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.
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April 21, 2014. - "Office for iPad is an earthquake," according to Yaacov Cohen, the co-founder and CEO of Harmon.ie, a company that develop enterprise-level mobile collaboration apps - the winner of the best international app at the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2014. Microsoft Office is not available for tablets that use Google's Android operating system, so its availability on the Apple iPad looks as if the iPad will soon be coming in ahead of the laptop as the main type of computer used by office workers. Microsoft's Surface Pro tablets that come with Windows 8.1, Office and an attachable keyboard isn't flying off the shelves as things stand, so this move by Microsoft looks likely to put paid to it.
Office for iPad can only be used with Microsoft's Office 365, the cloud versions of the Office apps that are paid for by subscription, and its OneDrive cloud storage service that used to be called SkyDrive. Moreover, it looks as if it will also be tied to Microsoft's Enterprise Mobility Suite for mobile device management (MDM).
Workers have to connect their mobile devices to the main computer networks of companies so have to be controlled by making sure that connections can't be abused. That is what MDM does - restricts what workers can or cannot do.
Added to this new development is a phenomenon called "Bring your own device" - BYOD - that involves office workers using their own mobile computers at work. This makes using MDM very necessary.
Third-party cloud storage services (Google's Drive, Dropbox, etc.) and MDM services are likely to feel the pinch severely, because Microsoft will turn out to be the MDM provider of choice due to its integration with Office for iPad and OneDrive.
April 16, 2014. - Someone gave me a Tesco Hudl 7-inch tablet that is run by Google's Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean) operating system. I wouldn't have bought a tablet myself because of their limitations. I don't see the point of having one if you have a Windows laptop, unless it provides GPS.
As soon as the tablet was switched on and had located and logged on to my wireless network, I was asked if I wanted geolocation to remain enabled. This means that when the tablet is active - the machine is switched on - it gives away wherever you are, which is required to use the GPS feature that makes it possible to use the tablet as a sat nav, but otherwise it gives Google your location so that locally-based customised ads from Google can be appear on websites that you visit when you are on the web.
Looking through the apps, most of them are Google-related - Chrome web browser, Gmail, YouTube, Search, Maps, G+, Hangouts, Play Store, Drive, etc. All of which send my personal information to Google to be used in the creation of my personal profile so that Google can target ads that I am most likely to be interested in at me. I resent this. I have a tablet that I would like to use from time to time without being under scrutiny and tracked by Google. An Android-based tablet can't be used properly unless the user uses a Google account or signs up for a new one.
Damn it! I want to be able to choose what I use. I don't want to play into the hands of Google. That is why I am encouraged by Microsoft's plan to get Windows 8.1 installed on devices with as little as 16GB of storage. Let's hope that Microsoft gives it away and makes it possible to install it on Android tablets from, say, a USB flash drive - or another computer.
Here is an article that provides more information on Microsoft's plan to get Windows on to tablets:
April 10, 2014. A critical flaw called Heartbleed has been discovered by Google in the OpenSSL software that is used by most of the major websites to keep login information secure, allowing user names, passwords and credit-card numbers to be obtained by cyber criminals.
Web users are advised to change all of the passwords they use to access banking and ecommerce websites. I have just changed my PayPal password, because only an email address and a password are required to gain access to a PayPal account. Most banking sites require the user to enter a machine-generated number that changes for each access, so are not vulnerable unless the cyber criminals use many hundreds or thousands of computers under their control at different IP addresses on the web to attempt to keep guessing a number that works - not impossible but highly unlikely to succeed.
The vulnerability in the encryption software that hides login information could have been used by cyber criminals for around two years to gain passwords, etc., and this will remain the case until all websites have updated their software to which a fix for the problem has been applied.
Something called the LastPass Heartbleed Checker allows users to check if a website they use is vulnerable. It is provided in the following article that also provides more detailed information.
April 7, 2014. - The components of Microsoft's Office suite - Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and OneNote - are now available free for use from this website:
These apps have been available for some time free of charge via OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud-storage business, which used to be called SkyDrive until British Sky Broadcasting successfully objected to use the of the word sky in the name. However, Microsoft has decided that making them available from a website makes them easier to use and compete better with the free Google Docs.
OneDrive is provided with 7GB of free storage space via any Microsoft account, such as hotmail, outlook.com, xbox.com, etc. Additional space has to be paid for but it isn't expensive - only $25 a year for 50GB up to 200GB.
The valuable usefulness of using OneDrive is that it works seamlessly with the free Office Online apps and with the latest versions of Windows that run on desktop and laptop PCs, tablets and smartphones that use Windows Phone, such as Nokia's latest Lumia phones. This is superior integration when compared to what is provided by the free Google Docs.
April 4, 2014. - On Tuesday, April 8, Microsoft will be releasing a free update to Windows 8.1 that allows users to boot into the classic Desktop instead of the tiled 'Metro' Start screen.
The latest Windows phone and tablet operating systems account for only 3% of the smartphone and 2% of the tablet market worldwide, so Microsoft has decided to make them available free of charge to the manufacturers of low-cost mobile devices that are under nine inches in size, which would reduce their cost and make them a bit cheaper.
Microsoft's new CEO, Satya Nadella, had this to say: "Our vision, simply put, is to thrive in this world of mobile first, cloud first."
Microsoft has also announced that it has developed a voice-activation system for mobile devices called Cortana, intended to rival Apple's Siri and Google's Voice Search App. Cortana can search the web from voice commands, make calls and several other actions.
Moreover, new mobile devices that run the free mobile versions of Windows are to be offered a year's free subscription to Microsoft's Office 365 online service that provides Office applications.
March 28, 2014. - Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications now have versions for Apple's iPad, first released in 2010, sparking an explosion of tablet PCs from all of the major computer manufacturers, some of which took off exceedingly well and some of which did not.
The Office suite containing those three applications is now available from the Apple App Store, purchased via a subscription to Office 365, which is paid for by an annual charge. This initiative is expected to add $1.2 billion to Microsoft's annual income.
Office for the iPhone is already available, but didn't sell well, probably because the features of a full-blown office suite don't lend themselves very well to functioning on a smartphone.
Microsoft is also making the apps for Office on the iPad available free of charge but with reduced capabilities. The unrestricted apps have to be bought.
Touchscreen editions of Office for Windows 8 and 8.1 and other operating systems are to be made available later this year.
The struggle to increase the use of Windows 8 on mobile devices continues. Microsoft made a major blunder by not getting into that market before or at the same time as did Apple with iOS and Google with its Android mobile operating system.
March 19, 2014. - The website http://www.whoishostingthis.com has compiled a nine-step list that explains how a person can disappear from the web and/or browse it anonymously. Here it is:
1. - Close Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn accounts - or any others of the same kind.
2. - Conduct a search of the web for your name and remove everything that you find that you don't want to remain.
3. - Put false information into accounts that can't be closed.
4. - Unsubscribe from mailing lists that are of no use to you.
5. - Delete the history that the search engines keep about your web-browsing activity. Each search engine will have its own way of doing so.
6. - If necessary, contact websites to get them to remove information about you.
7. Clearing houses are companies that collect personal information and sell it to advertisers. Search for them and ask them to remove your personal information. This is the most difficult of the listed tasks to achieve, but it is possible.
8. - Get yourself removed from telephone and other directories. You can elect to have the information about you kept on the electoral roll in the UK kept private. If this is not done, anyone can access that information, which includes online telephone directories.
9. - Delete email accounts set up with companies that make use of your private information. For example, Googlemail allows Google to scan emails for keywords that are used to deliver customised ads on gmail itself and across your path as you surf the web. It's anyone's guess what else is being done with the information provided about you on one of these email accounts. It's far better to make use of the free email accounts that Internet Service Providers provide. You can also buy a cheap .co.uk, .com, etc., domain name that can be hosted for around L20 per year that provides plenty of email addresses.
There are websites such as DeleteMe and JustDelete.me that can help you delete information about yourself. Other websites, such as MyLife, show what information there is about you on the web.
After you have removed as much information as you can, use an anonymous search engine, such as duckduckgo.com. Using anything by Google guarantees that any private information about you gathered from computers or smartphones gets added to your personal profile.
Note well that if your friends, associates, family, workplace, etc., have put information about you on the web, getting it removed will be very difficult, so it's advisable to keep as much of your personal information private in the first place. Once it's in the social media sites, it will be very difficult to remove all of it. It's therefore best to use as much false information as possible in the first place.
March 14, 2015. - Blue Coat Systems is a leading online security company that has produced its annual report called the Blue Coat Systems 2014 Mobile Malware Report. It says that mobile malvertising has now overtaken pornography sites as the leading deliverer of malware to mobile devices - smartphones and tablets.
Malvertising is online advertising that delivers malware - malicious or phishing software - to the device it is being viewed on when malicious ads are clicked on by the user.
The company points out that Apple keeps its operating system for iPhones (iOS) under tight control. Its apps are very well vetted and downloaded in a specially protected environment, keeping malware intrusions out.
Google's Android operating system, now used by the majority of smartphones, is much more vulnerable. Blue Coat System's latest report says: "Increasingly, mobile users are being subjected to more ads — even more so than PC users — as sites everywhere continue to refine their mobile advertising strategies. This is a particularly worrying trend, as it coincides with a significant increase in malvertising."
According to its report, in February 2014, web ads became the single biggest security threat to mobile web users. A user is currently being directed to mobile malware 1 out of 5 times when clicking on web ads - three times the figure from November 2012.
The best protection, the company's report says, is to avoid clicking ads on your mobile device or, better still, block all web ads with free reputable software, such as AdBlock Plus for Android. You obviously have to make sure that it is a reputable app. AdBlock is. Just make sure that you are downloading the real software, not malware from a fake site. In any case, always scan downloads with an updated malware scanner - even if from a reputable site because that site itself could have been compromised by hackers.
For unknown apps, the best policy is never download or purchase an app other than from the legitimate sources, such as Apple's App Store, Google Play or Amazon.
Android smartphones feature premium Short Message Service (SMS) apps, which are more prone to being malware that can do things such as charge a user's mobile-phone account with a per-use or per-month charge or send cyber criminals money meant to be donated to charities by the sender.
2014 Mobile Malware Report: Malvertising Overtakes Porn as Leading Threat Vector -
AdBlock Plus for Android - https://adblockplus.org/en/android-install
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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