Monday, 20 April 2015

Never miss another security update

security update

Security updates protect you from the latest malware and hacking attacks, Jonathan Parkyn explains how to be first in the queue for new fixes

Software updates are a pain, but they're a necessary evil. Besides allowing developers to fix bugs and add features, they plug (‘patch’) security holes.

As demonstrated by the recent Freak flaw, fresh vulnerabilities are discovered all the time. To make sure you’re protected from them, you need to get the latest software updates as soon as they’re issued.

This is easier said than done. Microsoft hasn’t helped matters by “evolving” its Advanced Notification Service ( Until January 2015, the service provided vital information about forthcoming fixes to all Windows users - but this is now sent to paying customers only. The good news is there are plenty of other ways to hear about the latest updates for your PC, tablet and phone as soon as they’re released, and even get them installed automatically.

Cities: Skylines

Cities: Skylines

The city-building game better than SimCity

City-building games are great fun and have been around for decades, but the genre is difficult to get right. The latest SimCity, for example, may have beautiful graphics, but gameplay is over-simplified and unbalanced, and playing it requires a constant internet connection. However, Cities: Skylines gets it right.

Use Twitter like a pro - and build your business

Twitter business

Dave Stevenson explores how Twitter- used correctly - can bring your business closer to its customers

Twitter seems like a simple way for businesses to connect with their customers: just type in a message and send. But it’s easy to get it wrong. Tweet at the wrong time of the day and your message will be missed. Use the service as a one-way advertising channel and your audience will drift away.

And those are the relatively benign pitfalls. Allowing employees to tweet on behalf of your organisation can lead to trouble, as retailer HMV found in 2013, when a group of former employees took to the company’s feed to complain about mass firings.

Used in the correct way, however, Twitter can be a positive tool for your business. Here, we look at what you should tweet and when, plus power-user tricks such as scheduling tweets to hit your followers at the best times, and the tools you need to manage your organisation’s social media needs.

HP Stream 11

HP Stream 11

A cheap and colourful laptop, but far from cheerful

HP’s Stream 11 stands out from the crowd with its flamboyant bright purple casing. The wrist rest has a subtle polka-dot pattern, which gets lighter from top to bottom. This isn’t as distracting as it sounds and the whole thing is sturdily made.

At just £180, the Stream 11 is incredibly cheap for a Windows 8.1 laptop. Despite its bargain price, it’s light (1.3kg) and its battery survived an impressive 10 and a half hours in our light-usage test. This is a great return for such a low-cost laptop and is due in large part to its energy-efficient Intel Celeron N2840 processor.

Things to do with an old XP PC. Part 2. Create a home entertainment centre

old XP PC

This issue, Jonathan Parkyn shows you how to convert your old XP PC into a music, video and photo player

Connect your PC to your TV

One great way to repurpose your PC is to turn it into an all-in-one media centre that’s connected to your living-room TV. By far the easiest (and cheapest) way to connect the PC and TV is via HDMI cable. Modern TV sets come with multiple HDMI sockets and, if you’re lucky enough to have a PC with an HDMI output, then all that’s needed is a £3 HDMI cable, which will carry sound as wrell as picture. There are plenty on Amazon (

LG G Flex 2

LG G Flex 2

The curved Android phone that can repair itself

We reviewed Samsung’s Galaxy Note Edge, an Android phone with a screen that curved over the phone's right-hand edge. LG’s G Flex 2 has an even more pronounced curve - a concave design that makes it stand out from the crowd. That’s not the phone’s only futuristic feature - its rear casing can repair itself thanks to its clever chemical composition.

LG claims the curved contours make the phone feel more comfortable when pressed up against your face while you make a call, and even when it’s stored away in your pocket, pressed against your body. We aren’t convinced by these claims - any increase in comfort levels is negligible. The curve is also supposed to make the large 5.5in screen easier to use with one hand, but it’s just as unwieldy as screens on other phone of this size.

Dell Venue 8 7840

Dell Venue 8 7840

An Android tablet that lets you measure things with its camera

Dell may be best known for its PCs and laptops, but the company is also one of the oldest manufacturers of Android tablets. None of them, it has to be said, have been particularly good. At first glance, the Venue 8 7840 (also known as the Venue 8 7000) seems to buck this trend. It’s incredibly thin, has a super-high-resolution screen and has a camera that can measure objects and distances. On closer inspection, however, the 7840 isn't all it’s cracked up to be.

50 Hacks Apps and ROMs

50 Hacks Apps and ROMs

Essential tools for super-users to upgrade out-of-the-box Android

It's sometimes pretty easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of hacking, rooting, and app options that Android offers. Which hack is the best way to go? Which ROM is the best one for the way you use your phone or tablet? Which of the rooted apps is going to save you the most time? Well, that's where this massive feature comes in. We'll run down the 50 best hacks, ROMs, and apps out there, telling you the essential tools you need to make sure that your rooted device is running as smoothly and efficiently as it can be. We'll show you what to use, how and when to use it, and why it's better than the alternatives. There are tips, tricks and tutorials as well, so even if you've already got all of the apps and hacks installed, there's a good chance you're going to learn something along the way.

Huawei Ascend G7

Huawei Ascend G7

The Huawei Ascend G7 is a desirable handset if you want a large screen and don’t have cash to spare

The Huawei Ascend G7 enters that crowded territory of the five to six inch screened handset. It’s a phone size that pushes the boundaries of what most of us are prepared to carry in our pockets, yet the lure of a larger screen appeals particularly to gamers and anyone who reads a lot of text such as web sites, emails or even ebooks on their phone.

Moreover, with a price half that of most flagship phablets, the G7 is a real contender. So the question is, do the build and specifications really make it a bargain buy?