GEEK CRUISE January 2012

geeks at sea

GEEKS at SEA

GEEKS @ SEA can you imagine?

computer convention at sea

The Florida Association of Computer User Groups (FACUG) is presenting its Third Technology Conference@Sea January 23, 2012 to Friday, January 27, 2012. APCUG plans to team up with FACUG and hold the 2012 Annual Meeting on the cruise.

There is no better vacation bargain than a cruise and no better cruise bargain than this one. Add to it a full-fledged Computer and Technology Conference on the high seas, add an Association of Personal Computer User Groups component (APCUG) and it becomes an outstanding event not to be missed. Do you want to be part of FACUG’s 3rd annual Conference@Sea on what promises to be another outstanding Sail-a-bration.

The cost of the 5 day/4 nights (interior cabin) is $249/person + tips including the FACUG $45 early-bird incentive refund; ocean-view is $299/person + tips. The Technology Conference Bahamas Cruise will be on the Norwegian Sky: Sailing on Monday, January 23, 2012 to Friday, January 27, 2012. FACUG is doing the work and dealing directly with Norwegian Cruise Line, since no travel agent allows us to offer this outstanding rate and some amenities.

Sailing from the Port of Miami, calling on the Grand Bahamas Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay then returning to the Port of Miami. The $249 rate includes fare, port charges and taxes minus $45 early-bird refund. This offer is valid only for conference attendees until May 15 or until we run out of cabins allocated to us; whichever occurs first. The Technology Conference@Sea registration fee is $75 ($100 for non-members). The first person in the cabin must be a member of an FACUG or APCUG club and $25 for the second person, who need not be a club member. Included in the conference fee are many extra perks, including a Welcome Bag full of goodies, two Meet & Greet cocktail parties which were a big hit last year and a few additional surprises.

There will be buses from several locations around Palm Beach County to the Port of Miami and back for about $15/person each way. We will look into buses from other points in Florida if there is sufficient demand.

Last year, we had 175 occupied cabins with 350 people. After the cruise, a survey was taken and 3/4 of the responders, including spouses, rated the event an “A”. It was called a great balance between conference time and party time. Ask your friends who were there.

If you are interested in sailing with us at the above early-bird rates, you first need to go to the FACUG website (www.facug.org) to register for the conference. You will then be directed to NCL directly, using the access information on the website to book your cabin. Remember, May 15 is the deadline whereby a $100/person deposit, will hold your cabin. It is refundable until 70 days prior to sailing. The balance is due 90 days prior to sailing. So get on board now and click this link www.facug.org to start this wonderful journey.

Our ship

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Imagine this conversation 15 years ago…

"Use anti virus software for safe computing."

"Use anti virus software for safe computing."

Beginning Drupal – an amazing book!

Review: by Gregory West
gregory@alternatecloud.com
VP Sarnia Computer Users’ Group
CEO AlternateCloud.com

Learn Drupal the easy way

This book is a must have for everyone webmaster

Beginning Drupal

by Jacob Redding
Published by O’Reilly Media Inc
ISBN: 978-0-596-80660-6
Pages: 480
Formats: ePub, Mobi
Price for eBook: $25.99

There is no question that Drupal web creation software has a steep learning curve. I personally can vouch for this statement. While in the very early days of learning Drupal I quickly came across a stumbling block where I found myself stuck. I could not create links to any of my webpages.

I have taken online Drupal courses, checked out YouTube video tutorials and I regularly visit the Drupal community and its forum for ideas and help. This time, even with the help on a fellow Drupal user in the forum, I came close to fixing my problem, however I just did not understand what it was the forum people were suggesting.

Armed with a bit on knowledge know, I opened up Redding’s “Beginning Drupal” book, went to the third and fifth chapters with the ease of keyboard click in this eBook and there it was…Step-by-step to get me back on track with my website using Drupal.

The book itself is very well laid out for beginners like me who know very little about Drupal software. The author explains this book is for “people who want a robust website and are not afraid to get their hands dirty.” The book begins with a history and full explanation of what exactly Drupal is and where you can get extra help. From there Chapter 2 takes us right into the install stage. The final chapters cover advanced topics and a “preflight checklist” to ensure you are on track.

What I really enjoy about this book is two-fold. The first is at the beginning of each chapter is a list of “What you will learn” and at the end there is an exercise of questions to make sure you got what the author was explaining. Also, there is a final statement of “What you have learned in this chapter.”

This book is well thought out and is the perfect reference book to keep beside your computer as it is definitely geared to ensure your Drupal journey is a smooth ride.

FREE Kindle eReaders Available Online

FREE Kindle eReaders Available Online
“Turn Your Computer Into an eReader”

by Gregory West

It just keeps on getting better in Cyberspace!

“WOW,” I hollered  when I learned I could get a free app (software program) that turns my computer into the Kindle eReader. It was a fluke coming across this beauty.

I ordered a technology book to review from OReilly Media. Usually my review books get emailed as a PDF or a real paper book. This particular book came as a an attachment in an email that my computer did not recognize, nor open. I tried and tried to open the file without success. Finally, after emailing OReilly’s back, they explained about the free app to run the Kindle eReader on a computer.

Marsee Henon, from O’Reilly Media (www.oreilly.com/ebooks), explained that “our ebooks work not only on a Kindle, but also on the Kindle app offered on Macs, PCs, iPads, and other devices.”

At first I didn’t believe it would actually work. I clicked to the amazon website (listed below) and downloaded the program, all the while, still thinking it probably won’t work. Even when I had the program downloaded, it wasn’t until I clicked on the ebook attachment in OReilly’s email when a miracle happened. The ebook opened on my computer and I had my very own Kindle on my laptop. Amazon also through in several free books too. Yeah!

Marsee sent me the links (listed below) for the free download. If you have a Windows computer less than 12 years old, or a Mac computer with an Intel chip, you should have no problem using your computer as a Kindle eReader. You can check the required specs on the following websites.

Choose one of the links below and download the Kindle app for your computer.

Windows PC computer users:

http://amzn.to/windows_kindle

Mac computer users: Snow Leopard and Lion
http://amzn.to/snowleopard_lion_kindle

Mac computer users: Leopard
http://bit.ly/leopard_only

The Kindle application for your computer offers many functions, “including functionality such as zoom and pan, highlighting, note taking, dictionary lookup, and bookmarks,” according to Amazon.com.

Once you get your free Kindle eReader app  visit the Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org) where there are over 30,000 book titles. These books are free as the copyrights have run out. There are some real gems to be had here. Treat yourself this free eReader; you will be amazed with this easy-to-use technology. I know I enjoy my new free Kindle.

PROBLEM – Last month a reader emailed me that he had a problem after downloading the anti malware program (Superantispyware.com) I wrote about in the June issue called: “Make Your Computer Run Brand New Again”. He said the program worked fine then “it began asking for $19.95”. He also said he had an difficult time trying to remove this program.
SOLUTION -After several emails and a telephone conversation it was discovered this reader clicked the “UPGRADE” button. This took him away from his free version to the paid version. Moral of the story: Be careful what you click. “UPGRADE” usually means a better program and one that costs. The reader was thinking he was getting an “UPDATE”. Therein lies the difference: UPDATE is when a program fixes or makes it better or safer to use. UPGRADE is taking you to the paid version.

PROBLEM –  Another reader said his computer had a virus. This nasty thing disabled his anti virus program and he could not get rid it. The virus warned him if he paid for their anti virus his computer would be fixed. His computer had been “hijacked” and he was being held for ransom. This is quite common and usually simple to fix.

SOLUTION – I told the reader to start his computer in “SAFE MODE”, then run his own anti virus program. This caught the nasty virus, deleted it and now he is a happy computer user. Be careful what you click on in Cyberspace…It may cost you!

If you have a computer problem or a great tip, please pass it along to Greg at First Monday and he will post it in the next issue.

Gregory can be reached at: gregory@alternatecloud.com
A website for Seniors learning technology: http://alternatecloud.com
For more tips visit his Blog: https://gregorywest.wordpress.com
Free Computer Help Seminars: Grace United Church – 519-542-1203

“Facebook Changes – Why”

change

“Facebook Changes – Why”
by Gregory West

Cyberspace is alit with flareups from all of us using Facebook this past while. People are screaming that they are quitting Facebook and going to Google Plus (many are doing just that) while others have already switched to other social media spots such as Twitter and LinkedIn. I personally believe, even though the Internet is amass with complaints about Facebook’s new changes, people will stay with Facebook. They will click their way into learning the new Facebook and any other changes they may throw at us. Why?

The adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t hold water anymore, at least not in the online world where many of us now reside much of the time.  Like it or not, we necessitate change online. We demand things work faster, easier and are activated from anywhere, anytime, and by anyone. Plus, these online companies are no different than “brick and mortar” businesses: they all need to make money to survive. Facebook is moving into a new arena where they can make even more money. “The company is expected to bring in $3.8 billion in worldwide advertising revenue this year and $5.8 billion in 2012, according to research firm eMarketer.” (Washington Post)

While discussing Facebook, people admit that it is the first website they check when going on the Internet in the morning, even before any news sites or email programs – Facebook is many people’s first choice for keeping up; keeping connected is very important to many of the 800 million users who now use Facebook. The Post says that, “Facebook is a technology company that wants to keep improving its products so that people keep using it and it doesn’t grow stale.”

I remember reading a book in college by Alvin Toffler: “Future Shock” wherein Toffler described how people would not be able to accept the rate of change. Toffler wrote, “too much change in too short a period of time”. I believed this would happen, but it never did. The book was written before the Internet was born, although ironically, Toffler “popularized the phrase information overload” (wikipedia).

We are a connected society now. One just has to look to the streets, to the malls, along sidewalks and in grocery store lineups. What is it you see? People staring at their smart phones, connected in a “brave new world”. These are the people who are learning to tolerate and navigate through the rough seas of change, be it a computer, a tablet or a smart phone. It is so much part of our lives today that these devices, once called “toys” are now a major necessity. We are, and we will, continue to live with change – I believe deep down we must thrive on change, otherwise Alvin Toffler would have been correct back in 1970.

If you have a computer problem or a great tip, please pass it along to Greg at First Monday and he will post it in the next issue.

Gregory can be reached at: gregory@alternatecloud.com
SENIORS NOW GET FREE HELP on this website: alternatecloud.com
Free Basic Computer Help for Seniors: Grace United Church – 519-542-1203

New Google Search Series

This is a change from my normal blog. This time the article(s) and videos are in the LambtonShield online newspaper.

I am doing a 3 part series on the new Google Search. This is also part of a live presentation I am doing for the Sarnia Computer Users’ Group in Sarnia, Ontario.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO AND ARTICLE: CLICK HEREgoogle search

 

Make Your Computer Run Brand New Again

Don't Let This Bug You

They say that computer users belong to a group known as procrastinators when it comes to maintenance. I confess I sometimes fall into this group too often and get reminded its time when someone cries out their “computer is so slow”.

In the old days of computing we had to manually clean out files and programs on our computers. This is when we had to know what we were doing. Cottage industries quickly grew in popularity, taking on the task of cleaning up computers. These businesses still flourish today. However, you can easily avoid the high costs of sending your computer in for repair by doing it the easy way: Do it yourself.

For some fun I called a local computer repair business to find out what it would cost to clean up my very slow computer. I don’t have a slow computer, I was curious on some pricing. I know it would be costly but I was not ready for the price of $101.70 for virus removal, of which they would not guarantee to get all the viruses or spyware. They suggested spending $113.00 for a complete format of my hard drive, meaning it would wipe everything from my computer and I would lose all the data. Wow!

What is a person to do?

My advice is to NOT pay these high costs when you can very easily do the same work yourself with a few clicks with a mouse? Want to learn more? Read on…

There are usually three issues that can slow down your computer.

  1. Malware and Spyware: Spyware and Malware software “programs can collect various types of personal information” (wikipedia.org) and redirect you to unsafe websites while on the Internet. It gets worse in that “Spyware is known to change computer settings, resulting in slow connection speeds, different home pages, and/or loss of Internet connection or functionality of other programs.” Here is a free program you should download and run:
    http://superantispyware.com
  2. Wasted Hard Drive Space: More than likely your computer is clogged up with junk files, unused useless files, traces of your Internet searches and other data that puts your registry out of sync. In the past, a highly trained technician was the only one to repair this section of your computer. Now the same task can be easily performed by you, and done extremely fast. The program to download for free is called CCleaner found at http://www.piriform.com/. You will note that more than 600 million people have already downloaded this program and it comes highly recommended for computer maintenance.
  3. Slow Starting Computer:I have worked on computers that are so slow starting up I didn’t think the machines was even going to run at all. Some didn’t. Those that were so slow starting were terribly slow running and some people said they could put a load of laundry in while waiting for the computer programs to appear.The problem could very well be that there are too many programs on your computer fighting for startup at the same time. Everything on your computer wants to begin running at the same time and that makes for a very slow computer. Why would you have a full blown office program starting up when you are not going to use it right away? What to do, you ask?

    CCleaner does a fast and amazing job of cleaning “up your Taskbar, ActiveX, Brower and Startup programs. WinPatrol monitors and exposes adware, keyloggers, spyware, worms, cookies, and other malicious software (cnet.com).”  A real benefit of this program also is that it keeps a watchful eye for you as it takes “a snapshot of your critical system resources, then alerting you to any changes that occur without your knowledge.” This is a good way to know if the bad guys have tried to enter your computer without your knowledge.

If your computer is still running strange, then you should consider formatting your hard drive, which means a reinstall of your operating system. Here are some websites that will help you:

Windows XP:    http://bit.ly/lhPy7g
Windows Vista: http://bit.ly/kagWR9

Windows 7:       http://bit.ly/ivEwt4

Good luck and I hope the first three items work well for you and no further work is required. Email me and let me know how you make out.

Gregory can be reached at: gregory@alternatecloud.com

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Free Computer Help Seminars: Grace United Church – 519-542-1203