Free computer & tech help for seniors

Computer & tech help for seniors

Computer & tech help for seniors

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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

“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

Your Parents Now Have a Laptop? Good Luck!

Santa Brought Your Parents

A Laptop! Oh No?

By Gregory West

Don’t read any further, unless you need to “Teach your parents well…”

I have always enjoyed seeing people get computers for the first time. Although it is hard to detect the look in their eyes: horror or excitement.

My first computer was in 1972, it was the size of a house, well not really, but close. It was a beast of a machine, an IBM 360 located in the data centre where I worked as a keypunch programmer. My first home computer was in 1984, a Mackintosh desktop, much smaller but not easier to use. It had no help buttons as it came with an extra box of instructional manuals. I couldn’t call others for help because hardly anyone had a home computer back then. Some people still experience huge learning curve with their first computer.

Your parents and/or grandparents may get their first computer from Santa this year…look out!  Your life will never be the same. Guess what they probably know where you live. They know your home and cell phone number. They even have your work phone number. They may have mastered the art of texting. You cannot escape from the proverbial: “How do I do this?”

I know people who literally hide. They screen calls. They turn out lights and read from the reflection of their computer screens or light candles fearing a drive-by from parents. All in an effort to evade the constant cry for tech help from relatives who want to learn but cannot figure it out alone.

Sure, we must admit it is fun at first. Seeing them slowly getting the gist of how to send and receive an email. The look in their eyes when they perform their very first Google search. This is all well and good, and even sort of healthy. But when you leave them home alone, that is when it starts. The constant queries begin like this:

Parent: “HELP me.”

You: “What did you do?”

Parent: “Nothing, I didn’t touch a thing. The computer won’t do anything.”

You: “Did you reboot the computer?”

Parent: “Do what?”

You: “Restart your system.”

Parent: “Do I unplug everything?”

You: “Never mind, I’ll be right over, AGAIN.”

It won’t stop here with one visit. Now they really start seeking you out…STOP! Wait a minute. This is our parents we are talking about. The ones who asked Santa for that computer, the same one we talked them into asking Santa. Now it is our moral duty to stand up and be counted, to come to their rescue. We are like super sons and daughters. But how can we accomplish this almost impossible task and keep our sanity?

Never fear, Google is here. Google realized this is a massive problem for many siblings and most just don’t have the time to help and designed free training videos.

Introducing: “Send your parents A TECH SUPPORT care package.” from Google. No, this is not a scam, it for real. As of this writing 13,999 parents have received this care package. Ok, I can hear the questions: ”What is it”?

Google’s TECH SUPPORT is your “saving grace”. And to be honest, you might just learn some tips and tricks yourself from these videos. Here’s how it works:

There are five categories: BASICS – WWW – COMMUNICATION – MEDIA – FINDING INFORMATION. Within each category you find real help video topics in the BASIC as Copy & Paste, Screensavers, Backgrounds, Make Text Larger or Smaller. Others such as in the WWW, as Upgrade Your Browser, Make Strong Passwords, Make a Bookmark etc. All-in-all there are 37 training videos produced by Google to assist in learning basic computer to digital photos, sound, and much more. Each video is very easy to follow along and learn at one’s own speed. One I really like is the “How to Unsubscribe to a Newsletter” sent by email subscription. It is easy. You send your parents the training video that matches their problem or program they want to learn.

I call this new GOOGLE TECH SUPPORT a “Post Christmas” must have for everyone. I will be within these 37 videos even you will find something you didn’t know or have forgotten how. Best of all, it is free with no scams attached.

For peace of mind go here to check out Google’s new TECH SUPPORT video training: http://www.teachparentstech.org

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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@gmail.com
For more tips visit his Blog: https://gregorywest.wordpress.com

 

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.