How To Best Use Your Old Windows XP Or Vista Computer

On April 11, 2017, Microsoft puts the final nail in the coffin for Windows Vista. This means that Vista will not receive any security updates, nor will Microsoft provide any support for it. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop using it.

We’re going to highlight the uses for your old Windows Vista and XP systems that remain perfectly safe; these are activities that won’t put you at risk from threats which won’t be patched. That’s providing you don’t want to just upgrade to Windows 10, of course.

If you can think of any good uses for an old Vista or XP system that we’ve missed out, please share it in the comments below.

1. Old-School Gaming

Many modern games don’t properly support older operating systems (OS), but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your gaming fix. Both XP and Vista have games included, like Minesweeper and Solitaire, if you’re looking for something simple to pass the time. These don’t require you to be connected to the internet either, so you can enjoy them until the end of time… or until your system packs in.

gog old-school gaming drm-free

Otherwise, if you ignore anything released in the last seven years or so, there’s a huge back catalog of games for you to dive into. If you have anything on disc, pop it into your drive and enjoy. You can even download some older PC games legally for free.

Also, check out websites like GOG.com. Although this now sells all the latest titles, it was originally set up as a place to get good old games that have been made compatible for systems running XP and above.

2. Office Work

Office 2010 was the last version of Microsoft’s suite that supported XP and Vista. Although Microsoft no longer sells it directly, you can still pick it up from some online retailers. Providing you don’t need any of the fancy features that newer Office packages offer, the 2010 version will do the job perfectly for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more.

office 2010 suite

If you already have a license key for Office 2010 and have lost the installation media, you can download earlier versions of Office officially from Microsoft’s website. Simply input your 25-character key, select your language, and begin your download. Note that extended support for Office 2010 is only offered until 2020.

Of course, you don’t have to use Microsoft Office, especially if you just want something that will get the job done with little fuss. There are a number of great alternatives to Office, like the free LibreOffice, that support XP and Vista.

3. Media Player

You could turn your entire system into a dedicated media player. Perhaps hook it up in your living room and use it as your music and video player. You don’t need to be connected to the internet if you just want to play CDs and DVDs. You’ll even be able to use Windows Media Center, which is now discontinued from modern versions of Windows.

windows media center alternatives

Music streaming platforms like Spotify will work on Vista for now, though aren’t officially supported. Alternatively, you could turn your computer into a media server. This will make it primarily a storage device, from which you can use other systems to connect in to. Your mileage might vary depending on how powerful your computer is.

4. Donate Processing Power

If you don’t need to actively use your computer, you could donate its processing power to a good cause. Research projects across the world work with massive amounts of data. This information needs to be processed and analyzed, but using a couple of computers isn’t quick enough to cope with the volume. As such, you can loan your system’s processor to help crunch this data.

One of the most popular projects is Stanford University’s Folding@Home, which researches protein folding, computational drug design and other types of molecular dynamics. But there are loads of other distributed computing projects available, so go ahead and find one that suits your cause.

5. Recycle the Parts

Just because your OS is no longer supported, doesn’t mean the components inside the case are useless. You could take some of them out and put them in a newer build to get performance gains. Though note that if you bought your system when XP or Vista first launched, then you might find that your components are outdated and slow compared to modern alternatives.

hard drive internals up close

If you’re not knowledgeable about the insides of your computer, check out our ultimate guide to PC components.

The part that you’ll probably get best use out of is the hard drive. Even if it’s slow, it could still work as archival storage. You might also be able to use the RAM, depending on its compatibility with your other system. See our guide on which upgrades will improve performance for more information.

Get Protected and Deep Freeze

Since your computer is now vulnerable to threats that Microsoft will no longer patch, it’s important that you’re running up-to-date virus protection software. While these won’t necessarily protect you from all flaws in the OS, they can help fight against things like malware. We’ve rounded up the top free anti-virus programs to help you choose.

antivirus myth security

You might also consider deep freezing your system. This involves making an image, or a copy, of your system in a particular state that you can then restore back to. This means that if your system is overrun with viruses, you can turn back the clock to when it was clean. You can even set this up so this image is used every time the computer turns on, meaning its state can’t be permanently changed.

How do you make use of your Windows XP and Vista system safely now that support has ended? Do you think you’ll upgrade to a newer OS like Windows 10?

Image Credits: Nonchanon/Shutterstock

Findbigmail: Finds Big Emails In Your Gmail Account

Is your Gmail inbox reaching its limit? Do you need to get rid of the unnecessary large emails occupying your Gmail inbox? If yes, then looking for these emails can be a little difficult. “Find Big Mail” helps simplify the process.

how to find big emails in gmail

Find Big Mail is a free to use web service that helps Gmail users find emails via their size. After you connect your Gmail to Find Big Mail via Google’s OAuth, the service scans your message’s sizes – only the sizes are scanned and not the content within them. With the scan complete you can use the newly displayed labels to check out your emails size-wise. The labels also make it possible to use the regular search filters to reach your desired email message. With its simple labeling procedure, Find Big Mail will help many free up their Gmail folders.

Key Features:

  • A user friendly web service
  • Can be used by Gmail users
  • Labels your Gmail messages according to their sizes
  • Helps you free up your Gmail folders
  • Scans only the sizes of emails and not their content

Check out “Find Big Mail” @ http://www.findbigmail.com/via  Labnol (By Umar from TechCityInc)

Cammster: Use Webcam As Security Camera

Installing security features in your house or office can be very expensive. Cammster offers a free way to monitor your home and office for intrusions by using your webcam to detect any motion. Simply register and launch the Cammster program before leaving the house, if Cammster detects motion via webcam it will alert you via email or SMS. Receiving email alerts are free, however SMS notifications cost a dollar each. The software also stores all the unusual events it records and allows you to view the history of up to 200 events for free.

One of the drawbacks however, is that you have to leave the page open all this time which means the intruder has a good chance to see that he has been captured on video. The tool however, still provides good value in contrast to many other security systems.

use webcam as security camera

Features:

Get Cammster @ www.cammster.com

How To Disconnect Your Instagram Account From Facebook

Linking your Instagram and Facebook accounts has a lot of advantages. You can easily post your Instagram photos to your Facebook profile. It also makes it easier for your Facebook friends to find your Instagram profile, and for you to find out which of your Facebook friends are on Instagram.

If you’d rather keep the two social networks separate, you’re going to have to go through a series of simple steps on Facebook and Instagram.

How to Unlink Instagram and Facebook Accounts

First you’re going to want to open up Instagram on your phone:

  1. Go to Options and under Settings tap Linked Accounts  > Facebook.
  2. Tap Unlink Account.
  3. On iOS, in the prompt that appears asking if you’re sure you want to disconnect your Facebook account, tap Yes, I’m Sure.

To see this process in action on Android, check out the video below:

If you have a Business Instagram account, you’re going to have to switch back to a personal account first. You can do this by going to Options and under Business Settings tap Switch Back to Personal Account.

Any new posts that you share on Instagram can no longer appear on Facebook, and your Facebook friends will not be prompted to follow you on Instagram when they log into the photo sharing app.

How to Remove Instagram Posts From Facebook

If you want to remove your existing Instagram posts from your Facebook profile, do the following in Facebook in a browser:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps and if you can’t see Instagram on the list click See More.
  2. Click the Instagram icon.
  3. At the very bottom of the screen that opens up you should see Remove App in small type.  How to Disconnect Your Instagram Account From Facebook Facebook Instagram Disconnect1
  4. In the window that pops up, check the box to remove all your Instagram posts that appear on your Facebook profile, and click RemoveHow to Disconnect Your Instagram Account From Facebook Facebook2

Do you have your Facebook and Instagram accounts connected? Are you considering unlinking the two? Let us know why in the comments. 

13 Nightmarish Netflix Movies Full Of Jump Scares

Jump scares are one of the oldest tricks in horror films. They’re those moments when everything goes quiet and dark, and you’re suddenly jolted out of your seat. Jump scares can be cheap thrills or genuine frights, but no matter how they’re used, they’re definitely entertaining.

Some horror filmmakers abhor the tactic and instead focus on building atmospheric tension. But most are happy to embrace the technique, giving the audience the uncontrollable shriek they are waiting for.

Jump scare movies make for perfect group viewing as well as something to watch alone at night. So if you want to soil your pants this Halloween, check out this list of the best jump scare movies available to watch on Netflix. It should have you perched on the edge of your seat looking forward to a sleepless night…

1. Dead Silence

  • Released in 2007.
  • IMDb Rating: 6.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 21%

James Wan and Leigh Whannell, the duo who created the megahit psycho-thriller Saw series, helm the reins of this supernatural horror film. While Saw was about ambient horror, Dead Silence celebrates the jump scare.

The film revolves around Mary Shaw, a ventriloquist who gets hunted and killed by the citizens of her small town who believe she tortured a young child. They also buried all of of Shw’s vaudevillian puppets alongside her. All of this happened in the 1940s, but the puppets have now mysteriously returned, and are causing havoc in the town. A newlywed couple moves to the town, and the wife gets killed. The husband is now obsessed with finding out what really happened.

2. Scream 2

  • Released in 1997.
  • IMDb Rating: 6.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81%

Wes Craven is one of the most respected names in horror films. The original Scream kicked off a franchise that would spawn three sequels and a TV series. But the second movie is still the best, and packed full of jump scares.

Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, and David Arquette reprise their roles as characters who were tormented by “Ghostface” in the original film. Ghostface is back, but it’s someone new under the mask this time, and they’re even thirstier for blood. As the body count keeps growing, the lives of our beloved protagonists are in mortal danger. Can they figure out who’s behind the mask and stop them before it’s too late?

3. The Amityville Horror

  • Released in 2005.
  • IMDb Rating: 6.0/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 23%

Several years ago, Ronald DeFeo murdered his wife and children at their home in Amityville, New York. New occupants of the house since then have encountered strange happenings.

Based on the true story of the DeFeos and the family who came after them, George and Kathy Lutz, The Amityville Horror depicts one of the most infamous supernatural stories of modern times. Director Andrew Douglas does a top-notch job of recreating all the paranormal events that the Lutzes claim to have experienced in real life. Knowing that this might actually have happened isn’t the scariest part, though. You’ll have to watch the film to find out what is.

4. The Babadook

  • Released in 2014.
  • IMDb Rating: 6.8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 98%

Children often ask their parents about the monster under the bed, or tell tales of the man in the cupboard. As adults, we do our best to convince them it’s just their imaginations running wild. But what if a child’s vivid dreams about a mysterious dark force are true? What would you do if the Babadook, a sinister shadow-like creature, was really coming after you? That’s the question single mom Amelia has to face. Should she believe her son Samuel and his violent dreams, or should she remain rational throughout it all?

Even horror films can become cult favorites on Netflix. The Babadook had a lukewarm reception when it first released in Australia, but it has since garnered critical acclaim and a strong following among horror buffs.

5. The Den

  • Released in 2013.
  • IMDb Rating: 6.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 78%

We know that the dark web plays host to shady illegal activities. But how bad can it really be? And have you ever wondered whether an elite hacker can really track you and hunt you down? The Den explores the answers to both of these questions.

A woman accidentally stumbles upon a website called The Den, where she sees a live video of a girl being tortured and murdered. The police think it’s fake, but she is convinced it’s real. As she tries to find out more about what happened, she realizes that she might have taken on the wrong people, as someone starts targeting her and her family for a similar live video chat.

6. The Ward

  • Released in 2010.
  • IMDb Rating: 5.6/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 33%

John Carpenter’s name is almost synonymous with horror films, as well as movies every geek should watch. There are plenty of John Carpenter classics to choose from, but The Ward stands out as one of his most jump-scare-filled movies.

Amber Heard plays the protagonist, who is remanded to a psychiatric facility where the doctors experiment with their patients. She starts seeing the ghost of a nurse who died there many years before. Soon, the ghost goes after all of Heard’s new friends in the facility, killing them one by one. Will she be able to figure out the ghost’s problem and nullify it before she’s also offed?

7. The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death

  • Released in 2014.
  • IMDb Rating: 4.9/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 21%

What’s better than a creepy movie about an old ghost? A creepy movie about an old ghost, set against the backdrop of World War II! The Woman in Black 2 is the continuation of the story of Jeannette Humfrye, as she carries on haunting all those who step into her house.

This time, unfortunately, it’s a group of children and their two caretakers, who are trying to escape from war-torn London during WW2. This is a definite case of out of the frying pan, and into the fire. The children and the caretakers soon find themselves in grave danger, and as it turns out, one of the people in their party might have some connection to old Jeannette.

8. V/H/S/2

  • Released in 2013.
  • IMDb Rating: 6.1/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 70%

The “found footage” genre is a favorite for horror movies, having been popularized by films such as The Blair Witch Project. If this is the sort of film you’re in the mood for, V/H/S/2 may be just for you.

V/H/S/2 attempts something unique. It has seven different directors shooting seven short segments, all of which tie together to make one overarching narrative. V/H/S/2 includes some big names, like the director of The Raid and the writer of Grindhouse. Unfortunately, V/H/S/2 struggles to build an atmosphere of terror. However, it does deliver jump scares in spades.

9. The Lazarus Effect

  • Released in 2015.
  • IMDb Rating: 5.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 14%

After making a documentary like Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you wouldn’t expect director David Gelb to dive into the horror genre. But Gelb is full of surprises, and The Lazarus Effect is as creepy as horror films come.

Olivia Wilde and Mark Duplass star as medical researchers who have figured out how to resurrect dead animals. But a terrible accident claims Wilde’s life, and in his grief, Duplass decides to bring her back to life instead. His experiment is a success. However, the being that comes back to life seems to be shedding Wilde’s soul and being possessed by something much, much darker.

10. The Uninvited

  • Released in 2009.
  • IMDb Rating: 6.4/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 32%

Teenager Anna was caught in the same fire that destroyed her family’s houseboat and killed her mother. But she can’t remember the details of that fateful night. Suffering a breakdown as a result, she is admitted to a mental health facility, only to be discharged without treatment.

Once she returns, she finds that her mother’s nurse is now her new stepmother, and that her father didn’t deliver any of the letters she wrote to her sister. That’s when Anna starts seeing a ghost. Together, the two sisters decide to find out what really happened that night, all while a supernatural force seems to be haunting their quaint house.

11. JeruZalem

  • Released in 2015.
  • IMDb Rating: 4.7/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 57%

There ain’t no end-of-world party like a Biblical end-of-world party ‘cuz a Biblical end-of-world party is full of demons. JeruZalem is silly, and could have been so much better, but the Paz brothers who directed this film sure know how to deliver jump scares aplenty.

A group of young adults find themselves trapped in Jerusalem because it’s the end of the world as we know it. The city is being run over by demons. We’re talking about a Biblical nightmare here, folks. Obviously, these four nobodies with zero background experience have to figure out how to beat the odds. But if you can ignore the silly plot, you’ll have a great time with the jump scares.

12. Creep

  • Released in 2014.
  • IMDb Rating: 6.2/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 96%

Sometimes the scariest thing in the world isn’t a demon or a monster or a ghost. It’s a human. A man who anyone would think is normal if they saw him walking down the street. Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice write and star in Creep, which lives up to its name.

Josef is dying of a terminal illness and wants to record messages for his soon-to-be-born son. He puts out an ad on Craigslist to find a videographer. A guy named Aaron shows up. What follows is a slow unraveling of Josef’s life, that gets creepier and creepier, while Aaron continues to shoot. The jump-scare dial is turned up to maximum in this one.

13. Hush

  • Released in 2016.
  • IMDb Rating: 6.6/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%

If you ever want to stay awake all night, watch Hush with the lights out and the curtains open. You’ll wait up all night with a baseball bat, lest a man wearing a freaky mask shows up at your window.

When deaf writer Maddie sees one such man, she needs to figure out how to survive. She’s in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods, and this psychopath serial killer has made his intentions quite clear. Hush is an incredible take on the hunter-prey game, where the prey is disadvantaged with a hearing disability. If you end up watching this film, count the number of times you’re jolted out of your seat. If it’s under 10, you’re a braver soul than I am.

What’s Your All-Time Favorite Jump Scare Movie?

Jump scare movies are surely made for Halloween. Watching a movie or two from this list on All Hallow’s Eve (maybe while dressed in a creepy costume) would be fun, but why restrict yourself to Netflix? From this list, Hush is my favorite, but there are plenty of other jump scare movies out there waiting to be discovered.

One that didn’t make the list is Alone, which is absolutely packed with jump scares. It may not be the best film in the world, but it will have you jumping out of your seat. That’s my favorite jump scare movie of all time, but what’s yours?

Please let us know in the comments below!

Image Credits: iko/Shutterstock

A Beautiful Mind: Brain Injury Turns Man Into Math GeniusĀ 

In 2002, two men savagely attacked Jason Padgett outside a karaoke bar, leaving him with a severe concussion and post-traumatic stress disorder. But the incident also turned Padgett into a mathematical genius who sees the world through the lens of geometry.

Padgett, a furniture salesman from Tacoma, Washington, who had very little interest in academics, developed the ability to visualize complex mathematical objects and physics concepts intuitively. The injury, while devastating, seems to have unlocked part of his brain that makes everything in his world appear to have a mathematical structure.

"I see shapes and angles everywhere in real life" — from the geometry of a rainbow, to the fractals in water spiraling down a drain, Padgett told Live Science. "It's just really beautiful." [Album: The World's Most Beautiful Equations]

Padgett, who just published a memoir with Maureen Seaberg called "Struck by Genius" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), is one of a rare set of individuals with acquired savant syndrome, in which a normal person develops prodigious abilities after a severe injury or disease. Other people have developed remarkable musical or artistic abilities, but few people have acquired mathematical faculties like Padgett's.

Now, researchers have figured out which parts of the man's brain were rejiggered to allow for such savant skills, and the findings suggest such skills may lie dormant in all human brains.

'Struck by genius'

Before the injury, Padgett was a self-described jock and partyer. He hadn't progressed beyond than pre-algebra in his math studies. "I cheated on everything, and I never cracked a book," he said.

But all that would change the night of his attack. Padgett recalls being knocked out for a split second and seeing a bright flash of light. Two guys started beating him, kicking him in the head as he tried to fight back. Later that night, doctors diagnosed Padgett with a severe concussion and a bleeding kidney, and sent him home with pain medications, he said.

Soon after the attack, Padgett suffered from PTSD and debilitating social anxiety. But at the same time, he noticed that everything looked different. He describes his vision as "discrete picture frames with a line connecting them, but still at real speed." If you think of vision as the brain taking pictures all the time and smoothing them into a video, it's as though Padgett sees the frames without the smoothing. In addition, "everything has a pixilated look," he said.

"I see this image in my mind's eye, now in 3-D, every time imagine how my hand moves through space-time."
“I see this image in my mind’s eye, now in 3-D, every time imagine how my hand moves through space-time.”

Credit: Credit: Courtesy of Jason Padgett

With Padgett's new vision came an astounding mathematical drawing ability. He started sketching circles made of overlapping triangles, which helped him understand the concept of pi, the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. There's no such thing as a perfect circle, he said, which he knows because he can always see the edges of a polygon that approximates the circle. [Gallery: See Padgett's Amazing Mathematical Drawings]

Padgett dislikes the concept of infinity, because he sees every shape as a finite construction of smaller and smaller units that approach what physicists refer to as the Planck length, thought to be the shortest measurable length.

After his injury, Padgett was drawing complex geometric shapes, but he didn't have the formal training to understand the equations they represented. One day, a physicist spotted him making these drawings in a mall, and urged him to pursue mathematical training. Now Padgett is a sophomore in college and an aspiring number theorist.

Padgett's remarkable abilities garnered the interest of neuroscientists who wanted to understand how he developed them.

Beautiful mind

Berit Brogaard, a philosophy professor now at the University of Miami, in Coral Gables, Florida, and her colleagues scanned Padgett's brain with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand how he acquired his savant skills and the synesthesia that allows him to perceive mathematical formulas as geometric figures. (Synesthesia is a phenomenon in which one sense bleeds into another.) [Top 10 Mysteries of the Mind]

"Acquired savant syndrome is very rare," Brogaard said, adding that only 15 to 25 cases have ever been described in medical studies.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging measures changes in blood flow and oxygen use throughout the brain. During scans of Padgett, the researchers showed the man real and nonsense mathematical formulas meant to conjure images in his mind.

The resulting scans showed significant activity in the left hemisphere of Padgett's brain, where mathematical skills have been shown to reside. His brain lit up most strongly in the left parietal cortex, an area behind the crown of the head that is known to integrate information from different senses. There was also some activation in parts of his temporal lobe (involved in visual memory, sensory processing and emotion) and frontal lobe (involved in executive function, planning and attention).

But the fMRI only showed what areas were active in Padgett's brain. In order to show these particular areas were causing the man's synesthesia, Brogaard's team used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which involves zapping the brain with a magnetic pulse that activates or inhibits a specific region. When they zapped the parts of Padgett's parietal cortex that had shown the greatest activity in the fMRI scans, it made his synesthesia fade or disappear, according to a study published in August 2013 in the journal Neurocase.

Brogaard showed, in another study, that when neurons die, they release brain-signaling chemicals that can increase brain activity in surrounding areas. The increased activity usually fades over time, but sometimes it results in structural changes that can cause brain-activity modifications to persist, Brogaard told Live Science.

Scientists don't know whether the changes in Padgett's brain are permanent, but if he had structural changes, it's more likely his abilities are here to stay, Brogaard said.

The savant in everyone

So do abilities like Padgett's lie dormant in everyone, waiting to be uncovered? Or was there something unique about Padgett's brain to begin with?

Most likely, there is something dormant in everyone that Padgett tapped into, Brogaard said. "It would be quite a coincidence if he were to have that particular special brain and then have an injury," she said. "And he's not the only [acquired savant]."

In addition to head injuries, mental disease has also been known to reveal latent abilities. And Brogaard and others have done studies that suggest zapping the brains of normal people using TMS can temporarily bring out unusual mathematical and artistic skills.

It's always possible that having savant skills may come with trade-offs. In Padgett's case, he developed fairly severe post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and he still finds it difficult to appear in public.

Yet Padgett wouldn't change his new abilities if he could. "It's so good, I can't even describe it," he said.

Follow Tanya Lewis on Twitterand Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook& Google+. Original article on Live Science.