Friday, June 28, 2013

All the New Stuff in Windows 8.1

 
 

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via Lifehacker by Whitson Gordon on 6/26/13

All the New Stuff in Windows 8.1Microsoft showed off an in-depth look at Windows 8.1 today, and released a preview for everyone to try out. Here are all the new features you'll find in the next version of Windows.

We've seen most of these features in Microsoft's "first look" video (embedded above), but today they gave us a closer look at all the new features in 8.1. Most of the new features are specific to Windows' tiled "Modern" interface, but there are one or two updates for desktop users as well. Here's what you'll see.

Better Organization and Customization on the Start Screen

All the New Stuff in Windows 8.1

The Start screen has a few improvements. You get two new tile sizes: one small square one and one large one, so you can configure the Start screen a bit more like Windows Phone 8. You can also select multiple tiles and put them into a named group, and swipe up gesture for the "All Apps" view. The All Apps view has a few new organization methods, too—you can view them by category, most used, and date installed, not just alphabetical.

The new Start screen has more colors to choose from, and you can even put your desktop wallpaper behind the Start screen as well. You can also turn the lock screen into a photo slideshow, sourced from your PC or SkyDrive. While you're on the lock screen, you can launch the camera or answer Skype calls without logging in.

More Powerful Multitasking

All the New Stuff in Windows 8.1

One of Windows 8's coolest features is the side-by-side window snapping, and Microsoft has made a big improvement to this feature: now you can resize those snapped windows however you want. Before, you could only have Windows split 50/50, or into thirds. Now, you can actually drag the slider to make each app take up as much or as little space as you want.

Furthermore, you can have more than two apps or windows on-screen at once—in fact, you can have up to four, as long as your monitor is big enough (Engadget reports that the Surface Pro is still limited to two). You can also move them between monitors, if you have more than one.

Improvements to the Windows Store and Built-In Apps

Windows 8.1 also comes with some handy improvements to the Windows Store and its built-in apps. The whole store has been given a facelift, and it will now automatically update your apps unless you're on a metered connection. Internet Explorer 11 now has unlimited tabs, the camera has a panorama feature, and the new Mail app will have a "sweep" feature that deletes multiple emails of the same type (e.g. newsletters). All apps are supposed to be faster, and push notifications are easier for developers to implement, so hopefully more apps will support them.

All the New Stuff in Windows 8.1

Microsoft has also made a big update to search in 8.1 If you open the search charm, you'll see that all your search results are grouped into one place: no more switching between files, settings, apps, and the web. If you press enter, you'll be taken to a full-screen view of your search results. If Bing understands the person, place, or thing you've searched for, it'll load a full-screen app-like view called "Search Heroes," with intelligent results similar to Google's Knowledge Graph, that offers photos, videos, and relevant facts all in one unified interface.

Laslty, SkyDrive is even more integrated with Windows 8 now, automatically updating with new files in the background (like Dropbox) and staying in sync with all your other devices.

Boot to Desktop and the Return of the Start Button

All the New Stuff in Windows 8.1

The desktop didn't get as much love as we would have liked, but there are two features desktop enthusiasts have been asking for: boot to desktop and a Start button.

Boot to desktop does exactly what it sounds like: You can tell Windows 8 to boot straight to the desktop instead of going to the Start screen first.

The Start button won't show you the Start menu from Windows 7; it just brings up the Start screen. It's minor, but nice if you're used to clicking that button in the bottom left-hand corner. As for us, we'll just stick with true Start menu apps like Start8.

All the New Stuff in Windows 8.1

They've also added the ability to shut down from the Win+X menu. Just press Win+X or right-click on the Start button and choose Shut Down from the menu. This is much faster than Windows 8's previous method of shutting down, which required you to open the charms menu. Again, if you use a Start menu replacement tool this won't affect you much, but it's nice that they've added it.


All in all, it's a good update if you're using Windows 8 on a touch-enabled device, but desktop users probably won't find anything too exciting in this update—after all, if you wanted the Start menu back, you probably have it already. If you want to try out some of the new features yourself, download the Windows 8.1 preview and take it for a spin.


 
 

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How to Skip the Start Screen and Boot to the Desktop in Windows 8.1

 
 

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via How-To Geek by Mark Wilson on 6/26/13

For almost everyone who made the upgrade, Windows 8 proved to be something of a disappointment for one reason or another. Windows 8.1 (or Windows Blue) was released to address many of the issues users had complained about, including reintroducing the ability to boot straight to the desktop.

Being able to boot to the desktop rather than the Start screen is something that people have been clamoring for ever since the first preview versions of Windows 8 were unveiled. There have been various third-party tools released as numerous workarounds used to get around the problem, but now it is an option that is built directly into the operating system.

You will need to have downloaded and installed the update in order to proceed, but once you have done this, things are very simple.

When you have Windows up and running after the upgrade, right click an empty section of the taskbar and select properties to bring up the newly named "Taskbar and Navigation properties" dialog.  Move to the Navigation tab and look in the "Start screen" section in the lower half of the dialog. Check the box labeled 'Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in" and click OK.

    



 
 

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Get Your Start Button Back: Windows 8.1 Preview Is Now Available To The Publ...

 
 

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via MakeUseOf by Yaara Lancet on 6/27/13

windows-8.1-300.png
Windows 8.1, the much-anticipated update to Microsoft's Windows 8 OS, is now available to the public in a Preview version. Windows 8.1 users will enjoy a new and improved search interface, an updated Start screen, new customization options, a re-designed Windows Store, enhanced multi-app functionalities, and more.

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Read full article: Get Your Start Button Back: Windows 8.1 Preview Is Now Available To The Public For Free [Updates]


 
 

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Need to Record & Edit Audio? 4 Audacity Alternatives to Try

 
 

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via MakeUseOf by Danny Stieben on 6/27/13

icecast_intro
Audacity can be a fantastic audio recording and editing tool, especially because of its cross platform and open source nature. However, there may be a number of reasons why you do not wish to use Audacity, such as its lackluster interface, steep learning curve, or technical issues. If this sounds like you, there are a handful of great alternatives to Audacity that you can jump right into. If you need help weeding out some of your options, here are four recommended tools you can use.

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Read full article: Need to Record & Edit Audio? 4 Audacity Alternatives to Try


 
 

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Convert Any Video Or Audio File To Any Format & Burn Discs With Format Factory

 
 

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via MakeUseOf by Ryan Dube on 6/27/13

fileformats
Not all video conversion software is created equal. Recently, I received a DVD copy of a TV show I appeared on. I was very antsy to use the content from that DVD as advertising for my online writing and research. Once I started trying to extract the clips and convert the video, however, I found that most of the video conversion tools ended up failing either with ripping the DVD or the video conversion. I was stunned. I nearly gave up until I recently stumbled across Format Factory.

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Read full article: Convert Any Video Or Audio File To Any Format & Burn Discs With Format Factory


 
 

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The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers

 
 

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via Lifehacker by Eric Ravenscraft on 6/27/13

The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers

In the last few months, Feedly has been working tirelessly to please the Google Reader crowd. If you haven't looked at Feedly in a while, there are some changes you might have missed.

To be clear, Feedly probably won't entirely replace Google Reader for everyone. In fact, nothing will. Google Reader was a special app and it occupied a unique place for each person. However, the internet has exploded recently with attempts to fill the RSS void. We've already covered the best alternatives, but as Feedly starts to occupy the center of the playing field, it's worth a closer look. Here's what you might have missed in just the last few months.

The Feedly Cloud Syncs with Other Apps

The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers

This is the big one. The one concern that trumped all the others when it came to Google Reader's closing was that while other RSS apps existed, nothing provided the backbone that an entire ecosystem of apps could plug in to. Very recently, Feedly announced the Feedly Cloud. So far, apps like gReader, Press, and Reeder have already built on top of it and, if it works well, we can likely expect to see more developers adopt this before too long if they want syncing features to continue after Google Reader shuts down.

The New Web Interface Ditches Extensions

The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers

Previously, if you wanted to try out Feedly, you had to do so in an app or by downloading a browser extension. That works for some, but if you want to pull up your feeds on someone else's machine or if you don't like installing things, it's problematic. Now, you can head straight to cloud.feedly.com and go over your feeds on any computer with internet access.

A Title-Only View (and Other Tweaks) Provide for Fast Reading

The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers

One of the biggest advantages of Google Reader is its ability to manage hundreds of articles easily. In what was referred to as a gift to Google Reader users, Feedly introduced a title-only view to make scanning feeds easier. One of the biggest problems with all the replacement apps has been that they aren't always great at professional-level reading. This doesn't fix it entirely, but it helps. There are also a bunch of viewing preferences that you can adjust here that can allow the power user to tweak the interface as they see fit.

Shortcuts and Other Tools Make Users Feel More at Home

The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers

Not everything is a huge headlining feature, but the little things matter to. Over the course of the last few months, Feedly has added a bunch of new hardware to make sure its syncing service is fast, keyboard shortcuts that should be familiar to Google users, and even IFTTT support.

All With More to Come

The Best New Features Feedly Has Added for Google Reader Switchers

The loss of Google Reader has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move. However, as of right now, the Feedly team has already expressed plans to improve in-app search, group sharing, and Windows Phone/Windows 8 apps. Given that this list of planned features written at the beginning of the month includes at least one that has already come to fruition ("pure web access") it seems reasonable to think that the company can deliver on the others. When Google closes the doors on Reader next week, RSS aficionados will probably still be able to look forward to green pastures. In fact, it might be better than ever.

Feedly has positioned itself as the new centerpiece of the RSS world. While there are plenty of other great apps out there that are worth looking into (again, you can check those out here), Feedly has taken an early lead in the ecosystem competition, which has much bigger stakes. Chances are that as we look at any new apps coming down the pipe, some form of cloud sync will be expected. Whether you end up using Feedly as your daily driver app, you'll probably still be affected by these changes in some way. All eyes are on Feedly to see if it can handle its predecessor's mantle.


 
 

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How To Set Up & Troubleshoot The Mail App In Windows 8

 
 

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via MakeUseOf by Tina Sieber on 6/27/13

Windows 8 Mail
Windows 8 features a pretty slick Mail app. If you thought it only supported Microsoft accounts, such as Hotmail, Windows Live, or Outlook, you were wrong. The Windows 8 Mail app lets you add any email account that supports IMAP. As it always is in life, the theory is beautiful, but in practice we run into all sorts of petty issues. That was me when I tried to set up the Windows 8 Mail app. This article will help you set up the Mail app and troubleshoot common pitfalls in case you get stuck.

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Read full article: How To Set Up & Troubleshoot The Mail App In Windows 8


 
 

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How to Easily Share Files Between Nearby Computers

 
 

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via How-To Geek by Chris Hoffman on 6/28/13

computers-on-desk

It's a common situation — you have several computers near each other and you want to transfer files between them. You don't have to pull out a USB drive, nor do you have to send them over email — there are faster, easier ways.

This is easier than it was in the past, as you don't have to mess with any complicated Windows networking settings. There are lots of ways to share files, but we'll cover some of the best.

    



 
 

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