Free computer & tech help for seniors

Computer & tech help for seniors

Computer & tech help for seniors

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Windows FREE Office 2010

Microsoft Rolls Out “SkyDrive” Online Office Apps and Storage

by Ira Wilsker

WEBSITES:

http://explore.live.com/windows-live-skydrive

http://docs.google.com

 

It is obvious that there is some heavy competition between Microsoft and Google in¬†¬†the online document market.¬†¬†About a year ago I wrote about the services offered by Google Docs (docs.google.com), which includes free online document creation and editing, along with online storage and collaboration.¬†¬†Microsoft has also been providing a somewhat similar service, originally with its Office Live Workspace (beta), but now with its enhanced and upgraded SkyDrive service, which is also free (explore.live.com/windows-live-skydrive).¬†¬†While the office components in Google Docs are generally compatible with Microsoft Office, Microsoft’s SkyDrive provides a free online version of Office.¬†¬†Since SkyDrive is online, it is accessible from anywhere there is an internet connection, and works with most browsers; I tried it on Firefox and Internet Explorer, and it worked flawlessly on both browsers.¬†SkyDrive is platform independent, and works equally well on a PC and a MAC, or any other operating system with a compatible browser and internet access.¬†¬†Documents can be “collaborated” and edited or shared with others, even if the other users do not have Microsoft Office.¬†¬†Microsoft SkyDrive offers 25MB of free storage, an adequate if not generous amount of storage space for almost all users.¬†¬†SkyDrive requires registration, which is free; registered users of most other online Microsoft products, such as the other Microsoft Live services, Hotmail or Messenger can use their existing usernames and passwords on the SkyDrive service.

One of the primary features is the “Office Web Apps for SkyDrive”, which includes online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.¬†Clicking on the “Office” link will open up the basic Office App page, where the desired application can be opened.¬†¬†The first window for all of the apps is very simple, where the user is asked to enter the name of the document.¬†¬†I started typing this column on the online Office Word App, and the screen was almost identical to the desktop version of Word.¬†¬†Anyone who can use Word, or another similar word processor, will find the online Word app familiar and easy to use; almost all of the features, commands, controls, and features of the desktop version are available in the free online version of Word.¬†¬†In terms of functionality, I could not find any significant differences between the web and desktop versions of Word.¬†¬†The user can choose to save the file on the SkyDrive servers (the default), print, and share the document.¬†¬†Under the “Share” option, others can be invited to view or edit the document, all under the control of the original user.

As with Word, the online Excel App has the same look and feel as the desktop version of Excel.¬†¬†To open a new workbook, the clean opening screen asks the user for a file name, and then the workbook opens.¬†¬†Once data is entered, there is no “Save” button, as the Excel App continuously saves the workbook as it is produced.¬†¬†The user also has the option to “Save As” and save the workbook under another name.¬†¬†Unless explicitly downloaded to the computer, all of the workbooks are saved to the SkyDrive servers.¬†¬†Workbooks can be selectively shared with others, while the others can be granted access only to view the workbook, or edit it; this is the heart of online document collaboration.

I frequently do PowerPoint presentations, and the SkyDrive PowerPoint app offers the ability to create, edit, store, and show a PowerPoint presentation from anywhere there is internet access.¬†¬†When opened, the PowerPoint app has the same look and feel of the desktop version, and uses the same command set.¬†¬†As with Excel, there is no “Save” button, as the presentations are automatically saved as they are created.¬†¬†One interesting feature is that when a PowerPoint presentation is shown (“View – Slide Show”) it opens in a browser pop-up window, so the user must allow browser pop-ups from the application in order for the slide show to be viewed.¬†¬†If connected to a projector, the output looks the same as if it was from a desktop version of PowerPoint.¬†¬†As with all of the other Office online apps, the user can choose to share the file with others, and selectively allow others to edit the file.¬†¬†Since Microsoft provides 25MB of free storage, SkyDrive is a practical place to store presentations; if for some reason the presentation must be shown from a computer lacking Office, the SkyDrive file can be shown, as long as there is internet access.

Microsoft OneNote is hard to explain, but basically both the desktop and SkyDrive App versions are both note-taking utilities.¬†¬†OneNote can easily organize any notes that are taken, and would be useful in a classroom, organizational, or professional environment where notes are taken.¬†¬†OneNote looks like a simplified version of Word, but allows the user to “flag” important points, or quickly search for desired terms or phrases.¬†¬†OneNote can incorporate images, web pages, and video, and can itself be incorporated into Word or PowerPoint.¬†¬†A few of my students use OneNote to share class notes during my lectures, ensuring that each of them has a comprehensive set of notes for test reviews.¬†¬†As with the other Office apps, it can be selectively shared with and edited by others.¬†¬†As with some of the other apps, there is no “Save” button as the information is saved to SkyDrive in real-time.

I have several students who do not have Microsoft Office on their personal computers, but need to be able to access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote; SkyDrive is a free alternative to Microsoft Office, provided that the student has internet access.¬†¬†For the frequent times when several of us must work together (there is that “collaboration” term again) on an Office file, SkyDrive could be the appropriate utility that we could all share, giving us secure and controlled access to our files.¬†¬†For those who have the desktop version of Office 2010, there is a direct and transparent online connection with SkyDrive, allowing files to be saved on SkyDrive directly from the desktop Office. The SkyDrive files can be selectively shared with anyone on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, AOL Mail, Hyves, Gmail, Outlook, other Windows Live users, and anyone else with an email address.¬†¬†For security and privacy reasons, access is limited to only those authorized by the user, and that degree of access is also under the control of the original user.

I found SkyDrive and its Office Apps to be every bit as useful as their desktop counterparts, with the bonus of secure online storage of files.  Some of us have used SkyDrive and its apps to work together on producing Word documents and PowerPoint presentations, without the need to physically swap files between us.  SkyDrive and its Office Apps would be very worthwhile for any computer user with internet access.

 

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.

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MAKE FIREFOX FASTER – It really works…

Internet Explorer Browser logo

IE Browser

I admit to never being an IE browser fan. In fact, back in the day, I used Netscape. Well that is until Netscape 7 began to slow down and lose the browser war against IE

firefox browser

Firefox Browser

Is history repeating itself now with Firefox. Everyone is currently complaining about how slow Firefox has become.

RESULT: Firefox is now running slow…Just like the old Netscape.

HELP HAS ARRIVED and it REALLY WORKS:
3 steps listed below
to make your Firefox FASTER…

Here’s 3  easy steps for broadband people that will really speed Firefox up:

1. Type ‚Äúabout:config‚ÄĚ into the address bar and hit return (where it says http://). Scroll down and look for the following entries:

network.http.pipelining network.http.proxy.pipelining network.http.pipelining.maxrequests

Normally the browser will make one request to a web page at a time. When you enable pipelining it will make several at once, which really speeds up page loading.

2. Alter the entries as follows:

Set ‚Äúnetwork.http.pipelining‚ÄĚ to ‚Äútrue‚ÄĚ

Set ‚Äúnetwork.http.proxy.pipelining‚ÄĚ to ‚Äútrue‚ÄĚ

Set ‚Äúnetwork.http.pipelining.maxrequests‚ÄĚ to some number like 30. This means it will make 30 requests at once.

3. Lastly right-click anywhere and select New-> Integer. Name it ‚Äúnglayout.initialpaint.delay‚ÄĚ and set its value to ‚Äú0‚Ä≥. This value is the amount of time the browser waits before it acts on information it receives.

If you’re using a broadband connection you’ll load pages MUCH faster now!
(from CNET.com)

Sneak Peek at Internet Explorer 9

NVIDIA Demos IE9 on Netbooks

First Look: Internet Explorer 9