Monday, March 17, 2014

Windows XP ending - what to do?

This is a must read for all Windows XP users!

On April 8th 2014 Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP. This means there will no longer be updates, especially security updates which stop people 'hacking' your system. So,what should you do?

You can continue using Windows XP and although you will initially have no issues, eventually you will. Other software that you use may stop working properly or you may have problems accessing websites and other online services. The biggest problem you might have is security, as hackers will be targeting this version.

My advice, if you can upgrade to Windows 7 or 8, if your computer can run it. You can check the minimum requirement at this link for 7 and this link for 8. If your computer can not run Windows 7 or 8 there are some great deals on new computers (get in touch if you need some advice).

But if you are not able to do that or just want to keep the old computer there is another operating system that you could use, called Linux. Linux is free and many of the versions you can get are very easy to install. You can try them before you install, using what is called a LiveDVD or LiveCD. This allows you to run the operating system from the disk without installing it on the computer. You can then see if you like it and check that it will work with your computer.

One version of linux which can look similar to Windows XP in setup is Zorin. The minimum requirements to run this are:

            1 GHz processor
            512MB Ram
            5GB Hard Drive

When you try the the LiveDVD version, it will run slower than when it is installed on the computer (as it is running from the DVD) but it will give you an idea how well it will work.

Yet another version of Linux which is very similar to the layout of Windows XP is LXLE. This is based on the Ubuntu linux operating system. It uses less processing power and the minimum requirements to run this are:

          Pentium 3 or newer
          512MB Ram

Again you can try running the operating system from the disk before installing it.

Before you install the operating system you will need to copy all your files to somewhere that you can access after installing it. One option is using Google Drive which was detailed in my previous blog Moving to the 'Cloud' or Dropbox or an external drive to back up your files. This will depend on how many files you have. Remember to copy files that might not be obvious, like bookmarks.html (I've made the mistake of not doing that and lost all my bookmarks!).

There are many other versions of linux you can use, so have a good look and see what there is. Ubuntu, which I mentioned earlier, is another great product but looks a lot different from Windows, so may put people off. Another version I can recommend is Linux Mint and you can look at many more at Distowatch.

If all this seem too much for you, I am available so feel free to get in touch!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Moving to the 'Cloud'

We are now not limited to carry around our files on a usb stick (it was a floppy disk not so many years ago)! You can now use the 'cloud'.  What this means is we can put our documents on the internet and be able to get access to them from anywhere.

Many of you will have Gmail and what this also gives you is Google Drive which is an online storage of 15GB with a free Gmail account. If you haven't got a Gmail account, it's free and you can incorporate your other email address(es) into the one place.

So how do you use this facility and what are the benifits? Using a web brower, like Chrome, go to and sign into your Google account. Then near the top right of the screen you will see a square made of 9 smaller squares (see image below).

Click on the square and a drop down menu will appear. Click on the Drive icon to take you to your drive. You may see some documents there, they will have been added when you used the drive to view files in your Gmail, so you might recognise the names.

You can now create a folder using the CREATE button in red on the left and upload using the upload button beside the CREATE button (see image below).

You can also download a program to your computer which will add Google Drive to you computer. This makes it easier to access the files. The files will be stored on your computer and on Google Drive, so you can use them when you do not have internet access. To download the program click on the 'Install Drive for your computer' (see image below).

The benefits are that you can get access to your documents anywhere you have internet access, even on your smartphone or tablet! Google has created apps for Andriod and Apple devices so you can use these to access your documents anywhere. You can also get access to your documents through other computers. E.g. this would allow you to print at the library or a friends house.

Of course the other obvious benefit is if your computer fails your documents are safely stored on your Google Drive and so instantly available without having to recover them from your broken computer.

You are also able to share folders and documents with other Gmail users allowing you to collaborate on projects or just share files easily.

Google are very serious about security (their business depends on it), so you can be confident your files are safe. Many businesses are moving to this platform as it takes away the need for servers etc.

I hope you have found this helpful. Google have more information available including video tutorials, so you can Google "Google Drive" for more info or contact me if you need help!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Creating PDF's

Adobe PDF (portable document files) are often the best way of sharing documents because anyone can open them but they are not able to edit them easily.e.g. If you send an invoice, you don't want it being tampered with! Many companies use the same format for this reason.

Nowadays it is easy to create these documents, making them look very professional, thus creating a good image for your customer. So let me show you how to do this in very easy steps using two programs: LibreOffice and Microsoft Office. I will start with LibreOffice (which is free and I presonally think is almost as good as Microsoft Office). There are other method's of making pdf versions of documents you create and I would encourage you to search them out if this does not help you. You are also welcome to contact me to see if I can help.


Start by creating a document in LibreOffice using Writer (you can also use Draw which is great software for creating leaflets or newspaper style documents). Once you have made the document  look how you want it. This is a great opportunity to use your creative gift! You are now ready to make the pdf.

This is the easiest step. Instead of saving the document you are going to Export it as a pdf. So click on on File in the top left and a menu will appear (see image below).

Move down and select Export as PDF, this will then open a new window where you will get some options. In most cases you just need to select Export and a new box will
appear giving you the option to change the file name. Just click Save if you want the filename suggested or change the filename, but keep the .pdf at the end.


Microsoft Word

New versions of Microsoft Word (2007 on) allow you to save the file as a pdf. Similar to LibreOffice, create a document and once you are happy with how it looks you are ready to make a pdf. In Word select Save As but instead of saving as Word or similar choose the option PDF or XFS (see image below).

Once you have selected this option another screen will appear giving you the option to change the filename. As with LibreOffice you can leave it as the default or change it but keep the .pdf at the end. Then just click Publish (see below).

You have now created your pdf version to send to your customer! Well Done!!!