Customers who purchase a Windows 7 PC now may be eligible to upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $14.99.
With Windows 8 already in its ‘Release Preview’ stage and well on its way to a computer near you, you may think that now’s not the best time to be diving in to Windows 7. Thanks to some good planning from Microsoft and its partners, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth!
We are pleased to be able to offer customers who buy a Windows 7 PC from the 2nd of June, 2012, an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro for just $14.99.
All customers who buy a Windows 7 PC preinstalled with genuine Windows 7 Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, or Ultimate between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013 and who redeem and purchase the upgrade offer online before the 28th of February, 2013, are eligible.
Simply head to www.windowsupgradeoffer.com with your Certificate of Authenticity handy and register for the offer. You won’t have to pay until your copy of Windows 8 is ready to download.
Then you’ll just need to hang out and enjoy your Windows 7 machine until you receive an update email to let you know that Windows 8 is available. Follow the instructions in that email to purchase and download your upgrade copy of Windows 8 by the 28th of February, 2013, and you’re good to go whenever you’re ready!
Maintaining the security and integrity of your system is an ever-evolving challenge. While software itself is generally becoming more secure, efficient and bug-free, those that would take advantage of an insecure system, or unsavvy end-user, are becoming ever more crafty.
Last month, CRN reported on a support scam that sought to trick people into paying for 'remote support' to 'fix' a perfectly fine system, or install malicious software that would mine personal information for nefarious uses. The twist to this scam, is that it took place over the phone.
The scam is similar to one which many will be aware of from its frequent appearance in spam emails and internet ads. An unsuspecting computer user receives an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from the support department of a (potentially legitimate) software company. The caller then guides the end-user through a series of 'tests' to demonstrate security vulnerabilities or faults with their system, and offers a free security check or system repairs through remote administration.
The goal is to trick a user into giving up personal information, installing malicious software that would attempt to capture sensitive data, or to gain access to a user's machine in order to install said software, or leave the computer more vulnerable to attack. Cheekily, some cases involved charging the user later to remove malicious software.
A report released by Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Group last week, based on a survey of users in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the United States and Canada, found that three percent of the survey pool were taken in by the scam, with 79% of those suffering some kind of financial loss and 53% experiencing computer problems resulting from downloaded malware or malicious software. The average victim of the English language version lost $824.
Microsoft warned that perpetrators of the scam were known to pose as employees working in several of their own support and research departments.
The important thing to take away from this is that unsolicited support calls, just like email spam, are likely to be untrustworthy at best, and that trustworthy companies, such as Microsoft, are not going to call you out of the blue in this manner. Exercise special caution when dealing with calls such as these, and it is always better not to give out personal information, or access to your machine, unless it's support you specifically requested, from a trusted support provider.
Earlier today Microsoft released its latest round of security updates as part of its monthly patching schedule. The update includes security bulletins for various versions of the Windows operating system, Internet Explorer, Office, .NET Framework, SQL Server and more.
Nine of the 16 bulletins are rated by Microsoft as "critical", their most severe rating, because of their potential to allow remote code execution in an unpatched state.
Keeping software up to date is one simple and important step in keeping your system secure and running well - especially when it comes to your operating system, antivirus software, and browser. Plug-ins like Adobe's Flash and Reader are also good to keep an eye on, as they receive their own security updates with reasonable regularity.
Simply open Windows Update for the latest round of security updates for your system.
Earlier in the week James talked about that hopeless feeling you get when you turn your computer on and are faced with a fault of some kind. Even the most mundane faults and instabilities can be frustrating and time consuming to deal with, which is why we offer troubleshooting and hardware repair services. Let’s talk about how to avoid these situations in the first place through general good practices.
Even the most mundane faults and instabilities can be frustrating and time consuming to deal with, so what can you do to avoid them?
First of all – heat. Computers generate a lot of it and have to work hard to dissipate it. Keeping your desktop or laptop out of the sun, in a cool location and with plenty of breathing space will help it stay cool. Be particularly careful using laptops in bed or on a surface that will cover up their ventilation.
Dust is a big contributor to heat in a computer. If your desktop lives on the floor, or is just generally outside of a controlled environment, it is going to end up full of dust sooner or later. Dust does two things that computers don’t like. It bears particles that can conduct electricity and it impedes a computer's ability to cool down – it insulates. Computers are always happiest when they are cool (and not short circuiting), so keeping them free of dust will extend their lifetime and reduce the likelihood of a hardware fault. You can reduce the amount of dust that gets in a computer by keeping it in a clean environment, off the floor. If your computer has been around for a long time, it could be time to seek preventative maintenance.
Clean power is important – buy a surge protector and use it for your computer and monitor. Daisy chaining power boards together may work fine for most of the time, but may also result in cooked components. High quality surge protectors protect your gear and some brands even offer insurance if something does go wrong. Also consider shutting down and unplugging your gear if you are away for a few days: it not only protects your gear while you aren’t around, but it’s environmentally responsible as well.
On a related note: the hibernate modes in Windows Vista and Windows 7 work very well. They reduce your power consumption and running costs, are kind to the environment and are snappy to get back to desktop when you need to use your computer.
If your computer is showing signs of instability, such as being slow and unresponsive, or generally instable, give us a call on 1300 732 850 and take advantage of our troubleshooting service. If there is an issue with your computer, we have years of professional servicing experience to draw on in finding it and resolving it quickly and efficiently before something goes properly wrong. We also offer IT home tuition, in which we demonstrate good habits that will keep your computers running their best.
Microsoft plans on issuing a "wide load" security update for its upcoming Patch Tuesday release, incorporating nine bulletins that address 13 vulnerabilities.
The upcoming Microsoft security update addresses four flaws Microsoft designated with the highest severity ranking of "critical," while the rest are all ranked with the slightly less severe rating of "important."
The critical patches address security vulnerabilities in Windows XP, Windows 2003 and Vista, Internet Information Services (IIS) and Microsoft Office, while glitches in Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 are primarily covered by updates deemed "important."
Security experts say that there is a strong possibility that the impending bulletins will address some of the recent DLL hijacking issues actively exploited in Microsoft's products with a revised guidance for Hotfix.
"Currently it is the only at the advisory level and users have to make an active decision to get protection against DLL hijacking in third party applications," said Wolfgang Kandek, Qualys chief technology officer, in a blog post.
Last month was the first in which Microsoft completely cut off support for Windows XP SP2, but the majority of updates of XP SP3 also can still be applied to the discontinued version.
However, that won't always be the case. "Windows XP SP2 users should upgrade to SP3 as quickly as possible," Kandek said.
Normal.dot and Normal.dotm are the master template files for Word. They control settings like your default font, font size, margins and macros for every document created from the default template, so you can see how problems with these files can be the source of many Word crashes.
Changes that you make to your Normal.dot or Normal.dotm files will be reflected in every document that you create using the default template (if you just hit CTRL+N, for example). So if you have an issue where each new document that you create already has text on the page, that text was probably saved as part of your default template. To fix it go to File > Open, navigate to Normal.dot, or Normal.dotm, open it, remove the text and save it again.
I have been actively trying to mess with the Normal.dotm template in my Windows 7 install of Office 2010 and it seems that Microsoft have done a pretty good job of protecting it. Double-clicking the Normal.dotm template just opens a new document based on the default template and trying to overwrite the Normal.dotm file throws up an error saying that Word cannot give a document the same name as an open document. You have to actually go to File > Open, navigate to the file and open it in order to edit it directly.
If you are experiencing Word crashes related to the Normal.dot or Normal.dotm global template file, it is fairly simple to reset them. Be aware that resetting your Normal.dot or Normal.dotm file will return all of your template customisation to default and that you will have to redo it. This is why we suggest attempting registry related fixes first.
Remember to back up and to create a system restore point before you start.
Rename the Normal.dot or Normal.dotm global template file to reset it
First of all, if you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003 you need to look for Normal.dot. Word 2007 and Word 2010 use Normal.dotm.
Make sure all Office programs are closed.
Open the Run dialogue. If you are using XP go to the Start menu and click Run, if you are using Vista or Windows 7 hit Windows + R
Enter the following string and hit enter: %userprofile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates\
Word 2002 and 2003: Rename Normal.dot to OldNormal.dot
Word 2007 and 2010: Rename Normal.dotm to OldNormal.dotm
Word will now rebuild your Normal.dot or Normal.dotm file with default settings. If you continue to experience Word crashes, they could be related to add-ins, which we will run through later this week.
After running through the iPhone’s tethering feature a few weeks ago, it is time to look at one of Apple’s biggest competitors – HTC.
The HTC Desire is a great smartphone; fast, flexible and intuitive. One of its biggest advantages over a device like the iPhone is that it runs on an open platform. Google, who make the Android OS that the Desire uses, is happy to let you to decide how you use your phone. This makes the Android platform very interesting and potentially extremely powerful.
One of the biggest arguments against an open platform is that opening up a platform gives up control over the user’s experience and inevitably makes things less user-friendly and refined. So, let’s have a look at setting up tethering on an HTC desire and see how it compares.
Remember to look into your mobile phone plan before you get started, to make sure that you don’t get stung with any unforseen data or tethering charges.
Enable tethering on your HTC Desire
First things first and as usual, HTC wants you to install its software – HTC Sync. At this point the HTC Sync software is only compatible with Windows PCs. However, it is possible for Mac users to use an App, like PdaNet, to get tethering working on their Macs. PdaNet looks simple to use and has a 14 day free trial, after which it will block HTTPS sites. Click here for instructions on how to get it working and let us know in the comments if you have used PdaNet to tether your Android phone to your Mac, or if you have a better app! I have read reports that tethering will work natively for Linux users
Your phone’s data connection must be turned on. Head to Menu > Settings > Wireless & Networks and check the Mobile network checkbox
Connect your phone to your PC via USB
When the Connect to PC dialogue pops up, choose Internet Sharing and then tap Done
That’s all there is to it. Tethering is an awesome feature and the fact that it is affordable enough and user-friendly enough now to be useful makes it fantastic for people on the go, particularly if you are a businessman hopping between clients and only want to carry one device along with your laptop!
We are going to be running some troubleshooting posts in the upcoming weeks that will involve tweaking the registry, so I thought that we should get started by learning how to back up the registry in Windows.
Microsoft suggests creating a restore point when you wish to back up your Windows XP registry.
Click on the Start menu and go to Run, or hit Windows + R
Enter %SystemRoot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe and hit enter, or click OK.
This should get you to the 'Welcome to System Restore' page. Click ‘Create a restore point’ and then follow the dialogue options. Name your restore point appropriately!
To restore your Windows installation to a previous state:
Go to Run and enter the same string as before to get back to the 'Welcome to System Restore' page: %SystemRoot%\system32\restore\rstrui.exe
Select ‘Restore my computer to an earlier time’
Select the restore point that you made previously, or, if you have had an issue and are restoring without having made a specific restore point, another from the most recent time you knew your computer to be functioning normally. Be aware that any changes you have made to your Windows installation (including installed programs) will be reverted to the state of your installation at the time the restore point was created
You must be logged in as an administrator to complete these tasks. When working with the registry in any version of Windows, I would make a restore point. To do this in Windows 7 or Windows Vista, just go to the Start menu and type “System Restore” in the search box.
Open the registry editor either by going to the Start menu (Windows Key) and typing “regedit” into the search box, or by hitting Windows + R (for the Run dialogue) and typing “regedit”
At this point you can back up the entire registry, a section of it or just the key or subkey that you are going to be working with. Navigate to Computer to back up the entire registry, or a particular root location, key or subkey that you want to back up
Go to File and then select Export. You can also right click on the item you want to back up and select Export from there
In the Export Registry File dialogue, adjust the Export range corresponding to what you are backing up, navigate to the location in which you wish to save your backup and name your backup accordingly
According to John Nack from Adobe, version 12.0.0 of Photoshop CS5 generates less than 10% of the crash reports generated by the equivalent version, 11.0.0, of Photoshop CS4. This means that Photoshop CS5 is more than 10 times as stable as CS4 was in its corresponding stage of development. Still, it is impossible to release perfect software, especially in a package as complex and powerful as Photoshop CS5 and that is where the patching process comes in.
Thankfully, patching software is now easier and faster than ever and updating your copy of Photoshop is as simple as opening Photoshop, going to the Help menu and selecting Updates.
I don't have Photoshop installed on this machine, but the process is the same.
The Adobe Photoshop 12.0.1 update addresses a number of high priority bugs with 64-bit Mac, Performance, User Interface, Type, Content-Aware Fill, HDR, 3D, Painting, GPU and Liquify. The most significant fixes in the Photoshop 12.0.1 update include the following:
A number of issues that could cause slow performance have been addressed.
Top crashers found in the field have been addressed.
3D refractions, Ray Tracing and IBL workflows have been improved.
Out of memory error opening some TIFFs has been addressed.
A crash in Content-Aware Fill has been addressed.
Font related crashes have been addressed.
A number of user interface and workspace issues have been fixed.
A number of painting-related problems have been addressed, including video layer issues.
We also addressed several issues that were result of the major architectural changes on the Mac side in the move to Cocoa/64-bit:
Right-click correctly selects the layer clicked on in the context menu.
Right-click to bring up the brush picker displays the picker under the cursor on the correct monitor.
Slow performance when using the Liquify filter has been fixed.
An issue where menus become disabled has been fixed.
Scrolling speed using Apple Mighty and Magic Mouse mouse wheel has been improved.
Double-clicking the document title bar now correctly minimizes the document.
Fixed a crash that could occur when generating font previews. Note: We continue working with Apple to address remaining issues related to fonts and font caches. For info on those issues, use the Troubleshooting Fonts in Photoshop CS5 tech doc here.
Fixed an issue with batch processes on open documents.
Droplets are now Intel-native to improve compatibility in 64-bit mode and to remove the requirement to run droplets using Rosetta.
Fixed an issue where a white pixel would show up on screen after invoking certain dialogs.
Windows-specific issues of note:
Fixed an issue running on older AMD processors that prevent Photoshop from launching. (Application failed to initialize properly (0xc000001d))
The team thanks everyone from the community who helped us identify issues and test several of the fixes prior to the 12.0.1 update being released.
Not only does Windows 7 help you work more efficiently by running faster and more securely on your hardware, it allows you to tune and improve your workflow with some handy new keyboard shortcuts.
The extent of what you can do with any release of Windows is simply staggering. There are more functions hidden under the hood of the OS than you are ever likely to know and some of these can do a lot to improve your workflow. Today we will have a look at some of the keyboard shortcuts that will make your Windows 7 experience an efficient one.
The mighty Windows Key
Let’s start with my personal favourite: the Windows Key. Pushing the Windows Key brings up the start menu, which is all well and good, but in Windows Vista and Windows 7 it also automatically places your typing focus in the start menu’s search box. And this is a very powerful little box!
If you hit the Windows Key and start typing, the OS will automatically search your programs and documents and place the results in your start menu. For programs or documents that you use frequently, this means that you can quickly hit the Windows Key, type what you want to access and hit enter – much faster than mousing through Windows Explorer! It is also a great way to find some of the more obscure administrative areas of the OS; just type in a word describing your needs, such as performance or disk, and choose the best result.
Windows 7 window management shortcuts
Windows 7 introduced a new window management system to the Windows platform, allowing users to snap their windows to various anchor points around their display, or displays.
This can be done with a mouse by dragging your window to the top, left or right edges of your screen, or by shaking your active window to minimise and restore background windows.
Win + Left or Right docks your active window to one half of your display. This shortcut will also cycle windows across multiple monitors and through left docked, right docked and original states
Shift + Win + Left or Right will move the currently active window across multiple monitors
Win + Up maximises your active window
Win + Down minimises your active window, or restores your active window from a maximised state
Shift + Win + Up maximises your active window vertically
Shift + Win + Down restores your active window from a maximised state, or minimises it
Win + Home minimises all windows bar the currently active. Pressing it again restores them
Windows 7 taskbar shortcuts
Win + number (1 – 9) will open the application pinned to the taskbar in the corresponding slot. Win + 1 will open your first slot, Win + 2 the second and so on. If the program is already open, Win + 1 – 9 will switch to it
Shift + Win + number (1 – 9) will open a new instance of that application. So if you have Firefox pinned to your third slot along and hit Shift + Win + 3, Windows 7 will open a new Firefox window. Shift clicking on that taskbar icon will achieve the same result
Ctrl + Win + number (1 – 9) cycles through open windows of the program in that slot
Alt + Win + number (1 – 9) opens Windows 7’s new ‘jump list’ feature for the application pinned to that slot
Win + T cycles through applications pinned to the taskbar, hit enter to select one
General Windows 7 keyboard shortcuts
Ctrl + Shift + N will create a new folder in Windows Explorer
Win + E opens ‘Computer’
Win + F opens the search dialogue
Win + R opens the Run dialogue
Win + P toggles through display presentation modes
Win + (+ or -) opens magnifier and allows you to zoom in or out
Win + D displays the desktop and when pressed again restores your windows
Win + Spacebar previews the desktop
Win + M minimises all windows, Win + Shift + M restores them again
Win + G cycles between gadgets
Win + Tab cycles through open windows with Aero Flip (I am still partial to the venerable Alt + Tab)
Win + Ctrl + Tab opens Aero Flip and lets you let go of the keys and cycle through open windows with tab
Alt + Tab + Left or Right cycles in that direction in the Alt + Tab dialogue, you can also click icons with your mouse
Win + L will lock your computer and allow you to switch users
Ctrl + Shift + Esc opens the Task Manager. Can also be done by right clicking on the Taskbar and selecting ‘Start Task Manager’
Ctrl + Shift + Click on a taskbar button opens that program as an administrator