Don’t expect much from Windows 8.1

Has Microsoft made Windows 8 much better with its Windows 8.1 tweak? Not really, says David Pogue, tech writer for the New York Times. And in a recent preview of the update, Pogue writes that if you’re not a fan of Windows 8, you most likely won’t like Windows 8.1, as well.

Start still missing

The first problem? Windows 8.1 doesn’t resurrect the much-missed Start menu. Pogue ponders if that is just stubbornness by Microsoft.

Two worlds

Secondly, Windows 8.1 still doesn’t know if it’s a touch-screen or mouse-and-keyboard system. The system’s TileWorld section works the best for touchscreens. But its Desktop section is clearly made to be navigated with a mouse and keyboard. By splitting itself like this, Windows 8.1 doesn’t make anyone happy.

Stick to Windows 7

Pogue’s advice? If you’re not much of a fan of Windows 8, the upgrade won’t do much to change your mind. Stay with the superior Windows 7.

Don’t think you need to back up your Evernote notebooks? Think again

How safe do you think your data is when you store them in an Evernote notebook? The surprising answer: Less safe as you might think. That’s because Evernote isn’t a true backup service. It’s a synching service.

Is it really necessary?

You may be wondering: Do I need to back up my Evernote notebooks? How-To Geek would answer with an emphatic “yes!” This is because Evernote isn’t a backup system. It’s a synching system. And in a worst-case scenario, Evernote’s remote file store can be wiped. Then, the local file store can be wiped, too.

Protecting yourself

Fortunately, you can protect yourself fairly easily by backing up your Evernote notebooks. As How-To Geek says, you’ll need an installed copy of Evernote’s desktop application for either Windows or OS X, depending on what kind of computer you use.

Export/import

To do this, right-click on any notebook saved in Evernote. Then select the “Export Notes” option. Then you’re able to export the notebook in any of several formats. If you happen to lose the notebook or the information it includes, you can simply choose to import the previously exported notebook. This will bring in a new version of the notebook that can act as a wholesale replacement for the notebook that you lost.

Hate Windows restarting after updates? Time to stop it

Windows is a living thing: It downloads updates routinely. That’s beneficial, especially when these updates include important anti-virus protections meant to keep your computer safe. But there is a frustrating side effect with these updates: Windows wants to restart your computer after every update.

Stop the restarts

As Lifehacker says, the restarts are an aggravation. Nobody likes seeing that message about your computer restarting in 15 minutes. If you don’t want this to occur, though, you can put an end to it. Tech site Lifehacker recently dealt with how to keep the automatic update on hold.

Editing the registry

Start the disabling process by turning on your computer’s “Start” menu. Open the registry by typing “regedit.” Next, start the registry editor. Now you’ll need to find a specific line in the registry: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREPoliciesMicrosoftWindowsWindowsUpdateAU. Click on the AU key and, when you see it appear in the right pane, right-click on the empty space and select New >DWORD (32-bit) Value. Now, name the new DWORD: “NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers”. Finally, double-click on the new DWORD and give it a value of 1.

Reboot

Once you’ve finished this procedure, Windows won’t automatically restart your computer after its automatic updates. This doesn’t mean, though, you shouldn’t reboot your computer manually in the future. Your Windows updates won’t take effect if you don’t do this. And that could leave your computer and software vulnerable.

This isn’t a joke: A MacBook ranks as best Windows laptop

Another humiliation for Microsoft? Looks like it. Following the critical drubbing the company has had for Windows 8, a PC services company has now ranked the 13-inch MacBook Pro as being the laptop that does the best job running Windows software. And, yes, the MacBook Pro is manufactured by Microsoft rival Apple.

The Report

CNET recently reported on a study by Soluto that looked at the frequency of frustrating events on Windows laptops. The study examined everything from crashes to blue screens to hang-ups. The laptop that experienced the fewest of those annoying events? The 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Clean Installation

The main benefit of running Windows on a MacBook? According to Soluto, the Windows programs placed on the machine run cleanly. Simply put, they run as they are advertised.

Crashes Per Week

According to Soluto, the MacBook Pro suffered fewer crashes, hang-ups and blue screens when running Windows software. The MacBook also booted at a faster rate. Just what does this suggest? Only that Microsoft’s rough patch continues.

Do you think Microsoft is going backward with its new logos?

People say that everyone is a critic. You can see this firsthand at the Quora knowledge-sharing Web site. A short time ago, a Quora user took Microsoft to task. This user wasn’t annoyed that Windows 8 was clunky and counter-intuitive. The user wasn’t mad, either, that Internet Explorer didn’t return the best search results. No, this user took Microsoft to task for its lack of artistic ambition. Yes, that’s right.

A Quora Critic

This user believes that Microsoft isn’t putting sufficient time into designing artistic, aesthetically pleasing logos. Instead, the user writes, Microsoft is dashing off simplistic, minimalist logos. These logos, the assertion goes, look like graphics pros dashed them off in five minutes. The user adds that Microsoft is dumbing down their logos since introducing Windows 8 and Office 2013.

The argument

To no one’s surprise – at least to anyone who’s ever used Quora – the user’s argument immediately stirred up debate. A lot of fellow site users stood up for Microsoft, declaring that the logos are actually rather striking in their minimalism. And, indeed, when you look at the logos lined up side by side, the effect is a bit striking. Microsoft’s new, simpler icons, instantly tell you what program you can open by touching them.

A Growing Trend?

The fans of Microsoft’s new logos might be right. The purpose of the icons is to let users know what program will pop up after they click on the icon. And the logos convey this information well. You immediately can recognize which icon will open Microsoft Publisher and which will open Microsoft’s new cloud services. And if a logo does that? Then who cares if it’s simple?

Don’t leave your small business vulnerable to a cyber attack

Hackers aren’t shy about targeting small businesses. They know that the majority of businesses are vulnerable to cyber crimes. It’s not overly difficult for smart hackers to break into the credit-card accounts or bank accounts of small businesses. Many have no difficulty accessing employee facts such as their Social Security numbers. Fortunately, small business owners do have a tool to use against cyber criminals: common sense. Entrepreneur Magazine recently ran a feature story providing tips for small business owners who want to protect their businesses from hackers. Below are a few suggestions from the story.

Encrypt your Data

Entrepreneur recommends that you first encrypt all of your significant data, anything from bank routing numbers to credit-card account information to employee Social Security numbers. Hackers want to steal these records. It’s how they ultimately drain money from your small business. Entrepreneur’s advice? Turn on the full-disk encryption tools that are included with your computer’s operating systems. On Windows, this tool is labeled BitLocker. On Macintosh computers, it’s known as FileVault. The tool, once activated, will encrypt every file and program on the drive.

The Lockdown Approach

Most computers have a Kensington lock port, a small metal loop that users can run a cable through to lock them to their desks. If you wish to truly protect your business, require that your employees take this protection measure. It might sound silly, but the Entrepreneur story said that businesses are often hacked after burglars break in and steal laptops along with other devices. A cable strapping a laptop to a desk won’t stop all thieves. But it might scare away those who want to strike especially quickly.

Wi-Fi Protection

Often the easiest way for cyber criminals to gain access to your company accounts is through your business’ Wi-Fi network. That’s why Entrepreneur Magazine suggests you do away with Wi-Fi completely and instead install a wired network. If you can’t do that, at least protect your Wi-Fi accounts with passwords which are difficult to compromise. A good bet? Long passwords consisting of a combination of letters, numbers and symbols.

These IT projects will boost your business in 2013

If your business isn’t growing, it’s dying. That’s why it’s important to stay on the lookout for new ways to grow your small business. There is one area, though, where small business owners often fail to look for growth strategies: IT. Yes, you can grow your business’ revenue by investing in IT. Small Business Computing.com provides a roadmap, listing several IT projects to help make your business and employees more efficient and productive.

Bring Wi-Fi to your business

A growing number of businesses permit their staff to bring their own electronic devices – everything from laptops to tablets – to their cubicles. The reasoning driving this movement: When people work on laptops and tablets that they know well, they work more proficiently. But allowing your employees to participate in the bring-your-own-device movement doesn’t mean much if your office isn’t prepared with a reliable Wi-Fi network that allows your workers to access the internet, send e-mail and post to social media sites while at their desks. Make installing a powerful Wi-Fi network in your office a top priority for 2013.

Ultrabooks

Ultrabooks are outstanding tools. They’re not as cumbersome as traditional laptops and far more powerful than Netbooks. They can also help your salesforce bring in more business: They can take their Ultrabooks home with them or on the road when they’re traveling to work on reports and presentations. They can run multimedia presentations for potential customers. And Ultrabooks are more affordable than ever today. If you want your employees to reach their full potential, equip them with Ultrabooks.

No more Windows XP

Do you still have computers running the Windows XP operating system? That’s a mistake. As Small Business Computing.com highlights, Microsoft will not provide technical support for this operating system as of early April 2014. The company will also no longer distribute regular security updates for the system as of this time. Running Windows XP, then, means that not only will your employees be working on a decade-old operating system, but their computers will also be highly susceptible to virus attacks. Make the smart move and upgrade to a more current Windows operating system.

Enhance your Windows 8 experience with right peripherals

Windows 8 represents a dramatic change for Microsoft’s venerable operating system: It’s created to work not just with mouse and keyboard but also with a touchscreen. But many users who upgrade to the new os aren’t going to be running Windows 8 on a touch screen. They will be relying on older computers that still operate the old-fashioned way, with mouse and keyboard controls. Then there are tablet users, users running Windows 8 only on tablets are not receiving the full Windows 8 experience. There are some functions that run better with mouse and keyboard control. That doesn’t mean, though, that owners who rely either on tablets or traditional computers won’t be able to use the many features built into the new operating system. They can. They only have to buy the right peripherals. PC Magazine recently ran an article outlining exactly what these peripherals are.

Microsoft Wedge Mobile Keyboard

PC Magazine points out that the Microsoft Wedge is not merely a portable keyboard. It’s also an indispensable tool to allow tablet users to get the most of the Windows 8 experience. For one thing, the keyboard provides a better typing experience than your tablet’s onscreen keyboard. Secondly, Windows 8 features are included in the keypad. The cover becomes a tablet stand, allowing you to approximate the desktop experience.

Logitech T650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad

Want to access all those touch-screen features incorporated into Windows 8 without having to get a tablet or other touch-screen device? Try the Logitech T650 Wireless Rechargeable Touchpad. The product works so well the editors at PC Mag have made it their top choice for Windows 8 computer mice.

Kingston DataTraveler Workspace

The Kingston DataTraveler Workspace is a truly impressive device. It looks like a typical USB drive. However actually holds Windows To Go, a portable Windows 8 operating system. You heard that right, using this device you can now boot up Windows 8 on any PC. It’s a easy way to enjoy the Windows 8 experience while you’re on the road.

A Little Bit About Windows 8

Much of the tech press has reported about Windows 8, although it has only recently come out. This is good for you, as you can learn a little of the ins and outs before you use it. One article we found particularly interesting was one written by InfoWorld’s J. Peter Bruzzese. It covers several useful features about Windows 8. We have highlighted a few below.

The charms bar

The charms bar is essentially a shortcuts bar that exists on the right side of the screen in Windows 8. An example of a shortcut available to users is that by clicking “settings” then clicking “power” they can put their computer to sleep. The charms bar has several settings for searching, switching to the Windows 7 desktop, if you liked that better, and for sharing.

Retrieving lost files

What’s worse than losing a file? Not much with regards to computing. Fortunately, Windows 8 can help. The operating system comes with a new way of saving copies of files that lets users recover previous versions if their current file is lost or damaged. This feature works in much the same way as does OS X’s Time Machine utility.

Windows on the go

Here’s an especially nifty feature: With the Enterprise Edition of Windows 8, users can put their entire Windows environment on a USB drive and then take it with them. They can then pull it up on any PC that is compatible with Windows 7 or 8.

Some Alternatives to Microsoft Word

Using a word processor ought to be easy, right? All you do is type, right? Microsoft Word is the most commonly used word processor and it’s not very simple. While some people enjoy the range of features of Word, others don’t need all the extras.

Too many features with Word?

Because Microsoft Word has so many features it may be slow, and some of the features are applied automatically to your document. This can be annoying; what if you don’t want a specific word capitalized and Microsoft Word keeps capitalizing it? Also, it underlines phrases it thinks are grammatical errors even if they aren’t.

If you do not use all of the features of Word and are looking for the best alternative, there are many out there. The best thing about them is that they don’t cost anything.

Free Word alternatives

One of the greatest word processors on the market, other than Microsoft Word, is WordPad. This program comes preinstalled on Microsoft-powered desktops and has evolved considerably since it’s release on Windows 95. What started as a very bare-bones text editor, now has most of the features that most people use when in Word. To access this program: Navigate to the Windows’ start button, go to “All Programs.” WordPad may be found in the “Accessories” file.

Word’s online competitors

An online program that may be even better then WordPad is OpenOffice.org Writer. It offers most of the features of Word and is highly intuitive. If you are looking to explore some alternatives to Word, OpenOffice.org Writer may be worth a shot.

>