Calling all book worms!

TurnItOffReadABook-v2white500.jpgI love this illustration because it conveys an angst that so many parents feel, that our children spend their days glued to their screens and perhaps they aren’t reading as much as they ‘should’. I won’t get into the discussion about how much screen time is too much – I’m sure you’ve read plenty about that already.

The point I want to make is that the two things are not mutually exclusive. Much of what I look at on my various screens is the written word, and (much to the horror of some of my book club colleagues) many of the books I read are read on a Kindle or (heaven forbid!) on my phone. Perhaps even more outrageous (for the book club stalwarts), I have now discovered listening books, which has resulted in me being ‘plugged in’ to my phone when I’m walking the dog, cooking the supper or doing the ironing.

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 15.35.26.pngI did a fair bit of research into listening books before I plumped for Audible, which is owned by Amazon. There are various companies offering audio books and they all seem to work in much the same way – you pay a monthly fee and for that you can download a certain number of titles (or unlimited titles in the case of All You Can Books, as the name suggests). For an Audible membership, you pay £7.99 a month for which you get one credit (1 credit = 1 book) and you can buy extra books too if one a month isn’t enough. The clever bit is that I can listen to a book on my phone, and then if I want to switch to listening on my computer, the story will start at precisely the right spot, without me needing to know which chapter I was on.

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 15.40.12.pngAs a lover of books (in all their guises) it was an easy decision for Fingertips to be a sponsor of the Chiswick Book Festival, now in its ninth year. The programme this year (running from 14th-18th September) looks just as enticing as ever, with plenty of big names taking part, including Clare Balding, John O’Farrell, Jeremy Vine and Maggie O’Farrell talking about their books. There will also be workshops as diverse as how to write an autobiography, developing great plot lines and the best way to research for fiction writing. Don’t miss the chance to be part of this wonderful celebration of reading (and listening) – you can book tickets here.

In the meantime, if you need help setting up your Kindle or iBooks on your iPad, or advice on a listening books membership, please get in touch here.

 

 

Advertisements

Meet Your New Top Tipsters

Team1Fingertips offers a different service because we visit you at your home or office and show you what to do to sort your particular problem. Some computer GeekCo’s will visit, fix and leave. If the problem happens again, you have to call them back because you’ll have no idea what they did. I’m keen for that not to happen with Fingertips. It’s more a sit-down at the computer for a cuppa with a friend, than a technobabble time with a technician.

So I thought this time on the blog it might be nice for me to introduce you to our newest, freshest, Tipsters. I’ve carefully and lovingly – well maybe not lovingly – hand-picked every one for their high-tech knowledge and low-tech appreciation. Some people shudder at the thought of technology. But it’s everywhere and going to get ever more ingrained in our lives. And once you know what to do, most tasks and technology are simple to sort. Just imagine if you’d never seen a car before! How to drive? All those foot pedals to push, buttons to press, wheels to turn, lights and dials! Computers are a bit the same. Once you know what to do, they’re fairly simple. Although like cars they can also crash! And if yours does, get in touch and you may be visited by one of these lovely folk!

IMG_0234

Saransh Tiku – joined us in November 2015. Saransh is great with both PCs and Macs. He’s also a whizz with all things Social Media. His proud boast is that he can assemble a PC from scratch in less than 10 minutes. And he can!

DSCF0869

 

Oli Bielinski – joined in October 2015. Oli is an engineering graduate and expert in everything to do with Windows 10 (he can help with Macs too!). He’ll upgrade your operating systems and organise your files, photos and movies into one place without so much as breaking a sweat.

Umair Maqsood – I mentioned Umair back in March. He joined us this January and he’s our network expert. He’ll encourage your wifi signal into the very furthest corners of your house.

Baz1

Juan Arango – Juan joined in April and he’s a PC specialist. He’ll come and set up your new kit, tease out nasty viruses and untangle your iTunes from your Google Play account.

No photo of Juan or Umair yet but in the meantime you can enjoy this cute Fingertip man created by our lovely friends at Our Tiny Marketing Co

FINGERTIPS_PORTRAIT_02D-WEB Graeme YoungOf course we’ve still got the fabulous Nick who is our Mac guru and Graeme who has a degree in computer forensics, and is happy to get down into the depths of your computer’s operating system – should the need arise.

Let me know if you are having any particular problems and I’ll try and answer here next time. Or, of course, send one of our Tipsters to help.

 

 

Rewarding bad banking behaviour

Dilbert_Bank_PhishingToday’s controversy over whether banks should compensate fraud victims who have failed to protect themselves properly online raises some interesting issues. (read more here) Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of the Met Police, has said that the public are ‘being rewarded’ for bad behaviour with regards to online security, and need incentives to update anti-virus software and create stronger passwords. He suggested that lax online security is akin to leaving your front door open and then bleating when your house gets burgled.

In answer to his comments, various interest groups have responded by saying it should be up to the banks and the police to protect people from online fraud. The consumer group Which? has said the banks have been slow to step up security measures, whilst Saga suggested that keeping up with banking scams can be a full time job for individuals and so reducing them should be a priority for the banks.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the arguments, you should always keep your online banking as secure as possible. There are two key ways to do this:

  • use a strong password, including upper and lower case letters, numbers and other characters (e.g. * or !), and change it regularly – once or twice a year if you can. Don’t use the same password for all your online accounts and if you must keep a record of passwords, write them in a notebook and tuck it away somewhere – no-one can hack into your desk drawer.
  • make sure your anti-virus software is up to date – this could be already built in to your computer or it could be a third party software such as Avast or McAfee. Find more about this subject here

If you use a banking app on your phone this will have at least two layers of security to prevent hacking; we had some input from Nick, one of our Tipsters, about his online banking; he has two accounts, one personal with Nationwide and a business one with Barclays:

Nationwide app“I registered for online banking with both banks.  The process takes a while and is different with both banks, but it’s not difficult.  I also downloaded apps from both banks and registered them on my iPhone.  Both banks give you a card reader which means to set up new arrangements, payments for example, you need to use a debit card with your computer.  Both banks need two levels of security – a passcode and a unique user number supplied by the bank.

“But I have to say I am very happy with the service.  In fact, it’s revolutionised banking for me.  Apart from paying in cheques, I now never have to go to the bank or phone them or even bother storing paper bank statements.  I very rarely use my computer for banking now.  It’s all done on my phone.  I can check balances easily – Nationwide will allow you a quick balance check without even logging into the app which is really useful.  And of course, like most people my iPhone is locked behind a passcode.  Although even if it wasn’t, the only thing anyone could access would be my balance.  To open the full app on your phone, Barclays needs a five number code and Nationwide asks for three random numbers from a six number code.

“With both apps you can make payments to people or companies you have already registered and you can view your regular outgoing payments – standing orders and direct debits – and adjust or cancel them.  I’ve found it hugely useful and time saving.  It allows me to be in touch with my finances whenever I want.

contactless payment“And with contactless payments I find I’m rarely even using cash!  So no more standing at cashpoints either.”

The banks want us to use online banking because it’s cheaper and more profitable for them, so it’s in their interest to make it safe and secure for us.

On balance I tend to agree with Which? and Saga, but the chief constable does have a point, and why take the risk? If you need a few more pointers about staying safe online, you could always ask a Tipster to help you out.

 

Top Tips – iOS 8

8Just when you were getting used to the features that were introduced on your iPhone or iPad last year with iOS 7 (see our earlier blog), Apple have released iOS 8 and we’re being encouraged to upgrade. I finally took the plunge with iOS 8.0.2 hoping that the early bugs have been ironed out, and there are some clever new functions. To help you through the bewildering array of new features, and point you in the direction of those that will be most useful, we’ve compiled some top tips.

BackupFirst though, I know a number of people whose device got stuck midway through the update and they had to restore it using iTunes. This is pretty easy to do and shouldn’t be a problem at all – as long as you have backed up your device before you start the upgrade. I know we’re always banging on about backing up, but it can save so much heartache if anything should go wrong. If you’re not sure how to make a back up, have a look at this Apple support page.

So, you’ve upgraded to iOS 8 and nothing much seems to have changed on the face of it. Here are some highlights – and things to watch out for:

photo search1. Photos – an excellent new search function: go to your Photos app and touch the search icon (a little magnifying glass), then type in what you are looking for – such as ‘Jan 2012’, ‘Spain’ or ‘Chiswick’ – and all the relevant photos will be shown.

If you delete a photo, it isn’t immediately removed from your phone or iPad – it goes to a ‘Recently deleted‘ folder for 30 days; from here you can either permanently delete it, or if you change your mind, you can restore it to an album.

 

 

2. Email – flag, move or delete emails with just a sideways swipe – if you just quickly swipe to the left it’ll delete straightaway, so be a bit careful with this or you’ll be hunting in your trash folder more often than you’d like.

You can set up notifications for when someone replies to an important mail: touch the flag icon at the bottom of the mail, touch ‘notify me‘ then ‘notify me again. Then as soon as you get a reply, a message will appear on your screen to let you know.

New contacts from email: if you get an email from a new contact or someone who has changed their details, a box will appear at the top of the mail when you open it, giving you the option to ignore or add to contacts – so simple!

Family sharing3. Family sharing – this is big news for Apple and should be a really useful function, especially if you have a number of iThings in your family and you want to keep track of who is buying what. Family sharing means that up to 6 people can share purchases from the iTunes store without sharing an Apple ID. Once you’ve set up who is in your family, you can share photos and calendars too. The best thing is once you enable ‘Ask to Buy‘ you will be sent a request when your children want to buy from iTunes, iBooks or the App Store. You have control because you hold the purse strings.App request

4. Messages – predictive text is the big new innovation here – your phone or iPad will ‘learn’ how you communicate with different people in both messages and emails, and provide suggestions for your next word as you type. If you find this slightly annoying, you can switch it off – go to SettingsGeneralKeyboard and slide the button next to Predictive to off (no green showing)

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 16.27.17You can also share your location using Messages now – if you’re meeting a friend and they can’t find you, just go to Details in your Messages conversation and choose ‘send  my current location‘ if you are staying still, or ‘share my location‘ if you are moving around. Your friend will receive a map and can find directions to you, or track where you are going.

5. Apple Tips – there are loads more new functions we Tipscould tell you about, but Apple probably do it best. So have a look at a new app that will have popped up on your device when you upgraded to iOS8 – imaginatively called Tips. Here you’ll find lots more information about how to get the most out of your device, and Apple will be updating it over time, so keep watching it!

 

 

Is that a personal trainer in your pocket?

Motivated by the glorious summer weather (so far), England’s dismal World Cup performance and a record medal haul by the home countries at the Commonwealth Games, we’ve put together a list of some great apps to help turn us into gods and goddesses of fitness. And with so many of us now owning smartphones and being able to take your fitness trainer with you everywhere, there really is no excuse for being a couch potoato.

1. RunKeeper. 

Cost: Free. Available for iOS and Android.Runkeeper
What it is: An easy app to use and much favoured by one or two of the more energetic Tipsters, RunKeeper puts all your running stats (pace, distance, and time) at your fingertips in a bold format which is perfect to see “on the run.” It also organises the data into charts, so you can track your progress during your cooldown walk.

Why it’s tipped: not only does RunKeeper track your running stats, but it also keeps track of the awe-inspiring sites along your running route by letting you share snapshots with friends. Which is rather sociable. But the big attraction is that RunKeeper’s GPS can log not just runs, but also walks, bike rides, hikes, and more.

2. Noom Weight Loss Coach.

NoomCost: Free. Available for iOS and Android.

What it is: A personalised coaching app that helps you form healthy habits through daily tasks, meal logging, and exercise tracking. Log meals and workouts while the integrated pedometer counts your steps all day.

Why it’s tipped: Noom offers the encouragement and support you need to stay motivated, and even though some of it is a bit USA orientated, the daily health and wellness articles sent your way and the healthy recipes are practical and useful. Colour-coded logging teaches you which foods are really healthy (and which aren’t). The huge food database is loaded with nearly one million foods, including meals at popular restaurants and local cuisines.

3. Human.

HumanCost: Free. Available for iOS

What it is: A casual fitness app that encourages you to take on the “Daily 30”, which is exactly what it sounds like: thirty minutes of physical activity, every day, whenever and in whatever way you want. You hear about it all the time on various media – now you’ll have no excuse not to be casually fit!

Why it’s tipped: Walk, run, skip, gallop, dance, jump up and down while you’re on the phone to your mother —as long as you’re being active for more than a minute at a time, no matter what you’re doing, Human tracks your movement and lets you know when you’ve achieved your Daily 30.

4. The Walk. 

The WalkCost: £1.99 iOS (currently on offer); £2.79 Android.

What it is: we really like this, even though it’s a bit kooky! Turn a routine stroll into a thrilling adventure as this ‘gamified’ pedometer tracks minutes walked and steps taken—all while users participate in games in which they’re tasked with saving the world (by walking long distances, of course). If you’re involving the kids it makes a nice change from the usual ‘kill everyone in sight’ games.

Why it’s tipped: Before you set out, choose an episode and follow the storyline to your destination. With each step tracked, more and more clues are revealed. Users can always elect to change the story, making it more intense depending on fitness level. So it’s like playing a game AND getting fit. And playing a game…

5. Calm.

CalmCost: Free. Available for iOS and Android.

What it is: Not a traditional fitness app, maybe, but with the recent, (much overdue we think) focus on mental health, we really like this light-hearted, pretty app. Calm offers a soothing, guided meditation app for whenever you need a break—even just a short one—from your day.

Why it’s tipped: Whether you’re searching for focus, creativity, energy, confidence, or a little extra sleep, Calm offers 50 guided meditations to choose from—which you can sync with 16 soothing music tracks by meditation music master, Kip Mazuy. Plus, new content is added monthly. It gives you the perfect, tech-based reason to take a break!

Do you have a favourite fitness app? Is there something you’d like us investigate? Email us (info@fingertipslondon.com) or post a comment here.

Water great photo!

WaterlogueAs the summer holidays get into full swing, I’m taking more and more pictures on my iPhone – but so is the rest of my family, and they’re all quite similar. So in an attempt to create something a bit different for the album, I turned to the App store and discovered Waterlogue: an app that turns my photos into watercolour paintings!

I’ve used a number of photo editing apps over the years of using a smartphone, but often found them too complicated or too limiting. The reason I like Waterlogue is because it’s extremely simple to use and the results always look great.

Here’s what you do:

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 14.11.14Choose either a photo you already have on your camera roll or in one of your photo albums, or take a new photo from within the app;

Waterlogue EffectsSelect the effect you want to create – there are around 12 styles to choose from, like Rainy, Technical or Travelogue.

Then just wait for your masterpiece to appear – it takes between 10 and 30 seconds, depending on your device – Water colour versionthe newer it is, the quicker the results will be revealed. It’s fun because you can watch the process of it being ‘drawn’ and ‘painted’. Once you’ve created your watercolour, you can share it or download it in any way you like.

Waterlogue costs £1.99 in the App store, and it will give you (and your kids, if you let them) hours of fun and some beautiful, and different, pictures of your holidays.

Pencil Camera HDUnfortunately this app is only available for iOS devices (Apple phones or iPads), so if you’ve got an Android device and you fancy being creative with your photos you’ll need to try something else. We liked Pencil Camera HD (shown on the right) and Water Color Sketch, both of which are free and easy to use. Have a look in the Google Play store to see which one you like best.

Happy snapping and let us know how you get on!

 

 

In the lap of the gods

zeusWhen it comes to internet security or computer viruses, many of us just keep our fingers crossed and assume that it’s in the lap of the gods. But there is alot you can do to protect your technology and save yourself the headache that would result if your computer were infected by a virus such as GameOver Zeus or CryptoLocker.

As I mentioned previously in the Phishing blog, there are all sorts of people who may try to infect your computer with a virus, so it’s important to install some software to prevent this. There are lots of different options for anti-virus software, some paid for, some free. Most of them are pretty good and work in much the same way, but I just want to recommend one that we’ve used on a number of computers, that’s easy to use and it’s free.

avast logoYou may not have heard of Avast, but they have been making software for over 25 years and claim to have protected over 200 million devices worldwide. Their anti-virus software is free to use (although you can pay to upgrade to have more features) and you can install it on either a Mac or a PC. Here’s how:

Click on this link  http://www.avast.com/en-gb/index  (or just type ‘Avast’ into Google) and you’ll get a page like this:

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 16.39.35Choose whether you want to download the version for Mac or PC and click on the relevant blue button.

Choose to download the free version and follow the instructions on the screen to install it on your computer.

As soon as it has downloaded it does a full scan and you’ll hopefully get a message like this:Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 17.10.49

The Avast interface (that’s the part that allows you to communicate with the software) is simple to find your way around, and most of the activity happens automatically. Avast will even tell you if one of your other computer programs needs to be updated, and lets you do it quickly and easily. To make sure you continue to have access to this free software, you need to register your details – just an email address and password – using the ‘Registration’ button under ‘Maintenance’ on the left hand side.

photo 1 If you you want some anti-virus protection for your mobile devices, a good solution is Lookout Security. Again, there are lots of options, but we like Lookout because it can be used for iOS (Apple) and Android devices, it’s free and you don’t need to change any of your settings for it to perform a regular scan of the apps on your device. Unlike many other mobile anti-virus software that send you little pop-up messages almost constantly, Lookout only sends you notification of what it’s doing while you are installing a new app, or once a week when your device is scanned. It can also help you find your phone if you are unlucky enough to lose it – be sure to switch on ‘enable signal flare’ in your settings to activate this.  Lookout can be found in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.