Latest news

Keeping your data safe

Most of us assume that when we save a file on our computer, the job is done, and our work is safe. Sadly it's not that simple!

Most obviously, we can accidentally delete our file, or hard disks can just fail - so we need a back up.


Windows 8 - personal experiences

I've taken a deep breath, and upgraded my desktop PC From Windows 7 to 8.  How did it go? Well, the upgrade process was pretty smooth. I made sure I had two full backups first though. You can never have too many backups - just once or twice I've come across corrupt backups that cannot be used. Then I stuck in my Windows 8 DVD and left it to its own devices for a while. All my software was smoothly kept running, and the upgrade also fixed a couple of problems that had appeared in my Windoes 7 installation. And I'm even coming round to liking Windows 8.

Charity Workshop for Voluntary Action Rutland

On May 26 2012, Martin Couchman will be running a session for voluntary groups at Voluntary Action Rutland, with the aim of helping non-technical people make the most of their computers, and understand what's going on so they can sort out basic problems themselves. We'll be covering everything from viruses to email to backups and useful free stuff.


My notes for attendees are temporarily availabe at

Hear me speak at Rutland & Stamford Business Networking

I'll be giving a bit of a talk at Rutland & Stamford Business Networking this Friday, April 20 2012. The subject will be "prevention is better than Cure". I'll be giving a quick run down on thigns you can do to keep your computer and your data safe. If you aren't a member of this local breakfast networkign group, please book in as a guest!


Windows 8 - missing the old Start menu?

I discovered by accident that if you right click at the bottom left corner of the desktop in Windows 8, where the new Start icon pops up, you get a contect menu that's genuinely useful - it has links to the control panel, run command, commans prompt and more.


WWhy on earth didn't Microsoft make it more obvious by putting some sort of button on the taskbar? We aren't all psychic - especially those who are infrequent PC users and don't want to read the instruction manual, if there was one, which there isn't.

Windows 8: missing start menu for programs

I've been trying out Windows 8, and I hated it to start with, but I think I'm getting used to it. I can put up with the bits I don't like in return for the buits I do like.

One thing I hate is the missing Start menu. I don't like switching to the Metro Start screen when I go to 'Start' on the desktop.


Good news - there's a partial workaround for it!


Get a better password

I've come across several people lately who have had passwords cracked - mostly for online email accounts (Hotmail, Yahoo and so on) but sometimes for more important things.


Here's a link to a good page that summarises how to choose a good password:

My own summary:


Don't use  a dictionary word. Someone can throw a dictionary at your account and discover the password in minutes.

Voice Over Internet; Ditching the Landline

I have moved my phone number away from BT to, and ceased the BT landline I was using. This is how I've got on.

What's VOIP?

When you phone me, the call reaches my phone as internet traffic, through my broadband connection, and into a phone that conencts to my router instead of my phone line. If my internet connection is off, calls get diverted to another nominated phone number.


A Home PC using 10W of power?

I recently bought myself a low power PC from It uses just 10-14W when it's running. It's really the same as one of those 'netbooks' but without the screen.


I put Windows 7 on it, and it's surprisingly usable. For cheap and efficient casual web surfing and email, it would be just fine.


But what I really wanted it for was two things. Well, three if you include having a new toy to play with.

Computer won't start?

A common question is "I can't start my computer - it won't turn on at all - can you help?".


A follow up that we're often asked is whether data files will still be OK, and generally the answer to that is yes - if you don't want it fixed, we can easily get your files back.


Generally speaking, there are two things that might be wrong:

1) The PC's internal power supply (a transformer that distributes power to various internal components) has failed. If that's the case, we can replace it for you easily.