Scanning Quick Guide

With many people now having multifunction printers at home scanning and copying has become available to many of us. As a result, questions on scanning are very common; in particular ‘Where have my scans gone?’.

What’s the difference between a copying and scanning?

Copying refers to the act of ‘photocopying’. In other words inserting/laying a document in your printer and making another paper copy of it at the printer. No PC involved.Scanning is to insert/lay a document or image in your printer and to use the in-built scanner to send a digital copy to your PC. No print out.

Setting up and using the scanner

Every multifunction printer manufacturer has their own version of scanning software, but they all use the same principles. To illustrate this I will refer to Microsoft’s Windows Fax and Scan as it is built into Windows and available to all. This is a basic tool with very little by way of features but the principles are the same for more complex scanning solutions.

If you cannot find Fax and Scan on your system type the title into your search bar at the bottom left. Windows will search and identify the program as Windows Fax and Scan.

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Click on it to open the program.

You can now insert the document that you wish to scan onto the scanner/printer glass bed.

Now click New Scan

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You will next be asked to choose a scanner. If you only have one then it will be automatically selected.

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The scanning window will now open and you will be given a choice of ‘Preview’ or ‘Scan’. In most cases you can go straight to Scan but the preview option can be useful to see what your scanned image will look like.

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Before making that scan though it is important to change the settings to meet the required use of the document that you are scanning.

Profile: Two choices here – are you trying to create a text document or just an image of a text document or photograph? In most of cases it will be Photo.

Source: Almost always Flatbed unless you have a sheet feeder that supports scanning

File Type: For photos use JPG as they are compact but still offer good quality. A good choice for documents is PDF but options vary by product.

Resolution: Generally modern scanners support up to 1200dpi but 300dpi is the most common default resolution and will suit the needs of most.

Once all that is set you can click on Scan (note the software will remember your settings for next use)

Your scanner should now be whirring away and creating the new scan file. When complete you will see the scanned file list in the scan window. In this example the new scan is called Image

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But where are my scanned images stored?

In the case of Windows Fax and Scan the scanned images are stored in your Documents folder under a subfolder called Scanned Documents.
If you do a lot of scanning and want a quick way of getting to this folder; find it in your Documents then Right Click on it and left click Send to… then click on Desktop. You will now have a shortcut to this folder on your desktop.

Other scanning programs with more features than Windows Fax and Scan will allow you to set the destination folder in the settings for that application. It is important to check this as it can be frustrating trying to find a scanned image if you don’t know where the software has stored it.

What is OCR?

Most multifunction printers now support OCR; Optical Character Recognition.
When creating a scan most are created as PDF or JPG files, document and image files that are viewable but not immediately editable.
If you wish to create a document that you can edit, such as a text document in Word, then this process is called OCR. The scan is taken as normal but an extra step is added whereby the software processes the scanned image to identify any text on the page. It will then create a word processing document (such as a .docx for Word) that will allow you to edit the content.

All the best – hope this is of some help

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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What is Kodi? – The Controversial and Powerful Media Player

 

clip_image002Kodi is a superb media player that allows you to play or stream video, music and pictures. It is extremely customisable and allows the addition of ‘modules’ that provide additional content and services.

Why have I heard that Kodi is illegal?

Kodi itself is just a piece of software and is 100% legal. It is powerful, well written and one of the best media players available. However, because the Kodi software is so customisable, there have been many illegal add-ons written to ‘bolt-on’ to it. Some of these add-ons allow the illegal streaming and downloading of copyrighted material (things like the latest movies, TV shows, sport events etc.)

Taking this a stage further, those less concerned with the legality of the content, have built small desktop boxes that connect direct to your TV. These boxes have the Kodi software and the illegal bolt-ons pre-installed and allow easy play back of the latest TV, films and music, in contravention of copyright laws. These boxes are known as ‘Kodi boxes’ and it is these that are now banned. It is illegal to sell, buy and use these devices. This is a little unfortunate for Kodi as it mistakenly brands the Kodi software as being part of that illegal activity.

How Do I Get Kodi?

The Kodi player is available to download from your phone or tablet app store or via the website https://kodi.tv

What Can I Do With Kodi?

In its simplest form Kodi is a media player and can identify the difference between video, audio and photo files. It is a powerful and easy to use media centre for playing this type of media, whether watching video, listening to music or watching a slideshow of your holiday snaps.

However, when linked to the Internet, Kodi also allows easy ‘streaming’ of video and audio which is what makes it so powerful. For the uninitiated, play-back refers to playing a complete file that you have stored on your device, whereas ‘streaming’ sends a constant stream of data that is played back as it is received. So using old technology ; a broadcasted TV channel, such as BBC 1 is the equivalent of a stream as you watched it ‘live’ as it was broadcast. Whereas a VHS video recorded and stored a copy of the program on the tape and you watched this via ‘play-back’.

To watch streaming content on Kodi you can install add-ons, most completely legal, that let you stream various contents and channels to your device (PC, desktop box, tablet or phone).

What Add-Ons are available?

You can choose from an ever-growing list of add-ons. On the Kodi web site there are currently 11 pages of video add-ons listed, all legal to use. The image shown is a good example of the diversity of the ‘channels’ available and shows just the last two rows of the video channel add-ons.

If you want to learn more about Kodi then refer to their website at https://kodi.tv or do a web search for Kodi TV.

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Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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Windows 10 Creative Update (1703) breaks Outlook / iCalendar synchronisation (again!)

Here we go again! As it did with the last Windows 10 major update, the latest version recently released (1703) breaks the synchronisation between the iCloud calendar and Outlook.

If, like me, you use iCloud as your main calendar then after this update you’ll need to…

  • Logout of iCloud on your PC (from the icon in the status bar)
  • Uninstall iCloud
  • Reboot
  • Reinstall iCloud making sure you click to apply it with Outlook functionality.

As I mentioned both of the last two major Windows 10 updates have suffered this problem. It’s not like the combination of Outlook and iCloud is unusual so it is just ‘bloody mindedness’ on Microsoft’s part that they don’t address this.

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Geocaching – where IT meets a good walk

Take your phone for a walk in the country

If you’d like to try a very positive and enjoyable use of modern IT and benefit from a healthy walk in the countryside, then download the app for your smartphone and try out Geocaching.

What is Geocaching?

Think of it as a type of treasure hunt. All over the world geocachers, like my wife and I, have placed small containers hidden in various locations for people to find. Mostly you will pass these by and have no idea they are there, but with the use of a smartphone and the satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) you can hunt out these ‘treasure’ boxes.

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How does it work?

All you need is your mobile smartphone, a geocaching app and a free account at Geocaching.com.

Once you have those you can open the app (or go to the webpage) and search any location for hidden geocaches.

The illustration here shows the result for searching for Bourne. If you are unfamiliar with geocaching then you may well be surprised at how many are out there and it is the same around the globe.

If you search on a web browser you can click each geocache and get its reference, latitude and longtitude but today’s smartphone apps make life even easier.

 

Carry out the search on your phone app, select the geocache that you want to hunt down and click navigate to the geocache. The screen will now change on your phone and it will use GPS to lead you to within a couple of meters of the geocache location. After that it is up to you to find it, usually in the vegetation.

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What do you do when you’ve found it?

The geocache could be anything from a small magnetic box on the back of a sign, to a large Tupperware container, from a fake branch to a dummy snail shell. Regardless of size, inside you will find a sheet of paper that you can sign to log your visit.

In some of the larger containers you will find swaps, small toys and souvenirs. The principle here is if you take something out then put something in. The kids love this element.

Logging your finds.

As well as signing the small sheet at the cache you can also log your find on the app, or on the geocaching website. This way you can track which caches you have visited, locally or overseas.

What are trackables?

Occasionally, when searching out caches you will find a trackable item in the box. These trackable items are tokens that carry a unique identifier. Your task with these is to remove the trackable from the cache, log that you have it on the website (using the unique id) and move it to another cache.

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As the trackable has a unique identifier you can look up its ‘journey’ and see how many miles it has travelled around the world.

Where do I get more information?

You can download the geocaching app from your App Store on your smart phone and there is a stack of information available on the geocaching website at www.geocaching.com

Enjoy your caching adventures!

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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Wireless Mesh Network for improved wi-fi coverage at home

Mesh Wi-Fi is beginning to take off with many of the networking companies releasing new mesh networks (802.11s). This method of networking relies on multiple wireless devices being used together in a grid, or mesh, coverage pattern to provide reliable and high performance wireless networks. This can be of benefit where the home, or office, suffers from poor wireless zones due to distance or environment. By linking the matched devices in a mesh network wireless signals can reach to those dim and dark wireless corners of the home.

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Most of the main network device manufacturers have released their own versions including this new one from BT called BT Whole Home Wi-Fi retailing at around £300. For many homes this level of coverage will be unnecessary but for those living in larger homes, or older homes with thick, solid walls, mesh technology could be a good direction to take to  address Wi-Fi coverage around the house (or office).

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The ‘first’ device connects to the main router and then an app (Android or iOS) is used to help set up the two ‘sister’ devices to map out your mesh network. All handled in a user friendly manner.

Current tests show that these networks are easier to configure than a home plug adapter network, more reliable and offer better across device performance. Apart from providing a reliable Wi-Fi network many of the devices also provide a wired connection (handy for connecting static PCs, TVs, set top boxes and such like.

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How to Spot EMail Scams

Email spamming and scamming is becoming a huge problem as more and more sources try to lure you in with false emails and links. Anything from promising free goods, to gift vouchers, pleas for help, warnings that your password has expired, or that your account has been compromised; the list goes on. Here are a few tips for spotting these fake emails.

Let’s take an example of a very common one as of today, the Amazon Voucher scam. On the face of it and with a quick glance it does look like an Amazon email but look closer;

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Many of the tell-tale signs of a scam are evident in this email.

  • Poor grammar
  • Personalisation in the subject line
  • A link to click on requesting information or login
  • More poor grammar – 90% really do have multiple errors
  • A sender email address that doesn’t match the company logo

The purpose of this email is to get you to click on the Complete Registration link and you will then be prompted to enter your Amazon login details – if you do then they’ve got you. Not only your Amazon details but also your login and password, not good for those of you that use the same password for separate sources.

Let’s dig a little deeper. Let’s assume none of the other signs were there, how else can we tell this is a scam?

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If you are using an email application, such as Windows Live Mail or Outlook, by putting your mouse cursor on the blue Complete Registration text the actual (real) link that this will connect you to if clicked pops up. As you can see in this example this is definitely not an Amazon link. Would you intentionally connect to a link with all that rubbish in the address? Of course not but this is exactly what happens if you click on that link.

This also applies to email scams that include an attachment. The principle is the same. Check out that attachment and never open it unless you are 100% sure of the source and expecting it.

Now after sharing these tips with you I’m going to negate all this and basically say that none of this really matters. Email has become such a target for scammers and criminals that my actual advice is to NEVER open a mail containing a link such as this, even if it looks perfect.

If Amazon really had a voucher for you then by logging in to your Amazon account via your usual browser, you would see if there was any communication pending. This is true of almost any large modern organisation. Use your account logins to check the status of your accounts and communications, never rely on email prompts.

Taff Lovesey
www.litespc.co.uk
www.weblites.co.uk
www.lovesey.net

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A 2017 Hacker Update

Online IT security threats will continue to grow significantly in 2017 as hacking and scamming sources increase investment in technology and in training criminals and cyber-terrorists. So who are these hackers?

Hackers with hats

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Articles on Internet security often refer to hackers by a ‘hat’ colour;

· White Hat: These are the good guys – they are ‘ethical’ hackers who focus their efforts on trying to break security systems to improve them.

· Black hat: The opposite of the above. These are the bad guys, intent on violating system security for malicious reasons or personal gain

· Grey Hat: A mix of the above two. These hackers will try to illegally break system security but not necessarily for personal gain. However, these hackers often contact the target of the breech and offer to ‘fix’ the problem for a fee. Some even publish details of their successful hacks.

The BIG boys

Billions of pounds are lost every year to hackers and scammers. Not surprisingly this has attracted the interest of much larger groups.

· Hacktivists: This group include cyberterrorists, an area of particular concern to the modern world. They target systems for purposes of furthering religious, political or ideological beliefs and ideas.

· Organised Crime: Make no mistake, the huge sums that can be exploited from individuals and businesses has drawn the attention of international crime gangs that share information and invest heavily in their own IT systems and hacking tools and skills.

· Governments: The threat of the above groups, plus the chance of carrying out their own cyber-espionage has forced heavy funding in cyberwarfare and prevention by all governments.

The Internet of Things

You’ll hear this term a lot as we move into 2017 and beyond. This is a term that came into being due to the number of devices that now connect to the Internet other than the usual PCs, tablets and Smartphones. Technology is moving into the home in a big way. ‘Smart’ devices such as TVs, set top boxes (e.g. Freeview), printers, fridges, heating systems, light bulbs, electricity meters etc. More and more of our everyday devices are beginning to have integral Internet connectivity.

Hackers are rubbing their hands in glee over this as many of these devices do not allow for regular security updates as on PCs, tablets and Smartphones, as a result they can be more readily exploited to spread viruses and hack networks.

What should I do about it?

For many of the modern day threats we are in the hands of our service providers for protection, however, at an individual level we should ensure that we install and maintain Internet Security software and be cautious when using emails and visiting new web sites. I would also recommend at least two sets of back ups. The first on a regular basis to a connected device, such as a disk drive or cloud (Internet) backup option. The second to a device, such as an external disk, that can be disconnected from the system after the backup.

This latter tip is due to a new wave of ransomware virus that searches for all data including any connected backup device and any active cloud (Internet) backup. Ransomware attempts to extort money from the target by encrypting any data found and demanding payment to provide a code to allow decryption.

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