iPad Shoppers Beware!

Please Note: This article is published in First Monday magazine April 2010.

iPad Shoppers Beware!
by Gregory West

Apple's iPad

To Buy or Not to Buy?

If you are bent on getting an iPad don’t ready any further. However, if you are trying to decide between buying a laptop and an iPad this article is for you.

I like my laptop because I can load any software, connect any device such as a digital camera, memory stick, backup drives, by USB connections. I like the idea of being able to load free software from any company or source and not be restricted to one company such as Apple.

“Your computer should be yours to control,” said Peter Brown, the Free Software Foundation’s executive director. “By imposing such restrictions on users, Steve Jobs (APPLE CEO) is building a legacy that endangers our freedom for his profits (The Microsoft Blog).”

For me, choosing a laptop is simple: Macbook. I run Windows XP and Windows 7 on my Mac laptop without a glitch. Of course there are many other laptops, notebooks and net books that work great too and all of them avail you the opportunity to install third party applications, many at no cost.

The iPad has landed in North America and is creating huge hype. Rightfully so! It is a wonderful device allowing for various functions. According to Wikipedia the iPad “is part of a device category between a smartphone and a laptop computer.” This may be true but it is not close to my Macbook laptop, not by a long shot.

For starters the hard drive is only 16 to 64 gigabytes (GB) of flash memory (a technology that is primarily used in camera memory cards). My laptop is 250 GBs and with a terabyte hard drive connected by USB, I now have a grand total of 1274 GBs of hard drive space. Very different from 16 to 64 GBs of the iPad.

The iPad’s 9.7-inch (25 cm) screen has a low end resolution of 1024 X 768. What this tech talk means is that the iPad will not support HDMI video which many have come to love. With high definition the rave…Why go back to a lessor screen resolution. This does not make sense.

Other features lacking in the iPad are: no camera, no webcam, no multitasking, no drag and drop file management, no USB port, no SD slot, no Flash, no HDMI out, no 1080p playback, and no native widescreen. Are we going backwards here? In 2005 it was “the Year of High Definition Video,” according to cnet.com. How come the iPad lacks these features?

Many are saying the iPad has its neat functions and is esthetically appealing. Just make sure you are getting the exact features you require in any tech device. Do your homework on this one.

[bi-line]
Gregory West is a Mac Instructor for Lambton College. 
He is also Webmaster at Central United Church, the home of the new COMMUNITY Computer Room at: http://central-united-church.org/news

Gregory Can be reached at: prospector16@gmail.com

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Leopard OS X – A Review & Preview

Missing Manual Leopard OS X

A Must Have

Mac OS X Leopard

The Missing Manual

by David Pogue
Published by O’Reilly Media Inc.
ISBN-13: 978-0-596-52952-9
Pages: 893
USA: $34.99 / CDA: $34.99
missingmanuals.com

If you love your Mac, you will love this book. This book details every aspect of the Leopard operating system, from simple to advanced. Looking up how to do something is fast and easy, although this book is a real treat for simply browsing topics to learn some tricks and tips that you won’t find in most other Help sections.

For instance, only about 4% of us back up our computers and now there is no excuse. Leopard comes equipped with its own backup system, Time Machine, and with this book you can easily follow the simple step-by-step process to ensure you never lose anything again. When working through these types of sections you can easily set up the process, read the technical stuff, or try out some of the exciting tips that are all highlighted: basic, moderate, and advanced data. But the bottom line is all these sections are designed to get you going, give you the “under-the-hood” scoops, and show you some magic tricks to boot that helps make this book a good read.

Apple created 300 new features inside Leopard, however they failed to let you in on many of the tricks and tips that “demystifies” this amazing new operating system. In this book David Pogue also shows “refugees”, who escaped Windows and moved to a Mac. Windows users need no other books, as Pogue shows where they went in Mac OS X 10.5.

This book is spread out in six parts: The Mac OS X Desktop, Programs in Mac OS X, The Components of Mac OS X, The Technologies of Mac OS X, Mac OS Online, Appendices.

In the first part you discover folders and windows and how to organize your data. Pogue takes you through the various items such as: Spotlight searching, using the Dock, Desktop and Toolbars and gives you an expert feel as you see how simple Leopard is to use.

Without a doubt, this book is a great refresher; it is one that you will refer to when you you’re stuck. The thing I really like about this book is that you can pick it up and open it anywhere and begin reading.  I highly recommend this book for all level of users, both as a learning tool, and as a quick reference guide. Before you call a technician for a problem, treat yourself to this “must have” book first.

GET A SNEAK PEEK PREVIEW OF THIS BOOK –  CLICK HERE

Review Written by Gregory West – Member of COMP & APCUG

FREE Computer Help 24/7

Please Note: This article will appear in the December issue of First Monday magazine.

No Strings Attached …

“Computer Problems Solved FREE OF CHARGE”
24/7 Service for the Public

http://tinyurl.com/ask-pamela

by Gregory West
prospector16(at)gmail.com

The title of this article is true. Just ask members of the Sarnia Computer Group: SCUG (www.scug.ca), as they know first-hand how fast and efficient this free service works.

All too often we find ourselves sinking in the mystery sea called Windows. We know what we would like to do but just can’t figure out the “how”. The further we click through our computers the worse our adventure becomes. We end up at a DEAD END and completely frustrated to the point of never wanting to turn the computer on ever again.

If the above situation sounds even remotely familiar, read on because now you are in luck and at no cost this time. Our saving grace: “The Computer Tutor”, Pamela Tabak.

When I was the editor for the Sarnia Computer Users’ Group (scug.ca) I met Pamela somewhere in Cyberspace as she was writing a monthly article in another computer group’s newsletter. The one thing that struck me strange was that this person was offering a free computer-help service, not only for free, but offered answers back within 24 hours. Of course, it wasn’t long until we had The Computer Tutor column on the Sarnia computer group’s team as a columnist. Many SCUG members who began using this free service quickly began raving how simple and fast the answers back came.

Pamela tells the story of an “old gentleman” who told her he purchased a new computer.  He contacted Pamela for help because he was “tired of waiting for a phone call from his children and grandchildren” for computer help. Pamela did help this man to learn about his computer. Pamela quickly points out that “it is never too late in life, or even impossible, for seniors to learn about them.”

So how does this free 24/7 help service work?

Simply go to this site: http://computertutorinc.net/survey/questions_2008.htm and fill out the form with the details of your problem/question. One thing to keep in mind is that you must fill out the entire form, not forgetting to enter your email address so Pamela can reply to your issue.

After many suggestions and requests Pamela made the decision to publish a book that demonstrates the main questions others have queried via email. Pamela’s new book comes with the “most frequently asked questions” by seniors using computers. It overflows with excellent “how to” computer tips.  Check it out her website at: http://www.computertutorinc.net and see how she is helping others. Oh yes, Pamela is also a certified Ebay instructor so if you have questions on Ebay fire away!

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. (www.butterscotch.com/tutorials.html)

Thanks to Gerry Timm of Sarnia, Ontario for Emailing me this excellent find.

Gregory West is a Mac Computer Instructor for Lambton College.  He also holds free “Basic PC Computer and Internet Training” seminars at Central United Church: 
http://central-united-church.org – (Click on “Groups).
Gregory can be reached at prospector16@gmail.com
More TIPS on Greg’s Blog: http://tips4computers.wordpress.com

eHow To Do It EASY

Here is a website that shows you HOW TO in many areas.

GREAT HOW TO DO THINGS WEBSITE

I find this site http://www.ehow.com/guide_5-computers.html very useful in the latest computer tips in PLAIN ENGLISH.

If you like video tutorials this site has them too:
http://www.ehow.com/videos.html – scroll down where it says: More Featured Videos and use the slide bar on the right to see tons of topics.

let me know how you find this site???

What’s New at Google Laboratory?

What’s New at Google Laboratory?
www.googlelabs.com

by Gregory West

Editor’s Note: This article will appear in the October Issue of First Monday magazine

Google has a secret place: Google Labs. It is not well known to most humans. This is the place some insiders refer to as the “playground” for Google engineers. For those of you who have never explored Google in the past, other than using Google Search, you are now in for a real treat inside Google’s Labs. Come on and check out the programs.

Let’s head to http://www.googlelabs.com and see what Google is currently testing. Here you will find twenty five software programs you can try and use for free.

FAST FLIP: (http://fastflip.googlelabs.com/) This program is one of my favourites. When you click open this program you are before a magazine stand displaying various newspapers and magazines with current content. You just click on one and begin your reading experience.

Newspapers and magazines are beginning to suffer due to their content being displayed on the Internet, Google feels this service can help. Tony Bradley of PCWorld reiterates that “Google feels that recreating the print media experience online will attract more readers and help its partner publishers transition more smoothly to delivering information over the Internet”. Time will tell, but for now, give this program a go and enjoy the FREE newspapers and magazines on your very own news stand.

GOOGLE NEWS TIMELINE: (http://newstimeline.googlelabs.com) This is another collection of news media presentations wherein you find the major stories of the day. Timeline is also a news “time machine” where you drag the dates and go back in time. A calendar allows you to change dates from DAY, WEEK, and YEAR to see how a subject changes over a certain period of time. According to cnet.com this “project is the baby of Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original designers of the Apple Macintosh software and something of a Silicon Valley icon”. It is a definite program to keep an eye on.

SIMILAR IMAGES: (http://similar-images.googlelabs.com) Is a fun program where you type in a name, place, or whatever you choose to retrieve “similar” images. I typed in “sarnia, ontario” and was amazed at the tons of photos that people have uploaded to the Internet. In fact, there are “about 467,000” Sarnia related pictures found in that search. Type in your own name and include sarnia, ontario and see the many times your related photo has been uploaded to the Internet. To check your name type it like this: “gregory west” sarnia, ontario (include the quotation marks). This is a good time waster and it is an interesting program, to say the least.

There are twenty two more programs to check out. Some of my other favourites are: Google Mars, Google Trends, and Google Dashboard Widgets for Mac to go nicely with my Macbook. Remember, this is Google’s “playground” and the programs are in the beta or test mode and are not ready for prime time just yet.

[bi-line]
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 this Fall. For info: www.centralunitedsarnia.ca/free_computer_lessons.html
Gregory can be reached at gregorywest@bell.net
Also, check out his Blog: Computer & Internet Tips:
http://tips4computers.wordpress.com

Keynote on CLOUD COMPUTING

At the end of October and November I am giving a Keynote presentation in both Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan for the two Computer User Groups:

Sarnia Computer Users Group

Computer Operators of Marysville and Port Huron

The topic: CLOUD COMPUTING.

Here is a demo of the beginning slide:

HELP for Computer HELP

Note: This was originally published in First Monday magazine.

HELP for Computer HELP

by Gregory West

Does your computer have a mind of its own? Do you find that it is becoming increasing difficult going it alone, or are you relatively new to computers and completely lost?

We know that all-too-many computer software HELP buttons do not really help, they tend to make things much more confusing than before you clicked on that button. You are not alone.

Stats Canada reports that in 2006 “More than three-quarters of all households reported owning a computer”.  According to internetworldstats.com there are 237,168,545 North Americans used the Internet as of November 30, 2007 and that figure is increasingly on the rise. Out of those numbers, today Seniors make up a good majority of the computer purchases and are looking for ways to learn about how to use the computer. However, not just Seniors are seeking help. There are many people who have missed out on learning computers for a variety of reasons and there is a growing need for computer help.

As a computer instructor, I show a group of Seniors at Central United Church how to perform various functions on the computer, as well as use the Internet in a safe and secure manner. Part of the session is a popular Q & A where you can bring your computer questions and resolve issues live, on a large screen, so everyone can see how “it” is done.

Not all people are ready for a group such as this; they are new to computers and need some basic training at a computer “boot camp”. Here in Sarnia Lambton we are very fortunate to have a Board of Education who recognizes that people need a place where they can go and learn basic computer skills. They have opened the doors at Norm Perry School with the “Adult Learning Centre” (ALC). Here there is help for anyone from ages 18 to 80+ to learn computers at their own speed.

Sean Pynaert is the computer instructor who has been teaching computer skills at the ALC for the past nine years. Sean says that about 1/4 of the students are in their early 20’s and most are Seniors. “I had a 68 year woman in my class, a retired teacher who wanted some extra income and wanted to go to a call centre to work part time and they wanted computers [experience]. These courses are excellent for those who have never touched a keyboard and can “work at their own pace”. Those who want to brush up their computer skills can pick out what they want to learn. “Some people come in and say they just want to learn how to type,” said Sean. There are three levels: basic, intermediate, and advanced. You can even earn credits towards a high school diploma with these courses.

Anyone who I have spoken with that has attended Sean’s computer sessions have had nothing but high praise for Sean and his courses and how easy he makes it to learn about computers and the Internet. To get your name on the list for the next sessions you can go to Norm Perry School at 660 Oakdale Avenue and ask to see Sean. Do it now; see how easy it is to learn computer skills, you will not regret it.

In Sarnia Lambton there are other ways you can improve your computer skills. For example, the Sarnia Computer Users’ Group has been around for over a quarter century where people are helping people learn more about computers and technology. Members’ skills range from basic to advanced and most are in between. For more information go to www.scug.ca. The Sarnia Public Library also offers computer help, as does the Strangway Centre.

FORUMS and WHAT ARE THEY? Absolutely millions upon millions of computer users are now members of online/Internet forums. If you need help in almost any topic answers are only a few keyboard clicks away. For instance, we bought a travel trailer and needed to know how to winterize it. Well not only did we easily find that out, we were given additional information, from other travelers, regarding trailers and campground reviews by people who had “been-there-done-that”. YouTube.com is another way to get computer help. There are thousands of videos there on “how to”. Just enter your topic in YouTube search box to retrieve a training video.

The same goes for computer help of any sort. Just go to Google’s search box and use the word “forum” or “training video” with the search topic. For example, if you are looking for computer help and it is for a specific operating system such as Vista, type that into the search along with the word: forum. i.e. Windows Vista forums. If it  is a program problem you insert the program’s name along with the word: forum. Make sure you check out the forums before you join to see if they are the ones that you find most helpful.

LOCAL PLACES TO GET COMPUTER HELP:

The Adult Learning Centre: Sean 519-383-8787 ($20. per 6 week session)
Lambton Libraries: 519 845-3324 (call to see when free courses available)
The Strangway Community Centre: 519-332-0656 (call for fees)
The Sarnia Computer Users’ Group: www.scug.ca (attend 3 meetings for free)
Computer Tutor: http://tinyurl.com/ask-pamela (free online advice within 24 hours)
Central United Church: www.centralunitedsarnia.ca (free computer sessions)
Lambton College: For more experienced computer users: www.lambton.on.ca

[bi-line]

Gregory West can be reached at editor@scug.ca. Gregory is the Editor for the Sarnia Computer Users’ Group [SCUG], a non-profit computer help group that is open to the public for Newbies and Geeks. For more information: www.scug.ca.