Hi, welcome to the October 2019 TWT Newsletter!
Apologies for missing last month, we have suffered from several IT problems that are still slowing us down somewhat. Unfortunately, being a micro-business we can’t simply phone down to IT and have the boffins sort it out for us!
Halloween fun with your Windows PC
Here at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com we love to tell you about how versatile your PC is. As the nights get longer and colder this time of year, now is the perfect time to make the most of the versatility of your computer. Your PCs great for helping Halloween go with a bang, here are just some ways you and your family can have a more spooky holiday this year.
Paint, colour and create with Tuxpaint – Kids love to colour pictures, but rather than just printing them and wasting paper, why not let them colour them in on your PC? If you have a touch screen PC this can be even more fun, but it’s still pretty fun with a mouse too. Using the child-friendly paint program Tux Paint, kids can get super creative. Try this site for some Halloween themed colouring pages. If you want to add those to Tuxpaint, we made this quick tutorial to show you how.
If you have Windows 10 and are looking for a similar app on the store, why not try the fun Halloween – Color by Numbers app.
Halloween play lists! – Having a house party this year? Your PC makes a fantastic music player! Plug your PC into your TV using a HDMI Cable and you can play both music and videos on the big screen. Why not splash out on a Youtube Premium subscription for the month? You can then play music videos on your TV with no adverts interrupting you.
Spooky games – PCs have the best games and there’s no shortage of spooky thrills to be had. Of course, not every spooky game is going to be appropriate for younger children, so here are three games we’ve picked out that are suitable for a wide range of ages.
Freddi Fish 2 – The Case of the Haunted Schoolhouse – Help Freddi solve the mystery of the haunted schoolhouse in this fun adventure game with bright and colourful graphics, suitable for all children aged 3 and up. You can get this game on the popular Steam distribution platform.
Haunt the House – Terrortown – A fun, child friendly little game where you play the part of a ghost who must go to various locations around the town and spook the people who are there. Moving the ghost with your mouse or your finger on a touch screen, you can possess different objects and frighten the poor townsfolk who happen to wander by. A charming little game ideal for Halloween play and suitable for all ages. You can find the game on Steam here.
Unholy Heights – Being an Evil Overlord isn’t all fun! Sure, you get to steal treasure, terrorise villagers and loot and plunder, but where do your monsters live and sleep when all that’s done? In this game, you get to find out, as you manage a block of flats inhabited by monsters. Look out for naughty monsters dodging the rent and the occasional busybody hero who takes it upon themselves to try and evict all your tenants! Unholy Heights is suitable for older children and adults and can be found on Steam or on GoG.com.
Costume Quest – If the best thing about Halloween for you is the dressing up, then you’ll love this Halloween adventure/role playing game from Double Fine Productions. In the game you will choose your hero and go trick-or-treating through three different environments. You can complete quests and collect new costumes along the way that allow you to transform into powerful champions and take down the evil Repugians! The game is generally suitable for all kids age 10+ but it contains some comic/cartoon violence. You can get Costume Quest on the popular Steam distribution network here.
The Park – A day at the park… a lost teddy bear… a missing child. As the sun sets over Atlantic Island Park, you must explore its dilapidated rides in search of your son, Callum. As darkness falls, you will experience panic and paranoia through a narrative written by a team of award-winning storytellers. Visit the games website here. This is definitely one for older players only.
Alice – Madness Returns – The bizarre and often frightening world of Lewis Carroll’s children’s books can certainly make for an exciting setting for films and games. Alice: Madness Returns sees an adult Alice return to wonderland to confront her inner demons and find the truth about her parents death. Rated 10 for violent themes and occasional bad language, this is one game strictly for the grown ups! The game is available on the Origin download service.
Alien Isolation – Discover the true meaning of fear in Alien: Isolation. Fifteen years after the events of Alien, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, Amanda, follows in her unfortunate mothers footsteps and enters a desperate battle for survival on a mission to unravel the truth behind her mother’s disappearance. Amanda will have to go toe to toe with the most deadly creature in the universe, using only her wits to survive… will you be the lone survivor or just another victim of the terrifying Alien? One for older players only, Alien Isolation can be found on Steam here.
Overdone the Halloween candy? – If you are worried your children ate too many sweets and chocolates this year, how about a PC game that encourages them to get more active? Stepmania is the PCs best dancing and exercise game. Playable on virtually any PC, all you need is a dance controller (Amazon have those here). Download the game for free along with several free song packs and get your kids moving again. Really creative kids can even compose their own dance routines! Check it out here.
Whatever you get up to this year, we hope you have a fantastic time. Stay safe and don’t have nightmares!
Tip of the month – Shift and right click icons on the taskbar to recover lost windows!
Did you know that there’s a secret menu you can access by right-clicking on an icon on the taskbar while holding down the shift key? This menu has a lot of useful little shortcuts on it.
One of the most useful items to appear on this hidden menu is the “Move” option. Ever managed to move a window right off your monitor? It happens more often than you might expect! When this does happen, try this technique.
1) Hold down the shift key on your keyboard and then right click on the apps icon on the taskbar.
2) From the menu that appears, choose “Move”.
3) Press an arrow key on your keyboard.
4) Move the mouse, you should now see your lost window stuck to your mouse pointer.
5) Move the window where you want it and click to drop it into place
Voila! Your window is now safely back on your monitor!
Free utility of the month – Wire
Wire is yet another instant messaging service, which might mean many of you simply dismiss this recommendation without another thought. Why do we need yet another messaging service? Well, there are several reasons why you might want to consider wire.
Wire is entirely free for personal use, check out here.
Microsoft Store app of the Month – Microsoft To Do
Microsoft To Do is a new app based on the much loved Wunderlist. If you’re forever writing sticky notes out with tasks on them, why not modernise? Install Microsoft To-Do on your PC and on your phone and you can synchronise to-do tasks between your laptop/desktop and your mobile device.
Great for shopping lists, errands, homework or revision or just anywhere where a list of tasks makes sense, the app even makes a satisfying ping when you complete and tick/check off a task.
Surface Duo and Surface Neo – Gimmick or brave new world?
It is fair to say Microsoft has had a few setbacks with the Windows 10 dream. Gone are the Windows smartphones, designed to work best with the Windows ecosystem and which would have, in time, transitioned to become a Windows 10 computer in your pocket. Microsoft have persevered with their Windows 10 tablets however and their Surface line of systems has, at the high end of the market at least, been generally well received.
Now, Microsoft has revealed its plans for some more Surface devices, and one of them at least is quite a surprise! Remember the Nintendo DS? For years, dual screens were in vogue for games players. Now, seems like Microsoft hopes they will make a comeback after they announced not one but two such devices.
Let’s start with Surface Neo. This little tablet is a clam shell design that folds in half and sports two screens. The screen itself does not fold, unlike some of the fancy prototype phones you may have seen. Think of this device like a small laptop but with a second screen where the keyboard would normally be. If you’re one of those old fashioned (read sane) people that likes to type on a keyboard then, fear not! Microsoft have craftily hidden a keyboard on the device too, which folds away under the bottom screen then flips up to cover about two thirds of it when you need to get some serious typing done. This will undoubtedly be much nicer than a touch screen keyboard, though we doubt we would trade in our lovely mechanical desktop keyboards for this any time soon. When the keyboard is flipped up, the remaining third of the bottom screen becomes a shortcut bar for all your emojis and animated gifs, how very millennial!
Perhaps the most interesting thing about the device for Windows geeks is that it won’t run regular Windows 10. Instead, the device runs Windows 10 X. Initially, we suspected this might be a stripped back version of Windows, similar to Windows RT which was designed to run only on Arm powered tablets. However, Windows 10 X will run all your old Windows 10 programs just fine. In a nutshell, the X version seems to be specifically for dual screen hinged devices and will provide an entirely familiar Windows environment on these devices while having some enhancements specifically for them. Why Microsoft chose to do this with a special version of Windows, rather than by just providing apps to run on the existing version of Windows, is unclear.
Want to see more of Surface Neo?, check out Microsoft’s page here.
So, what about Surface Duo? Well, this device is even more curious. Imagine if you took the dual screen tablet concept and made it even smaller, so it could fit in your pocket. Add in the ability to make phone calls and you have an entirely new device, one that absolutely isn’t a smartphone because Microsoft doesn’t do phones any more, remember?
So this not-a-phone-phone device doesn’t even run Windows at all. No, in this case the device is running a re-skinned version of the popular mobile phone operating system Android. Ok we give up, this is obviously the Surface Phone we predicted back in our October 2016 newsletter!
A Microsoft phone running Android probably isn’t the direction Microsoft would have liked to have gone in, but having dropped the ball with mobile devices, the Redmond giant probably feels it has no choice. Android phones already work the best with Windows so we can expect this integration to grow now that Microsoft is (absolutely definitely not) launching another Windows phone.
Want to see more of Surface Duo? Check out Microsoft’s page here.
Will Microsoft’s new dual screen devices wow consumers when they hit the market late next year? We are not sure, but remember we mentioned the Nintendo DS? This little machine was considered the under-dog when it was announced, but went on to trounce the competition for many years and was only recently discontinued after selling millions of units. Perhaps consumers will fall in love with dual screen devices once more?
That concludes the newsletter for October. On behalf of everyone here at Top-Windows-Tutorials, I would like to thank you all for your continuing support. Barring any further IT upsets, the TWT Newsletter will return on the 10th November 2019 and will bring you more tips, tricks and techniques to help you get the best out of your PC, be it Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 10. We hope that you found this newsletter informative and useful. If you did not then please let us know why, you can contact us by visiting this page. If you have enjoyed this newsletter, feel free to pass it on to all your friends and family, or better still encourage them to sign up for their own copy. Until next month, keep checking Top-Windows-Tutorials.com, and enjoy happy, safe and stress-free computing!
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