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Fast Tips On How To Grow The Numbers Of Your Instagram Followers

f you don’t already know what Instagram is all about, you are in luck. This article is written with people like you in mind. In a nutshell, Instagram is a mobile application More »

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No 4G for the Moment, but 2013 Promises Great Things for British Consumers

The sale of Britain’s 4G mobile spectrum just got a little bit more interesting today. Ofcom set out new proposals for making the airwaves available to the major network operators. They have More »

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Mac Security Hype

The change in Apple’s security marketing message on Mac website has been the issue of debate in tech circles all around the world. The previously set “A Mac isn’t susceptible to the More »

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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 »

Online Ticket Scams

scamlogo

This month police managed to shut down 100 online ticket scam websites by taking action through the organisation in charge of registering all website addresses, Icann (Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers).

Typically, however, these sites which sell fake tickets for events ranging from Bruce Springsteen concerts to the Olympic games are incredible difficult to shut down due to most of them being based offshore. As such, not only do many still remain but more will surely form to replace the fallen.

There are however simple steps you can take to help safeguard against potential online fraudsters:

- Does it seem too good to be true? Life can sometimes chuck you a nice surprise although more often than not if something looks too good to be true then you’re going to be left disappointed. Alarm bells should start ringing if you’ve been endlessly searching for seats at the O2, then suddenly you stumble across a random site that appears to have exactly what you’re looking for.

- Does the site look professional? While not necessarily an accurate indicator, I would be cautious of a site that promises premiership football tickets but looks like it knocked up in five minutes by a primary school child.

- Does the page have a page rank? This is one of my favourite methods of checking a sites potential legitimacy. Download and install the Google Toolbar (https:// toolbar.google.com) and this will then provide you with an immediate indication via a small sliding scale just under the address bar as to how ‘important’ Google believes the page you are currently viewing is. This level is established by monitoring the number of ‘important’ sites linking to the page in question; a page rank of zero would quickly arise suspicions that the page is either relatively new or that no other sites have seen it worthy enough to link to.

- Does the page have an Alexa rank? By downloading and installing the Alexa toolbar (www.alexa.com/toolbar) you, and millions of other users, provide anonymous usage statistics back to a central server. This data can be used to create a massive database which ranks the popularity of various sites on the Internet which is displayed via a small scale within your browser. To demonstrate how this can be useful, consider that Ticket Master (one of the largest legitimate ticket sales sites) is currently ranked the 5,514th most popular on the entire Internet. This is no small achievement and it’s likely they can be trusted unlike a site which claims to be ‘The Biggest and Best on the Web’ while ranking in at five millionth.

- Does the page include contact details? Actually try phoning them before making a purchase and talk through your potential order with a real person. If you get a dead dial tone, an incorrect number or it sounds like the guy is talking on a mobile in the pub then it’s time to move on to another site.

- Does the site receive favourable reviews? Do a Google search for reviews of the site you are thinking about purchasing off; others will quickly rant if they have had problems and while all reviews should be taken with a pinch of salt this will quickly give you an idea as to whether the company is legitimate. Also, don’t place too much importance on accreditation logos; the only time they’re worth paying attention to is if it’s a body you recognise that have their own website that can be used to confirm membership.

- Is their site secure? Ensure that when typing in your card details that you have been transferred to a secure server; this can be done by checking that ‘https://’ has replaced ‘https://’ in your address bad. Also, never pay by cheque; a credit card will give you added protection should anything go wrong.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Slow Broadband

slow-broadband

Last Friday I talked about a new breed of superfast broadband heading our way, however it would seem that in the current day many users still aren’t achieving anywhere near the maximum speeds promised by their ISPs.

Several months back my parents had their Virgin Media line upgraded from a 2Mbps to a 10Mbps connection free of charge, due to the discontinuation of the older package. This week my father mentioned that he hadn’t noticed a difference and so I performed a quick speed check which confirmed he was still on the old package; an issue resolved by a single phone call to Virgin.

I had a similar issue when Virgin upgraded me to 20Mbps without replacing my old, slow modem; once again a quick speed test provided me with the fodder to give them a call and get a new, faster broadband modem free of charge.

It is always important to check that you are receiving something that at least resembles what you’re paying for and fortunately a quick visit to www.speedtest.net will do just that. Simply click on ‘begin test’ and within around thirty seconds you will be given the current download and upload speed achieved between your computer and the closest server - in our case, Maidenhead.

Please remember that the speed quoted by your ISP is most often a maximum obtainable speed and it would be completely reasonable to get something less. This is especially true if you connect using ADSL via a convention phone line rather than via a fibre optic (Virgin Media) connection as the speed is heavily influenced from your distance to the closest exchange.

While this one factor cannot be helped, there are several routes you can take if your actual speed is completely disproportionate to that promised by your ISP:

- Talk to them – In many instances your ISP will be able to run tests to ensure that your poor performance isn’t due to a fault such as excessive line noise. I’ve seen customers have their connections increased in speed exponentially by simply reporting a fault and having an inherent problem removed; this work is paid for by the phone provider. Even in a worst case scenario where the line speed cannot be increased, it is possible that you could get moved down to a cheaper package while suffering no loss in performance.

- Update your router firmware – Most of us nowadays will connect to the Internet via a router which, if not doing its job properly, will result in slower download speeds. Problems with a router can in many instances be rectified by updating it with the latest software via a free firmware update provided by the original manufacturer. These updates are usually distributed free of charge online and serve as a way of the manufacturers improving the features, security and speed of their existing products as and when improvements are discovered.

- Clean up your PC– Many cases of connection slowdown are caused by a needlessly large amount of software in the background either slowing down the computer itself or hogging a proportion of the Internet bandwidth. Ensure that your Operating System is always kept clean and most importantly ensure that peer to peer file sharing programs (such as BitTorrent) aren’t set to run in the background as these will certainly slow your connection.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Superfast Broadband

fast-broadband

There is a new breed of superfast broadband approaching which will be welcome news to the majority of the British public that are currently stuck with a maximum top speed of 8Mbps.

It is undeniable that Broadband take-up in the UK has been huge; the majority of the public now access the Internet via a broadband connection rather than a conventional dial up modem. A few weeks back I talked about broadband packages which made Internet access either free or incredibly cheap meaning that even occasional Internet users would be financially better off with a broadband connection.

Although the prices have been tumbling, a ceiling limit on the speeds obtainable has been reached and this needs to be broken through; although 8Mbps is a comfortable speed which will suit the majority of users we are lagging well behind many other parts of the world. A limited number of users in built up areas in Japan for example are currently able to receive blisteringly fast 1000Mbps speeds.

At present, the UK broadband provider for choice when it comes to the speed of connection is Virgin Media who have been offering 20Mbps for years now and have just introduced 50Mbps across the UK. Clearly the speed difference between the Virgin offering and standard ADSL which comes through your conventional phone line is huge.

The difference in speed is due to the type of cable employed for carrying the signal. Virgin uses a relatively new and advanced fibre optic system – this explains why you do have to live in a Virgin cabled area (formally Telewest and NTL) to receive the service. Other broadband products transmitted through your conventional phone line rely on old copper cables; these were originally designed for carrying voice calls and as such there is a limit to the speed that data can be transmitted along them.

Although 50Mbps will be more than enough for the majority of Internet users, Virgin are currently trialling a 200Mbps broadband service in Kent. If the service were to be unveiled across the UK it would give Virgin Media customers one of the fastest broadband services in the world.

Unfortunately only 12.6 million homes are in a Virgin Media cabled area which is why many have to ADSL broadband though their conventional phone line. In order to increase the speeds available to these users BT is currently upgrading exchanges across the UK to ADSL 2+ which will offer up to 20Mbps. Although Torbay hasn’t yet been switched over the exchanges should be upgraded by summer of next year which will result in an approximate doubling of speed at, most likely, no extra cost.

After the ADSL 2+ rollout it would be fair to say that we would have pretty much reached the theoretical maximum speed that you can transfer data down a copper cable. In order to overcome this, BT has began rolling out its own fibre optic broadband across the country however current plans will seen only 40% of UK households covered by 2012 and it is unlikely that they will cover Torbay in this initial phase.

At present, your best bet for the fastest broadband in Torbay is to check if you are in a Virgin covered area (check availability at www.virginmedia.com). Alternatively, if you are not covered, sit back and wait for the ADSL 2+ rollout; unfortunately this will more than likely have to suffice until we have a nationwide rollout of fibre optic technology across the UK.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Image Resolution FAQ

resolution

A question I’m currently receiving on a weekly basis is ‘how many pictures will I be able to fit on this’ when a customer is referring to the size of memory card or USB Flash Drive. Understanding image resolution and size is important in this digital age and although the intricacies are incredibly complex, the basics are pretty easy to get to grip with.
What is Image Resolution?
A pixel is a unit of programmable colour on a computers display and by combining many of them together we are able to create an image; the term resolution typically refers to the number of pixels that are used in this process. On the whole, the quality of the image will increase with a greater number of pixels as we are able to store a greater amount of detail.

How is Resolution Measured?
Resolutions are generally expressed in two different formats - either the pixel dimensions of the image are given or the total number of pixels used in its creation.

Most digital cameras express their maximum resolution in terms of megapixels (millions of pixels) that can be used to create an image; an 8 mega pixel camera would be able to break a picture down in to 8 million pixels hence giving a higher resolution that a 5 mega pixel camera.

The resolution of a computer image on the other hand is usually expressed by giving the number of pixels present on a line and the number of lines used in the image. For example, an image measuring 1600 x 1200 would contain 1600 pixels per line and a total of 1200 lines giving a total of 1,920,000 pixels (1.92 mega pixels). As the image contains a greater number of horizontal than vertical pixels we can assume this picture would be landscape rather than portrait.

How does Resolution affect File Size?
The more pixels an image contains the larger the file is likely to be; this is due to the fact that storing information relating to 10 million pixels is liable to require more space than saving a lower resolution 1 million pixel image.

There are several other very important factors to consider:

File Format – Over the years there have been many different image file formats, each introducing new advantages and disadvantages and covering them all would take an article in itself. The two you are most likely to come in to contact with when using a digital camera are JPEG (smaller images that often include compression) or RAW (Completely unprocessed images files which are of a higher image quality but also substantially larger)

Colour Depth – Along with the total number of pixels that constitute an image, we also have to consider the potential number of colours each pixel could be. If, for example you save your image as a ‘line art’ image where each pixel can be either black or white then the amount of data required to store this information is less than if you set a colour depth of ‘true colour’ where each pixel could be one of 16,777,216 potential colours.

Compression – Many image formats, such as JPEG allow you to adjust the amount of compression that is utilised when saving the image. Compression can work in a number of different ways but ultimately it works to minimise the amount of data required to save the image. This is usually achieved by looking for areas of commonality (for example a shape or pattern) and saving the description of that area which the computer can then later reproduce when reloading the image rather than defining each individual pixel.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Technology Failures

internet-fridge

The world of technology is full of bright new ideas that promise to change the way we live; however, for every success there are numerous failures. Some technologies genuinely surprise us when they fall by the wayside, but others we realise were doomed to failure from the very beginning:

Doomsday Project – The BBC Doomsday Project was a partnership between Acorn Computers, Philips, Logica and the BBC and was designed to mark the 900th anniversary of the original doomsday book. It was compiled over a period of three years and was published in 1986 after having over one million people contribute to the project. The material included maps, colour photos, statistical data, videos, virtual reality tours of major landmarks and the entire 1981census.

This information was stored on specially adapted laserdiscs with the intention that future generations could then look back on the material in years to come, however the laserdisc standard never lasted and, as such, it is close to impossible to find a machine nowadays capable of reading the code. Eventually a project was started to emulate the old system and publish the information to the Internet however the gentleman who was reverse engineering the project suffered an untimely death and as a result the Doomsday Project website remains offline.

The Internet Connected Fridge – Although it is too early to say that such an invention will never take off, the Internet Fridge has spent ten years in the making and doesn’t show any real promise of becoming mainstream. Personally I’ve never liked the idea of my fridge managing my kitchen inventory and then automatically buying my weekly shopping online.

I’d like to think that even in this modern day society individuals would want to go out and select their own weekly produce based on what’s freshest at the time rather than having their fridge do it for them. It’s also a little surreal when a machine decides that because you had strawberries and cream after tea this evening that you would necessarily want the same thing delivered to your doorstep the following morning.

The Paperless Office – For years there has been talk of the paperless office; a world where everything is digital and printers are verging on redundancy. Fortunately for our business (however somewhat unfortunate for the environment) the real world situation is that the modern day office is far from paperless. I’m not sure what it is but there is something a little reassuring about paper; if faced with a fifty page report it is bizarrely easier to read it off sheets of bleached bark than off a state of the art liquid crystal display.

Video Phones– The longest video phone conversation that I have ever had lasted two seconds, and that was simply to test that my mobile phone SIM card supported 3G. There have been real attempts to push video calling on to the general public and it is one of the main sales pitches of the mobile operators when touting their new high speed networks however the service still struggles to find an audience. There are now no real technological barriers preventing all of us from video calling, however the simple truth of the matter is that people don’t want to see who they’re calling.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Google Chrome OS

Chrome OS

The big news this morning was that Google is to release its own Operating System during the second half of 2010.

Initially targeted at Netbooks (incredibly small laptops with relatively low specifications), Google Chrome OS will be a lightweight, open source alternative to Windows. It will be designed primarily for online use, with the entire OS essentially consisting of the Google Chrome browser running on a Linux backend.

The vision is that in the future rather than a developer producing a software package that requires a download and installation they would instead create a web based application that could be run from any Internet browser. In many ways the idea makes a great deal of sense; you wouldn’t have to worry about updating your software, transporting files from one machine to another or indeed creating backups of your files. Everything would be stored online and as such none of these usual factors would be an issue anymore.

Developers also wouldn’t have to worry about creating multiple versions of the same application for different Operating Systems because as long as the user had an up to date browser they would be able to run the software. Regardless of whether you were using a computer that ran Google Chrome OS, Mac OS or Windows, you would still have access to all your favourite online applications.

The ambition Google holds is that eventually Chrome OS will develop in to something that could be seen as a viable alternative for use on all types of computer, not just Netbooks. Personally, I both love and hate this idea of shaking up the way we use our computers in equal quantities; the possibilities are huge but the disadvantages are potentially crippling and too obvious to ignore.

First and foremost consider the fact that the whole idea is pretty much reliant on the user having a continuous connection to the Internet. For many, this isn’t a problem as most home and office based users already have an ‘always on’ broadband connection, however if you find yourself in a situation without Internet then your Operating System immediately becomes useless. While mobile broadband is becoming faster and cheaper for those that travel away from a fixed Internet connection, it won’t help if you’re stuck on a plane for eight hours!

A workaround to this would be to allow the OS to download web applications to your computer then run them as if you were connected to the Internet. Unfortunately, as soon as this becomes a consideration we neglect the primary purpose of having an online based OS in the first place.

It is also undeniable that at present most Internet applications are a little primitive. They have to be given credit for evolving incredibly quickly in recent years however they’re still a long way off representing a viable alternative to the large, installed applications most of us currently use. In the past I have discussed Internet based software such as Google Docs and in the future I plan to cover advanced online applications such as the drawing application SplashUp but these online versions still lag behind their desktop equivalents in both speed and functionality.

No one knows exactly what the future holds. It is undeniable that in the last couple of years our computing activities have become a lot more oriented around the Internet but whether we are ready for them to be entirely transferred remains to be seen.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Spotify

spotify

It’s not often it happens, but occasionally an application will come along that simply forces you to sit back and mutter ‘wow’ in sheer amazement. Google Earth was probably the last application that prompted this reaction from me until this week when I started playing with a free application called ‘Spotify’.

You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Spotify just yet but it has changed the way that I (and probably you) listen to music not only today but possibly forever. It has been in development since 2006 only recently have members of the public been allowed to open free accounts.

Essentially, you download and install a tiny 2.5mb application from www.spotify.com which will then give you immediate and free access to practically every piece of music ever released. Simply type the name of any artist and you will be presented with a list of every song and album in the incredibly comprehensive database. When I say any artist, I really do mean ANY artist; I tested a colleague today who started reeling off some random, old, Japanese electro pop band and sure enough Spotify came back in half a second with their entire catalogue. Simply double click your chosen album or song and it’ll immediately begin playing; the speed and quality at which the service operates is phenomenal as the second you finish clicking you’ll hear DAB digital radio quality playing. If you have chosen to play an album then it will be played in its entirety - even hidden or bonus tracks have been faithfully copied across.

Of course, at this point we naturally assume that such a service must be illegal but such an assumption couldn’t be further from the truth; Spotify has the blessing off all the biggest players, including EMI, Universal, Sony BMG and Warner. It represents, in many ways, what the music industry should have done half a decade ago when instead they were chasing 14 year old boys who downloaded torrent files and pushing unpopular and potentially unfair digital rights management (DRM) technologies on to the law abiding public.

Of course, there has to be some money to be made somewhere and rather predictably this comes through advertising – a banner graces the right hand side of the application and approximately every 15-20 minutes a single 20 second advert will be played. This advertising is non intrusive and a sweet relief compared with commercial radio that nowadays appears to play two songs followed by a 20 second jingle, three minutes of DJ wittering, five minutes of adverts, another 20 second jingle, then two more songs. Most importantly, unlike traditional radio, you’re listening to the music that you want to listen to; my working day no longer has the obligatory four minute ‘grin and bear it’ track that you are forced to listen to.

Although you wouldn’t have thought it, sometimes when faced with a choice of practically any album in the world your mind becomes blank. If this happens simply ask the application to pick the music for you by either choosing an artist that you like (in which case it will try to guess others that you’ll like based on the preferences of other users) or specify a genre (for example ‘Alternative or Rock between the years of 1980 and 2000’.

I have only been using Spotify for a week but already the idea of parting with hard earned cash and making a purchase online and waiting for delivery or heading in to town to locate a CD is alien to me. Give me the name of any album and I’ll be listening to it completely legally and free of charge before you’ve had time to fetch your coat.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Hard Drive Enclosures

hard-drive-enclosure

I was speaking to a young chap last week who had been saving up for an external hard drive. He’d filled up his Dads laptop with an entire library of music and desperately didn’t want to delete it but at the same time the machine was unusable due to a lack of space. Rather than pushing him down the route of a £70 external hard drive we suggested opting for a hard drive enclosure for £6.50 then reusing the drive from his old computer which was about to be consigned to the scrap heap.

External hard drives are a big market but in many situations they are redundant; most users will have purchased more than one computer and chances are that when it has come to the end of its useful life it would be considered close to worthless. Most charity shops won’t even take old machines anymore as health and safety regulations mean it’s often impossible to sell them on without the appropriate paperwork. Although it is possible to thoroughly and securely wipe the data off an old hard drive, the number of horror stories that you hear means that such a large number of drives reach the end of their life by having a 10mm drill bit put through them.

Rather than destroying your old drive, why not put it to good use by popping it in to an enclosure. Not only will you have instantly given yourself a new external hard drive but it will already be filled with your old files which you can sort and keep if they’re still needed. If not simply wipe them off and start again using the drive instead as either auxiliary storage (especially useful in the case of a laptop computer), a data transfer device or a backup drive.

There are a few points that you need to consider when purchasing an enclosure:

Size – Old laptop hard drives tend to measure 2.5” whereas their desktop equivalents tend to be 3.5” in size and it is of course important that you get the correct enclosure for your particular drive. Not only will you not physically fit a 3.5” drive in a 2.5” enclosure, but a 3.5” drive requires a separate power supply whereas the smaller 2.5” models can usually draw sufficient power from the USB port.

Hard Drive Interface – Your hard drive would have previously connected to the computer via an IDE or a SATA interface - this is primarily determined by the age of the device. Newer drives tend to be of a SATA design but if you are recuing a drive from an older machine it is more likely to have an IDE connection. The two are quite distinctly different and as such identification shouldn’t be a problem; IDE connectors are fairly long with 39 pins (one pin in the middle of the connector is absent to ensure the cable is connected correctly) whereas SATA connections constitute a small 7 pin port with a right angle at one end.

Interface with the Computer – Most enclosures tend to utilise a USB 2.0 interface and in the majority of circumstances this would be the most appropriate method of connecting it to your PC. Try to avoid older USB 1.1 devices which look identical but will perform significantly slower. Also, check to see if your computer supports either Firewire or eSATA as, if appropriate, these may offer faster data transfer speeds between your machine and external drive.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Living with Windows 7

living-windows-7

I’ve been living with the release candidate of Windows 7 now for a couple of weeks now at home. To be honest, I’m so impressed that it’s got to the stage that going to work and having to use Windows Vista again has become a chore. If you missed my article last week on obtaining and downloading this free pre-release (test) version of the new version of Windows from Microsoft then check out www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk or www.computerarticles.co.uk for a copy.

Unlike the change from Windows 3.11 to Windows 95 or from Windows ME to Windows XP there are no revolutionary changes. Windows XP users will notice the most difference in terms of the look and feel of the software as visually it looks very similar to Vista, perhaps just a little more intuitive.

Using this software you get the impression that finally Windows may have ‘come of age’ with this release. When pitched against this new release, Windows XP looks clunky, badly aged and flawed by comparison and although visually Vista holds its own a little better, in terms of performance it still looks as though the wheels are about to fall off. I wasn’t against Vista as much as some others however I will admit that due to the fact it was hungry for resources you always got the impression it was about to ‘fall over’ as soon as you started doing anything slightly demanding.

I’m running the 64-bit version of Windows 7 on a relatively new laptop and the comparisons against Vista are startling; faster start up times, less hard drive access, greater stability and even improved battery life. Although I’m unsure whether it would be faster than XP or not, it is worth bearing in mind that this eight year OS never really gained momentum for 64-bit support and as such it could possibly do with being retired even if just to wave in a new, faster era of 64-bit applications.

Ignoring the arguably most important developments in terms of speed, security and stability, it is the little changes and additions that I appreciate most. I like the ability to ‘peek’ back at the desktop by hovering down the bottom right hand side of the start menu, the auto preview when you flick between applications using & and the rotation setting that can be used to change your wallpaper automatically every couple of minutes.

Visually it looks gorgeous; the semi translucent taskbar and menu headers along with various other visual effects make the OS look a lot less flat than XP. Although it’s not a million miles away from Vista, it is certainly more ‘polished’ and due to the noticeable speed increases it doesn’t give you the nagging impression your machine is crawling to a halt as a result of a few visual effects.

I also love the way you can ‘pin’ applications to the taskbar. For example, if you pin Firefox to your taskbar area then the icon will always be visible next to the start menu in what would have been traditionally been the ‘quick launch’ area. The similarities end there however as when you click this icon it the application launches but doesn’t create a new group within your taskbar; the quick launch icon essentially becomes the menu group if you wish to click back to your Firefox session or launch another instance of the browser. Windows 7 handles multiple instances of one application by ‘stacking’ the icons within the taskbar rather than relying on the incredibly inefficient grouped application menus used in XP and Vista.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

Windows 7 : Release Candidate 1

windows-7-beta

Last month Microsoft made the Windows 7 Release Candidate available free of charge with the intention that it will give Microsoft a chance to identity and iron out any bugs present before the final release.As you are all no doubt aware, Windows 7 is the successor to the somewhat criticised Windows Vista and is due for release in October of this year.

The release candidate not only provides users with the ideal opportunity not only to get their hands on the software before it hits the shops but also provides what is essentially a completely free Operating System on a ‘try before you buy basis.’Of course, the product isn’t free for ever and in the second quarter of next year you will have to either purchase the finished version of Windows 7 or revert back to your previous OS.

I did preview Windows 7 back at the tail end of last year and so to avoid any repetition please check out https://www.computerarticles.co.uk/windows-7/ to download a copy including a list of new features.

Today I’m simply going to go through the process of obtaining and installing the release candidate so that you can experience these new features first hand.Before I do so it’s necessary to point out that a Release Candidate isn’t the finished version and as such you should install it in any ‘mission critical’ circumstances; ideally it would be on a PC that could be used solely for the purpose of testing where it wouldn’t matter if you had to reformat and start again.As with any major OS upgrade it would also be strongly advisable to perform a full system backup.

So, to get started head to www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/download.aspx and select to download either the 32 or 64-bit version, depending on your CPU.If you are unsure then download the following free CPUID utility (www.cpuid.com/cpuz.php) and simply Google the CPU model number to determine whether it can support 64-bit and can therefore benefit from the more powerful 64-bit version of Windows 7.Incidentally, if you find (as I did) that your PC manufacturer installed a 32-bit Operating System on a 64-bit machine but you wish to install the 64-bit version of Windows 7, then you will have to do a clean installation from scratch rather than performing an upgrade.

The installation file is actually a whopping 3GB in size and when the download is finished you will require a blank DVD, a DVD writer and some software designed for burning the .ISO file on to disc. I’m not going to cover the theory surrounding the handling of ISO files here so simply download the free CDBurnerXP (www.cdburnerxp.se), click ‘Burn ISO to Disc’, select the file you just downloaded and the software will then automatically create an installation disc for you to use.

The upgrade disc can be used in two different fashions; either run it from within your current version of Windows to perform an upgrade (therefore retaining all your files and settings) or alternatively insert the disc and reboot the machine to load the installation files before Windows even loads, therefore facilitating a completely clean installation.

If you require any further help during the installation process there is a guide available on the Microsoft website. Again I will reiterate that, because the software is both free and unfinished that you are very much on your own when it comes to any support.Once you have had chance to have a play around however please do let me know what you think.

 

About the Author - Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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