NOTE: THIS ARTICLE CAN BE REPRODUCED
BY GIVING ACKNOWLEDGMENT TO THE AUTHOR.
Ah, the wonderment of getting a new computer. No more having to watch others show off their computer skills as they demonstrate their new digital slide show, or listen about how they talk with relatives across three oceans for hours at no cost. With your new computer you are ready to join the online communities around the globe.
Three gigabytes of random access memory, five hundred gigs of hard drive, a one year subscription to some antivirus / malware protection software utility and you are “good to go,” says the clerk in the computer store.
“But does it come with a manual,” you ask?
“The manual is in the OS software,” the clerk says as he gets you to sign his copy of the credit card slip. “Have a nice day,” he hollers as you lug computer through the doors towards home.
“Ya right,” you mutter under your breath.
So many choices, too many decisions, but at least you finally got it home. Once you open the lid and go to turn on the new computer you realize that you have no idea what you are doing. In fact, you don’t know a gigabyte from a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and you couldn’t care less. All you want is to on the Internet and check your email, surf some websites and maybe learn how to get those 265 photos from your digital camera.
“So now what,” you say aloud to yourself? “Where do I begin, you ask your dog in desperation as she gives you that puzzled look?
There is an easy way to learn the various computer functions you need to catch up with your computer geek of a neighbour. First, you can take a formal course at your local college. These courses usually range from beginner to advanced. You can also take online courses (courses offered over the Internet), but this takes a special skill, as many people are not used to working alone and need to get out into a classroom setup with real humans. You can also join a local computer group. Here you will find people with similar interests who provide various seminars on tech-related issues.
I have been on a computer since 1972 where an IBM System/360 Operating System was the popular system in data processing centres. Over the years I have received computer training from all methods mentioned about. In fact, today I am taking two computer courses from books that came with DVD training programs.
However, if you simply need to know one certain function on the computer, learn a software program, or how to troubleshoot a problem in your computer, I suggest Google’s YouTube videos. Computer instructors, tech companies, libraries, schools and many knowledgable individuals upload training videos to YouTube. Here you not only get free training, but targeted training. For instance, if you need to know how to install a USB flash drive in Windows 7, you simply go to youtube.com on the Internet and there will be many videos to help you through this process.
One tip for searching within YouTube for help, try using the term: “tutorials” with your search. Sometimes this will give you a full training course on the particular subject you are interested in learning. I use YouTube all the time when I need help with a particular computer program. But it doesn’t stop there either. I wanted to learn how to winterize my RV and save the hundred dollar fee, so I searched for videos on YouTube and have winterized my own trailer ever since for only the cost of antifreeze.
You can get free training from the best of both worlds. If you are new to the computer, YouTube videos will help you get an idea what you are up against, but what if you still need the help of a human. Central United Church operates a free computer drop-in training centre where you can get free help on any computer-related issue. Since September 2010 over two-hundred people have found this training centre an excellent way to learn at one’s own speed. The only cost is a food item to donate to the Food Bank. For more info: go to the website ( http://central-united-church.org/training ) or phone: 519 344-4561.
Gregory West is a Mac Instructor for Lambton College.
He is also Webmaster at Central United Church, the home of Sarnia’s new
Community Computer Training Centre at: http://goo.gl/76H15.
This is free and open to the public as a community service.
Learn at your own speed.
Gregory can be reached at: prospector16(at)gmail.com
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Everyone uses an email signature. What, you don’t? Come on, get with it LOL.
Now, you can write your own rich text signatures in Gmail. Add colors
or change the font size of your signature, or insert images and links.
To add your signature, sign in to Gmail and visit the Settings page.
As a keyboard guy, I have been advocating the DEATH OF THE MOUSE for a long time. Smart Phones have no mouse. Most laptop users do not use a mouse. And now iMac users will be de-mouseitized.
“Over time Spyware can build up on your computer, which in turn will slow your PC. Spyware build up on your computer from web browsing or web downloads, which is often difficult to detect. PC users will notice unwanted behavior,slow in system performance, network traffic, failure to boot, unwanted pop-up advertisements, changing configuration of your computer without your knowledge are some of the characters of spyware’s.”
Filed under: computers, security | Tagged: clean computer, computer, gregory west, malware, ontario, remove malware, sarnia, sarnia ontario, security, slow computer, sluggish, spyware, virus | Leave a Comment »
Filed under: Internet Usage | Tagged: adult learning centre, APCUG, blog, church, computer, computer users, gregory west, internet statistics, internet users, kids, online dating, sarnia, school, stats can, stats canada, tech school, technology, united church, united church of canada, users, youth | Leave a Comment »
What exactly are these devices & for what do we use them?
FIRST OFF – Let’s call these thingamajigs by their real name. Everyone has a cute name for the USB: “stick, thumbdrive, memory stick, etc.”, but the real name is USB Flash Drive. $%$#, I am glad to get that over with LOL.
Many people think of USB being a small device that stores data. This is true, although there is much more to this creation. Your expensive digital camera, video or voice recorder, mp3 player, and the like utilize USB technology and thus need special care. If you are not careful you just may loose all that is stored on these devices or worse…
For Geeks Only: The acronym “USB” stands for Universal Serial Bus. Ok, I know, that still means zippo. What does USB stand for? “Universal” means that it is used for almost any type of storage and transfer of data. The “Serial” part is not digestible, however it does allow you to transfer data one bit at a time in sequence keeping order to your data. The “Bus is a subsystem that transfers data between computer components inside a computer or between computers” (wikipedia.org). Now with that out of the way we can explore the many uses, care, and maintenance of your USB device.
Some call them “memory sticks”, “thumb drives,” “memory bars,” and so on; you can name yours whatever you wish. The main thing is a USB is an extra drive, the same as drives: C, D, and others on your computer. Once you insert your USB drive into the slot on your computer you will be immediately notified that you have added a new drive (different operating systems give out different notifications). If you go to “My Computer” you will now see the new USB drive. Double click on it and you will be inside the USB drive.
Data files, photos, video, music, PowerPoint, Excel and as many other documents and file programs you can think can be stored on your USB drive as long as the USB has sufficient amount of room. This is where we can work out some storage numbers that will also be the same storage for your digital cameras.
Ok, the average USB drive or digital camera memory stick (same idea for storage) is 1 GB (gigabyte). That is the equivalent of 1024 MB (megabytes). Look at your camera. If it is a 4 megapixel size camera you simply divide the (1 GB) storage device by your single picture size which is 4 MB and you will be able to store 256 pictures at 4 megabytes in size. If you have a 2 MB memory card or USB you can then store double that amount: 512 pictures.
The same goes for data files and music (mp3) files. Find out what size (in megabytes) the file is that you want to backup to your USB drive and divide it into the size of your USB drive.
If you are using an Apple computer such as a MacBook and you pull out your USB drive without shutting it off (sending it to the “Trash”) you get a NASTY that is a tell-all warning: “The device you removed was not properly put away. Data might have been lost or damaged. Before you unplug your device, you must first select its icon in the Finder and choose Eject from the File menu.”
When you remove USB drives on most PCs you get no warning message; although you should. Why? The USB drive can be ruined over time. It is just like when you shutdown your Windows program, you have a proper method to shut it down properly. If you don’t, well, you simply get a message later telling you that “Windows was not shut down properly…”. On your tool bar, at the bottom right, near the clock icon, you should see an icon for properly shutting down a USB drive – “Use it or lose it” as they say.
The old saying: “Do not store all your eggs in one basket” goes very strong for USB drives. Some people are now using USB drives for their backups and you must remember that like any technology these drives do quit…just like other hard drives and memory “sticks” ; they all only last for a certain amount of time…The better you look after these devices the longer they last.
USB drives can be very large, my USB backup drive is 250 GBs, however it requires hydro. But with as little as 1 GB (I wouldn’t buy any less these days), you can literally host an operating system now. Many people who travel are putting Skype (Internet phone program) on their USB drives so they can make calls from a computer that does not have Skype downloaded.
Whether in the comforts of home, or on the road, my USB drives save me from carrying a ton of CDs. I don’t have to worry about the USB drive either. USB drives are fast becoming the norm for most computer uses with CDs going the way cassettes and VCR tapes have gone.
Backing up your files using USB drives simply makes good sense. While traveling, I use my 1 GB and 4 GB USB drives to backup my data, photos, videos, and text files. At home I have my 250 GB USB drive with all my personal data. That USB drive is only turned on when I need it. That way my personal files are safely tucked away while I surf the Net with my computer. Surf the Web worry free by backing up your personal data to a USB drive. And to be honest, concerning my USBs, I don’t leave home without one…
A Couple of Computer Tips For You
Computer Buyers BEWARE!!!
The Internet is Getting More Speed
and You Need Wireless “n”…
by Gregory West
Ok, without going into a rhetoric of computer mumbo-jumbo, the bottom line is DO NOT buy a computer that does not have 802.11n for a wireless Internet connection. Why, because it will be an old computer you are buying that will not connect to the Internet fast enough to keep up. The older computers have 802.11g. So, to sum up, you need the “n” version, not the “g” version for a wireless Internet connection. Don’t get fooled by an overzealous clerk.
Downloading movies will be a snap with “n”. As David Wylie, Canwest News Service says you will “download using wireless Internet devices [that] will be so fast you’ll be able to download a high-definition movie in less time than it takes to pop a bag of microwave popcorn. (go to (http://80211n.com) for full details on wireless Internet information.
Very soon, computer manufacturers will manufacture WiFi enabled computers to the former lower standards if they wish to have their products certified by the alliance. The old standard is 802.11g. The new faster and longer distance is called: 802.11n (g and n being the important namesakes with “n” now taking the huge lead in the wireless Internet world of WiFi).
The speed you are probably getting with your older WiFi 802.11(g) Internet connection is 7 times less than the newer “n” version. The “n” version covers twice the range. which is great for home computer networks. For some time now laptops have been selling with the 802.11n built in. Mine does; does yours? Check before you buy, remembering buyer beware.
Help Yourself Troubleshoot for Answers the Easy Way
I will probably be shooting myself in the foot and losing clients but here are two good ways to get free computer help.
First: Many reputable companies have a “Support” box on their websites that you can click for help. The support comes by way of CHAT. It is very easy. Once you have made the connection, usually by the click of a button on the website, a company rep will appear in text asking you what is your problem. You then type it in the box and wait for an helpful answer. I use this quite often for troubleshooting, not only computers, but also software that does not seem to be doing what it is supposed to.
Second: Forums, Forums, Forums. Can I say it again? One of the most valuable devices on the Internet for help is called an “Online Forum”. Basically, these are websites that are designed specifically for you. I own a Macbook. When I need to know something about my Mac I head over to the Apple’s website and click on their “Forum”. If I have a problem with my Kodiak Travel Trailer I go to that Forum for help.
Some Forums are designed by the companies themselves on their websites. If there is no forum quite likely someone has started up one that will help you with whatever product you have. For instance, my daughter and son-in-law’s central air conditioning quit. Yes right in the midst of the August heat wave. They quickly went to a forum for these devices and got help almost immediately.
Remember, people from every part of the globe use Forums and that makes it a 24/7 free troubleshooting paradise.
Gregory West is a basic home computer consultant for MAC and PC and software reviewer for major computer companies. Also come and join in on his free Basic Computer Training sessions, held weekly at Central United Church (http://central-united-church.org) this Fall.
Gregory can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out his blog for more free Computer & Internet Tips:
NOTE: This article appeared in First Monday magazine September 2009 and received flack from a local used computer outlet. They claim that people do not need wireless “n” in their computers. However, one must remember that they sell “Used Computers” so they have an axe to grind. If you are putting out good money for a brand new computer/laptop make sure you get the best for your money…Which is wireless “n” capability.
CHECK OUT THIS COMPUTER HELP SITE
See people helping people…
You won’t regret the few seconds it will take to find yourself gaining the how tos on topics from not just computers, but also Q&A on the Internet, Twitter, Facebook, digital photography and so much more you will not have a question that cannot be answered.
Let’s say you “know it all”, why not lend some of your knowledge to this site by way of answering questions posed by users. It is a lot of fun and you will be helping out other computer users. And who knows, like myself, you may just find yourself learning more about what you thought you knew and didn’t.
Filed under: computer users, computers, gregory west, mac, photos, sarnia, video | Tagged: computer, computer user groups, computer users group, digital, facebook, help, linux, mac, macbook, microsoft, oreilly, sarnia, tech help, vista, windows 7, xp | Leave a Comment »
TIP OF THE WEEK: BUTTERSCOTCH
Almost everyone likes butterscotch, right? Well if you do you will like it even better now. Butterscotch is now online, you cannot taste it, however you can use this website to get free video training on hordes of subjects, programs and more.
How about free tutorials on MS Word 2007, Blackberry Basics, Finer Points of FACEBOOK, Buying and Selling on Ebay, adding your Photos to Flickr, using gmail and Google Earth and so much more.
As well, Butterscotch has a downloads section where you can get some free software, shareware and demo programs for every computer system.
Filed under: computers, tutorials | Tagged: APCUG, computer, computer user groups, computer users group, facebook, laptop, leopard, linux, mac, macbook, microsoft, sarnia, SCUG, ubuntu, vista, windows, xp | Leave a Comment »