“The technician set up my laptop, now what do I do?”

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE CAN BE REPRODUCED

BY GIVING ACKNOWLEDGMENT TO THE AUTHOR.

“The technician set up my laptop, now what do I do?”

By Gregory Westdionsaur and kid in costume

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.

[bi-line]

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

Windows 7 – Complete Access

Guest Article:

Control All Functions in Windows 7 with “God Mode”

by Ira Wilsker

God Mode

Take Control

WEBSITES:

While Windows 7 generally works fine as they come from Microsoft with all of the default settings in place, many of us cannot resist tweaking our operating systems. In Windows 7 we can click on START (the orb) and CONTROL PANEL which will display the menu of most of the items that can be tweaked. Alternatively, the user can go directly to “SYSTEM” (START – CONTROL PANEL – SYSTEM) which will open the Control Panel Home where the basic customization functions can be located. For the past several months, geeks have been exchanging information about an undocumented Windows 7 feature. While this feature works very well on Windows 7, some published reports indicated that there have been problems using this feature with Vista. Based on published reports, I cannot recommend that users utilize this function on Vista. This undocumented function will display virtually all of the possible Windows 7 controls and tweaks in one place. Since this single command opens up so much of the innards of the operating system, and gives the user such great control, geekdom has given this control the moniker of “God Mode”. For those who would prefer not to refer to the deity in a Windows function, the user can easily change the name displayed to any name or title of his choosing.

To setup God Mode on the computer, the procedure is very simple. First, right click on an empty spot on the desktop, and go to NEW and then FOLDER (click on FOLDER); this will create a new, empty, generic folder on the desktop. Second, right click on the newly created folder and click on RENAME; in the box displayed, enter the following exactly (it may be manually typed, or pasted):

God-Mode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

It is here that the user can replace the name “God-Mode” with any other name or title to the left of the “period” if he so chooses. If you prefer to copy-and-paste, all of the links above have the exact string that can be copied and pasted into the name box for the new folder. Once that large string is entered for the name, the generic folder icon will automatically be replaced by the default Windows control panel icon. Now is when the fun really starts.

Clicking on the newly created icon will open up the “God Mode” (or whatever you chose for its name). God Mode offers easy access to 268 tweaks and controls, many of which most users are blissfully unaware that they exist. While none of the selected tweaks are terminal or irreversible, I strongly suggest that the user frequently create a system restore point in case the user wants to restore the computer to an earlier time. In Windows 7, click START – CONTROL PANEL – SYSTEM – SYSTEM PROTECTION – CREATE. Enter a brief description, and the time and date will be automatically appended to the chosen name of the restore point. If the user wants to use God Mode to create a restore point, simply scroll down to SYSTEM and click on “Create a restore point” and click on CREATE. The process is the same as if the same selection was found manually. If the user wants to restore the computer and go back to an earlier point in time, open God Mode and under the “Action Center” heading simply click on “restore your computer to an earlier time”; that will start the system restore process, which will not harm or delete any data files.

The God Mode display shows almost three dozen categories in its menu, each category having a selection of related tasks. Some of the categories include the Action Center, Administrative Tools, Backup and Restore, Date and Time, Default Programs, Device Manager, Devices and Printers, Display, Ease of Access, Fonts, Internet Options, Mouse, Network and Sharing, parental Controls, Personalization, Power Options, Programs and Features, Sound, System, Troubleshooting, Windows Defender, Windows Firewall, and Windows Update, among many others. Each of these categories contains a variety of tasks and tweaks, and by clicking on the task will open it and display whatever information and selections are available.

One of the several critical security functions is the firewall, which controls access to the computer from online sources, and controls which programs can access the internet. To control or access the firewall from God Mode, scroll down to “Windows Firewall” and click on “Check firewall status”. That will open the firewall window, and display the results and user-selectable settings. When finished the window can be closed, or by clicking on the back (left) arrow returns the user to God Mode.

In God Mode under the “System” heading there are 20 selections, including several that allow the user to control system performance, check the RAM in the computer, open the device manager, control the virtual memory, and access other performance related functions. It is much faster to access these System utilities with God Mode than it is to get to the same place manually, plus since all of the functions are laid out in plain sight, other tweaks can be quickly and easily identified.

` Many users never change the default Windows sounds, even though they are totally customizable. From God Mode, scroll to Sound, and select “Change system sounds”. When the “sounds” window opens, clicking on the “Sound Scheme” will show the selection of sound themes available, and give the user the opportunity to select sounds for any Windows function.

Under the heading “Personalization” are 12 tweaks that can be used to manipulate the desktop, change the color scheme or theme, get more free themes online, control the screen saver, and perform several other tasks. Without using God Mode, each of these functions would have to be found and accessed individually, but with God Mode, they all are in one place.

` “Mouse” allows the user to control all aspects of the mouse. The user can easily select the mouse pointer, change other mouse settings, select mouse buttons, and control the appearance of the mouse cursor on screen.

The “Internet Options” heading in God Mode offers the user 14 sets of internet tweaks and controls. Since many of us spend significant time online, some of these tweaks may increase our online satisfaction. It should be noted that the tweaks selected in this category only change Internet Explorer settings, and do not impact other browsers such as Firefox. The user can control pop-ups, cookies, security settings, select search providers, set a homepage (website shown when Internet Explorer is opened), manage browser add-ons, and other browser tasks.

There are about two dozen other categories available in God Mode, and anyone interested in tweaking his computer would find this undocumented feature very valuable. I now use God Mode exclusively to access Windows 7 functions, and have found it very fast, and an easy way to locate whatever tasks I am seeking. It takes almost nothing to set it up, and users will find it very simple to work with. Remember to create frequent restore points (accessible from God Mode), just in case something done is not as expected, so the computer can be restored to an earlier time. With that proviso in mind, enjoy the power (and responsibility) that God Mode provides the user.

Your Business Needs Foursquare

“A company of McDonald’s size spends millions on advertising every year, and yet a simple $1,000 Foursquare campaign netted the company measurable success. Of course, the metric here was checkins (not sales), and there were likely several other factors contributing to the campaign’s success, but it’s still a story that many an agency should pay heed to.” (SOURCE)

Check out how a church uses Foursquare: CLICK HERE

Snooze You Looze

Google domain names

Snooze or Looze out on your Google Domain Name



Only $10

For instance, I managed to scoop up: gregorywest.org for my personal domain name.

WHY YOU MAY ASK?

Google is soon to announce its FREE Operating System that I believe will completely change the way we do things on a computer and online. No more high costs of Microsoft Windows 7 or Office programs…Google offers it free and then some.

HOW TO GET YOUR PERSONAL DOMAIN?

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR NEW BEGINNING WITH GOOGLE

FACEBOOK Ghost Busters…And More PC Tips

Editor’s Note: This article will be published in First Monday Magazine August 2010 edition.
ghostFACEBOOK GHOST-BUSTERS – & Computer Tips

By Gregory West

Recently in the news, there are stories of Facebook users having ghosts appear on their computer screens, reminding them of days-gone-by. This is good for some, as it brings happy memories, however many people find it “kinda creepy seeing dead people wishing them ‘Happy Birthday’, etc.  “It’s a very sensitive topic,” said Meredith Chin, a (Facebook) company spokeswoman, “and, of course, seeing deceased friends pop up can be painful” (New York Times).
As Facebook quickly reaches a near one-half billion members, as people die their Facebook site lives on, sometimes sending messages to relatives. That in itself is comforting to some people but not others. Some people may find it creepy. “People over 65 are adopting Facebook at a faster pace than any other age group, with 6.5 million signing up in May alone…so the problem is only going to get worse” (Toronto Star). So, what’s the real issue?
If you want to shut this off you will have a very difficult time finding “how to”. Here is how to make the necessary changes. Go to this Facebook site:
(http://bit.ly/9jZp7m-facebook) and fill out the form. The preamble for the form states:
“Report a deceased person’s profile
IMPORTANT: This form is solely for the reporting of a deceased person to memorialize or remove the person’s account. Memorializing the account removes certain sensitive information and sets privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the Profile or locate it in search. The Wall remains, so that friends and family can leave posts in remembrance. Please note that unrelated inquiries through this form may not receive a response.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Sarnia has live eyes:
The 402 Highway in our area now has webcams so you can view the road and traffic conditions live…Not all are working but it is worth a peek:
How to Email those large vacation photo files:
We know that your Internet Service Provider limits the file sizes that you Email, including photos. So what can one do? There are several things you can do. Try resizing your photos when Emailing them to friends and family. Go to the Microsoft website for a free download of the software program needed for resizing photos: (http://bit.ly/aAAihD-microsoft).
If you want to maintain the large sized photos you can send them using this free software that will Email the recipient a link to the photos so they can easily download them. Send photo and data files by Email up to 100 megabytes in size using: (http://www.yousendit.com)
Of course you can always use an Internet site to edit and store your photos. When you want to send them you do it using a link that is created by the software. For example, try Google’s free Picasa photo editing and storage website: (http://picasaweb.google.com) – Picasa is recommended by many professional photographers who say this is great for the beginner and the pro.
[bi-line]
Gregory West is a Mac Instructor for Lambton College. 
He is also Webmaster at Central United Church, the home of Sarnia’s new 
COMMUNITY Tech School at: http://central-united-church.org/news. This is free and open to the public as a community service.
Gregory can be reached at: prospector16@gmail.com
For more tips visit his Blog: https://gregorywest.wordpress.com

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

Fall LineUp for FREE Computer Training Seminars

FREE COMPUTER & INTERNET TRAINING

By Gregory West

This is our 3rd. season for our Basic Computer and Internet Training Seminars. It is a FREE program open to the public.

Free Computer / Internet TrainingFree Computer / Internet Training

The only catch is that you can bring one canned goods product for a donation to the Sarnia Food Bank.

Here is our proposed lineup and it is numbers by the weeks of the presenation order.

I am looking for suggestions and comments so PLEASE email me: prospector16@gmail.com (Greg West)

Getting Started with Your Computer…and then some!

1: Buying a Computer.

– what to look out for
– what kinds are good ones
– what stores are better and safer
– is that low price really a good deal
– what do you need inside your computer
– how much should I spend

2: Setting Up Your Computer.

– add password
– additional users
– set time & date
– set screen size
– turn off computer

3: Getting around the Windows Desktop.

– taskbar
– quick launch bar
– recycle bin
– desktop shortcuts
– change desktop picture
– start button/menu
– arrange desktop icons (R-click)
– recycle bin
– find a file with Win Explorer
– start a program
– switch between programs
– resize a window close a program
– how to remove USB devices

4: Customizing Windows.

– change desktop background
– choose a desktop theme
– set up a screen saver
– change mouse behavior
– uninstall an application

5: Working with Files and Folders.

– understand how Windows organizes data
– find and open files
– choose a file or folder view
– create new folder
– rename folder
– search for a file
– add file to favourite list (open windows by Right click START and choosing EXPLORE
– back up – USB, CD, DVD

6: Working with Printers, Scanners, and Fax Machines.

– invite guest from Data Tek or Staples to demonstrate

7: Getting FREE Help

http://support.microsoft.com/windowsvista
– forums
– using search engines such as google & bing

8: Creating Documents with Works Word Processor.

doc = documents
– open new documents – enter & edit text
– save a doc
– open existing doc
– cut copy paste text
– format text
– add photo or graphic
– resize objects
– spell check
– print a doc
– types of text file such as rich text etc.

9: Work with Numbers and Finances.

– spreadsheet – guest speaker
– online banking – guest speaker from a bank
– online investing – as above
– pay bills online – my wife

10: Get the Most from Movies and Digital Photos.

– Windows Media Player
– Windows Photo Gallery
– Googleʼs Picasa
– Windows Movie Maker
– play movies with Windows Media Player
– upload photos from digital camera
– view digital image in Windows Photo Gallery
– add tags to photos
– play a slide show with Windows Photo Gallery
– fix photos
– burn photos to CD

11: Listening to & Downloading (recording) Music and more…

– iTunes
– Windows Media Player
– create Windows Media Player Playlist
– burn CD music
– buying music online
– playing online Radio Stations & Podcasts & TV

12: Playing Games in Windows Vista.

I am not a game player. I am sure we can get a few people to help demonstrate some of the computer games they like to play. We can show how to find FREE games, how to play games on the Internet against other people around the world in live sessions. And of course we can set a general discussion and live demonstration.

Exploring the Internet

13: Understanding Internet Basics.

– explain the Internet
– different types of connections & speeds
– navigate the web: enter click on blue E show back and forth
– tabbed browsing etc.
– popups
– setup a home page with tabs
– secure surfing and online safety

14: Browsing the Web with Internet Explorer & FireFox

– add website to favourites
– change website name in favourites
– organize favourites
– customize Internet Explorer Toolbar
– download files and save to hard drive doc
– printing web pages
– playing podcasts
– finding podcasts
– cookies
– privacy settings
– enable content advisor

15: Keeping in Touch with E-Mail.

– set up an account
– set up Windows Mail
– Windows Mail and inbox
– manage email accounts
– create and send email
– send an attachment
– read a message
– reply to and forward email
– create and add signature
– format email messages
– add contacts
– customize Windows Mail
– create message folders
– organize messages in folders
– create mail rules
– spam

16: Connecting with People Online.

– Skype phone calling free phone calling between computers anywhere on
 the planet
– instant messaging what is it and how does it work
– use a webcam (it is really easy honestly)
– Magic Jack phone via computer
– Blogs and their many uses
– explore virtual worlds – secondlife.com madwolfsw.com
– find people with common interests
– playing games on the Internet live with other people for free

Taking Care of Your Computer.

17: Protecting Windows Computers.

– cleaning inside and out and save yourself lots of money
– FREE virus protection that really works
– spyware
– adware
– malware
– Windows Defender included in Vista
– update patches Microsoft automatically
– run Windows Update
– enable Windows firewall
– run Windows Defender scan
– full scan, quick scan and custom scans

18: Maintaining Windows.

– defrag
– free up disk space
– delete cookies using IE
– set reminder for maintenance tasks
back up important files

PLEASE HELP ME OUT HERE:

IF YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS, IDEAS, WANTS, OR NEEDS WITH YOUR COMPUTERING TASKS PLEASE LET ME KNOW VIA EMAIL TO: prospector16@gmail.com

WE WILL BEGIN THESE FREE SEMINARS AT CENTRAL UNITED CHURCH THIS COMING FALL. LAST TWO YEARS WE RAN THESE SEMINARS EACH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. NOT SURE OF THE TIME AND DATE THIS SEASON – IT WILL BE POSTED IN EMAILS AND ON THE CHURCH WEBSITE www.centralunitedsarnia.ca

OF COURSE ANYONE WHO WOULD LIKE TO HELP ME OUT WITH THE MEETINGS AND PLANNING IDEAS FOR OUR SEMINARS CAN CONTACT ME VIA EMAIL. I NEVER TURN DOWN HELP :-)

Note: Outline for this came from Computers For Seniors For Dummies as a guideline
 reference.