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help for seniors the easy way

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“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.

The Future of Computers is NO COMPUTERS

Note: This article will appear in First Monday Magazine next month…

The Future of Computers is NO COMPUTERS

By Gregory West

As a computer consultant and instructor I get asked which type of computer is a good deal and one that will last. As I explain the pros and cons of various computers, I know that they are in for a major change, and very soon computers will be a thing of the past.

We are now racing towards one of the most drastic changes in computer history. Welcome what I coin as: CLOUD COMPUTERS. We have all heard of the “Cloud” that exists on the Internet. Simply put, a “cloud” is a program where you store things such as photos (Flickr or Picasa), and videos (YouTube or Vimeo). Of course EVERYONE knows that you can store these on Facebook as well which is also a “cloud” program online.

I know, enough of the mumbo-jumbo computer talk and let’s get to the point.

Google is soon to announce its online operating system. This means you will not use your computer to use programs such as Word or Excel etc. These will be offered free in the new Google operating system. Soon there will be no more need for Microsoft’s XP, Vista, Windows 7, or even Apple’s Snow Leopard. It also means no more complicated computer systems. It will be somewhat like your TV and it will “just work”. You MUST watch this video: <http://bit.ly/91Fnm7googlecomputer> to see how it works.

No, Google’s new online operating system will not replace Apple or Microsoft systems just yet. However, this is a start to a very interesting future that is quickly unfolding before our very eyes. This new online operating system idea will virtually change the need for a computer. All we will need is a device that has a browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome. These will connect you to your online computer system.

Just think, many of us have been doing this for sometime now and not paying much attention…When you go online with your Smart Phone you are using a “Cloud Computer”. It can only get easier and better and less expensive. A full report on how this works is found here: <http://bit.ly/azhyJ6cloudcomputers>

George Orwell predicted 1984 as the year of “Big Brother” and I say that 2011 is the year we see “Cloud Computers”…I can’t wait.

[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&gt;. 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

TAKE THE TIME TO WATCH THIS MUST-SEE VIDEO

Rich Text Signatures in Gmail NOW AVAILABLE

Everyone uses an email signature. What, you don’t? Come on, get with it LOL.


signature at bottom of email

Rich text signatures in Gmail

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.
http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2010/07/rich-text-signatures.html

This works!!!!!!!

greg

Death to the mouse: Apples trackpad hits the shops | Technology | guardian.co.uk

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.

death of a mouse

Death to the mouse: Apples trackpad hits the shops | Technology | guardian.co.uk.

How can I prevent spyware on my computer ?

The Bad Guys Spyware and Malware

From ThePickey.com:

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.”

How can I prevent spyware on my computer ?.

10 Expert Tips For Microsoft Word 2010 | PCMag.com

10 Expert Tips For Microsoft Word 2010 | PCMag.com.

MS Word Tips

80% of Canadians Aged 16 and Older Use The Internet

You are not alone in Cyberspace anymore…
In fact, the number of Canadians using the Internet has risen 73% since 2007, according to a 2009 Stats Canada report. That means 21.7 million Canadians navigated the web for “personal” reasons. You probably agree  that those stats would be much higher if they include kids using the Internet.
ARE YOU A TYPICAL USER?
The TV has a huge battle with Internet users. The report shows: “Most (96%) Internet users aged 16 or older reported going online from home during 2009, while 42% said they used it from work, 21% from schools and 15% from libraries.
Those who use the Internet at home counted for “75% [who] went online every day during a typical month, up from 68% in 2007. In 2009, 55% were online for five hours or more during a typical week, up from 49% in 2007.”
EMAIL STILL NO ONE
Not surprising, email (93%) is still the number one program used online, although many more people are now searching health issues online, an increase use of 59%. Here are some more usage stats:
General browsing for fun or leisure       78%
Obtain weather or road conditions        75%
Education, training or school work       50%
View news or sports                                    68%
Make telephone calls                                  14%
Full Stats Canada Survey: http://bit.ly/statscan
PEOPLE STILL HARBOUR FEARS IN CYBERSPACE
Are you afraid to use your credit card or do your banking online? Apparently, the more experience people are with the Internet, “the less they worried about security issues. It revealed that Internet users with “less than five years, 55% were very concerned about online credit card use and 50% about banking over the Internet.
These proportions dropped to 42% and 37%, respectively, for those reporting five or more years of Internet use.” Not bad considering there was a large segment of the population who arrived late on the Internet scene.
Social Networking sites such as Facebook increase the popularity of the Internet. If many of your friends, neighbours, and relatives use Facebook…Chances are, so will you. Baby Boomers are extremely attracted to Social Networking, finding old friends,
keeping up with current ones and also family members. Oh yes, let us not forget those who seek for mates…Online Dating is huge, sorry but that is for another survey 😉
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 Gregory can be reached at: prospector16@gmail.com

Google Bans Windows PCs

Well, they have banned their employees from using any Microsoft operating system claiming they are NOT SAFE TO USE.

The employees can use either Apple or Linux based computers.

Computer World’s, Preston Grala, informs us that “John Pescatore, an analyst at Gartner who specializes in security issues told Computerworld “If [hackers] know that Google uses Macs, then they’ll just target the company with Mac malware.”

My take on this is that Google is flexing its’ tech muscle against a country and keeps its’ citizens repressed and restricted via Internet usage. Google wants to show the world they won’t put up with a hack attack by China or anyone else.

However, isn’t Google coming out with their own operating system that will compete against Micrsoft’s Windows 7? Yes they are.

Hey, would the US Army allow free access for Russian or Chinese agents to check out any files and computers they please? This is what China threatened through Microsoft’s known unsafe systems…

Hey, we all know that any computer can be hacked…It is simply an matter of time.

Personally, I believe Google and so does many security experts who are now stating that:

China hacked Google to steal U.S. industrial secrets

Why I Don’t Use Hotmail

down with hotmail

Still Using Hotmail? Read on...

Boo: Hotmail & Yahoo Mail

Why?…Read on…

The geeks know that when some says their email is suchandsuch@hotmail.com they cringe and think to themselves this person is stuck back in the 1990’s Microsoft Box.

As you will see below from http://www.webanalyticsworld.net hotmail has lost.

People are dumping hotmail for gmail in massive moves.

One reason is when Hotmail blocks, what it thinks to be a bad attachment for you, it is impossible to open that attachment.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FULL SCOOP

I must admit I am and never have been an Internet Explorer user. Back in the 1990’s I used Netscape and got stuck with Windows Outlook email until web mail came along. In 1997 Microsoft offered Hotmail as a free online email service.

Yes, I did use Hotmail back in the late 90’s but soon switched. I began trying out every email program “out there” and finally landed on Googles free: gmail and have not looked back.

Check out the ratings of Yahoo, Hotmail, and gmail and you see gmail the clear winner:

get gmail the best out there

Get GMAIL: The BEST email available in Cyberspace...

Now this is real news:

Overall we prefer Gmail over all other webmail applications because performance (speed) is consistently fast, and emails can be tagged making search much more effective. They also offer more storage and other features, and it’s free.”

And if you need more:

However, Yahoo and Live Hotmail offer more mainstream Outlook-like user interfaces (although Live Hotmail does not allow you to access other email accounts from their application), whereas Gmail takes some time to get used to. If you are looking for speed and tagging is important, Gmail is for you. If you are looking for the closest thing to Outlook online, go with Yahoo Mail.

For the full report analysis CLICK HERE

USB – What and Why For?

USB

USB storage device

This is its real name


What exactly are these devices & for what do we use them?

Gregory West

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…

Watch Windows Video on a Mac

If you are a Mac user and have been sent a video from someone who made it in Windows Movie Maker you will know how frustrating it is not to be able to open this monster.

FEAR NO MORE

watch windows movies on your mac

Free Flip4Mac Player

Download Flip4 RIGHT HERE

This software loads fast. Once you have it you can open Microsoft and play them instantly on your Mac. If they the movies are sent as an attachment in an email you just right click the attachment and click “Open With” and select this program.

Happy viewing…

A Windows 7 moment…

CAN’T RUN THAT OLD PROGRAM IN WIN

Oh yes you can…maybe!

See the missing manual series for more

Try this:

Click START an right above in the new search box start typing:
compatibility
until you see “Run programs made for previous versions of Windows”
Press Enter/Return button on your keyboard.

Tip: Right-click to get the wizard: Right-click a program’s icon, or shortcut icon, or even its name in the START menu; from the shortcut menu, choose “Troubleshoot compatibility.”

Answer the questions. You will come to a screen giving you a choice of auto or manual modes:

  1. try recommended settings (means let Windows do its thing)
  2. troubleshoot program (means find out what is wrong yourself)

Work through the question screens. When it is over you get a “Start the program” button to test if the program will run.

If this doesn’t work, return to the troubleshooting wizard and click “Next” for a new round of troubleshooting tests.

Good luck out there…

This is taken from a current review I am working on for OReilly Publishing:
Windows 7
the missing manual

by David Pogue

FarmVille Hype

FarmVille: 81 Million Users Online?
www.farmville.com
by Gregory West

Over 81 million active users flock to FarmVille to perform virtual farming daily. These people do chores they would have never dreamed of doing a year ago. Some are saying that this game is the largest and fastest growing game in history. Just think, this game started online June 19, 2009. The developer, Zynga, states that FarmVille “is bigger than Twitter and [was] valued at $1 billion last month (mashable.com)”.

FarmVille’s popularity is exploding online and won the most prestigious award this year: The 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards ceremony declared last month in Los Vegas that “the top honor in the ‘Social Networking Game of the Year’ category went to Zynga’s massively popular Facebook game FarmVille”.

Since this game is connected with Facebook, the developer Zynga, believes while people check in on their Facebook sites, they will also check into FarmVille and tend to their crops and help their neighbours with their farm work as well.

In the virtual farmland of FarmVille, farmers must first create their own avatar (a virtual image representing themselves). According to the rules there are “six plots of land, four of which are in the process of growing, and two (eggplant and strawberries) which are fully grown”. As in real life farming, the market calls the shots where items can be purchased such as “seeds, trees, animals, buildings, decorations, vehicles and more using “farm coins”.

The game comes with a few hooks as well and thus there is some controversy (depending on your viewpoint) in that you can buy virtual goods. “Zynga the game-makers encourage you to buy game things with real money. Some people (Techcrunch, Guardian) say that’s an exploitation of users who are swapping real money for fake things,” reports Leach. However, this is nothing new on the Internet and people can spend money virtually anywhere online if they so choose.

Upon beginning a farm, the player first creates a customizable avatar.[8] There are six plots of land, four of which are in the process of growing, and two (eggplant and strawberries) which are fully grown.
The game is based around the market, where items can be purchased: seeds, trees, animals, buildings, decorations, vehicles, and more land using “farm coins,” the generic money of FarmVille (which is earned by selling crops) or “farm cash”. (which the player earns at a rate of one dollar per experience level).

So, all of this begs the question: Why are people so drawn to FarmVille each day to milk their cows and chase chickens into coups and to “sow, grow and harvest crops (Anna Leach of shinyshiny.tv)”?

My wife is also working hard in FarmVille. She says that “you can play along, online, with all your friends” from across the globe. “You get a sense of guilt when you find your crops in desperate need of water and fertilizing,” she said.

“To me, Farmville works the same dynamic of calling on your nourishing instinct and then guilt-tripping you. The Tamagotchi effect, reported Leach. Tamagotchi is “a handheld digital pet [online] created in 1996. Over 70 million Tamagotchis have been sold as of 2008 (wikipedia)”. Remember the “pet rock” several years back? Even my mother bought one of those little pets.

For me, FarmVille is not an attraction. For those of you who are not into FarmVille you can go here to learn how to stop FarmVille posts on your Facebook site: http://tinyurl.com/ydk3ew2

Happy hoeing out there folks…

[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: http://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

A re-Blog: Computer Buyers BEWARE!!!

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.

[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 (http://central-united-church.org) this Fall.
Gregory can be reached at gregorywest@bell.net
Check out his blog for more free Computer & Internet Tips:
http://tips4computers.wordpress.com

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.

Email With Bank-type Security

Gmail Security

Top Security for Gmail Users

Now you can get the same security as your BANK by using https.

In gmail (not using gmail? shame on you LOL) go to SETTINGS and scroll down to where it says:

Browser Connection:

Make sure you check the box for “Always use https“. As you see above it is not checked by default.

Hey…It can’t get any easier!

O’Reilly Media HELP Website

Your Questions Answered HERE

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.

CLICK HERE to give this site a TEST DRIVE.

CLICK HERE and get involved with O’Reilly’s New Program

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

FREE VIDEO ADVICE

TIP OF THE WEEK: BUTTERSCOTCH

www.butterscotch.com/tutorials.html

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.

TRY THIS EXAMPLE VIDEO ON Ebay Shopping

Thanks to Gerry Timm of Sarnia, Ontario, Canada for this great tip.