Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, March 9, 2014
Don’t forget to change your clocks today. “Spring springs ahead and Fall falls back.”
In this Issue:
Special Feature: Support Is Ending Soon For Windows XP!
Special Series: The Windows 8 Lock Screen
Special Feature: Intro to the Mac - New Features in OS X Mavericks
This Week's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer - Uninstall Unused Programs
Special Feature: iPad Basics – Notifications
Websites of Interest: Why do we have Daylight Saving Time?; St. Patrick’s Day; Wednesday, March 12 is Girl Scout Day; Are you ready for Girl Scout Cookies?
VERY IMPORTANT! For Windows XP users, Microsoft is soon ending support for the XP operating system. Please read our Special Feature article below to understand what this means to you.
Special Feature: Support Is Ending Soon For Windows XP
What is Windows XP End of Support?
Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.
As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date. (If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time, but this does not mean that your PC will be secure because Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates to help protect your PC.)
If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP.
Which Windows Operating System Am I Running?
The easiest way to tell if you have Windows XP is by the Start button, usually found in the bottom left corner. If it has the word Start on it, you have Windows XP.
What Does It Mean If My Version Of Windows Is No Longer Supported?
An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, which can steal your personal information. Windows Update also installs the latest software updates to improve the reliability of Windows—new drivers for your hardware and more.
Support End Date
Support for Windows XP is ending on April 8, 2014.
Windows Will Continue To Run
Even if you have an unsupported version of Windows XP, Windows will continue to start and run.
How to Keep Your Pc Secure When Microsoft Ends Windows XP Support
By Chris Hoffman of pcworld.com
Look, let’s be honest. You should upgrade from Windows XP right now if at all possible—but not everyone can cut the XP cord so completely. If you can’t upgrade, there are some things you can do to protect yourself. Make no mistake: These tricks are like sticking your finger in a leaking dam. They’ll help a bit, but the dam is crumbling and it’s time to get out of the way.
Understand the Risks
When Microsoft says it’s ending support for Windows XP, that means it will no longer produce security patches for critical vulnerabilities in the operating system. As time goes on, more and more critical security holes will be found, and attackers will have free reign to exploit them. Large organizations can pay exorbitant fees for continued custom Windows XP support, but those updates will never trickle out to everyday users or small businesses.
Smart attackers are likely waiting to exploit holes they already know about. They’ll unleash their attacks when Microsoft has moved on. The problems will never be fixed, so they can continue to attack them until the last Windows XP system vanishes from the Internet.
Other software developers will eventually stop supporting Windows XP, just as they no longer support Windows 98, creating even more attack vectors. This won’t happen overnight, but Windows XP will gradually be abandoned by everyone.
Choose your Software Wisely
If you use Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, it’s time to let go. Internet Explorer 8, the most recent version available for Windows XP, is already several generations old and will no longer receive security patches. Google Chrome will continue supporting Windows XP until at least April 2015, while Mozilla Firefox has no announced plans to stop supporting Windows XP. So switch to Chrome or Firefox and you’ll have a secure, modern browser.
Most antivirus solutions will still continue supporting Windows XP. Even Microsoft’s own Microsoft Security Essentials will support Windows XP until July 14, 2015. Antivirus-testing company AV-TEST asked 30 different antivirus companies about their plans for Windows XP support and all of them committed to support Windows XP until at least April 8, 2015. Most committed to supporting it for even longer, into at least 2016.
Be sure you’re using an antivirus program that’s actually receiving updates, though, because that expired copy of Norton isn’t going to help you. An antivirus app isn’t a foolproof solution, and Microsoft warns, “Our research shows that the effectiveness of anti-malware solutions on out-of-support operating systems is limited.” Still, having some type of third-party protection certainly won’t hurt.
If you’re still using the now-defunct Outlook Express, you should stop using it right now. If you really love the Outlook experience, switch to the full version of Outlook included in Microsoft Office. Mozilla is still supporting Mozilla Thunderbird with security patches, though it’s unclear how long they’ll support Thunderbird on older operating system. Of course, you can always just use a web-based email service in Chrome or Firefox.
Microsoft will also stop supporting Office 2003 on April 8, 2014. If you’re still using Office 2003—or, even worse, Office XP— you should update to a newer, supported version of Office for improved security. Yes, this means only ribbon-ified versions of Office will be supported.
Remove Insecure Software
The Java browser plug-in is extremely exploit-prone on any operating system. Unless you really need Java for a specific purpose, you should uninstall it. If you do need it, be sure to disable the browser plug-in and keep it up-to-date.
Other browser plug-ins are also frequently targeted by attackers. Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader are particularly crucial, so keep them up-to-date. Modern versions update themselves automatically, but older versions didn’t even check for updates. If you don’t need these applications, you should probably uninstall them to lock down your XP system as much as possible.
Let’s say you have a trusty old Windows XP PC that works okay for browsing the web and you just don’t want to buy a new PC or a new version of Windows. To stay secure, you can try installing Ubuntu Linux (http://tinyurl.com/cqhwasa). We have guides to ease the transition and make Ubuntu look like Windows 7 (http://tinyurl.com/bhvkk7h). These completely free operating systems are designed to work well on older hardware, and will be supported with security patches for years to come.
If you’re ready to upgrade to a new version of Windows but Windows 8 puts you off, you can still upgrade to Windows 7. It’ll be supported until 2020. New copies of Windows 7 or 8 cost nearly $100, however, and they might not run on hardware from the XP era, so you could be better off just buying a new computer and getting a modern version of Windows included.
Sure, Microsoft just wants to sell you a new Windows license, but it has been 12 years. Even if you have to use Windows XP for a bit longer, you should really be making plans to move on. You don’t have to go to Windows 8, but you can’t stay here—not for long, at least.
Special Series: The Windows 8 Lock Screen
The lock screen for Windows 8 is the screen for your Windows 8 PC that appears when you boot your PC or when it is sleeping. The lock screen doesn’t have any applications on it. Instead, it only gives you the most basic information, such as the date and time, Windows 8 app notifications and updates, and event updates from your calendar.
If you’re using a pc, touching any key or moving the mouse will dissolve the lock screen, bringing you back to your Windows 8 start screen or desktop mode. Or, if you’re using a touch device, simply touch or swipe the screen to get back to your Windows 8 start screen.
If you’re leaving your computer for a few minutes and want to turn on your Windows 8 lock screen, simply press the Win Key + L, and your lock screen will be displayed.
What are Windows 8 lock Screen Apps?
Lock screen apps are Windows 8 apps that run in the background of your PC even when your PC is sleeping. These are the apps that give notifications on your screen. For example, if you select e-mail as a lock screen app to sit on your lock screen, you’ll get notifications on the lock screen telling you when you have a new email message. You can designate up to 7 apps as lock screen apps. Out of these apps, you can also choose one app to give you detailed notifications. For example, if you select your calendar for this function, you’ll receive detailed updates about events and meetings that you have added to your Windows 8 calendar app. Lock screen apps mean you don’t even have to be using your PC to get the most important information you need from it.
Can I Customize My Lock Screen?
With Windows 8, there are a number of different ways you can customize your lock screen. Adding Lock screen apps is one way, so that you choose which information you see when your lock screen is showing. You can also change the image that appears on your lock screen, which can be accessed in “Settings” in the Charm Bar, by clicking “Change PC Settings” at the bottom of the section. There, you can browse through the images available from Microsoft for Windows 8, or upload an image from your own photo library.
In our next edition: How to Customize the Windows 8 Lock Screen
Special Feature: Intro to the Mac - New Features in OS X Mavericks
New Features in OS X Mavericks
Perhaps you just bought a new Macintosh computer that includes Mac OS X Mavericks. Or maybe you've recently upgraded to Mavericks from a previous version of OS X . On the other hand, you may be a Windows user who is considering switching to a Mac.
No matter your situation, we're going to show you some of the many new features in OS X Mavericks.
What is Mac OS X Mavericks?
OS X Mavericks (version 10.9) is the most recent operating system designed by Apple and released in 2013. It is generally used with Apple Macintosh computers (Macs). Like other operating systems, it allows you to run programs, organize your files, browse the internet, and more.
Although Mavericks is new, other versions of Mac OS X have been around for years. Previous versions include Mountain Lion (version 10.8), Lion (10.7), Snow Leopard (10.6), and Leopard (10.5). If you are upgrading from OS X Lion or Mountain Lion, Mavericks will be a relatively minor upgrade.
Each new version of OS X usually includes a lot of new features, and OS X Mavericks is no exception. Below are some of the most important changes and features.
If you ever need to browse through different folders at the same time, OS X Mavericks allows you to open tabs in a single Finder window, instead of opening multiple windows.
OS X Mavericks introduces a new feature called tags, which are similar to labels in earlier versions of OS X. Tags make it easy to organize your files and folders into different categories, so you can find them quickly. You can even apply multiple tags, if desired.
Multiple Display Support
Many users complained that Lion and Mountain Lion did not work well with multiple monitors. OS X Mavericks addresses this issue, making it much easier to use multiple monitors at the same time, even when using full-screen apps.
OS X Mavericks includes several changes that will make your computer more energy efficient, which can help to improve the battery life for laptops. This can also help to reduce energy costs for desktops.
Upgrading From an Earlier Version of OS X?
If you're upgrading from Snow Leopard or an earlier version of OS X, you should be aware of some features that were introduced in Lion, such as Mission Control and Launchpad. Mission Control allows you to view all of the documents and applications that are open, and it also allows you to switch between different virtual desktops. Launchpad makes it easy to launch and manage your applications.
One of the most notable new features in Mountain Lion was the Notification Center. It keeps track of all of the alerts you receive for upcoming calendar appointments, tweets, news feeds, and other application events.
In our next newsletter: Getting Started with OS X Mavericks
Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer - Uninstall Unused Programs
As your Windows computer ages, its speed can decrease. You will notice an increase in response time when you give commands to open programs, files or folders, use the Internet and other tasks. There are several things you can do to speed up your computer.
Over the next several editions of this newsletter, we will present articles discussing some of the steps you can take to speed up your slow computer.
Important: before making any changes to your system, always create a Restore Point. If anything goes wrong with the changes you make, this will allow you to revert back to a point when the computer was operating correctly. Please visit our Newsletter Archives to read our article, All About Restore Points:
Uninstall Unused Programs
When you install a program on your computer, a connection is created between the program and the operating system. Even if you never use the program, it can slow down the computer.
Your computer may have programs on it that you installed and no longer use or programs that came packaged with it that you never even opened. Instead of allowing them to slow things down, get rid of them.
Uninstalling a Program in Windows Vista / 7
The uninstall feature in Windows XP and Vista are somewhat similar. In Vista, click the Start Orb (bottom left) and open Control Panel. Click Control Panel Home on the left.
Under Programs, click on Uninstall a program. This will open the Uninstall or change a program window. It may take a few moments to completely populate the list.
Once all the programs are listed, scroll down and find the one you want to uninstall. Click on it to select it. Once you select it, you will see the word Uninstall appear on the blue bar above the list of programs. Click it. Windows will display a box asking for your permission to continue. Click the Continue button.
Another window should display asking you if you want to uninstall the program. Click Yes. The uninstall wizard will start up, and begin to uninstall. Depending on the program that you are uninstalling, the uninstall wizard may ask you to click OK at steps throughout the process. Just follow the instructions on the screen.
This will remove the program from your computer.
Uninstalling a Program in Windows XP
Click the Start button, choose Control Panel, choose Add or Remove Programs.
Select the program to be removed; click the remove button. Depending on the program you select to be removed, you may be prompted to confirm the removal, or Windows Uninstaller Wizard may just start up to begin the uninstallation.
Uninstalling a Program with the Program’s Uninstall Function
Many programs come with their own uninstall program that will quickly remove programs from your computer. Some installers do not put their program on the Add/Remove list, so your next place to look is in the Start menu.
Find the program in All Programs in the Start menu and see if there is an item called Uninstall. If so, click on it and the Uninstaller will run. Follow any prompts that appear on the screen.
In our next edition, learn how to speed up your computer by turning off programs that start up automatically.
Special Feature: iPad Basics – Notifications
Notifications are pop-ups, banners, and other audio/visual cues that work with the apps on your device. They're designed to let you know when something needs your attention, or when there's been any recent activity (for example, on Facebook).
Notifications behave differently in each app, but they all have one thing in common: they can be a huge benefit to keeping up with everyday tasks and responsibilities. You can receive notifications three different ways:
Via the Notification Center
As an alert (a pop-up or banner)
As a badge on the app icon itself
Many apps generate notifications automatically. You'll learn over time which ones do, and which ones don't.
The Notification Center is where you'll view most of the notifications on your device. It's a great place to check in every now and then, because it summarizes the activity on your iPad (rather than alerting you to each item one by one). Many apps are set up to display updates this way by default.
To open the Notification Center, swipe down from the top of your screen. To go to the source of a notification, tap the one you want.
Alerts can be set up to display a banner or pop-up whenever there's new activity. They impart a little more urgency than the Notification Center, so they might be a good choice for apps that are especially important to you. For example, you could set up alerts to let you know whenever a reminder is due.
Badge App Icon
Ever noticed a little red number attached to one of your favorite apps? Don't be alarmed—that's just the badge app icon, a feature designed to let you know when there's a notification waiting inside.
The badge means different things depending on the app. For example, in Facebook, it could mean that you've just received a new friend request. In the App Store, it could mean that you have an update waiting for one of your current apps. The badge will go away once you view the notification.
In our next edition:
Websites of Interest:
Why do we have Daylight Saving Time?
History from Benjamin Franklin to the present.
St. Patrick’s Day
Although not much of it is actually substantiated, much Irish folklore surrounds St. Patrick’s Day. Learn about traditions, customs and history at this website:
Want to learn how to make a great Irish stew or potato soup or, better yet, Irish coffee? Visit this website:
Wednesday, March 12 is Girl Scout Day
Girl Scout Day recognizes and celebrates the Girls Scouts of America.
Are you ready for Girl Scout Cookies?
This site will tell you where you can find them.