Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Changing it up

This blog was started to allow our computer students to improve their skills and cover topics more in depth than we could in class. The core idea of covering computer topics in bite size, but thorough, morsels remains the same, but we hope to have a whole new attitude once our brand new Computer Club gets off the ground.

Once a month, we hope to have a group of technology-curious people who want to learn something specific. Someone who knows will demonstrate and explain for the rest of us. After the demo, the group is free to exchange tips, techniques and skills in a social setting. We also want members who are willing to create content for this blog. Imagination is the only limit.

Look for announcements through this blog, the Library website, our Facebook page, and Twitter.

P.S. The Club is open to smart phone, tablet and Star Trek device users as well.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Setting up a free email account

In previous posts we've discussed the mechanics of setting up an email account. Pictures are worth 1,000 words, though, so watch this video as many times as you have to to learn how to fill in the registration form to acquire an account. Please note: When you sign up for an email account, you are agreeing to the terms and conditions Yahoo has spelled out. If you don't want to read the document, fine, but don't complain when they come take away your car (just kidding about the car).

If you have trouble viewing this video or it won't expand to full screen, click on this link:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

We're not in typewriter land anymore

Computer keyboards may look like typewriters at first glance, but they have far more functions than an old-fashioned typewriter could ever have. An extended keyboard even has a 10-key pad if you have to do serious number-crunching like entering your library card number to reserve a computer or use an online resource. Right now, let's look at the direction arrows.

Even on small laptop keyboards you'll find four arrow keys. The most common use for them is to move the text cursor (the one that blinks so you can start typing) up, down, right and left.

Highlighting:  This tip is terrific for people who have trouble clicking and dragging. Press and hold the shift key, then press the arrow key in the direction you wish to highlight text. You can highlight anything from one letter in a word to an entire book.

If you're in Internet Explorer, holding the Alt key and pressing the left arrow takes you back to the previous Web page. This function replaces having to go up to the top of the screen with the mouse to find the back arrow.

Gamers: Arrow keys move characters.

Try playing with the arrow keys. You might find another use for them. If you do, don't be afraid to share your find with the rest of the computer world.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's never too late to learn

Some people give up before they've even begun. "I'm too old to learn computers," they say. Or, "I'm just not technology minded." Well, if you think that, you can make it come true. Or, you can tell yourself there's a wide world out there, a world that can be accessed using a simple device which allows you to visit friends and family with a few clicks of a mouse or a few keystrokes on a keyboard.

It's never too late to learn. Computers are simply another tool. Follow the steps and practice. Turns out, you might have fun.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Looking & Patience

For most beginners, a panic response often sets in when they are trying to do something and it isn't immediately apparent. Usually the problem is simply a matter of taking a deep breath and a close look at the screen. Sometimes there is so much visual noise on a web page it's hard to locate the button or link you are searching for. Just slow down, start in one corner, and slowly scan the screen. Though it may not jump out at you, what you are looking for is usually there. Take the Log Off link for example. It seems email companies no longer want you to sign out of accounts. They often make the sign out/log off link so small, or in an odd place, it takes a bit of searching to find it. But it IS there if you look hard enough. Patience is a virtue. We've all heard that saying, yet we seem to ignore it when it comes to computers. Have patience with yourself - after all, you didn't learn to walk in one day. Why should you think you'll learn how to use a computer well in one day? Don't be afraid to press buttons just to see what happens. And don't forget to LOOK, truly look at the monitor.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Links are Connections

When you are on a web page, you may notice some words in a different color within the text. Usually these words represent links to another page within the website or to a different website altogether. That simply means it is a fast way to connect to information without having to type in a complicated address. The visual clue that something is really a link is simple. The arrow, or selection pointer, turns into a pointing hand. When you see the hand and click, the page will change to the connected site automatically.

Links can be text or pictures. The only way to know a picture is a link is to take the arrow over the image. If it turns into a hand, you can click on it. Sometimes it only enlarges the picture so you can see it better. Sometimes it will take you another website where the picture is part of the page. Either way, there is a change.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Search Engines - Is Google Too Full of Spam?

Articles about search engines are beginning to complain about Google. While Google is still the largest search engine, it is increasingly plagued with unwanted items in search result lists. There are newer search engines, like Bing, trying to take advantage of the frustrations of current Google users. Bing advertises itself as "the decision engine." It promises to deliver more accurate results, quicker. DuckDuckGo is a new search engine that is fairly bare bones, but I have found it to zero in on the search very quickly.

As an experiment, try all three with the same search terms. For example, try searching your name. Or put in your telephone number and see if you can find your address from that.

Shake things up a bit and do an image search in all three.

Google is aware of the competition and complaints, issuing a statement indicating they are working on the problem. And though Google may be losing its supremacy as the search engine of choice, it is certainly far from going down the tubes. With all the different services they offer, they will be around for a long while.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Social Networking

Social networking is the latest way to stay in touch with family and friends, reconnect with old acquaintances, and make new ones. People from all over the world who share your interests can make contact via sites like Facebook, MySpace, Ning and many more. To get the most out of your experience, pick the site the majority of your friends use. Two years ago, it was all about MySpace, which seems to have been left in Facebook's dust. Who know what it will be in another couple of years?

Another way to stay in touch is Twitter, which allows you 140 characters to tell what you are up to. Twitter postings are called tweets. Celebrities, Senators, businesses and just plain folks are happily tweeting about everything that comes to mind. Check out to see what all the buzz is about.

BEWARE. Remember that everything you post on the Internet has the potential to be made very public. Some employers check up on Facebook accounts and make hiring decisions based on what they see there. Rude, stupid or criminal behavior can come back to haunt you. Be careful what you share and with whom. To much personal information for all the world to see is not smart.

Overall, however, social networking can be fun and enlightening. Just exercise some common sense and enjoy yourself.