Page 1

IS KASPERSKY STILL SAFE? The unspoken truth – what nobody is telling you Investigation p11

7 – 2 JAN 2018 ISSUE 517 ❘ 20 DEC 201

DETECT & REMOVE every issue Learn something new in

Pay up Google! p9

slothful software p35


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Welcome EDITORIAL Group Editor Daniel Booth Technical Editor Sherwin Coelho Production Editor Graham Brown Art Editor Katie Peat 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 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.

From the Editor Around this time of year you get lots of predictions from tech ‘experts’ who are paid far too much to imagine what the future might look like. Their utopian forecasts usually involve more robots, more driverless cars, more talking gadgets and so on. Rarely do they focus on the ‘boring but useful’ stuff that ordinary people rely on – software, extensions, apps, downloads. I guess that job falls to Computeractive, and we’re happy to take it on. In our Cover Feature we recommend tools (all free) that’ll be particularly useful throughout 2018. One tech boffin whose judgement I do trust is Simon Brew, former editor of Micro Mart. In his new Keep Your Brain Active column

Please contact Ryan Chambers for more information and rates: 0203 890 4027 Email: Requests to use quotations from articles will need to be approved by the editor. Please send requests to:

(page 74) he’ll be testing brain-training games that claim to keep you mentally fit. I hope you enjoy it. I’d like to thank you for reading Computeractive in 2017, and for your many emails, which provide me with priceless insights into what interests you. Merry Christmas! Daniel Booth



OVERSEAS LICENSING Computeractive is available for international licensing. Contact Nicole Adams at nicole_ 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.


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

Computeractive Printed in the UK



THIS ISSUE IN NUMBERS 2.2.0 Superb new version of audioediting software Audacity – p18

2 milliseconds


Time it takes Google’s new tool to detect a stranger looking at your phone – p7

Maximum broadband subsidy you can get from the Government – p9

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.

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 3


20 Dec 2017 – 2 Jan 2018 • Issue 517 CO FEA VER TU P50 RE

In this issue…


Download for free in 2018 50 Bring your tech bang up to date without paying a thing with our guide to the best free tools and programs for the coming year

8 mistakes you should’ve 58 stopped making in 2017 We provide a handy list of simple tech

FREE 2018 IN

errors to avoid at all costs

Your neighbourhood 60 revealed online Find out what’s really going on in

your locality from crime and property prices to film sets and bomb sites

2017: End of an error p58

Know your neighbourhood p60

In every issue… 6 News 11 Question of the Fortnight What’s the truth behind the Kaspersky warnings?

33 Competition Win a Y-cam EVO Indoor HD Wi-Fi Security Camera 49 What’s All the Fuss About? Re:scam

12 Letters

64 Problems Solved

14 Consumeractive

71 Reader Support Your tech problems fixed

16 Protect Your Tech 18 Best Free Software Audacity 2.2.0 30 Buy It! 4 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

73 Jargon Buster 74 KeepYourBrainActive Simon Brew tests games that exercise your mind

Kaspersky uncovered p11



See page 62 for our special subs offer

PC Specialist Enigma K6 p20

Reviews 20 PC Specialist Enigma K6 A decent all-round desktop PC that doesn’t keep you waiting 21 Dell XPS 27 All-in-One An all-in-one PC, but is it one for all? 22 Apple iPhone X A thousand-pound phone or just grand larceny? 23 Amazon Echo 2 & Echo Plus Amazon’s new smart speakers 24 Heroes & Zeroes of 2017 The good, the bad and the ugly of this year’s tech products

Amazon Echo 2 & Echo Plus p23

torola Moto Motorola S p28 G5S

26 Roku Express A tiny TV streamer 28 Motorola Moto G5S Motorola’s phone makes some good calls Apple Watch Series 3 Apple’s smart watch makes a splash 29 TrackR Pixel Winning tracking device for lost items

Workshops & Tips

14 pages of brilliant workshops and expert tips 35 Pinpoint programs making your PC start slowly

42 Use a PayPal group to collect money

38 Add advanced tools to File Explorer

43 Readers’ Tips Make postage labels in LibreOffice

40 Free up space on your tablet

44 Phone and Tablet Tips Sort your crucial emails



46 Make Windows Better Find items quicker in File Explorer 47 Make Office Better Personalise your spreadsheets 48 Secret Tips For… Unzipping files


20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 5


The top stories in the world of technology

Millions of bank customers were using unsafe apps


ustomers of some of the UK’s leading banks, including NatWest, HSBC and RBS, have been using phone and tablet apps that hackers could have infiltrated to steal log-in details. Researchers at Birmingham University’s School of Computer Science ran a tool to test the security of 400 Android and iOS apps, including many from banks that customers use to check their account and transfer money. They found that several banking apps contained a critical flaw that would let an attacker connected to the same network perform a man-in-the-middle (MITM)

attack, intercepting what’s being sent from the user to the bank. Around 10 million users are thought to have been at risk. The flaw was identified in the use of certificate pinning, a technique that gives apps and websites a guarantee they are using a safe connection. Hackers can use fake certificates to impersonate genuine sites and apps. The researchers told the banks affected, and worked with the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre to fix the vulnerabilities. In total, the apps of nine banks contained flaws (see box below). They



• • •

Co-op Smile Bank Santander

• •

First Trust Bank Allied Irish Bank

Bank of America Health

COMMENT In some respects, this story is less about the vulnerability of banking apps, and more a testament to the strength of the detection tool developed by Birmingham University. It was a semi-automated device built specifically to find flaws buried deep inside apps. As we do more things online, we’ll increasingly rely on the ingenuity and rigour of such tests. have all been updated to eradicate the flaw except the Bank of America Health app, which hasn’t been available since June 2017. A spokesperson for HSBC thanked the University of Birmingham “for the opportunity to work together”, adding “we have already taken steps to address this”.

Dr Tom Chothia, who led the research, said it was impossible to know whether hackers exploited the flaw. He added: “In general the security of the apps we examined was very good, the vulnerabilities we found were hard to detect, and we could only find so many weaknesses due to the new tool we developed”.

Banks ‘must do more’ to fight web fraud Banks have been accused of not doing enough to help victims of online fraud, after a damning report from MPs revealed it’s the most prevalent crime in England and Wales. The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said victims lose an estimated £10bn a year. However, the true figure may be much larger, the

report said, because only around 20 per cent of crimes are reported to the police. It said “the emotional impact” of the crime leaves many victims reluctant to come forward. The PAC blamed the Home Office for being “too slow” to respond to the threat of online fraud, but also called for banks to take greater responsibility

You’ll like this… BT Openreach has used a drone to deliver broadband to a Welsh village ( 6 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

to tackle it, saying it’s “too vast” a task for Government alone. Banks are “unwilling to share information about the extent of fraud with customers”, PAC said. It urged them to improve how it shares information about scams, and to offer better protection to customers.

It also described police efforts to fight fraud as “inconsistent”, and said forces “must prioritise” the crime. Read the report at

…but not this An Android keyboard app leaked personal data of 31m users (

Password-sharing MPs ‘put UK at risk of attack’ MPs have been warned they could be unwittingly helping foreign hackers access Government secrets after admitting they share their work computer passwords. It follows tweets from three Conservative MPs claiming their staff regularly used their login details. The Information Commissioner’s Office, which protects data-privacy in the UK, said it was making enquiries. Commons officials emailed MPs to warn them that such actions “put the entire parliamentary network at risk”. The House of Commons handbook says MPs’ staff must not share passwords, but this does not appear to extend to MPs themselves. Conservative MP Nadine Dorries (pictured) was the first to reveal she shares her password. She was

defending First Secretary of State Damian Green who has been accused of having pornography on a work computer. The Mid Bedfordshire MP said it was “utterly preposterous” for police officers to assume that because the PC was used by Green, he was responsible for downloading the porn. She said that her staff, including interns, logged on to her computer “every day”. She added: “A frequent shout when I manage to sit at my desk myself is, ‘what is the password?’” Other MPs also admitted sharing passwords, including Nick Boles, who represents Grantham and Stamford. He said he gives access to four members of staff so they can

deal with letters and emails from constituents. Will Quince, MP for Colchester, said he leaves his computer unlocked so staff can use it, adding: “Ultimately, I trust my team”. Security experts slammed the MPs’ “cavalier” attitude to passwords. Australian researcher Troy Hunt, who runs the website Have I Been Pwned? (https://haveibeen, said it shows “a fundamental lack of privacy and security education”. Consultant Graham Cluley wrote on his blog (www. “It should worry us all if the very people who are tasked with legislating on internet privacy and security issues are proving to be so utterly clueless”.

Google tells you when peeping toms spy on your phone (using rainbow ‘vomit’!) Google has claimed to have invented a system that tells you when nosey parkers are looking over your shoulder at your phone. Powered by machine learning, it uses a phone’s front-facing camera to pick out faces that don’t belong to the owner. Its creators, Google researchers Hee Jung Ryu and Florian Schroff, say it can protect you “from onlookers in a crowded space such as the subway or an elevator”. In a video they published on YouTube (www.snipca. com/26380), the camera on a Google Pixel phone detects the stranger’s face, then frames it inside a red box (see screenshot). It also adds rainbow ‘vomit’, which is a popular special effect in

online videos. The researchers, who call the feature an ‘electronic screen protector’, claim it works in many different

lighting conditions and with several head poses, making it “quick, robust, and accurate”. They say it detects a gaze within two milliseconds, and identifies it as a stranger within 47. It appears to work so quickly that even a passing glance would be detected. The project is experimental at the moment, and there’s no indication that Google will add it to Android. But it’s a prime example of the company’s research into how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used on phones and tablets. Other AI features in phones include tools that automatically detect numbers and addresses when you’re copying and pasting text, and suggesting pre-written replies to your emails.


Microsoft has released its Office apps on Chromebooks (laptops that use the Chrome OS operating system rather than Windows). They are free on Chromebooks with a 10.1in screen or smaller. On larger devices, you’ll need to pay for an Office 365 subscription (from £5.99 a month) in order to edit documents. The apps are available now on Google’s Play Store: www.snipca. com/26402.


Nearly 300 drivers were banned for using mobile phones between March and August this year after tougher laws were introduced. These doubled the punishment to six penalty points, which is enough to disqualify motorists with less than two years’ experience. According to figures released by the DVLA, 15,752 drivers in total received six penalty points for using a phone between March and August 2017, an increase from 15,237 in the same period in 2016.



Remember Amazon’s drones? Two years ago the company revealed plans to deliver items by air. That they’re not buzzing around already is largely down to safety concerns. Amazon’s latest plan to reassure nervous authorities is a patent for a drone that self-destructs if it malfunctions. After it breaks up, each part looks for somewhere safe to land - a tree, pond or park. What could possibly go wrong?

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 7


Microsoft has updated its built-in ‘Films & TV’ Windows 10 app to let you edit videos, although it still lacks many features popular in the discontinued Movie Maker. The editing options, which appear in the Photos app, include creating a slowmotion video and drawing on a clip. We’ll have a Workshop explaining how to use it in our next issue (out Weds 3 January).


British phone manufacturer Wileyfox is offering a 42 per cent discount on its Android handsets if you accept adverts on the lock screens. With Wileyfox’s ‘Add-X’ advertising software installed, the price of its cheapest phone, the Spark Plus, falls from £120 to £70. On signing up you have to confirm your age and gender to get adverts tailored to you. Visit Wileyfox’s site for details:

Microsoft fixes Windows 7 update ‘screw-up’ Microsoft has fixed a flaw that was preventing Windows 7 users checking for updates. Hundreds of frustrated people had complained on the company’s forums (www. about error code ‘80248015’, worried that they wouldn’t be able to install security updates. On 3 December they reported seeing the message ‘Windows could not search for new updates’ (see screenshot) or ‘Windows Update cannot currently check for updates because the service is not running. You may need to restart your computer’. One user called Juliepp wrote: “What the heck has Microsoft done now? It’s pretty annoying because now I don’t know if I’m getting updates or not!” The problem was caused by a file on Microsoft’s update servers expiring on 3 December. Before Microsoft fixed it two days later, some users said they’d solved the

problem by rebooting their PC then changing the date to 12 March 2017 and checking for updates. That such an obvious error went unnoticed has revived suspicions that Microsoft is neglecting Windows 7 and 8. In October, Google said that by not applying security fixes to older operating systems when it updated Windows 10, Microsoft was unintentionally leaving clues for hackers to spot (see ‘Question of the Fortnight’, Issue 513). Google criticised Microsoft for taking four months to fix flaws it had spotted in Windows 7 and 8.1.

Some users on the forum wondered whether Windows 7 was still a priority. Juliepp wrote: “We’re left here not knowing if it’s a royal screw-up, or if they have just dropped us Windows 7 users like yesterday’s bath water”. Windows 7 remains the most popular version of the operating system, used on 43 per cent of computers worldwide according to November’s figures from NetMarketShare, an annual drop of five per cent. Windows 10 use has grown by almost 10 per cent during the same period – up to 31 per cent.

Suffolk village has UK’s slowest broadband Broadband speeds are so slow in parts of Britain that it takes longer to download a film than it does to fly to Australia. Research from comparison site uSwitch found that homes in Thorpe Lane (pictured), in the Suffolk village of Trimley St Martin, suffer the slowest speeds in the country, at a snail-like 0.68Mbps. This is 53 times slower than the average speed of 36.2Mbps, and 260 times slower than the fastest speeds (177Mbps), found in Benford Avenue, Motherwell. Downloading a two-hour HD film in Thorpe Lane would take 21 hours; in Benford 8 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

Avenue it would take just five minutes. One resident in Thorpe Lane, Ann Owen, 65, said speeds are much faster in her cottage in the Orkney Isles. She added: “The broadband here is incredibly slow. You cannot do two or three things on your laptop at once as other people manage to do”. Thorpe Lane is a significant distance from the nearest telephone exchange, which connects to the web via slow copper-based wires. Benford Avenue uses Virgin Media’s fibre-broadband network, which can deliver speeds up to 300Mbps.

USwitch’s figures reveal the UK’s stark broadband divide. Streets in Pickering, Gloucester, Chorley and Andover all endure speeds under 1Mbps. In contrast, areas in Leicester, Swindon, Middlesbrough and Halesowen all enjoy speeds above 150Mbps. See the full list at Are you happy with your broadband speed? Let us know:

This is the sort of smartphone phone Fred Flintstone stone would use. e. Instead of a touchscreen n it has five stone ne beads which you can scroll, swipe and zoom. It’s Austrian trian design designer Klemens Schillinger’s solution to phone addiction; like an e-cigarette, it harmlessly satisfies our need to fiddle with something. Read more on his site:

Ever owned an iPhone? You could get £100s in compensation Millions of British iPhone users could receive hundreds of pounds in compensation from Google, after it was accused of illegally accessing people’s internet browsing history. A mass lawsuit brought by consumer-rights campaigner Richard Lloyd alleges that between June 2011 and February 2012 Google bypassed the privacy settings of Safari, the iPhone’s default web browser. He claims Google placed cookies that tracked users’ browsing, allowing it to sell personalised adverts in search results. This ‘trick’ became known as the ‘Safari Workaround’. If successful, his case could force Google to pay £2.7bn in compensation to an estimated 5.4m iPhone users, who would each receive up to £500. It’s the first collective legal action in the UK, a procedure more common in the US. It allows many individuals to be

represented by one. Mr Lloyd, former director of Which?, is leading the case through the Google You Owe Us group (www.youoweus., see screenshot). Everyone who meets certain criteria, which includes owning an iPhone between 1 June 2011 and 15 February 2012, will automatically be part of the lawsuit, though you’ll still need to sign up to receive money. To see the criteria in full visit faqs and click question 4. To opt out, read question 10.

Being part of the claim won’t cost you anything. All legal fees are being paid by a ‘third-party funder’, which will receive a part of any damages awarded. Mr Lloyd said: “By joining together, we can show Google that they can’t get away with taking our data without our consent, and that no matter how large and powerful they are, nobody is above the law”. Google said it will contest the case, claiming it is old and without merit. It will be heard in the High Court, probably next spring.

‘Good’ hackers to attack NHS in £20m project NHS Digital is aiming to prevent another WannaCrystyle cyber-attack by hiring ‘ethical’ hackers to look for weaknesses in its cyberdefences. They will work at a new £20m security operations centre, simulating attacks in a process known as penetration testing. The WannaCry ransomware attack in May crippled NHS systems in England and Scotland, causing the cancellation of an estimated 19,500 appointments, although no personal data was stolen. It highlighted how susceptible NHS computers are to cyber-attack. A report in October criticised NHS trusts for not acting on

advice from NHS Digital and the Government to upgrade out-of-date operating systems. Dan Taylor, head of the digital security centre at NHS Digital, said the centre would help the NHS anticipate future vulnerabilities as well as block known threats. He added it will give “health and care organisations additional intelligence and support services that they might not otherwise be able to access”. Security experts welcomed the decision to use ethical

hackers, also called ‘whitehat’ hackers, a practice already common in companies and public organisations that use complex computer networks. Cyber-criminals see such organisations as a goldmine of personal information, as well as potential weak points in a country’s infrastructure. Independent security expert Kevin Beaumont told the BBC that such measures are “essential in modern-day organisations”. He added: “In an event like WannaCry, the centre could help hospitals know where they are getting infected from in real time, which was a big issue. Organisations were unsure how they were being infected”.


A service to let passengers on the London Underground use 4G on their devices will launch in 2019, Transport for London (TfL) has announced. It follows a successful trial this summer in tunnels and platforms on the Waterloo & City line. Currently, Wi-Fi is available on platforms, but there’s no connectivity on trains. Vodafone, O2, Three and EE took part in the trial, but TfL haven’t announced which network would provide the service.


The Government has extended the Better Broadband Scheme, which gives people who can’t get speeds of 2Mbps a subsidy of up to £350 to look for alternative solutions, such as satellite broadband. It’s available to homes and businesses that can’t be reached by faster services and aren’t in locations where the Government plans to roll out 24Mbps broadband. The scheme will now run until the end of 2018 – a year later than first stated. To apply visit


Half of all children aged 11 and 12 have a socialmedia account despite the minimum age typically being 13, according to a new Ofcom report (www. It found that four in 10 parents have let their children set up an account on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat before reaching 13. The NSPCC called for the Government to take action, accusing sites of “turning a blind eye” to the problem.

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 9


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: CCleaner

If you hate junk as much as I do, you probably already know about CCleaner – a handy free tool we’ve often recommended that removes unwanted programs, files and registry keys from your PC with just a few clicks. CCleaner was first released way back in 2003, but earlier this year its publisher Piriform was bought by antivirus company Avast. And not long after that, junk-haters noticed something new: a box had appeared in the CCleaner installer, recommending that you install Avast Free Antivirus at the same time. The box was pre-ticked, and tucked away in the small print at the bottom of the window (see screenshot), a classic tactic used by junk smugglers. If you aren’t paying close attention, and simply click the big blue ‘Install’ button, you’ll end up with a complete antivirus

system you never wanted. Let’s take a moment for that to sink in. A program designed to keep junk off your computer has been turned into a conduit for unwanted software. What a betrayal. Now, as I’ve said before, Avast Free Antivirus isn’t exactly dangerous. However, it’s confusing and alarming when you suddenly see a security alert from a program you don’t remember installing. What’s more, Avast shows regular pop-ups encouraging you to upgrade to the company’s paid-for security products. Adverts on my desktop? No thanks. The good news is that the latest versions of CCleaner don’t include the sneaky extra installer. Acknowledging that not everyone appreciates bundled software, Piriform says it has “paused distribution while we improve the experience to make it clearer to the customer how to accept

Make sure you untick this box or you’ll be ticked off by a whole new antivirus system

or decline the Avast offer”. Here’s a thought: if you want to ‘improve the experience’, don’t pester us with these unwanted offers in the first place. Let’s hope the feature remains paused for good. And in future, to be on the safe side, we suggest you use the portable version of CCleaner (available from which comes as a ZIP file with no installer, and therefore no junk.

What are they talking about?

Darien’s villain of the fortnight

What they say

I grew up in the golden age of sci-fi films like Tron and WarGames, so when I hear the word ‘hacker’, I picture an audacious computer genius, breaking into top-secret systems to take down the bad guys from within. Sad to say, the reality isn’t quite so romantic. Take the case of 21-year-old Alex Bessell from Liverpool, who’s recently been on trial at Birmingham Crown Court. His crime? Hacking into Google, Skype and other big online companies – not to right wrongs, but to steal personal data that could then be used for fraud. He’s also admitted to raking in £50,000 selling malware and botnets – software designed to infect and

Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer at Facebook (www. “Until we can better ensure that our tools will not be used inappropriately, we are disabling the option that permits advertisers to exclude multicultural affinity segments from the audience for their ads.”

What they mean

Facebook has turned off a system that lets companies target adverts at ethnicities and minorities.

10 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

Alex Bessell

damage other people’s computers. Bessell may have the technical brilliance of a 1980s movie hero, but he’s abused his powers to get rich at everyone else’s expense. He’s due to be sentenced in January, but this miscreant is already, without a doubt, my villain of the fortnight. Want to nominate a villain of the fortnight? Email us at


Question of the


What’s the truth behind the Kaspersky warnings?

Security experts told the Government to stop using it


t Computeractive we’re proud that our top priority is helping you to stay safe. Yes, we want to answer your problems and give you tips, but they won’t work on a hacked PC. Blocking malware comes before everything else. So alarm bells rang when in early December the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advised Government departments not to use Russian antivirus software. In a letter to senior civil servants ( 26504), NCSC’s chief executive Ciaran Martin said “a Russiabased provider should never be used” on computer systems dealing with information classified “Secret and above”. By “Russia-based provider” he meant Kaspersky, which has its headquarters in Moscow. Its software has won the past nine Computeractive antivirus tests, the latest of which appeared in our last issue, coinciding with the

THE FACTS • The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre warned the Government that using Russian antivirus poses a security risk • The NCSC said home users shouldn’t stop using Kaspersky (used by 400 million people worldwide) • Kaspersky has won the past nine Computeractive antivirus tests

how to develop “verifiable measures to prevent the transfer of UK data to the Russian state”. So where does that leave our recommendation to use Kaspersky? Should we reappraise our verdict?

Whatever you do, don’t panic. We really don’t want people ripping out Kaspersky software NCSC’s warning. The Centre’s concern stems from how antivirus programs report details of attacks to its developers. This information, if intercepted by a hostile government, could be used to steal sensitive data or launch cyber-attacks. There is no evidence whatsoever linking Kaspersky to the Kremlin, but nonetheless the NCSC is discussing with the company

Our answer is that there’s nothing to suggest Kaspersky is unsafe on home computers. In fact, all the evidence points to the contrary. In our most recent test it was one of only two programs to block every threat (Symantec’s Norton was the other). True, our antivirus tests have never checked whether Kaspersky has infiltrated the UK’s corridors of power. But

time and again it has provided the best defence for home users against common cyber-criminals. If you’re happy with Kaspersky’s protection you should stick with it. That’s not just our advice, but also the NCSC’s. In a blog post (www. Ian Levy, the Centre’s Technical Director, said there’s no “compelling case” for discouraging individuals or businesses from using Kaspersky. He added: “Whatever you do, don’t panic. For example, we really don’t want people doing things like ripping out Kaspersky software”. Such nuanced advice got drowned out in the hysterical ‘Putin is spying on you’ headlines. In a bid to dispel misinformation, Kaspersky has launched a site (‘Can I trust Kaspersky Lab?’, www. answering key allegations. It states it has

“no political ties to any government or country”, and has never been engaged in cyber-espionage. One crucial point Levy made has been largely ignored. He said that Russia is similarly cautious about using “Western products”. You won’t find Kremlin computers running software made by Symantec, Malwarebytes, Trend Micro, McAfee and many other companies considered safe by most UK users. But there’s no suggestion that Symantec is spying on people from Saint Petersburg to Vladivostok. Let’s be clear. Russian hacking poses a grave threat to the UK. Levy says Russia will remain a danger even if Kaspersky and the NCSC do find a method to verify the security of the company’s products. But there are no facts linking Kaspersky which has offices in 31 countries, and is run through a holding company in London - with Kremlin-backed hackers. Unless you happen to run a highly sensitive Government department, there’s no reason to stop using it. 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 11

Letters Bus-ticket app is a ‘running joke’

As someone who lives near Bath, I was very interested in your news story (Issue 516, page 9) about First Bus charging more for passengers who use real cash, rather than their m-Tickets app (pictured). Perhaps you’d like the view from residents who rely on Bath’s buses, which is that the app is abysmal, a running joke. You mention that the app has a 2.3 rating on the Google Play Store. I’m stunned it’s that high. Fortunately, locals don’t blame each other for the delays it causes when boarding. It’s actually brought us closer together, because we have a common enemy: First Bus. It’s become a common excuse when meeting people: ‘Sorry I was late, it was the bus app’. What was wrong with cash? You don’t have to wait for a 50 pence piece to load. A pound coin doesn’t run out of battery. Progress – don’t you just love it! Heather Smith

Fast speeds important when moving home

I read with interest ‘Question of the Fortnight’ in Issue 515 (‘Is slow broadband killing the countryside?’). As a journalist working from home and covering many events throughout the year, I need decent broadband, and at the moment I am fortunate to have 80Mbps in Wales. I often have to upload a few hundred images on a Monday after editing and fast internet connections are essential. However my son and I want to move from the middle of a small town, and this is where it begins to become a pain. In the 21st century you would think that BT or any other provider could easily have a list of postcodes showing speeds in that area. There are many sites you can type a postcode into and get a rough idea. But doing this on lots of different sites when you’re looking for a property is laborious. We are not even fussy where we move to. But when you ask the estate agent for 12 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

Tell us what’s on your mind

Email: Facebook: Twitter: @ComputerActive

the full address and postcode they say they’ll only supply that information if you want to view the property. I then ask what the broadband speed is at that address, to which they reply: “We don’t know, but you can look it up”. But I need the postcode to do that! These days an internet connection is so vital that you’d think it would be an essential part of any lettings or house sales information. Jeremy Rundle

Microsoft’s Near Share not as good as Tonido

I read with interest your news article on Microsoft’s Near Share (News, Issue 515, page 7) and how good it is for sending files. But what a palaver! Sender and receiver must be ‘nearby’, and both must have the program. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a program that allowed both ends to be anywhere in the world, and only the sender needed the program?

Well, there is – it’s called Tonido Server ( The principle is you are sharing a file or folder directly from your computer, so it’s not on the web at all. You right-click what you want to share, select ‘Tonido 1-click share’, and an http link is copied to your clipboard. You then mail the link to as many people as you like – and that’s it. They don’t need Tonido themselves. When they click the link, it opens in a browser. The downside is that the originating computer has to be switched on to enable access, but that’s hardly onerous if a group or family want to share photos of an event, and it would be temporary. And for non-commercial use, it’s free. I have shared hundreds of photos (and other files) this way without paying a penny. For larger files, including videos, the link becomes a download link, using the recipient’s bandwidth. James Gourley

Don’t forget library ebook apps

By suggesting the Kindle app as a means of making your tablet an ebook reader (Workshop, Issue 515, page 42), you completely overlook the

Alarm clocks for kids? Wake up, parents! Reading that Elizabeth Morris applauded the headmistress of Lady Eleanor Hollis (private) School for providing 700 pupils with an alarm clock, left me wide-eyed and slack-jawed (Letters, Issue 515). Did she take this action because she could not trust parents to provide a clock? (Upwards of £2 on eBay – to add to private school fees!) Or, better still, wake their children themselves? And what chance is there that parents will make sure all ‘technological distractions’ are removed at night and the clocks are actually used? At 78 years of age I despair at the lack of common-sense thinking and self-discipline that appears to be rife in

the two generations below mine. In post-war days of genuine austerity, alarm clocks were expensive and hard to find. There was just one in our house, so my father was my alarm – and he very rarely ever had to call me twice! Woolly-headed ‘non-thinking’ and ‘get a life’ are phrases that spring to mind. Llewellyn Williams

possibility of borrowing of ebooks from libraries. All that is needed is OverDrive (, see screenshot below) or Adobe Digital Editions (www. Setting up can be a bit demanding, but the ability to read anything you borrow (rather than anything you buy) more than compensates. I download library books on the PC with Digital Editions and load them on to my Kobo. My wife downloads to her iPad Mini using OverDrive. Leon Williams

Two-step checks cause no-signal pain

My heart sank when I read about plans to introduce two-factor verification to confirm purchases online (News, Issue 514, page 9), not least because the mobile signal where we live is simply not up to the job. I will never forget the time not long ago that I needed a validation code to access my credit-card bill from Tesco on a new PC. I was talking to a real human on the phone – he said he would text me the code (but he couldn’t see what it was because it was so secret it’s generated automatically somewhere in the void). He said it would be valid for only 10 minutes. I made him stay on the line so that he could override the time limit. The code arrived some 40 minutes later (we had a nice chat while we waited). To give them credit, Tesco now offers to send a code to a landline. But this so-wonderful idea that we can do everything using our mobile phones simply won’t wash. There are still too many people with really bad signals. It’s another example of those who have will be OK; those who don’t will lose out. Elspeth Christie There is an easy solution to the inconvenience of two-step verification. Install the free software Pushbullet ( on your PC and phone, link the two, and hey presto, your verification code will pop up


Facebook addicts took over my office In Issue 516’s thoughtprovoking ‘Question of the Fortnight’ you asked whether Facebook addiction was “ruining the UK economy”. My answer, based on the past 10 years working in a busy office, is absolutely! I’ve just retired as an office manager, head of a department of around 30 people. From around 2000 I witnessed a gradual decline in productivity, directly caused I believe by the temptations presented by the internet. It started slowly in the early years. I could tell that some employees were spending too long online, but I thought that the novelty of the internet would wear off. How wrong I was! By about 2005 I had to discipline several employees for spending too much time online during work hours. But that was nothing compared to the Facebook apocalypse about to hit. It seemed that overnight the entire office had discovered this ‘amazing’ site, where they could ‘poke’ each other. I warned my boss that it would have

a negative effect, but he was about to retire, so he didn’t really care. His exact words were, ‘I’m off to Spain, it’s your problem’. Since Facebook launched, nothing has caused more conflict within the office. It seems to turn workers into naughty pupils, trying to do what they shouldn’t without the teacher noticing. Things calmed down after we blocked it on office PCs, but then the arrival of smartphones started another wave. What astounds me is how today’s workers regard using Facebook as an essential part of daily life that even work shouldn’t interrupt. When confronted, they offered vague apologies, pledging to cut back. This might last a day or two, but then they’d be sucked back in. Needless to say, when I considered making redundancies, the Facebook addicts were top of the list. Anyway, it’s now someone else’s problem. Like my old boss a decade ago, I’m off to sunny Spain! Frank Burstow

The Star Letter writer wins a Computeractive mug!

Views expressed don’t necessarily reflect those of Computeractive

in a small window at the bottom of your screen. It then doesn’t matter where in the house your phone is. Gary Marshall

It’s a ‘given’ that web giants know our data

It is always a pleasure ure to read your letters and articles, but in Issue 515’s Cover Feature (‘What Google, Facebook and Amazon Know About You’) you may be giving strange advice. What they know about us comes with the territory. If you connect to the internet, all manner of information about you

will be collected, and I believe most people understand that. They may not like it, but it is understood, a given. Your solution to prevent this from happening is to delete my Google account, rendering my new Android phone useless. Delete my Amazon account? Well, that’s the end of m my Amazon shopping for good. Cancelling Facebook accounts will result in the same. It is expected, rightly or wrongly, that these major corporations collect in information, so don’t use the in internet, have no email ad address, and for good me measure maybe don’t have a PC either. Where does it stop? Jeremy Newman 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 13

Consumeractive Can I return wrong goods sent to me? I bought a Linx 810 Windows 10 tablet from Amazon Marketplace trader GSM M. I tried to update the operating system but wasn’t able to. Linx told me I was sent the wrong tablet. But GSM M and Amazon say that because 90 days have passed since purchase I’m too late to return it. What can I do? John MacDonald


John can make a claim with Amazon. Following our intervention, it has agreed to extend the 90 days normally given by its ‘A-to-z’ guarantee ( 26295). He’s entitled to a full refund from the seller because, as Linx has confirmed, he was sent the wrong tablet. GSM M either posted incorrect info in the product description, or sent John the wrong tablet. This may have been an innocent mistake, but it’s still incompetent. We’ve explained this to GSM M, but haven’t heard back. The company, based in Barking, has a good customer rating – 93 per cent positive over the past 12 months, based on 275 reviews (www. This rises to 96 per cent for GSM M’s ‘lifetime’ on Amazon, based on over 4,200 reviews. We’re hopeful that, with a healthy reputation to maintain, the company will see sense and refund John.


Can a company force another repair on me for a different fault? You took up my case in July last year (Issue 474) on the problems I’d been having with my HP laptop bought from Currys. Although it was initially fixed, the laptop’s been sent back for repair three times since then. Each time I asked for a refund Currys refused, saying they were allowed to carry out the other repairs because each time the fault was different. Is this allowed? Kelvin Jones


No it’s not. The cycle of repeat repairs consumers had to endure under the Sale of Goods Act was ended by the Consumer Rights Act, introduced in October 2015. During the first 30 days you’re entitled to a full refund for an inherent fault. After this the retailer is allowed to carry out one repair or offer a replacement. And we mean only one repair. It doesn’t matter whether the second, third or umpteenth fault is different to the first. It’s disappointing that Currys doesn’t know this, but we’re seeing a lot of cases like this, so perhaps retailers need to better train their staff about the


change in the law (although two years should be long enough for the message to sink in!). If this first repair fails, you’re entitled to a full refund within the first six months and a pro rata one after. Kelvin has had some use from the laptop, so legally he can’t expect the entire cost back. We’ve contacted Dixons Carphone Warehouse, Currys’ parent company, about this case, explaining that Kelvin is due a refund, or a new model. We’ll politely mention that it would be lovely if he received a better laptop as an apology for the hassle he’s put up with. We’ll let you know if our powers of persuasion work.

Can I get a refund after three printers broke? I bought a WF-5690 printer (pictured) from Epson for £309 in May. The first printer became faulty after six weeks but Epson refused a refund saying it was allowed to replace it. I’ve now had three replacements because one minute Epson says I can have a refund; then I can’t. I’m going mad – please help! Martin Day


Such inconsistency could drive any customer to the edge of insanity. Like Currys in the case above, Epson is legally allowed one repair


14 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

or replacement after the first 30 days. But when the first replacement was found to be faulty it should have offered Martin a full refund. Because it didn’t, failing therefore to comply with the Consumer Rights Act, we think Epson owes Martin a full refund. In normal circumstances, after six months a retailer would be able to deduct some money from a refund to reflect how long the customer had used the item (as in the Currys case). There may be a problem though.

Martin actually paid £234 because he had a £75 cashback deal, meaning Epson needn’t refund the full price of £309. However, he says the problems led to him “wasting” more than £75 on Epson inkjet cartridges. He’s legally entitled to ask Epson for this, and said a refund of £309 will cover it. Epson is “escalating” Martin’s case, so we hope to have an update soon.

Contact us so we can investigate your case

Email: Please include both your phone number and address.

We sstand up for your legal rights

Can I gett a PAYG refund from Vodafone? C I had a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) account with Talkmobile. When it ceased providing this service in August (after it was bought by Vodafone) Talkmobile refused to refund my credit of £9.61, suggesting I take out a Vodafone PAYG deal and get £10 credit. What are my rights here? Aileen Dunnett


That’s a question and a half, and one that’s been asked by several Computeractive readers who feel cheated by Talkmobile. Untangling it meant digging deep into Ofcom’s rules about


PAYG services, which we think should be made clearer. You may remember that in 2014 Ofcom told Vodafone to refund customers who had a PAYG dongle, after the company changed how often it had to be used from every 180 days to every 30. Ofcom said this broke the rules on changing terms mid-contract. As such, moving customers to a new service when the previous one closes breaks Ofcom’s rules only if the contract changes unfairly. This isn’t the case with Vodafone transferring Talkmobile customers. However, there are no

CASE UPDATE Happy BT outcomes bring festive cheer Two Computeractive readers will have a little extra money to spend this Christmas after receiving good outcomes from BT. In Issue 513, we reported that Edmund Hobby wanted to cancel his broadband contract after BT moved him on to a more expensive deal without telling him. This broke one of Ofcom’s golden rules, introduced in 2012, that providers have to warn customers if they are to be moved to a new deal. You are given a 14-day cooling-off period to cancel without a penalty. Also, providers must give you 30 days’ notice of any price increase. They can charge you should you decide to cancel your contract early, but not if the price rise is above the rate of inflation (which stands at 2.8 per cent: Even if the rise is below this rate, you can take your case to an ombudsman if you believe the increase will be ‘materially detrimental’ to you. This doesn’t just mean you’ll be worse off; it specifically means you won’t be able to afford necessities, such as rent, mortgage, utilities and food. After approaching BT with this information, Edmund emailed us to say: “Within a very short time I received an offer of a very good deal. I should like to say thank you to Consumeractive”. In the other case (see Issue 509) reader David Harrison wanted to cancel his BT TV contract because the set-top box was faulty. BT let him do this, and also said he could keep the box to access other channels, sparing him from having to buy another one.

specific rules covering unused money marooned in an account that closes (an area of law that needs tightening in our view). This means Vodafone doesn’t have to refund customers unhappy about moving from Talkmobile. But perhaps sensing a PR disaster, the company did refund Aileen, as well as Geoffrey Squires whose case we covered in Issue 507. Both were owed less than £10, which probably made it easier for Vodafone to agree to a refund. It was more reluctant to refund reader David Holden, who got back his £45 credit only after


taking the company to the Ombudsman Services: Communications (www.snipca. com/26296).


YOU TELL US WHEN COMPANIES GET IT RIGHT I received a letter saying my Virgin Media broadband bill was going up by a couple of quid a month. Time for a haggle, I thought. So I rang them on 0345 454 1111 and played hard to get. I told them that other providers could offer me fast speeds in my area (which is true), and that I was willing to shop around. I quoted some specific rival deals, which were cheaper, albeit a bit slower. I dangled the carrot though by saying that I’d like to stay with Virgin because it had been a good service so far. This firm-butCONTACT VIRGIN MEDIA

• Tel: 0345 454 1111 • Online chat: www contact-us.html

fair tactic seemed to work. The sales rep was very helpful, offering me a price reduction and a £50 credit on my next bill. I realise that all providers are open to haggling, so Virgin’s behaviour is hardly exceptional. But I was impressed by how matterof-fact they were. There was no reading from a script – or if so, it sounded very natural. They seem to appreciate the new reality of business, which is that everything is negotiable! Paul Dickson Has a company impressed you with its customer service? Please let us know:

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 15

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

New ‘click to call’ tech-support scam What’s the threat?

A new type of tech-support scam that without warning launches a phone app – on your smartphone or PC screen – showing a number to call to contact a ‘support team’ (see screenshot). If you tap or click the screen to begin the call, you’ll ring an expensive number and end up speaking to scammers who will try to sell you fixes for nonexistent problems. Detected by Microsoft’s Windows Defender Research team, this ‘click to call’ scam targets iPhones and Windows PCs. It’s accompanied by an audio message that says your device “has alerted us that your system is infected with viruses, spywares, and pornwares”. Next, it urges you to call “immediately on the toll-free number listed so that our support

engineers can walk you through the removal process over the phone”. It also tries to frighten you into calling by claiming that it will be “forced to disable and suspend” your device if you close the mesaage. This is the latest scam in the cat-and-mouse game between criminals and tech companies. Previously, tech-support frauds would strike as you browsed online, plastering your screen with pop-up alerts that say you need to ring a number for help. Most browsers now let you block or close these pop-ups, thereby forcing scammers to adopt new tactics.

New tools Speed and privacy are key battlefields in the browser wars. Google’s Chrome has been winning these battles since it launched in 2008, stealing millions of Firefox and Internet Explorer users. It has always been fast enough to compensate for occasional crashes, and regularly adds new warning messages to protect you from online threats. But Firefox has rearmed itself with Quantum (version 57), which loads web pages faster, and uses less PC memory. It also takes your privacy more seriously by letting you block all trackers as you browse (these are tools advertising and marketing companies use to gather your personal data). Previously, you could only do this when using Firefox’s ‘private

16 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

Firefox Tracking Protection

How can you stay safe?

As Microsoft points out in its blog post (www., genuine error messages don’t contain phone numbers, nor do legitimate support sites try to terrify users into phoning. Also, never tap or click a dialler screen (like the one in the screenshot) that opens by itself. What’s worrying is that the code used to create this scam appears to be from a template, meaning it’s probably for sale on the black market. That means it’s likely to spread and become one of 2018’s most prevalent scams.



TV Licence scam returns

browsing’ mode. To turn on Tracking Protection click the menu button (three horizontal lines), Options, then ‘Privacy & Security’ (on the left). In the Tracking Protection section select Always (see screenshot). When Firefox is blocking a site’s tracker you’ll see a shield icon at the top left of the browser bar. Mozilla provides more details at

I want to warn readers about an old scam that’s returned. A few years ago I received an email promising me a refund on my TV Licence. It sounded too good to be true, so I checked by ringing them and they confirmed it was nonsense. I got a similar email in early November, trying to tempt me with a refund of £85.07. Maybe scammers up their game near Christmas because people like the idea of having extra cash to spend. The TV Licence people have a web page warning about the scam: www. It never sends refund information by email. Phil Lewis Warn your fellow readers about scams at









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Best Free Software Jonathan Parkyn recommends new programs that won’t cost you anything AUDIO EDITING SOFTWARE

Audacity 2.2.0 What you need: Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 or 10 Audacity has long been our favourite tool for editing audio files. Whether you’re recording live music or dictation, converting vinyl records and tapes to digital formats or just cutting and mixings sounds for fun, Audacity offers almost everything you’ll ever need. It provides studio-level sound, support for all the major audio formats and professional multi-track editing tools – all for free. The recent version (2.2.0) brings a welcome injection of new features, plus a whole new look. Those who have been using Audacity for a while will be relieved to hear that the developers haven’t altered the program’s interface too radically. It still looks and works like Audacity, though there have been a number of improvements. You can now choose from four themes, including Dark and High Contrast. Some of the menus have been streamlined, and new keyboard shortcuts are available for working with clips, including Alt+P for selecting the previous clip in a

sequence and Alt+N for selecting the next one. Significantly, support for Midi files has been added, meaning you can now playback them from within your projects, without the need for extra software. If you’ve ever found it hard to wrap your head around the way Audacity works, you’ll be pleased to learn that the program’s help files and manual have also had a major overhaul. You’ll now find several new question-mark icons dotted around the program, each revealing instructions for the specific tools you’re using. The program’s online manual has also been updated with more images and better navigation. Download Audacity from the link above – we recommend the installer option that includes help files. The file is safe and there are no extras to watch out for when you install it. We also suggest downloading and installing some of Audacity’s optional plug-ins – specifically the LAME MP3 encoder, which allows you to export MP3 files.


1 2 4

1 To enable Audacity’s

new themes, click Edit, Preferences, Interface then select the one you want in the Theme dropdown menu. Select Custom here to create your own theme (see www.snipca. com/26329).

18 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

2 In the same screen, it’s

worth ticking the box next to ‘Extra menus’. This turns on Audacity’s new extended menu bar, revealing two hidden menus of tools, Ext-Bar and Ext-Command.

3 By default, clicking Record

now continues recording in the currently selected track. To start recording in a new track instead, hold down Shift (the Record button will show a down arrow), then click Record.

4 Feeling stuck? Most tools

and boxes now feature new question-mark icons like this – clicking it will take you directly to the relevant section of the program’s instruction manual.

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

What can I use to tune up my PC? I would appreciate your advice on a replacement for AVG TuneUp Utilities. I installed this on a laptop running XP some years ago and then updated it to TuneUp Utilities 2014 on a Windows 8 laptop. This laptop now runs Windows 10 and TuneUp Utilities 2014 seems to be suffering from the odd hiccup of late, even though it tells me I’m running the ‘current version’. Peter B Nunn



CareUEyes 1.1 What you need: Windows 7, 8/8.1 or 10 Microsoft added a useful Night Light feature to Windows 10 in the Creators Update (released in April), but if you really value your well-being, you may want to give CareUEyes a spin. Like Night Light, it has an automatic blue-light filter that can make your PC screen warmer (orangey red) and more comfortable for your eyes, especially after dark. The tool also includes a screen dimmer, which lets you adjust both the colour temperature and the brightness together to achieve the best possible combination. There are also a number of handy presets available from the Display menu, including brightness and colour-temperature settings for everyday situations, such as playing a game, watching a movie, working under office lighting and so on. The Reading setting switches your screen to black and white to simulate E Ink. Use the built-in Rest Timer to remind you when its time to take a screen break.


Those hiccups may become more frequent because TuneUp Utilities 2014 was discontinued last year. AVG says it will still work, but won’t receive any security fixes or new features. AVG’s recommendation is to “upgrade to AVG TuneUp to enjoy full product support and to use several additional features”. However, the latest version of AVG TuneUp ( requires a subscription, which costs £34.99 per year. There are free alternatives to most of AVG TuneUp’s features. If you have the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update installed, you can set it to automatically delete junk files by clicking Start, Settings, System, Storage, then ‘Change how we free up space’, clicking the ‘Storage sense’ slider (see screenshot). You can then choose which types of temporary files are deleted in the options below. You could also install Glary Utilities (www.glarysoft. com), which includes a Startup Manager for speeding up boot times, a software updater, an uninstaller and more.


Do you need our advice on what software to use? Just email us at

OnTop Notepad What you need: Windows 7, 8/8.1 or 10 If you often find yourself editing text while switching between other open program windows – a web browser or file manager, for example – you may find OnTop Notepad very useful. It works just like Windows Notepad, but has a couple of handy extra features. For starters, as its name suggests, OnTop Notepad includes an always-on-top mode. Click Window, then OnTop and your text editor will be pinned to the forefront of your workspace, so you won’t lose it behind other open windows. It also has a line-numbering feature (handy for coding) and you can quickly export your notes to PDF using the relevant command in the File menu.

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20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 19


New products tested by our experts

PC ❘ £779 from PC Specialist

PC Specialist Enigma K6 i3 times two equals i5?

You don’t have to be a mechanic to buy a car, but most of us know a few basics. For example, the bigger the engine, the more oomph you’ll get when you put your foot down. Of course, it’s not quite that simple, and a modern one-litre engine might do just as good a job as a gas-guzzler of yesteryear. The same applies with PC processor chips, except that they tend to change faster.

If you're looking for a fully rounded PC, the Enigma K6 is a good choice In recent years, Intel’s numbering system for processors made things relatively simple: i3 was suitable for basic Windows use, i5 for decent performance and i7 for number-crunching and creative jobs. Each year’s new versions were a little faster than the last. Then in 2017, AMD complicated matters by bringing out rival processors called Ryzen. These are a bit slower than Intel’s similarly priced i5s and i7s at basic tasks that use one core, but a lot faster in more demanding programs. In case that wasn’t confusing enough, Intel has now released its latest update,

known as Coffee Lake (it’s the name of an actual lake in Wisconsin, not what you get on your lap when you’re distracted by a new series of processors while drinking your morning beverage). This is a quantum leap for the humble i3. The i3-3800 in this new desktop PC has four cores – twice as many as any previous i3. This is accompanied by a slight reduction in clock speed, which reflects priorities similar to AMD’s: you probably won’t be too upset if processes that are fast anyway are a fraction slower, but you’ll be satisfied if tasks that usually cause delays go much faster. PC Specialist has taken the same approach to the entire system: the Enigma K6’s relatively modest CPU comes with a very respectable graphics card: an Nvidia GTX 1060 with 6GB of fast memory. If you never play 3D games or use creative software that benefits from a dedicated graphics card, you may be better off buying a PC with a top-end i5 or i7 processor and no graphics card (both have built-in Intel graphics processors that can handle general tasks and some gaming). But if you’re looking for a fully rounded PC, the Enigma K6 is a good choice, as its results in our speed tests show. In 3D games, the GTX 1060 wasn’t held back by the new i3, and the PC’s scores were similar to those of the Ryzen 5 1600X-based Wired2Fire Pyro Reactor (see Issue 516), which has the same graphics card but costs over £200 more. In our processor tests, the i3-3800 managed to keep up with the old i3-7100 in image editing, but in multitasking and SPECIFICATIONS

3.6GHz Intel i3-8100 quad-core processor • 8GB memory • 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 graphics • 1TB hybrid drive • 5x USB 3.0 ports • 4x USB 2.0 ports • Gigabit Ethernet • HDMI port • 2x DVI ports • 3x DisplayPort • Windows 10 Home • 522x256x558mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty

20 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

4K video processing, which use all the cores, it performed as well as previous i5-7500 PCs. The Enigma K6 comes in a mid-sized case with a full ATX motherboard and plenty of room for drives, including two M.2 sockets for fast SSDs. The only drive fitted is a 1TB ‘hybrid’ – a hard drive with a small cache to make it faster – although this means slower booting and loading than if Windows 10 were installed on an SSD. You might want to budget another £75 or so for an SSD or an Intel Optane card for more advanced caching. We weren’t too keen on the case’s styling, though, and it lacks USB 3.1 ports for adding fast external storage. VERDICT: The balance of components won’t suit everyone, and the lack of USB 3.1 ports limits upgrades, but this is a fast all-rounder at an attractive price

★★★★☆ ALTERNATIVE: Overclockers Titan Merlin £720 This cheaper version of the little Ryzen 5 1400 we tested in Issue 509 is about as fast as the K6 but less upgradable

ALL IN ONE PC ❘ £1,799 from Dell

Dell XPS 27 7 All All-in-One in One Sounds expensive

If you’re bored with today’s minimalist metal PCs, you might appreciate the, um, unique design of this new all-in-one PC. Dell’s XPS laptops have such slim bezels around the screen that they almost disappear. In contrast, the XPS 27 not only retains black borders but has expanded the bottom edge to accommodate six hefty speakers. With this and a chunky unky base, the whole thing looks as much like a 1990s portable hi-fi i-fi as it does a modern PC. On closer inspection, the XPS27 uses more plastic than Apple’s slender design and Asus’ bronze-metal Zen AiO, but it might have greater appeal as an all-purpose home PC and media centre.

This odd-looking PC has great speakers and a good touchscreen, but it’s expensive One thing it does share with Apple’s range is the eye-watering price. In fact, the cheapest XPS 27 is £50 more than the 27in Retina 5K iMac, despite a slower 3.0GHz i5-7400 processor. Both have 8GB of memory and a 1TB hybrid drive (a hard drive with a small cache to speed it up), but the iMac comes with an AMD Radeon Pro 570 graphics card, which is an optional extra on the XPS 27. Dell’s speakers are more than good enough to avoid the need for a separate set – besides the four full-range speaker drivers and

two tweeters on the front, it has two passive radiators to pump out bass. Even so, there’s no ignoring the fact that the aluminium iMac is better value, and when you consider how high Apple’s prices are, that’s a serious concern. The model we tested came with an Intel i7 processor, which performed very well, but with this plus a touchscreen, 16GB of memory, a Radeon RX 570 and a faster 512GB SSD to replace the hybrid drive, the price rises to £2,699. You can buy a more powerful iMac for less, although it won’t have Dell’s touchscreen. The screen delivered excellent image quality, according to our colour meter, reproducing the whole sRGB range accurately. We prefer Apple’s 5K screen, though, and for this money you could buy a desktop PC with a higher spec and a fantastic monitor, and still have several hundred pounds’ change. We like the articulated stand that comes with Dell’s touchscreen models and lets you work with the screen almost flat, like Microsoft’s Surface Studio. However, the XPS 27 doesn’t even support a pressure-sensitive stylus, so what are you going to do with it – play Solitaire? SPECIFICATIONS

As tested (£2,699): 3.6GHz Intel Core i7-7700 quadcore processor • 16GB memory • 512GB SSD • AMD Radeon RX 570 graphics • 27in 3840x2160-pixel screen • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.0 • 2x USB Type-C Thunderbolt 3 ports • 4x USB 3.0 ports • Gigabit Ethernet • HDMI port • DisplayPort • Windows 10 Home • 435x625x80mm (HxWxD) • 17.3kg • One-year warranty


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. and Alphr (www. This means we can test thousands of products before choosing the most relevant for Computeractive.


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


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.


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

VERDICT: We like the idea of a clutterfree home PC system that doesn’t compromise on performance, but we can’t justify the price of Dell’s effort

★★★☆☆ ALTERNATIVE: Apple iMac 27in From £1,749 If the more elegant macOS doesn’t suit you, install your own copy of Windows and it’s still better value for money

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 21

Reviews PHONE ❘ £999 from Apple

Apple iPhone X

an eighthgeneration processor?

A grand phone

The iPhone X is pronounced ‘iPhone 10’, and costs £999 – yes, nine hundred and ninety-nine pounds. To protect your investment, Apple has made it entirely out of glass. The front is glass. The back is glass. There’s a bit of metal in between, but that won’t help if you drop it on the floor. It’s not fully waterproof, either – just splash-resistant. Apple charges £286 to replace the screen. Any other damage, including a cracked back, costs £556, if it can be fixed at all. Alternatively, when you buy your iPhone X you can pay an extra £199 for AppleCare+, which reduces these costs to £25 and £79. Or you can sign up for Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Programme, which gives you interest-free credit for 20 months, free AppleCare+, and the option to upgrade to next year’s iPhone. It’s better value, but you have to go to an Apple store for a credit check.

A good-looking if fragile phone, but is it really worth £999? This doesn’t feel like £1,000 of phone. The screen doesn’t go right to the edges like Samsung’s, and although it’s great that there’s no border at the bottom, there’s a weird notch at the top, where the camera, speaker and TrueDepth augmented reality sensors live. It’s not quite as slim as an iPhone 8 Plus, yet the similar dual-camera sticks out a mile. The telephoto lens is a bit better in the X, and its optical stabilisation improves on one of the best ever phone cameras – but it’s still not great in low light. The front camera is very good, too, and now has its own Portrait (blurred background) mode thanks to TrueDepth, but it doesn’t work reliably. We liked the ‘animoji’ cartoon SPECIFICATIONS

5.8in 2436x1125-pixel screen • 2x 12-megapixel rear cameras • 7-megapixel front camera • 64GB flash storage • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 5.0 • 3G/4G • iOS 11 • 144x71x7.7mm (HxWxD) • 174g • One-year warranty

22 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

Do I really need...

What does it do?

The eighth generation of Intel’s Core processor line brings more powerful i3, i5 and i7 chips. Confusingly, while previous generations have been given one geographical codename, this has three: Kaby Lake R, Coffee Lake and, some time in 2018, Cannon Lake.

Why would I want it?

characters that lip-sync your voice. Apple’s first OLED screen looks fantastic, and the tall, narrow shape is easy to hold and slip in a bag or pocket. There’s bags of processing power. The basic 64GB of storage is probably enough (and it can’t be expanded), while the face- ecognition system, which replaces fingerprint reading, is less annoying than we feared, if rather awkward when using Apple Pay. However, the battery lasted just nine hours and 22 minutes in our video playback test. Overall, this is just a good phone, not a sell-your-grandmother phone. Apple has hinted that more TrueDepth cleverness will enhance it later. Well, OK. We’ll wait, and start saving. VERDICT: If you have an arm and a leg that you don’t really need, this is a good phone, albeit a rather fragile one. Otherwise, forget it

★★★☆☆ ALTERNATIVE: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 £785 Deep discounting is making Samsung’s top phones look attractive, and this huge one no longer catches fire

Kaby Lake increased speed by a few per cent, but the new processors promise much bigger gains, largely thanks to extra cores. Desktop i3 processors were dual-core; now those with i3-8 numbers are quad-core, boosting performance in demanding tasks (see page 20). The i5-8 and i7-8 chips have six cores. For laptops, four new quad-core i5-8 and i7-8 chips with the ‘U’ suffix, standing for low voltage, promise to beat their predecessors by a huge 40 per cent in overall performance while helping to increase battery life.

What’s the catch?

The new six-core processors require new motherboards, so PCs featuring them won’t be cheap, and you can’t put them into existing PCs. AMD’s rival Ryzen processors (pictured), with six or eight cores, have set a high bar for desktop CPUs, and Intel will struggle to match their performance per pound. Ryzen laptops are available now.

So can I do without it?

For now, yes. Over the next few months, there should be a few bargains among PCs with 7th-gen chips (numbers starting i3-7, i5-7 or i7-7), but it’ll be worth paying a bit more for the new ones. Competition with AMD should help bring prices down.

SMART SPEAKERS ❘ £90/£140 from Amazon;

Amazon Echo 2 & Echo Plus Now Alexa comes in various sizes Priced £150 when it launched last autumn, Amazon’s Echo was the first ‘smart speaker’ on the market, bringing Alexa – Amazon’s AI equivalent of Microsoft’s Cortana or Apple’s Siri – to your living room or kitchen. Like everyone else, we wondered if there was much point to a unit that replicated something already available as an app, and if it wasn’t a bit creepy to have a box in your home that constantly listened for your voice and, when addressed, uploaded what you said to a server to generate a response.

The Echo is here to stay, and the latest models are better and smarter than ever Well, the answers are in. People are buying these devices, having decided that the convenience outweighs the creepiness (Amazon insists your communications are secure). The Echo seems to be here to stay, and now Amazon has updated it with a second-generation model, Echo 2, at a lower price, while also launching the more advanced Echo Plus. The smaller Echo Dot

(£50) is still available, and the Echo Spot, which builds Alexa into an alarm clock, is due in the New Year. Finally, the Echo Show (£200), which we’ll be testing soon, adds a screen so you can ‘drop in’ for video chats with other Alexa users. The new Echo is shorter than the original and comes in a fabric or wood finish. Its sound quality is about the same – clear, but not especially great for music – although the addition of a headphone jack lets you add a better speaker. Volume is controlled with buttons EC H O 2 rather than a twisting E C H O PL U S mechanism at the top, which is a shame. Slashing £60 from the put each product in pairing mode to get original price is welcome, though. this working, but after that it’s effortless. The Echo Plus keeps the original’s taller, If you have additional Echos, you can more austere design, with much-improved also create a multi-room music setup over speakers for a richer sound. Another your Wi-Fi network. Next year, Echo Plus addition is a built-in hub for home owners will be able to make phone calls accessories that use the Zigbee standard, over a landline, but this will require an such as lightbulbs and thermostats. Alexa add-on, called Echo Connect. could already control many of these if you added ‘skills’ (voice commands), but now SPECIFICATIONS Echo 2: 802.11n Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.0 • 7x microphones you can simply tell her to find your Zigbee • 2.5in woofer • 0.6in tweeter • Mains adapter • stuff and control it. You have to manually

AMAZON OR GOOGLE (or wait for Apple)? Google’s Home and Home Mini smart speakers compete directly with Echo. Apple is working on a similar box for Siri, called HomePod (pictured), but it has been delayed until next year. Each of these devices can deliver news, sports results, weather forecasts and so on, as well as travel directions, which you can forward to apps on your phone. You can even order an Uber taxi or a pizza, and Alexa makes it particularly easy to buy from Amazon

through the device, which may be of interest if you subscribe to Prime for free delivery. You can protect this feature with a PIN so your kids or your parrot can’t activate it. Google, on the other hand, is better at understanding random questions. Alexa’s strength is in its extensive support for smart lightbulbs and other home automation products, and the Plus takes this even further. We’ll have to see if Google and Apple catch up.

148x88x88mm (HxWxD) • 821g • One-year warranty Echo Plus: 802.11n Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.0 • 7x microphones • 2.5in woofer • 0.8in tweeter • ZigBee hub • Mains adapter • 235x84x84mm (HxWxD) • 954g • One-year warranty

VERDICT: Alexa is getting cleverer all the time. If home automation appeals to you, the Echo Plus is the best choice, while the cheaper Echo 2 has superior audio than the basic Dot

★★★★☆ ALTERNATIVE: Google Home £129 With better sound than the Echo 2, this controls Chromecast TV streamers and supports IFTTT automation, but now looks a bit pricey

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 23


Heroes & zeroes of 2017

Obscenely expensive phones, scorchingly hot PCs and the return of buttons what we liked and disliked in 2017


Ryzen vs Coffee Lake

Just as Kaby Lake had us giving up on processor upgrades, along came AMD with Ryzen, a new CPU series with lots of cores and great performance levels. Desktop PCs with these chips weren’t clocked quite as fast as Intel’s, but when we threw heavier work at them they beat i7 performance but cost the same as i5 processors. Intel finally got its act together with Coffee Lake chips that delivered the speed boost we’d been waiting for. As laptops catch up too, 2018 looks like a great time to buy a computer.


BT Whole Home WiFi “These tariffs are so simple, my bills are smaller than I thought and their customer service is brilliant,” said no BT customer ever. But the former telecoms monopoly showed it could innovate as well as infuriate in 2017 when it jumped into the latest home tech trend – mesh routers. Not only was its Whole Home WiFi the first consumer option in the UK, but its distinctive dishes remained the best value at under £200 for three units.



Touchscreen PCs

We’ve been sceptical about Windows 10’s drift from standard laptops to tablets and laptop-tablets, but this year we were almost convinced. Microsoft’s revamped Surface Pro was expensive (from £799), but cheaper rivals from the likes of Acer, Asus and Lenovo showed a tablet could be practical, while the Linx 12X64 (pictured) offered a basic version for just £200. Even two-in-ones started looking decent, with HP’s EliteBook x360 G2 undercut by Dell’s Inspiron 13 5000 2-in-1, now with the latest quad- core processors for well under £1,000.


Smart speakers rs

Knobs & buttons s

As 2017 began, we were just getting used to the idea of the Amazon Echo, a digital assistant that sat in your home and constantly listened for your commands. The privacy concerns haven’t gone away, but as prices have dropped and options have expanded, millions of us have installed an Echo (pictured) or Google Home. The era of always-on artificial intelligence is here, and, as with smartphones, we’ll soon rely on it more than we thought.

The last 10 years have belonged to the touchscreen, with taps and swipes replacing g clicks and key presses. Apps even mimic thee dials and sliders of synthesisers and mixing ng desks. But it’s not quite the same – and this year saw the return of the knob. Microsoft’s ’s Dial ( arrived with th the ridiculously expensive Surface Studio PC, but also sells separately, while Logitech’s Craft Keyboard mimics it in miniature. And while le the Nokia 3310 revived the button phone, BlackBerry’s lackBerry’s KEYone (pictured) brought it up to date. We’d be happy with more to twiddle in 2018.

24 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018



Kaby Lake processors

Apple iPhone X

If you didn’t know the new processors that turned up in PCs at the start of 2017 had been cobbled together to fill in for a delay to Intel’s plans, you’d probably have guessed. Performance improvements were so small we barely noticed them, and laptop battery life oddly seemed to go down rather than up. It‘s OK to admit it when something isn’t finished, Intel. We’ll wait!

The iPhone 8 was great, but not much different from the iPhone 7. So to keep its fans amused, Apple added another model. Instead of the iPhone 9, they called it the iPhone 10 and spelled it ‘iPhone X’. Excitingly, they made the screen go all the way to the edge, but then hen they remembered the front camera and wedged it into an unattractive cut-out att the top. With no room for a fingerprint sensor, they switched to face recognition. n. Now you can pay £1,000 for a phone with ith a chunk out of its screen that you have to point at your head to buy a sandwich.


Palicomp Luminosity


Augmented ed reality If 2016 was the year virtualreality headsets finally worked, 2017 was the year manufacturers accepted that only a few of us were ever going to buy them. So they turned from VR to AR (augmented reality), offering apps and games that brought the real world, via your phone camera, into tasks from finding monsters to measuring your sofa. It’s all fun, but mostly pointless. Look out for new tech in 2018 that makes AR a must-have! Maybe.

As ffrustrated st ted as we were b by Kab Kaby Lak Lake processors, Palicomp – one of the UK-based firms that builds PCs based on these components – had an answer: overclocking the i5-7600K chip to a searing 5GHz. Eyebrows were not so much raised as singed when our tests, designed to push PCs beyond their comfort zone, sent the processor to over 100°C before it turned itself off. It worked fine when slowed down a bit, as did all the other PCs we’ve seen from Palicomp. Ah well – if we get a cold winter we can always sit round it.


4 on the Sony 4K Xperia XZ Premium X A sc screen needs more pixels if it’s bigger, but fewer if it’s further from your face. So Full HD looks sharp in the cinema, on your TV and smartphone. 4K, with four times more pixels, looks bri brilliant in the cinema and on TV, and on a phone… well, to dete detect the benefit you’d have to put the phone inside your eye. Th That didn’t stop Sony introducing a 4K screen on its 5.5-inch Xp Xperia XZ Premium. Why, Sony? Why? 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 25

Reviews TV STREAMING STICK ❘ £30 from Amazon

Roku Express The smallest set-top box In Issue 516 we tested Roku’s £79 Streaming Stick Plus, which connects your HDTV set to a range of online video and music services including Amazon Prime, Google, Netflix, Now TV and BBC iPlayer. The Express does basically the same thing, but comes with a different remote control and omits the 4K HDR capabilities of the pricier version, sticking with regular Full HD. Instead of plugging straight into an HDMI socket, it comes as a tiny standalone box that connects to the TV and the mains with cables.

Decent software and a great choice of channels and services It’s so small, in fact, Roku suggests you stick it to the edge of your TV with double-sided tape, where you’ll barely notice it. The catch is that the remote control uses traditional infra-red, not Bluetooth, which means it has to be in sight of the box, so you can’t tuck it away round the back. The Streaming Stick Plus’

remote control has volume buttons, but the Express doesn’t, so you’ll have to juggle two remotes. You can also use Roku’s app on your smartphone to control the Express. This app provides a keyboard (making it easier to enter the names of programmes and films) and lets you cast your own photos and videos to the TV screen. Unlike the Streaming Stick Plus, the Express only supports the old 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band, so reception may not be as good. That’s not ideal, given the demands of Full HD video streaming, but it should still work fine if you don’t usually have Wi-Fi reception problems. You’ll need reasonably fast broadband, SPECIFICATIONS 802.11n Wi-Fi • Mains adapter • 720p HD/1080p Full HD • Infra-red remote control • 18x84x36mm (HxWxD) • One-year warranty


of course, for any internet video product. This aside, the Express has similar features to the Streaming Stick Plus. In short, Roku’s software is good and the choice of services is excellent, but Amazon Fire’s Alexa voice search and Android app support are missing, and this isn’t a do-it-all TV-streaming and games box like the Apple TV. VERDICT: With access to Amazon Video and Google Play Movies & TV as well as all the usual services, this is a comprehensive TV box at a great price

★★★★☆ ALTERNATIVE: Amazon Fire TV Stick (2017) £40 A roughly ghly similar choice of services – minus Google, plus Alexa – and support pp for pport games and apps ps including Kodi

We solve your buying dilemmas

What’s the best model for printing to DVDs? My 10-year-old Canon Pixma IP4500 printer has finally died on me. It was mainly used for the usual A4 documents, but from time to time it was wheeled out to print directly on to DVDs, which it did very well. I’m looking around for a printer to replace eplace it that has disc printing, but they ey seem thin on the ground. Can you advise? se? John Salmon mon


26 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

Canon’s cheapest inkjets at the moment, the Pixma TS5150 and TS6150, lack the disc-printing feature, although it’s available on the pricier TS8150 (£119 from Amazon www., pictured). Epson’s older Expression Photo models can also pr print discs, starting with the XP-760 (£ (£115 from Amazon www.snipca. co com/26350). Neither of these printers is es especially fast or cheap to run, but they do give high-quality results, including ph photos, and for about the same price as


your IP4500 when it was new they include a scanner/copier too. At the time of writing, the recently replaced TS8050 (see our review, Issue 504) was still available from many shops for about £100. Without having tested it yet, we can’t say whether the TS8150 has any significant advantages. But we liked the TS8050 and it could be your cheapest option. Do you need advice on what you should buy? Email us at

Reviews PHONE ❘ £200 from Appliances Direct

Motorola Moto G5S Third time lucky? If at first you don’t succeed, as the saying goes, keep launching different versions of the same phone. Motorola’s Moto G5 (see our review, Issue 500) was a disappointing successor to the excellent G4. The G5 Plus (see Issue 501) was better but more expensive; and now the G5S tries again to hit the happy medium. At the official £219 it’s only just good enough, but if you can find it discounted to £200 or less, this model is well worth considering. Instead of the G5’s plastic chassis and aluminium back, the G5S is a proper aluminium unibody and feels much more upmarket, with the same slightly larger SPECIFICATIONS

5.2in 1920x1080-pixel screen • 16-megapixel rear camera • 5-megapixel front camera • 32GB flash storage • MicroSD card slot • 802.11ac Wi-Fi • Bluetooth 4.2 • 3G/4G • 150x73.5x9.5mm (HxWxD) • 157g • One-year warranty

5.2in screen size as the Plus. The screen itself is better, with high brightness and contrast levels, although colour accuracy is still a bit off. Below it is a very fast fingerprint reader, with an NFC chip for contactless payment, and on the back is a higherresolution camera, which gave us startlingly good results for a budget phone – only letting us down in low light. The front selfie camera is just OK. Android 7.1.1 is installed, with a free upgrade to 8.0 ‘Oreo’ coming soon, but performance is still average for the price. Despite a larger battery, the G5S lasted only a few minutes over 12 hours in our video-playback test, beating the Vodafone Smart V8 but well short of the Samsung Galaxy J5. Still, it will be enough for most people, and all round the G5S is not a bad deal at all.

VERDICT: The G5S feels like a very decent phone for 200 quid, with no major flaws. It does, however, have a lot of competition in this price bracket

★★★★☆ ALTERNATIVE: Huawei Honor 6X £200 This slightly larger phone is more plasticky but has similar specs and a good dual rear camera

SMART WATCH ❘ £329 from Apple

Apple Watch Series 3 Everything at hand This third version of Apple’s Watch is hardly any different on the outside except for a red insert in the side knob (or Crown) to let everyone know you’ve bought the latest version. But on the inside the hardware and software have been updated, with watchOS 4 (also available for older models) bringing Siri voice assistance, improved health and fitness apps, and GymKit, which connects to compatible gym equipment. Fitness is increasingly the focus, although the Watch is also good for notifying you about incoming messages and letting you take phone calls and reply to text messages without having to get your phone out. For SPECIFICATIONS

Retina AMOLED touchscreen • Heart-rate monitor • GPS • Optional 4G • Fits 135-210mm wrist size • One-year warranty • Requires iPhone 5s or higher (6 for 4G) with iOS 11

28 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

the first time, it’s waterproof, so you can wear it swimming and it’ll track your lengths and heart rate, although it lacks advanced options like stroke detection – available on specialised fitness bands. The other big innovation is built-in 4G, which lets you connect to the internet when you don’t have your iPhone. With GPS already added, this makes the Watch a fully standalone device, but you still need an iPhone to make it work, and if you opt for 4G both must be on the EE network. The Series 3 starts at £399 with 4G or £329 without, with prices rising – depending on size (38mm or 42mm strap), colour, strap and finish to well over a grand. The Series 1 (a slightly upgraded version of the original model without GPS or 4G) is still available from £249.

VERDICT: It’s only for iPhone users, but this is as good as smart watches get right now, and the ability to wear it underwater is a great leap forward

★★★★☆ ALTERNATIVE: Huawei Watch 2 Sport £329 It’s not fully waterproof and the betterlooking Classic version is pricey, but with GPS and optional 4G this is the nearest Android rival

TRACKING DEVICE ❘ £25 from Amazon

TrackR Pixel

That was then…

This is now!

For losers

How technology has changed Zip drive

It stops you losing your possessions, but you may lose patience with its unreliability What’s even better, there’s a large community of TrackR users (this is a new version, but they’ve been in business a while now) that serve as extra finders. When you activate Crowd Locate, their phones will look for your Pixel too. If they find it, the app will tell you, but not them. It’s a clever idea, and when we logged on in London we found nearly 5,000 TrackRs nearby, which is reassuring. Just try not to mislay anything in the Orkney islands. It’s a similar concept to the Tile (www., see our review, Issue 489), with one crucial difference – the Pixel has a replaceable battery. All versions of the Tile so far are disposable as soon as their power runs out, which is typically after about a year. This means you’re paying 20-odd quid again (minus a 50 per cent discount if you trade in the old one). When the

Pixel gives up the ghost, a new flat CR2016 cell (£6 for 10 from Amazon www.snipca. com/26361) will bring it back to life. Setting up the Pixel is easy. As with the Tile, the app tells you roughly where the TrackR was last detected via your phone’s GPS, then helps you find it with a signal-strength meter and the option of playing a loud noise on the Pixel’s tiny speaker. It only works at short range, so the app will lose track of it as soon as you move away, and other users will only locate it if they pass close to it and for long enough to register. It’s a bit slower to connect than the Tile, but does the job. You can set a Separation Alert to warn you instantly if you move out of range, but this can give a lot of false alarms. And you can use the Pixel backwards to call a lost phone, which makes a sound even if it’s on silent – and this doesn’t require an internet connection. However, this was erratic in our tests. SPECIFICATIONS

Bluetooth LE tag • Up to 30-metre range • Requires a mobile device with iOS 8 or Android 4.4 or higher with Bluetooth LE • 5.6x26x26mm (HxWxD)

VERDICT: We like the replaceable battery and the TrackR community, but it’s more reluctant to be found than its rival the Tile

HOW HAVE THINGS CHANGED? In 1999, Israeli company M-Systems patented an 8MB SSD built into a USB stick. It stored data on flash memory rather than a mechanically rotating magnetic disk. Floppies remained the favoured medium for everyday backups, but as USB ports became commonplace it was easier to share files with other users on a ‘stick’ – and USB stick capacities kept doubling every few months. Today, a USB 3.0 128GB stick costs around £30, storing 1,280 times as much as an original Zip disk for the same price. These days, external hard drives offer the lowest costs per gigabyte, while online storage has replaced physical devices for many sharing and backup purposes.


Morn/Wikimedia CC-BY-SA 3.0

The TrackR Pixel is a little plastic fob containing a Bluetooth chip to which your smartphone will connect when close by. You can put it on a keyring or stick it to an object. The point is that when it goes out of range, its app can tell you where you had it last, making whatever it’s attached to very difficult to lose.

WHAT WAS IT? y Launched in 1994 by Iomega, the Zip drive (pictured) could read and write removable magnetic disks that looked a bit like 1.44MB 3.5in floppies but could store a huge 100MB each. It wasn’t the first high-capacity removable-disk system, but it was simple and cheap enough to appeal to consumers.


Weds 3 Jan

Asus ZenBook UX410UA Sleek Windows 10 laptop for less than £600

★★★☆☆ ALTERNATIVE: Tile Mate £19 It’s slightly ig ly bigger and has a fixed battery, but connected faster for us; other sizes and shapes are also available

Ne Year, new PC New Top desktop PC picks for under £800

These and much more… Subscribe to Computeractive at

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 29

Buy It

Find out what other products we liked. Buy our new 2016 Back Issue CD: £15 from

Our pick of products that have won the Buy It award




Asus ZenBook UX310UA


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

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



Apple iPhone SE

Motorola Moto G4

£700 from 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. £1,379 from



Samsung Galaxy Tab b S3 9.7

£1,025 from Tested: Issue 516

om/24140 £500 from Tested: Issue 501

£349 from 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. £300 from

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

30 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

£339 from Tested: Issue 500

£165 from Tested: Issue 479

With an attractive 5.5in screen, an excellent 13-megapixel camera, a 13-hour battery and decent performance, the G4 is 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. £518 from



Introducing the Multi Award-Winning F800 PRO, the next generation of Dash Cams. The F800 PRO Dash Cam supports 1080p Full HD recording with Super Night Vision 2.0 technology to enhance footage in low light conditions. The F800 PRO can connect to the THINKWARE CLOUD via a smartphone, vehicle hotspot or MiFi device. This gives the ability to update software and the safety camera database directly, locate the vehicle, get alerts when the vehicle enters or exits pre-set zones and send alerts when an impact is detected of 3G or greater in magnitude.

Super Night Vision 2.0

1080p FULL HD, 30fps

Energy Saving

Safety Camera Alert

Time Lapse

Road Safety Warning System







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




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 To contact the Editor (Daniel Booth) directly email editor@

Win 1 of 2 Y-cam EVO Indoor HD Wi-Fi Security ty Cameras Quick and easy to set up up, the Y-cam Evo lets you ou see and hear he what’s happening at your home me or business from rom anywhe anywhere here using your phone ne or tablet. It’s It perfect for watching ng entrances es and pets and minding ing your loved ed ones at any time of the e day or night night. ht. It instantly alerts you when it detects tects motion, and d you can watch your ur last seven days’ ys’ of recordings,, which are securely ly stored in your online e account. To enter, email your address to with ‘evo’ in the subject line by midnight 2 January. You can buy the Y-cam EVO for £129.99 from For more information follow Y-cam on Twitter @YcamHomeMonitor and ‘like’




TP-Link AV1200 Powerline Wi-Fi Kit WPA8730

Samsung 960 Pro 512GB

Xara Web Designer Premium 365

£110 from 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. £24 from

£285 from Tested: Is Issue 491

£70 from 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. £139 from

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

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 33

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


FRO M 20 16

Buy it now from Amazon at or search for ‘computeractive cd’ on Amazon You can still buy our 2015 CD at

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

Workshops & Tips


Edited by Sherwin Coelho

14 pages of easy-to-follow workshopss and expert tips 35 Pinpoint programs making your PC start slowly 38 Add advanced tools to File Explorer

40 Free up space on your tablet 42 Use a PayPal group to collect money

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

47 Make Office Better 48 Secret Tips For... Unzipping files

Pinpoint programs making your PC start slowly What you need: BootRacer; All Windows versions (XP to 10) Time required: 40 minutes


ver time you may install many programs that automatically start up with your PC, thereby increasing its overall boot time. Free program BootRacer measures how long your PC takes to start up and lets

you disable programs that slow this process. The latest version shows you all the programs that start with your PC and how long each one delays your PC’s start up time, so you can remove those that are a drag on your boot time.



2 3 2 STEP BootRacer comes as a ZIP file, so you’ll need a file-


compression program to install it (we recommend PeaZip, To download BootRacer, go to and click the Download Now link at the top right. Open the downloaded zipped file, click the ‘bootracer.msi’ setup file 1 , then click Yes, Next, select ‘I accept the license agreement’ 2 , click Next 3 again, then Yes to install the program.

STEP BootRacer doesn’t create a desktop icon. To do that,


search for bootracer on your PC, right-click the search result, then click ‘Pin to Start’. Now open your Start menu and drag its icon to your desktop. First, you need to restart your PC to let BootRacer record its boot time. Click the Boot Time Test button 1 , then click Yes 2 . After your PC restarts, you’ll see a pop-up displaying its boot time (in seconds) and an analysis (Good, Average or Bad). 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 35

Workshops STEP Open BootRacer to see your boot


time (in seconds) 1 . You’ll see a breakdown of the entire process at the top, including how long your BIOS took to load (Windows Boot) and how long before your desktop was ready to use 2 . To find out which programs are slowing down your startup process, click Enable Control 3 . Next, click Enable Startup Control, tick Enabled, then click ‘Restart your PC and Analyze Results’. Your PC will now restart.

2 1

3 2

STEP Reopen BootRacer, click


‘Which programs slow down start-up?’ 1 , then click the Analyzing Results tab 2 . You’ll see three options 3 measuring start time, load time and total startup time. Start and load times are explained on the right 4 . Click Total Startup Time 5 to see a list of all the programs that start up with your PC.

4 3

5 1

3 2

1 3 1

2 4 STEP Each start-up program is listed with its start-up time


1 . Select any 2 , then click the ‘i’ button 3

to see its start and load times (see Step 4) at the bottom 4 . You can safely disable or remove any third-party programs that take too long or any you don’t use. Leave any programs that came pre-installed or that you’re not sure about. Right-click any program, then click Control Startup Programs.

36 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

STEP In the window that opens, you’ll see a list of all the


items that start up with your PC - in the order they start. Items at the top are typically needed to make sure your PC starts without problems. Scroll down and you’ll see non-Microsoft programs. You can disable these or remove them from the list. Untick any program 1 to disable it. To remove a program, select it, then click Delete 2 . Click the Refresh button 3 when you’ve finished.

Pinpoint programs making your PC start slowly



5 4




STEP By default, your PC leaves a one second gap between


starting each program or app on your PC during startup. BootRacer lets you reduce this gap. To do this, click BootRacer’s Advanced button 1 , click Options, then the Startup Control tab 2 . Here, change the ‘Delay between starting apps’ time from 1000ms (milliseconds) to 500ms 3 , then click Save 4 or ‘Save and Reboot’ 5 (if you want to restart your PC and check your new boot time).

STEP If you click the ‘Speed up’ button

1 on BootRacer’s main screen, you’ll see two options - Remove Malware and Fix Clean Boost, which we don’t recommend. The first option automatically downloads malware-removal tool UnhackMe, while the second prompts you to install CCleaner Professional. Instead, we recommend Kaspersky Internet Security 2018 (see our Reader Offer, page 70) and the free version of CCleaner ( Run both programs, then restart your PC to further reduce your boot time 2 .


STEP Next, select the Boot


Time Trend tab 1 on the main interface to see a graph 2 showing your PC’s boot times since installing BootRacer. Click the History button 3 to see a further breakdown of this graph, with your best, worst and average startup times 4 . You can print this list or save a copy of it (useful for comparison at a later date). To do that, click the ‘Save as’ button, click ‘Save to DOC’ 5 , then rename and save the file on your PC.

5 1 2




STEP BootRacer has a built-in tool that lets you


take a screenshot of its main interface – useful if you want to take a screenshot of your graph 1 . To do this, click the Advanced button 2 , then ‘Take screenshot’. In the window that opens, use the dropdown menu to select your screenshot’s save location 3 . Name the file at the bottom 4 , then click Save 5 . ●

3 4 5



20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 37

Workshops Add advanced tools to File Explorer What you need: DMEX; Any Windows version (XP to 10) Time required: 20 minutes


he free program DMEX adds a small pop-up window that you can activate by pressing Ctrl+F1 within any Windows/ File Explorer window. It has many useful options that Explorer doesn’t offer. For example, you can align multiple Explorer windows so they appear side by side,

sync contents of any two folders, rs, rename multiple files in one go, access your favourite folders, and nd copy the file names of any folder. der. You can also create your own keyboard shortcuts for each of these tasks.

4 2

5 1

1 2 3

STEP To install the program, go to www.snipca.


com/26400, then click the ‘download DMEX click here’ link in the Download section at the top. Run the downloaded setup file (it doesn’t contain any junk) until you need to click Finish. To use DMEX, open Windows/File Explorer, then press Ctrl+F1. You’ll see a small pop-up window with five options 1 , each of which has further dropdown menus. The first option – Arrange Explorer Windows 2 – is useful if you tend to use many Explorer windows at once.

STEP Move your cursor to it to see options to arrange two windows


horizontally, vertically, or multiple windows horizontally or vertically 1 . If you’ve arranged windows and want to save their alignment, click ‘Save positions’ 2 . You can then click ‘Restore positions’ 3 to quickly restore this saved position. Some options have keyboard shortcuts 4 (Strg indicates your Ctrl key, and Umsch indicates Shift). We’ll show you how to customise these defaults and add shortcuts for other options in Step 7. Of all DMEX’s options, File Operations has the most features 5 .

STEP The first option lets you create a


1 2 3


38 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018


new sub-folder within the one you’re in 1 . Synchronize Wizard 2 opens a new box where you’ll see options to sync the contents of any two folders. You can choose which folder you want to sync items to, and replace or update files in the folder you’re syncing. DMEX also lets you move files from your current folder to its parent folder 3 (the folder above the one you’re in). You can also see how much storage space that folder is consuming 4 and how much free space you have within the drive you’re in 5 .






1 2


STEP To rename multiple files in one go, press Ctrl, click to


select the files you want to rename, open DMEX, move your cursor to File Operations, then click ‘Rename files’. In the window that opens, you’ll see the files’ existing names 1 and where they are stored 2 . There are different ways you can rename your files. The easiest way is to select the relevant dropdown menu at the bottom right, then double-click the relevant renaming value(s) you want 3 . You can also modify the date and time when your files were created 4 . Click Change Names 5 to confirm and rename your files.



STEP Next, open DMEX and move your cursor to ‘Change to’.


You’ll see options to open the folder above the one you’re in 1 or the drive it’s in 2 . Clicking Drive 3 lists all the drives on your PC. Click one to open it. One of the program’s most useful tools is the option to add a list of folders you access often to the ‘Change to’ menu. To do this, open the first folder you want, click ‘Add current path’ 4 , then click Accept. Repeat this to add other folders 5 . You can rearrange their order by clicking ‘Configure paths’ at the bottom.

3 1






4 STEP Select any files within a folder, open DMEX, then move


your cursor to Clipboard 1 . You’ll see the option to copy the file paths, names or both 2 . Alternatively, to only copy file names, click Collect 3 to open a small box at the bottom right, then drag and drop files into it. There are different ways to paste this copied data. Open another folder, then click ‘Paste to file’ 4 to create a new notepad file with your copied data. Alternatively, to only paste this data into another program (such as Word or Outlook), simply open that program, then press Ctrl+V.

STEP We’ll now show you how to customise the program’s


default keyboard shortcuts or create your own for any of the above tasks. Open your PC’s notification menu, right-click the DMEX icon 1 , then click Configuration 2 to see a list of all DMEX’s tasks. To customise/create your own keyboard shortcut, select any task you want 3 . Now press one (or a combination of) Ctrl, Shift, Alt + a letter, number, or Function key of your choice. Click Apply, then OK 4 to confirm your changes. The program’s ‘How to use’ website (www. explains all its features in further detail. ●

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 39

Workshops Free up space on your tablet What you need: Android phone or tablet Time required: 20 minutes


oogle recently released a handy, free Android app called Files Go that lets you find and delete files that are taking up storage space, including duplicates and downloads. It also identifies which apps haven’t been used in the last

month, so you can uninstall any you no longer need in one go. The app is a beta version but it worked perfectly well on our phone, helping us recover more than 10GB in a matter of minutes and making it noticeably faster.

STEP Install and open the


app (www.snipca. com/26338), tap Agree, Allow, then OK 1 . At the top, you’ll see how much of your storage space you’ve used 2 . The app has two main sections - Storage and Files 3 . In the ‘Duplicate files’ section you’ll see how much space you can free up by deleting those files 4 . Tap this to see all your duplicate files - photos, videos, music, PDFs and downloads. By default, these are displayed as large thumbnails.


1 1

2 4 3

STEP Tap the View icon




to see them as a list, with file size and date saved. The Sort icon 2 lets you sort these files by name, date or size. Tick ‘Smart suggestions’ 3 to delete the older versions of all your duplicates (untick any duplicates you want to retain). At the top, you’ll now see how much space you can free up by deleting your selected files 4 . Tap Delete 5 , then Delete again to confirm. You’ll see a summary of how much space you’ve regained. Now return to the main section.





STEP The app also lets you identify and delete


5 40 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018


your apps’ temporary files 1 , plus files you’ve downloaded 2 and ‘large’ files (over 10MB) 3 . In each case you’ll see how much storage space you can regain by deleting them 4 . Tap a section and – as in Step 2 – you’ll see two buttons at the top right to change your view and sort your list. To delete all listed files in one go, tick ‘All items’ at the top. You can then untick any items you want to retain. Finally, tap Delete, then tap Delete again to see how much space you have recovered.

STEP On the main screen, you’ll also see sections for apps that


download files to your device, including WhatsApp and Skype. This is useful because apps like WhatsApp don’t display all the media files it downloads in one convenient location. Select the apps on the main screen, then as in Step 2, adjust the view and sort settings 1 to suit your needs. Tick ‘All items’ 2 , untick any you want to retain, tap Delete 3 , then Delete again to confirm. We recovered about 2.5GB by deleting 3,219 unwanted files 4 from WhatsApp alone.

1 4

STEP Next, tap the Find Unused Apps section. You now


need to grant Files Go permissions, so tap Go To Settings to open the ‘Apps with usage access’ section 1 . Tap Files Go 2 , then tap the ‘Usage access’ slider to turn it on. Tap the back button 3 to return to the app, then tap the ‘Unused apps’ section. You’ll now see a list of apps you haven’t used for a month (and the date you last did). Tap to select the apps you don’t use (or tap ‘All items’ at the top), then tap Uninstall. You’ll need to tap OK to confirm uninstalling each app one at a time.

3 1






3 1 STEP Next, tap the Files


tab 1 . You’ll see seven options – Downloads, ‘Received files’, Apps, Images, Videos, Audio and Documents 2 . Tap any of these to see further options. For example, tap Videos 3 to see all videos on your device, as well as tabs at the top to see videos you’ve created or downloaded using specific apps – your Camera, WhatsApp, Skype, email and so on (see screenshot in Step 7).

2 3



STEP It’s easy to share or delete multiple items at once


from any of these tabs. First, tap and hold an item to select it 1 , then tap other items you want to share or delete 2 . To share them, tap the share icon 3 , then select the app you want to use. To delete items, tap the bin icon 4 , then tap Delete. Alternatively, select one item, then tap the three dots 5 to see options to rename the file or see information about it (location, file size and date you created/downloaded it). ● 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 41

Workshops Create a PayPal group to collect money What you need: Any web browser Time required: 15 minutes


nline-payments system PayPal has launched a new feature called Money Pools. You can use this to create a group and securely collect money from your family and friends. It’s ideal for contributing to shared expenses like a

group trip, group gift, special event, or to help someone in need. We’ll show you how to create a Money Pool for a 70th birthday gift on your PC. You can follow the same steps by installing the free PayPal Android or iOS app.

2 3

1 2 3 4 5

1 STEP Go go, click Log In at the top right


and log into your account. If you don’t have an account, then click the Sign Up button at the top right to create a free one (you’ll be prompted to link your bank account to it), otherwise log into your existing account. On your PayPal homepage, you’ll see options to add another bank account or card if you want 1 . Here, you’ll see the new Money Pools sectiion 2 . Click Start Collecting 3 , then click ‘Create a Pool’ at the top right.

STEP Now give your pool a name 1 , set the goal amount


STEP You’ll now see the option to add




3 42 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018


and a date when the pool closes 3 (the latter two are optional). By default, ‘Show the amount you’ve collected’ is ticked 4 , but you can untick this if you want to hide it. After filling in these details, click the Next button 5 . On the following screen, you need to select one of three options to set what contributors can pay: any amount, minimum amount, or an exact amount. At the bottom, you’ll see two tickboxes: to show/hide contributors’ names and show/hide the amounts they’ve contributed. Click Next when you’ve finished.

a cover photo 1 and a description to your pool (useful to explain why you’re collecting money) 2 . Click the Preview button 3 to see how your Money Pool webpage looks. If you need to make changes, click the ‘Edit details’ link at the top left. When you’re happy, click Publish at the top right, then click ‘Agree and Publish’. You’ll now get a link to the web page that you can copy and email to your family and friends. They can contribute to your Money Pool using their PayPal balance, debit card or bank account (on PC or phone). Fees apply if they use their credit card or if send money from abroad. Upon reaching your intended goal amount, you can transfer the money into your bank account.


• Use Windows 10’s Weds 3 Jan superb new video editor • Remove Windows 10’s biggest annoyances • Remotely access an iPhone or iPad • Save data on your phone and tablet ta

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Readers’ Tips

Handy hints and tips from your fellow readers Email us your tips:


Print postage labels using LibreOffice Writer After reading your Workshop on printing postage labels using Microsoft Word (see Issue 515, page 38), I wondered if there was a similar feature in

LibreOffice (, which I could use. Turns out LibreOffice Writer has all the features and postage labels you covered in your Workshop – provided you know where to look. Open LibreOffice, click Writer Document on the left to open LibreOffice Writer. Next, click the File tab at the top left, move your cursor to New, then click Labels. Now type the text you want in the ‘Label text’ field (tick the Address box if you’re typing an address). Use the Brand and Type dropdown menus to select your label templates. To select the two

Don wins a copy of our 2016 Back Issue CD SCREEN CAPTURE

Capture screenshots on any Windows version

I’ve read about many screenshot programs in the pages of Computeractive. Most of these seem a little too complicated for me. The one I’ve been using for many years (from XP onwards) is a tiny tool called MWSnap ( Install and open it. Next, click ‘Any rect. Area’ on the left, then click the ‘Snap any area’ button at the bottom (see screenshot below). Your PC screen will appear zoomed in (slightly larger) so you get a better view of things. Click and drag your cursor to select the area of your screen that you want to capture (this will open in MWSnap). To save your file, click the File

label templates you used in the Workshop, select Avery A4 in the Brand dropdown menu and ‘J8160 Address’ or ‘L7163 Address’ in the Type dropdown menu (see screenshot). Next, click the Options tab and tick ‘Synchronize contents’. Finally, click New Document at the bottom right to see your labels in two columns. Highlight any label, then make changes to its font type, font size, and so on using the dropdown menus at the top. To sync these text changes across all labels, click the floating Synchronise Labels button. To print these labels, press Ctrl+P, then click OK. Don Palmer

Buy it on Amazon

tab at the top left, ‘Save as’, change the ‘Save as type’ dropdown menu to PNG, then rename and save the screenshot on your PC. Hugh Rogers SOUND PROBLEMS

Restore audio to your PC

About four months ago, my 10year-old Dell desktop PC suddenly lost all sound. I carried out all the usual checks - checking cables, updating drivers and so on, but nothing worked. I even replaced the sound card and tried a USB plug-in sound card, to no avail. Then a few days ago, I came across ‘ Windows Repair’ ( I remembered reading about it in Computeractive, so I decided to try it. Open the program, click the ‘Repairs Main’ tab, then click the Open Repairs button. Next, tick Restart/Shutdown System, then choose whether you want it to restart or shut down after the scan. Finally, click Start Repairs at the bottom (see screenshot above right). The whole scan took about three hours, most of which appeared to be fixing registry errors and reorganising files on my drive. When I switched on my PC after the scan, my desktop screen came on, followed by Windows’ familiar ‘Ding Ding Ding Ding!’ welcome sound. I had my audio back. So I have to thank for such a fantastic repair program, and you, for a truly great magazine and all the superb free programs you regularly recommend. Norman A Clark iOS

Reach iPhone apps at top of your screen more easily

I have short thumbs so I find it difficult to reach icons at the top of my iPhone’s screen when using it with one hand. I recently discovered a useful feature (called Reachability) that shrinks your iPhone screen and slides it toward the bottom, thereby giving you easier access to icons at the top. To use it, simply double-press the Home button. Repeat this action to return your screen to normal. Hugh Marshall 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 43

Phone and Tablet Tips Brilliant things to do on your device iOS

Find types of emails quickly and change your settings

There’s an easy way to quickly find specific types of emails in iOS’s Mail app. Open the app, then tap Inbox at the top left to see your emails (in the left-hand column on an iPad). At the bottom left, you’ll see a small circular icon with three lines (see screenshot right). Tapping it displays all your Unread emails. However, it’s easy to customise this button to see other emails. First, tap the small circular icon, then tap the Unread link at the bottom. You’ll see six options in the Filter pop-up menu (see screenshot right). By default, Unread is the only one ticked, but you can select any of the filter options you want to include here. When you’ve finished, tap the Done button. Your email list will now change to reflect the changes you made. From now on, whenever you tap the circular icon, you’ll see the emails based on the filters you selected. To change the Mail app’s default settings, you need to open the Settings app on your device, then tap Mail. Here, you’ll see options to increase the number of lines in your email message preview from the default two, and customise what swiping across emails in your list does. By default, all sent emails have a ‘Sent from my iPad/iPhone’ signature. To change this, scroll to the bottom of Mail in Settings, tap Signature, delete the default text and type what you want.


Keep an eye on the amount of mobile data you use

To see how much mobile data you’ve used at any time, open Settings, tap ‘Network & Internet’, ‘Mobile data’, then ‘Data usage’. On iOS, tap ‘Mobile data’, then Usage in Settings. You’ll see how much data you’ve used in the current calendar month. By default, this starts on the first day of the month, but you should change this to the date from when your mobile service provider bills you. You can check this date by opening your service provider’s app or by contacting them. Three (Android;

Best New Apps Datally

Free Android: Google’s new app lets you save mobile data by limiting the amount your apps use while also showing you which ones use more data than they need to. It also lists trusted public Wi-Fi networks that you can connect to. It’s a great app if you regularly exceed your mobile data limit (also see tip above right).

44 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

iOS has updated its apps with a new feature that lets you monitor how much data, call minutes and texts you’ve used over the past four months. Open the app to see three graphs – Data (in GB), Voice (in minutes) and Texts (total number) – which display what you’ve used in your current billing cycle. At the bottom of the graph, you’ll see how many days it is before your data allowance renews. Tap any of the three graphs to see your usage over the past four months as bars. At the top, you’ll see your average monthly and highest consumption. The red line at the top indicates your data limit. If you regularly exceed your limit, you should consider switching to another mobile plan or using Google’s new app, Datally (see Best New Apps below), which will help you save mobile data. ANDROID & iOS

Create a photo collage using g Pixlr

There are any number of apps that let you create a collage from your photos, but Pixlr is our favourite because it’s free, doesn’t include adverts and has a wide range of layout and customisation options. Install and open the app (Android www.; iOS www.snipca. com/26416), then tap Collage. You’ll see several photo folders on the left (Camera, Screenshots, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc). Select the relevant folder,

What you should install this fortnight Polarr Album+

Free iOS: Polarr Album+ has as many great features as Google Photos, but it doesn’t store your photos online. It can, however, automatically recognise, categorise and organise people, objects and places in your photos. It also removes duplicates and blurry photos to free up space.

Microsoft Edge

Free Android: iOS: In Issue 514 (see our Workshop on page 42), we showed you how to use Microsoft Edge’s app to sync your favourite websites between your phone and PC, and send websites from your phone to your PC with one click. This app is now out of beta and a full version is available on iOS for the first time.

then select the photos you want to include in your collage (they appear in a panel at the bottom). Tap ‘done’ at the bottom right when you’ve finished. You’ll now see a default grid with your selected photos (see screenshot below). At the bottom, you’ll see several grid styles that you can tap to select. To swap a photo’s position in the grid, tap and hold it, then move it to another position. The icons at the bottom let you change the thickness of the grid’s borders, and change its style and colour. When you’ve finished making changes, click ‘next’ at the top right, OK, ‘done’, then Save Image.

the top lets you disable all birthday notifications. Below this, you’ll see three sliders for birthday notifications: Push (which appear on your device’s screen), Email and SMS (enable this to make Facebook Messenger your default messaging app). At the bottom, you’ll see sliders that let you receive notifications for upcoming and belated birthdays. The second section in Notification Settings (‘Where you receive notifications’) - has three options: Push, Email and SMS. Tap Push to customise how you receive mobile notifications. You’ll see sliders to switch on/off sound, vibration, and your phone’s LED, and to change your default notification sound. Tapping Email and SMS displays all their respective notifications. Switch off the sliders next to any you don’t want to receive.

Games With Kids

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

Hey Duggee: The Counting Badge

£2.99 (Android) £2.99 (iOS) This new app from the BBC has 36 activities that will help your toddlers learn to match up, arrange and count. They’ll start off by counting tadpoles, before moving on to arranging ladybirds, caterpillars and snakes.


Reduce Facebook’s constant notifications

If you find Facebook’s constant barrage of notifications irritating, it’s easy to reduce these to manageable levels. On Android, open Facebook, tap the three lines at the top right, then tap Notification Settings in the ‘Help and Settings’ section at the bottom. On iOS, tap the three lines at the bottom right, Settings, Account Settings, then tap Notifications. You’ll see two sections ‘What notifications you receive’ and ‘Where you receive notifications’. The first section includes categories such as Birthdays, ‘Friend requests’, Apps, ‘Updates from friends’ and so on. All options have items that you can switch on and off using the sliders. Tap Birthdays, for example, to see six sliders (see screenshot above right). The slider at

AGES 6 10

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp*

Free (Android) Free (iOS) In this game, your child plays the role of the manager of a forest campsite who has to complete simple activities like fishing, catching bugs and collecting fruits. This wins them materials with which they can furnish their campsite to attract and befriend animal visitors. AGES 11 16


Free (Android) Free (iOS) Puzzledom contains a wide range of puzzles, all of which are available offline. Our favourites include joining the coloured dots in the grid and moving the tiles to let a ball pass through. There’s no time limit and you can ask for hints if you get stuck. *Contains in-app purchases

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 45

Make Windows Better

Expert tips for every version


Add folders to your Photos app

When you open your Photos app, you’ll only see the photos and videos stored in your Pictures folder (on your PC) and in your OneDrive account. To add photos from other folders on your PC, click the three dots at the top right of the Photos app, then click Settings. Next, click ‘Add a folder’ below Sources (see screenshot below), navigate to and select the folder you want to add, then click ‘Add this folder to Pictures’. Repeat this to add other PC folders.

You can tweak a couple of other settings to improve the app. Scroll down to the ‘Viewing and editing’ section. By default, the Photos app displays only one photo if it finds duplicates. Untick the ‘Linked duplicates’ slider if you’d rather see all duplicates. In Make Windows Better, Issue 516, we explained how the app recognises faces of people in your photos and displays these when you click inside the search bar. If you find this too distracting, turn off the People slider. WINDOWS 10

Restore battery pop-up menu after upgrading to FCU

If you use a Windows 10 laptop you can click the battery icon on your taskbar to see a pop-up menu that shows your battery charge as a percentage, along with an indication of approximately how long it will last, or – if it’s plugged in – how long it’ll take to charge. The slider below this (see screenshot below) lets you choose a power mode for your PC.

46 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

WINDOWS 7, 8, 10

Activate autocomplete in Windows/File Explorer Windows/File Explorer has a useful AutoComplete feature that’s disabled by default. After enabling it, you can start typing the name of any location on your PC into Explorer’s search bar at the top. Before you finish typing you’ll see suggested options that you can click to open. To enable this feature, you first need to open your PC’s Registry Editor as an Administrator. Click inside Windows’ search field at the bottom left of your desktop, type regedit, right-click the ‘regedit’ option that appears, click ‘Run as administrator’, then click Yes. Now navigate to the following key using the dropdown menus on the left: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ Explorer. If you don’t see an AutoComplete key in the Explorer dropdown menu, right-click the Explorer dropdown menu, move your

cursor to New, click Key, then name this AutoComplete. Next, click your AutoComplete key, right-click any blank area on the right, move your cursor to New, click String Value and rename this AutoSuggest. Double-click this, type yes in the ‘Value data’ field (see screenshot), then click OK and close the Registry Editor. From now on, whenever you start typing inside Windows/File Explorer’s search field, you’ll see a list of suggested locations – click the one you want. You can remove this feature by setting AutoSuggest’s ‘Value data’ field to ‘no’, or by right-clicking AutoSuggest and clicking Delete.

If you don’t see this pop-up menu after upgrading to the Fall Creators Update, your PC has probably switched to the High Performance Power Plan (which disables tools that eat into your battery life). To rectify this, search for and open Control Panel, click ‘Hardware and Sound’, the Power Options link, then select the ‘Balanced (recommended)’ plan. WINDOWS 10

Quickly import favourites from other browsers into Edge

One of the new features added to the Microsoft Edge browser in the Fall Creators Update is the option to import your bookmarks, browsing history, passwords and settings from Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox with just one click. For this to work, you will need to have the browser you want to import items from installed on your PC. Now open Edge, click the three dots at the top right, click Settings at the bottom, then click the new ‘Import from another

browser’ button. You’ll now see Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox options with a description of the various items that you can import. Select the browser you want to import from, then click the Import button (see screenshot above). Microsoft Edge will now start importing your items. After that’s completed, click the ‘View imported favorites’ link to see everything you’ve imported.

Make Office Better

Expert tips for every program


Customise your spreadsheet’s cells and change its font Excel’s cells are white with black borders, but there are other cell styles you can choose to breathe life into your spreadsheet. To see these styles, highlight any data in your spreadsheet, click the ‘Cell styles’ dropdown menu in the Styles section of the Home tab, then move your cursor to one of the options to see how your data looks. If you don’t like any of these styles, it’s easy to create your own. Click the New Cell Style button at the bottom of the Cell Styles dropdown menu, name your new style, then click the Format button in the Style window that opens. You’ll see six tabs in this window. The Alignment tab has options to align your cell’s text centrally or to the left (it’s to the right by default). The Font tab lets you choose from several font types, styles, sizes and colours (see screenshot). The Border

tab lets you add various border styles and colours, and the Fill tab lets you add colour within the cells. Click OK twice to confirm any changes you make.

To apply this style, select the relevant data, click the Cell Styles dropdown menu, then select your style’s name at the top.


rearranging your text, click the Close Outline View button at the top right.

It can take a long time to reorder text within a larger document, but Word offers a handy alternative to the standard cut-and-paste method. Once you’ve opened your document, click the View tab, then click Outline View in the Document Views section on the left. You’ll now see ‘+’ symbols next to any headings in your document and dots next to the opening line of each paragraph. To make things more manageable, tick the Show First Line Only box at the top to see a truncated version of your document (see screenshot below). To move an entire section of text, click and drag the relevant heading’s ‘+’ symbol up or down. Similarly, to move any paragraph, click and drag its dot to where you want it. When you’ve finished


domain’ or any of the free options (see screenshot below left). Click the image you want to download, then right-click it, click ‘Save image as’, then rename and save it to a folder of your choice. To insert this image into your presentation, click the Insert tab, Picture, then navigate to and select your downloaded Clip Art image.

Reorganise text by dragging and dropping

Download Clip Art images from the web

If you use PowerPoint 2010, it’s very easy to make use of Clip Art images – click the Insert tab, then click Clip Art at the top left. You’ll see options to search for and insert the images you want. Clip Art images aren’t directly available in later versions of PowerPoint (2013 onwards), but Microsoft recommends an easy way to download the Clip Art images you want. Go to, click Images at the top left, then type a search term for the image you want, followed by ‘clip art’ (for example, dog clip art). Next, click the Filter button at the top right, then click the Licence dropdown menu that appears. Now select ‘Public


Fix OneNote not syncing

If you go to and log in using your Microsoft account, OneNote should automatically sync any notes you create to the OneNote program on your PC. If your OneNote PC program doesn’t sync your online notes, you may need to change some settings. Open the OneNote program, click the File tab, Account, then make sure you’re logged in using your Microsoft account. If you’re not logged in, you’ll see an option to do so. Alternatively, you can sign out and log in using another account. Next, click Options on the left, then click Sync. Here, tick both options, then click OK. Your online notes will now sync with your PC-based OneNote program. 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 47

Secret Tips For…

Zipping and unzipping files Hide ZIP files within photos, password-protect sensitive files, automatically extract them to specific folders and more Automatically name a ZIP file after a specific file

When you use Windows’ built-in compression tool to unzip a group of files, you often seem to end up with a ZIP file that’s named after a random file in your group. There is, in fact, a hidden way to control how Windows names your ZIP files. Open File Explorer, locate your files and drag (or Ctrl+click) to select those you want to zip. Now, when you right-click your selection to access the ‘Send to’ option, make sure you click the specific file you want to name your ZIP after. Select ‘Send to’, then ‘Compressed (zipped) folder)’ (see screenshot above right) and your ZIP file will be named after the file you right-clicked.

Hide a ZIP file within an image

You can use command prompt to disguise a ZIP file as an innocent-looking picture file. First, find an image file – any JPEG, PNG or GIF will do – and place it on your desktop. Now find a ZIP file and put this on the desktop, too. Rename the files so there are no spaces in the names. If your image file is called ‘My image.png’, for example, right-click it, select Rename and change it to Myimage.png.

Name your compressed file after a specific file by using the ‘Send to’ option

PeaZip’s bookmarks let you use shortcut keys to unzip your files into specific folders

Now click Start, type cmd and press Enter. At the command prompt, type cd desktop and press Enter. Then type copy /B Newimage.png Myimage.png (cut and paste this from J3RGJR9r), where Myimage.png and are the names of your image and ZIP files, and Newimage.png is the name of the file you’re creating. Press Enter and Newimage.png will appear on your desktop. The file works like a normal image file, so you can view it in an image-editing program. To reveal the hidden files, open PeaZip (see next tip), navigate to the image file, then right-click it and select ‘Open as archive’.

Unzip files to specific folders

Convert from one format to another PeaZip support lots of different archive file types and includes the useful ability to convert from one to another without

48 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

you having to extract the contents first. For example, if you have a RAR or 7z file that you want to share with a friend but you’re not sure whether they’ll have a tool to extract its contents, you could convert it to a ZIP file (which Windows can extract without any extra tools). Locate your file in File Explorer, right-click it and select PeaZip, then Convert. In the bottom pane of the window that opens, select the format you want to convert to – ZIP, for example – from the top dropdown menu, then click OK.

Our favourite free archive tool, PeaZip ( has some great hidden features, including shortcuts that let you unzip files to your favourite folders. Open PeaZip and navigate to a folder you want to add as a favourite. Right-click the folder and select Navigation, then ‘Add to bookmarks’ (see screenshot above). You’ll see your folder listed under Bookmarks. Note where the folder appears in the list. If it’s the sixth bookmark from the top, for example, you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+6 to extract the contents of any file directly into that folder.

Password-protect your files

To hide a file from prying eyes, you can add it to an encrypted archive. In PeaZip, browse to the file you want to encrypt, click it, then click Add. In the box that opens, select a format from the dropdown menu, then click ‘Enter password/keyfile’. Type and confirm your password (see screenshot below), and click OK twice. Now, only people with the password can unzip the file.

Use PeaZip to password-protect your files and hide their contents from prying eyes

Next issue Secret Tips For… Network & internet settings

What’s All the Fuss About...


Get your own back on scammers for wasting your time… by wasting theirs instead

What is it?

It’s an artificially intelligent chatbot that has been set up by New Zealand security firm Netsafe (www.netsafe. to reply to scam emails automatically.

What’s the point of that?

The idea is that the chatbot’s replies look like they’re coming from an actual flesh-and-blood person – complete with typing mistakes, lame jokes and so on – stringing the scammers along by fooling them into thinking you’re falling for their con trick. By wasting their time with a series of back-and-forth emails that never go anywhere, the theory is that the scammers have less time to spend on scamming actual people. Plus, you’ll get a a satisfying sense of turning the tables on the bad guys.

convincing, Re:scam will sometimes set your email aside for a period of time before replying. You can read some brilliantly funny example conversations by clicking ‘Can you show me?’ at

How does it work?

Is it safe?

When you next receive a suspicious email promising you a miraculous and unexpected inheritance or an unmissable overseas investment opportunity (or similar), forward it to before dropping it into your junk folder. The email will be analysed and, if it’s found to be a phishing scam, you’ll receive a confirmation email, along with an invitation to view the hilarious conversation between the chatbot and the scammer. Re:scam’s chatbot will then assume one of its human personalities and begin communicating with the scammer, under the guise of someone that’s been duped by the phishing email. In order to seem

Yes. We always advise never to reply to scam emails but, technically speaking, you’re not the one replying – the Re:scam chatbot is. Your personal email is never used to contact the scammers – all communication is done via a proxy account. When you view the email conversation online, you may see your name, email address and your own comments in the message thread, but all of this information is stripped from the emails before Re:scam contacts the scammer. You might still see it, but the scammer can’t.

How effective is it?

Re:scam is never going to bring an end to phishing scams, but that’s not the intention. It’s all about sending the scammers on a wild goose chase and disrupting their operations. So far, Re:Scam’s chatbots have sent almost half a million emails to scammers (see

You’ll get a satisfying sense of turning the tables on the bad guys screenshot below left), which Netsafe estimates would equate to wasting around four and a half years’ worth of scammers’ time. Netsafe also believes that by communicating with scammers, it can learn more about their activities, locations and methods.

Can it be used to check whether an email is fake?

Re:scam doesn’t recommend this, admitting that its own systems aren’t 100 per cent foolproof. If you’re ever in any doubt as to whether an email you receive from your bank or any other service you’re registered with is legitimate, it’s best to contact the relevant company directly.

Can I unsubscribe?

You don’t need to sign up to use Re:scam, but if you forward a scam to the service, you will continue to receive emails from it, unless you opt out. This is done by clicking the Unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. Even after you’ve unsubscribed, you can continue forwarding phishing emails to the service. 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 49


FREE 2018 IN

It’s time to get your computer, phone and tablet fit for 2018. Software expert Jonathan Parkyn reveals free tools and downloads that will prove indispensable throughout the year ahead


echnology is changing so fast it can feel bewildering. Every year sees new devices, threats, software and apps that make it seem like we’re in a sci-fi future as imagined in the 1960s (minus flying cars). It’s hard to make predictions beyond

WHAT YOU CAN DO • Replace tools Microsoft and others are killing off in 2018 • Download free apps to improve your smartphone and tablet • Install browser extensions that help you stay safe online • Get new free maps, fonts, themes, TV programmes and more

50 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

the next few months, but we can make But there’s more to download from the good assumptions about how you can web than programs. In the final section of prepare yourself for 2018, helping you this feature we recommend a miscellany thrive no matter what Microsoft, Google of downloadable treats that will prove and others throw at you. Which is why more useful than ever next year. These intro to come we’ve prepared this guide to the free include free fonts, maps, BBC shows, software, apps and downloads we think photos and Windows 10 themes. you’ll need. Before you get started, we recommend Some of these tools will be new to you, you install a tool that automatically others will be old favourites. But they’ve updates software to the latest (and all got something special that’ll make theoretically safest) version. Our choice is them essential in 2018. Several are Kaspersky Software Updater, which is excellent replacements for programs that free from You are due to close. There are also tools that already have this tool if Kaspersky put you back in control of your PC should Internet Security (winner of our past nine Microsoft’s upcoming changes not suit antivirus tests) is installed on your you. And we couldn’t ignore security computer. If not, please turn to page 68 software that will protect you from 2018’s for our exclusive reader offer, which biggest threats. knocks 43 per cent off the price.

Download for free in 2018


LibreOffice ( is still one of our favourite free programs. But in 2018, as the line between PCs, tablets and phones continues to blur, we think you’ll need an office suite that you can use across all your devices and operating systems. WPS Office (, see screenshot right) fits the bill. It’s a free office suite that looks and works much like modern versions of Microsoft Office, and runs on Windows, iOS and Android. It gives you 1GB free online storage to share and sync files between your devices, though you can also use other services like Dropbox and OneDrive. Currently, this works with Windows and iOS only, but WPS has promised to make it available for Android users soon. Free use of WPS Office is supported by adverts, but these are rarely intrusive and it’s a small price to pay for such a brilliant multi-device office suite.

2 EaseUS ToDo Backup Free and Google Backup and Sync

CrashPlan (www., one of the best free backup tools, is closing its home-user services in October 2018 to refocus on business customers. This is a massive shame, because it provided a useful way to back up your files securely to an external hard drive, as well as to someone else’s computer over the internet, without having to pay a sausage. This meant you always had local (on your PC) and off-site (someone else’s computer or online) copies of your files. It’s a good way to protect yourself against ransomware, theft, fire, hardware failure - almost anything in fact, except a meteor strike. Currently, there’s no direct free equivalent. CrashPlan recommends switching to Carbonite (www.carbonite. com), but this costs a minimum of £45

Choose how many file versions you want to save using EaseUS ToDo Backup Free

WPS Office lets you open and sync documents on PC, phone and tablet

per year. Instead, you can use a combination of free tools to achieve a similar level of protection. We recommend using EaseUS ToDo Backup Free ( for your local backups. Just make sure you untick the option to install any additional tools when you run the installer. Crucially, EaseUS ToDo Backup Free supports file versioning, which keeps previous versions of saved files, giving you a lifeline if attacked by ransomware. Click File Backup, ‘Image-reserve strategy’, then tick ‘Enable image reserve strategy’ and enter the number of backups you want to preserve (‘4’ in the screenshot below left). For your off-site backup, we’d recommend using Backup and Sync (, Google’s new, simple tool for syncing files with Google Drive. Also consider Veeam Agent (see page 58).

3 MediaMonkey

Microsoft’s Groove Music app leaves a lot to be desired. Its interface is simplistic, awkward to navigate and – amazingly – lacks even basic features, like the ability to rip music from CDs. Sadly, Microsoft shows no sign of improving it. In fact, on 31 December Microsoft will remove its musicstreaming features and online store. Launch Groove Music and you’ll see a warning telling you to download any purchases you’ve made before that date, or you’ll lose them forever. There are many other, much better music players available, including MediaMonkey (www.mediamonkey. com). Packed with features, it makes browsing your collection easy, and supports dozens of audio-file formats, as

well as podcasts. You can also ask it to automatically add album cover art and lyrics to your files. MediaMonkey doesn’t have its own built-in music store, but it can sync with your phone or tablet (a recent update makes it work with Android 8 and iOS 11). This means you can shop for tunes on your mobile device and transfer them easily to your PC.

4 Stellarium

In 2003 Mars came within 34.6 million miles of Earth, closer than at any time in nearly 60,000 years. In July 2018, it will get almost as close - just 35.8 million miles away. That’s all the excuse you should need to download the outstanding astronomy program Stellarium (see screenshot below), though the launch of Nasa’s Parker Solar Probe, also in July, sounds exciting (go to launch schedule and scroll down to the bottom). To get Stellarium on your PC visit and click your operating system at the top (the download will begin automatically). You’ll then be able to explore a 3D simulation of the night sky. Stellarium was recently updated, adding moons of Saturn, Uranus and Pluto.

Get up close to Mars using Stellarium

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 51

5 Start Menu X

Sadly, it looks like one of our favourite free tools may well be heading for that big cloud server in the sky next year. The creators of Classic Shell recently decided to stop developing it after eight years, citing lack of time and Windows 10’s frequent updates as two of the main factors. Originally built to replace the sorely missed Start menu in Windows 8, Classic Shell had continued to be popular with Windows 10 users because of its option to restore a more traditional Start menu to the operating system, as well as providing many clever ways to tweak the interface. The source code for the last version of Classic Shell – version 4.3.1 – has been posted online in the hope that someone may continue developing it. But, ultimately, if no further updates are made available, then Classic Shell will eventually become unsafe and may stop working when Windows 10 is next updated. StartIsBack+ ( and Start 10 ( are both good replacements, but cost money. The best free option is probably Start Menu X (, see screenshot above right), which doesn’t have as many features but lets you choose a ‘classic’ menu style and customise its look and feel.

6 Sandboxie

One of 2017’s most successful (for the bad guys) and shocking (for the rest of us) security scares was September’s CCleaner hack, where malware was found in the popular PC-cleaning tool. The infected update is thought to have been installed by more than 2.27 million users. That such a respectable tool could be infiltrated highlights how difficult it is to know which programs you can trust. Hackers

Click ‘Run Sandboxed’ to run programs safely on your PC

52 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

With Classic Shell being discontinued, we recommend using Start Menu X instead

aren’t stupid. They’ll always look for flaws in programs used by millions. An extreme response is to never install software again, maybe encasing your computer in concrete just to be sure. A more reasonable reaction is to use Sandboxie ( This ring-fences any programs you install, preventing them from harming your PC. Instead of running them as normal, right-click the program file or shortcut and select Run Sandboxed (see screenshot below left). Sandboxie is free to use, though after 30 days you’ll be occasionally pestered to buy a licence.

7 Foxit PDF Reader or Xodo

With little fanfare (probably hoping nobody would notice) Microsoft has revealed it will be retiring Reader, its Windows 10 PDF reader app, on 15 February 2018. The company’s somewhat unhelpful advice is to switch to using Microsoft Edge for reading PDFs. Edge has a handful of PDF-friendly tricks up

You can add items to your Christmas list using Xodo’s annotation tool

OTHER WINDOWS 10 CHANGES IN 2018 As well as more design tweaks, the Redstone 4 update (due March) is likely to include Near Share, letting you send files between nearby computers using Bluetooth (though not to everyone’s liking – see James Gourley’s letter on page 12). There will be new tools added to Edge too, including (hopefully) the ability to mute audio coming from a specific tab, and saving ebooks in the EPUB format. Cortana, rapidly becoming an essential Windows tool, will have a new Collections section suggesting things you’ve shown an interest in, such as books, TV shows and recipes.

its sleeve – you can annotate documents, for example – but it’s clearly no match for a dedicated PDF tool. Instead, you could go for Foxit Reader 9.0 (www., which has more features than Basil Brush has ‘boom booms’. These include new keyboard shortcuts (using just one key - no need to press the Windows key), and the Reflow Mode, which reformats the text in a PDF when you zoom in. As a downloadable program, Foxit isn’t an exact like-for-like replacement for Microsoft’s desktop app. If that’s what you want, get the free Xodo PDF Reader & Editor from the Windows Store (www. Its annotation tool is very easy to use (see screenshot left).

Download for free in 2018

PHONE & TABLET APPS 8 Microsoft Launcher

In October, Joe Belfiore, a vice president in the Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, officially admitted via a series of tweets that the company was no longer working on Windows Phone ( 26399). It wasn’t much of a surprise, given how the company’s mobile business has floundered in recent years, unable to compete with Apple and Google (which makes Android). But you can keep Windows Phone alive in 2018 by installing the brilliant Microsoft Launcher app for Android phones and tablets (www.snipca. com/26381, see screenshot below). It lets you customise your device’s interface with new styles, and gives you the option to tie your Microsoft account to your phone. This is particularly useful because Windows 10’s new ‘Continue on PC’ feature is built into the app, allowing you to ‘send’ (without the need to email) web pages, Use Microsoft Launcher to photos and make your Android phone more to your look more like Windows computer.

GET ANDROID OREO TOOLS NOW We don’t yet know what the ‘P’ in Android ‘P’ (9.0) will stand for (Pancake? Peanut Butter Sandwich?). But while there will almost certainly be a new version of Android in 2018 (around August, probably), many Android users haven’t even been updated to Android Oreo (8.0) yet, despite it being released in August. Samsung is rumoured to be releasing it for Galaxy devices some time in early 2018. But if you can’t wait, or if your phone or tablet just doesn’t support the update, then consider installing apps right now that add Oreo’s superb new features to your device. Want a taste of Oreo’s picture-in-picture abilities, for example? Then install Floating Apps Free (www., see screenshot). Or

how about snoozing notifications and alerts, letting you read them later? You can add this via Boomerang Notifications ( On some devices, it’s possible to match another key Oreo feature by installing Night Mode Enabler (www.snipca. com/26392). You can even make your phone look and work like a fancy Google Pixel phone, with Lawnchair Launcher (

9 TVCatchup

2018 is going to be a bumper year for must-watch live TV. BBC and ITV are likely to have the best coverage of the royal wedding in May, while the broadcast rights to the football World Cup in June and July are also shared between the two channels. The best app for tuning in live is TVCatchup (Android 26382; iOS, see screenshot right), which is essentially an unofficial Freeview streaming service that lets you watch TV broadcasts over the internet. It’s a great app, though perhaps it should change its name to reflect that it offers more than just ‘catch-up’ TV.

10 Radioplayer

You may already have TuneIn Radio installed on your device. And, like us, you may also have become increasingly frustrated with the

Don’t be fooled by the name - TVCatchup lets you watch live TV on your phone or tablet

Fed up with TuneIn Radio’s distracting extras? Switch to the radio-only Radioplayer

needless extras that have been recently added to this once-great radio-streaming app. Podcasts, US sports coverage, audiobooks and more besides have started crowding out the radio stations themselves. In the spirit of decluttering your life for 2018, we recommend switching to Radioplayer (Android www.snipca. com/26384; iOS, see screenshot above right), an official, BBC-supported app with live streams and catch-up content from hundreds of local and national radio stations. It’s sleek, reliable and all about radio.

11 Fing

In the wake of the Krack WPA2 flaw (see ‘What’s All the Fuss About?’, Issue 515), we’ll need to spend 2018 being wary of shady intruders on our Wi-Fi network. Fing (Android; iOS www. is a network scanner that lets you check for unauthorised Wi-Fi connections. It’s easy to use, though works slightly better on Android devices because iOS 11 can’t read MAC addresses, making it harder to identify what device is invading your network. 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 53

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Most security experts agree that the best way to combat Krack is for manufacturers to release firmware updates that fix the vulnerability in their devices. But while many manufacturers – including Microsoft – have been quick to do this, others are dragging their heels, meaning Krack is likely to cast a shadow that stretches well into 2018. In the meantime, we recommend installing HTTPS Everywhere (for Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Android:, see screenshot right), which encrypts your connection to web pages – even ones that don’t implement encryption by default – and makes it impossible for hackers to intercept your browsing.

13 Data Saver and Pocket

Chrome has been the world’s most popular browser for many years, but Mozilla’s new Firefox Quantum offers advantages that make it highly tempting. It’s fast, more secure and offers a number of useful new features, such as its built-in Pocket tool that saves web pages for later. But if you want to stick with Chrome in 2018, you can install some extensions that help it match Firefox Quantum’s new super powers. Google’s own Data Saver ( extension

Install HTTPS Everywhere to encrypt all your browsing

Google’s Data Saver shows you how much data you’re using as you browse the web

speeds up browsing by compressing web-page content before it’s delivered to your PC. It shows in a graph how much data is being used (see screenshot above right), and how much you can save. And Pocket is available for Chrome too – get it from

have the right to be ‘forgotten’ online by withdrawing consent or deleting personal data, including browser cookies. Until then, you could install Cookie AutoDelete (Chrome; Firefox 26398, see screenshot), which automatically deletes unused cookies whenever you close a tab.

14 Cookie AutoDelete

2018 will see the implementation of new data-protection laws (General Data Protection Regulation) that will give UK citizens more control over what happens to personal information collected by tech companies. Under the current proposals, people will

Cookie AutoDelete removes cookies when you close a tab while browsing the web

MAPS, FONTS, THEMES & MORE… 15 Free media codecs from Microsoft

Windows 10 comes with built-in support for dozens of audio and video-file formats. But to play files in unsupported formats you need to install special codec packs or multiformat media players, such as VLC (www. That’s why we’re encouraged by Microsoft’s recent decision to release the Web Media Extensions app in the

Install the Web Media Extensions Windows 10 app to play more audio and video formats

Windows Store (, see screenshot below left). It adds support for three new media formats (OGG, Vorbis and Theora) to Windows 10. Hopefully, this is a trend that Microsoft will continue in 2018 and beyond, adding support for more media formats via similar free apps.

16 Free maps

The recently updated StreetComplete app (www. not only provides access to all OpenStreetMap ( maps on your Android phone or tablet, but also lets you add information yourself (see screenshot right). By completing simple ‘quests’ you can fill in incomplete or unfinished data in your local area. The latest version lets you attach photos and comments. All you need is a free OpenStreetMap account.

Add your own information to maps on the app StreetComplete

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 55

17 New free clip art

Looking for a new image to spruce up a document, presentation or newsletter? If you’ve already exhausted your word processor’s built-in supply of clip art, you’ll probably be looking for something new. If so, check out the latest downloadable files available from the Openclipart website (www., see screenshot below). You’ll find everything from abstract shapes and patterns to cartoonstyle images, striking silhouettes and even free photos, all downloadable in a range of formats.

Toucans, Cro-Magnons, giraffes and tulips - they’re all downloadable for free

Openclipart has a wide selection of free clip art images

18 New Windows 10 themes

The Windows 10 Creators Update (released in April) revived Themes – an old Windows system that let you apply themed wallpapers, colour schemes and sound effects to your PC. Now you can download hundreds of free themes via the Windows Store (see screenshot below). To give your desktop a fresh lick of paint for 2018, click Start, Settings, Personalisation, Themes, then click ‘Get more themes in the Store’. Click one to preview it, then click Get to download it.

You can download hundreds of themes from the Windows Store – what’s your favourite?

19 Nature photos & illustrations

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (, a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries in the US and England, recently put the entire contents of its open-source archive online for free. You can browse the whole collection – 56 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

more than 2 million illustrations and photos, taken from a range of scientific, natural history, botanical, and research sources. Download any you like at www. (see screenshot above).

20 Free fonts

Windows, Office and other tools come with a built-in library of fonts for you to use in your documents. But if you’re looking for something new then try Going to will take you to the latest fonts available, but you can also browse by category. You can type a word into the box at the top to see has a huge selection of free and paid-for fonts to download

how it would look in all the fonts displayed (see screenshot above). Most fonts are free. Click the price-tag icon in the top toolbar to see those you’ll have to pay for.

WATCH MORE BBC SHOWS – BUT BE QUICK! In the words of Director-General Tony Hall, the BBC is on a mission to “reinvent public service broadcasting for a new generation”. Part of that is to make more shows available to watch online through the iPlayer. We applaud the timing of its first big effort – a bunch of classic shows made available just in time for Yuletide viewing. You can stream or download them for free. Visit the BBC’s site for the list of programmes (, which includes both series of Planet Earth and Blue Planet; acclaimed dramas Peaky Blinders, Wolf Hall and Line of Duty; and the comedies Gavin and Stacey and Miranda. You can also watch series 3 and 4 of Sherlock, every regeneration episode of Doctor Who from 2005, and five

EastEnders Christmas specials (including Den handing Angie divorce papers in 1986, watched by a mind-boggling 30 million people!). The shows won’t be available for long though – just until mid-January. Hopefully this will free up space for more shows throughout 2018. Classic series from the 1970s and 1980s would be our top choice.

Download for free in 2018 21 Free stock video footage

In centuries to come, historians will be thankful for the Internet Archive. Set up in 1996, it’s now the world’s largest vault of digital content, including 279 billion (yes, billion) web pages, 4 million audio recordings and 100,000 PC programs. There are also 3 million videos, of which over 1,600 are copyright-free clips you can use in your own videos. Visit www., then click one of the four headings to order the videos (to see those most recently added click Date Reviewed, see screenshot right). Footage uploaded this year includes clips of a British hydrogen bomb explosion from 1957, and Annie Oakley (of Annie Get Your Gun fame) firing rifles in 1894. After you click a thumbnail image, select a download option in the right-hand menu.

The Internet Archive has over 1,600 copyright-free videos - click Date Reviewed to see the latest

22 Calendars for 2018

You can create PDF calendars at (www.snipca. com/26448), adding your own events by clicking the link at the top (see screenshot below). Once you’ve done this and created an account, click a date then type the event description in the box that appears and colour-code it (optional). To print it, click the magenta ‘Print Calendar as PDF’ button at the top right.

Click this link to add your own events to your calendar

23 Free walking maps

One site we hope will come out of beta in 2018 is Footpath Maps (, which contains downloadable Ordnance Survey maps. It’s maintained by just one person (John) and lacks a bit of polish,

Footpath Maps has downloadable Ordnance Survey maps of the UK

but it’s a brilliant source of downloadable maps showing the UK’s footpaths, cycle paths, bridleways and other rights of way. Type a location in the search box, click Go, then select a place (we chose the Yorkshire Dales, see screenshot above). To download it as a PDF click the printer icon at the top right, then (in Chrome) click Change under Destination, and select ‘Save as PDF’. To do this in Firefox you’ll need to install an add-on, such as Web2PDF Converter (www.snipca. com/26446) or ‘Save as PDF’ (www.

24 BBC World Service documentaries

How’s this for a variety of topics: music in the Stone Age; Japanese Kamikaze pilots; women’s football in Tibet; and cheerleading

Cheerleading grannies? Why not! Listen to their story on the BBC World Service site

grandmothers in Arizona (see screenshot above). This quartet of topics may sound like the most diverse ‘specialist subject’ round in the history of Mastermind, but they’re actually all covered in the 500plus radio documentaries on the BBC World Service’s website (www.snipca. com/ 26454). Unless you know what you’re looking for (in which case you type it in the search box), it’s best to simply browse through the pages for something that intrigues you. After clicking the Download button you need to choose whether you want the file in ‘higher’ (128Kbps) or ‘lower’ (64Kbps) quality. To receive forthcoming documentaries as a podcast, visit www. and click the top-right Subscribe button. ON SALE

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Windows 10 updates 1Letting ruin your day

Forget TVs, dishwashers and sandwich toasters - the greatest invention of the 20th Century was the ‘snooze’ button on alarm clocks. Microsoft added the option (see screenshot below) to the Windows 10 Creators Update (released in April), letting you postpone updates for up to three days. You can also click ‘Pick a time’ to schedule when you want an update installed. It’s probably the most helpful thing Microsoft did in 2017. No longer will huge updates force themselves on your PC unannounced. This option appears only for Microsoft’s twice-yearly major updates - in 2018 they are codenamed Redstone 4 (Version 1803, due March) and Redstone 5 (Version 1809, due in Autumn).

Click ‘Snooze’ to postpone Windows updates for up to three days

software to defrag 2 Using your computer

Piriform makes four essential programs. Actually, make that three. While we recommend Speccy, Recuva and CCleaner (when it’s not smuggling Avast on to your PC - see page 16), we’re less keen on Defraggler. Such defragging tools were once essential to keep your hard drive healthy, but most modern PCs can do the job themselves. In Windows 10 it’s better to use the Optimise Drives tool. Windows runs it on a schedule, so you should never need to open it manually. It’s best to leave it get on with the job. The golden rule of defragging is that it’s unnecessary on SSDs. Worse, it can even damage the drive. Windows 10 knows this, so automatically turns off Optimise Drives when it detects you’ve installed an SSD.

8 mistakes you

should’ve stopped making in 2017 Computeractive e Editor Daniel Booth has made all these mistakes in the past. He’s learnt his lesson now, and wants to help you do likewise parking’. When you’re ready to return to your car, tap the ‘You parked here’ pin (see screenshot below), then Directions. You can make notes about where you parked by tapping ‘Parking location’ at the bottom, and set a timer so you return

4 Using Office 2007

where you 3 Forgetting parked your car

None of the world’s 10 largest car parks are in the UK (they’re all in the US and Canada, since you ask), but it can still be infuriatingly tricky to locate your vehicle in airports, theme parks and shopping centres. It’s one of the problems Google solved in 2017 with an update to its Maps app in March. Once you’ve parked, open Google Maps on your phone, tap the blue dot that indicates your location (and therefore where your car is), then tap ‘Save your

58 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

in time and avoid incurring a fine. Apple users may be forgiven for smiling smugly because the car-finding option was added to iPhones six months earlier, when iOS 10 launched. Apple provides instructions at

Google Maps now shows you where you parked your car

When making their plans for 2017, hackers would have ringed the date ‘10 October’ in their calendars. It’s when Microsoft ended ‘Extended’ support for Office 2007, meaning it’ll never receive another security update. You can still use it, but with every day that passes it becomes less safe. It’s time to move on. You have three realistic options: upgrade to the latest version of Office; switch to a non-Microsoft office suite like LibreOffice (; or swap downloadable desktop programs for online office tools. Upgrading to the new version involves a choice between Office 365 (subscription only; £5.99 a month, or £60 a year) and Office 2016 (a one-off payment of £120). In contrast, switching to LibreOffice

means a choice between nothing and nada. Yes, it’s free, and is quickly becoming a favourite with Computeractive readers and writers alike (we’ll start including it soon in our Make Office Better page). These downloadable programs are ideal for heavy office users. If your needs are less advanced, try Microsoft’s free Office Web Apps ( and Google Drive ( The latter is more versatile because it works offline. Microsoft is unlikely to provide this because it still wants people to cough up for the paid-for versions of Office.

poor screen-recording 5 Using apps on iPhone and iPad

One of the best things about an update to Windows, iOS and Android is they come with new tools built into the system, meaning you no longer need to use shoddy apps made by other developers. One of the most useful in 2017 was the new screen-recording tool in iOS 11, released at the end of September. You first need to add it to your Control Centre by tapping Settings, Control Centre, Customise Controls, then tapping the green button next to Screen Recording. Next, open the Control Center by swiping up from the bottom of your screen. You should see the red Screen Recording button in the bottom-left corner (see screenshot below). When you tap this to start a recording, you’ll be prompted to turn the microphone on or off. Turn it on if you want to add a

Activate Windows’ ‘Storage sense’ to keep your PC free of unwanted files

commentary to your recording. Your videos are saved on your Camera Roll, so open the Photos app to watch and edit them.

old files clog up 6 Letting your PC

With a new Paint 3D app, Microsoft wanted the Creators Update to inspire the inner artist in all of us. More useful though was the ‘Storage sense’ tool, which automatically deletes temporary files that your programs aren’t using. The Fall Creators Update, released in October, added the option to delete files in the Downloads folder that haven’t changed in 30 days. ‘Storage sense’ is turned off by default. Activate it by going to Settings, System, Storage, then clicking the ‘Storage sense’ slider (see screenshot above).

that ransomware 7 Hoping will go away

Tap the bottom-left Screen Recording button to record a video in iOS 11

There are two strategies for dealing with ransomware. One is what we call the stick-your-fingers-in-your-ears-andhope-it-goes-away method. It’s tempting, but deeply flawed. Another is to devise a clever backup procedure to keep your files safe. That’s the plan we prefer. The key to surviving an attack is saving your files to a hard drive that’s not normally connected to your PC. Free program Veeam Agent (www.snipca. com/26464) does the job. It can back up files on a schedule, but we recommend choosing the option to back up when the ‘target’ is connected. This means it will automatically back up files when you attach your hard drive. Also tick the ‘Eject removable storage once backup is completed’ option. You should save Veeam’s Recovery Media file to a USB stick so you can access your files from it if

THE £75M BITCOIN MISTAKE Whatever mistakes you made this year, be thankful none cost you £75m. That’s the approximate value of 7,500 Bitcoins stored on a hard drive that James Howells, an IT worker from Newport, threw away in 2013. At the time it was worth a few hundred thousand pounds. But as the price of the cryptocurrency has rocketed (by over 1,000 per cent this year), so has the value of his lost hard drive. Howells says it’s buried in a landfill site owned by Newport City Council, and is seeking permission to look for it. But he accepts that it’s a “big, expensive and risky project”.

attacked by ransomware. Your files should now be beyond the reach of hackers. Just make sure you don’t ditch your hard drive in a landfill site (see box above).

8 Emailing large files

One program that deserved greater plaudits in 2017 was the free FileDirect ( from German software company O&O. Released in May, it lets you send files of any size without having to attach them to an email. You need the program installed on your PC, but the recipient doesn’t. Instead you send them a downloadable link by email which they open in their browser (Chrome, Firefox and Opera; it doesn’t work on Edge and iOS devices). Also new this year was Firefox Send (, which sends files up to 16GB (though Firefox recommends no bigger than 1GB for “reliable operation”). The email link received by the recipient self-destructs after 24 hours. 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 59

Your Neighbourhood ! e n i l n o d e l a reve Fascinating facts and figures about your local area were once locked away in archives and libraries – now they’re all available online. Joseph Fox reveals all

Check local crime rate

Containing data going back to October 2014, maps ( report crimes in your area. Zoom into the map and click a number to see what the crime was (anti-social behaviour, burglary or shoplifting, for example), then click the small ‘More details’ link (see screenshot below) for more information. To see whether the crime was solved, click ‘Case timeline’ on the next page. Click ‘Sign up for alerts’ in the right-hand menu to receive monthly bulletins about crime in your area.

Discover environmental data

Data about natural aspects of our locality is easier to access than ever. The Environment Agency’s website ( provides information that, 20 years ago, you’d have needed your own weather station and team of geographers to obtain. You can find out everything you need to know about farming in your area, how local coasts and shorelines are eroding, where your nearest authorised landfill is, and most importantly how much your home

Zoom into your area on to see crimes that were reported recently

60 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

Check roadworks happening near you – and who is responsible

is at risk of flooding. Also useful is the Noise Map from environmental consultants Extrium (, which visualises noise pollution caused by road and rail traffic. Purple is very noisy (75 decibels and over); orange represents the quietest areas (under 59 decibels).

Give roadworks and accident blackspots a wide berth

To avoid roadworks in your area visit (, which uses information from local and national highways authorities. Click a symbol and you’ll see what’s taking place and who’s responsible (Virgin Media in our screenshot above - let’s hope they are laying super-fast broadband!). For details of potential disruptions, check planning applications on your local

council’s website. One way to find this is via – go to www.snipca. com/26342 and type your postcode. CrashMap ( shows traffic incidents stretching back 19 years, using data collected by the police and reported to the Department for Transport. You can filter searches by vehicle type and severity (slight, serious or fatal), but to read more details you’ll need to pay for a report (£1 each).

Measure your area’s wealth and happiness

Whoever said you can’t measure happiness obviously didn’t work for the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Its annual ‘Personal well-being’ survey quantifies the life satisfaction of people in the UK of every area on the UK mainland. For a map visit


DataShine maps the 2011 Census across the UK, showing information such as country of birth

and scroll down to section 7. At the time of writing, this hadn’t yet been updated with the latest results (www.snipca. com/26344), published in November, in which England was the only country to see an improvement in life satisfaction. The ONS has also measured wealth, on its map of ‘Regional gross disposable household income’: www.snipca. com/26346.

Analyse 2011’s Census data

DataShine Census ( uk) is probably the most complex site here, but also the most fascinating. It maps every aspect of the 2011 Census in England and Wales (for Scotland visit, letting you dig deep into the changing nature of our country. That said, the postcode search box is hard to spot - you’ll find it at the bottom. Type it, click Go, then zoom in. Where it gets really interesting is in the Data Chooser bar at the top right. Using this you can filter the results by very specific criteria, including religion, health, ethnicity, employment and languages spoken. You then need to check the yellow-to-red bar at the bottom left, showing low to high. For example, in our screenshot above displaying how many people in east London were born in the UK, the redder the area, the higher the percentage. In the yellow areas, the proportion is around 25 per cent and less. To see where people are moving to and from within the UK, visit the Royal Mail’s Moving Map (www.snipca. com/26349). Launched in early 2017, it uses addresses given to its redirection service to chart how far people move into and out of an area (the average is 25.8 miles, with the longest being 728).

Find out the value of your (and your neighbours’) home

It’s always interesting to check the value of your home, then compare it with your neighbours’. To do that, use the calculator from mortgage advisors London & Country ( Next, browse the heat maps from online estate agent Zoopla (www.zoopla., which show you average prices by postcode, helpfully colour-coded. Port Talbot’s £129,000 for example shows as a cool, calming blue. West London’s glamorous Fitzrovia, on the other hand, is painted a shocking shade of dark red, thanks to its £4.4m price tag. You can use the Land Registry, via, to find out how much a particular property sold for ( uk/search-house-prices), while Nationwide’s House Price Index tool ( calculates the percentage rise in your home’s value.

Famous places

Forget about property values, here’s something truly priceless: a spot in silver-screen history. The UK Map of Film Locations ( plots 82 of cinema’s most memorable

There are several sites that reveal how your area has changed, over centuries, decades and in the past 10 years. Old Maps Online (www.oldmaps goes the furthest back in time, offering 400,000 maps from around the world – many from the 16th and 17th Century. For vintage photos of the UK, try the Francis Frith Collection (, which adds new images every month. You can buy framed prints, or turn them into jigsaws, calendars, mugs and tea towels. More dramatic are the photos on the Britain from Above site (https://, pictured), showing 95,000 aerial shots, including the largest collection taken before World War 2. It’s an irresistible way to spend a nostalgic afternoon, even if many of the factories, stadiums, dockyards and cramped streets are long gone. Bringing us up to date is Google Street View, which shows old and new imagery side by side - though by ‘old’, Google means anything taken since 2007 (when its cars started photographing the world). This works only in areas that have a clock icon in the top-left box.

locations, some of which may be closer to you than you think. Who knew Batman lived in Nottingham? Wollaton Hall to be precise. The BFI’s Britain on Film site (www. may actually give you a historical glimpse of your own home. Thousands of clips from the past 120 years have been preserved and uploaded, painting a unique picture of Britain through the years.

See the Blitz bomb sites

Bomb Sight shows where bombs fell during the Blitz, including one where Computeractive is now based

From 7 September 1940 to 10 May 1941 London was subjected to unrelenting bombing by the German Luftwaffe. Some 30,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped during the Blitz, killing 40,000 people. Using data previously only available at the National Archives, Bomb Sight (www. maps where the bombs fell, including one right next to where Computeractive now resides (see screenshot left). 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 61


How do I switch off my broken iPhone? I have an old iPhone 4 that was serving my needs well until the power button became permanently stuck down! I’ve tried everything to dislodge it but it will not move, so I can no longer switch off my iPhone. The battery on this old handset is fading, so I like to switch it off overnight to save power – but obviously I can’t do that now. Apple tells me it no longer offers service for this phone. A local repair shop quoted £90 to replace the button, but that’s more than I want to pay for this old thing. Could I take this apart myself to clean out any gunge? Or do you have any other ideas? Michael Grange


If your iPhone 4’s power button is broken, you can

64 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

I have a HP Pavilion laptop and somehow I have disabled the webcam. How do I get it back? I am a senior citizen and obviously a bit green, so I’d really appreciate your assistance. Anthony Humphries


You didn’t say if you’re seeing error messages, or what version of Windows you have, but your first check should be in Device Manager. To summon this, press Windows key+R, then type devmgmt.msc into the Run box and press Enter. Then, in Device Manager, left-click to expand the ‘Imaging devices’ section, where you’ll find an entry for your webcam. If you see a down arrow by its icon then it has, for whatever reason, been disabled. To re-enable it, right-click the device name, then click ‘Enable device’ (see screenshot). If this doesn’t work, or the webcam wasn’t marked as disabled, then rightclick the device name again and this time choose ‘Update driver’, followed by ‘Search automatically for updated driver software’, and follow any prompts. If this fails, then uninstalling the device before restarting your PC will prompt Windows to detect and set it up afresh, which should fix the problem. Right-click the device, then choose ‘Uninstall device’ followed by Uninstall to confirm. When the process finishes, restart your PC.


Repairing an iPhone 4 use touchscreen controls to switch it off is not easy. Specifically, the iFixit website – which is screen tap Settings followed by General an authority on these matters – rates and then Accessibility. Now swipe to the task of replacing the iPhone 4’s the Physical & Motor section and tap power button as ‘difficult’. You’ll find AssistiveTouch, then flip the iFixit’s detailed guide at www.snipca. AssistiveTouch switch to On. com/26155. If you do go down that A ‘floating’ button will appear on road you’ll need an appropriate screen, which you can reposition just toolkit, as the iPhone is secured with a by dragging and dropping. Tapping this variety of screws. These are cheaply button opens a box that provides available from the likes of Amazon, touchscreen control over your iPhone’s such as this £3.70 kit at www.snipca. physical buttons. Tap Device, for com/26154. example, and you’ll see a padlock icon Once inside, if you’re lucky, a blast labelled Lock Screen (see screenshot): from a can of compressed air or bit of this is the touchscreen version of the (very careful) gunge-scraping with a Power button. If you tap and hold this fine edge might get the button moving for a few moments, the lock screen will again. But it’s just as likely that the appear, just as it would if you held mechanism itself is broken. If that’s the down the physical button. Then, to case, then the replacement part costs switch off, just move the ‘slide to power around £3.50 (www.snipca. off’ slider all the way to the right. com/26156). But remember that iFixit’s However, you’ll have a problem when rating is that this is an intricate and you next need to switch it on, as the delicate job. physical power button remains broken. If you decide this repair is beyond There’s no perfect solution to this, but you, the accessibility features built into plugging in to charge or sync will bring iOS can help – a bit. From the home your iPhone 4 back to life.


How do I re-enable my webcam?

If your PC’s webcam is disabled, you might be able to restart it in Device Manager

Our experts solve all your tech problems Email us your problem and we’ll try to help:

How do I clear File Explorer searches? I’ve been using PCs reasonably proficiently for a few years now, recently buying a new Windows 10 laptop to complement my Windows 7 desktop workhorse. While making an effort to learn the new operating system I noticed that the search bar in Windows Explorer remembers my previous searches, much like Chrome does (that’s my preferred web browser). I’d never noticed this in Windows 7 but, sure enough, when I fired up Windows Explorer on my desktop and started typing in the search bar, I was presented with suggestions that I recognised as old searches. I don’t think there’s anything embarrassing in there but, as I share both my PCs with my partner, I’d like to erase or at least manage this history — but I have no idea how. Could you explain? John Waters


First up, we should point out that Microsoft renamed Windows Explorer in Windows 10, where it’s now known as File Explorer. Despite a visual overhaul it is more or less the same tool as before. However, on this one particular point the


Erasing search history in File Explorer (above) and Windows Exporer (right)

methods to achieve what you want are different — so we’ll explain each one. File Explorer makes it very easy to clear the search history, though you do need to know where to look. First, click in the search bar as usual. Then, in the Options category of the ribbon’s Search tab, click ‘Recent searches’ followed by ‘Clear search history’ (see screenshot above). Windows Explorer doesn’t have this option. In fact, the only way to erase the search history in the Windows 7 version of the tool is to edit the Windows registry. As ever when making changes to the registry, we’d strongly advise backing up

before you begin, just in case you make a mistake. To start, press Windows key+R, then type regedit in the Run box and hit Enter. Now, in the left-hand pane, navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\ Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\ Explorer\WordWheelQuery. Still in the left-hand pane, right-click the WordWheelQuery folder and then choose Delete (see screenshot above) followed by Yes to confirm.

Do I need to defrag my new SSD? D?? My hard drive failed so I had it replaced with an SSD. I am told that defragmenting it is unnecessary and causes premature ‘wear’. Loads of admittedly unvalidated websites suggest it’s unnecessary. Please could you let me know what, if any, maintenance is necessary, and whether deleted documents need to be electronically ‘shredded’ to prevent recovery or not? Tony Hoy


You don’t need to defrag an SSD but no great harm is likely to arise if you did. Indeed, despite received wisdom, Windows will periodically enact some degree of defragging on an SSD if you


have System Restore enabled (as is both sensible and the default). This is normal and quite safe, and Windows knows what it’s doing. The background to all this is that, unlike traditional hard drives, an SSD uses memory chips for storage — and these are certified only for a limited number of read/write cycles. However, that number is enormous and reaching it would take very many years of normal use. Even then, the chip in question won’t automatically instantly die: it’s just a possibility. Defragging involves lots of read/write cycles. As the process doesn’t speed up SSDs, it’s basically pointless. File-

You do not need to defrag SSDs, like this Crucial model

shredding is similarly fine, if you feel the need, but disable any multiple-pass options: they’re unnecessary on an SSD. Files deleted from hard drives can leave magnetic ‘residues’ that, in theory, could allow someone to resurrect the file.

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 65

Problems Solved Why is Office 2000 no longer working right? I installed my old Office 2000 CD on my new Windows 10 laptop, as it’s all I need. It worked at first but for some reason the files are no longer associated with the Office programs, even though Word and Excel and so on still work. Control Panel doesn’t list these old apps as options for launching the relevant file types. Is this a fault caused by a Windows 10 update? Alan Dexter


While it’s possible that some Windows 10 update removed Office 2000’s file associations, it would be unfair to label this a fault: the suite is 18 years old (it was released in June 1999)and Microsoft ceased support for it in 2009. The company doesn’t claim Office 2000 is compatible with Windows 10, and doesn’t expect people to still be using it. Remaking these associations is not obvious in Windows 10. From Control Panel, click Programs followed by ‘Make a file type always open in a specific program’ (under Default Programs). Select a file type (‘.doc for Word,’ say), then click the ‘Change program’ button followed by the ‘More apps’ link. Now scroll to the bottom of the list and click ‘Look for another app on this PC’, and then navigate to find and select Word’s executable file (in C:\Program Files\ Microsoft Office\Office9, for example).

Why can’t I buy YouTube movies? I bought an iPad because, approaching 80 years of age, I thought it’d be easier to learn and use than a PC. I’m getting on OK with it but I’m wondering why I can’t buy movies in the YouTube app? I search for and see listings for movies I want to watch, but they have a message that they’re “not available for purchase on iOS”. Dotty Tanner


This is because YouTube owner Google has no desire to hand a cut of your payment to its rival Apple. Apple tightly controls its devices, apps and iOS, the operating system that runs on your iPad. Part of that control


includes payments, with Apple requiring all in-app purchases to go through its own processing system — for which it charges companies like Google a hefty fee. Google could enable payments in its YouTube app for iOS but has chosen not to do so for this reason. However, the YouTube app will play movies that you buy elsewhere online using the same Google account. So, log into YouTube on a web browser and make a purchase there. You don’t have a PC but you can do this in any web browser, including Safari on your iPad. When you return to the YouTube app you’ll find your movie by tapping Library followed by the Purchases tab (see screenshot). iPad owners can watch YouTube movies bought at on the YouTube app


Why won’t my internet history delete? If I use Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) and put my postcode into a website, all is well. I then clear internet history using IE11’s tool or CCleaner, but when I return to the website my postcode is remembered. Other data entered on different websites is also being stored. I have tried this on three computers with the latest update and all perform the same. Bob Garwood


Clearing internet history won’t wipe information entered into website forms — that’s part of IE11’s AutoComplete feature. You can either disable this feature or periodically wipe the information it collects. In IE11, click the Settings cog followed by ‘Internet options’ and then Content. Now, in the AutoComplete section, click Settings. To disable the feature, clear all the ticks. To delete the history, click ‘Delete AutoComplete history’ then tick ‘Form data’ (see screenshot) and click Delete to confirm.


66 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

Stop your details being automatically entered in web forms by deleting your form data

To do the same via CCleaner, tick AutoComplete Form History before clicking Run Cleaner.

Why won’t my Outlook folders sync? I use Outlook 2010 on my PC with an IMAP email account. I also access the IMAP account on my phone. But while the folders on my phone sync correctly, Outlook doesn’t, and some folders have disappeared. Also, when I delete items from my Outlook inbox, they aren’t removed from the server, so my phone and webmail have lots of deleted emails. Can you help? Kim Sisson


choose IMAP Folders. In the box that appears untick the ‘When displaying hierarchy in Outlook, show only subscribed folders’ option (see screenshot). You should now see all possible folders. For the emails that aren’t disappearing, click the folder. Next, in the Folder tab in the toolbar, click Purge. Then click Purge Options and in the Deleted Items tab select ‘Purge items when switching folders while online’. Click OK. Finally, click Purge and choose ‘Purge Marked items in [your email address]’.

Outlook can get into a mess with IMAP folders. You may need to re-subscribe to them. Click Mail in the Navigation pane, rightclick the top folder for your IMAP account, then click IMAP Folders. Click Query, choose the folders that aren’t appearing correctly, then click Subscribe. If they show as already subscribed, click UnSubscribe, then click Subscribe. Also try altering which folders Outlook displays. Click your IMAP Untick this box to see all IMAP folders inbox and, from the Folder menu,


How do I get Chrome to open PDF links? I got annoyed with my Chrome browser automatically opening PDF links on websites, rather than giving me the option to download the file. Somehow, I managed to turn off



Can I make Windows remember my split-screen settings? I use Windows 10 Home with a 27in monitor that has a 1920x1080 resolution. I routinely work in split-screen mode, with two browser windows side by side. When I restart my PC one browser window is recreated, but for the other window I have to manually drag a tab into free space on my desktop and set it to a halfscreen split display. For some reason that shrinks the original browser window to a thumbnail, which I then have to expand again to fill the other half of the screen. As you can imagine, this is a very tedious process. Can I make Windows 10 remember my preferences and recreate the complete split-screen setup when it restarts? Paul Barrett


the feature, only for it to dawn on me that most of the time it was actually the behaviour I’d prefer. Now I have to save any PDF to my hard drive before I can view it. I’d like to turn this feature back on but I’ve forgotten what I did! Can you please explain how I can do this? Chris Miller Google has just changed the layout of Chrome’s Settings page, so it’s possible this has confused you. But it’s fairly straightforward. Type chrome://settings into the browser bar then press Enter. On the settings page, scroll down and click Advanced to expand the advanced options. Near the foot of the ‘Privacy and security’ box click Content Settings, then scroll down to the bottom and click ‘PDF documents’ (see screenshot 1). Switch off the slider on the next page (see screenshot 2). Close the settings and you should find that Chrome’s default behaviour has reverted to displaying PDFs online. Click the download icon at the top right to save a copy of any PDF.



Select ‘Show windows side by side’ so Windows remembers your settings

Yes, there’s an easy shortcut to do this. Create the two browser windows but don’t bother resizing or repositioning them. Hold down the Shift key and right-click the browser’s icon on the taskbar. You should see the option to ‘Show windows side by side’. Selecting this does what you require, although there will be a slightly annoying gap between the windows.


20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 67

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Problems Solved What’s the difference between… Start and Startup?

I’m a total computer beginner, so forgive me if my question seems naive — but could you explain the difference between Start and Startup? I understand that clicking the Start button at the bottom left opens a menu. However, I’ve seen advice (including in Computeractive) to put things in the Startup folder. When you say that do you mean the icons that appear in the menu after I’ve clicked Start? I’m confused, so I hope you can explain! I use Windows 10. Fran Fowler


Let’s start with the basics: clicking the Start button opens the Start menu. This Start menu has existed since Windows 95, although Microsoft famously removed it from Windows 8/8.1 — replacing it with a much-maligned full-screen version, sometimes called the Start screen. The Start menu returned in


Windows 10, which is what you’re using. The Startup folder is not directly related to the Start menu. Programs or program shortcuts that live in the Startup folder will launch with Windows when your computer starts up. So, for example, if you put a shortcut to Microsoft Edge in the Startup folder, then that web browser would launch as soon as Windows itself has started up (hence the folder’s name). Up to Windows 7, the Startup folder appeared in and was accessible from the Start menu. Windows 8/8.1 obviously has no Start menu, so the Startup folder wasn’t accessible that way. For reasons unknown, this remains true with Windows 10, where there’s no entry for the Startup folder in the Start menu. The Startup folder still exists in both Windows 8/8.1 and 10, but access is more convoluted. One option is to press Windows key+E to launch File Explorer and then navigate to C:\Users\ [YourUsername]\AppData\Roaming\

The Startup folder is accessible from the Start menu (above)

Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\ Programs\Startup. Alternatively, press Windows key+R, type shell:common startup and press Enter. You’ll probably find shortcuts in the Startup folder. Deleting existing ones will stop the related tools launching with Windows; dragging shortcuts into this folder does the opposite. Want to know what happened to your favourite program, website or technology? Email

Are my Office and OneNote files going to be useless? As Microsoft has stopped supporting Office 2007, I downloaded your recommended replacement, LibreOffice. I have saved my Excel home accounts using LibreOffice’s ‘ODF Spreadsheet (.ods) (*.ods)’ option. Similarly, I have saved my Microsoft Word documents using LibreOffice’s ‘ODF Text Document (.odt) (*.odt)’ Evernote is a good alternative if you need to open OneNote option. Have I done the 2007 files but don’t have Microsoft Office right thing here? I also have a lot of old correspondence If you plan to stick with saved on USB memory sticks. I LibreOffice for the long term want to keep these, but if I delete then yes, saving your files using Microsoft Office I assume these will the program’s ‘native’ format makes no longer be accessible? If so, is there sense. We say this because, although a quick way of converting these files LibreOffice is able to open Microsoft en bloc? Finally, I have also used Office files (and vice versa), there will be OneNote 2007. How do I convert the occasions when small aspects of a information from that for use in document won’t make the journey LibreOffice? entirely unchanged — whether that be the Alan Hughes-Jones page layout, formatting or other details.



The content, though, will always remain intact. The Office files saved to your USB memory sticks are just the same as those on your hard drive, so you’ll be able to open them with LibreOffice at any point in the future. Unfortunately, LibreOffice doesn’t currently have an equivalent program for OneNote, so if you’re ditching Microsoft’s program you’ll need an alternative. Evernote ( is a popular choice. It can import files from OneNote: just open the File menu, then choose Import followed by OneNote, and then follow the prompts (see screenshot).



Weds 3 Jan

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Problems Solved

Reader Support Having a problem with our recommended software or expert tips? Email and we’ll do our best to help Why can’t I use GodMode after Fall Creators Update?


Issue 492’s Cover Feature was about GodMode, a hidden Windows tool which has dozens of links to Control Panel features. I’ve found it very handy, but after the Fall Creators Update (FCU) it no longer works. You predicted this might happen due to Microsoft’s approach to Control Panel. Can you confirm if GodMode has now gone, or is there an alternative setup code for the latest update? Vic Jackson


It’s possible that FCU removed an existing GodMode icon from your Windows desktop. However, we’ve tested GodMode with FCU and it still works just fine — but its icon no longer displays the ‘GodMode’ label. If FCU has removed your GodMode icon then it can be recreated as before. First, right-click a blank area of your desktop, then choose New followed by ‘folder’. Name this folder ‘GodMode. {ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C99712043E01C}’ and press Enter. To avoid errors, you can visit the Pastebin page we created at and copy and paste the full code from there.

Can I print labels in LibreOffice?


Thank you for the useful ‘Print postage labels for free’ Workshop in Issue 515 (page 38). It obviously works well with Microsoft Word, but I would love to print Avery labels L7160 using

Choose this option in LibreOffice’s Labels window to create a postal labels template

To delete all your personal browsing data from Google click this setting, then ‘All time’

Use IObit Advanced SystemCare’s tabs to help identify processes you can close

LibreOffice Writer. Is this possible? Dave Willington

so you may have overlooked it). To recap, first click the menu button (three stacked dots) at the top right and then choose ‘Delete activity by’ (see screenshot above left). Now choose ‘All time’ and ‘All products’ in the dropdown menus, click Delete, then Delete again to confirm.


Yes it is, and you’re not the only reader to have enquired about this (see Don Palmer’s lead tip in Readers’ Tips, page 43). This is clearly a popular option so it’s worth repeating. First, open the File menu, hover your cursor over New, then click Labels. Next, in the Labels box that appears, click ‘Avery A4’ in the Brand dropdown menu and ‘L7160 Address’ in the Type dropdown menu (see screenshot below left). Finally, click the New Document button to create a new, blank document with the template you need for L7160 labels.

How do I remove all my Google data?


In Issue 515, your Cover Feature on what Google, Facebook and Amazon know about us gives instructions on how to remove the data Google has collected on you (see page 51). However, it seems you can only delete one day at the time. Do you know if it’s possible to wipe all the data in one fell swoop? I’ve spent ages removing around months’ worth of data, so this would be a great help. Claude Legrand


We did provide instructions on this. The relevant section directly followed the advice on removing items one day at a time (it spilled into the next column,

Which system processes can I close in Windows?


I downloaded IObit Advanced SystemCare as per the Workshop in Issue 515 (page 35). Step 10 explains how to close background processes. I understand these can slow down a PC, but I have difficulty deciding which processes can be closed and which should be left open. Can you advise? Frank Hodder


We must admit to a small mistake in this Workshop – the rocket icon actually ‘cleans’ your PC’s memory, rather than closing all background processes. You can still do this by ticking all the boxes then clicking End Task, but that’s not a good idea unless you really know what you’re doing. The best answer to a tricky question is to close only those entries you recognise and know won’t cause problems. Select SystemCare’s SpeedUp tab, then click Configure. Items under the System Services tab are best left alone while those under Non-Windows Services and Background Apps (see screenshot above) may be safe to close, but search on Google to research these. 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 71

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Jargon Buster 3G/4G A set of technologies that delivers faster mobile broadband. 4K Video with a resolution of at least 3840x2160 pixels. 5K Video with a horizontal resolution of 5120x2880 pixels. 7z Also known as 7-Zip. A free, open-source file archiver. Add-on A program that adds extra features to your browser. Augmented reality Lets you view the real world on a digital display and add elements from the digital world. Bandwidth A measure of how much data can be transferred through a connection at one time. Beta A version of software that’s being tested. Beta versions are often released so problems can be ironed out. BIOS Basic Input-Output System. Essential software built into every PC that connects the vital components. It’s visible for a few seconds when the PC starts. Blue light Light given off by PC and phone screens. Can disrupt sleep patterns. Cache A temporary space for storing information. Can be memory used on a computer processor, or space on a hard drive used by a web browser. Cast To send content from your PC to TV. Clock To set the number of pulses per second generated by an oscillator. It determines how fast a processor executes instructions. Clock speed The speed at which a computer processor can perform operations. Measured in Gigahertz (GHz). Codec Short for Compressor/ Decompressor. A file that tells a computer how to record or play a type of media file. Colour temperature How blue and yellow-orange combine to produce the overall colour of your monitor.

Bust more jargon in our A-Z book:

Command prompt A black window into which you can type instructions. To see it, click Start, Run, type cmd and press Enter. BIOS Basic Input-Output System. Essential software built into every PC that connects the vital components. Core Units on a processor that carry out program instructions. CPU Central Processing Unit. Another term for a processor. Defragment To reorganise the data stored on a hard drive so files are stored in one piece and can be accessed quickly. DivX A popular type of compressed video file. E Ink Electrophoretic ink. A special type of ink used to display content in electronic devices. Encoder A piece of software that converts media files to a new format, such as converting WAV audio files to MP3. Extension See Add-on. File path Shows the location of a file within Windows. Firmware Basic software stored on a device, such as a music player, to control its operation. Can sometimes be upgraded in a process often called flashing. Flash memory A type of memory that can retain information without a power source. Used in memory cards, USB sticks and other storage devices. GHz Gigahertz. A measure of how many instructions a chip can process per second. GIF Graphics Interchange Format. A type of image file often used on the web, but now largely superseded by PNG.

HDR High-dynamic range. A camera that takes more than one photo with different levels of colour and contrast. These images are then combined to create a better-quality image. JPEG Joint Photograph Experts Group. A common type of image file created by most digital cameras. Some image quality is lost with each save. LAME A software encoder that converts audio to the MP3 file format. LED Light-Emitting Diode. An electronic device that emits light. Used on almost all electronic devices, and to provide the backlight for some LCDs. M.2 A standard specification for internal PC expansion cards and connectors. MAC address Media Access Control. A unique code that identifies any router. A laptop PC might have one MAC for its wired network socket and another for wireless. Machine learning The science of teaching computers how to learn by themselves, without further human input. Mesh router Wireless network that uses multiple, connected routers to stretch Wi-Fi further than a traditional router. Metadata A set of data that gives information about a file. NFC Near-field communication. A technology that allows two devices to communicate by being touched together or placed near to each other. OLED Organic light-emitting diode. A thin-film organic lightemitting diode used in computer displays and television screens.

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

Open source Software that can be modified by anyone, rather than just by the employees of the company that created it.

HDMI High-definition media interface. A type of connection that transmits high-definition video and audio signals.

Optical stabilisation A mechanism built into digital cameras that compensates for any vibrations that occur during shooting.

Passive radiator A simple speaker device that increases bass. Phishing A form of internet fraud that tries to trick you into revealing personal details. Plug-in A small program that adds extra features to software or to your web browser. PNG Portable Network Graphics. A format for images that shrinks file sizes using compression but without discarding any data. Ransomware Malware run by hackers who lock files on your PC and demand a payment to release them. RAR Roshal Archive. A format for storing compressed files. Source code Program instructions written by a programmer in a highlevel language that are readable by people but not computers. sRGB A standard RGB colour space for use on monitors, printers and the internet. SSD Solid-state drive. Storage that uses no moving parts. Temporary file A file created by a browser to store website data. Temporary files typically have a .TMP or .TEMP file extension, but any naming convention might be used. Tweeter A speaker designed to produce high audio frequencies. Named after the noise made by birds. Two-factor verification A system that uses two different means to identify the user. For example, a PIN in addition to a password. Unibody Term used to describe a smartphone or tablet cases made from a single piece of metal. USB 2.0/3.0/3.1 Faster successors to USB that are used by devices such as external hard drives. WPA2 Wifi Protected Access. A more secure variant of the security standard for wireless networks. ZIP A file that contains a number of compressed documents or files.

20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018 73

Keep Your Brain Active In our new column, Simon Brew tests brain-training games to see if they really work…


ack when I had luxuries such as a generous amount of hair on my head, and the occasional follicle that wasn’t permanently grey, I could look at an old class photo from my school days (a colour photograph, and we were allowed to wear long trousers) and still name around 90 per cent of the people in it. As hair tumbled out and wrinkles appeared, that number dropped each time I looked at it. I reckon now, on a good day, I can get identify 50 per cent. I naturally did the only logical thing, and promptly binned the photo. These changing abilities and capacities of our brain is a natural by-product of age. We gather so much information in it that it’s easy to lose things. Can computers help? Brain-training software has been popular since Nintendo hit paydirt with the hugely popular 2006 game Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training (see screenshot below). It sold several million copies on the Nintendo DS, and spawned a host of imitators. Since then a multimillion pound industry has grown around claims that games don’t just exercise the grey matter, but can also delay the onset of dementia. And yet some of the evidence is patchy to say the least. In this new column I’ll be putting the games, sites and apps that make these claims to the test, assessing whether they are no more than just a bit of fun (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The Alzheimer’s Society website was a good place to start. Its research with King’s College London concluded that brain-training games have a positive impact. One game tested by volunteers was the SeeSaw Challenge (www.snipca. com/26428, see screenshot above right),

It all started with Dr Kawashima’s Brain Training in 2006

74 20 December 2017 – 2 January 2018

What’s heaviest - the spade, square or the plus symbol?

which asks you to click whichever object you think is heaviest. I’m not convinced it taught me anything though. After beating the game it tried to enrol in a study. This entire process took about 50 seconds. I opted to move on, but it’s still worth visiting the page to read some of the more detailed science behind the research. As a beginner to brain training, I went hunting for something to measure what my abilities are like now. Which is when I stumbled on Brain Reflection (www. on the educational website Brain Metrix. Like a lot of these exercises, it appears quite basic at first glance, but has you hammering your keyboard and mouse to death by the end. Brain Reflection, according to the pompous blurb on the website, “invariably leads to inquiry into the human condition and the essence of humankind as a whole”. This time, I needed to hit start, look at a white box, then hit stop when the colour changed. Do this in under 0.2 seconds and my reaction would be ‘super fast’. I’m not sure I ever want to be described as ‘super’ anything, but I gave it a go. Turn one: 0.359 seconds Turn two: 0.337 seconds Turn 10: 0.349 seconds Turn 15: 0.371 seconds

I needed to hit start, look at a white box, then hit stop when the colour changed. Do it in under 0.2 seconds and I’d be ‘super fast’

Turn 20: I reset my router, because clearly the speed of my web connection was counting against me Turn 100: 0.414 seconds Turn 120: 0.503. In what was becoming a metaphor for my life, I began to appreciate that I’d peaked too soon. My brain, its reaction, and my chances of being ‘super-fast’ at anything useful clearly need work. My journey down this particular rabbit hole will begin in earnest next issue. I’m fearful already. Which games should Simon try? Email us at