Wow! May has been busy month
with major upgrades to AVG and Windows, new product releases from Telstra,
the Federal budget and a full diary of ABC spots.
We're firmly into the new product season with a lot interesting new
devices and services entering the market. One that caught our eye is the
Telstra "free" laptop bundled with their data plans. While we like the
idea and are surprised other providers haven't offered this before, there
are downsides which we discuss below.
One product we're all waiting for is the launch of the Sydney Apple
Store. Apple stores overseas have changed the way the technology is sold
to the public and if similar innovations are bought in here we'll see
some big changes for the better at your local computer and mobile phone
It appears last month's newsletter
dropped into the ether for many subscribers. If you think you've missed
an edition, we keep the last six month's newsletters on
the subscription page and are going to add all the older newsletters
to our archive.
Probably the biggest question
we've been getting this month has been the new Grisoft AVG release. It
isn't easy to find the updated free version so we kick the newsletter
off with how to find it.
If you're an AVG Free user
you'll be used to the nag
screen that's been warning the 7.5 version is about to expire. The
box that pops up offers to take you to their latest deals.
If you click on the links provided,
you'll find it's almost impassable to get to the updated free version
and the screens push you towards the paid products.
While we don't begrudge Grisoft
trying to entice users of their free software to buy something, we understand
many users don't want to pay so we've
put instructions on finding the new free version on our IT Queries
To date we've had no problem
with the new editions of the paid or free versions. The paid version has
some extra features and has technical support. The free version has no
support, if something goes wrong you're on your own.
If you've any experiences,
good or bad, with the new version of AVG let us
XP Service pack
An update that isn't doing
so well is the long overdue Windows XP Service Pack 3. It's been re-released
after initially being pulled due to problems with Microsoft's Point of
Our experience with the service
pack has been so far positive, although there are reports of serious problems
for Hewlett Packard computers equipped with AMD chips.
We recommend all Windows XP
users install it. But things can go wrong with such a major update so
make sure you have a backup of your important data before going ahead.
Who says you can't get a
good computer manual? Our Dummies
books are available online. If you
want to learn more about your computer, we have the answers.
The current version of PCs
for Dummies covers Vista computers and the earlier version covers Windows
XP. So we can help you get the most from both versions of Windows.
Budget IT changes
The Federal Budget was largely
harmless to the technology industries but it does have some measures that
affect business, home and rural computer users.
Broadband guarantee will continue for the next three years. This scheme
subsidises broadband access in areas deemed to be under serviced. You
can search their
website to see if your area is covered.
Net filter scheme
As predicted in our
February newsletter, the former government's National Filter Scheme
which made home-based Internet filters available via download or from
a CD-ROM will be closed to new users from 31 December 2008.
You can download
or order the programs for free until the end of the year and support
will continue until 30 June 2010.
Computer software will now be
treated the same as hardware which means programs will now be depreciated
over four years.
Given the life of a typical
computer is five years and many small business hold onto a version of
their office software for ten years, this probably isn't too much of a
difference but will affect some business purchasing decisions.
The eligibility and depreciation
rules for laptop computers has been tightened but PDAs and other portable
devices can now be salary sacrificed.
The changes to the Fringe Benefits
Tax rules mean it's even more important to talk to an accountant before
entering a salary sacrifice arrangement. In our experience too many people
are blinded by tax savings and actually end up losing money.
Ask a question
Our sister website,
Queries answers common computer problems.
If your computer has a frustrating
problem, have a look for an answer at IT Queries. If you don't find one,
just ask on the IT Queries site and we'll get a solution for you.
with online comments
Staying on politics, some Victorian
found themselves in trouble with their online activities. This is a
lesson to all of us.
One of the things we'll see
in the next twenty years are the number of business, political and entertainment
figures who bring themselves unstuck with their online activities over
the previous few decades.
You should never post anything
online; an email, a blog entry or a forum comment, that you aren't prepared
to see next to your name on the six o'clock news. Think before pressing
the send, submit or publish buttons.
a computer tech? We can get technicians to help you with your home
and office computer problems anywhere in Australia.
If you need a new computer
set up, a virus removed or would just like to make sure your computer
is running as it should be, we can help you.
Call 1300 798 957
and our call centre can arrange a visit or online service.
Bigpond is offering an integrated
security package which includes anti-virus, privacy protection and
spam filters which they are actively pushing to their customers.
We won't object to any security
package as many Internet users don't take enough precautions on the the
net. But in this case we think $9.99 a month or 99.95 a year is a bit
expensive for what's on offer.
kit page describes the tools and techniques you can use to protect
yourself more effectively for a lot less. If you want to buy a commercial
all in one package, most retail stores will have cheaper and more effective
tech talk column
This month, Paul's weekly
Tuesday blog on the Smart Company website looked at registering
.com versus .com.au names, keeping
your keyboard clean and why
his next computer will be an Apple Mac.
Smart Company is a free news,
information and resource site for Australia's entrepreneurs and small
to medium enterprises. You can subscribe to Paul's, and other articles, for
free by registering
on the website.
Telstra's new laptop deal received
a lot of coverage last week. If you sign up for their $99 per month data
plan for 36 months, you'll get a $700 laptop included in the plan.
This is the same "free
hardware with a service plan" that's worked so well in the mobile
phone industry. The surprising thing with the scheme is that no-one's
tried it in the computer industry before.
While the "free laptop"
headline grabs your attention, the plan itself doesn't really stand up
for most users for three reasons.
First, a $700 laptop isn't
a going to be a great unit. In fact, we steer customers away from these
systems as we find they are underpowered and have fairly ordinary warranties.
Second, 36 months is a long
time in the Internet market. At present most wireless broadband plans
are overpriced. The next two years will see prices fall.
Finally, Telstra is not always
the best deal. If you work in areas where Vodafone and Three have their
high speed coverage, you'll find their services are far better priced
All of this said, if Telstra's
mobile broadband services meet your needs and you do need a cheap laptop,
then the deal is fine. We suspect this is the first of many such deals
and there will be some better bargains to be had.