Play Audio – WTAM 1100 Newsradio – Tech Tuesday – January 27th, 2015:
John, a longtime #TechTuesday listener had emailed Bill Wills of the Wills & Snyder in the Morning on WTAM 1100 Newsradio to share his story of being called by scammers pretending to be Microsoft. This continues to be a concern for both computer users and legitimate tech support companies, and Bill and I discussed how listeners can help avoid falling for these phishing scams.
Also on this week’s #TechTuesday segment, last week was a big week for news around Windows 10. While Microsoft made their formal Windows 10 announcement last year, much of the news was around their enterprise features. Microsoft spent a full day introducing their upcoming consumer-orientated features for the new operating system. Some highlights:
Release Date: An exact date still hasn’t been confirmed, but it’s expected to be later this year, and likely closer to October.
Free Upgrade: Microsoft will provide a free Windows 10 upgrade for a year to current Windows 8 and 7 devices. Windows Phone 8.1 users will also see a free upgrade. Unfortunately, no free upgrade for Windows Vista and XP, and Windows RT doesn’t currently have an upgrade path. Microsoft has not announced pricing once that year ends, or for new devices.
Cortana: Microsoft’s “intelligent digital assistant” jumps from Windows Phone to Windows 10 PCs and tablets, allowing you to speak or type questions or requests and get news, set appointments, control your PC and more.
New Web Browser: Code-named “Project Spartan”, Windows 10 will get a brand new web browser that does not contain legacy code from Internet Explorer. IE will likely still be available for Windows 10 for compatibility with certain sites and enterprise apps, but the new browser is expected to be the primary access on the new OS.
Unified Apps: While not every software developer will make use of it, they will have the option to create “unified apps” that can run across any Windows PC, tablet, phone and even the Xbox One. An example Microsoft used was a new Outlook app to give you the same look and menu system across your devices, yet still optimized itself for the different screen sizes. Combined with Microsoft One Drive cloud service, you could check your same email account across devices.
Continuum: For the growing number of 2-in-1 devices that can switch from being a laptop to a tablet, Continuum is a Windows 10 feature to instantly shift between the standard mouse and keyboard interface of the PC and the touch controls of a tablet.
Xbox One Streaming: If the family TV is being used by other family members, gamers can stream their Xbox One games to a Windows PC or tablet screen to play elsewhere in the house.
Keep Updated – Software updates not only help keep your computer safe, they can also fix issues with apps that aren’t behaving correctly and chewing up battery life. If you continuously have issues with your PC, don’t forget to check for driver updates at the manufacturer’s support site, including updates to the BIOS that can help with the charging system.
Check Your Power Settings – Windows allows you to configure when the screen and computer go to sleep, helping to save battery life when the computer is left on. Check that these settings are set optimally for how you use your device by visiting Control Panel, then Hardware and Sound, then Power Options.
Dim the Screen – One of the biggest battery drains on most devices, including smartphones, tablets and laptops, is the screen. Dimming the display can significantly improve battery life. Change your screen settings on Windows 8 by bringing up the Charms bar, then Settings, where the brightness will be displayed towards the bottom.
Turn Off Bluetooth – Most new laptops come with a Bluetooth radio built-in. Even if no Bluetooth devices are connected to the laptop, this radio will draw from the battery. Turn it off when not needed.
Disconnect USB Devices – Every USB device attached to your laptop uses a small portion of your power, including USB flash drives. If you don’t need it currently, disconnect that device. Keep in mind that connecting your smartphone to the laptop will allow access to the files, but will also drain battery life as the phone charges itself off the laptop.
The Internet offers plenty of free Windows applications to improve your productivity and your computer’s functionality, but finding them can be daunting. If you’re looking for a good place to start, take a look at the Lifehacker Pack 2009, courtesy of the ultra-productivity help site Lifehacker.com.
There’s plenty to choose from, including Foxit Reader for those tired of Adobe Reader’s bloat, or Postbox, a remixed Thunderbird client with a more G-mail feel.