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Computeractive 571

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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1 min
from the editor

I was one of the 20 million people who on 25 December 1989 watched Del, Rodney, Uncle Albert and co visit Margate in The Jolly Boys’ Outing. That episode of Only Fools and Horses has a strong claim to the best slice of Christmas Day TV ever served up by the BBC. But times change. In recent years, Christmas shows on the traditional channels have struggled to reach audiences of six million. Viewers are switching to Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube, leaving some to wonder whether the licence fee will survive another decade. As we explain in our Cover Feature, there are already lots of brilliant ways to watch TV without paying £154.50 a year. We don’t pass judgement on whether the licence fee should be axed, but I know many readers…

2 min
edge to be auto-installed on your pc (but you can block it)

Microsoft will automatically install its revamped Edge browser on to Windows 10 computers from 15 January, though you should be able to block it. It will arrive on machines via Windows Update, replacing the existing version of Edge (complete with a new logo, pictured right), which means you won’t need to manually install it. Microsoft has spent the past 12 months rebuilding Edge using Google’s Chromium, which is the source code Google uses for its Chrome browser. It hopes Chromium will make Edge faster, and work with more tools to make websites load more smoothly. It also means Edge will work with Chrome’s web extensions, which Microsoft hopes will broaden the browser’s appeal. Its lack of extensions has been blamed for its failure to take more than five per cent of browser market…

2 min
govt confirms 1gbps internet aim, but doesn’t set a date

The Government has confirmed its intention to make gigabit broadband (1Gbps or 1,000Mbps) available to all UK premises, but hasn’t set a year by which it will achieve this. In the Queen’s Speech delivered on 19 December, the Government announced plans to pass new laws to “accelerate the delivery of gigabit capable broadband”. In a statement released afterwards, the Government said it aimed to achieve this “as soon as possible”. In June, while campaigning to become Conservative leader, Boris Johnson called for full-fibre broadband to be delivered nationwide by 2025. The Government didn’t mention that date during the previous Queen’s Speech, which took place on 14 October, forcing Digital Secretary Nicky Morgan to confirm afterwards that the Government’s “very ambitious” plan was to roll out “gigabit-capable” broadband by 2025. Her reference to ‘gigabit’ broadband…

1 min
microsoft backtracks to extend security essentials support

Microsoft has taken the surprising step of extending support for Security Essentials, despite saying it would end on the same day as Windows 7 - 14 January. As Computeractive reported in Issue 570 (page 6), Microsoft had said Security Essentials was “unique” to Windows 7, and therefore shared the same lifecycle. But answering questions on a Microsoft help forum (www.snipca.com/33672), engineer Mike Cure confirmed that Security Essentials will continue to receive virus signatures, which are bits of code that let antivirus programs identify and block malware. The decision seems to come from the fact that Microsoft will have to update Security Essentials for companies and organisations, such as councils and hospitals, that have paid for extended support. It should be fairly simple for Microsoft to apply these updates to home users who haven’t…

3 min
in brief

HACKERS TARGET PEOPLE WITH EPILEPSY Epilepsy charities have called for social-media firms to crack down on hackers sending flashing videos to people with the condition. Clare Pelham from the Epilepsy Society said epileptics frequently receive videos on Twitter and Facebook that are designed to trigger seizures. She urged the Government to include this “hate crime” in its online harms bill, which is designed to make the internet safer. MICROSOFT TESTS GRAMMAR WEB TOOL Microsoft is testing a grammar-checking tool in its Office extension for the Chrome browser. Currently available as a beta, the tool will rival the hugely popular Grammarly extension (www.grammarly.com), offering suggestions for spelling, grammar and style (see screenshot below). A final version is likely to be released soon. TOMORROW’S WORLD You’ve heard of scratch and sniff; now prepare for click and sniff.…

1 min
‘night-mode’ yellow screens might actually keep you awake

Scientists have cast doubt on the theory that the amount of ‘blue light’ given off by computer and phone screens can make it difficult to sleep. Experts have long thought that blue light suppresses the hormone melatonin, which helps to control our sleep patterns. But researchers at Manchester University said it’s not the colour that matters, but how bright the screen is. Their work calls into question the effectiveness of ‘night-mode’ settings in apps and software that reduce the amount of blue light before bedtime. In tests on mice, they used light that could adjust colour without changing brightness. Blue ‘cooler’ colours had a weaker effect on the animals’ body clock than equally bright yellow ‘warmer’ colours. As a result, the study claims, changing screens to yellow in the evenings actually keeps you awake,…