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WINDOWS NEWS:  We’ve finally updated to Windows 8 (actually 8.1) and are now posting new instruction sheets for it (see left column). So far, we don’t mind the changes that Microsoft has made; it seems that Windows 8.1 starts up much faster than all previous versions of Windows, but this could be because we’ve built a new computer for it (see the specs here). The Windows 8.1 version can be set to boot up directly to the desktop instead of the new “Start” screen with the large tiles for touch-screens. The new Start button in the lower left-hand corner doesn’t bring up the Windows 7-style Start menu; instead, it brings up the new "modern" (formerly "metro") screen. If you want to replace this action with a Windows 7-style (or even a Windows XP-style) Start menu, you can download and install a utility or small program called “Classic Shell” from classicshell.net.

This utility restores All Programs, which will bring up all of the programs you have on your computer. This saves a little time in finding the programs you want even if you have a touch-screen device. (We still like using a keyboard and mouse.)

We’ll report on more changes in Windows 8.1 in the future. [Windows 9 is coming in September, 2014!]

Black Turtleneck SweaterAPPLE NEWS: Apple is doing extremely well with the iPhone and iPad (Apple has sold over 250 million iPhones in 5 years and 67 million iPads in 2 years), but we sure miss Steve Jobs. We know that Apple could eventually go the way of HP, IBM and other tech companies after they lost their founders. There will always be something new that comes along to replace a company like Apple, of course, but this doesn’t change the fact that it's still painful to lose a true visionary like Steve Jobs at such a young age (he was only 56). All we are left with is a whole slew of great products and thoughts of what might have been....

SMARTPHONES & TABLETS: Okay, so we've been lax and haven't tried some of the more popular smartphones and tablets on the market. We also confess that we are totally confused as to which ones are the best and will be around for a while, and which ones are just flashes in the pan. There are just so many choices....

In the coming months, we will try some of the more worthy entries on the market and let you know what we think of them. (Here's an external link to a great article about the new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone.) EZI