My Blog - changed regularly
November 2018 items
Money Savings Expert said : Tens
of thousands of H*lif*x mortgage customers are to be given a redress
payment of £20 after the bank uncovered an error in the way interest
has been charged that dates back eight years. Those who chose to
overpay their mortgage, pay weekly or make one-off payments at any
point since 2010 may have been charged too much interest due to the
error. H*lif*x won't say exactly how many customers have been
overcharged, though it's understood to be 10,000s. It says the vast
majority of those affected will have overpaid by under £10, in some
cases by just a few pennies - but anyone who's lost out is being
offered £20 redress as a cheque.
Browsers and Search Engines. Confusing, isn't it? Google is a
Browser and Chrome actually does the clever searching. In the
case of Microsoft, Internet Explorer was their main browser but lately
it is called Edge. But their search engine is called Bing.
Microsoft's Windows 10 updates: We have all been mystified by Windows
10 updates being called (August 2016) "Anniversary Update", then (April
2017) "Creators Update", and (October 2017) "Fall Creators
Update" Now (sensibly) they are going to simply name the
after the month and year of their release. Unfortunately, for some, the
October 2018 update was problematic and it was quickly withdrawn. If
you used Edge to find a download site for the much preferred Browser,
Google, you were in danger of downloading a 'nasty' from a (paid for)
advert they allowed Bing to prominently display. Guru, Bob, says that
the bug that forced Microsoft to halt distribution of the Windows 10
October update has now been fixed, but other severe bugs still delay
resumption of distribution. So, wait a little longer before trying to
download the update. The October update should be available some time
in November. Hopefully, this time, they will not hurry it out before
the beta testers have had a chance to tear it apart. For now, Microsoft
says don’t Click “Check for Updates”.
Savings : The Bank of England held rates at 0.75% again this
week, with hints that it might creep up eventually. One building
society thought it would be popular if it offered an easy access
savings account at 1.55%. Rates are so poor elsewhere it was
overwhelmed and withdrew the offer immediately. I still think the
National Savings rates mentioned on my
http://www.silverhairs.co.uk/savings.htm page are better in view of
their security. And you can get a nearly respectable rate if you go for
a 3 year bond. Bear in mind that you can get it out again without
penalty with a mere 90 days notice.
Pensioners clawed back £38m from the taxman in just 12 weeks - a third
more than the previous quarter - as more fall foul of emergency tax
charges when withdrawing retirement cash, a problem first revealed by
Telegraph Money that HM Revenue & Customs refuses to fix.
Human brain development
Even cleverer : Google announced the Pixel Buds (earphones) a year ago.
Buds could play media, take calls and talk to the Google Assistant.
Buds also have this weird superpower: They can translate languages in
During a demo audiences were wowed. After all, the process seemed like
magic. With no more than a smartphone and a set of Buds, two people
speaking different languages were having a conversation, in real time.
What is more amazing, LG, Sony and Bose devices can suddenly
speak multiple languages, too. It seems that Google sent out an
OTA (over the air) update for their software.
The top 10 UK service companies to haggle with
SUCCESS SMALL SUCCESS BIG
SUCCESS TOTAL SUCCESS RATE
1. AA (510 votes)
2. RAC (264 votes)
3. Sky (1,704 votes)
4. Admiral (292 votes)
5. EE (451 votes)
6. Virgin Media (629 votes)
7. AA Insurance (124 votes)
8. Vodafone (271 votes)
9. Plusnet (189 votes)
10. Three (234 votes)
And finally.... Falling foul of Planning Permission in Spain! :
Sagrada Familia is to pay £32m for building without a permit (for 136
years!). The construction of the cathedral, designed by artist Antoni
Gaudi, began in 1882 and has continued ever since (and, so far, they
have only managed the front).
I am sure you will have heard
that many of
the processors running computers, whether made by Intel, ARM or AMD
have been found
to contain code which might be vulnerable to attack.
As almost all main computer systems have
these chips built in the manufacturers have raced to develop code to
such an attack. The vulnerabilities have been named Spectre (ARM and
Meltdown (Intel). ARM chips are the ones used in
phones in the world. This affects some Apple equipment as well.
Microsoft has issued an update
(Microsoft Security Advisory ADV180002) which it is hope will protect
users of Windows
software. Apple has also been busy. Be
sure to install these updates, including iCloud and iTunes if you use
The flaws would allow hackers
to steal the
entire memory contents of computers, mobile phones, and servers that
cloud-computing networks. So far, despite these weaknesses being
around for a long time, there have not been any known attacks using
On the subject of updates I
found that my
Windows 10 machine had not had any since before Christmas.
However, I finally did get a massive
update. It took a long time to download,
despite my having a very fast, cable connection. It
was version 1709. When it was finally
installed I found that my machine had been changed a great deal. My
had been changed the the US one and half the carefully planned
shortcuts on the
desktop had been removed and the so-called Quick Menu had been
resurrected. We all hate change, so what
was so good about
the new version ? It talks about 'Mixed Reality', and you can download
Reality Viewer from the Microsoft store. The program is called
referring to Augmented Reality.
Given a reasonably fast machine this could
enable you to animate and view 3D Models in PowerPoint.
It also says you can add an
your keyboard. You can also set up dictation (wow!), switch from your
smartphone to the PC, change a typed character to the correct one, turn
scribbled on a touch screen into text, highlight text in an e-book, pin
a contact to the taskbar and call someone on Skype from the taskbar.
To say I am 'underwhelmed'
would be an
understatement. For this they mess up my laptop !
Incidentally, Microsoft is to
opportunity to defer updates, perhaps because people have found them
In fact Microsoft is blaming
virus products for causing its updates to crash PCs or repeatedly
Microsoft hopes to be able to detect those computers and they will not
updated. However, looking through the
list I did not recognise any of the popular anti virus programs apart
Totalav, which has been blacked by many security writers.
Bob Rankin wrote a blistering
article about Avira anti virus software. Whether it was Free or
$99 it was massive, difficult to install and impossible to uninstall,
even using my favourite (thorough) uninstaller by Iobit. In the
end he had to do a restore to save his sanity !
HTTPS What is that about ?
As a site author I am being
paying a fee to upgrade my HTTP site to an HTTPS (Secure, encrypted)
all realise that the internet needs to become more secure.
But if we bought every security measure on
sale we would need a bank loan. As it is,
my Windows machines take far too long to become usable because they are
searching for all the updates that are generated daily to keep us safe.
iCloud and iTunes software seem to do this weekly. They are very large
and you have to click the PC four times to get them, then reboot the
thing. All when you just want to send an
urgent message ! It is no wonder people are favouring tablets, where
get on and use them and choose when to do the updates. It is such a
Apple prices all of their (fragile) products beyond the range of many
They tend to be more secure than Android based tablets as Apple has
control over the software.
I see so many people walking
around with broken iPhone screens. I, too, have broken a screen on an
mini. It cracked when I was prising it out of its cover. I decided to
repaired by a non-Apple repairer. It was out of warranty and the repair
less than Apple would charge. But I was aware that Apple would wash
of it because I had not used their expensive service.
I just cannot understand why something that
can cost over £1000 (like and iPhone X ) cannot be made more durable.
BTW Apple MAY take
responsibility if it is a hairline crack .
I hear that one of the latest
have an OLED screen
Hopefully these screens will be
to break when dropped.
Wherever you look it is impossible
to find a decent rate of interest on savings.
Whilst banks are not interested in your cash they are quite keen
customers to sell them mortgages, credit cards and other financial
So, some of the best deals are given to new customers, with up to £200
and cashback and regular savings offers. Santander used to be the king
cashback banks but they have reduced the percentage you get back for
bills and have a monthly fee for accounts.
Almost all ask for minimum amounts to be paid in monthly and
expect banking to be on line. As far as I can deduce, one of the best
accounts is the
National Savings 3 year Guaranteed Growth Bond, paying 1.95%. Apart from being absolutely safe the cost of
early withdrawal is only 90 days interest on the amount withdrawn. With
maximum being £1million that should take care of most of us !
n.b. With the indebtedness of
most European countries (apart from Germany) this makes it doubly
important to find a safe harbour for savings. Apart from Greece, Italy,
Portugal and Spain are all teetering on the brink. One wonders
how long the European Central Bank can prop up these countries,
We may be out of the Euro but, being a country that is dependent on the
financial business we would not be immune from the draught caused by a
N.B. As well as
issuing these notes to a
favoured few I intend to add them to this site at
Google's Gmail service is getting some major updates that will begin
rolling out over the coming weeks. But don’t panic; the “send” button
won’t move out of your sight (hopefully). So, what is in store...
Gmail, the web-based email service from Google 1.2 billion users. The
new Gmail will be more icon-driven, and will offer three different
layouts dubbed “default,” “comfortable,” and “compact.”
Starting in June 2018, you will be able to read, write, and search
email while offline.
Having now seen the new Gmail I find it has defaulted to separating
incoming e-mail under various headings. It is easier to delete them
'en-masse' but it is easy to miss seeing some that might be
important. You can always delete headings if you don't like them
and your mail will just be found in the first column, as before.
Ads in Gmail
The only way to really get rid of the ads is to turn off the feature
entirely. You can do this by: Heading to the gear shaped icon in the
top right corner under your Gmail photo. Select "configure inbox" and
disable the "Promotions". You may find this is not easily done on a
A useful explanation of Microsoft's on line storage is at https://newsletter.askleo.com/ask-leo-706-half-a-dozen-uses-for-onedrive/
Other Google services will become available. Google Calendar, for
instance, is a natural fit with Gmail where people plan joint
activities, appointments, vacations, etc. Google Keep, the ad hoc
Post-It Note(™) style note-taking app, is not exactly a household word.
Integrating such obscure services with the popular Gmail will bring
them to more users’ attention.
A new feature is "Smart Reply." Using machine learning and the context
of the message, Gmail provides suggested one-click replies such as
"Sure, Monday works for me," "So sorry to hear that," or "Cool, I'll
check it out!"
Snoozing and Expiring Email Messages. "Snooze” is the ability to
schedule the sending of an email at a future time.
“Expiring” emails are the flip side of Snoozing emails. You can set a
date and time at which the email you are about to send will no longer
be accessible by the recipient. Expiration is a security feature; it
ensures that no confidential messages are hanging around beyond a
specified date. In addition, the recipient of an expiring email won’t
be able to print, forward, download or use copy/paste on the message.
New browser protection plug in.
Whilst Chrome already provides effective protection against malicious
sites: go somewhere with a poor reputation and you'll get a big, scary
red screen telling you that you're about to do something unwise. But
Microsoft believes it can do a better job than Google, and it has
released a Chrome plugin, Windows Defender Browser Protection, that
brings its own anti-phishing protection to Google's browser. Microsoft
justifies the new plugin with reference to a 2017 report that claims
that the company's Edge browser blocked 99 percent of phishing
attempts, compared to 87 percent by Chrome and 70 percent in Firefox.
The plugin brings Edge's protection to Chrome, so if the theory holds,
it should bump the browser up to 99 percent, too.
Free on-line storage. These days there is a lot of this on offer.
You have to decide whether your files and photos are safer there than
on your local storage. In the case of tablets, many soon become full if
you have a lot of music, videos and photographs.
Dropbox offers 2 GB; OneDrive, 5 GB; Box, 10 GB; Google Drive, 15 GB.
If you're a photo buff, you can get a whopping 1 TB (1000 GB) of free
space at Flickr to store your pics. (Flickr was recently acquired by
SmugMug, so we'll see if the free space offer continues after the
merger is completed).
Internet of Things (I o T)
has been getting quite an airing recently. Using a mobile phone one can
control many items from anywhere, providing they have been set up
correctly. Someone I know is able to remotely control the central
heating in a holiday let flat. But there are many other things that
lend themselves to this technology.
See this article by security company Malwarebytes
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