website-design

Starting out as a Webdesigner

This article is aimed at giving some rudimentary tips and guidelines which help in making a website designing business a successful one. Starting off a new business is as critical as it More »

Pidgin - Multiple Instant Messenger Service

If like me, you find yourself juggling multiple messenger applications to keep your friends, family and colleagues happy you will be glad to hear about Pidgin. Formally known as Gaim, Pidgin is More »

Spider Player - Free music only media player

Despite the fact there are an inordinate number of media players available, it is difficult to find one that is quite as well rounded as Windows Media Player; the application included as More »

Cashback Websites - Get money back on online purchases

I have a saying that goes something along the lines of ‘A penny saved is 1.22 pennies earned’ and while I’ll admit it’s not the catchiest of proverbs it certainly does hold More »

Windows 7 Hidden Gems - Additional functionality

I’ve been living with Windows 7 for a good few months now and in that time have discovered a couple of little ‘hidden gems’ which I wanted to share with you: Aero More »

Windows Vista Part I

windows-vista-3

A couple of people recently have mentioned to me recently that I’m yet to review Windows Vista in follow up to the feature that I did regarding the beta (test) edition last year.This isn’t an oversight on my part but something I did intentionally as a true review of an Operating System requires the writer to use it day in day out for an extended period before giving his opinion.I’ve now been using Windows Vista since its launch date at the beginning of the year so I’ve now had a couple of months to get used to the replacement for Windows XP and am ready to give my opinion.

My first observation would be that I am completely unable to ascertain why such a development took so long - Microsoft started production on their new OS way back in 2001 and it seems bizarre to me that it took their best programmers until 2007 to come up with the finished product.As much as I liked Windows XP there is no escaping the fact that an update was well overdue and now we’re left asking ourselves whether was it worth the wait?

So that I can get them out the way I want to make my criticisms known from the start.First off Windows Vista eats low powered machines for breakfast; I had a relatively new AMD Sempron 2800+ with 512mb of RAM and a 64mb graphics card which Vista just annihilated.A couple of hardware upgrades later (1Gb of additional RAM, 256mb graphics card) and the new OS is running perfectly - for some this hardware upgrade cycle isn’t a problem but those with low powered machines on a limited budget should beware.

I also don’t like the fact Microsoft have given a choice of five different versions to choose from as this can only serve to confuse the end and additionally we in the UK we are paying such a disproportion amount extra when compared with our US cousins.

Despite having said the above, yes, I do like Vista and no, given the choice I wouldn’t go back to Windows XP.

When you first install Vista the only real differences you notice is the shiny new graphical interface which in many ways is more gimmicky than genuinely useful.For example there is an alternative to <ALT + TAB> for cycling through the opened programs that displays all the opened applications you have stacked one at a time in 3D.Additionally items such as the tops of windows, the start menu and so forth are semi opaque and features such as these don’t really offer me any real advantages other than to look pleasing to the eye.I suppose if you spend your days, like I do, looking at a computer screen then such features will make serve as an improvement as if you’re to spend your time using an Operating System it might as well be pleasing to look at.

Most the real improvements won’t even be noticed by the end user but that doesn’t mean to say that they’re not important.Microsoft was hit hard in Windows XP with viruses such as the Blaster Worm which crippled PC’s all over the world and served as a nice little revenue stream for computer repair people everywhere.When it came to creating Vista Microsoft actually gave early versions of the Operating System to software hackers and simply told them to ‘break it’ so that hopefully any major security issues would be discovered before the software was finalised.

Two features I do particularly like are as follows.When using a flash memory drive you can allow Vista to use it to cache commonly used programs and data.This reduces the need for Windows to use relatively slow ‘virtual memory’ on your hard disk so your system speed should be increased as a result.Additionally the search functionality is so, so much better than under Windows XP - I found it infuriating how long it took to search for an item under XP but in Vista when I look for something it searches my hard disk and outlook messages in a matter of seconds rather than minutes.

There have been many improvements to the applications present within Windows which I’d like to cover but unfortunately as I have already overrun my space for this week you’ll have to wait until next Friday for the second part of this Vista roundup.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply wide range of toner cartridges with free delivery.

Firmware

HP-Firmware-DVD

A consistent problem that we’re having at Refresh is customers purchasing DVD discs and then returning them as being ‘faulty’ because they refuse to work correctly on their machines.Once they come back in to store we then run a couple of tests and they check out as being absolutely fine meaning that quite often a customer has just returned to us dozens of completely fine discs.

The reason for the media being incorrectly identified as being faulty is that each brand of DVD disc uses a different dye on the bottom of the disc as well as differing plastic compositions and silver reflector density.As such the DVD writer has to adjust its laser for each different type of disc and if your DVD burner doesn’t recognise a particular disc then this process becomes quite difficult for the writer to achieve.

This week I’m going to show you how to do something called a ‘firmware update’ which is a small piece of software developed by the manufacturers as they test new discs and improve the compatibility of their drives already on the market.By performing a firmware update on your drive you can gain benefits such as faster disc burning as well as greater compatibility both in actually recognising blank discs and creating a good quality, universally compatible disc at the end of the burning process.

Thankfully performing a firmware update is free of charge and as long as you take care with what you’re doing it’s relatively easy.I will point out that if done incorrectly there is a possibility that you could permanently break your burner but as long as the slightest amount of care is taken it should be pretty difficult for even a novice computer user to cause any amount of damage.I will declare in true Click tradition that I won’t be held responsible should anything go wrong and your drive is rendered useless as a result of following any of the advice given in this article.

The first step is identifying the make and model of your DVD drive which can be easily achieved by downloading and running the free Nero Infotool utility.This can be downloaded from www.nero.com/nero7/eng/Info_Tool.html and once run the program will display the type of drives present in your system in a drop down box up the top left hand side of the window.In my case the utility returned the result ‘HL-DT-ST GSA-H10N’ which was as clear as mud to understand but a simple Google search informed me that this was a LG branded drive and ‘GSA-H10N’ was the model number.

Once armed with this information you should head to the manufacturers website which again can be found relatively easy with a Google search.Once there head to the support section and whilst I can’t tell you exactly where to look you should simply look for a section dedicated to DVD drives and firmware updates.If you have problems locating firmware for your particular drive then a good place to start is one of the help forums such as www.rpc1.org where you will find people happy to give you advice.

Once you have located the correct firmware update for your drive simply download the package on to your computer and whilst in most instances a firmware update will just involve running the update utility and clicking on the ‘Go’ button it is imperative that you read the accompanying instructions.Once the utility has completed then that’s it, you can delete the file you just downloaded and rest safe in the knowledge that the software stored on the firmware chip inside your DVD burner is bang up to date.

Congratulations, now completed your drive should now be more compatible and potentially less troublesome than it was ten minutes ago when you first started reading this article.If you have had any problems updating then your best bet once again is to either head back to the manufacturers support page or a user supported forum such as www.rpc1.org.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply a range of refilling supplies to the UK Market.

Making the most of Google

google

Whilst the development of the Google search engine has been pretty stagnant recently it is still my search engine of choice and this week I’ll be telling you how to get the most from it.I’m sure all of you at one stage or another have used Google (www.google.co.uk) although by just using limited search terms you are restricting the features on offer to you.Please note that the inverted commas are just used for the basis of making this article a little clearer and you wouldn’t type them in to Google.

-The most basic feature is to simply type in your search phrase – ‘herald express click article’ for example which will return a list of pages that contain some or all of those terms.

-If you type a phrase in to Google in between a pair of quotation marks then only pages with that exact phrase will be returned so “herald express” would only return webpages that had the words ‘herald’ and ‘express’ right next to one another

-You can use synonyms of words in a search so for example of you were searching for ‘house’ but also wanted your search results to include the word ‘home’ too then you should do a search for ‘~house’.

-Using two dots between two numbers will cover an entire number range.So, say for example you type in ‘2000..2007’ then Google will return results including the numbers 2000, 2001, 2002 and so on.

-One particularly useful feature I find is the define operator which allows you to look up word definitions directly from the search engine itself.For example, if you type in ‘define:dodecahedron’ then Google will return the definition of the twelve faced shape.

-Google has a relative amount of AI which allows you to find concise answers to questions by just typing them straight in – for example ‘When was Richard Branson born?’ will just return the text ‘Richard Branson – Date Of Birth : 18 July 1950’

-Google includes a useful calculator which can be accessed directly from the search page.Do a search for ‘1+2’ for example and Google will return the answer ‘3’ and whilst this isn’t particularly useful the feature does get a little more advanced.If you type in ‘1lb in stone’ for example then Google will return ‘1 pound = 0.0714 stone’ and likewise ‘$1 in £’ will return ‘US$ = 0.5180 UK£’.

-You are welcome to use wildcard expressions in Google if you forget one particular word of a phrase.This could be particularly helpful for example if I forgot the exact lyrics of the Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ as I could type in ‘we don’t need * education’ and Google would then return results with that exact phrase but would make the likely substation of the asterisk for the word ‘no’.

One nice feature in my opinion is the ‘personalised home’ page of Google which can be accessed when you’re on the Google homepage.Using this feature I have now added ‘quotes of the day’, ‘BBC News’ and ‘Word of the Day’ to Google so now whenever I open my browser I am given these nuggets of information along with the usual ability to search.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply a range of inkjet cartridges, toner cartridges and printer paper.

Web OS

goowy

It was suggested to me this week that perhaps I should do an article on the fairly recent developments in the field of web Operating Systems although I’ll be honest that I started out not really understanding the point of such a concept and even after researching this article I’m afraid to say that I still don’t.

A WebOS is a virtual Operating System that runs in your web browser.The term ‘Operating System’ is a little misleading as a WebOS is in fact a set of applications running in your web browser which together either mimic or supplement your existing desktop environment.

Obviously a WebOS is unable to replace your existing Operating System as all the existing functions present in an Operating System such as Windows are required in order to boot the PC and get it to a stage where you would be able to launch an Internet Browser.This in itself is enough to instantly put me off the concept as if you have to use Windows anyway then surely you would just be better off continuing to use it rather than going to the additional effort of launching an Internet browser and then loading your considerably slower WebOS?

The premise is that a WebOS would be ideal for people that are always on the move; traditional Operating Systems are designed to be used on one computer only but with a WebOS you can supplement your existing set up with a system that can follow you around wherever you have Internet access.Once you set up the system you can then log in using any computer with Internet access and then you would immediately have access to any of the documents, e-mails and files present in your WebOS desktop.

For the purposes of this review I took a look at what I would consider to be one of the best Web Operating Systems, Goowy which can be used completely free of charge at www.goowy.com.Written in Flash you will find it pretty speedy to use on most Internet connections but don’t be expecting blisteringly fast speeds.

Within the desktop style OS you have instant access to a file uploader, e-mail client, RSS reader, instant messenger, calendar and so on.I personally feel pretty sorry for the programmers who are given the task of creating a web Operating System because we immediately demand that any of the applications included within are up to what we have become accustomed too.Unfortunately the inbuilt applications, whilst good are nowhere near as good as those that I use on a daily basis and whilst it would be unfair for me to expect them to be up to the same standard this is still one of the main reasons I couldn’t recommend using such a system at present.

The premise of a Web Operating System is an interesting one and so I would recommend visiting the Goowy website just to take a look but at present I just don’t think any of my readers would obtain any real benefits from such a service.If you need your files on the move then I would recommend using a laptop, a pen drive or a free online file storage website as these in my opinion are much more viable alternatives at present.Having said all of the above, this is a new concept and so no doubt over the coming months improvements in the technology will be enough for me to completely change my mind.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply a range of media with free delivery.

Desktop Publishing

scribus

Back in the day I used to publish an amateur fanzine dedicated to the old school Commodore 64 computer and whilst it wasn’t the way most teenagers spend their time it was something I genuinely enjoyed doing.This was a fanzine which enjoyed worldwide, low scale distribution and those who are even slightly interested can still find some information about this 12 year old magazine by looking up ‘Zine 64 on Google as some of the articles were voluntarily archived by our readers online.

Rather than bringing you here to talk about the past, my reason for mentioning this old fanzine was that I used to spend a great deal of my life using the Serif PagePlus Desktop Publishing (DTP) utility to create the fanzine and since stopping publication I haven’t had the need to touch a similar piece of software.It occurred to me this week that I haven’t yet covered a DTP application in Click despite having been publishing Herald Express articles for over six years so I went on the lookout for a suitable application as now seemed the right time to redress my mistake.

Desktop Publishing software is used to organise text and graphics to make them presentable for publication as a newspaper, magazine or simply for a school project.Basically you start off with a blank canvas which you then drop text, images, shapes and other assorted elements on to before altering their size, shape and position as well as controlling the way that they interact with one another; allowing text to wrap around images for example.This process of manipulation should result in your final work looking a lot more professional than if you were to have just used a word processor such as Microsoft Word.

Open Source seems to be the current buzzword and determined not to disappoint the application we will be looking at today, Scribus (www.scribus.net) is indeed also Open Source meaning that it is created and supported primarily by users rather than a large profit making company.This particular piece of open source software has been designed as a DTP application for Windows, Unix, Linux, Mac OS X and even the IBM OS/2 Operating System.Those of you who haven’t heard of OS/2, don’t worry, you didn’t miss much but if I get nostalgic I may cover it in a future article.

Since it’s fairly safe to say that the majority of readers are Windows users we’ll stick to this version of the software which comes in a free and relatively small 18mb download.Needless to say all the usual Desktop Publishing functions are present in Scribus; you can lay down text and graphics frames, wrap text around graphics present on the page and create master pages for allowing you to keep a design present over a multi page document.The interface is primarily intuitive and it shouldn’t take those familiar with any similar application long to pick it up although there are a couple of annoying points, such as manually having to resize images to fit a frame, which take a while getting used to.If you delve a little deeper you’ll find a number of fairly advanced features such as CMYK colour separations (important if getting your work professionally printed), ICC colour management as well as supporting a modern XML based file format or the ability to export your work as a Adobe Acrobat PDF file.

There is no denying that Scribus is a nifty little application although it is fairly rough around the edges and some of the features of the application do take a little getting used to and whilst there are certainly more powerful applications out there you do have to pay for these unfortunately.If I was pushed I would also recommend taking a look at the free version of Serif PagePlus available at www.freeserifsoftware.com.This particular application although lacking in some of the more advanced features of Scribus is designed from the base up to be user friendly so some users may find it a better alternative.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply a range of office supplies with free delivery on all orders.

Deepburner

Deepburner_logo

Last week I felt the need to burn some information on to DVD and having just recently formatted my hard drive and installed Vista I found that I didn’t have any recording software apart from the fairly basic functionality built in to Windows. Thinking this wasn’t a problem I headed to the Ahead website (www.ahead.de) to obtain the latest version of the popular CD/DVD burning software Nero only to be greeted with a fairly hefty 190mb download.

I do have a fairly fast connection so such a download wouldn’t have taken a particularly long period of time but despite what anyone may say 190mb is a stupidly large download for a piece of recording software, no matter how good it may be.When you add to the equation the cost of Nero I went off in search of a suitable alternative and found it in the form of the completely free, 3mb piece of software that is Deepburner (www.deepburner.com)

Whenever I recommend a piece of software I always get a handful of insults from readers who head off to the website, see a version of the software you have to pay for and then accuse me of lying – This happens whenever I mention AVG which is available in both paid for and free versions.For this reason I will point out that there is both a free and paid version of Deepburner available on the website given above so please ensure that you download the correct one.

The download and installation of Deepburner couldn’t be simpler and whilst the features that it offers are fairly simplistic they should be sufficient for most home users.In terms of the basic functionality you have the option to burn to create Data CD’s, Bootable CD’s, Audio CD’s and Data DVD’s as well as printing the appropriate labels for your discs.

One of the most important features is the ability to create and burn ISO images which even the most recent version of Windows can’t do as standard.ISO images are typically downloaded off the Internet (off Torrent sites for example) as they are entire discs compressed in to one file which is then downloaded and uncompressed on to a disc making the copying of software particularly straightforward.Of course you need to ensure that you’re not downloading copyrighted software off the Internet but that goes without saying.

Whilst you’re on the Deepburner site do check out Deepripper which is another free piece of software which allows you to quickly and easily rip (copy) audio tracks directly off your audio CD’s on to your PC’s hard disk in MP3, OGG or WAV format.Whilst Windows media player has this functionality I do feel that Deepburner does a cleaner, faster job.

Deepburner is compatible with all versions of Windows so this is particularly good news for people still stuck using an older version of Windows such as 95 or 98 which doesn’t support CD writing without the need for additional software.Whilst the program in no way replaces more sophisticated programs such as Nero it does cover all the basics and once again proves you don’t necessarily need to pay for good quality, capable software.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply a range of Brother Cartridges at incredible prices.

Repetitive Strain Injury

repetitive-strain-injury

Something which many IT people suffer from at one stage or another is Repetitive Strain Injury and although you wouldn’t have thought it could be very serious it can go on to cause a number of conditions from constant aches and discomfort through to permanent disabilities.

Whilst RSI which is a condition caused from repeatedly performing similar movements is not a new thing, it has become a great deal more common with the increasing use of computers.The symptoms of RSI can affect the neck, shoulders, back, arms, elbows and hands and vary from individual to individual.Pain is often encountered in any of these body areas and additionally the hands can be left with a feeling of weakness’ and fatigue along with numbness with loss of feeling and dexterity.

Luckily protecting yourself is relatively easy if you’re prepared to change your working patterns very slightly.As someone who has suffered pretty bad RSI in the past due to my job being entirely computer based I thought it would be prudent to share some useful hints to avoid my readers experiencing the same problems.There are two main areas that we need to focus on in order to reduce RSI, your posture and the way you perform various actions; it’s all pretty basic stuff but we’ll cover them point by point.

Posture

-Don’t slouch – Try to keep your feet firmly on the floor if possible as this will reduce the temptation to slouch your back.

-When seated at the computer make sure your head, neck and shoulders are all in line

-Don’t slump your head forward or arch your back.

-Keep your arms in a natural position with ideally more than a 90 degree angle between your upper arm and forearm.

-Do invest in a decent office chair and table; using furniture that isn’t fit for its purpose will make keeping any kind of good posture extremely challenging.

Actions

-Most importantly, do take regular breaks.I understand that the recommended once every half an hour isn’t really possible in most environments but do take a minute every now and again to get off the chair and stretch your legs.

-Your computer peripherals should feel comfortable which is why I always insist on investing in a decent keyboard and mouse.If you’re sat using a laptop for 8 hours a day using the inbuilt keyboard and trackball you’re going to suffer from RSI in no time – invest in a decent plug in keyboard and mouse for when you’re using your machine for extended periods.

-Do organise your workspace so that the keyboard and mouse are in comfortable positions and the monitor is approximately arms distance away.

-The fairly obvious ‘try not to use your computer more than you need to’ comment goes without saying.

-Pay attention to any pain or discomfort that you may experience – this is your body trying to tell you something so don’t ignore it.

Separate from the conversation of RSI it is also worthwhile getting in to a good habit when it comes to looking after your eyes when using the computer for extended periods of time.You should frequently look away from the computer screen and take the time to focus on fixed objects across the other side of the room which gives your eyes a break from focusing on the computer monitor right in front of you.Additionally do have your eyes tested frequently if you use a computer as poor vision will increase the likelihood that you could suffer from headaches and fatigue when using a computer.

Repetitive strain injury can cause some serious problems and it is worthwhile keeping in mind that they are more difficult to cure than prevent in the first place.Take the time to adapt your working style but if you have any ongoing symptoms then always do consult your GP to ensure that no damage is being done.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply a wide range of Canon Printer Cartridges with free delivery on all orders.

Printer page yields

cartridges_yield_page_printer

It was just a couple of weeks ago that I discussed looking at the on running costs of any printer you were looking to purchase as the initial purchase price should only be the smallest part of the equation when choosing what to buy.It seems somewhat coincidental therefore that today I heard news regarding a new standard allowing consumers to compare the potential ongoing running costs was being pushed through by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

I hear a collective sigh as it’s assumed this could turn in to a shameless plug for my cartridge business but honestly, I really won’t go there today!

Until now printermanufacturers have used a variety of ways to measure how many pages a cartridge will print but after the OFT criticised the four big players (Epson, Canon, HP, Lexmark) over an alleged lack of transparency, consumers should now find it easier to compare machine against machine.

The OFT has called on the industry to devise a standard method of testing for all inkjet cartridges and although originally this was supposed to have come in to place by the end of 2003 the industry was given more time to prepare.Just recently the ISO (International Standards Organisation) approved new standards so that cartridges could be accurately compared against one another by consumers.

To emulate how the average user prints three different document types are used consisting of black text and graphics, colour graphics or photographs.All three document types are generally tested on current printers unless there are limitations that would prevent any of the previous tests from having been completed successfully.All these tests are carried out in controlled conditions at the same temperature and humidity as the average home/office and the tests are conducted in a nearly continuous line with normal breaks being taken for changing the paper.

Of course, it should be noted that the above method is quite an economical way of printing and users who do stop/start printing are likely to get poorer page yields than these results would suggest.For those not in the know, when you are not using your printer it does periodically use a small amount of ink for cleaning the print heads to prevent them from drying out.This does mean that theoretically you could never use your cartridge and it would empty itself over a period of time but unfortunately this isn’t the printer manufacturers trying to con you but one of those simple requirements that can’t be avoided.

These page yields, once ascertained will shortly be printed on all packaging of the manufacturers’ original cartridges and additionally on the manufacturers’ websites.I was able to find sections on the Epson and HP websites indicating cartridge page yields but it would appear that Canon and Lexmark haven’t yet put these pages in to place.

Of course, this standard is only going to allow users to compare the on running prices of the manufacturers’ original cartridges rather than the cheaper compatible or remanufactured alternatives but it certainly is a step in the right direction.Whether the average consumer will use this information or whether despite all my warnings customers will continue purchasing the cheapest printer they can find without considering the ongoing costs has yet to be seen.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply inkjet and laser cartridges with free delivery to the UK Market.

Protecting yourself while shopping online #2

shopping-online

I’ve recently received a couple of questions regarding last weeks safe shopping article in which I discussed the bases that you could cover in order to protect yourself whilst shopping online.Below I have printed one such e-mail which raised a couple of unanswered questions:

I recently read your article supporting Internet shopping with interest as I have always feared shopping online because I have had friends whose cards have been “cloned”.You mentioned a couple of interesting points regarding the protection your credit card company will extend to you however I only have a debit card and so in your opinion would this be equally safe to use?

I am myself aware of checking that the site has padlock symbol on the bottom of the toolbar and that its website starts with ‘https’ but are there any other checks which would help?

Seán, Brixham

This is an interesting question and one that I had to do a little bit of research on in order to find a satisfactory answer.In terms of the protection offered to you by your debit card company I discovered that unfortunately this is a little less than when using a credit card.Because there is no ‘credit’ involved when you purchase a good by debit card you are unfortunately not covered by the Consumer Credit Act and therefore if you are trying to retrieve any money off a company then the card issuer isn’t equally liable.With a credit card you would be entitled to claim the money back off the card issuer and they in turn will chase the retailer in order to obtain the money themselves.Although debit cards don’t afford you this protection there isn’t a huge need to worry as in the event of a non delivery, bankruptcy or a fraudulent transaction the financial institutions would claim the money back off the companies merchant bankers who in turn would be left to claim the money back off their clients.

With regards to checking out potential suppliers I would tend to suggest using simple common sense.As you mention; check for the padlock symbol when entering your card details as this means your card details are being securely transmitted but other than that you should be able to do your own research in order to establish how legitimate the company is.I tend to work on a number of factors and so far have never suffered a fraudulent Internet transaction.

-Does the website look professional?I would tend to trust a nicely designed site with my card details rather than one that looks like it was designed by a 5 year old, is riddled with errors and has a large amount of out of date, non rotating stock.

-Check the Internet for reviews of the company you are about to purchase from.Obviously take them with a pinch of salt but a quick search on Google and you should get an idea as to their customer service reputation.

-Install the Google and Alexa Toolbars – Although in no way a guarantee this will show you how important Google ranks a particular page and the Alexa toolbar will show you how popular the site is on the Internet.If Google rate it as PR0 (the lowest available) and according to Alexa no one ever visits it I would be cautious about giving them your card details.If a site has a large number of visitors and it doing a lot more business it is probably a lot safer to assume that they won’t be going out of business before your goods are delivered.

-Check for contact details and try phoning them just before you actually place an order.Be very careful about buying from a site with no phone number unless it’s a name you know you can trust.

-Don’t place too much importance on logos such as ‘ShopBuy’ and ‘ICOMMU’ – I have these logos on www.refreshcartridges.co.uk and know that it’s basically just a way for the logo issuers to make money off merchants such as myself.These schemes do very few background checks on a company and are very limited in how they can help should anything go wrong.

-Don’t pay by cheque; you have practically no protection in the event of a non delivery.

The above points are only my own personal methods of shopping online so don’t take them as gospel and whilst to the best of my knowledge the legal standpoint at the beginning of this article is correct, please do check with your debit card issuer.If you want to download last weeks article about protecting your card online or read up about the Alexa and Google please visit www.computerarticles.co.uk

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply a wide range of Epson Inkjet Cartridges.

Protecting yourself while shopping online

shopping-online-2

There are still a large number of people that are simply afraid to shop on the Internet which worries me somewhat as my livelihood is completely reliant on people feeling comfortable using their credit card details to order online.Not only is online shopping one of the most secure ways to shop but there are also a number of avenues available to protect you online and minimise the risk presented.

Legislation

There are three pieces of relevant legislation that will protect you when shopping online.

-The Distance Selling Regulations which allow you send goods back for ANY reason whatsoever within seven working days of delivery.You do have to pay for the return of the goods though.

-The Sale Of Goods Act which allows you to obtain a full refund if the goods are not ‘fit for purpose’

-Finally, the Consumer Credit Act which means that if a retailer refuses to refund you then your credit card company may refund you then recover the money through the retailers’ bankers.

Trading Standards

If you were to have a problem then Consumer Direct would be a better first point of call than Trading Standards.They can be contacted by phoning 08454 040506 or visiting www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.They will be able to advise you on appropriate legislation, provide you with sample letter templates to send to the retailer, collect complaints against a retailer and not only advise you on how to proceed but in some instances they may take the complaint up directly.

County Court

If all else fails you will may be able to use the small claims procedure.For advice you should contact the Torquay and Newton Abbot small claims court on 01803 616791 and it’s worthwhile noting that you won’t have to employ a solicitor.

If you are having problems with a retailer than when employing any of the above methods it would be worthwhile keeping the following records:

(a) Keep a diary of exactly what happens and when.

(b) Keep details of the agreed product specification, the order, emails, faxes, letters and phone conversations.

(c) Send all important letters by Recorded Delivery and consider taping any important phone conversations.

At the end of the day it’s worthwhile noting that 99.9% of all Internet retailers are reputable and it is very unlikely that you will ever have a problem at all.Any problems that are encountered are usually easily solved in a friendly manner and it is unlikely that you will ever have to employ any of the methods detailed above.

An ongoing concern is that of security but in all reality this isn’t something that you should really worry about.Modern websites employee a high degree of encryption which is extremely difficult to hack in to and even should your details be compromised online you would be protected by your card company.Many retailers now days don’t even get to see the card details that you enter in online – for example, at Refresh Cartridges when we take an order online all we get is an authorisation code as the transaction is conducted directly with the bank.

I’m always amazed how some people are happy to give their card away at a restaurant for a waiter to take out the back, out of sight but at the same time seem reluctant to use their card online with some of the Internets biggest retailers.I think it’s time to get some perspective as to how safe Internet shopping is especially when compared to more established and less secure payments which we conduct locally in our day to day lives.

 

 

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges, a company that supply a wide range of Dell Printer Cartridges to the UK Market.

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