Archive for the ‘Newsletters’ Category

Improve your home security with CCTV

15 February 2012

There are now very affordable CCTV solutions available if you want to improve security at home or in your office.

I recommend one of the EyeSpy range of cameras which include:

1. an HD internal camera
2. an external camera
3. an internal moving camera
4. a budget camera

For cameras 1 -3, night vision is included.
Only option 2 can be used externally
Option 1 offer best quality image
They all offer two-way audio (but I personally would not rely on this feature)
options 1 and 2 offer wifi

The will all offer to store photos / video images online and allow you to view a location remotely.

For a comparison of the current models please look at this link.

If you would like further advice on installing one of these devices within your home or office, please contact us on 020-8209 2675 or email us


Affordable media box – BOXEE

15 February 2012

Recently I purchased a media box called Boxee.

This “media box” connects to any television with HDMI and opens up a wide-range of new features.

These include:

1. Web search – just type on the remote control and search the web!

2. Apps – access to a huge library of applications available such as radio stations and BBC iplayer (UK only)

3. Music streaming – access to your music library that could be sitting on a computer elsewhere in your home

4. Photo streaming – access to your photo library that could be sitting on a computer elsewhere in your home (you can view these on the big television while playing music)

5. Movie / TV Show streaming – access to your digitised movie library that could be sitting on a computer elsewhere in your home. It also gives you access to a variety of movies/tv shows online (often with advertising).

It supports a variety of movie formats – see technical spec at the bottom of this blog.

With movie streaming:
(a) it will summarise your movie collection in production date order or alphabetical order
(b) show you ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes
(c) access to online trailers and descriptions of the movie
(d) access to a variety of subtitles

Boxee comes with a remote control (see below) which has a complete keyboard making tying relatively easy.

As an affordable solution to modernise your lounge, I highly recommend this. NOTE: you will need to connect Boxee to a storage device to benefit from access to your media. This could be an external USB drive, an external hard disk or access to your computer using a home plug for example.

If you would like further advice on installing one of these devices within your home or office, please contact us on 020-8209 2675 or email us

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Technical Details

Dimensions (LxWxH): 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 4.6″
Language Support: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Network Protocol Support: IPV4, ARP, TCP, UDP, ICMP, DHCP Client, DNS Client, DDNS Client, HTTP Server, Samba Client, RTP/RTMP, VPN: PPTP, DLNA 1.5 (DMP)
Wireless: 802.11n/g/b
Ports: HDMI 1.3, 10/100 Fast Ethernet, 2x USB 2.0, Optical Audio (S/PDIF), Analog Audio (RCA L/R);Memory Card Support: SD, SDHC up to 32GB, MMC
Audio Formats: MP3, WAV/PCM/LPCM, WMA, AIF/AIFF, AC3/AAC, OGG, FLAC, DTS, Dolby Digital/Dolby True HD
Video Formats: Adobe Flash 10.1, FLV/On2 VP6 (FLV/FV4/M4V), H.264 AVC (TS/AVI/MKV/MOV/M2TS/MP4), VC-1 (TS/AVI/MKV/WMV), MPEG-1 (DAT/MPG/MPEG), MPEG-2 (MPG/MPEG/VOB/TS/TP/ISO/IFO), MPEG-4 (MP4/AVI/MOV), DivX 3/4/5/6 (AVI/MKV), Xvid (AVI/MKV), WMV9 (WMV/ASF/DVR-MS)
Image Formats: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP, TIFF
Playlist Formats: M3U, PLS, WPL
Subtitle Formats: SRT, SUB, SSA, SMI, ASS
Supported Resolutions: H.264: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps
WMV9/VC-1: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps
MPEG4: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps
MPEG2: 1080p at 30 fps, 1080i at 60 fps
Two-Sided RF Remote: with 4-way navigation and full QWERTY keypad

Digitising your movies – DVD Ripping

14 February 2012

Digitising music has become very popular. People are trashing their CD’s and keeping them on laptops, desktops, Tablets, mobile phones and MP3 players.

This saves space and allows you to carry a massive music collection with you wherever you are.

A similar concept can be carried out with your DVD collection with a process called “DVD Ripping”.

Digitising your movie collection has the following advantages:

1. Trash your DVD’s – save space

2. Trash your DVD player

3. Carry a large movie collection with you on the move e.g. on a Tablet such as an IPAD

4. A media box such as BOXEE will change your move viewing experience by collating your movies for viewing on a large television. It  offers movie summaries, trailers, ratings and various subtitles.

The process of transferring a DVD to a computer is called “DVD Ripping” and is done using software like AISEESOFT DVD RIPPER – A license costs approx $30 and purchase link for PC here and purchase link for MAC here.

I have only recently tested this software (there is such a wide-range to choose from) and it seems to be very user-friendly and offers optimal outputs for different devices such as an IPAD.

As you can see in my example, it is choosing to export a DVD as an AVI file for viewing on an XBOX 360. There are a wide range of choices here such as MP4 format for IPAD.

Happy digitising! (I prefer that term to Ripping!)

Dealing with theft

8 December 2011

In the last 10 years I can only remember four clients whose laptops were stolen – two from the boot of a car and two from a house burglary. It is an extremely violating experience, since a laptop can contain your whole life – photos, e-mails, family history, various banking details, other aspects of personal finances, information about property etc etc. If you do not have a backup of your data, it compounds the disaster.

It is dreadful to think what a thief might do with a laptop. Will the thief just sell immediately? Or is there a risk that the data is interrogated? This uncertainty alone is traumatic.

There are ways to prevent your exposure should your laptop or Ipad or telephone be stolen.


There are so many backup solutions out there, there is no excuse!
Offsite backup is best: have a look at Carbonite or Dropbox or Sugarsync.

2. Improve your home security

At home you could prevent burglaries by installing and alarm, CCTV, and properly checking who is at your door with a door entry phone / camera.

3. Always protect your device with a password.

Although this can be cracked it is certainly a deterrent and will often lead the thief to simply wipe device before using or selling it. You may also want to consider setting up a BIOS password – this will add a second password to your laptop

4. Consider encryption

If you password protect you data using something like truecrypt, you can rest easy.

5.  Move your e-mail to office 365

This keeps a complete backup of your data and can be erased from a device remotely.

6. Store all your passwords in a dedicated program

There a plenty of password software packages that are designed to work on all devices, one example is 1password which will share data between devices using dropbox.

7. Store your notes in encrypted format

A note taking device live Evernote works on all kinds of devices and offers encrypted notes with password protection.

8. Install remote access software

Software like Logmein, this could give you remote access to your computer if it is online and active.

 9. Install dedicated stolen device software

There are now dedicated applications that have been created to help track stolen devices. Have a look at prey, theftaware, or LoJack

10. If you are on Apple Setup iCloud

If you have a Mac or an iPad when Iphone simply upgrade to the latest version and then activate icloud. This can help track your Apple devices or wipe them remotely.

If you would like any advice on any of these points, we would love to hear from you.

You can email us  or call us on 020-8209 2675.

Secondary email addresses

7 December 2008

Welcome to Computing Matters 10 – Secondary email addresses

Republished from October 2008

Many computer users only have one email address with one provider. This newsletter is aimed to get you thinking about setting up a backup secondary email address with a different provider.

Having a backup email address will not cost anything and can prove to be very useful.

Sometimes I find myself unable to email certain people from my email account. Reasons for this have been temporary glitches with my email provider, or even longer term issues where my email provider is rejected by some company firewalls. In situations like this, a secondary email address is useful to use either at certain times or with certain contacts.

The Converse is also true. Sometimes your contacts will be unable to email you at your regular email address (perhaps since their own provider has been “black listed” by your provider). In such a case, they may find it easier to email you with a secondary address.

Two examples of secondary email addresses are Google Mail and Hotmail. There are of course many other free email addresses available out there!

So, for example, although my principle email address is gabriel at, I also have gabrielfriedman at and gabrielfriedman at Of the two, I recommend Google Mail – which even offers free pop access – this means you can set it to come into outlook automatically with all your other emails. Googlemail offers great storage capacity and a useful email grouping facility. Other features such an online calendar and access to online tools such as an online word processor and spreadsheet (called “Google Docs”) are also available at no cost. If your principal address is already Google Mail, then hotmail will make an excellent secondary email address.

If you are still reliant on your broadband ISP (internet Service Provider) for your principle email address (e.g. you have a bt, tiscali, orange, blue yonder, virgin etc. related email address), please consider changing your principle address and slowly wean yourself away from the ISP email address. The reason for this is to avoid independence on a broadband ISP for your email – if you decide to leave them to try another ISP, or if you leave the country to another (where, most likely, the ISP do not operate), then you will lose the email address. So Best to setup a second email address and receive both for a year until on your contacts are aware of the new email address and you are no longer tied to one ISP.

I hope you find this newsletter useful. Hopefully it will help make your day to day practical computing easier.

saving money on telephone calls and your broadband connection

7 December 2008

Welcome to Computing Matter 9

saving money on telephone calls and your broadband connection

Republished newsletter from Aug 2008

I hope you are enjoying the summer! With the summer headlines focusing on credit crunch, I will focus some of my forthcoming newsletters to money saving techniques.

A big way to cut down monthly costs is to look at your broadband and telephone bills. A lot of people are still paying over £25 a month for a home broadband connection. These days, this is too much!

About a year ago, I changed ISP from my old favourite Nildram, to TalkTalk. Two years ago, I would never have recommended such a move to TalkTalk, but I now feel that they are coping well with their service.

It’s all about saving money – approximately £20 per month!

Assuming that you are getting Internet through a BT line, many of you will be paying approximately £15 per month to BT for line rental and approx £25 per month for broadband. That is at least £40 per month for both. TalkTalk offer their equivalent for £16.39 – line rental and broadband all in one bill. They have a second package costing £20.99 a month for line rental + broadband + free calls to landlines in UK and in 36 international destinations day and night. Both these prices are currently discounted!

Have a look at: talktalk

I personally went for the £20.99 per month package and I am very happy, aside from the fact that they broadband is much faster than what I had with very liberal download limits of 40GB per month. Also, my broadband speed increased from 2Mbps to 5Mbps.

So switching to TalkTalk can save you at least £240 a year. It will save even more if you make landlines calls to countries including the UK and most of Europe, USA and Australia. With the Global Anytime package, you can make calls to all these landlines in these countries completely free (limited to 70 minutes a call).

The free call list is limited to 36 countries. Check out the column for the free calls titled “Talk Global Anytime”

TalkTalk also offer all the services that BT offer for a small fee e.g. caller display and 3-way calling. The only downside is services like 1899 and 1815 and 18866 will only work if you use their 0208 access number or you could use 0845 access numbers to call mobiles abroad.

Alternative access numbers to make cheap calls abroad can be found using the following site for a database of access numbers:

Signing up to TalkTalk takes 10 minutes online. You need bank account details and they will do the rest including terminating your existing broadband service. There should be no downtime (except on the day of the switchover when you need to update the username and password on your router) and if you like I will be happy to guide you through the process over the phone. Just send me an email to arrange this.

PS. Another ISP recommended to me is Plusnet.

Best wishes and enjoy cheaper phone calls and cheaper broadband connectivity!

backing up Outlook

7 December 2008

Welcome to Computing Matters 8 – backing up Outlook

Republished newsletter from July 2008

Apple Mac update: Recently, I have been working more and more on Macs and am now in a position to support them with skills growing almost daily. For the time being, my newsletters will remain PC focused.

Backing up emails on Outlook is something very few people do correctly, yet it is so crucial.

Outlook is not just a full collection of emails – it also contains valuable contact information, your diary and notes. Other custom features may include custom signatures, custom dictionaries, templates, user settings and preferences.

One easy way to backup the contacts, calendar and notes is with to synchronise with your phone. However, this is not always reliable and does not effectively backup all emails and settings.

The most effective way to backup outlook at no cost (see below) is to use the “Export” function in outlook. To see this procedure, see the bottom of this email. Once you export the outlook information, you can use an online backup like Carbonite (see link below) to effectively “backup the backup”. The biggest problem with this method is that it is not automated.

When it comes to computers, automation is always the most desirable way forward.

The best and easiest solution is to use a third party software specially designed to do the job properly and at scheduled times.

An excellent product to try out is Genie backup manager which can be used to backup Outlook and/or Outlook Express and a number of other things in Windows. (Note that is the past I recommended Outback Plus and if you are using this it is fine).

Genie Backup Manger (Home) is free for a 30-day trial and then purchase it for a one-off fee of approx £35+vat.

If you use carbonite, there is no need to download the disaster recovery option, but please ensure you are making a “remote backup or your backup”! This is the most secure way to avoid disaster.

Good luck backing up Outlook properly – this is REALLY important.

I have seen how painful it is to lose emails, contacts or even Internet Explorer favourites (all the programs above backup the Internet Explorer Favourites).

Once you have successfully backed up Outlook (I suggest doing this at least weekly), you should then effectively back this backup remotely. Try Carbonite for a month for free.

Stages to backing up Outlook manually

(a) Click “File” menu in Outlook,

(b) Select “Export to File”

(c) Click “Import and Export”

(d) Select “Personal Folder File (.pst)”

(e) Choose what you want to backup e.g. click on “Personal Folders” and tick option to “include subfolders” to backup everything

(f) Click “Next” and give the backup an appropriate name e.g. “Outlook backup 15 July 2008” and decide where you want to backup the file to e.g. “C:Outlook backups”

(g) Click “Finish”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this website are my own.
Feel free to contact me for any professional advice related to you specifically.

Email maintenance

7 December 2008

Welcome to Computing Matters 6 – Email maintenance

Republished newsletter from February 2008.

Please forgive me for not being emailing in January 2008 – it was a busy month for me.

My colleagues and I have also launched a new venture after more than two years of planning and development. is a site for any person who arranges an event or gathering requiring payment for tickets. It can be for a charity party, a weekend away or a cookery class. This site allows you to sell tickets and collect payment to your PayPal account and it takes just 5 minutes to post an event on the site. In addition to this, it is completely free, so if you know anyone arranging an event this year, please pass on this web address!

The New Year is always a good time to do some email archiving. This is really important if you use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express.

The more emails you store, the more likely they are susceptible to cause problems.
For example: Outlook 2003 has a maximum acceptable file size of 1.8GB. After it reaches this size (without any warning), emails will simply stop coming in! I had to deal with this issue as many as ten times in 2007. In my work I come across many corrupt outlooks which could have been avoided with some routine maintenance (regular email backups also help and I will talk about this another time).

How to routinely maintain Outlook (or Outlook Express / Windows Mail) – two solutions:

1. Delete large emails from 2008
Firstly, order all your emails by size and delete all emails over 1MB that you really do not need. Most of these will be attachments and many will be jokes. If you really want to keep them, consider saving them to “My Documents”. If you have more time, look at all emails over 500K also. Also, please remember to check your sent items. If you send five emails with the same content to five different recipients, do you need to keep all five?

Once you have deleted all large emails, it is crucial to compact the email program. In Outlook, you right click on “Personal Folders” on the left hand side of the screen, then click on “properties”, then “advanced” and finally click on “compact now” (note that this could take a few hours but you can always stop and start another time).

2. Archive all 2008 emails
Create a new outlook file (known as a pst) and I call it Outlook 200x. Within this, I create an “inbox archive 200x” and a “sent items archive 200x”. I then drag all emails (month by month) to the relevant folder. This can take some time. Finally it is essential to compact the original pst as described above. I personally carry out this method, but day to day, I am very harsh wist the emails I choose to keep in Outlook.

I hope this concept has not been too technical. You can of course call me for advice or to manually archive your emails for you. I cannot stress how important this is to keep your Outlook healthy.

Dealing with Spam

7 December 2008

Welcome to Computing Matters 5 – Dealing with Spam

republishing old newsletter from October 2007

Welcome to Computing Matters 5 in which I will briefly cover the growing nuisance issue of spam. If you find this newsletter useful, please see link below to make a donation to Norwood.

Spam is almost unavoidable and we all suffer from this infliction! As an email address becomes publicly known by your contacts and by websites, however careful you are, you will start to receive spam or junk mail.

Spam emails should not be confused with newsletter emails like this one. Newsletters from genuine sources can easily be unsubscribed from by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom or by replying with “unsubscribe” in the subject. However, there are rouge newsletter emails that are effectively spam and spotting the difference is sometimes a challenge. Genuine newsletters will generally come from a known source or service you have used.

In my opinion, most spam results from either rouge websites collecting your email address and using this data inappropriately or from friends sending out “friendly” emails to a large group of people. These emails get forwarded on and on until it reached a spammer who then takes 1000 email addresses from one email! So please encourage your friends to use the BCC field when sending out group emails, as discussed in the second edition of Computing Matters.

The most effective way to avoid spam completely is actually to change your email address! However, this poses the inconvenience of notifying your contacts and updating all sorts of website records. Most of us would not be prepared to go through the work of doing this.

For those of you who use Outlook or Outlook Express or the Vista Windows Mail, an effective solution to trapping spam is to use a spam filter like Cloudmark which I find to be very effective. Cloudmark will work in conjunction with (but substantially more effectively then) the built-in junk mail filter that Outlook 2003/07 and Windows Mail.

Try Cloudmark free for two weeks

If you own your own domain name – make sure you are not receiving what is known as a “catch all”. For example, I own the domain, but if you try to email info at the email will bounce back since the address does not exist. For some people however, even though the address does not exist, if they have a “catch all” switched on, they will still get the email.

There are also website services that can be used to prevent spam. They work by intercepting any person who sends you an email with an “auto response” asking the person to click a link to establish that they are genuine…however, I personally think these are too intrusive and will not be recommending any in this newsletter.

The Possible Dangers of WiFi

7 December 2008

Welcome to Computing Matters 4 – The Possible Dangers of WiFi

Lately there has been a lot of controversy regarding the safety of WiFi (wireless internet). In particular, a Panorama programme around spring 2007 raised some concerns. As a result, many of my clients have asked for me for my opinion on the matter and the bottom line is that I really do not know whether WiFi is dangerous or not. I don’t think anyone knows for sure.

I have personally felt and understood that WiFi is similar to radio waves which none of us can avoid. I am not certain that is can be compared to the rays emitted from a mobile phone.

Here is an interesting clip which mainly criticises the Panorama programme in question:

Like most of my clients, I personally have WiFi at home, which is constantly on and am presently not concerned about it. However, if I had growing children at home, I may rethink this since children’s skulls are not fully formed. I certainly do feel that a wireless broadband router kept in a bedroom is not sensible.

Indeed, some of my clients do turn of their router at night and I cannot see a problem with that (other than possible damage to the router from constant turning off and on).

One excellent solution to avoid having WiFi at home is to use something called a “Homeplug”. This will transmit broadband through your home or office electricity supply (only works in UK) and will network computers at very fast speeds of up to 200Mbps. In fact homeplug is fantastic for those of you with WiFi “deadspots”.

Have a look at: Zyxel PowerLine HomePlug

This kit will cater for one computer. One will connect to your router and the other will connect to a computer. Any further kits purchased will cater for a further two computers. It can also be used for a network printer.

Whatever you decide to do with WiFi in your own home, it will be difficult escaping WiFi from other neighbours in your street. I am sure more will come to light about this matter in due course – as I am sure will be the case with mobile phones.