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Leisure Computing for Beginners
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Worried about the Heartbleed Bug!?

Heartbleed Bug imageThis bug, note not a virus, affects servers running OpenSSL. It leaves a security hole, an open door that has been there for some time but only now discovered and being dealt with.

If you are on a private network, using the Web, signed up as a user for email and social network sites, your details could be vulnerable to hackers. As long as the server, for the website or organisation you are linked with, has been secured you will be safe - otherwise not. Check out the important links below for more help/information.

Change your passwords

One thing you can and should do right now is change your password on any site where you may be vulnerable.

Each password should be unique so that if unfortunately a hacker gets access to your login details on one site they will not be able to use the same details elsewhere.

Passwords should be alphanumeric - containing both letters (case sensitive so use upper and lower case) and numbers plus other allowed characters such as the asterix* or exclaimation mark!

Rather than build around a single word (which by the way should never be your name or a pet name, or car registration) think of using a saying or a sentence you can easily remember to draw from.

Just a thought...
Now great if you have a machine-like mind that can remember multiple logins and passwords. I don't and over the years I have had to resort to making a list that I can easily access but keep away from my computer - and not carry around with me either. Also for added security I don't actually write the password down but use a tip, or reminder of the password so I can rebuild from memory.

Find out more about the Heartbleed Bug

Official site: http://heartbleed.com/
To find a list of Websites affected go to https://github.com/musalbas/heartbleed-masstest/
Some useful tips: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/heartbleed-bug-to-do-list,news-18588.html
You can run a Heartbleed test for your website server on https://filippo.io/Heartbleed/
In the news: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27028101
http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/615214-heart-bleed-bug-test-facebook-yahoo-gmail-wells-fargo-chase-citibank-affected/


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Need a professional blog or Website? Use WordPress to build it!

Use Wordpress for building a blog or website logoIf you are looking to build a blog or website do consider using WordPress.  WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) in the world.  It is 'open source' which means it is freely provided to download - and it is updated regularly.  It is available to use through all good hosting companies.  It is highly customizable.  It is designed for anyone to use - so ties in with the spirit, the ethos for the Internet as envisaged by Sir Tim Berners-Lee [the inventor of the World Wide Web].

In pursuing this you should note there is WordPress - the software platform. WordPress.org - the organisation that provides you with free downloadable installations of the WordPress software.  And there is also WordPress.com - this is the commercial arm that provides the WordPress software as of a service which is ready to go - you pay for them to provide it.

To find out more visit wordpress.org.


Optimise Your Home PC

Get some great open-source software for your PC

Piriform house iconAs the advertising states, this bunch of four beauties will, 'clean your PC, protect your privacy and make your PC faster and more secure.' They offer, 'Advanced file recovery and system information tools.'

You can get all four of the following really useful programs from Piriform, and, as they are open-source, you can download for FREE - you can also pay for professional versions of these wonderful programs. Note, to get to the free option, when you arrive at the website click on the Download button on the navigation bar as the quickest route.

CCleaner

CCleaner iconCCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC.  It helps protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure.  Easy to use and a small, fast download.

Get this program now from Piriform.

Defraggler

Defraggler iconUse Defraggler to defrag your entire hard drive - to get all those bits of files back into wholes again - or defrag individual files.  This is unique in the industry.  This compact and portable Windows application supports NTFS and FAT32 file systems.  It will help speed up your system.

Get this program now from Piriform.

Recuva

Recuva iconAccidentally deleted an important file?  Lost something important when your computer crashed?  No problem!  Recuva recovers files deleted from your Windows computer, Recycle Bin, digital camera card, or MP3 player.  And it's free!

Get this program now from Piriform.

Speccy

Speccy iconSpeccy is an advanced System Information tool for your PC.  Need to find out what's inside your computer?  No problem! Speccy will give you all the information you need.

Get this program now from Piriform.


Some basic guidance notes

Anyone needing help with starting from scratch on using a PC may find the following short guides of use.

Link to Adobe Reader download

Note, these are in PDF (Portable Document Format).  You will need Adobe Reader to open these resources.  This is free and you can get it by clicking on the button here.

Getting started on using the mouse

Picture of a mouse If you have yet to use a mouse, or need some help with getting the hang of it, then this useful download will help you to get to the pointer.

Click to access, save or print Using the mouse.

Getting started on using the keyboard

Picture of a keyboard You'll find a short tour around a standard keyboard here, plus some useful keystrokes for using with Microsoft Word.  There are also some tips on where to go to improve your typing skills.

Click to access, save or print Using the keyboard.

Some basic PC house-keeping tips

Picture of Windows Diskclean If you need help with clearing the junk out of your machine - and more than just the Recycle bin - then take a read of the enclosed.

Click to access, save or print Some Housekeeping tips.

Letter Writing Tips

Progress with IT, hand and keyboard imageIf you are using your computer to write letters, and need help with the construction of letters, this article from the Oxford University Press will help.

Click to access, save or print Letter Writing Tips.


Getting started in MS Outlook

Progress with IT, MS Outlook imageThis guide is a comprehensive introduction to MS Outlook 2003. Anyone who has moved on to using a later version of this software will still find much of the advice and features listed here of use.

Click to access, save or print Getting started in MS Outlook.



Microsoft ended support for Windows XP and MS Office 2003, 8th April 2014

Microsoft XP logoIf you are using Windows XP you will probably know by now that Microsoft stopped supporting this program for home users from April 8th 2014. This ending also applied to Microsoft Office 2003. Note, anyone already using Microsoft's anti-virus software, Security Essentials, on XP will continue to receive anti-malware updates through to July 14, next year - although the program will continue to flag up that it is not happy or fully covered by those updates.

If you work in the public sector you should be be okay - The Telegraph (April 3rd) reported that the UK Government is paying to extend Windows XP support there - read the story. For the rest of us there is only the possibility of upgrading to Windows 7, or even having to consider buying another machine with Windows 8 - but take a read of Chris Hoffman's advice on PCWorld.com.

Personally, as Internet Explorer will increasingly be less secure on XP, I'd recommend you use Mozilla Firefox web browser - it is really excellent anyhow so better than an alternative - and a different anti-virus program such as AVG - the free version if strapped for cash.


Open Office - Serious software and Free

Open Office 4 image

Check this out - for Home or Business use!

Let's say you are trying to set yourself up as self-employed, running your own business and every penny counts, as it will. You have acquired a computer but can't afford the latest Microsoft Office suite to provide you with word-processing, spreadsheets and presentation programs which you need. You are struggling to see how you are going to get over this hurdle. Well fear not, help is at hand...

OpenOffice by Apache, will provide a great way forward. Take note of the following:

  1. OpenOffice is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.
  2. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers.
  3. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages.
  4. It can be downloaded and used completely Free of Charge for any purpose.
  5. There is no need to worry about paying for updates either as these are also free of charge.
  6. It is easy to learn, and if you're already using another office software package, you'll take to OpenOffice straight away.
  7. Files built in Open Office are compatible with other office software.

What are you waiting for..!?


Internet Security - Some threats explained!

Without doubt our going online in the UK has hugely increased.  According to the Office for National Statistics (see below), 43.5 million of us used the Internet during the first quarter of 2013.  What has also increased in parallel with this growth is the incidence of internet crime and a corresponding concern for all of us to be using the Internet safely and securely.
Read more... Internet Security - Some threats explained!

Some simple tips for keeping secure online

Progress with IT, laptop and lock image
  1. Keep your operating system (e.g. Windows) updated. Install automatic updates as they come in.
  2. Keep your anti-virus and firewall programs updated daily.
  3. Carry out a full-system scan with your anti-virus program once a week.
  4. Don't click on links in emails that might take you to suspect websites! Instead, if you want to follow a link, make a note of it and write it into your address bar, the window box of your browser (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox), and run the link from there - that way you are protected if the link is not kosher.
  5. Don't open email attachments from your emailer. We all do I suspect, but if you believe the attachment should be okay then the best policy is to save elsewhere - such as your desktop - and run an anti-virus scan on the file before you open it. You'll be able to do this from right-clicking on the file and selecting your anti-virus software.
  6. Be careful when accepting files from strangers - in whatever media form they come in or where from. A bootlegged DVD may be just as much a virus carrier as a file downloaded from a website.
  7. If, while online, you suspect things are suddenly happening outside of your control - perhaps you are being taken to a website you never asked to be taken to, or a website is trying to download something onto your machine without your say so - switch off your router immediately, close down your browser, even close down your machine if need be. Reboot and run a full-system scan. It may not be anything serious but better to be safe than sorry.

Looking for free anti-virus software!?

MS Security Essentials icon

If you are looking for very reliable anti-virus software that is easy to use and free, then look into downloading Microsoft Security Essentials onto your machine.  This program will help 'defend your computer against spyware, viruses, worms, Trojans, and other malicious software.'  It also runs quietly in the background, is unobtrusive, so unobtrusive (it does not drain memory when compared with other anti-virus software that I have used) that it is very easy to forget it is there.  If you schedule your weekly scan and updates (easy to do in the settings), you can in fact leave it to get on with its job and not be bothered by it.  To use or find out more, visit MS Security Essentials.  Note, you must have a legal copy of Windows for it to run.

Housecall - here's another tip for maintaining a clean bill of health on your PC

Housecall icon

Sometimes it makes sense to get a second opinion on the health of your PC - other than from your own anti-virus software.  You can actually do this quickly by using Housecall, an online anti-virus program from Trend Micro. This software basically visits your computer and checks it out for viruses and spyware.  It is easy to use, it's free to use and completely safe.  I use this software on my own machine, and have often used it for a quick second opinion when delivering training on home machines that have not been checked for viruses as regularly as they should be.  To use or find out more, visit Trend Micro, Housecall.


UK internet use by people aged 16 years and older

Infographic by Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Get the full story - Internet Access Households and Individuals 2013 (PDF) - report complete with interpretation and charts.

Internet Access Quarterly Update, Q4 2013

Key Points:

  1. 44.3 million adults (87%) in the UK had used the Internet in Q4 2013, an increase of 1.2 million since Q4 2012.
  2. 6.7 million adults (13%) had never used the Internet, falling by 0.7 million since Q4 2012.
  3. Almost all (99%) 16 to 24 year olds had used the Internet, compared with just over a third (36%) of adults aged over 75.
  4. Men (89%) were more likely to be Internet users than women (85%).
  5. London had the highest proportion of Internet users (90%); Northern Ireland the lowest (79%).


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