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Monday, April 7, 2014

Replace Windows 8 with Windows 7 or a look-alike

Cheryle Fields’ husband hates his new Windows 8 PC. Cheryle asked me if she can replace the operating system with Windows 7.

You may or may not be able to install Windows 7 on your particular Windows 8 PC. A lot of that depends on the hardware. And, of course, you’ll have to buy a new copy of Windows 7.

But if you or a close family member hates Windows 8 that much (and I’m in complete sympathy), there are better options than paying for two versions of Windows and only using one of them.

First, see if you can return the computer. The retailer or manufacturer may have a 15- or 30-day return policy. If you bought the PC recently enough, you can probably get your money back--minus a restocking fee.

And then, you can buy a Windows 7 PC. Yes, they’re still available, although your choice of models will be considerably smaller. The major manufacturers all have search tools on their websites, where you can select criteria for your preferred computer. Check the operating system option to see if it includes Windows 7.

While writing this article, I found three Lenovo laptops, four HP laptops, and a whole lot of Dell laptops and desktops available with Windows 7. Senior editor Brad Chacos has further advice on how to get a Windows 7 PC.
0407 classic shell
If your PC can’t be returned for a reasonable price, you can make Windows 8 behave very much like Windows 7. With far less work than it takes to reinstall an alternate operating system, you can create a reasonable facsimile of Microsoft’s best user interface.

First, you need a third-party Start Menu program. There are many out there, but my favorite is the free Classic Shell. It creates a very close approximation of the Windows 7 Start Menu, with all of the features in the right places.

When you set up Classic Shell, go to the Start Menu Settings tab and select Windows 7 style. Near the bottom of the Basic Settings tab, be sure to check Skip Metro screen. You’ll never have to see that dumb home screen again.

Classic Shell includes more than just a Start Menu replacement. It can also return Internet Explorer and File Explorer (the Windows 8 equivalent to Windows Explorer) to their old selves.

What Classic Shell can’t do is turn off the charms that appear when you mouse too closely to the corners of your screen. Fortunately, there are other ways to do this.

0407 navigation properties croppedOne such solution is built into Windows 8.1. Unfortunately, this solution doesn't disable the bottom-right corner.

If that’s alright by you, right-click the taskbar and select Properties. Click the Navigation tab.
Uncheck both When I point to the upper-right corner, show the charms and When I click the upper-left corner, switch between my recent apps.

0407 winaeroTo disable all of these corners, forget the instructions above and use the Winaero Charms Bar Killer. When you launch this free program, it goes directly to the notification area. Right-click the icon for options.

Source - PC World

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sitedrop Turns A Dropbox Folder Into A Visual Workspace Where You Can Collaborate With Others

Getting everyone to use the same project management software is a challenge, but everyone seems to have a Dropbox account. Hoping to build on top of the consumer-friendly service’s popularity, a new startup called Sitedrop allows you quickly turn any Dropbox folder into a website where you can visually showcase your work and collaborate with others.

Sitedrop users are able to view, comment, favorite and even upload files to the online workspace just by dragging a file or link to a Dropbox folder.

The startup is currently being incubated by betaworks in New York, and has been slowly growing its user base since its private beta debut last fall. Today, the service, which has grown to some 3,000 beta users, is opening up more broadly.


The idea for the company, built by betaworks Hacker-in-Residence Jessey White-Cinis and designed by his old business partner, Thomas Brodahl, grew out of frustrations they faced at the design agency they owned for ten years.

“We had constantly run into issues with project management at the design company, and this was our answer to it,” says White-Cinis. “Keeping [users] in Basecamp and making sure that all communication happens in one place is almost impossible,” he explains. “But we realized that the one thing that always stayed constant was that everyone always had a shared Dropbox folder.”

With Sitedrop, the idea is to try make that shared folder more useful, by allowing you to quickly turn it into a lightweight collaboration tool instead, while also filling in some of the holes Dropbox has today.

After signing up for Sitedrop and authenticating with Dropbox, the files in your shared folder are visible online through a custom subdomain, where they can be displayed in lists or in a more visual format, like slideshows. The service also supports previews for files created by Photoshop (which Dropbox does not), making Sitedrop popular among the creative set, including photographers and designers.


Everything in Sitedrop is folder-based, so you can manage these workspaces the same way you manage your files on your desktop, and you can control whether or not others can upload files to your site, or only view those you’ve already shared. The sites can also be password-protected for privacy purposes, and once logged in, users can collaborate on the content via additional tools for favoriting items and commenting. You can even drag links to webpages into your Dropbox, which Sitedrop will then render online.

In a future version, the plan is to support more robust revisioning, so you can “time travel” back through the various changes made to your shared content.

White-Cinis says that while the service appeals to creatives, its Swiss Army-like nature has seen people adopting it for other uses, too. ”People are using it for scrapbooking, as a wiki for documentation…and I’ve seen a few portfolios,” he says.


Currently, Sitedrop is free and offers users up to 5 online workspaces. At a later point, the company will begin to charge for additional sites, as well as for premium features, like support for sharing video files, for example. However, today, there’s no limit on the workspace size, and there’s no other requirement for use beyond having a Dropbox account.

You can see a few examples of how it works here: Xtrapop (iOS app), The Life Aesthetic (creative startup), Ian Brewer (photography), or just sign up here to check it out.

Source - TechCrunch

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Microsoft scam man is sentenced in 'landmark' case

Scam graphicA man who ran a Microsoft computer scam tricking people into paying for free anti-virus software has received a suspended four-month jail sentence.

Mohammed Khalid Jamil, 34, from Luton, hired people at an Indian call centre to falsely tell victims their computers had a serious problem.

The targets would be charged between £35 and £150 for software Microsoft made available for free.

As well as the suspended sentence, Jamil was ordered to pay a £5,000 fine.
He must also pay £5,665 compensation and £13,929 in prosecution costs.
The decision has been hailed as a "landmark" case by Trading Standards.

"We believe it may be the first ever successful prosecution of someone involved in the Microsoft scam in the UK," said Lord Harris, chairman of the National Trading Standards Board, which oversees the work of the National Trading Standards e-crime team.

"It's an important turning point for UK consumers who have been plagued by this scam, or variants of it, for several years.

"Many have succumbed to it, parting with significant sums of money, their computers have been compromised and their personal details have been put at risk.

"Now that one of the many individuals who've been operating this scam has been brought to justice, it's a stark warning to anyone else still doing it that they can be caught and will be prosecuted."

Remote access 
Jamil had set up Luton-based company Smart Support Guys, which employed people based in India to cold-call Britons and claim to be working for Microsoft.

The victims, unaware of the scam, would offer remote access to the fraudsters - meaning their computers could be controlled from a different location.

Once given this access, targets' computers would be made less secure, at which point the scammers would offer, in return for a fee, to install software to fix the problem.

The software installed was available for free on Microsoft's website.

In court, Jamil admitted to unfair trading by allowing his staff to make false claims regarding computer support services.

He claimed he had tried but failed to control call centre staff and not adequately supervised them.
His jail term is suspended for 12 months.

Source - BBC News