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Computeractive 597

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Computeractive is the UK’s best-selling computer magazine and your friendly guide to PCs, gadgets and the web! It includes regular news updates, project ideas, help and advice on popular reader queries, articles on anti-virus software, features on consumer rights, and a whole lot more to help you get the very best out of your computer. Get PC advice in plain English today – get Computeractive!

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United Kingdom
Dennis Publishing UK
26 Issues

in this issue

1 min.
from the editor

Few things focus an editor’s mind more than their boss asking “Have you gone mad?”, particularly when you’re explaining the next Cover Feature. “Doesn’t everyone use Google?” he queried in a tone that suggested my answer should be “Yes, you’re right, sorry – it was a stupid idea”. But actually, a growing number of users are fed up being tied to Google’s services. They’re beginning to question not just whether rival services are more private (short answer: yes), but also whether they’re better than what Google offers. My boss raised an eyebrow, admitted he’d like to know which tools trump Google, and gave me the thumbs up. Now, we’re not suggesting you’ll never want to use Google again. I still use Gmail and Chrome every day, plus its search engine. But I…

1 min.
google fix stops av locking files in chrome & edge

Google has fixed a problem that was allowing antivirus (AV) software to lock files you’ve created using Chrome or Microsoft Edge. The flaw meant that users couldn’t save bookmarks/favourites in either browser. AV programs often lock new files until they’ve scanned them to check they’re safe. While this can be a sensible precaution, it’s typically overkill when all you’re doing is adding a bookmark to your browser. The flaw was a particular problem if you had saved your browser to your computer’s system drive. Previously, the only solution was to turn off your antivirus while you were saving the file, leaving you at risk of attack. Google’s fix updates the Chromium source code, on which Chrome and Edge are built. Developers updated it on 30 December, so the fix should be implemented in…

1 min.
what we think

Google’s fix reinforces how sensible it was for Microsoft to rebuild Edge using the Chromium code that underpins Chrome. One tweak of the code updates both browsers, making life easier for users. Edge’s forthcoming password tools are welcome also, serving as further proof that Microsoft’s browser is a serious longterm rival to Chrome. Google’s browser is still the world’s most popular, with its market share of 65 per cent dwarfing Edge’s 10 per cent. But don’t be surprised if that gap narrows considerably during 2021.…

1 min.
microsoft word uses ai to boost your grammar

Microsoft is updating its grammar-checking tool for Word and Outlook so it can make more accurate suggestions to improve your writing. Called Microsoft Editor, the tool already highlights grammatical errors, but it will soon also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to suggest alternative words and phrases. This brings it in line with the online version of Word, which has used artificial intelligence since last April. However, to use the new version you’ll have to sign up to the Office Insider programme (https://insider.office.com). Once you’ve done this, you can bring up a menu of suggestions, synonyms and definitions by selecting a word then pressing Shift+F10 or Alt+Down. The revamped tool also checks other aspects of your writing, including clarity and formality, making it more of a rival to Grammarly. In addition, it will highlight references…

1 min.
amazon’s plastic waste ‘circles the earth 500 times’

Amazon has denied claims that it’s responsible for 465 million pounds of plastic packaging waste every year. The figure comes from a report (www.snipca.com/37009) by oceanconservation charity Oceana, which said it had to estimate the amount of waste Amazon produces because the retailer doesn’t reveal this information. It came to the figure by calculating the number of air pillows and sheets of bubble wrap needed to wrap the approximately seven billion Amazon packages delivered in 2019. The number of air pillows alone is enough to circle Earth more than 500 times, it claims. The study also estimates that up to 22.44 million pounds of Amazon’s plastic waste entered the world’s freshwater and marine ecosystems in 2019, the equivalent of dumping a van of plastic into the oceans every 70 minutes. Amazon hit back…

1 min.
can’t get fibre? sign up to 4g instead, says bt

BT is now recommending its 4G home broadband service to more customers, not just those who can’t get 10Mbps and are therefore eligible for faster speeds under the Universal Service Obligation (USO). BT has previously recommended 4G mostly for USO customers, but the option now also appears when you use BT’s broadband availability checker (www.bt.com/broadband/availability) and find that you can’t get speeds higher than around 24Mbps, such as those offered by ADSL2+ broadband. The company’s 4G Home Broadband service (www.bt.com/broadband/4g-hub) comes with its 4G Home Hub to provide mobile broadband around your home. There are two 24-month packages available, with maximum speeds of 15Mbps (£45 a month) and 30Mbps (£55 a month). There are no upfront costs, but prices will increase in March by the CPI rate of inflation published in January, plus…