enter a name and description, then click Finish.

Free software Windows Firewall Control 5 (www.binisoft.org/wfc.php) expands the capabilities of the Windows Firewall. It can display invalid rules for programs that are no longer installed, letting you remove them. First, export your Firewall rules by clicking Action, then ‘Export policy’. In Firewall Control, click Rules, then select ‘Import Windows Firewall rules from a file’ and navigate to the saved rules file. Load it. Next, click the Manage Firewall Rules button at the bottom left of Firewall Control, then click ‘Show invalid rules’ on the right.

Next issue Secret Tips For… Web bookmarks


What’s All the Fuss About...

Tacotron 2

Google reckons it has cracked text-to-speech technology, but can a computergenerated voice really be indistinguishable from a human one? What is it?

It’s a new text-to-speech system developed by Google, which aims to make computers and other devices speak with a much more natural, human-like voice.

“Good morning, master. . .”

Why is it important?

Currently, text-to-speech (TTS) is commonly used for getting our devices to read text files – documents, web pages, ebooks and so on – aloud to us. Microsoft Narrator, which is built into Windows, is a good example. So, one obvious benefit would be to make TTS applications like these sound more natural and less robotic. But current technology trends point to a future where we will increasingly find ourselves using our voices to interact with technology – not just voicecontrolled virtual assistants like Cortana, Siri and Google Now, but also smart speakers, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo (pictured below), smart TVs and – eventually – cars, heating systems and any number of devices in between. These devices rely heavily on speech-recognition technology to understand our spoken commands. But

they also have to use an effective TTS engine to generate their vocal responses. The less artificial and stilted our devices sound when they talk, the more comfortable we feel when we use them, which is why creating natural TTS is an ongoing goal for many tech companies.

How does it work?

In its Research blog (www.snipca. com/26677), Google explains that Tacotron 2 is, in fact, powered by the best bits of two of the company’s previous TTS technologies, namely Tacotron and WaveNet. Firstly, Tacotron technology is used to convert a sequence of text into a spectrogram (a visual representation of a spectrum), which can capture subtle differences – such as pronunciation, volume, speed, intonation and so on. This data is then interpreted into actual audio output, using a WaveNet-like technique, which generates raw, natural-sounding speech waveforms from scratch, rather than artificially sticking snippets of pre-recorded spoken text together.

But it still sounds fake, right? Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo need to sound natural to be popular

Google admits that the system still has difficulties pronouncing complex words including, apparently, ‘merlot’ and

‘decorum’. But, aside from its inability to order wine in a swanky restaurant, Tacotron 2 is actually pretty convincing. You can even see (or rather hear) for yourself by playing the audio samples Google has posted online at www.snipca. com/26678. In each case you can listen to both a Tacotron 2 sample and a real human voice reading the same text, and see if you can tell which is which. In many cases it’s genuinely too close to call.

So, when will we all be chatting with our computers, then?

Tacotron 2 is still very much in development. A research paper was only submitted just before Christmas (www.snipca.com/26679), and it’ll be a while before the technology makes it to our devices. Currently, it can’t generate audio in real-time and Google is still working on a way to reproduce emotions, such as sadness and happiness. On top of that, the current voice used is that of an American female, so to generate male speech patterns or other localised accents and languages, the whole system would need to be trained again. Whether or not Stephen Hawking has his eye on a Tacotron 2 upgrade is unknown. 17 – 30 January 2018 49


Schedule

ANY TASK

ON YOUR PC Time is precious, so don’t waste it on tedious PC tasks. Jonathan Parkyn shows you how to get your computer to carry out almost anything automatically

S

adly, technology hasn’t reached the point where we all have our own robot butlers to handle the most boring everyday chores.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

• Set security, maintenance and backup tasks to happen automatically • Schedule print jobs, reminders, alarms, downloads and much more • Uncover settings and software to automate other PC, tablet and smartphone functions • Find out how to use Windows’ hidden Task Scheduler tool

50 17 – 30 January 2018

But you don’t necessarily need a cyborg Jeeves to do the jobs you hate – instead you can delegate many routine tasks to your PC. The principles of task scheduling are simple – you’re effectively telling your computer to carry out a particular action when specific criteria – a time, date or event – are met. One simple example might be an alarm clock, where the action is a sound scheduled to occur at a specific time every day. But your PC’s scheduling abilities go way beyond that. Behind the scenes, your computer is actually running dozens of tasks on schedules already – checking for updates, defragging your drives and more. You can

also set up your own schedules, ordering your computer to manage everything from waking itself up in the morning to downloading files at night when nobody is using your broadband. Scheduling can help keep your PC safe and running smoothly. It can save you time by taking care of repetitive tasks automatically. And it can remember to carry out important duties, so that you don’t have to. In this feature, we’ll be looking at some of the most useful tasks that you can get your PC to take care of all by itself. We’ll explain how to set each one up using either Windows’ built-in tools and settings or free software.


Schedule any task on your PC

USE WINDOWS’ HIDDEN SCHEDULING TOOL Later in this feature we cover essential programs and settings that let you schedule tasks on your PC, but Windows also has its own dedicated scheduling tool. Task Scheduler has been part of Windows in one shape or another since Windows 95, but often gets overlooked – partly because it’s not easy to find, but also because it’s not the easiest tool to use. Nevertheless, once you’ve learned the basics, you’ll find that it’s pretty powerful. Task Scheduler is tucked away in Windows’ Computer Management console, so the easiest way to find it is by clicking Start, typing schedule and pressing Enter. Its main screen is split into three panes, with the Task Scheduler Library on the left, an Overview in the middle and a list of Actions on the right. Click the Task Scheduler Library heading, and the middle pane will change to show existing scheduled tasks at the top and details about each below. You’ll notice that your PC already has quite a few items scheduled. These are tasks that have been automatically configured by programs you have installed on your PC. Your graphics card, for example, may have set up a task that automatically checks for updates at specified intervals. Click the arrow next to Task Scheduler Library to reveal further folders. Click the arrow next to the Microsoft folder, then click the arrow next to Windows to show all the tasks Windows runs on a schedule, without any input from you. Each task has a Trigger and an Action, and settings you can specify. The Trigger could be a scheduled time or a specific occurrence, such as when you log into your PC. The Action usually involves starting a program, but you can use Type this ‘argument’ to schedule your PC to shut down

Tick ‘Wake the computer to run this task’ after setting a time for your PC’s wake-up call

‘arguments’ (a computer-science term) to further define the Action that the program carries out when it runs. That might all sound somewhat complicated, so the best way to make it clearer is by talking you through a few different examples.

your PC to 1 Schedule shut down every night

Launch Task Scheduler as described above, then click Create Basic Task on the right. This will launch the Create Basic Task Wizard. Type a name for your task – Shut down at night, for example – and a longer description if it’s helpful, then click Next. In the Trigger options, select Daily, then click Next. Now, choose the time you want your PC to turn off and make sure there’s a ‘1’ in the ‘Recur every… days’ box. Click Next, ensure that ‘Start a program’ is selected in the Action list and click Next again. In the ‘Program/script’ box, type shutdown, then in the ‘Add arguments’ box, type /s /f /t 30 (see screenshot below). The ‘/s’ element of the argument tells the program to shut down

your PC, the ‘/f’ tells it to force programs to close and the ‘/t 30’ sets a time-out period of 30 seconds, which provides a brief on-screen warning before your PC switches off. If you want to restart your PC instead of shutting it down, you could substitute the ‘/s’ for ‘/r’. Click Next, then Finish.

your PC up 2 Wake every morning

Setting your PC to go to sleep automatically doesn’t require any tinkering in Task Scheduler. In Windows 10, for example, the easiest way to do this is to click Start, Settings, System, ‘Power & sleep’, then select how long you want to wait before automatically entering Sleep mode in the ‘When plugged in, PC goes to sleep after’ menu. However, making it wake up again at a specific time of day – say, every morning at 8am – will require a spot of scheduling. Follow the steps above to launch the Task Scheduler and work your way through the Create Basic Task Wizard as before, selecting Daily in the Trigger options, then entering the time of day you want the PC to wake up. This time, when you see the ‘Program/script’ box, type cmd.exe and, in the ‘Add arguments’ box, type /c “exit”, then click Next, followed by Finish. Before you exit Task Scheduler, though, click Task Scheduler Library, then right-click your newly created task in the middle pane and select Properties. On the General tab, tick the ‘Run with highest privileges’ box and select the ‘Run whether user is logged on or not’ option. Click the Conditions tab in the window that opens, then tick the ‘Wake the computer to run this task’ box (see screenshot above), then click OK. Enter 17 – 30 January 2018 51


your Windows password, if prompted. Note that your PC will automatically go back to sleep if you don’t use it before the time you set in the ‘Power & sleep’ settings. And, if you’re using a laptop, your PC won’t wake up unless it’s plugged into the mains.

ALTERNATIVES TO TASK SCHEDULER Though powerful, Windows Task Scheduler is undeniably clunky and dated. We’d love to see a modern scheduling tool incorporated into Windows 10’s Settings app at some point, though this seems unlikely. Instead, Microsoft is adding scheduling options, such as Cortana’s recurring reminders (see page 56), across the operating system. Several free alternatives to Task Scheduler are available, such as Z-Cron (www.z-cron.com) and Splinterware System Scheduler (www.snipca.com/ 26586). But, to be honest, these tend to be just as unwieldy as Microsoft’s built-in option. If you don’t like Task Scheduler, then you’re probably better off using

3Fetch the morning papers

If you like to read the news headlines first thing in the morning when you start your PC, create a schedule that not only automatically launches your web browser, but also opens your favourite news websites as soon as you log on (or at another time of your choosing). Open Task Scheduler and create a new basic task (as described above). Under Trigger options, choose ‘When I log on’, and under Action, choose ‘Start a program’. If you use the Chrome browser, type chrome.exe into the ‘Program/script’ box. In the ‘Add arguments’ box, enter the URL for the website you want to open – http://bbc.co.uk/news, for example (see screenshot right). If you want to open several websites in individual tabs, enter their URLs into the ‘Add arguments’ box, separating each with a space. In the ‘Start in’ box, type the location of the directory where the program you want to launch is stored. In the case of Chrome, for example, that would normally be C:\Program Files (x86)\Google\Chrome\ Application. Make sure the address is typed correctly, and don’t leave an extra ‘\’ at the end. Click Next, followed by

individual tools and settings that provide alternative ways to schedule specific tasks, rather than several in one go. For example, Wise Auto Shutdown (free from www.snipca.com/26529, see screenshot) provides a much simpler way to set your PC to switch off, restart or go to sleep.

Finish, then restart your PC to test it. If this procedure doesn’t work and you’re using a laptop on battery power, right-click your task in the Task Scheduler Library, then select Properties. Click the Conditions tab, untick the ‘Start the task only if the computer is on AC power’ option then click OK. Type a URL in Task Scheduler to make your PC go straight to To avoid slowing your certain sites when it starts PC’s startup, you could also opt to delay the task slightly. Right-click settings’, tick the ‘Delay task for’ option the task, select Properties, Triggers, then then select ‘15 minutes’ in the dropdown double-click ‘At log on’. Under ‘Advanced menu. Click OK twice.

SECURITY & BACKUP Automatically clean up 4your PC

Tick these boxes and Windows 10 will remove temporary files on a schedule

52 17 – 30 January 2018

Before the Windows 10 Creators Update in April last year, if you wanted to rid your PC of junk on a regular basis, you’d either have to remember to run Windows Disk Clean-up manually or set up a convoluted scheduled task involving advanced command-line switches. Worse still, many junkcleaning tools – including CCleaner – don’t let you schedule junk clear-outs unless you pay for the premium version. Now, though, there’s an easy, free way to run this type of task on an automatic schedule from within Windows. Click Start, Settings, System, Storage, then click ‘Change how we free up space’ under ‘Storage sense’. Click the slider at the top to turn Storage Sense on, then

tick the boxes to select the files you want to get rid of (see screenshot left). Tick them all and Windows will erase temporary files on an ongoing basis and delete unused files that have been in the recycle bin or the Downloads folder for over 30 days.

a 5Schedule system-image backup

Windows 10’s built-in backup tools aren’t bad, but they lack the option to perform scheduled system-image backups – copies of your entire hard drive that you can restore in the event of hardware failure or damage. Thankfully, EaseUS Todo Backup Free has this covered. You can download the program free from www.snipca. com/26589, though take care to deselect


Cover Schedule any task on Feature your PC Click ‘Restart options’ (under ‘Change active hours’), switch it on and select a time and day in the dropdown menus (17.37 and ‘today’ in our screenshot below).

Schedule a regular 7security scan

We recommend setting a monthly backup schedule in EaseUS Todo Backup

any unwanted options when installing. To set up an image-backup schedule in EaseUS Todo Backup Free, click System Backup, then select your System Name from the top pane and click the folder icon under Destination to browse to a connected external drive that you want to save the backup to. Next, click Schedule and select your options – we’d suggest scheduling a Monthly backup (see screenshot above). Choose the time and day you want the backup to occur, then click Save, followed by Proceed.

restart (8.00 to 20.00 in our screenshot below). Just click a ‘Start time’ and an ‘End time’, then click Save. The latest version of Windows 10 lets you stipulate a period of up to 18 hours. Another recent improvement is an option to schedule a time for any pending updates to finish installing.

6 Schedule Windows Updates Windows 10 is notorious for forcing automatic updates on PC users but, with a bit of simple scheduling, you can make sure you’re never again interrupted by annoying update-related restarts. Click Start, Settings, ‘Update & security’, then click ‘Change active hours’. Here, you can schedule a section of your working day when you don’t want to have to contend with a random

Most paid-for security programs let you set security scans on a schedule. For example, in Kaspersky Internet Security (winner of our past nine antivirus tests – see our Reader Offer page 70), click Scan, ‘Scan schedule’ and choose the type of scan you want (Full Scan, Quick Scan or Vulnerability Scan). Next, select the frequency from the ‘Run scan’ dropdown menu (see screenshot below), set a time, then click Save. Many free security tools limit the control you have over scheduling scans. Windows 10’s built-in Defender, for example, runs on an automated schedule but doesn’t let you stipulate when or how the scans are carried out. If you use AVG AntiVirus Free, though, you get a very decent amount of scheduling options without having to pay for the premium version. Launch the AVG dashboard and click the cog icon next to Scan Computer, then click Schedule Scan in the bottom right of the next screen. Give the scan a name and select which drives you want to scan under Scan Areas. You can use the tabs on the left to choose other options for your scan, such as Sensitivity (how thorough you want your scan to be) and Exceptions (files and folders you want your scan to ignore). Next, click the Scheduling tab at the bottom, tick the ‘Schedule this scan’ box and set your Schedule Type (Once, Daily, Weekly or Monthly) then choose the time, days, and any other options you require. Click OK.

Schedule an ideal time for pending updates to finish installing

Prevent Windows from installing updates at certain times of the day

Set how regularly you want Kaspersky to run a scan in the ‘Scan schedule’ settings

17 – 30 January 2018 53


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Schedule any task on your PC

ESSENTIAL TIME SAVERS

8Schedule a print job for later

Most printers have a hidden setting that makes it extremely easy to schedule print jobs to occur at a specific time of day. To access this, open Windows 10’s Settings app, click Devices, then ‘Printers & scanners’. Click your printer in the list, Manage, then ‘Printer properties’. Click the Advanced tab, then check the ‘Available from’ option and enter the period of the day you would like your print jobs to take place in the From and To boxes – say 19.00 to 20.00 (as in our screenshot below), then click OK. Next time you print a document outside of these hours, you’ll see a message telling you that the print job will occur when the printer is available.

Choose which times you want to print

Send an email at a 9particular time and date

It can be extremely useful to draft an email in advance, then set it to be sent at a specified time in the future. If you have Microsoft Office, you can use Outlook’s Delay Delivery tool (under the Options tab in the Message window), but very few free email programs include this feature. You can, however, add a similar ability to Gmail if you use Chrome. Install the free Right Inbox extension from www. snipca.com/26592, then log into Gmail. You’ll be asked to sign in with your Google account again to finish setting up the extension. Now, whenever you write an email, you’ll see a Send Later option

Write an email then select a time to send it with Chrome’s Right Inbox extension

SCHEDULE AUTOMATIC TASKS WITH IFTTT

If you really want to go to town with your PC scheduling, you could use a service called IFTTT (https://ifttt.com). Its name stands for ‘If This Then That’ and it’s a surprisingly simple way to automate all kinds of tasks, from saving attachments to Dropbox whenever you receive one via email, to setting up a weekly email digest of all the songs you’ve liked on Spotify. IFTTT basically works by connecting the various services you use. And you can also connect web-connected ‘smart’ devices, such as a fitness tracker, Philips Hue lighting or a Hive home-heating system. For a list of all the services and products IFTTT supports, go to www.snipca.com/ 26600. Click each one for a few examples of what’s possible. To use IFTTT, sign up for a free account, then click My

Applets, followed by New Applet. Click the large blue ‘+this’ link and choose the first service you want to connect - scroll down for YouTube, for example. Click the Connect button, then sign in with your YouTube account. You’ll see a selection of triggers. Choose the one you want – for example, you could choose to trigger an action every time a YouTube user you subscribe to posts a new video (third from the left in the screenshot above). Once you’ve created the trigger, click the blue ‘+that’ link to set up the action. For example, you could connect your Gmail account here and choose ‘Send yourself an email’ as the action, so that you’ll automatically receive an email message whenever the YouTube user posts a new video.

at the bottom. Click this, then select from one of the preset times or click ‘At a specific time’ to schedule a precise date and time (see screenshot below left). It will then be sent at that time even if you’re not using Chrome or your PC is switched off.

file downloads 10Schedule at any time of day or night If you’d rather not have large, disruptive downloads clogging up your bandwidth during the day and slowing down your broadband speeds, you could schedule them to happen in the wee hours of the morning by using Free Download Manager (www.snipca.com/26596). Download and install the latest version (5.1.33, at time of writing). Now, whenever you want to download something large, instead of clicking the download button (or link) on the web page, drag and drop it into the main

Choose where to download files using Free Download Manager

section of Free Download Manager’s main screen. In the ‘New file’ window that opens, select where you want to save the file to (your Downloads folder is the default location, see screenshot above), then tick the bottom-left Scheduler box to reveal more scheduling options. Select the day and time you want the download to occur then click Download. 17 – 30 January 2018 55


AUTOMATE YOUR DAILY LIFE yourself to 11 Wake yourself up to music 12 Remind exercise By definition, alarms are alarming. It’s much nicer to be woken up – or reminded of something you need to do – by your favourite piece of music. Windows 10’s built-in ‘Alarms & Clock’ app is pretty simplistic and doesn’t allow much tweaking. But free Microsoft Store alternative Alarm Clock HD (www. snipca.com/26599) lets you play the song of your choice at a specific time. You can even set it to play on a recurring schedule. To do this, click Alarms, then click ‘+New Alarm’. Give the alarm call a name, choose the time and the regularity, then select ‘Custom (mp3)’ from the Alarm Sound options (see screenshot below). Click Choose Sound File, browse to the MP3 file of choice, click Open, then click Save.

In the Creators Update addition is Microsoft expanded support for scheduling recurring reminders in Cortana. To set yourself a reminder to, for example, stretch your legs or walk the dog, click inside the Start menu search box, then click the Notebook icon (circle in a box) and select Reminders. Click the plus (+) sign, then enter a short reminder description in the ‘Remember to…’ box (see screenshot right). Click the Time box and select one of the time options, or click ‘Another time…’ and enter the time and day you want in the options. Click the ‘Only once’ menu to select from the available recurrence options – for example, ‘Every day’ or ‘Every Saturday’ – then click Remind.

Save your favourite track as ‘Custom mp3’ and have it wake you up in the morning

Get Cortana to remind you to walk the dog at a certain time

your monitor 13Adjust for low light

Another excellent Creators Update addition was the Night Light setting. This alters your screen’s colour temperature (by degrees of orangey-red) to make it easier on the eye in dark conditions, thus preventing your screen’s blue light from ruining a good night’s sleep. To set Night Light to come on and go off at times that suit your routine, click Start, Settings, System, Display, then click ‘Night light settings’. Under Schedule, click the slider under ‘Schedule night light’ to turn it on. Microsoft’s default schedule is sunset to sunrise, but select the ‘Set hours’ option and you can specify your own ‘Turn on’ and ‘Turn off’ times (see screenshot below).

SCHEDULE TASKS ON PHONE OR TABLET Smartphones and tablets have a lot of scheduling and automation features, from setting alarms to automatically downloading updates when connected to Wi-Fi. One of the most useful is Do Not Disturb, which lets you specify periods where you won’t be interrupted by calls or notifications. To set this up in iOS, tap Settings, then Do Not Disturb. Tap the slider next to Scheduled and select your time period (see screenshot). In Android, tap Settings, then Sound,

56 17 – 30 January 2018

then ‘Do not disturb preferences’. Tap ‘+ Add more’, then ‘Time rule’ and follow the prompts to select the days, time period and other settings. For more automation and scheduling, IFTTT (see page 55) is available for both iOS (www.snipca. com/26604) and Android (www.snipca.com/26603), and there are a number of other excellent taskscheduler apps available for Android users, including Automate (free from www. snipca.com/26601) and Tasker (£2.99 from www.snipca.com/26602).

Tell Windows when to activate its Night Light mode so your screen doesn’t ruin your sleep


Schedule any task on your PC

AUTOMATE TASKS WITH MICROSOFT FLOW Like all tech giants, Microsoft copies some of its best ideas from smaller companies. One of its better efforts is the task-automating service Flow, a rival to IFTTT. It works in much the same way, though it leans more heavily towards Microsoft’s own online tools (in particular its Office web apps). The other big difference is that the free version limits you to 750 free ‘flows’ a month (at 15-minute intervals). This should be enough for most people. Paid-for accounts with more flows, aimed at business people, start from $5 per month. Both the iOS (www.snipca. com/26655) and Android (www.snipca. com/26656) apps are free. To use it, create an account at https:// flow.microsoft.com. Next, either type the name of a service (such as Outlook or Excel) in the search bar at the top, or click the Templates tab (see screenshot above right). This will show you the tasks - called ‘templates’ – you can set up. You need to sign into the services you’re linking, then click the blue Create Flow button (see screenshot below). Here are five of the most useful templates.

14

Save Outlook.com email attachments to OneDrive

www.snipca.com/26657 Once you’ve created this template, attachments you receive in Outlook.com will be saved in a OneDrive folder called ‘Email attachments from Flow’. There’s

Click the Templates tab to see which services you can link in Microsoft Flow

also a template for saving Gmail attachments to Google Drive: www. snipca.com/26660.

Save OneDrive files to 15Google Drive

www.snipca.com/26659 This template automatically backs up files saved in OneDrive to Google Drive, forming an effective defence against ransomware. To set it up, you need to select the folders containing the files you want to back up.

Outlook.com 16Track emails in Excel

www.snipca.com/26658 You can keep a record of Outlook.com

emails in the online version of Excel. You need to create a Table in a spreadsheet with Subject, From, CC and Received Time columns. Once created, select a file and table name (see screenshot below left).

warned about 17Bepassword thefts

www.snipca.com/26661 One website you need to check regularly is ‘Have I Been Pwned?’ (https:// haveibeenpwned.com). It contains databases of nearly five billion passwords and usernames that have been stolen by hackers. This template will notify you when the site is updated with a new batch of stolen details. It will send you an email, an RSS alert, or a push notification on your phone (so you’ll need to install the Flow app).

emails about 18 Receive Facebook posts

Once you’ve set up a template click the blue Create Flow button

Set a file and table name to save Outlook.com emails in an Excel spreadsheet

www.snipca.com/26662 Set up this template to receive an email when something appears on your Facebook timeline. To track Facebook messages in Excel use this template: www.snipca.com/26664. ON SALE

NEXT ISSUE On sale Wednesday 31 January

The problem-fixing guide to

WINDOWS UPDATES

Weds 31 Jan

Plus • Which printer ink

Stop them causing chaos on your PC

should you buy?

• Where to find local computing clubs

Subscribe to Computeractive at www.getcomputeractive.co.uk 17 – 30 January 2018 57


Right-click tricks for your favourite software Your mouse can reveal hidden commands with a simple right-click. Joseph Fox picks the most useful for essential software

WORD

scroll through your sheets. Better still, right-click the arrows to display all the sheets in a handy list for quicker switching.

Make formatting options easy to access

You can add the Bold, Italic, Underline or ‘font select’ dropdown menus to the top of your Word window in what’s known as the ‘Quick access toolbar’. This is handy if you’re jumping between tabs on the ribbon just below it. In fact, you can add almost anything to it. Right-click the button you want to add, then select ‘Add to Quick Access Toolbar’ in the dropdown menu.

See alternative words instantly

If you think something you’ve typed isn’t quite what you want to say, right-click the word you’re not satisfied with and you’ll see a ‘Synonyms’ option (see screenshot above right). Move your cursor over it to see a list of alternative words.

Add a header or footer

You can quickly add a header or a footer to your document by right-clicking the

Sort data with two clicks

Got writer’s block? Right-click a word then move your cursor over ‘Synonyms’

white space at the top or bottom of the page, then selecting Edit Header or Edit Footer.

EXCEL Navigate multiple sheets quicker

If your workbook has more sheets than can be displayed at once, navigating between them can be time consuming. You could use the little arrow buttons in the bottom-left corner of the window to

BEAT WINDOWS’ RIGHT CLICK RESTRICTIONS Windows is very protective of its rightclick options. Making changes typically requires tweaking the registry. You can free yourself from these restrictions by installing Right Click Enhancer (www. snipca.com/26608, see screenshot), which lets you edit what appears when you right-click anywhere in Windows. It adds new programs to the menu, file types to the ‘New’ option, and lets you choose where to send or move files to. There’s a paid-for version for $9.99

58 17 – 30 January 2018

Select the data in a column that needs sorting, then right-click any of the highlighted cells. Click Sort at the the bottom of the menu to see a menu of sorting options. This menu is dynamic, meaning it changes depending on the type of data being sorted. For example, if you’ve select a list of names, it will offer to sort them alphabetically; or if you select a series of numbers it will offer to sort them in numerical order.

Add a hyperlink to another cell

Typically, hyperlinks take you to a website, but you can also link two cells in your workbook, making it even quicker and easier to navigate. Right-click the relevant cell, click Hyperlink, and an Insert Hyperlink window will pop up. In the left-hand pane select ‘Place in This Document’, select the sheet you want and enter the cell you want to link to in the text field above it, then click OK. Now when you return to your worksheet and click the first cell, you will jump straight to the second cell you specified.

LIBREOFFICE Add options to the right-click menu (around £7.46) containing advanced options, but the free edition should be sufficient for most people.

You can add useful options to the right-click menu in LibreOffice Writer (the suite’s word-processing program). Select Tools at the top, then Customize. Click the Context Menus tab, then select a


Add files to CCleaner’s ‘Exclude list’ to stop the program wiping them

type of content (such as Image, Shape or Text) in the top-left menu. In the Menu Content below you’ll see which rightclick options this type of content has by default. Next, click Add Command on the right, then click a category on the left to display the right-click commands that appear with it on the right. To add a command, click it then click Add at the top right. You can continue adding commands, or click Close. To save these options, click OK in the Customize box.

CCLEANER Prevent certain files from being wiped

PC-optimisation program CCleaner is such a powerful tool there may be times when you want to rein it in a little. Perhaps there’s a particular file you don’t want wiped every time you run CCleaner’s scan – such as your internet history. Select the Cleaner option in the left-hand pane then click Analyze, as you normally would to run a scan. When the list of files to be deleted appears, doubleclick the type you want to preserve (for example, ‘Google Chrome – Internet History’). Now select all the files you want to retain, right-click them, then select ‘Add to Exclude list’ (see screenshot above). From now on whenever you run a

SWAP LEFT AND RIGHT CLICK ON A LAPTOP If your laptop has a separate physical right-click button, then you’re probably all sorted. However, left-handers may be interested to know that you can swap left and right-click around. To do this in Windows, open Settings, click Mouse (or ‘Mouse and touchpad’), then choose Left or Right in the ‘Select your primary button’.

Select ‘Volume Analysis’ to make tracks play at the base level

scan with CCleaner these files will be left untouched. If you want to undo your actions and add files you previously excluded, click Options in the left-hand pane, followed by Exclude. Select all the files you want to include in your regular scans, then click Remove.

VLC MEDIA PLAYER Change a video’s aspect ratio

Videos can be unwatchable in the wrong aspect ratio. If you’re watching a video in VLC media player and it looks squashed or stretched, right-click anywhere on the video, move your cursor over Video, then Aspect Ratio, and select one. If it still doesn’t look right, repeat the process until it does.

MUSICBEE Play songs by genre

If you don’t feel like listening to an entire album of songs by the same artist, you can ask MusicBee to play random tracks from a selected genre. Right-click any track, move your cursor down to ‘Play More…’, then select Play Genre ‘X’ (‘X’ being the genre of the track you selected). You can see which songs have been included in this random playlist in the top-right corner of the program window.

Adjust your music’s volume

If you find that certain albums play at a lower volume than others, or that certain tracks are louder, you can fix the problem using MusicBee’s built-in volume analyser. To make tracks play at the optimum level, select them, then right-click. Next, move your cursor to ‘Send to’, click Volume Analysis (see screenshot above), then Proceed. If the optimum level isn’t right for you, adjust the slider labelled ‘adjust calculated replaygain values’, then click Proceed.

Find the location of a track’s file on your PC

Once you’ve imported a track to MusicBee, you may still need to locate the original file saved on your PC. To do this in MusicBee, right-click the track you’re looking for and move the cursor down to Search, where you’ll see the option ‘Locate in Windows Explorer’. Click it and a new window will open showing the actual file for that track.

P PAINT.NET Rotate an object

There’s no need to go into a menu every time you want to rotate an object or layer. Simply select the ‘Move selected pixels’ tool in the Tools window and, instead of holding left-click to move an object, hold right-click – moving your mouse will now rotate it (see screenshot left).

Right-click an object or layer in Paint.net to rotate it

17 – 30 January 2018 59


What you must never search for on

Google

Google provides a vast amount of knowledge at your fingertips, but scammers lie in wait if you search for the wrong thing. Daniel Booth reveals what you should never look for

O

f the trillions of searches Google processes every year, 15 per cent are brand new, meaning nobody has ever typed those specific queries before. It’s unlikely they’ll produce fake search results because they are not common enough to attract the attention of fraudsters. Scammers aim big, trying to exploit search terms that are typed millions of times every day. To avoid those traps, make sure you never search for any of the following.

Software that’s been discontinued

When companies stop supporting a program and remove download links to it, scammers see a chance to con people who still want to use it. Search for it on Google and you’ll see results promising to provide a download, but it’s often malware.

AVOID OTHER GOOGLE SCAMS Google’s ubiquity is a gift to fraudsters. They use the company’s (generally positive) reputation to give a veneer of legitimacy to their shameless scams. The company exposes some of these on its website, including emails claiming you’ve won the ‘Google Lottery’ (which doesn’t exist), and text messages saying that the company needs to phone you to confirm your identity (it never does this). Visit www.snipca. com/26702 for more details. You’ll also find ways you can report scams.

60 17 – 30 January 2018

Searching for Windows Movie Maker produced this scam result in Google

Search for ‘Microsoft tech support’ and GuruAid often appears at the top – don’t be tempted

Sometimes the link will download the genuine program, but charge a fee when previously it had been free. That was the tactic used late last year by fraudsters tempting searchers with Windows Movie Maker, which Microsoft stopped offering in October. Click the link in the search result (see screenshot above) and you’ll be charged $29.95 to unlock the “full version”. It’s a crafty con trick that preys on people’s natural desire to stick with software they’re familiar with.

support’ and typically one of the top sponsored results is for GuruAid. Its headline sounds promising: ‘Tech Support for Microsoft - Call Now (UK Toll Free) - UK.com’ (see screenshot above). At first glance, that sounds like official support for Microsoft products. Click through to their (very ugly) website and you’re asked to phone a number for “toll-free assistance”. But instead of contacting UK experts, you’ll reach workers at an Indian call centre who will subject you to the hardest of hard sells, pestering you to cough up hundreds of pounds to fix minor problems. GuruAid has been around for some time. Back in 2011 someone on the Microsoft Forums asked whether they could trust the company (www.snipca. com/26704). Complaints last year show it’s as awful as ever (www.snipca. com/26703). For genuine help from Microsoft, bookmark its Support page (https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb) or ring 0344 800 2400.

Tech support for Microsoft

Many tech-support scammers actively target you over the phone. They claim to be calling from Microsoft, and declare in an ominous voice (often with an Indian accent) that your computer is riddled with malware. The ‘miracle’ cure is to give them control of your computer. Once in, they waste no time stealing your sensitive info, such as banking passwords. There are other ne’er-do-wells who set traps on Google, just waiting for naive searchers to fall in. Type ‘Microsoft tech


Charities’ phone numbers

We’re not saying you should stop donating money over the phone, but searching Google for the correct number is fraught with risk. In November last year, the RSPCA complained to Google and Ofcom about sites appearing in search results that were advertising expensive premium-rate phone numbers for the charity. People calling the number are put through to the RSPCA’s National Control Centre, so they may not realise they’ve been scammed. The RSPCA said it found eight rogue sites in the first 10 pages of results. It’s hard to remove these entries completely, but the charity asked Google to make sure they don’t appear too highly. As this proves, scammers don’t just exploit people’s curiosity and confusion; they also take advantage of their kindness. Only use the phone number that you find on a charity’s official website.

The web’s most popular sites

In 2016, Google removed 1.7bn fraudulent adverts from its results (2017 figures haven’t been released yet), but some still sneak through, particularly those for the world’s most popular sites. Amazon was a favourite for criminals last year, and they are experts at making the scams seem convincing. For a while in February, the top paid-for result when searching for ‘Amazon’ was ‘www.amazon.com/ Amazon’. Cleverly constructed to fool even careful clickers, this link directed people to a Windows-support scam. The scam reappeared in November, a few days before the Black Friday sale frenzy began (see screenshot below). The greedy fraudsters were hoping to steal some of the millions spent by shoppers. A similar scam using YouTube search results was also reported. Scammers will always exploit the

SHOULD YOU SWITCH TO BING? Look at the screenshot below showing a search results page on Bing. Can you see what’s missing? In May 2016, Microsoft banned adverts on its search engine for third-party tech-support companies like GuruAid. As the image shows, search for ‘Microsoft tech support’ and Microsoft’s own support page appears first. There are no dodgy adverts above it, so no danger that you’ll be scammed. So why hasn’t Google followed Microsoft’s lead? Could it possibly be

popularity of such sites, so it’s best to bookmark them if you’re likely to visit them regularly. That applies not just to Amazon and YouTube, but also eBay, Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo and Netflix.

Local services on Google Maps

This is the kind of scam that makes you mourn the passing of the Yellow Pages. In April last year, Google said it would crack down on criminals listing fake businesses in its Maps service. This scam peaked in 2014-15, when Google detected 100,000 fake listings. The company said fraudsters were posing as “locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, and other contractors”. When customers phone them, they are quoted an incredibly cheap price. But once the work is done, they end up being charged a much higher fee.

This advert for Amazon looks genuine, but it’s the work of scammers

because the company makes most of its money from advertising? Banning adverts isn’t as lucrative as turning a blind eye. According to recent data (www.snipca. com/26709), only 6.6 per cent of all UK searches were made on Bing. Google dwarfs it on 90.5 per cent. But we recommend using Bing for a while to see whether its search results are accurate enough for you. If so, then you can stick with it knowing you won’t be scammed by so-called tech ‘gurus’ offering ‘aid’.

Google now says it detects and disables 85 per cent of fake listings before they even appear on Google Maps. And to check that a new listing is genuine, it sends a postcard to the company’s claimed address. When a business has new owners, Google phones them to verify the change. While these measures are reassuring, nothing beats word of mouth when booking a local service. A friend’s recommendation can’t be hacked.

Bitcoin investment advice

Scammers love it when a fad becomes a hysteria, because they know it makes people less cautious when clicking results in Google. And nothing generates more hysteria at the moment than Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency which rocketed 1,000 per cent in value last year. There’s nothing wrong with searching Google for more information about Bitcoin, or the Blockchain technology behind it. The safest option is to type a question, such as ‘What is Bitcoin?’ You’ll have a choice of hundreds of safe websites, all explaining how the currency works and examining (in other words, speculating) whether it’s a real investment opportunity or a bubble waiting to burst. Nobody really knows – and don’t trust anyone who says they do. But what you shouldn’t search for is ‘Bitcoin investment advice’, or similar phrases. This will generate dubious get-rich-quick schemes guaranteeing a crypto-fortune. Don’t get sucked in. 17 – 30 January 2018 61


Problems Solved Why won’t my phone display Can I install SwiftKey on a Kindle Fire? sent emails? PROBLEM OF THE FORTNIGHT

I bought my first tablet, a Kindle Fire 7, on Black Friday for £30. I can’t complain about the price but I’ve discovered the app store doesn’t have all the same apps as my iPhone. In particular, I wanted to use the SwiftKey swipe-typing keyboard that I’ve installed on my smartphone but it seems that’s not available for Kindle. Do you know why this is? Is there any way to get the iPhone app working on my Kindle Fire? A friend says I should look in the Google Play Store but I can’t find that either. Sally-Ann Davies

Q

Your Kindle runs a forked version of the Android operating system, called Fire OS. This is not compatible with iOS, the operating system that runs on your iPhone, which is why you can’t run the Apple version of SwiftKey on your Fire. Because Fire OS is based on Android it is actually capable of running very many apps designed for Android, including the Android version of SwiftKey. However, that particular app is not yet available in Appstore, which is Amazon’s name for its own app store — so you can’t obtain it that way. Tablets running ‘real’ Android usually include Play Store, which is the app store run by Google. This is what your friend was talking about, and SwiftKey is indeed in the Play Store. However, the Fire does not come with Play Store, so you can’t get SwiftKey that way, either. But there is a way to get SwiftKey — and other Android apps — running on your Fire, and that’s to use a technique known as ‘side loading’. You’ll first need to find and download an app’s installation file, known as an Android Package Kit or APK. Some developers make these freely available from their own websites, while others will have to be sourced from elsewhere. SwiftKey falls into the latter category, though its APK is available from a few

I have five email accounts all set up using the IMAP protocol – one each for Sky, Yahoo, Outlook, Hotmail and Gmail. I use the stock email app on my Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone and Thunderbird on my laptop. All emails sent from the laptop show in the Sent folder on my phone and vice versa, except for Gmail where emails sent on the laptop show in the Sent folder on the phone, but emails sent from my phone do not show in the Sent folder on my laptop. I have Googled the problem several times and found various ‘solutions’, but none solve the problem. Can you help? John Lattimore

Q

A

64 17 – 30 January 2018

It is possible to ‘side-load’ SwiftKey on your Kindle Fire using an Android Package Kit

reliable sources. That means you can use side-loading to install it on your Fire. However, you proceed at your own risk because you’ll be installing software that hasn’t been officially vetted by Amazon or Google. Grab your Kindle Fire, then tap Apps followed by Settings and then Applications. Flip the ‘Apps from Unknown Sources’ switch to the On position, and then tap OK to confirm. Now launch the Kindle Silk browser and visit www.snipca.com/26507. This is the APKMirror website run by the trusted Android Police website (www.androidpolice.com). Click the link for the latest (non-beta) version of SwiftKey, which when we visited was 6.7.3.28, and then click for the latest ‘arm’ (ARM) version for ‘Android 4.1+’. Now click the Download APK button. The download should take just a few seconds. Tap Silk’s menu button (three horizontal lines) and then choose Downloads. Now tap the Swiftkey APK file just downloaded, followed by Next and then Install. Finally, return to your Fire’s Settings screen to flip the ‘Apps from Unknown Sources’ back to Off.

This appears to be a persistent bug in Samsung’s email app, as many users report similar or related problems. As such, we’re unable to offer an easy or elegant solution – because it’s down to Samsung to fix these hiccups by updating the app. We can’t tell you if or when that will happen but, while you’re waiting, one option is to install a different email app. You could either use this as a replacement for the Samsung app, or just for synchronising the problematic account. Google’s own Gmail app is an obvious choice, and the Sent folder will synchronise perfectly to both your S7 and laptop. Grab it free of charge from www.snipca.com/26496.

A

To avoid a bug on Samsung’s email app, switch to Google’s app for syncing Gmail


Our experts solve all your tech problems Email us your problem and we’ll try to help: noproblem@computeractive.co.uk

Why can’t I install graphics card drivers? I took advantage of the last-ditch chance to upgrade my old Windows Vista desktop PC to Windows 10, using the accessibility loophole that you detailed in Issue 516 (see the Workshop on page 38). As I had a legitimate copy of Windows 7 on DVD I first used that to do a clean install to wipe Vista, and then used Microsoft’s generosity to upgrade to Windows 10. All seemed to go without a hitch, but I can’t seem to install the graphics card drivers. I found out, perhaps too late, that this PC’s Nvidia 7900 graphics card apparently isn’t compatible with Windows 10, so there are no Windows 10 drivers! I thought I’d try my luck with the Windows 7 drivers but they refuse to install, with the only error message being a terse ‘Failed’. The PC is working fine apart from the graphics, which are slow and clunky (and they weren’t under Vista, so I know it’s not the hardware). I contacted Nvidia, who told me the card

Q

the version number you want is 309.08. And just to be crystal clear, if you’re making your selection from the dropdown menus in the Manual Driver Search section, then choose GeForce 7 Series (see screenshot), and not GeForce 700 Series. The latter drivers are for Select GeForce 7 Series when installing drivers for Windows 7/8.1 on an old Nvidia graphics card much-more-recent graphics cards. Next, you’ll need to fool both was unsupported and it had no plans to Windows and Nvidia’s drivers into introduce Windows 10 drivers. Do you running the new drivers. To do this, know of any way around this? right-click the downloaded file (called Daniel Burroughs ‘309.08-desktop-win8-win7-winvista64bit-international-whql.exe’) and We’re afraid your graphics card choose Properties. Now click the is over a decade old and there is Compatibility tab, tick the box labelled no prospect of Nvidia releasing ‘Run this program in compatibility mode drivers for Windows 10. However, while for’ and from the dropdown menu below this card is officially not supported it is this choose Windows 7. Now click OK. actually possible to install the most recent Finally, double-click the driver file drivers for Windows 7 and 8.1. to begin the installation and follow It sounds like you already have those but the prompts, restarting your PC when do check at www.geforce.co.uk/drivers – it’s finished.

A

How do I open this encrypted file? I was reviewing files stored on an old hard drive when I came across one with a .tc extension. Windows wouldn’t open this, saying that there was no program associated with it. Then I remembered it was an archive of personal stuff that I’d encrypted with TrueCrypt. I uninstalled that program ages ago, because I read somewhere that it was no longer secure. I’d like to open this file but don’t want to install insecure software on my PC. Am I right to worry? What should I do? Bob Farnworth

Q

It’s certainly sensible to be cautious. TrueCrypt’s anonymous developers gave up on their program in 2014, and have stated that it contains “unfixed security issues”. The last version is still available,

A

You can use VeraCrypt in TrueCrypt mode to access unsupported .tc file content

from http://truecrypt.sourceforge.net, but the programmers state clearly that it should be used only for data migration – opening .tc files and retrieving the contents for use elsewhere. However, the better option would be to install VeraCrypt (www.veracrypt.fr). This is a forked version of TrueCrypt that is considered secure. It will

also open some TrueCrypt files. To do this, first launch VeraCrypt, then click Select File, navigate to your .tc archive, click to select it then click OK. Now select a drive letter for the mounted archive, then click Mount. Tick the TrueCrypt Mode box (see screenshot), type the file’s password and then click OK.

17 – 30 January 2018 65


Problems Solved How do I hide LibreOffice marks? My problem isn’t a serious one but I hope you can help. I bought a new laptop and installed LibreOffice, which I already use on my desktop PC. The trouble is that at some point on my desktop version I somehow tweaked the settings to display paragraph marks but no other marks. This means that when I click the carriage-return icon in the toolbar I’m able to see where I’ve inserted line breaks. That button works on the laptop but it shows other ‘invisible’ marks as well, like spaces. I find those in particular intensely distracting and would like to hide them. I know it’s possible because I’ve done it once, but can’t remember how. Help! Louise Thurston

Q

It’s all too easy to forget how little settings like these were made, so we empathise. In this case, begin by opening the Tools menu and clicking Options. Then, in the lefthand pane of the Option box, click the plus (‘+’) symbol to expand the LibreOffice Writer category then click to select Formatting Aids (see screenshot). All you need to do now is add or remove ticks to configure the marks you want to see. So, in your case, remove the tick at least from Spaces and then click OK.

A

Can I disable my scroll-wheel button? As I’ve gotten older my fingers have become less nimble, so I find it harder to use the mouse. In particular, the scroll wheel on my mouse is rather stiff, so needs a lot of pressure to turn it. I find myself pressing too hard and clicking the button that this wheel also has. That activates an annoying scroll mode that I never use. So, I’d like to disable my scrollwheel button. Could you tell me how to do this, please? Eric Harman

Q

It depends on your mouse or, more accurately, its You can disable the scroll-wheel button in the ‘Mouse and Keyboard’ settings driver. You didn’t tell us the make and model, but in most cases changing the setting is easy. In click ‘basic settings’ followed by ‘Wheel the first instance, click Start followed button’, then choose ‘Disable this button’. by the Settings cog, and then Devices Click the Back button (the left arrow), followed by Mouse. Next, click ‘Additional and you’re done. mouse options’ (see screenshot). This If you don’t see a mouse-specific tab in opens the Mouse Properties box. the Mouse Properties box, then head to Now click the tab relating to your the mouse manufacturer’s website to mouse. For a Microsoft mouse, for download and install the latest driver. instance, click the ‘Mouse and Keyboard The ‘Mouse and Keyboard Center’, for Center’ tab followed by ‘Click here to example, is a free download from change Microsoft mouse settings’. Next, www.snipca.com/26502.

A

What is my PC’s graphics card? My computer automatically updated to Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (FCU). There was an error message saying my Nvidia graphics display wouldn’t start, so it was changed to Microsoft’s basic display adapter. How do I find the model of my Nvidia graphics card to update the driver? Terry Sutton

Q

Your problem is very similar to that of Daniel Burroughs, on page 65, so following similar steps could get your graphics card back up to speed. However, first you need to figure out what the card is. If your computer is a desktop PC you could simply open up the case to take a look: the graphics card model will be printed somewhere on the card. Alternatively, if you have a laptop then install the free GPU-Z program, from www.snipca.com/26503. Run this, then

A

LibreOffice’s Options menu lets you pick which document marks are displayed

66 17 – 30 January 2018

Run the free utility GPU-Z to see what model of graphics card you have

check the card model in the Name box (see screenshot). Now go to www.geforce. co.uk/drivers, download the latest drivers, then proceed as per our answer to Mr Burroughs.


Is this free Wi-Fi connection safe? While testing my broadband speed I saw a new Wi-Fi name, alongside my and my neighbour’s Sky routers. My neighbour’s connection is blocked but this new connection said it was free and open for use, so I assumed it was a hotspot. I connected my PC to it and immediately noticed a welcome speed boost, and nothing untoward happened. But when I told my son he was very suspicious, and thought that it could be used to steal my personal information. I have returned to my Sky router, but do you think this free connection is safe to use? Ian E Mitchell

Q

A

You didn’t tell us the name of this mystery Wi-Fi device, but there’s no way we’d

recommend connecting to a random router or hotspot. Even using a hotspot in a public space such as a café or library carries risk, but at least you’ll normally know who’s providing the service. If you’re lucky then there was nothing malicious behind this, because a neighbour or nearby business had failed to secure their own connection. If that’s the case, there’s no harm done — and they’ll probably never know that you connected, either. But your son is also spot on: this could’ve been set up with malicious intent, and you fell into someone’s trap. So, sensibly, you should now change all logins and passwords that you might’ve typed while connected to this rogue Wi-Fi.

Beware of rogue Wi-Fi networks that may appear on your home router

Is it safe to delete previous Windows installations? After downloading the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (version 1709) I was alarmed to see a large number of gigabytes of space disappear from my computer’s C drive. During my investigations I went to the Administrative Tools section of Control Panel and launched Disk Clean-up. I used this to scan C drive, then noticed an unticked box labelled ‘Previous Windows Installation(s)’ that’s hogging a massive 30.8GB of disk space. I’m not sure what they mean by ‘Previous Windows installation(s)’ as my PC is just over a year old, and was preinstalled with Windows 10 Home. Is it safe to tick the box to delete all the stuff and recover the missing storage? Eric Lake

Q

In the context of your particular setup, ‘Previous Windows installation(s)’ means the files that allow you to revert to an earlier version of Windows 10. So, in your case, most if not all of the data will be related to the original Creators Update (CU, April 2017) and, possibly, the Anniversary Update (AU, August 2016) that preceded it. For a few days after installing each major update you have the opportunity to ‘roll back’ to the previous version,

A

You can use Disk Clean-up to clear old Windows installations and free up disk space

should something be awry with the latest edition. To do this, you’d first need to click Start followed by the Settings cog, and then ‘Update & security’ followed by Recovery. Next, under ‘Go back to the previous version of Windows 10’, click ‘Get started’ and then follow the prompts.

AU (1607) allowed 31 days for rolling back, but with CU (1703) this was cut to just 10, and it’s the same for FCU (1709). As all those deadlines will have long since passed for you there’s no good reason not to tick this box next time you run Disk Clean-up.

17 – 30 January 2018 67


COMING SOON! Computeractive 2017 Back Issue CD


? ?

Problems Solved What’s the difference between… Intel Core and AMD Ryzen?

Your explanation of Intel Core processor differences (Problems Solved, Issue 514) was interesting. However, it left me wondering about the difference between Intel and AMD. AMD’s Ryzen has been getting a lot of publicity recently. Is it basically the same as an Intel Core processor? If I bought a PC with a Ryzen chip, would it run all the same software? Mark Metcalfe

Q

Your second question is both the easiest to answer and the most relevant so, yes — an AMD Ryzen processor will run all the same software as an equivalent Intel Core chip. Or, more accurately, a computer with a Ryzen CPU will run any major PC operating system, and that operating system will in turn run all the software it normally does. For most PC users, that obviously now means Windows 10. Beyond that, things quickly become

A

much more complicated. If you digested our previous answer then you’ll know that there are a dizzying number of Core processors in existence, beyond the primary designations of i3, i5, i7 and i9. These processors differ by multiple specifications, with the key ones being number of processor cores, clock speeds and cache, and the presence or otherwise of integrated graphics (a PC powered by a processor with integrated graphics needn’t have a graphics card, though many still do). There are also various ‘generations’ of each Intel Core processor, with the most recent generation being the eighth. The generation and number of cores are key. When AMD launched Ryzen, midway through 2017, the (then-top) seventh-generation Core i7 had just four cores. The equivalent Ryzen 7 has eight. AMD’s chip was also considerably cheaper at all tiers (Ryzen 3, 5 and 7 models are pitched against the Core i3, i5 and i7). That made it a very attractive option, particularly for users most able to

Until recently Intel’s Core i7 had just four cores, compared with Ryzen 7’s eight

benefit from the extra cores — such as gamers and video producers. With its eighth-generation Core range, Intel has caught up in the processor-core stakes but, like for like, Ryzen is typically still cheaper. Want to know the difference between technical terms? Email noproblem@ computeractive.co.uk

Why have my searches stopped working? My Windows 10 PC recently applied the Fall Creators Update (FCU). I watched as it did this, and saw it crash midway through. Windows said that it would recover itself,

Q

which it duly did. My PC seems to be running okay, but since this event when I execute a search in a File Explorer window it doesn’t seem to find what I want. All I get is the message ‘No items match your search’. Previously, I could type a word or phrase I knew to be in a particular document and that document would appear in the results list right away. Oddly, searches still work on my C drive, but not on drive D or E, where I respectively keep my photos and documents. Could this have been caused by the crash I witnessed? And do you know how to get my searches working again? Kev Concannon It sounds like the index File Explorer uses for searches has either been disabled or has been corrupted, which could indeed have been the result of the crash during the FCU update. Re-enabling or rebuilding the index will fix this.

A

If your files have become corrupted, you can delete and rebuild them in Index Settings

First, click Start, type index then click Indexing Options. If your D and E drives are listed under the Included Locations heading, then the index is most likely corrupt. To fix this, click the Advanced button and then, in the Troubleshooting section, click Rebuild (see screenshot) followed by OK to confirm. If the drives aren’t listed then you need to re-add them to the index. Click Modify and then, under ‘Change selected locations’, tick both drive D and E, and then click OK.

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• Has Microsoft resurrected Windows Live Mail? • How do I open my ancient docs? • Can I transfer Windows 10 Pro to a new PC? ...And many more Subscribe to Computeractive at getcomputeractive.co.uk 17 – 30 January 2018 69


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Problems Solved

Reader Support Having a problem with our recommended software or expert tips? Email editor@computeractive.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help

How do I replace my antivirus?

Q

Following your review of antivirus software in Issue 516, I would like to change programs. However, I don’t know how to delete my old antivirus software from my system before installing a new one. Any advice that you can give me would be very helpful. Paul Wynn

A

Removing security software is usually no different to uninstalling any other kind of program. First, open the security tool in question and choose the option to exit or fully close the program. You’ll probably be confronted by a box warning that you’ll be left unprotected, and confirming that you wish to proceed: click Yes or Agree. Now it’s disabled, you can remove it just like any other program. In Windows 10, click Start followed by the Settings cog and then Apps. Now click the app, followed by Uninstall (see screenshot below) and then Uninstall to confirm. In earlier Windows editions, launch Control Panel and then, under Programs, click ‘Uninstall a program’, then proceed as above.

0x800703f9”. I’ve tried troubleshooting it many times but it always comes back to these messages. Can you help, please? Colin Roberts

A

There are many possible reasons for errors like this. The sure-fire way to get the update installed is to use Microsoft’s media-creation tool to create an installation disc or USB stick, as this takes the current Windows 10 installation out of the loop. It’s a free download from www.snipca.com/26587. Choose the ‘Create Windows 10 installation media’ option (see screenshot above), then create a DVD or USB stick. Now restart your PC with this disc or stick inserted, then follow the prompts to apply FCU.

all manufacturers have released fixes yet, and not all manufacturers will release them for all motherboards. If you can’t remember who made your motherboard, first press Windows key+R, then type msinfo32 and press Enter. Now, in the left-hand pane, click System Summary: your motherboard maker’s name will be listed in the right-hand pane, next to System Manufacturer.

Why won’t web version of WhatsApp work?

Q

The ‘Problem of the Fortnight’ in Issue 516’s Problems Solved section explained a workaround for using the web version of WhatsApp on an iPad. This doesn’t work for me, as I don’t have the Request Desktop Site button in the Share menu. My iPad runs the latest version of iOS 11. Could this be anything to do with the fact that previously I had installed another version of WhatsApp, called Messenger? I have deleted this, but I wonder if my iPad still ‘sees’ it. Peter Lewin

How do I fix my custom PC?

Q

How do I install the Fall Creators Update?

Q

I followed the Windows Update Workshop in Issue 514 and discovered that version 1709 – the Fall Creators Update (FCU) – had not been installed. I get a message saying: “One or more Windows Update components are configured incorrectly. Error

After reading the story in Issue 516 about the flaw with Intel processors, I turned to the Workshop on page 42 and used the company’s Detection Tool, which advised me that I ‘may’ be liable to being hacked and to download a fix from my PC manufacturer. However, therein lies the rub: I built the PC myself in 2010, with an Intel i5 750 2.6GHz processor. Obviously, I do not have a maker to turn to, so can you offer any advice as to what to do next? Trevor Stanswood

A

If a fix is available, or becomes available, it will be in the form of a BIOS update for the computer’s motherboard. So, in your case you’ll need to visit the website of your motherboard manufacturer, and check the relevant support pages for updates. Note that not

A

It’s not because of the now-deleted Messenger app. Rather, it’s probably that you yourself can’t see the Request Desktop Site button. That’s because it’s not always in view, and it’s not at all obvious that the displayed strip of icons icons is scrollable. So, just swipe from right to left to bring the button into view (see screenshot above), then tap it and the web version of WhatsApp will appear, as per our original instructions. 17 – 30 January 2018 71


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Jargon Buster 32bit/64bit A measure of how much information a computer can process at once. Most older computers are 32bit, more modern ones are 64bit.

CPU Central Processing Unit. A computer processor.

3G/4G/5G Technologies that deliver faster mobile broadband.

Defragging To reorganise the data stored on a hard drive so files can be accessed quickly.

4K Video with a resolution of at least 3840x2160 pixels. 802.11ac A standard for wireless networks that allows for much higher transfer speeds than 802.11n. Access point Links wireless network users to a wired network. Addressing How PC memory accesses data. Anti-aliasing Used to smooth jagged edges of 3D objects in PC software and video games. Aspect ratio A measurement of the shape of a display. Bandwidth A measure of how much data can be transferred through a connection at one time. Benchmarking Comparing software and products with an accepted standard. Beta A version of software that’s being tested. BIOS Basic Input-Output System. Software built into every PC that connects its vital components. Blue light Light given off by PC and phone screens that can disrupt sleep patterns. Blue screen of death Technically called a ‘Stop error’, this is shown when your PC crashes. Cache A temporary space for storing information. Clock speed The speed at which a processor can perform operations. Colour temperature How blue and yellow-orange combine to produce the colour of your screen. Command line A way to control a computer by typing instructions. Core Units on a processor that carry out program instructions.

Cryptocurrency A digital currency not backed by any country.

Domain These are used to identify one or more IP addresses. Driver A file that tells Windows how to work with an external device. DSLR Digital single-lens reflex. A digital camera that uses a moving mirror so its viewfinder looks out through the lens. Extension A program that adds extra features to your browser. File extension The letters after the full stop in a computer file name. Firewall Software or hardware that prevents unauthorised access to a computer over a network. Firmware Basic software stored on a device, such as a music player, to control its operation.

Hyperlink A clickable link that takes you to a new document or website. IMAP Internet Message Access Protocol. Lets you manage emails stored on a remote server. IP address Internet Protocol Address. A unique set of numbers used to identify computers and websites on the internet. ISO The light sensitivity of a camera. LCD Liquid-crystal display. The technology used to create almost all flatscreen monitors. LED Light-Emitting Diode. An electronic device that emits light. Used on most electronic devices M.2 A standard specification for internal PC expansion cards. Mesh router Uses multiple, connected routers to stretch Wi-Fi further than a traditional router. MicroSD card A small type of memory card. Can be converted to SD size using an adapter.

Forked When developers take source code from software to make another program.

Multi-threaded download Splitting a file into several pieces and downloading them simultaneously.

Frame rate The number of still images, or frames, shown per second to create a moving image.

NTFS New Technology File System. A file system used by all recent versions of Windows.

GHz Gigahertz. A measure of how many instructions a chip can process per second.

Overclock Make a processor work faster to improve performance at the cost of it getting hotter.

Gorilla Glass Scratch-resistant glass that’s used to protect the screens of tablets and phones.

PCI Peripheral Component Interconnect. A high-performance expansion slot for desktop PCs.

Graphics card A component in a computer that produces the image shown on the monitor.

Phishing A form of internet fraud that tries to trick you into revealing personal details.

HDMI High-definition media interface. Connection that transmits high-definition video and audio.

Port forwarding Choosing which computer in your network a router should connect to.

Hotspot A public area covered by a Wi-Fi network that allows you to access the internet.

PPPoE Point-to-point protocol over Ethernet. A network protocol for connecting users to the internet.

HTTP Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. The technology that sends data between your browser and the web.

Push notification A message from an app that appears on a phone or tablet, even when you’re not using the app.

Quad core A computer that has four processors on a single chip. RAM Random-access memory. The computer’s working area. Ransomware Malware run by hackers who lock files and demand a payment to release them. Read speed How long it takes a hard drive to ‘read’ data, and respond to it. Refurbished A second-hand device that has been repaired by its manufacturer. RSS Really Simple Syndication. Distributes news headlines and other content from the web. SATA Serial ATA. An interface for connecting modern hard drives and optical discs to a computer. SD card Secure Digital card. A popular type of memory card. sRGB A standard RGB colour space for use on monitors, printers and the internet. SSD Solid-state drive. Storage that uses no moving parts. System restore point System files stored on a given date and time to which Windows can revert. TCP Transmission Control Protocol. Used to transfer data between web-connected PCs. Temporary file A file created by a browser to store website data. Thunderbolt A very fast port for connecting external storage to a PC. Treemap Presents data in rectangles, showing hierarchy and quantity. UDP User Datagram Protocol. Faster than TCP, but less reliable. USB 2.0/3.0/3.1 Faster successors to USB. USB Type-C A new connector that’s reversible. Wi-Fi card Adds Wi-Fi connectivity to a computer. Wildcard A character in a search term that represents others.

17 – 30 January 2018 73


Keep Your Brain Active Simon Brew tries to grow more brain cells, but ends up being riled by a dancing vegetable

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mmm. I feel that, three Again, it’s light on explanation, columns in, my tenure but the likes of Concentration, on this prized back which prompts you to find page is under threat already. matching pairs of pictures in a Over a cup of better-thangrid, are straightforward usual instant coffee, I enough. And actually very persuaded the editor of this addictive. Likewise, organ that brain training is the Imagination (see screenshot in-thing, and that scientific below left) cleverly asks you to research would back me up. identify objects from different This would send sales of the angles, such as from above. magazine through the roof. One for the sparrows in my Then the science came in. garden, perhaps. Latest example? The Practice After all this strenuous Center of Minnesota issued a mental exercise, my head study suggesting that brain needed a friend, so gleefully training has no impact at all on ignoring the one-star review slowing dementia. On the bestowed upon it in the Want more brain cells? Try spotting the same shape twice running upside, they suggested it can Microsoft Store, I downloaded improve cognitive skills. Inspired by this, Brain Buddy (www.snipca.com/26625). I tried three free apps from the Microsoft But it’s not your Buddy at all. One star Store that might help. might be a little harsh, but there’s little My challenge for 2018 is, via the power cerebral pleasure to be had by matching of computer software, to play games that poorly designed pairs. Worse, when you claim to physically grow my brain. They finish you’re rewarded with a dancing won’t just make me smarter; they’ll green vegetable (see screenshot below) actually add new brain cells. Wow! That’s that I wouldn’t want as part of my the promise in the title of the game Gain Sunday roast. It’s harsh to grumble when More Brain (www.snipca.com/26623). something is free, but then I’m old, and I soon became fascinated by it, not having a good moan is one of the perks of least because it takes effort just to work ageing. In an eerie parallel of my career, out what you need to do. I realise I have this game does nothing that hasn’t been the male gene that makes reading done a lot better elsewhere. instructions optional, but still. When this game shows you what to do, it’s great. When it tries to explain things, it struggles a bit. exercise that really, really got me was a You take a bunch of tests, get a score, simple one: that if you’re shown the same then compare it to others worldwide (I shape twice running, you click a tick (see declined, fearing humiliation). The one screenshot above). As simple as that. So simple that every time I tried, the game gave me a minus score, and if it could, would have mockingly told all its mates at the Microsoft Store. That aside, I’m very Whatever this is, we don’t like it happy to recommend it, though I’m not sure my brain gained anything, as was promised. After playing three games in an hour, I With some trepidation, I moved on to closed my computer with my brain firmly Brain Calculator (www.snipca.com/ the same size as it was just over 600 26624), which comes with a ‘12’ age words ago. Maybe watering it with more rating for some reason. At first I thought coffee will help it grow. it was because there was too much maths for younger minds, because the first Which games should Simon try? Play Brain Calculator to improve your bird’sEmail us at editor@computeractive.co.uk exercise just wanted me to do sums. eye view

You take a bunch of tests then compare your score to others worldwide (I declined, fearing humiliation)

74 17 – 30 January 2018


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