Author Archive

What’s new in Photoshop Elements 13?

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

What’s new in Photoshop Elements 13?

With Adobe having just released the 13th version of their popular photo editing software, we take a look at its new features:

Photomerge Compose

Create new scenes by taking elements from one photo and placing them in another – e.g. if you want to add a person to a group photo, get the picture of the missing person from another photo and just insert them into the group photo. The Photomerge Compose feature will automatically adjust the colour and lighting so that you’d never know the person was missing in the first place!

Autocrop suggestions

Cropping a photo can be straightforward. But if you’re not sure, Photoshop Elements 13 will now present you with four crop options to choose from.


Elements Live view (eLive) is a concept to make content and resources available to users, visually pleasing and integrated right into Photoshop Elements Editor and Organizer. The new eLive view displays articles, videos, tutorials, and more – categorized into channels such as Learn, Inspire, and News. As a user, you can now access various tutorials and articles from the application itself.

Facebook cover photos

Have you ever seen those Facebook cover photos that blend the profile and cover pictures together? Well, now you can create your own in Photoshop Elements 13.

New Guided Edits

Change your photo to black and white. Or, retain one dominant colour, and turn the rest of the photograph black and white. The new Guided Edits in Photoshop Elements 13 help you transform the mundane into works of art with as few clicks and adjustments as possible.

Edit and refine selections

In Photoshop Elements 13, making fine selections is now easier. If you make an incorrect selection, instead of starting again, you can make fine adjustments to the boundaries of your current selection.

HiDPI display support

Photoshop Elements 13 now has native support for high-resolution display devices for the Windows (HiDPI monitors) and Mac (Retina displays).

Content-aware fill

Easily remove unwanted or unnecessary objects from your photographs. Photoshop Elements 13 will intelligently fill the chosen areas of your photograph with content based on the surrounding parts of the photograph.

Refine edge

The options to refine the edges of a selection are now more accessible through the Tool Options bar.

Adobe Camera Raw 8.6

The latest version of Adobe Camera Raw (ACR 8.6) is integrated into Photoshop Elements 13.

Quick Edit effects

Each effect in the Quick Mode now displays five possible variations so that you can choose one that is best for you.

Expert mode effects

19 new effects have been added to the Effect panel, and all thumbnails have been improved to display the Effect more clearly.

Enhancements in Photoshop Elements 13

Scrapbooking preset

The preset for scrapbooking is now available for all locales and countries.

Layer styles

In the Style Settings dialog for Layers, a new drop-down has been added for the position of the stroke. The drop-down has values: Outside, Inside, and Center.

Type tool – Scrubby slider

The font size now has a scrubby slider functionality. This enables you to change the font size quickly and conveniently.

Recently-opened files

Recently-opened files are displayed in the Open drop-down and in the Files > Open Recently Edited File menu. Both lists now display just the name of the file, instead of showing the entire folder and file name.

Photoshop Elements 13 in easy steps is due for publication in January 2015.

Updated features in Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) 2014 edition

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

Robert Shufflebotham, the author of Photoshop CC in easy steps, and previous editions of this title, lists the new and enhanced features of the latest version of this popular photo editing software:

Preserve Details (Enlargement)
Introduces in the Image Size dialog box a new algorithm that means you can make images larger, or increase resolution, whilst retaining much greater image detail and better sharpness than previously possible in Photoshop.

Focus Area Selection
A time-saving and easy-to-use technique for selecting the in-focus objects in an image. The Focus Area selection dialog box automatically analyses the image for areas that are in focus and provides options for previewing the results on a variety of backgrounds along with controls for adjusting and fine-tuning the results.

Linked Smart Objects
You can now place other Photoshop or Illustrator documents in Photoshop and link to these files externally, rather than embedding their file information within the Photoshop file. You can edit the linked files externally, as independent artwork, and then update changes in the Photoshop file where they are placed.

Perspective Warp
Using Perspective Warp mode you can make rotational adjustments to perspective in an image – useful for adjusting perspective in architectural images.

Smart Guides
Smart Guides provide precision and accuracy on-screen as you draw copy, move and manipulate shapes and layers.

Live Shape Properties Panel
The Live Shape Properties panel gives you precision over position and size of rectangles and ellipses and the ability to specify a corner radius for rectangles that can be adjusted at any time.

Automatic Camera Shake Reduction
For images that are correctly focused, but where some blurring exists due to camera shake or movement of the subject, the Camera Shake Reduction filter can analyse the image and reduce the amount of blurring. There are controls to set the blur trace region manually and also to create manual blur trace settings if you are not satisfied with the automatic results.

TypeKit Fonts
TypeKit Fonts are available in Photoshop CC 2014. Typekit integrates with Photoshop CC 2014 to deliver and sync fonts from an external Typekit server that you connect to via the Creative Cloud. Typekit fonts are not installed locally on your computer.


Image Size dialog box
New image preview in the Image Size dialog box and simplified set of controls for managing image size and resolution.

Smart Sharpen Filter
Improved. New adaptive sharpening technology minimizes noise and halo effects.

Content Aware Fill, Content Aware Move, Content Aware Patch
Improved algorithms producing better results.


9781840786309 Photoshop CC in easy steps

9781840786309 Photoshop CC in easy steps













Photoshop CC in easy steps is available now

In Easy Steps rounds up the announcements from Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Francisco

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

We round up the announcements from yesterday’s Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference.



The iPhone has been redesigned, it is larger and thinner, and is available in two sizes:

  • iPhone 6 has a 4.7 inch screen and is 6.9 mm thick. Prices start at $199.
  • iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5 inch screen and is 7.1 mm thick. Prices start at $299

Both models are available in gold, silver and space gray.

The new iPhones have an A8 chip, giving 25% faster performance, and higher resolution Retina HD screens. They have new sensors, including a barometer, so fitness apps can distinguish whether the owner was running up a hill or on the flat, and an M8 co-processor which can estimate distances.

An improved camera with ‘Focus Pixels’ gives better and faster auto focus.

Faster Wireless connection – up to 3X faster than previous iPhones.

Both iPhones will be released on September 19th, with pre-orders from September 12th






The Apple Watch is a new product from Apple. It is available in two sizes, with two metal frame color options, 11 different watch faces and six different straps.

It is controlled by a navigational tool which Apple calls a “digital crown” – a dial on its side that allows content on its screen to be magnified or scrolled through, and can also be pressed inwards to act as a home button. The Siri voice control function is also available on the Apple Watch.

The watch also has a heart monitor, gyroscope and accelerometer and works as a “comprehensive health and fitness device”.

Prices start at $349 and the Apple Watch will be available early 2015.




iOS 8 (the operating system for iPhone and iPad) – includes:

A smarter keyboard. Next word prediction based on your writing style and past conversations. Predictive text optimized for languages around the world. Third-party keyboard options.

Family Sharing. Up to six people in your household can easily share each other’s purchases from iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store, and share photos, calendars, locations and more.

Improved Photos app. Easier to find, edit and enhance photos

Better messaging app. Include voice, video and location within your message. Improved group chat function. Easily view every attachment from one conversation thread. Send multiple photos and videos at once.

Better notifications function. Deal with notifications instantly, without leaving the app you’re in. See your recent contacts and favorites from the multitasking interface.

Apple Pay – a new service to replace your wallet. For iPhones and Apple Watch. The Apple Pay service depends on an NFC (near field communication) chip featured in both the new phones and watch. Apple says the service is secure as the card details are stored within the Passbook app, so the details are not shared with the vendor. Apple Pay can also be used to make payments in apps.

iCloud Drive. Work on any file, anywhere, on any device (including Mac and PC).

There are new time-saving features in Mail, and Safari tab features are now available on iPad too.

Release date: September 17th


OS X Yosemite (the operating system for Mac devices)

Improved connection between Macs and iOS devices, making sharing files between iOS and Mac devices even easier. You will also be able to make phone calls on a Mac via your iPhone.

Redesigned interface and app icons, and a new notification centre.

New Spotlight search feature allows searching on your Mac and also online.

iCloud Drive – a new file-sharing/storage feature which allows syncing across Mac, iOS and Windows devices.

Release date: Autumn/Fall 2014 (date yet to be announced) 


The conference rounded up with Apple and U2 offering U2’s latest album free and exclusively on iTunes until mid-October.


For further information about the latest developments, visit Apple’s website.


Tesco Hudl Tablet

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

The Hudl is a good value and versatile tablet that is produced by Tesco, the UK based retailer. It runs on the Android operating system, comes with a 7 inch screen and is available in four different colours. The Hudl can perform all standard tasks expected of a tablet and is also linked to some specific services offered through Tesco, such as groceries, Tesco direct and the blinkbox services for music, movies and TV shows.

The Hudl can also be used for surfing the web, sending email, social networking, viewing movies and TV shows, listening to music, reading books and much more. Some of the key specifications of the Hudl are:

  • Colours: Black, Red, Purple, Blue.
  • Display: 1440 x 900 HD resolution, 242 ppi (pixels per inch).
  • Processor: 1.5GHz A9 Quad-core processor.
  • Memory: 1GB of RAM.
  • Strorage: 16GB.
  • Cameras: 3 megapixel rear-facing and 2 megapixel front-facing.
  • Batterty: Up to 9 hours of video playback.
  • Operating System: Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
  • Price: £99-£119


Check out HUDL in easy steps: a useful guide which covers the A to Z of setting up and using this popular tablet including how to use the Hudl, working with apps, using the Hudl for music and enterttinment, taking pictures, social networking, browsing the web etc.

With a copy of HUDL in easy steps at hand, you and your family will soon be taking full advantage of everything the Hudl has to offer!

iPhone 6 launch expected on 9th September?

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

If the rumours are true, Apple will be launching the iPhone 6 on 9th September. New features expected are; the return of the notification light, two model sizes and a flexible screen. Watch this video from the Gadget Show, which shows just how flexible the screen might be!

iOS 8, launching at the same time, features:

  • A new photos app
  • Add voice and video to your messages in the Messages app
  • A new way to respond to notifications
  • A smarter keyboard
  • Family sharing – so you can share content (iTunes, iBooks and App Store purchases) with up to six family members. It will also be easier to share photos and calendars with the family.
  • iCloud Drive – work on your documents from any of your devices; iPhone, iPad, Mac or PC.
  • A new Health function – so your health and fitness apps can all talk to each other.
  • Seamless connection between your iPhone, iPad and Mac
  • Improved Spotlight search
  • iOS 8 is compatible with iPhone 4S and onwards and iPad 2 and onwards

Our iPhone books are being updated to cover the new iPhone, and the new operating system iOS 8, and will be released as soon as possible after the launch.

We’re also updating our iPad books to cover the new iOS 8:

New B+ model of Raspberry Pi launched today

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

Two years after the original Raspberry Pi was launched, the B+ version has just been released today.

It features:

  • More GPIO – now 40 pins
  • More USB – now has 4 USB 2.0 ports
  • A Micro SD – the old SD card socket has been replaced with a push-push Micro SD version
  • Lower power consumption – reduced by between 0.5W and 1W
  • Better audio – the audio circuit incorporates a dedicated low-noise power supply
  • A neater design

Find out more about the new version from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

Use Raspberry Pi in easy steps to get up and running with this credit-card sized computer.  Raspberry Pi in easy steps starts with the basic components you’ll need, the desktop and how to command the system. Then in easy steps, it shows how to use Python to create games, develop windowed apps using Tkinter, add animations using Scratch, control electrical input and output, and much more.

9781840785814 Raspberry Pi












Updates to the book detailing the changes relevant to the B+ model will be available to download from our website soon.


Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HDX review by Nick Vandome

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

The world of tablet computers is one of the fastest expanding areas in consumer electronics and it is easy to see why: they are mobile, stylish and powerful enough to meet most people’s computing needs. The Kindle Fire is a fully-fledged tablet that has evolved out of the Kindle eReader that was originally designed for reading books, newspapers and magazines. The Kindle Fire HD, and HDX, take this several steps further, with functionality to: surf the web and access your favorite social networking sites; use email; listen to music; download apps; play games; watch movies and TV shows; and read all of your favorite books.

In Easy Steps shortlisted for IPG International Achievement Award

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

In Easy Steps takes its place on the shortlist for growing its global sales, especially in the US, amid tough competition in its field of computer instruction in both print and digital formats. Strong partnerships with overseas distributors and retailers and excellent digital marketing campaigns have been the cause. “The figures in a difficult market are very impressive,” judges commented. “In Easy Steps has done well to build a recognisable, best-in-class brand.”

Information about the awards can be found here

In Easy Steps donates over 100 guides to local charity

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

More than 100 computer guides have been given to Swanswell to help people with drink or drug problems to improve their IT skills and support career development.

Swanswell, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, received the donation from Warwickshire-based publisher In Easy Steps Ltd, who produce a range of ‘how-to’ computer books that are sold worldwide.

Swanswell will be making some of the books – such as Laptops For Seniors, Internet for Seniors, and Computer Basics in Easy Steps, available to people accessing its services in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Books will be distributed through the charity’s Independent Living Service in the region, which helps people affected by substance misuse with a range of issues such as housing and debts.

Swanswell’s Russell Johnson said: “We’re really grateful to In Easy Steps Ltd for their generous donation of books that will really make a difference to people using our services.

“We will use the guides in our Independent Living Service to help people improve their IT skills and build their CVs, which will go a long way to improving employment chances or furthering their careers.”

Sevanti Kotecha, director of In Easy Steps Ltd, said: “I’m pleased to be able to contribute our popular ‘In Easy Steps’ guides to Swanswell to help clients build their computer skills to help accelerate their path towards recovery.”


In Easy Steps launches Kindle Editions

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News




We’re pleased to announce that we are publishing Kindle editions of In Easy Steps books, launching with the following titles:

  • HTML5 in easy steps
  • Raspberry Pi in easy steps
  • Laptops for Seniors in easy steps – Windows 8 Edition

We’ll be adding new titles as they are published and adding backlist titles as soon as possible, so keep checking Amazon for new additions.

Coming soon… Windows 8 in easy steps



Raspberry Pi News – Mike McGrath gets his hands on the Raspberry Pi Starter Kit

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News









“Well, my Raspberry Pi Starter Kit has now arrived so I have encapsulated the RasPi board in the included transparent case that accomodates an electronics ‘breadboard’. The breadboard allows connections to be  made easily to the programmable General Purpose Input/Output (GPIO) header pins on the RasPi board, so I can demonstrate how to write and execute programs on the Raspberry Pi system to control attached electronic devices. The above photo simply illustrates the case and breadboard with a single LED illuminated from the Raspberry Pi board. Additionally, I have become a backer of the Picade arcade cabinet kit for the Raspberry Pi (see below). This should allow me to describe how to use the Raspberry Pi for retro desktop gaming.”

Mike McGrath, author of Raspberry Pi in easy steps, which is due for publication in January 2013


Internet Explorer 10 Released for Windows 7

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News






The release preview of IE10 on Windows 7 is available for download today.

Microsoft has reimagined the browser with IE10. They designed and built IE10 to be the best way to experience the Web on Windows. With the IE10 Release Preview for Windows 7 consumers can now enjoy a fast and fluid Web with the updated IE10 engine on their Windows 7 devices. IE10 brings improved performance, and support for the HTML5 and CSS3 standards and is all around fast, bringing improved hardware acceleration and the Chakra JavaScript engine to Windows 7.

Developers can learn how to take advantage of the latest features supported in IE10 with HTML5 in easy steps, CSS3 in easy steps and JavaScript in easy steps, 5th Edition.

Our Raspberry Pi – up and running!

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

The Raspberry Pi is a cheap, programmable credit-card sized computer.  It wasn’t created by Apple.  In fact, it wasn’t created by any business, but by a charitable foundation.  Its goal?  To make learning computer science accessible once more to everyone, especially young people.  It costs approx £25/$35 and you’ll need to add your own keyboard, mouse and monitor. For storage, it uses an SD card, similar to those found in digital cameras.  It’s a capable little PC which can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, like browsing the internet, spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video.

In January we will be publishing a new title on this subject:  Raspberry Pi in easy steps.  The author, Mike McGrath, has just received our Raspberry Pi and set it up.  Here he writes about his experiences so far:

“The Raspbian “wheezy” Linux image is currently recommended for beginners at While downloading the Raspbian image I connected a USB mouse and a USB keyboard to the Raspberry Pi. I then connected my TV to the Raspberry Pi’s HDMI socket to use as a display. I also connected my modem to its Ethernet socket for a wired internet connection.

When the download finished I wrote the Raspbian image onto an SD card with Win32DiskImager. Next I inserted the SD card into the Raspberry Pi then connected my Kindle charger to its MicroUSB slot.

Eagerly I switched on the power and was soon being asked to login – on my TV!  Typing the default login “pi” and default password “raspberry” then  placed me at a command prompt.
There typing the command “startx” quickly loaded a familiar looking desktop screen. Instinctively I clicked the “Start” button in the bottom left corner of the desktop and up popped menus. Choosing the “Internet” menu I then clicked on “NetSurf Web Browser” and there I was, surfing the web.

Given the limited capabilities of the Raspberry Pi the appearance of the desktop is surprisingly good. But remember that the Raspberry Pi is primarily intended as a learning device.
It is a great fun way to learn how to use the powerful Linux command-line shell. And how to create programs in the C/C++ languages, and how to create scripts in the Python language.”


Here you can see Mike has our Raspberry Pi running the Raspbian operating system






Keep checking our website for updates on this forthcoming title.

Apple announces the arrival of iPhone 5 and iOS 6 – San Francisco, September 12, 2012

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News




Yesterday, Apple launched the latest version of the popular iPhone.  It’s thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S, the back and sides being made of a single piece of aluminium rather than glass, so it’s much more durable.  The iPhone 5 is 18 percent thinner and 20 percent lighter than the 4S.  It’s taller but not wider, so it’s still easy to use in one hand, and it has been re-designed to include a 4 inch Retina display, so more apps can be viewed on each screen. It has an Apple-designed chip, making its performance twice as fast as the 4S, and giving significantly better battery life.  The iSight camera has more features, including an option which lets you take panoramic photos in one smooth motion.  A new FaceTime HD front facing camera makes FaceTime calls clearer and can also be used for self portraits and recording HD video. There’s also improved stabilization when recording video and the ability to take still shots whilst recording.  iPhone 5 also allows you to share photos using iCloud’s Shared Photo Stream.  It comes with a new connector that is smaller, smarter and more durable than the connector on previous versions of the iPhone.

iPhone 5 comes with a new operating system, iOS 6, which includes:

  • a new Maps app, with Apple-designed cartography, turn-by-turn navigation and a new Flyover view
  • better Facebook integration, with the ability to post direct from the Navigation Center
  • Passbook app, which allows you to keep all your passes, tickets in one place so they’re easily accessible
  • new Siri features and languages, including support for more languages, easy access to sports scores, restaurant recommendations and movie listings

The iPhone 5 comes in white & silver or black & slate.  It will be available in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore on Friday, September 21.  Customers can pre-order iPhone 5 beginning Friday, September 14.  It will be rolled out to a further 22 countries on September 28.

iOS 6 will be available on Wednesday, September 19, as a free software update.

iPhone in easy steps, 3rd edition, covers iPhone 5 and iOS 6 and will be published before Christmas.  We’ll add publication details to our website as soon as we have more information on the date, so keep checking back!

Apple releases Mac operating system Mac OS X Mountain Lion today

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

Existing Mac users can upgrade for $19.99/£13.99/S$25.98/A$20.99 from Apple’s Mac App Store

Main Features:

  • iCloud integration – allows swift syncing of iOS devices.
  • iMessage – send messages, photos, videos, documents and contacts from your Mac to anyone with an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch
  • Notification Center – keep track of your emails, messages, calendar alerts, software updates etc all in one spot on your desktop
  • Power Nap – leave your Mac connected to a power source and it’ll keep updating mail, contacts, calendar, reminders, notes, Photo Stream, Find My Mac and Documents in the Cloud, silently.  So when you wake up it’s ready to go!
  • Dictation – talk anywhere you can type, in English (US, UK, Australian), French, German and Japanese, and your Mac will convert your speech to text.
  • Sharing – there’s a Share button throughout OS X Mountain Lion so you can easily share photos, videos and documents.
  • Facebook & Twitter integration – share what you’re up to right from the app you’re in.
  • Game Center – play anyone with a Mac, iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch

Mac OS X Mountain Lion makes it much easier to work seamlessly between Apple devices.

We are updating all our Mac titles to cover OS X Mountain Lion and they will be available in a few weeks.  Keep checking our website for updates.

Nick Vandome writes about Adobe’s latest version of Dreamweaver, Creative Suite 6.

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

Website design has advanced remarkably since the early days of putting text and images on screen. One web authoring program that has advanced at an equal rate is Dreamweaver, now available in the latest version, CS6 . Dreamweaver CS6 not only has an excellent graphical interface for quickly creating high-quality web pages; it also contains a range of powerful tools for incorporating the latest web-design elements into sites, to give them a highly professional look. Templates are provided so that you can produce stylish websites that adhere to the latest web standards. Best of all, you can do this without having to have an in-depth knowledge of HTML or CSS. However, if you want to expand your knowledge of these areas, Dreamweaver CS6 has all of the tools and support to do so.

Dreamweaver CS6 also acknowledges the fact that websites these days frequently require to be designed to work on a variety of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones. The new Fluid Grid Layout function enables sites to be optimized so that the same content will appear correctly on whatever device they are being viewed on.

Overall, Dreamweaver is an ideal program for anyone involved in designing websites: its combination of simplicity and power makes it an excellent choice for the novice and the professional alike.

Nick Vandome is the author of  Dreamweaver CS6 in easy steps, which will be published later this month.


Google Drive for free storage

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

With the major announcement concerning Google Drive, In Easy Steps is well placed to ensure you make the most of cloud computing.

In the past week alone, Google Drive was launched, offering 5GB of free storage together with amazing search facilities that read scanned documents and recognise images. Visit

But not to be outdone, Dropbox is now allowing non-members to launch links to files help in the accounts of members(, and  Microsoft has revamped SkyDrive so that it integrates into the Mac and PC operating system to run as a virtual folder (

The forthcoming book – Cloud Computing in easy steps – will cover each of these innovations as well as many, many more ensuring you will not be left behind and can take full advantage of this exciting and growing area of computing.

Dave Crookes, author of Cloud Computing

David Crookes is a journalist who specialises in technology and videogames. He began his career in 1994, writing for Amstrad Action magazine and his many credits include The Independent newspaper, Computing Made Easy, Web User, Micro Mart, games™, Retro Gamer and the Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. In addition to his writing, he is the curator of Videogame Nation, an exhibition celebrating the rise of gaming, which tours the United Kingdom.

Digital Editions now available

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

Check out our books in the iBookstore or download our free Apple App (our Android App will be available shortly).

The latest titles to be released are:

A Parent’s Guide to the iPad in easy steps 
C++ Programming in easy steps 4th ed. 

Digital SLR Photography in easy steps, 2nd ed
Effective Project Management in easy steps, 2nd ed. 
Get to No. 1 on Google in easy steps, 3rd ed. 
Linux in easy steps, 5th ed.
Macbook in easy steps, 2nd ed. (covers Mac OS X Lion)
Photoshop CS5 in easy steps
Photoshop Elements 10 in easy steps
Successful Selling in easy steps

Visual Basic in easy steps, 3rd ed. 

You can preview the books before purchasing.

Planning for Windows 8

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in Article, News

Windows 8 is the next version of Windows.

Microsoft have already released a Developer Preview and the initial Beta version is due shortly. Windows 8 features the new Start Screen which replaces the Start menu and displays active tiles with the new Metro Apps that are being. You will be familiar with this type of interface if you use a Smartphone such as Windows Phone (which incidentally is also a member of the Windows 8 family).

If you are currently running Windows Vista or Windows 7, or planning to upgrade your existing system to Windows 7, the same configuration will run Windows 8.
For a conventional desktop or laptop PC, the requirements are:

  • 64-bit (x64)
  • CPU with 1 GHz
  • 20 GByte Hard disk space
  • 2 GByte RAM
  • DirectX-9 graphics Card
  • 32-bit (x86/x32)
  • CPU with 1 GHz
  • 16 GByte Hard disk space
  • 1 GByte RAM
  • DirectX-9 graphics Card

On these systems, Windows 8 will run your existing desktop applications, such as Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer, and it will also support the new Start Screen and the Metro Apps, with the mouse or keyboard being used to perform the same action that are supported via the Touch functions on the Tablet PCs.
You can therefore be ready for the launch of Windows 8 in the fourth quarter, without having to switch the new class of Windows 8 PCs that are currently under development.
You can go one step further and add a Touch-sensitive monitor to your desktop computer (or use a Windows 7 laptop that supports Touch). However, most existing displays are limited in the level of Touch capability offered and so would not be fully Windows 8 compliant.

The Windows 8 interface comes into its own when used with touch-based, tablet or convertible PCs, in particular the Windows on ARM (WOA) PCs that use the ARM processor rather than Intel or AMD.

These PCs are still under development, but they will feature additional hardware requirements including:

  • Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI)
  • WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0 + LE (low energy)
  • Direct 3D 10 with WDDM 1.2 driver
  • 1366x768px resolution
  • At least five touch points
  • 720 pixel Camera

Other requirements include USB port and speakers, plus special purpose items such as an accelerometer and a gyroscope. The device must also provide a minimum set of buttons including the Windows Key, Power, Rotation lock and Volume. For devices without keyboards, the Windows Key + Power buttons act as Ctrl+Alt+Del.
As further interim versions of Windows 8 are released and Windows 8 compliant hardware becomes available, the configurations will be refined and confirmed, and the level of capability offered by the various classes of PC will become clearer.  We will also be able to investigate the new versions of software that will be released along with Windows 8, including Internet Explorer 10 and Microsoft Office 2012.
About the author
Michael Price is an accomplished author, IT journalist and systems consultant with a wide experience of computing systems ranging from mainframes to personal computers. He’s also a successful author with several best-selling In Easy Steps books to his credit.
Books by Michael Price
•    Windows 7 in easy steps : Special Edition
•    Windows 7 for Seniors in easy steps
•    Office 2010 in easy steps
•    Office 2010 for Seniors in easy steps
•    Excel 2010 in easy steps
•    Office 2007 for Seniors in easy steps
•    Office 2007 in easy steps
•    Excel 2007 in easy steps
•    Internet for Seniors in easy steps, UK edition
•    Internet for Seniors in easy steps, International edition
•    Internet for Seniors in easy steps, Windows Vista edition
•    Windows Vista for Seniors in easy steps
•    Wireless Home Networking in easy steps, 2nd edition
•    Computer Basics in easy steps, covers Windows 7
•    Computer Basics in easy steps

Raspberry Pi brings £22 computer to the masses

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

A new computer was launched this week and sold out immediately. It wasn’t created by Apple.  In fact, it wasn’t created by any business, but by a charitable foundation.  Its goal?  To make computer science accessible once more to everyone, especially young people.

The device is called Raspberry Pi, and it’s designed to be as easy to meddle with as possible.  There’s no casing on the device, so you can see all its components, and it uses open source software that you can experiment with, and has support for the programming languages Python, C, Perl and BBC Basic. BBC Basic is the real odd one out there, as a language that is rarely used commercially any more, and it’s a clue that the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been at least partly inspired by the BBC Micro of the 80s, which many of us used in schools to write our first programs.  The Raspberry Pi even comes in two models, named Model A and Model B, after the BBC.

The Raspberry Pi is about the size of a credit card, and you’ll need to add your own keyboard, mouse and monitor. For storage, it uses an SD card, similar to those found in digital cameras.  The Model B which went on sale this week has two USB ports and an Ethernet port, and the Model A which has not yet been released will have just the one USB port and no networking capability.  The operating system is Linux, which is essential for both its openness and the fact it’s free. Having a commercial operating system like Windows would have made it impossible to keep costs as low as they have.

The price of the device is just £22, which might be one reason it sold out so quickly.  It shows that programming does not need to be elitist, and invites everyone to try it.  It also cuts the risk of experimentation.   If somebody breaks a Raspberry Pi, they’re not hard to replace, even if they look a little bit vulnerable for use in the school environment.  I wonder whether computer science classes will begin at school with students making cases for their Raspberry Pis, in the way that many of my classes started by covering our exercise books?

If you’d like to get hold of one, you might have to wait a few weeks.  The Raspberry Pi Foundation is licensing its design so that it doesn’t have to bear the full cost and responsibility for manufacturing every unit.  That’s a smart move that will enable it to grow distribution rapidly, but there’s going to be a delay before any more units are available to buy.  For now, your best bet is to keep an eye on the Raspberry Pi Foundation website.

Sean McManus

Developing Apps for Android phones

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in Article

App Inventor for Android lets people create apps for Android phones by manipulating programming blocks in a web browser.   Since July 2010, Google has run App Inventor  as a large-scale public web service as a part of its Google Labs suite.  With the wind down of Google Labs, as of December 31, 2011, Google ended support of App Inventor.

In order to ensure the future success of App Inventor, Google Research has funded the establishment of the Center for Mobile Learning at the MIT Media Lab.  Sometime in the first quarter of 2012, the Center plans to provide a large scale App Inventor service for general public access, similar to the one Google ran.  Improvements will be made to the Google version of App Inventor before MIT make it available for public access.

“Building Android Apps in easy steps” will be published to coincide with the public release of the MIT version of App Inventor to demonstrate each aspect of building applications for the Android platform, including all the latest innovations.

Contributor :

Mike McGrath

iPad 2 Competition Winners

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in News

Congratulations to the three lucky winners of “In Easy Steps Win an iPad 2 Competition”!


The three In Easy Steps users and winners are:


Sarah Frith – USA

Graham Foxy – UK

Chris Downing – UK


A big thank you to everyone who entered this competition to celebrate 20 years of successful learning approach: In Easy Steps – for smart learning!


Regular competitions, updates and offers are featured on this website – do visit us again!

Fighting Spam

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in Article

By Stuart Yarnold

Some interesting statistics on spam:

  • Currently, some 80 % of email traffic is estimated to be spam
  • 30 billion spam emails are sent every day
  • 78 % of PC users receive spam on a daily basis
  • 4 % of recipients make a purchase as a result of a received spam email
  • Worldwide, the cost of dealing with spam is estimated to be 50 billion dollars annually

If the spammers have you in their sights, what can you do about it? The first and most obvious step is to simply delete your account and open a new one with a different address. This will stop any spammers who are currently jamming your inbox. However, for many users this will not be an option for various reasons. If so, do the following:

  1. In the case of spam from specific websites, add the website’s address to your email program’s Blocked Senders list.
  2. In the case of spam from unidentifiable sources, use your email program’s message filters. These can be set up and configured to cut out the majority of spam. Typical examples are:
    • Emails containing specific words commonly found in spam, such as sex, porn, money, free, etc.
    • Emails over a specified size.
    • Emails that contain attachments

    However, while the filters provided with programs such as Outlook and Outlook Express are useful, they will never stop it completely; the spammers know how to circumvent the most common rules set up by users. One such method is to deliberately misspell a keyword. For example, Viaggra instead of Viagra. The recipient knows what is meant but the filter doesn’t, and thus will let the message through. Another problem is that because these filters are literal in the sense that they allow no exceptions, sometimes legitimate emails are blocked.

    A much more efficient type of filter is the Bayesian filter. This is available as a third-party product (meaning you must buy it) and integrates with your email program. Its effectiveness is due to the fact that it is “intelligent”, and thus can be trained, much in the same way as Voice Recognition software. The Bayesian filter examines all aspects of a message, as opposed to keyword checking that classifies a message as spam on the basis of a single word or phrase. Once set up and trained, it will eliminate 99 % of spam.

  3. Add your contacts to your email program’s Safe Senders list. You can then block all other senders with the filters.
  4. Having stopped the flood of spam, make sure it stays stopped. This means never giving your email address to anyone who can’t be trusted. Never do either of the following:
    • Give your address to a website; many sites sell lists of email addresses to the spammers. Furthermore, spammers use automated software that trawl the Internet looking for the @ symbol used in all email addresses. If a particular site requires you to enter your address in order to gain access, give a false one.
      Alternatively, set up an account specifically for this purpose.
    • Click the “Unsubscribe from this mailing list” link in a spam email. This confirms to the spammer that a real address has been reached and could open the floodgates.
  5. Sell the PC and take up residence on a deserted island. It’s probably the only way guaranteed to avoid spam.

About the author

Stuart Yarnold is an electronics engineer who has been working in the industry since leaving college. Originally a marine radio & radar troubleshooter, he now devotes much of his time to playing poker professionally and can usually be found lurking in one of the online poker rooms.

Stuart lives near Cambridge with his wife Pauline and his two staffordshire bull terriers – Jim and George. His hobbies include woodworking and marathon running.

Online Poker – An Overview

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in Article

By Stuart Yarnold

Quite apart from being an invaluable information resource, the Internet provides many means of recreation, one of the most popular of which is gambling. This comes in various forms: spread betting, casino games such as blackjack and roulette, stocks and shares, etc. The one we are going to look at here is poker.

Currently, there are four to five hundred poker sites and the first step is to choose one, download and install the software, and then open an account. Making sure you use a reputable poker room is important as some do not play by the rules, i.e. they are not to be trusted. Slow pay-outs, and refusal to answer queries, are typical examples of this. Also, the software provided by some sites is buggy and prone to frequent crashing. As a recommendation, we suggest the following sites:

  • PartyPoker
  • PokerStars
  • Ladbrokes
  • UltimateBet

These are all well established, use efficient and reliable software, and offer good customer support and fast pay-outs. Those of you who want to play purely for fun with little financial risk are advised to use sites like UltimateBet and Ladbrokes, which offer micro-limit tables where you can play for a few cents.

Online poker rooms offer three main games – Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Seven-Card Stud. Texas Hold’em is the one most commonly played as it is the most straightforward, and thus the easiest to learn. This is the one featured on the TV channels.

Probably the most popular form of online poker is the tournaments. With these, you buy-in for a fixed amount, get a stack of chips, and play until you are either eliminated or win the tournament. Multi-table tournaments offer the chance to win serious sums of money but can take many hours of your time. Plus, you may have several thousand players to beat. Single-table tournaments are quick (usually an hour or less) and are always available (as soon as you’ve finished one, you can start another). To be in the money, you need to finish in the top two or three depending on the initial number of players. Single-tables are the most popular as you ‘know where you are’ in terms of outlay and time. You also have a much higher chance of finishing in the money as you only have a few players to beat.

Be aware that there is a lot more to poker than might be apparent. To play this game successfully demands a good grasp of strategy, experience, plus human qualities such as patience and common sense. If you jump in before you are ready, you will lose.


Observance of the following will get you off to as good a start as possible:

  • Learn the rules and strategies thoroughly by buying a good reference book, such as Online Poker in easy steps
  • Get a feel for the mechanics of both the game itself, and the software, by playing at the free money tables initially
  • Begin at the low-limit tables and don’t be tempted to move up until you can beat them consistently
  • Avoid the no-limit form of the game initially. Unlike fixed-limit poker where the sizes of the bets are restricted, in no-limit games, bets can be huge and the inexperienced player can come unstuck very quickly
  • Don’t chase your losses – on some days the cards will be completely against you and no matter how well you play, you will lose. Put the cards down and try again another day

About the author

Stuart Yarnold is an electronics engineer who has been working in the industry since leaving college. Originally a marine radio & radar troubleshooter, he now devotes much of his time to playing poker professionally and can usually be found lurking in one of the online poker rooms.

Stuart lives near Cambridge with his wife Pauline and his two staffordshire bull terriers – Jim and George. His hobbies include woodworking and marathon running.

Understanding Camera Raw

Written by In Easy Steps Team on . Posted in Article

By Robert Shufflebotham

With the relentless advance of digital camera technology, many pro-level and some mid-range digital cameras now allow you to record images as “raw” files. But, do you need camera raw, and what are the advantages and implications if you decide to use it?

Most digital cameras use either CCD (charge-coupled device) or CMOS (complimentary metal oxide semiconductor) sensor technology to capture image data. Raw image files record the precise data captured by the photosensitive sensors of the camera without applying any of the processing that would be required to convert it into JPEG or TIFF file format.

Early digital cameras and most entry level digital cameras convert raw data into a format such as JPEG. This is done by the camera at time of capture by an in-built converter. Typically, this on-board camera processing calculates settings for white balance, gamma correction, noise reduction, anti aliasing and sharpening together with colorimetric rendering. The image is also compressed using the JPEG algorithm.

JPEG compression has a significant disadvantage particularly where high quality, high resolution images are required. To compress image data, the JPEG compression algorithm averages out some of the color information with the potential loss of color values and detail. High JPEG compression settings can also introduce noticeable compression artifacts. These can be particularly visible along hard edges and in high contrast areas. Skin tones and gradients can also prove difficult for JPEG compression.

What is Raw ?
A raw file records the precise data captured by the sensors of the camera without any processing. Raw files consist of data recording color and luminosity values captured by the sensors and image metadata. Metadata is data about data. For example, raw files, as well as JPEG files, contain ExIF (Exchangeable Image Format) metadata which includes information such as camera model, shutter speed, aperture and focal length.

When you capture an image using your camera’s raw format it is only ISO speed, shutter speed and aperture that have an effect on the captured pixels. When you open the raw file using the Adobe Photoshop CS2 Camera Raw dialog box you can control settings for white point, colorimetric rendering, noise reduction sharpening and so on.

In Photoshop CS2, use Adobe Bridge to locate raw image files downloaded to your computer. (See Chapter 3, Opening and Saving Files in Photoshop CS2 in easy steps, for further information on using Adobe Bridge.) Double-click a raw file thumbnail to open the image in the Camera Raw dialog box. Create the settings you require, then click the Open button to convert the image to an RGB image for use in Photoshop.

For professional photographers a significant advantage of raw files is that the sensors on cameras capable of saving raw files can typically record data at at least 12 bits per channel (providing a possible 4096 shades per pixel). JPEG compression reduces color data it records to 8 bits per color channel.

This can become a significant disadvantage for many amateur users in that raw image files are considerably larger than files saved in other file formats – up to 5 or 6 six times greater than the equivalent JPEG. Capturing raw image data can dramatically reduce the number of images you can record to the camera’s storage card.

Camera Raw is a general term which encompasses a range of proprietary files formats from different camera manufacturers, such as Nikon’s .NEF, Olympus’ .ORF or Canon’s .CRW. The Photoshop Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop CS, which allows you to open and process raw image files, was released in February 2003. An upgraded version supporting more cameras and with added functionality became available in Photoshop CS2.

Visit: for a complete list of supported cameras.
Digital Negative (DNG) Format
One of the issues surrounding raw file formats is that they are typically proprietary formats; belonging to the camera manufacturers and not publicly available. Understandably, camera manufacturers that spend large amounts of money on research and development are reluctant to divulge the exact technical details of their own raw file formats as this could prove costly and result in loss of competitive advantage.

The intention of Digital Negative (DNG), developed by Adobe as a file format for raw files, is to establish an open industry standard so that all camera manufactures can work to a common set of specifications which will ultimately benefit the entire industry and especially the end user.

Crucially, DNG has the potential to provide photographers with a format they can use to archive images, safe in the knowledge that they will be able to access these images in the future. This removes the reliance on a proprietary format that may, or may not, be supported in the future.

The success of DNG as an open standard would also make it much easier to transfer and share raw images in complex workflows and between photographers and agencies.
The core consideration, when deciding whether or not to capture images using raw data, is whether or not you want ultimate control over settings such as white balance, brightness and contrast, noise reduction, sharpening and color rendition and are prepared to take the time to make these decisions. The Camera Raw functionality in Adobe Photoshop CS2 gives you access to the set of tools you need if you decide to follow this route.

About the author

Robert Shufflebotham is a software training consultant with over 21 years experience of delivering software training. He trains on a regular basis for some of the largest and most prestigious magazine, book and newspaper publishers in the world. He also has a MA in Electronic Media.