Thursday, 27 July 2017

Setting up a new Windows computer - to do list.

Buying and setting up a new computer is a big pain in the bottom. If you're planning on treating yourself to a shiny new laptop this summer, then there is a whole host of things you'll need to do before you can start using it as your main machine. 
I've just helped my two daughters set up their new machines and realised what a faff it is, if you're not really sure where to start.
I tend to do myself a personalised 'to do' list, but, if, like my two daughters, you're at a bit of a loss where to begin, then hopefully, this might help. 

1) Update
The first thing the PC will most likely convince you to do, is several minor and perhaps major updates. If, (like me) you're a bit of a bargain hunter, then it's likely your PC will have been in storage for some amount of time. During that period, Microsoft boffins will have been releasing updates to their software, to iron out bugs and introduce improvements to make your machine, and millions like it, run more smoothly. Make sure it's on mains power, it can take the best part of the day, but it's essential. Let it do it's stuff, make a cup of tea, have your lunch. 

2) Delete any bloatware
Machine manufacturers junk. Mcafee have deals with major suppliers (like Acer) to have their software pre-installed. But what if you don't want that software? What if you want to use windows defender (which is deactivated with Mcafee installed) Avast, or AVG?
Windows 10 makes uninstalling programs more simple. Right click can work on many programs app icons, or hit the windows key and type uninstall - look for add/remove programs.  The kids computers had booking.com links on theirs, I like booking.com, but I don't want it on my new desktop thanks. 

3) Set up cloud storage
It makes sense nowadays to sync your files across your devices. Windows will try and persuade you to use Onedrive, the Microsoft solution, but Google Drive is my preferred option. Installing google drive on your desktop not only gives you a handy way to share files across your devices. But it will synchronise folders with your google drive online, thus giving you a handy free backup solution for your important documents. 

4) Install Chrome?
Likewise, for synchronising my bookmarks, I sign into chrome with my google account. This means, when I use chrome, all of my bookmarks are at hand. Open Edge, or heaven forbid internet explorer, and simply search for 'install chrome'. Edge is a good browser and it tends to work better with swipe gestures than chrome. However Chrome can work with swipe (back/forward) gestures, but you need a third party plugin. 

5) Change your desktop background. 
Now the machine will start to feel like your own. time to search for some smart desktop backgrounds to make it yours. Boot up chrome and search for your desktop size wallpaper, for example if your new machine had a desktop resolution of 1366x768 then search for 'star wars 1366x768 wallpaper' and all of the relevant images you want will crop up. Select an image, click view image and when the image opens in a new window, dual click or right click (depending on your setup) and choose save image as. Once you've saved the picture, right click it again, and select set desktop picture. 

6) Install Whats app
Whats app is great on a mobile device, but it's handy to have on your desktop too. visit Whatsapp.com and download the desktop client to chat to your contacts without needing your phone all the time. 

7) Get your files
If you're upgrading your machine you may want to move your files from your old one. Everything that isn't saved on google drive will need transferring manually. Existing files, that are stored on google drive will synchronise with your computer after you've successfully installed google drive on your new machine. 
Failing that, you'll need an external USB drive to drag the folders onto, then plug that USB drive into your new machine to drag them to where you want them. 

8) Ensure windows defender is running up to date and working
Hit the windows key and type defender. Start the program and look for a green status light. you may need to run a quick scan, or update the virus database (it's updated almost daily). Ensuring that it's running 'real time' will help keep your machine safe. 

Install other software. 
Open the Windows Marketplace app and look for other programs to personalise your machine. Apps you may want to consider;

  • Twitter 
  • Facebook
  • Steam (for gaming)
  • Instagram
  • Facebook messenger
  • Thunderbird (a better email client than the native mail app)
  • Paint.net (A great paint replacement)
  • VLC player (for media playback)
  • MusicBee (an iTunes rival for your music library, arguably better). 
  • Google Keep (for synchronising your notes)
  • Ccleaner for keeping your machine running. 
Have I missed anything? What would you do differently? 

Friday, 7 July 2017

Where's my Android family?

Sometimes, it's comforting to know that your loved ones are ok. Find my friends is a great way to do this on iOS, but Android solutions, until now have been somewhat convoluted. Some families have a mixture of iOS and Android users in them too, so a cross platform solution would be more useful.

Glympse is a great app for letting a client or friend know where you are on your journey. You can share your location via whats app or text, but some friends I know have had problems seeing the location and it's available on both Apple and Google devices.

Google have just stepped in with a fantastically lightweight application called trusted contacts. The fact that this is a separate app sits nicely with me, I like the fact that if I want to share my location, or check the location of a loved one, I can safely open this app, and action that need straight away.


The options for 'Trusted Contacts' are really very straighforward,

1) Send an alert.
 This will contact all of your trusted contacts and let them know that you've sent an alert.
 Could be useful in an emergency.

2) Request a location.
 The user can respond (which lets you know they're alright) or after 5 minutes, the app will send you their location.
Great for locating people who could be lost or in trouble.

3) Share my location. 
 Send your location to all or selected trusted contacts.
Handy if you're running late and you know they'll be concerned about where you are.

In a nutshell, this serves as a comfort blanket for kids or parents. For parents with young teenage kids who're heading out more and more often (like me). It'll mean less stress, and that's a good thing. Technology making life easier and less stressful.

The bad news, at the moment, it's not yet (July 2017) available on iOS, but they'll email you when it's ready. For now, those families can work with Glympse.