PC Buyer Beware! is a comprehensive PC guide covering desktop and laptop/notebook PCs that provides the knowledge required to make sensible buying, building, upgrading, networking, broadband, recovering, repairing and computer-security decisions, helping users to solve hardware and software problems - PC Problems & Solutions - via articles and questions and answers (Q&As) grouped in categories. The quickest way to find the solutions to a particular computer problem is to enter a short and accurate description of it, such as pc freezes or program freezes, both of them very common problems, in the Search pcbuyerbeware.co.uk feature provided at the top of each page. A list of pages containing those or your own keywords will be presented.
You can access the main sections of this website by making use of the navigation bar provided on the left side of each page, or specific information by entering a suitable search query in the site-search box.
All of the major internal PC components, such as hard disk drives, graphics cards, processors, motherboards, etc., and the external peripheral components, such as monitors, networking equipment, mice, keyboard and printers, have their own section devoted to them. There are separate sections devoted to computer security, software and all of the versions of Windows currently in use – XP, Vista and Windows 7 and Windows 8.
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July 31, 2015. - Windows 10 has been released. It is a 3GB download that, as with other Windows updates, will remember where to resume if you turn off your computer while it is being downloaded.
There are two ways to upgrade to it from the two qualifying versions of Windows, which are Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1. You can either buy a new computer running Windows 8.1 and upgrade it or reserve your computer's upgrade from within Windows 7 SP1/8.1.
To reserve the upgrade, open the Control Panel, open Windows Update and you will see what is shown in the image below. Click on the Reserve button and an icon will appear in the Notification Area located in the bottom-right corner by default. It looks like a white flag that has a cross in it. Put the mouse pointer over the icon and a balloon pops up that says "Get Windows 10." Double-clicking on the icon makes a window appear that has the heading "How to get Windows 10 for free."
July 25, 2015. - According to Microsoft, all desktop, laptop and tablets that are running Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 are capable of upgrading to Windows 10. The following Q&A page should provide the answers to the questions you may have about doing so. The best way is to "Reserve a free upgrade for your existing Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC. The easiest way to get the free upgrade is to reserve, but you can upgrade even if you don’t reserve. Once Windows 10 is available, we’ll begin notifying devices that their free upgrade is available. Just open the Get Windows 10 app [in the Notification Area] to schedule your upgrade."
Due to the many millions of computers that will be wanting to upgrade "Some notifications will go out as soon as Windows 10 is available; others may go out in the weeks or months following [its official release date]."
Windows 10 Q&A -
The following article may be of value to you.
9 reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 -- yet -
Google has added a new Maps feature for Android, its operating system for smartphones and tablets, called "Your Timeline" that proves that your every move is being tracked.
Many are those who seem to love being constantly in Google's sights, but just as many or hopefully more might be finding this development to be creepy and highly intrusive and therefore as something to be avoided. Count me in with the latter type of person.
As usual, there are many review sites whose writers who don't appear to find any of this development in the least bit creepy. One has to wonder if they are heavily reliant on Google for their income. However, fortunately, there are still some sites who tell it as it is.
The new feature displays where you have been, the times you arrived there and even the route you took to get there. Photographs that you've taken with your phone also appear in the location history. The photos get location-tagged and are uploaded to Google Photos in your Google account. You can edit or delete an individual stop in your timeline or delete the entire history, but, of course, you have to be aware of this feature in the first place to do that and to remember to do so.
The great question overhanging this state of affairs is does Google itself get rid of the information or does it store it for its own use in order to be able to put customised ads across your path on the web? There is also no information that I could find that says that the new feature can be disabled completely.
And even if it can be disabled is it disabled for Google?
I personally wouldn't trust any of these privacy-invading social sites that rely on advertising any further than I could blow them with a kiss.
Here is the article on Your Timeline in the Daily Mail -
Maps v9.12 Adds 'Your Timeline' For Browsing Location History And Custom Names For Your Places -
July 17, 2015. - If you have an old PC that still works perfectly well and you have a network, you can put it to good use by turning it into a network attached storage (NAS) device that can serve files to the network – free of charge. FreeNAS from http://www.freenas.org/ is an excellent network storage operating system that can convert any computer into a fully-featured NAS device that can also provide remote access via a web browser. The website provides all the information you need.
To create a bootable CD/DVD containing the operating system, that supports most x86 Intel and AMD platforms, you just have to download the ISO from freenas.org and burn it to a recordable CD or DVD using the image-burning option provided by disc-burning software. A good free ISO burner can be obtained from cdburnerxp.se.
FreeNAS can also be installed on a small SSD drive or flash drive. Flash drives of 4GB and 8GB capacities both work well. However, the process is more involved than creating a bootable CD/DVD. The following webpage provides instructions on how to do so.
Turn old PC hardware into a home server with FreeNAS -
There are several other webpages dealing with this topic should you need further clarification. Just use freenas as the search query.
Here is the user guide for FreeNAS 9.3, which was the current version at the time of writing. You must make use of the user guide for the version you are using or intending to use. -
FreeNAS User Guide 9.3 -
The main use of external hard-disk or external SSD drives, which are now available, is to store files and folders and to contain backups and whole system images that can be restored should something disastrous happen to the computer from which they were created. External hard disk drives that have very large data-storage capacities are available for under L50, so there is no excuse for not having one and for not creating regular or scheduled backups. External SSDs were about four times as expensive in July 2015. Here is the information on backups and system images on this website:
Backup Methods: How to Make Restorable Backups and System Images -
Almost all external hard disk drives and external SSD drives now use only the USB 2.0 and SuperSpeed USB 3.0 connection interfaces because USB 3.0 is superior to the FireWire 800 and eSATA interfaces that are still available on some but not all new external drives. All external drives use the SATA data-transfer standard that uses the USB 2.0, USB 3.0, FireWire or eSATA connection interfaces that all require their own cables. The external SSD drives that are available mostly use USB 3.0 but also Intel's Thunderbold connection interface.
USB 3.0 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_3.0
eSATA is the external version of SATA connection interface that requires its own cable, which does not carry power. Internal hard disk drives all use SATA power and data cables but an internal SATA cable cannot be used with an external SATA drive. eSATAp is powered eSATA, which provides power over its cable instead of using a power supply unit. The USB standard has always been able to provide power through its cable, but if the device requires more power that the USB cable can provide, the device has to use its own power supply unit.
The latest external hard drives are relatively small and even the cheapest models have huge capacities. Most of them could be used as portable drives, but special even smaller portable drives are available. All of the major hard-drive manufacturers produce external drives for desktop and laptop PCs and also make smaller portable drives - Seagate, Samsung, Western Digital, Toshiba. Transcend and LaCie and other manufacturers specialise in portable external drives.
The latest models provide a USB 3.0 cable and provide both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. The user usually has to provide a USB 2.0 cable in order to be able to use that version of USB. The installation is very simple. Just plug the USB cable of your choice into the computer and into the drive. Most external drives come with good backup and backup-encryption software.
The following video shows the USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports on a 1TB Toshiba drive, priced at around L40 in July 2015. Since that video was made, the data capacities if the Canvio models have increased to a huge 3TB, priced at around L160 in July 2015, and the capacities will no doubt continue to increase, since 10TB internal hard disk drives are available, the capacities of which are themselves constantly increasing. The latest 1TB and 2TB drives are very reasonably priced. The Canvio drive, unboxed in the video linked to below, provides file-and-folder and full system backup software that can also encrypt the backups for additional security.
Toshiba Unboxed: Canvio USB 3.0 External Hard Drives -
There are many outfits developing facial-recognition software. Namely, Google, Facebook and the FBI.
Facebook's software is called DeepFace, which says of itself on Facebook's site: "Closing the Gap to Human-Level Performance in Face Verification."
The FBI calls its software Next Generation Identification.
As might have been expected, Google hasn't named its facial-recognition software. The main aspect to bear in mind is that the US and UK security agencies might be able to use any of those developments. Denials cannot be trusted these days.
Apparently, Facebook's software can identify the same person in different images with a 97% accuracy. Apparently, Facebook's aim is to be able to identify people as accurately as possible even when their faces are not showing in images. This is achieved by using body shapes, hairstyles, clothing, footwear, posture, etc. Apparently, an accuracy-level of 83% has been achieved. Bear in mind that useful software of this kind is constantly being developed and improved. In order not to spook its users, Facebook has stated that it is not using the images of people on its website to test its software, it is using images posted to Flickr, which is no doubt spooking their owners.
As usual, Google has come up with a very timely new free service called Google Photos. Now, I wonder what the main aim of that is. It has the ability to categorise the users' images. When you conduct a search, you are presented with these three categories: People, Places and Things. If, say, you click on the More link provided by the People option, you are shown in date order every image you have uploaded to the site.
Google doesn't seem to be able to identify people from anything other than their faces, but that doesn't have to mean that it cannot identify them by using other physical factors for its own purposes, the main one, of course, being building up user profiles that are used to sell customised ads across the web.
Facial-recognition software is being developed to be able to recognise situations in images in the same ways as the human brain does. That is achieved by analysing many images of a person, making a note of the lighting, hair-colour and cut, clothing, posture, etc. So, when it comes across an image of that person with his or her back to the camera, it can determine with a high degree of accuracy who it is and label it as, say, John Michael Smith, present age, 29, back turned to the camera. Then John Michael Smith will be recognised by the software no matter how he has been photographed.
Therefore, it is easy to see where this facial and other identification is heading. People wearing glasses connected to the web or driving cars connected to the web are taking video footage of people walking in the streets or in shops or other places and pretty soon Google and Facebook and the FBI have plenty of data on the people videoed - where they were, their vehicle registration numbers, make/model and colour of car, etc. that can be added to the information they already have about you.
Facial-recognition software is already on millions of smartphones and tablets, the level of which is constantly increasing. Images of people are being harvested by CCTV, ATMs, webcams on laptops and tablets, wearable devices, etc. Who knows what happens to it?
The default settings of the Adobe Flash Player that is used to play video on websites is to allow the visited websites to use the camera and microphone of the computers that is is used on. The user has to disable those default options and even then how can you be sure that they are disabled? That is why I have put a piece of black electrical tape over my laptop's camera and I only use a 2G standard mobile phone that does not have a camera or microphone. The idea being not to allow information about you to be collected secretly.
In my opinion, only fools use Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc., or anything else that requires as much of your private information as it can get and they provide their real information. If you are a performer, etc., you have to post images of and information about yourself on the web, but most people do not have to do that, so they should make up the information they provide or better still not provide it, because it is best not to give these organisations information about you that they can build up with advances in technology such as facial-recognition software. There is information that governments have about you such as what is provided on a passport - an image of you, where you live, date of birth, etc., which is supposed to be private, but is it? The security agencies could be providing it to these social sites in order for them to be able to identify people as completely as possible. Not everyone uses social websites, so how else would they be able to find information about those people? They are not developing facial-recognition software to such highly advanced levels for nothing. They want to use it to sell you ads that you click on and who knows what else?
You will inevitably appear in images taken by friends, relatives, people taking photographs in public, etc., that find their way on to the web, but unless the government provides the social sites with information about you, they won't have any information on you to start the identification process.
There are plus points about this business. For example, you could be warned if people are doing research on you, but, for the most part, it is not going to be advantageous. I find seeing customised ads unacceptable. You merely have to look on the web for something and you will find ads for what you looked for appearing on other websites. This means that Google, the biggest provider of customised ads, is reading your web-browsing history without your permission.
Cyber criminals could get hold of the information about you and steal your identity to apply for credit, mortgages, loans, use convincing scams against you, etc. Many people have lost large amounts of their money in this way already and it will only be getting much worse. It will mostly be the elderly people and the unwary who will be falling victims to that kind of crime. Maybe starting a business that provides effective disguises for people will soon be making someone a billionaire.
The hardware and software problems dealt with on this website are in the order of their popularity. When applicable, the order will change to match the popularity recorded by this website's web logs in the previous month.
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