See below for reports on classes.
See Collette Bailey's Greentrees Village web site to learn more about the park's
Greentrees Village Computer Club Officers
President: Collette Bailey
Vice Presidents: Gene Fisher Steve Lyon
Treasurer: Connie Goddard
Secretary: Gary Smith
Advertising Coordinator: Rita Cadagin
Computer Club Adds New Co Vice President
Dec. 7, 2016. – The Greentrees Village Computer Club will have two vice presidents in
Minutes from business meetings of Sept. 7, 2016 and Dec. 2, 2015 were read, discussed and approved. Treasurer Connie Goddard announced that the club presently had $2898 on hand and then presented the 2017 budget, which was discussed and approved by the membership. Collette suggested setting aside money for gifts to those who over the past year have been especially helpful to the computer club, a proposal that was unanimously approved.
Much of the meeting was devoted to discussing a photo contest to be sponsored by the computer club. Collette proposed setting aside $500 in prize money, to be handed out to three contest winners at the annual meeting of Greentrees Village. She invited computer club members to send her suggestions about the photo contest, e.g. who would be eligible to compete, who would serve on a judging panel, what size should the pictures be, how voting on the pictures would proceed. Although all of the details of the contest were unresolved, the club voted to approve Collette's motion to establish a photo contest for 2017.
Members Learn to Put Old Music on New Devices
Nov. 30, 2016. – Club President Collette Bailey showed her fellow computer clubBoytone, she took an Elvis cassette, inserted it into the appropriate slot, adjusted the settings on the front of the device, then, after inserting a USB drive into the USB slot, pressed play and recorded the Elvis cassette music onto the USB drive. She then inserted the USB drive into a computer and downloaded the music into a file. Collette repeated the procedure, copying music from an LP record onto a USB drive, which she downloaded onto her computer.
Newer cars today, Collette noted, have a USB slot on their radios, which means that it's not necessary to put the music onto a computer before using it on one's car radio. The Boytone device she used in today's demonstration cost about $60, she said. Other models are available and the device, which also has an am/fm radio, is available online or in retail outlets such as Wal-Mart and Best Buy. Don't like the way the music sounds once it's recorded onto the USB drive--or SD card? Try using Audacity, a free, open source audio editor and recorder.
Before club members left today, Collette reminded them of next Wednesday's computer club business meeting. Club officers will be elected for 2017 and other club business will be discussed and voted on.
Put Linux on Your Old Computer Suggests Jep
What's so special about Linux? First of all, it's free. Another great feature of Linux, said Jep, is that one has to put in a password before installing anything on it, which, he said, discourages hackers. In this morning's computer class, Jep removed an older version of Linux (17) and installed Mint 18. This entailed downloading Mint 18 from the Internet, creating .ISO files, then installing them onto the "new" computer.
Before getting into the particulars of installing Linux Mint, however, Jep emphasized the importance of backing up one's computer before beginning the Mint installation process. All of your programs--as well as all of your files-- from the "old" computer will be gone once the "new" computer has Linux installed on it. (Jep's web site has instructions for backing up.) Also on his web site is a list of fifty free programs that do the work of proprietary programs.
Notes. Will Linux install on an Apple computer? Yes, said Jep. --There's no need for programs like Security Essentials on a Linux computer, said Jep, especially because one needs a password before installing anything onto a Linux machine. -- Want to know more about Linux? -- Microsoft recently joined the Linux Foundation. A former Microsoft CEO once called Linux a cancer.
Workshop Stresses Updates and Backup of Data
Nov. 9, 2016. – Richard Cortezzo headed up a workshop this morning that emphasized the importance of security, whether one uses Apple or Microsoft software products and devices. Using an iPad to illustrate, he showed how go to Settings and download updates to one's applications. He reminded people with iPhones and other smart phones that apps on them also need updating. It would be a good idea to enable automatic updates on your devices, he said. He also stressed the importance of backing up the material users put on their computers, tablets and phones.
Club Members Exchange Favorite Web Sites
Nov. 2, 2016. – Collette Bailey this morning presided over a show-and-tell session of the computer club. Before getting down to the business of showing and telling,
Collette, the club's new president, introduced Greentrees resident Sharon Davis, who offered to give to anyone interested a laser printer and some printer cartridges that she has no longer uses. Sharon lives at Space 11 here in Greentrees.
Before club members began swapping some of their favorite web sites, Richard Jones and Jim and Pat Fleming passed around 2017 calendars they recently made using the Lulu web site. Richard's calendar featured photographs of flowers and scenic vistas from his travels in the US. and Europe. Jim and Pat used photos of family members. The cost of making the calendars averaged about ten dollars apiece.
Collette showed everyone the language program she uses when she wants to brush up on her French. It's called Duolingo and, according to Collette, it's free. She also likes Khan Academy, which offers free courses in math, science, computer programming, art, history and other subjects. Another site popular with Collette and Richard Cortezzo--the club's Apple guru--is Ted, which offers brief (15-20 minute) talks on a variety of subjects.
Jim and Pat Fleming use zap2it when they want to see what programs are on their TV. They and others use FantasticFiction when they want to know when the next book by one of their favorite authors will be published. Folks who like a classical music station playing in the background on their radio while they're at home or on the road can tune in to KWAX. Although the station uses U. of Oregon facilities, none of its financial support comes from the university but rather from listeners' contributions.
Paying too much for prescriptions? Several club members suggested Goodrx.com. Rita Cadagin especially likes the prescription prices at Costco. For those folks with questions about computers, Pat Miller suggested they might want to try the web site of Leo Notenboom, Askleo.com. She also recommended TenForums to people with concerns about Windows 10. -- Looking for your hometown newspaper? Chances are good you'll find it on Newslink, which also has links to newspapers all over the world.
Before thanking everyone for their web site suggestions, Collette said that since the Greentrees board of directors didn't seem interested in putting up prize money for a photo contest open to all Greentrees residents, that the computer club might want to think of donating money. She also announced that because Apple products are becoming more popular with Greentrees people, Richard Cortezzo will next Wednesday answer questions about Apple devices and how they--and other computers and tablets--can be made safer. If anyone spots Richard around the park accompanied by some little green men, chances are that Richard first met them while surfing one of his favorite web sites: SETI.
Jep Hands Out Advice, Tips in Today's Class
Oct. 19, 2016. – Jep Norwood warned computer club members in this morning's class
Jep spent the rest of the time this morning answering questions and passing along tips. One popular question he said he gets is whether someone should buy a desktop or a laptop. The advantage of owning a desktop, he said, is that parts can be replaced if they go bad. Not so, he said, with a laptop. "If it fails you might as well throw the whole thing out." When buying a new computer, he said, think of the Interstate that runs through Eugene--I-5. "That's the Intel processor you should buy for best performance, I-5." A computer with an I-3 processor will work, he said, but it will be "a little sluggish."
When setting up a computer, said Jep, disable as many
add-ons as you can.
Before coming to class this morning, Jep said he made an emergency call at the home of one Greentrees club member whose computer stopped working. Fortunately, said Jep, he had run across the same problem in the past when there had been thunderstorms in the Florence area. A capacitator in the computer sometimes gets overcharged because of an electrical surge, he said. His fix: unplug the computer and then, after plugging it back on, hold in the start button. "It's amazing how often this takes care of the problem." Before doing something similar to a laptop, he said, it would be a good idea to first remove the laptop's battery.
Tips. Make sure your computer's clock is correct. This can easily be overlooked but may be the reason your computer isn't working correctly. -- Be prepared to get varying results when you run computer speed tests. – Folks who have only recently bought a new computer should install the free programs Jep has on his web site.
More Tips. Microsoft Security Essentials, which is free, will work as good as any antivirus program you can buy. -- Half of the stuff on the Net runs off Java, which needs periodic updating. -- Read carefully when installing a new program or you will get a new home page or some program you do not want.
Club Throws Pizza Party to Honor Members
Oct. 5, 2016. – The Greentrees Village Computer Club today saluted club members who over the past year have contributed to the club's success with a pizza, soda and beer party. Honored were: Pat Miller for 5 ½ years as club president. Jack Branson for 5 ½ years as advertising coordinator; Gene Fisher, club vice president, and Connie Goddard, treasurer, for many faithful years of service; Gary Smith for assuming the duties of club secretary; Richard Cortezzo for helping the club’s Apple device users; Rita Cadagin and Richard Schultz for coordinating newsletter advertising; Collette Bailey for volunteering to become the club’s president—for the second time.
Apple Enthusiasts Review Latest Updates
Using both his iPad and iPhone, Richard showed how to go to Settings/General and install IOS 10. While in Settings he pointed out the Reset button, which if activated, would return the iPad or iPhone to their original settings. (If you plan on giving your device to someone, he suggested you might want to erase all of your settings and data.) If you find yourself with a diminishing amount of storage, he said, you can buy more from the Apple store. He also demonstrated Apple's voice-activated feature called Siri. It may take a couple of tries to get Siri accustomed to your voice, he noted.
For people who occasionally wonder where they mislaid their keys, Richard suggested a product called Tile, which can help an iPad or iPhone user find lost items such as keys. The $25 Tile can be stuck on or tied to any object you want to keep track of, he said. When you buy the device, it comes with an app that can be loaded onto the iPhone or iPad.
One web site that's a favorite of Richard and some other club members is Retrevo , where someone with a device or gadget but with no instructions on how to use or repair it can download a manual. -- If you'd like uninterrupted sleep, said Richard, you can go to Settings on your iPad or iPhone and activate the device's Do Not Disturb feature.
Jep Norwood Answers Members' Questions
Sept. 21, 2016. – Computer club members kept Jep Norwood busy this morning answering questions on a variety of topics. How do you know if you already havehere on his Computer Lessons web page. For people having trouble with the Anniversary Update, Jep noted that Microsoft is planning to fix problems in an upcoming update.
Every operating system needs to be reloaded every four years or so, said Jep. To those with Windows 7, he suggested allowing for several hours to get all the necessary updates. "Give yourself a couple of days if you have to reload a Windows 7 computer," he said. If you want to replace Windows 7 with Windows 10, it's now too late to get Win 10 for free. Microsoft will issue security updates for Windows 7 until 2020, he said.
Every computer, said Jep, should have four browsers on it: Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and Edge, which comes only with Windows 10. The reason for more than one browser, he said, is because browsers occasionally foul up, thus it's always a good idea to have another browser handy. Although it's possible to put shortcuts on one's desktop using Edge, Chrome or Firefox, Jep is partial to Internet Explorer for its ease in creating shortcuts.
Advice. Century Link will never be fixed here in Florence, said Jep. "The phone lines are worn out." Direct TV and Dish Network aren't going to work in Florence, he said. Many new web sites are built to sell advertising, he said, and this slows them down, especially over phone lines. -- Get extraneous toolbars off your computer, he said. "They just slow you down and cause problems."
Still more advice. How long can one expect a computer to last, one club member wanted to know. "Eight years," said Jep. If a laptop goes, it's done for, he said. Desktops, though, can often be fixed. -- A new version of Linux is now available.-- Jep reminded everyone who wants to look at the ocean to go to his website to see the live web cam atop Driftwood Shores resort.
Club president Collette Bailey announced that Richard Schultz and Rita Cadagin have agreed to replace Jack Branson and Pat Miller as the computer club's advertising coordinators.
Club Members Learn How to Make Calendars
There is no cost to register with Lulu, said Collette. Image sizes vary according to the size of the calendar one wants. A full-color 11x8.5 calendar costs $9.99 plus shipping. (The larger the order, the less the per unit cost.) A good size for images, she suggested, is 3325 x 2750 pixels with resolution at 300 ppi or dpi. The images that will go into the calendar must be edited and sized before they can be loaded into what Lulu calls a Book. Getting one's images into the calendar-in-progress, said Collette, is simply a matter of dragging and dropping them into the appropriate slots.
The program offers several templates. Once you decide on a template, said Collette, you cannot change it, e.g. the font used and the format. You can, if you wish, she said, insert text into the calendar, e.g. Grandma's Birthday. She suggested saving as one goes along downloading images so that if something should happen one won't have to start the whole process from scratch. She also said that she begins her calendar making with Lulu by clicking on "Start Now."
Once you have clicked on the Preview button and are satisfied with what you see, you are ready to click on "Publish," said Collette. This will bring up a box that asks for your credit card number and again shows your address. Orders take from seven to ten days.
Asked why she chose Lulu rather than another company, she said that she had looked at other calendar makers but had decided she liked Lulu better than its competitors. Another club member recently used Lulu. Richard Jones said that his 2017 calendar would feature photographs he has taken and expected a UPS or FedEx truck any day now.
Club Elects Collette Bailey As New President
Sept. 7, 2016. – The Greentrees Computer Club this morning elected Collette Bailey toserve as its next president. She will replace Pat Miller, who served as president for 5
Nobody has yet to step forward to act as the group's advertising coordinator, a job that Jack Branson shared for the past 5 1/2 years with Pat Miller who, along with Jack, explained what the job of ad coordinator entailed. If nobody takes the advertising job, Greentrees Village might take the revenue brought in by newsletter ads, she said. This would leave the computer club with no source of revenue to buy new equipment for the club and for the park. At least one club member this morning said he would discuss taking over the advertising position with his partner.
When Gary asked for suggestions for spending down money in the club's treasury--the bylaws and park administration urge the club not to carry too much money over from one year's budget to the following year--several members had suggestions. Gene Fisher, the club's vice president, projected onto the screen several items that he said that the club could use. One big item was a new, larger screen that would make it possible for everyone in the room to view easily. The club decided to hold off buying such a screen until Gene could come up with specific dimensions. The screen, Pat Miller noted, belonged to Greentrees Village (a gift from the club) and is available for any group in Greentrees to use. The computers in the lab, said Pat, belong to the computer club.
The club this morning voted to buy an Apple computer for the lab. It would be used in classes for those interested in getting an Apple product. Richard Cortezzo, the club's Apple guru, volunteered to find a suitable Apple device that could be used in such a class. The club also voted to give $450 to Greentrees, to cover the July-to-December cost of Charter's installation of Wi-Fi into the Greentrees RV Park.
Collette Bailey, the club's new president, is a long-time computer user. She served as president of the club several years ago before moving, temporarily, to Brookings. She also met weekly in the computer lab in an informal seminar for Greentrees computer users in search of answers to their computing problems. A few years ago, Collette began maintaining and enhancing the Greentrees Village web site, which was originally created by Don Douglas.
Why So Many Models? It's Called Business
Aug. 31, 2016. – Just bought yourself a new computer? New desktop? Laptop?
One thing a new computer owner won't have to worry about is trying to decide which operating system to choose. You've already done that when you bought the new computer. If it's a Windows machine it will have Windows 10 already on it. If it's an Apple, you'll have Apple's OS operating system. In this morning's computer class, led by Gene Fisher, the club's vice president, almost all of those present have had computers with several operating systems ranging from Windows 95 to Vista to Windows 8 to Windows 7. Why so many operating systems? For the same reason that car manufacturers keep bringing out new car models almost every year--to make money. It's called business.
Gene this morning reminded everyone that no matter what operating system their computers have, it would be a good idea that they all have the security programs that Jep Norwood deems essential. Jep is a Florence computer guru who, on the third Wednesday of every month, teaches a class for the computer club. Jep's Computer Lessons web site lists the programs he suggests every computer user have. One club member noted that Windows 10 now has a built in anti-virus program called Defender.
Gene also recommended running CCleaner periodically to rid one's hard drive of cookies and other unwanted junk. He also noted that some people disconnect their XP computers from the Internet and use them as servers. Gary Bovee, from Red Bluff, California, who is a former colleague of Gene, said he keeps his old XP out in his garage and uses it as a server to store manuals and other data that can always be accessed should something happen to his main, connected-to-the-net computer.
More. Gene said that he used Chrome Remote Desktop when connecting to the computer of someone whom he is trying to help. Both parties should be using the Chrome browser and have CRD installed on their computers. -- He reminded everyone that next Wednesday, Sept. 7, will be devoted to finding a new president for the computer club. On the following Wednesday, Sept. 14, Collette Bailey will show everyone how to use their pictures to make a calendar.
Aug. 26, 2016. – It’s probably not news to the folks who live in Greentrees but perhaps it does no
Since the lifespan of the average cat or dog rarely exceeds 15 years, there's a good chance that living with a pet will end in heartbreak. But, however slowly, time eventually heals us and we begin to look around for another companion. Fortunately, Florence has an animal shelter with a variety of dogs and cats. Before visiting the shelter it would probably be a good idea to look at the animals via its web site. Adopting a cat or dog is not expensive. It can, however, be life changing, for an animal and for the new person in that animal’s life.
Apple Lovers Get Together in Today's Class
Aug. 24, 2016. – Whenever computer users want to bring a little excitement into their
In this morning's class, Richard showed his fellow Apple users how to save photos taken with an iPhone (or iPad) by loading them to a variety of storage apps. "It's always a good idea to download the photos on your iPhone," he said. "That way you free up space for more photos or videos." Using his iPad, he showed how to go to Settings and choose whether to share pictures with others.
have the Facetime app on their devices. Rather not have someone see you when you get a Facetime call? Just switch off the video and keep the audio.
Many of the tips about using the Apple operating system Richard illustrated today on an iPad for which he paid five dollars. When at his winter home in southern Arizona, he volunteers at a charity's thrift store "where for some reason they don't like Apple products and sell them dirt cheap." He went online at Retrevo and found an iPad manual. One club member in today's class suggested that when Richard comes back to Greentrees next spring that he bring with him a used 15-inch Macbook Pro. "I'd pay as much as $10 for one of those," said the new Apple enthusiast.
Once WIN 10 Update Begins, Don't Stop It--Jep
In his monthly class this morning, he warned that the download/installation process could take up to three hours and suggested that folks first download and save the Anniversary Update to the desktop then, when one has time to monitor the installation, to begin putting it on one's computer. If you leave your computer on all the time, he said, Microsoft might install the Anniversary Update without any prompting from you. If this happens, again, do not stop the installing process, he said.
Jep said he has found that Cortana, Windows 10 voice recognition software, and Edge, the Win 10 default browser, work better with the Anniversary Update installed. Jep’s web site has a couple of videos, as well as the Anniversary Update. Save it using save as on your desktop, said Jep. You can customize the update, he said by going to settings. "However," he said, "you'll probably want to turn most of them off." On a separate computer in today's class, Jep downloaded the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
More Advice. When one club member complained about a slow browser, Jep said that none of the browsers now in use worked correctly all of the time. It was for this reason, he said, that when he set up someone's computer that he put four browsers on the computer. -- For those wishing to make a web site, Jep suggested looking at wix . -- He reminded everyone of the three parts of a computer: first, the BIOS, the machine's "litle heart" that keeps track of things even when the computer is turned off. Second, the registry, "the brain." Third, Windows, "where we do most of our work." He went on to explain why it was not possible to take a program from one computer and put it into another computer.
He reminded Greentrees club members that they are welcome to sit in on his free computer classes at the Florence Elks. Classes are on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Managing Android Smartphones and Tablets
Aug 10, 2016. – Greentrees Computer Club secretary Gary Smith this morning showed his
"The most important thing I've learned since I bought my first Android device," said Gary, " is always buy the largest amount of memory you can afford." 32 gigs should be the minimum, he said and "more is always better." He also said that he's learned that it's best if you have your camera save its pictures and videos to your SD memory card. "Not only does that leave more space on the critical device main memory but also makes it easy to remove the SD card and copy it to your computer."
If you want to find new apps (applications) for your Android device, said Gary, go to Google Play Store and start searching. Some of the apps are free, he said, while others cost varying amounts. There are often free versions of popular apps, he said but noted that the user will first be subjected to advertising. Downloading apps is easy, said Gary, as is uninstalling them should they no longer be useful.
Gary concluded his presentation by showing how an Android user can move apps to the memory of an SD card. The newest Android devices access memory differently than do older Android devices, he pointed out. Older phones and tablets must have the apps loaded into Main Device Memory, he said, whereas newer Android devices can access the SD card and read it as if it were Main Memory. "With older devices we can move some but not all of an apps data to the SD card memory." In a handout, Gary spelled out the steps to follow in accessing SD card memory and pointed out some of the advantages of being able to swap SD cards between Android devices.
Nothing to Read? Maybe You Need a Kindle
Aug. 3, 2016. – You're sitting in your doctor's waiting room and the only readingmaterial available is a tattered copy of People magazine. Or you're 40,000 feet up in the air on a jet winging its way to Europe with nothing to read but the in-flight magazine. Or it's nighttime and you can't sleep but if you turn on the bedside lamp to read you'll surely wake your partner. What to do? One solution--get yourself a Kindle e-reader.
Back in 2004, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, an online book sales company, challenged his technical staff to come up with an electronic device that would allow a customer to download reading material off the Internet (e.g., a book), then flip through the pages using a swipe of one's finger. What the techies came up with in 2007 was the first Kindle, a black and white e-reader. Today, for prices from about $80 to $300, one can buy varying-sized color Kindles with front and back facing cameras and capable of storing hundreds of books and videos.
At this morning's computer class, vice president Gene Fisher showed how to go to Amazon.com and download books onto one's Kindle. Some of the books, said Gene, are free while others cost varying amounts. Can you surf the Net with a Kindle? Yes, said Gene; it was just a matter of downloading the right application. How about email?
Several club members use their Kindles to download books from the Florence library onto their devices, a service the library does not charge for. Anyone interested in getting a PIN number so that they can use this service is advised to drop by the library and make out the necessary paper work. For more information about Kindles, Gene recommended the Love My Fire site. Also assisting at today's class was club secretary Gary Smith, who was at his home in Salem and used Skype to keep in touch with Gene and club members.
Refurbished Apple Products Available OnlineJuly 27, 2016. -- Richard Cortezzo told a small but enthusiastic group of computer club members this morning all about Apple and Apple products. Richard said he has been using Apple since 1984 and only once has he ever have any trouble. "And that was a mechanical problem." When someone expressed concern over the price of new Apple desktop and laptops, he showed how to go online and buy refurbished Apple machines. The work is done by Apple in China, he said, and the refurbished product is then shipped to its new owner in the U.S. He showed everyone a new iPhone 6 that he recently bought. The total monthly charge for his and his wife's iPhone service, he said, was currently $49.50 a month. In a short video, Richard talks about refurbished Apple products and his iPhone.
Jep Keeps Computer Club Members Scribbling
July 20, 2016. – Jep Norwood kept computer club members scribbling in this morning's class as he responded to a variety of questions. Before getting into specifics, however, he reminded folks who bring their laptop computers to him for repair to make sure they also bring a power supply cable that will connect the laptop to a 110 electrical outlet. Sometimes, said Jep, his repair of a laptop will necessitate the machine being on for several hours. "Laptops do run out of power if they're not charged regularly," he said.
He told everyone that July 29 is the last day to put a free version of Windows 10 on their computers and reminded those with Windows 10 that a "massive" update from Microsoft is coming on August 2. Edge, the Win 10 new browser, is okay, he said but does not work all of the time. Although he suggested everyone have three browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox) on their computer, "all of the browsers are screwed up." Eventually, everything will work just fine but computers are still in their infancy, he said and compared computers today to the days when to make a telephone call you had to take the phone off the hook and turn a crank.
If something goes wrong with your computer, try fixing it with Windows Repair Toolbox said Jep. Another favorite tool of his is tweaking.com. "Try it to see if it will fix your computer," he said. He put Windows 10 on his computer, he said, so that he could become familiar with it before attempting to repair Win 10 desktops and laptops brought to him. One reason it took several days to successfully download and install Windows 10, he confessed, was that he failed to notice that the clock on his taskbar was not showing the correct time. After last week's electrical blackout, clocks on Windows 10 computers had to be reset. "Once I realized that," said Jep, "I had no trouble installing the complete version of Windows 10."
Several people with Windows 10 have complained that their printers don't work, he said. "If your printer won't work," said Jep, "go to the printer manufacturer's web site and search for a driver that will work with Windows 10." If you can't find one, he said, then you'll have to buy a new printer that will work with Microsoft's latest operating system.
More Advice. Whenever you install a program that uses a password, write it down or, better yet, get the password tattooed on your arm. -- When opening a program, click on the icon, not on the words. If you click on the words you might end up changing them and end up with a program you can no longer open. If you take your computer to Jep to have it repaired, take all pertinent passwords and cables. -- Windows 10 Defender "is fine." You won't need Security Essentials if you have Win 10. -- Back up your computer regularly. Instructions for backing up are on Jep's web site.
Save on Phone Bills with Skype, Says Dale
July 6, 2016– Dale DeRemer showed his fellow computer club members this morning how to save money on their telephone bills. Dale's solution? Use Skype, a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) program from Microsoft that has some 600 million users worldwide. Skype is a free download. Unlimited calling to mobile and landline phones in North America costs $6.99 a month, according to the program's web site. To initiate a call using Skype, the person making the call must have a computer or device connected to the Internet. If both parties have Skype, there is no charge for the call, Dale said.
Dale, a retired professor of aeronautics from the U. of North Dakota, along with wife Trish, have sold their place in Greentrees and will make Southern California home for the few months a year that they live in the U.S. Most of the year they live in a home on the Sea of Cortez in Baja, Mexico. According to Dale, they will continue using Skype, whether living in California or in Mexico. The only time they don't use Skype, said Dale, is when they are on the road and are without Internet access or when they want to keep in touch with each other in a large store.
Joining Skype is free and so are calls to other Skype users throughout the world. Calls to landlines and cell phones are, said Dale, very inexpensive and can be paid forin a couple of ways. You can keep a small deposit with Skype and/or subscribe to one or more Skype plans for areas you call most often. To receive calls from cell phones and landlines around the world, you need to get a Skype landline number. You can choose almost anywhere in the country to locate your landline, which costs about $19 a year. And, said Dale, you need to have some money on deposit with Skype in order to make calls to phones outside of your subscription area.
You must have a computer or device connected to the Internet and--if you choose to take calls on your computer rather than on your landline--you will need a microphone. Dale said he disables the camera feature on his computer since he "doesn't like what he looks like 'on camera'" and sometimes runs around the house without paying much mind as to his attire.
In this morning's class, he showed everyone some of the choices they can make in their Skype account. He cautioned against using 911 for emergencies and suggested listing the phone number for local emergency services in one's Skype favorites and also on the wall near one's computer. Skype makes a record of one's calls, so there is no need to guess as to how many more minutes one has. The program also records messages should you not be home to answer a Skype call and does call forwarding. "Compared to the cost of your landline," said Dale, "Skype is really cheap if you already have Internet access for your computer. Save money. Ditch your landline!"
Pat Miller Resigns as Club President
Turn Old Computer Into Linux Machine--Gene
June 26, 2016. -- Ever wonder what to do with an old Windows XP or Vistacomputer? Club vice president Gene Fisher had one suggestion in this morning's computer club class: turn the old machine into a basic Linux computer by inserting into it a $25 thumb drive sold by xtra-pc.com. Gene put the app onto his Windows Vista laptop and so far, he said, has had no trouble running his favorite programs or accessing his files.
Several people in today's class told fellow club members about some of their favorite apps. Richard Cortezzo, who is the club's Apple guru, said that for the past ten years he had been interested in searching for extraterrestrial life (SETI), whose web site is here. Space asteroid day, Richard noted, is tomorrow, June 30.
Gene Fisher uses Viber to keep in touch with a granddaughter touring Europe. He showed everyone some of the photos she had recently taken in Paris. Using Viber costs nothing, he said, if both parties have the app. -- Paying for online purchases, most members agreed this morning, is best done using PayPal, a subsidiary of EBay. More on PayPal is available here.
If It's Monday Morning It's Workshop Time
June 20, 2016. -- Computer club members came together this morning in a Monday workshop that gave them an opportunity to get answers to questions about their phones, tablets, personal computers (PCs), and Apple products. Co-anchoring the get-together were club vice president Gene Fisher, who has a variety of electronic devices, and Richard Cortezzo, the club's expert on Apple and many of its devices. Also helping out today was club secretary Gary Smith.
Jep Recommends Switch to Chrome Browser
June 15, 2016. – Jep Norwood warned Greentrees computer club members in this
Should club members put Windows 10 on their computers? Yes, said Jep, if one's computer if under three years old or if it now uses the Windows 8 or 8.1 operating system. To those running Windows 7 on older computers, he noted that security updates for Win 7 wouldn't expire until 2020, The reason Microsoft is anxious to get its Windows 10 on the world's personal computers (PCs) is, said Jep, because the Microsoft Store can be accessed using Windows 10 but not by those with Windows 7. Apple has its Store and now Microsoft wants its own Store, where it can sell both hardware and software.
More Advice. Jep told one club member who was concerned about being tracked whenever she used her computer not to worry. You'll get more unsolicited ads and phone calls from using your Safeway and Fred Meyer cards than you will from Internet browsing, he said. "You might just as well make up your mind that there ain't not such thing as privacy." -- Having trouble with your computer? Stop using it then start it again; this clears the RAM and will solve your problem most of the time. -- If you have a wireless router, don't stick it in a closet. Keep it out in the open and chances are it'll start working properly again. -- Wonder why your computer seems slow? Jep's web site has four speed tests.
Apple Lovers Get Together in Monday Class
June 13, 2016. -- Richard Cortezzo told his fellow computer club members thismorning why he prefers to do his computing and phone calling with Apple products. Asked why he preferred an Apple over a personal computer (PC), Richard said that since 1984, when he started using Apple, he has never had one Apple computer become infected, something, he added, that few PC users could say. When someone pointed out that Apple products cost more than PCs, he replied, "You get what you pay for."
Gene Fisher, the club's vice president, spent much of today's class time helping members, e.g. showing how to transfer the photos on one's phone onto one's computer. Gene confessed to owning several non-Apple products but said he recently traded in his landline phone for an Apple iPhone. More Monday morning classes will be forthcoming, he said.
What Is a Smart Phone?--That Is the Question
June 8, 2016. – First, the basics. What is a smart phone? According to Wikipedia, "A smartphone is a mobile phone with an advanced mobile operating system which combines features of a personal computer operating system with other features useful for mobile or handheld mobile or handheld use."
While computer club members tried to decide this morning if their cellular phones were of the smart phone variety, Gene Fisher called upon everyone to talk briefly about their phones. A few members confessed to knowing little more than how to make an emergency call while others rattled off the names of apps their phones contained. What was clear, said Gene, was that there was a necessity to hold further classes so that everyone with a cell phone could learn to use it at its full potential. The following photos are from this morning's class.
Class Learns To Block Windows 10 Nagging
June 1, 2016. – Club president Pat Miller handed out another installment of her Guide to Windows 10 this morning, with the emphasis on blocking Microsoft's seemingly never-ending attempt to get the world's PC users to download and install its latest operating system. July 29 is fast approaching, Pat noted, and if Windows 7 and 8 users haven't by then installed Win 10 on their computers by that date, they'll be charged $119 for the operating system's Home Edition. The good news is that Microsoft will stop nagging Windows 7 and 8 owners with annoying messages suggesting they install Windows 10.
Will Microsoft extend its free Windows 10 updates past the July 29th cut-off date? Apparently not, said Pat, but noted that Microsoft still has time to reverse its decision. In the past, users could decline the Windows 10 update if they clicked on red X in the upper right corner of the Get Windows 10 prompt box. No longer, said Pat, who warned that clicking on the X in the upper right of the "Windows 10 is a Recommended Update for this PC" box is interpreted by Microsoft as approval to install Windows 10. What do do? Click on the word "here" where it says "Click here to change upgrade schedule or cancel." Then, select the "Cancel scheduled upgrade" option on the following screen.
What's causing all this trouble? According to Pat, it's update KB3035583. As long as this update is installed, she said, "Your computer will not leave you alone." To remove the update, click Start and type View Installed Updates and then hit Enter. Search for KB3035583, click on it one time and then click Uninstall, said Pat.
Two free programs are available--GWX Control Panel and Never 10-- that can permanently block the Windows 10 upgrade, said Pat. GWX Control Panel can be downloaded here, she said and added that reading the program's user guide is a must.
Never 10 (https://www.grc.com/never10.htm) disables the automatic upgrade to Windows 10, said Pat and added that "You can also later run it again to re-enable this capability if you change your mind." Never 10 works with both Windows 7 and 8. It does not install any software, so, said Pat, you just run it then delete it when you're done. Her Windows 10 Guide showed the four messages one gets when using Never 10. (The guide is available to computer club members before and after the regular Wednesday class meetings.)
What if? But what if you, perhaps by mistake, download Windows 10 on your computer.
You can always use it, said Pat. Or, she said, you can go back to your previous version of Windows within 31 days. If the instructions are too confusing for you, she said, you can always call your computer technician. Whatever you do, she cautioned, make sure you first back up your data.
Windows 10 isn't so terrible, suggested several computer club members who have installed the new operating system. One member who has had Windows 10 on her computer since February of last year said she didn't understand the big fuss everyone is making over Win 10. "So, it's a little different," she said, "and all my peripherals are still working. And it was free. What's not to like?"
Old WINZIP As Good As Latest Versions--Jep
May 18, 2016. – Jep Norwood assured computer club members this morning that the
free Version 11 of WINZIP he puts on computers is every bit as good as the latest version of WINZIP which now sells for $29.95. He then showed how to open a ZIP file (identified by a little vise in the icon) and extract the data in the file. Just make sure, he said, that the WINZIP file is in a folder before extracting it. There's seldom a need to send someone a zipped up file, he said, but if you do, check first to make sure the recipient has WINZIP installed.
For those looking for a free program to burn CDs and DVDs, Jep suggested CDBurnerXP ("It has nothing to do with the Windows XP operating system.") Most computers sold today, he said, do not come with a CD/DVD drive so make sure there is a drive before buying a new computer. Above all, he cautioned, do not mess with Roxio, a burner app that he once used but now considers one of the worst.
To those thinking of putting Windows 10 on their computers, Jep reminded them that there will be Windows 7 security updates until 2020. And by that time, he said, most of the computers running Windows 7 will be obsolete. Microsoft has still not eliminated all the bugs from Windows 10, he said, and sometimes people who install Win 10 on their computers find that they cannot run certain apps. Which apps won't work, nobody seems able to say in advance, said Jep. Internet Explorer, he said, has a glitch that nobody, as yet, has been able to fix.
Not being able to find games on some computers, said Jep, has been one of the common complaints from several of his customers. He then showed one computer club member how to find free games on her Windows 7 Pro laptop. (ControlPanel/Programs and Features. Click on turn on or off in upper left of screen; all Windows programs will load--this takes several minutes. ln the games box, put a check mark and you should then have games.)
Backing up Windows 10 is no different from backing up Windows 7 Jep said. Before showing how backing up was done, he warned about using back up programs. "I've never seen one work right," he said. Above all, he said, do not back up your entire operating system unless you want to see everything on your computer show up twice.
More. If you want a new icon for a program, said Jep, right click on the folder and go to Properties, where you'll have a choice of images. Not happy with any of these? Go to Browse then look in System 32, where, Jep said, he put lots of images. -- When removing an HDMI connection, he said, turn off your devices before unplugging. On most computers an icon in the lower right of the task bar indicates when it is safe to unplug a device.
Google Earth--The World at Your Fingertips
May 4, 2016. -- Want to see the house where you grew up? Want to know how many
Google Earth is a virtual globe, map and geographical information program created by a CIA-funded company and acquired by Google in 2004. Google Earth and Google Earth Pro (of special interest to scientists and businesses) are both free downloads and are installed on more than a billion computers. Both Earth and Earth Pro can be downloaded here.
There are some misconceptions about Google Earth. You can't see what your neighbor is doing by putting his address in the Search box in the upper left of the screen. Google does update its images but what we see in Earth is not real time. How often images are updated depends on a number of factors, e.g., how populated the area is, the season of the year. A satellite image of the Sahara desert taken today will not differ much, if at all, from a picture of the desert taken a year ago. Some images change rapidly. We were surprised at how quickly San Francisco's old Candlestick Park came tumbling down to make way for a new commercial complex and housing project.
One of our favorite features in Google Earth is its Street View. Drag the little person-icon (Google calls it Pegman) onto the screen and you'll have a car driver's view ofany street that lights up in blue. You can see Rhododendron Drive as it passes the entrances to Greentrees Village. But no, you can't go driving into Greentrees since this is private property. Some countries, e.g. North Korea, don't permit Google to drive its streets and record pictures.
Cities can be viewed in 3D using the mouse and the shift key. Florence is a little too small to rate third dimensional viewing but Eugene, Salem and Portland can be seen in 3D. We recently had fun measuring how far we walked many years ago from San Francisco's Union Square to the middle of the Golden Gate Bridge (the answer: 5.5 miles). We did the measuring by clicking on the Ruler icon in the Google Earth menu then selecting Path. Click, walk a bit, click then walk toward the bridge, click; watch as the mileage adds up.
Our only disappointment with Google Earth so far is our inability to fly around in the program's Flight Simulator (Ctrl+Alt+A) without crashing. Maybe one day we'll get a joystick and hope that it will allow us to try to land a plane without crashing. In the meantime, we'll just have to keep in mind that old pilot's mantra: any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. And, last we checked, we were still walking. Well, at least shuffling along.
Posting Pix on Facebook Easy--Gary Smith
April 20, 2016. – Gary Smith this morning invited all Greentrees residents to submit photos for the Greentrees Facebook page, which he administers. Gary also has a personal Facebook page and 132 "friends," people with whom he keeps in touch. He said that he spent about an hour a day keeping up with Facebook business. In this morning's class, he showed his fellow club members how to post and delete pictures on a Facebook page. There's no need to worry about how large a photo is, he said, since Facebook will resize all photos. Following are photos from this morning's class.
April 18, 2016. -- Homeland Security advises PC owners to take QuickTime off computers. See KrebsonSecurity.
Class Continues Exploring Windows 10
April 13, 2016. – Computer club members this morning continued their exploration of
Windows 10 as club president Pat Miller handed out another eleven pages of her guide to Microsoft's latest operating system. Today's emphasis was on Edge, which is the default browser for Windows 10. Because so many business applications depend on Internet Explorer, Pat said, IE also comes with Windows 10 and can, if one wishes, be used as one's browser.
Edge, Pat pointed out, is the default browser for Windows 10 but perhaps because it is "the new kid on the block" has some issues that still must be resolved. According to Pat, Microsoft has been working to fix things that don't always work correctly in Edge. For this reason, she said, many people prefer to use a different browser. If you don't want to use Edge, she said, don't try to remove it. "Just unpin it from the taskbar and Start if it's there, and totally ignore it."
Edge has features similar to what one finds in Internet Explorer, said Pat. In something called the Hub, where important information is kept, you'll view favorites, reading list, browsing history and current downloads. Click on the Pen tool and you can, using your mouse, draw lines or circles on any web page, which can then be saved. Next to the Pen is the Marker, which allows you to highlight items or draw on the page. The Eraser will let you clear all of your notes or just select certain parts to remove.
Windows 10 comes with the Mail app preinstalled. It's called Outlook Mail on Windows 10 Mobile running on smart phones and phablets, but just plain Mail on Windows 10 for PCs. Mail's interface, said Pat, is "spare and clear." You can, of course, use a different email program, e.g. Google's Gmail, if you wish, she said. If you have Cortana activated, she said, you can send a message by saying "Hey, Cortana, send an email." The person you're sending the email to, she noted, must be in your contacts. "Just dictate the message and when finished say 'Send'."
Any club member who would like a copy of Pat's Guide to Window 10 may pick one up before or after any computer club class. Several of today's class members have put Windows 10 on their desktops or laptops and, so far, report few problems. Users of Windows 7 or 8 may download and install Windows 10 free if they do it before the July 29 deadline. After that, Windows 10 will cost $109.
Gary Smith Helps Club Brush up on Facebook
In this morning's class, Gary handed out a four-page guide to the basics: "Facebook, the Ultimate Time Sucker for Adults." Young people, Gary noted, have pretty much moved on to other social media sites, leaving Facebook to the old-timers and those not yet ready to try a different get-together site. Over the years, said Gary, his circle of Facebook friends has grown to 132, a number he said he can manage. He uses Facebook to stay in touch with his family, friends he went to school with and folks he used to work with "and now find that I miss."
How do you sign up or open a Facebook account? Open your browser and go to this Help page which, he said, has lots of good information. Some of the ways you can use Facebook, he said. you'll find here. On your own Facebook page you'll also find lots of information, said Gary, most of it not difficult to understand. Clicking on the Padlock opens your Privacy Settings. Here you can select who sees your posts. If a long-lost person asks if you want to become one of their Facebook friends, he said, you have a choice or accepting or rejecting their request.
Want to add new Friends? Use the Search bar in the top menu is one say to start, said Gary. "Ask folks that you know (like family and grand kids) to send you a 'Friend Request' This is the easiest way to add a Friend." -- You can add a photo of yourself to your home page. That way people will know almost instantly that they are on the right page. Finally, he showed how to save a photo to your computer that you have found on another Facebook page.
Gary spent a good portion of today's Facebook class answering questions about the program, which a majority of those in the class today indicated they belonged to. Everyone agreed that another class on Facebook was needed. Gary again volunteered to teach it.
Members Continue Exploring Windows 10
March 23, 2016. – Club president Pat Miller continued this morning with her review of Windows 10, Microsoft's latest operating system. After handing out the second
She began on the Start menu by noting that the menu went missing in Windows 8 but now is back and is a combination of the Windows 7 Start menu with lists on the left side of the page and Windows 8 with tiles on the page's right side. Don't like the size or color of the tiles? These can be changed, she said, and the lists on the left can be added to or deleted to reflect the user's preferences.
What does Pat think of Windows 10 now that she has been using it a few weeks? "It's kind of fun," she said, "maybe because it's new." You can if you wish set up a password to open your computer, she said, but cautioned that you had better write down the password. Once it's lost, she said, your computer won't open, which will mean a trip to the computer doctor and an expensive Windows 10 reload.
One feature Windows 10 has that Win7 and Win8 does not have is Cortana, which Microsoft calls "your personal digital assistant." Cortana is voice activated--similar to Apple's Siri--and, according to Microsoft, "can help you find anything you're looking for, set up your appointments, open programs and send emails." Cortana is named after an artificial intelligence in the video game Halo and since the character is female and the program uses a female voice when speaking, Cortana is a "she."
One feature of Cortana seemed to intrigue club members--her ability to let you dictate an email message then allow you see it in writing before you press your email program's Send button. Some computers, Pat noted, come with a built-in microphone, so no additional add-ons are necessary to use Cortana. If you don't have a mic, you'll need one before you can use Cortana, said Pat. The program can be configured to one's liking, she said, and can be trained to respond to a particular voice.
Pat reminded everyone that Windows 7 and 8 users can download Windows 10 at no cost as long as they do it before July 29 of this year. So far, she said, Microsoft has not extended the deadline. After July 29, Windows 10 will cost $109.
Once Windows 10 Starts, Don't Stop It -- Jep
March 16, 2016. – Jep Norwood began this morning's computer class with a warning
Windows 10 keeps getting better, said Jep, but you'll have to keep it updated, which you can do by going to Settings then Update Security and Check for Updates. If you haven't used your computer in a while and then find yourself looking at a blank screen, this doesn't mean your computer has stopped working, he said. "You might just be in the middle of a large update." Try wiggling your mouse, he said; chances are your computer will come around once the update has finished installing.
Drivers do not need to be updated, said Jep. If a program needs new drivers, he said, you'll get the fix when you go to Windows Updates. If you install drivers that are advertised when you visit a web site, he said, chances are that all you'll be doing is installing malware on your computer. -- Don't bother putting a password on your computer, he said. If something goes wrong and your computer doesn't work even though you put your password in when you began a computing session, he said, you'll probably need a complete reload to fix the problem. Just don't use a password to start up your computer and you won't have that problem, he said.
Jep suggested going to his web site (Computer Lessons) to learn how to find one's product key after upgrading to Windows 10 -- He noted that Sticky Notes is a little app that came with one's computer and said that he doesn't think Efficient Sticky Notes is an app that anyone needs. -- For those who, like Jep, are bothered by the small arrows on desktop icons, he recommended doing away with the arrows by using Winaero. -- Finally, Jep cautioned everyone to beware of phishing scams.
Club Looks at Win10 Desktop in Today's Class
March 9, 2016. – Windows 10 is Microsoft's latest operating system and everyone with a computer should have it. This, of course, is the opinion of Microsoft, which is in the
If you now have Windows 7 or 8 on your computer, Pat said, you have until July 29 to install a free copy of Windows 10. After that date, a copy of Windows 10 will cost $109. Pat said she has decided to keep Windows 7 on her computer until Microsoft stops issuing security updates. However, in the past two classes she has used the club's laptop computer that has the Home edition of Windows 10 on it so that she can answer questions from people who have the new operating system on their computers.
Page 1 of Pat's handout began with the basics: "The screen you see when you boot up is the desktop. The bar that runs along one edge is your taskbar where you will find Start, the center taskbar, and System icons." Following came illustrations of and explanations of System Tray (Time and Date) and Action Center (something new in Win 10, with columns and tiles). Next to the Action Center is the Audio icon, Network (click to see strength of connection and available networks), Battery (shows status and battery saver feature), Show Hidden Icons, and Show/Hide Icons in the System Tray.
Next came The Middle Taskbar, which comes preloaded with the File Explorer (your
File Explorer's icon is a small file folder and is the way you get to look at your folders and drives. In following pages of Pat's handout are explanations for Task View and Virtual Desktops, New Files, and Personalize the Desktop. By this time in today's presentation, several members were beginning to groan as their brains reeled from information overload. "Just remember," Pat reminded everyone, "We felt the same way when the other operating systems first made their debuts."
The next Windows 10 class, she said, will cover searching and Cortana, a voice activated feature similar to Siri in Apple computers. She also said that the guide she is now writing about Windows 10 might be available online once it has been completed.
Club Prepares for Windows 10 Operating System
If your Windows 7 computer is working fine, said Pat, there's no good reason you should install Windows 10. If you have Windows 8, it would probably be a good idea to download and install Windows 10, she said. Because almost all new computers come with Windows 10, she decided to buy the club's new Dell laptop with the Home edition of Windows 10 already installed on it. That way, she said, she can become familiar with it and will be able to answer questions about Windows 10 that come up in future classes.
She also plans on creating a guide to Windows 10 and, in upcoming classes, will work through the guide chapter-by-chapter. Some classes in the Wednesdays ahead, she said, will be devoted to Windows 10. In the meantime, she passed out a five-page Q&A booklet to give members an introduction to the operating system.
Users of Windows 10 who click the start button in the lower left corner of the window
that opens will also see I'm Cortana, a voice-activated app that requires the computer have a microphone. I'm Cortana can be programmed, said Pat. You'll also see the start menu, which lists apps and also shows tiles.
Edge is the Windows 10 default browser. If your preference is for Internet Explorer, simply search and install it, said Pat. Bing, she pointed out, is the default search engine, though Google can be used if one prefers.
As for email, the default program is Outlook.com, though other email programs, e.g. Google's Gmail, can be downloaded and installed. To write a document, Pat suggested using WordPad for simple documents. Of course, she said, MS Word can be installed on one's computer though it is not a free program. LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice, both free downloads, can also be put on a Windows 10 computer, she said.
If you're interested in music, said Pat, just type Groove Music into the search box and click on the result. Or, she said, you can use Windows Media Player. "Both apps will allow you to view and play music on your PC," she said. In the Windows Store you can download programs and apps for Windows 10 as well as purchase music and videos. (A Store icon is in the taskbar.)
If you wonder if you can get an older program and have it work on Windows 10, she said, just type "run programs made for previous versions of Windows" into your search box and click on the result. If you'd like to make Windows easier to read, hear or use, type "let windows suggest ease of access settings" into the search box and click, said Pat. Finally, to turn off your Windows 10 computer, said Pat, click on the Power icon in the Start Menu and choose between Sleep, Shut Down and Restart.
Sooner or later, said Pat, almost every PC owner will have a computer with Windows 10 on it. The first class devoted exclusively to Windows 10 will be next Wednesday, March 9. Same place, same time.
Ransomware Latest Computer Threat, Says Jep
Feb. 17. 2016. – Jep Norwood had good news and bad news for Greentrees computer club members at this morning's class. The good news, said Jep, is that computer
viruses pose less of a threat than they once did. The bad news is that spyware, malware and ransomware are still out to ruin your day. Ransomware is especially nasty, said Jep. Without any warning, your computer locks up and there appears on your monitor a message saying that if you ever want to see your files again you must fork over money, usually in the form of bitcoins, which are untraceable. How much the bad guys demand usually depends on whom they are extorting money from. An institution might be asked to pay several million whereas an individual may be asked for a few hundred dollars.
You always have the option of not paying the ransom, said Jep, but if you don't you will never see your files again. And you will have to pay to have your computer reloaded, which is about a $185 fee if Jep does it. As for your files, said Jep, they can be put back on your reloaded computer if they have been backed up. (See Jep's web site on backing up.) A 32 GB thumb drive will probably hold most people's files, said Jep. If you have lots of pictures in addition to text that you want to back up, you could use a Western Digital 1 or 2 TB external hard drive. (B&H Video, a reputable online source, sells a 2 TB drive for $99.) As for how often you should back up your files, Jep said that depends on the individual. The more you use your computer, he said, the more often you should be backing it up.
Jep told the class that Malwarebytes, the company that makes an antimalware program has recently made available a new program called Anti-Ransomeware Beta, which he said he had installed on his own computers and, thus far, has given him no trouble. He suggested club members install the program, which is free and can be downloaded here.
More advice. If you download free games from the Internet, Jep told one class member, your computer will soon become overloaded with all sorts of junk that will slow down and perhaps even kill your computer. He suggested Bigfish and Gamehouse as sources for games. They're not free, he said, but they don't foul up your computer. -- Every computer, he said, should have certain programs on it: See his Computer Lessons web site. And don't forget the new anti-ransomware app, he added.
Pinterest Program Proving Pretty Popular
Feb. 3, 2016. – Using his Apple iPad, Gene Fisher this morning showed his fellowPinterest, which calls itself "a visual bookmarking tool that helps you discover and save creative ideas." The app is free and can be downloaded onto an Apple or Android device. Only one's email address is required plus a password to enter the Pinterest web site. Gene, whose hobby is working on cars and GMC motorhomes, said he liked Pinterest because it lumped together photographs and text, often with explanations on how to make repairs. Another club member found fascinating Pinterest's pages of all the things one could do with PVC tubing while still another club member said she liked the site for its recipes.
Another site Gene likes to use is iBooks, an Apple application that most people use when they are looking for something to read. Gene, however, discovered that iBooks is a good place to store PDF files, whether user guides, project plans or a PDF file someone has emailed to him. He also likes the Amazon Prime app, which costs users $99 a year. Members get free unlimited storage of photos in Amazon Photos, ad-free access to over a million songs, free two-day shipping on 20 million eligible items, and free movies and TV shows. The Amazon Prime web site is currently offering new Prime sign-ups a 30-day free trial.
Back Up Pictures with Google Photos--Gene
Jan. 27, 2016 -- Ever wonder what would happen to the pictures you have on your
Google Photos is a free download. All that is needed is one's Gmail address and Google password. Once installed, Google Photos gives the user a choice of storing photos in their Original resolution (this, once a limit is exceeded, starts costing the user for storage space) or in High Quality mode, which offers unlimited free storage and is recommended for phones or point-and-shoot cameras that are 16 megapixels or less. Google Photos Help Page answers questions about the program. Gene showed how to edit pictures in Google Photos and transfer them onto another computer or onto a tablet so they could be handy for viewing.
Gene talked briefly about other photo storage programs. Amazon Photos is free to Amazon Prime ($99 a year) users. He also mentioned Google Drive, which offers 15 GB of free data storage, and Dropbox. One class member noted that Flickr, a Yahoo company site, offers free storage of up to 1,000 GB of photos and videos.
Show-and-Tell at this Morning's Computer Class
Jan. 25, 2016. – It was show-and-tell time as club vice president Gene Fisher brought to this morning's computer class some of the items he uses to keep his computers, tablets and phones in good working order. Gadgets ranged from a voltage and current meter to a tiny brush (every member of the class got one) that Gene uses to keep electronic connections clean. Also on display were cable ties, a hex wrench/key holder, a label maker and a package of carabineers. Some of the items, said Gene, were "bargains" from the Dollar Store, one of his favorite places to shop for gadgets.
Following are a few photos from this morning's class.
Jan. 23, 2016. -- The state of Oregon sent us a letter yesterday advising us to file our state taxKrebs On Security. People who file their federal and state tax returns online could benefit from reading the cautions of Brian Krebs, a former investigative reporter for the Washington Post. For the past six years on his own web site, he has been telling the world about the various ways bad guys use the Internet to steal from unsuspecting men and women.
Update Site Not Always Working Right--Jep
Jan. 20, 2016. – Club members who complain about the Microsoft Windows Update web site aren't complaining alone, Jep Norwood told commuter club members this
One reason Microsoft is anxious for computer users to install Windows 10 is so that people using the latest operating system can access the Windows store, where users can buy hardware and software, said Jep. He pointed out that Microsoft has always been jealous of the Apple online store. At the moment, said Jep, Microsoft is promoting Minecraft, a children's video game that has morphed into an Education Edition that Microsoft hopes will find favor with teachers as well as students. See The Verge's take on Minecraft here.
The next generation of mobile technology, 5G, won't be operational for a few years, said Jep, but when it does arrive we should expect speeds unheard of when compared to the present generation's technology. More on 5G here. -- On ad blockers: Jep's advice: "Don't use them. They'll just slow down your Internet connection." -- Internet Explorer continues to be Jep's favorite browser, mainly because he can right click on a web site and put a shortcut to it onto his desktop, where it will be handy to work with. After finishing using the shortcut, he'll just delete it.
On the Greentrees Computer Club page in his ComputerLessons web site Jep answers questions that club members have submitted. In today's class he delved further into topics he has, on the page, responded to, e.g. virtual private networks, using dual monitors ("All new computers come with hdmi ports, which makes using dual monitors possible"), and Dell bloatware. Of all the computer makers, Dell loads its new machines with the least amount of bloatware, said Jep. "Toshiba is the worst." -- He referred those who want to install new fonts in their operating systems to this PC World article. "Don't mess with fonts unless you really need them," said Jep.
One club member asked if it's a good idea to delete old backup files once a new one has been made. Suggested Jep: it sounds like a good idea but what if a few years ago you put something you liked on your computer. If you keep your old backup files, he said, you can do a little searching and find the file whereas if you have only your current year's backup there's no way of ever again finding the file you now wish you had. Back up your computer to an external hard drive, suggested Jep. (B&H Video sells a Western Digital 2TB portable hard drive for $79.99.) Instructions for backing up a Windows 7 computer are on Jep's web site.
Class Agrees--Internet Usage Requires Caution
Jan. 6, 2016. -- Club president Pat Miller this morning warned club members who have Chrome's browser extension Web Tuneup that the program may be a security threat that could expose users' personal data to the entire Internet. How many of the nine million AVG users have been infected has apparently yet to be determined. AVG today acknowledged the blip in its security and said that the Web Tuneup browser extension had been fixed. For more, see this Filehippo site. -- Pat also showed everyone how she used a program called Altomerge to consolidate files made using Microsoft Word into one PDF document. More on Altomerge here.
Other club members talked about some of their favorite web sites this morning. Club secretary Gary Smith added a new wrinkle by wondering what people miraculously transported from the 1950s would think of modern-day electronic devices. (See CNET's coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show that opened today in Las Vegas.) -- For those folks who get unwanted phone calls, most often selling something or phishing for personal information, Pat suggested http://800notes.com/, which can list 800 numbers and report what people have to say about them. Gary Smith and other club members suggested nomorobo as a way to avoid unwanted phone calls. -- Someone suggested those pestered with robo calls could try the government's Do Not Call List.
the 6000th bird Noah Strycker saw in 2015 in his pursuit to see as many different birds as possible in one year?" Some hints: Noah is a 29-year-old author, photographer and adventurer from Creswell, Oregon, who, a couple of months ago, set a record for seeing more different species of birds in one year than anyone else in the world. In his quest to set the record--his goal starting out was to find 5000 different species (half of the world's estimated ten thousand species of birds)--Noah visited all seven continents and 41 different countries. Final hint: bird number 6000 hangs out near bee hives and cliffs in Assam, a northeastern province of India at the edge of the Himalayas.
The answer: the yellow-rumpedhoneyguide. (What else could it be given all those hints?) As to what birding has to do with computers—after all, this blog is called Computer Diary—the answer is that we enjoy watching birds and we also enjoy our computer, which is connected to the Internet. People around the world can write something or take a picture or a video then put it up on the Internet for anyone with a computer to see. Anyone, anywhere.
When Noah started his birding journey in Antarctica back in January of this year, he used his cell phone to post the names of the new birds he saw and where he found them onto a web site called Birding Without Borders hosted by the Audubon Society. Then, using his computer and his camera, he sent to those following his journey online reports and photos of his day’s activities. Noah's final blog entry revealed that during 2015 he saw 6042 different birds. This short video recaps his travels. We’re going to miss Noah’s daily listings of new birds and reading about the places he has been. What we won’t miss will be the book about his adventures that will, hopefully, appear in the coming year.
Members Keep Jep Busy Answering Questions
Dec. 16, 2015. -- Computer club members this morning kept Jep Norwood busy answering questions on a variety of subjects. What's the best search engine? Google,said Jep. If you have a question, he said, just put it into the Google search box and you will in all probability get your question answered. What should I do if I want to print something I saw on a web site? Jep's suggestion: use Lightscreen, a free program you can use to select all or any part of a web page, save it, then print it. How do I get rid of the "Download Windows 10 now" box that keeps popping up on my monitor. Jep's answer: Go to his web site and follow the instructions.
Jep used the computer club's new Windows laptop in this morning's class. He still hasn't changed his mind about Windows 10. "It's almost not terrible," he said and reminded those folks with Windows 7--"the best operating system Microsoft has ever made"--to forego downloading Windows 10. Microsoft will keep issuing security updates for Windows 7 until 2020, said Jep. If you do put Windows 10 on your computer, he said, make sure that you use the Internet Explorer browser for a while before switching to Chrome or Firefox. One thing Windows 10 has that Windows 7 doesn't have, Jep reminded everyone, is a Microsoft online store. Something that irks him about Windows 10 is the need to log back on to one's computer after leaving it for an hour or so. This is something that happens, he said, when the user has gone to a Windows 10 game site.
Suggestions from Jep. If you use Softpedia to find programs you want to download, your computer could end up loaded with stuff you don't want on it. -- Make sure you have more than one email account. Use your "junk" email address if you have to submit an email address to get something you want on your computer. -- Write down passwords when you install a new program or when you're setting up a new account. -- If you use Yahoo for your email, be prepared shortly to hear your cell phone ring whenever you get a Yahoo email message on your computer.
Still more. If you have an old Windows XP computer sitting around, put Linux on it, hesaid. Use Linux Mint 17.3. "Linux is the greatest operating system in the world," said Jep, and almost never plagued with viruses or malware. The only reason he doesn't put Linux on all of the computers he comes across is because not all applications are able to run on Linux computers, e.g. the popular Google Earth app. Jep told members if they know someone looking for a computer with Linux, he'll sell them one for $200 and include a monitor and keyboard.
Winding up. Jep said he was intrigued with Ninite, a free program that "installs and updates all your programs at once", according to its web site. The only thing that puzzled Jep and club members this morning was how the word Ninite should be pronounced. A search in Google promptly answered that question. -- Jep doesn't like ad blockers. They slow down one's computer, he said. -- The computer underworld is, said Jep, in a tizzy because Microsoft supposedly can track what a computer user is doing or has done. --In a future class, Jep promised to teach everyone how to find free icons online and how to make their own icons.
Computer Club Elects Officers for Coming Year
Dec. 2, 2015. – Pat Miller was elected president of the Greentrees Village Computer Club for 2016 at this morning's business meeting. Other officers for the coming year will be Gene Fisher, vice president; Gary Smith, secretary; Connie Goddard, treasurer; Jack Branson, advertising coordinator. Today's meeting began with a brief review of the club's activities this year by Pat Miller, who said that the club had received special thanks from the Greentrees administration for the club's gift of chairs and desks for the Coffee Room.
Club secretary Gary Smith read the minutes of the last business meeting (Dec. 3, 2014). After the minutes were approved, Gary expressed a willingness to learn about and then teach any topic that club members think might be of interest to the men and women in the club, e.g. a class on Twitter. Connie Goddard read the club's financial report then answered questions about the proposed 2016 budget, which was approved by the membership.
After Pat noted that the club had ordered a Windows 10 laptop, she told club members that the Greentrees Board of Directors had voted to install Charter Spectrum in the
Jep Agrees: Web Advertising Getting Worse
Nov. 18, 2015. – Jep Norwood sympathized this morning with computer club members who complain about the ever-increasing amount of advertising on web sites but said
Adobe Reader has a new upgrade called Adobe Reader DC, which, he said, has several more features than Adobe Reader XI. Jep discusses the new version and the cost of installing the Adobe Reader DC on his web site. Turning to cloud computing, Jep said that this was apparently the way future computing would be done. His web site has a link that explains cloud computing and solid state hard drives. People, he said, are going to have to decide if they are going to do their computing on the Cloud--which means paying a monthly or yearly fee--or on their own computers onto which they have downloaded and installed free programs such as Libre Office or Gimp.
Jep continued his ongoing discussion of Windows 10. One thing he recently discovered, he said, is that it's impossible to put Widows 10 on a computer with the Vista operating system. To those with Windows 8 computers, he recommended that Windows 10 be downloaded and installed as soon as possible. To those with Windows 7, he suggested sticking with 7 until its expiration date five years from now. His web site has suggestions for those upgrading to Windows 10.
More. Jep expressed admiration for Apple products but noted that they are more expensive thanComputerLessons web site to see if the Friday computer classes have been resumed.
Still More. To get rid of the Windows 10 icon on one's desktop, see Jep's web site instructions for removing the icon. -- Club member Don Douglas made a video of this morning's computer class. More information and discussion on video recording of classes will follow in subsequent classes.
Nov. 14, 2015. -- We've always had a soft spot in our heart for Spam. Brought up in a time when
most Americans had heard of but rarely tasted steak, we never complained when lunch sometimes meant fried Spam sandwiches or a supper featured scalloped potatoes with Spam. Speak the word spam today, however and it conjures up junk email, often with highly personal content. For more on email spam, see The New Yorker's "Damn Spam" article. More recently, computer security expert Brian Krebs wrote "Spam Nation." In this video he talks about the book.
Following is some spam email we recently received. We never opened the link contained in the message, but we were intrigued by the title and felt we'd be ill-mannered not to reply. (Our reply is in parentheses.)
"Play naughty games with Mrs. Rodi Barbeau." -- (The Mrs. would indicate, madam, that you are married. But we're not--at the moment--which means that while you apparently have no qualms about committing adultery, we'd like to know--were we to engage in a dalliance with you--if we, too, would be committing adultery. It's a question we have often asked on the Internet but have never gotten a satisfying answer to. So, until this matter is cleared up, we must, Mrs. Barbeau, decline your offer to play "naughty games." Not that we don't like to play games. Perhaps in your next spam you could let us know which games you have in mind. Please be specific, even graphic if you wish, and don't worry that your language might discomfort us. We're an adult and have been for a long time. Make that a long, long time.)
Free Program Protects Privacy Says Gary Smith
Nov. 4, 2015. – People concerned about privacy while searching on the Internet might want to check out a free program called StartPage, according to Gary Smith, who toldfellow computer class members this morning about an app that claims it does not record your IP address or track your searches. It uses Google in searches, said Gary, but since it does this by proxy, no record of a user's search is recorded on one's hard drive. According to the StartPage home page, users can either add the app to Internet Explorer or set it as one's home page.
Another program that Gary likes and uses for searching on his computer is called Everything. "It's a freeware program that is extremely fast and very thorough," said Gary. Everything does not search file contents, he noted, only file and folder names. According to an information sheet Gary handed out, Everything will run on Windows XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. The program, he said, does not contain any malware, spyware or adware.
The third program Gary talked about in today's class was Yankee Clipper, which, he said, he had been using for at least 15 years. "It's one of those little add-on programs
Before Gary began this morning's presentation, he got in touch, via Skype, with Gene Fisher, who, from his home down in California, showed everyone how he found a small brush that was helpful cleaning contact points on USB cables that are used in charging cell phones and tablets. "Sometimes," said Gene, "the only thing your contact points need is a good cleaning."
Oct. 26, 2015. -- The flame-crowned flowerpecker probably doesn't realize it but this small Philippines bird is destined to go down in birding history as the 5000th species to be seen this year by Noah Strycker, a 29-article.
Noah's daily reports and a list of the birds he has so far seen are on the Audubon Birding Without Borders web site. As of today, Noah still has more than two more months of bird watching to go in Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand before, at the end of December, he heads home to Oregon, where he will spend a good part of next year writing a book about his adventures. (One of Noah's admirers suggested that Noah spend 2016 hunting for those bird species he has yet to see.)
We're going to be a bit saddened come the end of 2015. Keeping up with Noah's daily Internet posts has been both entertaining and instructive. Photos of the birds he has seen are only a computer click away. Our bird watching these days is mostly confined to looking out our kitchen window at birds gobbling up sunflower seeds or pecking away at a cake of suet swinging nearby. But as long as we have a computer and a connection to the Internet--to the world--we'll never lack for the excitement of discovering new things, new places, new people, new adventures.
Oct. 24, 2015. – YouTube Red. Growing weary of having to wade through advertisements while waiting
Starting Oct. 28, you won’t have to worry about ads on YouTube—if you’re willing to pay $9.99 a month. Subscribe to YouTube Red and you can download a video and watch it offline. Also included in the price is a subscription to Google’s Google Play music service.
DOS, Command Prompt Sometimes Useful-- Jep
Oct. 21, 2015. – Jep Norwood reminded computer club members this morning how far the science of computing has come by showing how a graphical user interface has and use the Command Prompt to type in whatever one wants one's computer to do. Although windows, icons and menus have made computing easier, said Jep, there are still times when--often at a suggestion in a web site--the Command Prompt is useful. For more, see Jep's web site explanation of the prompt.
One program that Jep thinks is "very cool" is VLC Media Player, a free download that Windows 10 users can use to view movies and videos. Windows 7 users, he said, have no need for VLC but no harm will come to one's computer by downloading it. When downloading and installing a new app, said Jep, you can specify which folder to put the new program in. If you do not direct it into a specific folder, he said, it will end up in your Downloads folder. His web site has more on VLC.
More from Jep. Ninite is a free program that will update all of one's computer programs at one time, Jep said, but added he has yet to fully investigate the program. -- Sometimes you can't get a link to open if you have both Internet Explorer and Chrome on your computer, he said. His advice: uninstall Chrome.
Still more. It doesn't hurt, said Jep, to now and then review some of the basic commands one uses every day while on a computer. One of the first things a new computer user learns is how to cut, copy and paste. Jep's lesson on cut, copy and paste lets one practice. -- Yahoo mail is thinking of adding a new gimmick to get more people to use Yahoo for their email. "When you get a new email, your phone will ring," said Jep. What he thinks of the idea is unprintable.
Big Image? Try Chromecast--Gary Smith
Oct. 7, 2015. -- Looking for an inexpensive device that wirelessly connects yourcomputer, phone or tablet to your television set so that you can broadcast streaming media onto your TV screen? Maybe what you're looking for is a Google's Chromecast dongle that sells for about $35, suggested Gary Smith this morning as he showed his fellow computer club members how to hook up and use the device. "The Chromecast dongle plugs into an HDMI port on your TV," said Gary, "and accepts directions from either your computer, your smartphone or your tablet."
"When it works, it's great," said Gary. "When it's being fussy, it's annoying." He said he's had good luck streaming YouTube media and photos to the TV using Chromecast. "However," he said, "I've had mixed results streaming Netflix to the TV with the device."
To use the Chromecast dongle, said Gary, you'll need a 2.4FHz Wi-Fi network and an Android or iOS smartphone, tablet or computer running the Chrome browser. "The faster your Internet connection," he said, "the better your performance will be, especially with Netflix."
When you use your phone or tablet to direct Chromecast to cast Internet material, the phone or tablet then becomes your remote control for Pause, Play or Stop, Gary said. Since the dongle is doing the broadcasting work, your phone or tablet is then free to take calls or do other work while the dongle streams the movie or media to the TV, he said.
Gary listed several links to YouTube videos about Chromecast. He suggested anyone with an interest in learning more about Chromecast might want to search on Google and YouTube.
Sept. 21, 2015. -- Ever think of becoming a criminal? A bank robber, say. All you need is a gun, maybe a disguise, and a getaway plan. But that kind of thinking, any modern-day criminal wouldscoff, brands you as an old-timer. Who needs guns and disguises and fast getaway cars when there are electronic devices? And who needs banks when ATM machines are right around the corner?
Like many an old-timer brought up in the days before television and computers, we spent much of our time reading library books and especially liked mysteries: P.D. James, Robert Parker, Ed McBain, Tony Hillerman, John D. MacDonald, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler--the list goes on and on. Nowadays, much of our reading is done on the Internet and one of our favorite authors is Brian Krebs.
Krebs is a computer and Internet security expert, a one-time Washington Post investigative reporter, author of “Spam Nation,” and the creator of KrebsonSecurity, a web site devoted to telling the cyberworld what the bad guys are up to. One of his latest investigations came about when someone told him that many American tourists in Mexico who used ATM machines had their bank accounts broken into by criminals who then, using the stolen credit card or debit card numbers and PIN numbers, drained the victims' accounts of varying amounts of money.
Krebs flew to Cancun, Mexico earlier this month and discovered that many of the ATM machines he found
there--in his hotel and in neighboring towns--had been set up to reveal to the bad guys people's names and their credit and debit card and PIN numbers. Old fashioned ATM skimmers employed--and still use--devices that slip into or onto ATM machines and record the user's card and PIN numbers. The latest skimmers, Krebs found, plant a small Bluetooth device inside the targeted ATM machine. Information that it records can then be transmitted, wirelessly, to another device that the bad guy can use whenever he feels like harvesting a new crop of purloined card and PIN numbers. No need to break into the ATM machine and leave fingerprints.
There's no way to know how the skimming devices get placed into the ATM machines unless the malefactor gets caught in the act or confesses. Krebs, whose phone detects a signal when pointed at an ATM harboring a skimming device, believes they're probably placed there by an ATM manufacturer's representative or ATM technicians bribed by the criminals. To those folks who say they’re not worried because they're not planning to visit Mexico, Krebs--and people who have left comments on his web site--cite thefts from ATMs in the United States.
Who is behind the ATM thefts in Mexico and elsewhere? Might it be, Krebs speculates, Eastern Europeans? Why has a new Mexican ATM company set up dozens of machines in a small area frequented by tourists? And why don't some of the machines give users paper receipts after they withdraw money? Questions, questions. Like any avid mystery fan, we look forward to Brian Krebs's continuing reports on ATM skimming. In the meantime, it doesn't look like using a credit or debit card on an ATM anywhere in the world is likely to get less risky.
Jep Finds Use for Members' Old XP Computers
Sept. 16, 2015. – Jep Norwood told computer class members this morning what they can do with their old, outdated XP computers. "Put Linux on them," he said, and referred those who might be thinking of loading Linux onto their XP machines to his Computer Lessons web site, where he has a list of links about the Linux operating system. Only one caution, he said: "Before you put Linux on your computer, back up all the data you have on your XP computer onto an external hard drive." Once Linux is installed, he said, you can download the data on the external drive onto your "new computer."
Jep continued his ongoing discussion of Windows 10, Microsoft's latest operating system. Computers with Windows 10 on them, said Jep, can now access the Microsoft Store, a site where one can buy MS products. Microsoft also has retail stores; the closest one to Florence is in Portland. One of Microsoft's new apps, he said, is a new version of MS Office that is phone friendly. Release is scheduled for sometime in 2016.
Internet Explorer continues to be Jep's favorite browser, mostly because it's the only browser that permits right clicking a web site and selecting the option that puts a shortcut onto one's desktop. Edge, Window 10's new browser, doesn't do this, he said. -- Jep talked briefly about Protopage, a personal home page that he likes and uses. It has, he pointed out, outlasted iGoogle.
Viruses aren't as much of a problem to computer users today as ransom ware and browser hijackers, he said A good portion of the income from his computer business, Jep confessed, comes toward the end of summer, when grandchildren go home after making their annual pilgrimage to see grandma and grandpa. "Don't let a teenager get close to your computer," Jep warned.
More warnings from Jep: Don't download anything from Softonic. "You can almost tell if a web site is phony," he said, "by carefully reading the URL." Still another caution: remember that the colored entries on a Google search page have been paid for just so Google will list them first. Jep's favorite places to download apps are on his Computer Lessons web site.
If you run Adwcleaner, do so only if your computer is obviously fouled up, said Jep. BleepingComputer.com, one of Jep's favorite sites, has a review of AdwCleaner, which is a free download but must be updated every time before it can be used.
Jep announced that he has a Toshiba laptop with Windows 10 on it for sale. He also has for sale a few old XP computers onto which he has installed the Linux operating system.
Many Reasons to Like Linux Says Dale DeRemer
Sept. 8, 2015. – Dale DeRemer told his fellow computer club classmates this morning why he prefers to do most of his computing using the Linux operating system. "There are many reasons," he said, "the most important ones being that it will be there for you in the future and that there's tons of help available." In addition, said Dale, Linux is free and it's always being improved. "Switching to a new version is only a couple of keyboard clicks away." Linux is used and supported by computer gurus all over the world, he noted.
Even though Linux is "an easy, sensible system," there is some terminology to learn, said Dale. For people willing to try Linux, he suggested downloading and using Linux Mint 17.2. It can be downloaded here. There are, he pointed out, several sites one can go to for help. One is here and a Google search will turn up dozens more.
Most programs that run on Windows can be downloaded and run on a Linux computer, said Dale. A mapping program he uses on his Windows computer is not yet available to put on a Linux machine but, he said, he is confident that this will change.
One program that should be installed after getting Linux on one's computer, is Wine, said Dale. Wine willpermit Windows applications to run on Linux. "Wine does not require Microsoft Windows; however, it can use native system dll files in place of its own if they are available," according to the Wine website.
Dale handed out several sheets listing web sites covered in today's class and offering suggestions to those who want to learn more about the Linux operating system.
For those who would like to try out Linux before committing to it, the computer lab has two computers, a laptop and a desktop, with Linux on them. Any Greentrees resident may go to the office, sign out for a key to the lab, then use any of the computers. Users are asked to follow instructions while using the machines, e.g. when finished, turn off the monitor but not the computer.
Club's Summer Schedule Fast Winding Down
Sept. 2, 2015. -- Presentations by Gene Fisher, Gary Smith and Richard Cortezzo highlighted this morning's almost-end-of-summer computer class. To see the topics covered, consult Gene Fisher's blog. Dale DeRemer will talk about Linux Mint 17.2 next Wednesday, Sept. 9. After Jep Norwood's Sept. 16 class, the club will revert to its schedule of two classes a month, the second monthly class--on the third Wednesday--reserved for Jep. All classes are free and all Greentrees residents are invited to attend.
The following pictures are from today's class.
New Club Secretary Serves up Double-Header
Aug. 26, 2015. – Computer club secretary Gary Smith served up a double-header in this morning's class, first telling everyone his experiences with Videoshop for Android, a free picture editing program, then showing what one can do with Amazon Fire TV Stick, a tiny bar that you stick into your HDTV's HDMI port and use just like any other streaming device. He accompanied his presentation with handouts describing his experiences with Videoshop and the Fire TV Stick.
Of Videoshop, Gary said: "If you're looking for a video editing app with enough features to keep you entertained, Videoshop fits the bill." Using Videoshop, he said, one can trim off the ends of one's video, add music and sound effects, slow the motion down or speed it up, and adjust brightness, contrast and saturation. Some of the purported features of Videoshop, he said, didn't live up to the developer's hype. But, he said, you can't beat the price--it's free--and for somebody just beginning to edit videos, it's not a bad app to begin learning on.
Most of the videos Gary showed in this morning's class--one of a humpback whale breaching brought oohs and aahs from club members--were made on his Samsung cell phone. His Samsung tablet also has an Android operating system. A few of today's videos he made with a trail camera, which is activated by movement of animals or birds passing in front of its lens.
Amazon's Fire TV Stick ($39), Gary pointed out, is similar to the Roku Streaming Stick.As class members followed along on the printed instruction sheet handed out, he went through the steps to establish mirroring onto a TV screen the contents of one's Android phone or Android tablet.
The Stick comes in three parts: 1) a remote control, 2) the Stick itself, which plugs into a TV's HDMI port, and 3) a 110 volt charger. Gary found that the Stick works best with mirroring if it's plugged into a 110V outlet rather than using the USB source. PC Magazine has a summary of the Stick and other streaming devices.
The club's new secretary, Gary Smith, and his wife have owned a home in Greentrees for 13 years. They also live in Salem.
New Windows 10 "Almost Not Terrible" -- Jep
Aug. 19, 2015 -- Jep Norwood told an overflow Greentrees Computer Club class this morning that Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows 10, is "almost not terrible." People with Windows 8 or 8.1 on their computers should download Windows 10 as soon as possible, said Jep. Folks with Windows 7, however, should probably stick with Windows 7, he said. Microsoft will issue security updates for Windows 7 for another five years, and by 2020 most people will need a new computer, he said.
Windows 10 is a free download for people running Windows 7 or Windows 8 and 8.1 if this is done within one year. After that, said Jep, Windows 10 will cost $109. Some people, said Jep, will probably inadvertently download and install Windows 10. If people have installed Windows 10 but want to get rid of it, he said, they have one month in which to do so and return to Windows 7 or Windows 8 and 8.1. To uninstall Windows 10, Jep suggested going to his web site and following the directions here.
People with a little computer know-how might want to look into putting Linux 17.2 on their machines, said Jep, and told everyone how he put the free open-source operating system on a few older XP computers.
When computers need to be reloaded, said Jep, one needs the product key, which, on most laptops, is on a label affixed to the bottom of the laptop. If your label hasn't yet been roughed up so as to be unreadable, said Jep, it would be a good idea to write down the product key and keep the information in a safe place. And before reloading, make sure you have backed up your computer, he said. Instructions for backing up on Jep's site.
More. Greentrees computer club members were reminded that the club has an iPad that can be borrowed and taken home. -- Jep invited club members to attend the free Elks Club computer classes that begin Friday mornings at 9:30 a.m.
Club Holds Annual Swap Meet and Pizza Party
Aug. 12, 2015. -- Gourmet pizza, fresh fruit and chocolate eclairs were on the menu today at the Greentrees Village Computer Club's annual party. Melissa and Gene Fisher were party planners while Richard Cortezzo was in charge of providing beverages. This year's event also included a swap meet as club members looked over computer equipment no longer of use to the donors. Following are a few photos from this morning.
Speakers Explore Possibilities of iPhone, iPad
Aug. 5, 2015. – Twelve-year-old Ashley Belmessieri showed computer club members this
Most of her video editing, said Ashley, is done in Videoshop, an application designed for both the iPhone and iPad. There is no limit to the length of a video made on the iPhone, she said. Using Videoshop, she said, "You can add music, sound effects and voice-overs to your videos." In addition, Videoshop permits the user to speed up, slow down or reverse videos made with the app.
Ashley said she had been using the iPhone for about two years. She also noted that she had a GoPro camera, which can take pictures under water. She showed everyone clips from videos she had made and put on YouTube. Also on hand at her presentation today were Ashley's sister Audrey and Harley a friend and fellow high-tech enthusiast.
After Ashley's video class, Greentrees club member Richard Cortezzo showed everyone some of the features on his iPad. Any member of the computer club, he said, may sign out the club's iPad and take it home. When the iPad is returned, the club will erase all the content and
Using Airplay, which is a default app with the iPad, Richard put on the club's screen images of the applications he has on his iPad. Using the FaceTime app--which comes with the iPad--he demonstrated how one makes a face-to-face phone call by calling Gene Fisher, who was sitting at the opposite end of the table. To use FaceTime, Richard pointed out, both parties must have FaceTime and must be Wi-Fi connected.
He projected onto the screen the icons representing some of his favorite programs. Most of the applications, he said, are free but a few, like Consumer Reports, are not. One of Richard's favorites is TED, "a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short (18 minutes or less), powerful talks," according to the TED web site. Among the apps on his iPad are those for Public Broadcasting System programs, USA Today, and IBooks, "a great source for information," according to Richard.
Class Learns How to Back Up Entire Computer
After sending his computer off to Dell for repairs--done in less than a week--Dale set about collecting information and hardware that would be needed should a computer of his stop working sometime in the future. The only hardware necessary, he said, is either a thumb drive ("five GIGS would do it") or an external hard drive, which sells online from $50 to $60 for a 1TB drive.
You also need to borrow someone's computer and become familiar with .iso files, said Dale. In a handout accompanying his talk today, he suggested a technet.com blog that explains .iso files. The procedure for putting the appropriate files onto one's computer, he said, is simple.
Although he uses both Windows and Linux Mint, Dale does most of his everyday computing on his Linux machine. For those unfamiliar with the Linux operating system, he suggested this site as a good place to start. Those interested in making a bootable USB device containing Linux Mint might want to go to Google, said Dale.
Club president Pat Miller pointed out that the computer club has both a desktop and a laptop computer with Linux. Any club member may check out the laptop and take it home, she said.
July 28, 2015. -- Speaking of earthquakes and tsunamis--and everyone in Oregon and Washington seems to be doing just that these days--The New Yorker magazine's Kathryn Schulz, who wrote a recent article on what will happen when the Cascadia subduction zone erupts in the Northwest, has written a follow-up article called "How to Stay Safe When the Big One Comes." Her original article, "The Earthquake That Will Devastate Seattle," can be viewed here.
July 24, 2015. – We can now watch film clips of some of the most important events of
the past hundred years. The Associated Press news agency, together with its partner British Movietone, have just made available on YouTube over a half million video stories. Caitlin Dewey, the Washington Post’s digital culture critic, here provides links to some historic clips.
Ready or Not, Here Comes MS New Windows 10
July 22, 2015. -- Ready or not, said club president Pat Miller this morning, Microsoft's latest operating
system, Windows 10, is on its way. Its official release date is one week from today. At this point, said Pat, nobody seems to know whether Windows 10 will download and install automatically onto Windows 7 machines. Windows 10 will be a free upgrade to those running Windows 7; also 8 and 8.1. Vista and XP machines will not be eligible for the upgrade to Windows 10, said Pat.
She announced that the computer club will buy a Windows 10 laptop. That way, she said, everyone who wants to see Windows 10 in action before committing to an upgrade--or a purchase--will have a chance to compare Windows 10 with the operating system--usually Windows 7--presently on one's computer. People with Windows 7 who wish to upgrade to Windows 10, she said, will have until July 29, 2016 to do so.
According to a Windows 10 Talking Points sheet Pat passed out this morning, PC makers will get first priority at downloading Windows 10. Next in line will be retail partners followed by Windows 10 beta testers--there are about five million of them. Next come people who have reserved Windows 10; these folks will presumably be notified once Microsoft has confirmed that a computer is ready for Windows 10. Installation can take about one hour for the download and installation, according to the Talking Points sheet. Newer devices may take only 20 minutes while older devices may take more than an hour.
Before the discussion of Windows 10, Pat passed out sheets showing everyone how to back up and import browser bookmarks. Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer Favorites/Bookmarks don't automatically show up when one changes browsers.
Following are a few photos from this morning's class.
July 20, 2015. – Just when we’re surfing the Internet and enjoying a cooling ocean breeze article in today's The New Yorker magazine entitled “The Really Big One,” with the subhead "An earthquake will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. The question is when."
Nobody living west of Interstate 5 will be safe, said the article, when the Cascadia subduction zone erupts and triggers not only an earthquake but a tsunami that will inundate much of the coast. Thousands will die, thousands more will be injured. Services we take for granted will be cut off: no fresh water, no electricity, roads and bridges made impassable, no food except for those canned goods we’ve stored away in anticipation of catastrophes.
Okay, so a devastating earthquake and tsunami are coming—in fact, are overdue. What can we do about it? We could, of course, move. But where? California, which always seems to be drying up or burning up? Somewhere in the Midwest, where the threat of tornadoes always looms? The Southwest, where summer temperatures under 100 signal a cold snap? The East, where hurricanes and high humidity make summers miserable and ice and snow make winter roads undrivable?
We’ll probably stay here in Florence, lay up a few more gallons of water, buy a few more canned goods for our self and our pets, and send the New Yorker article to our relatives in New England and Colorado and reassure them that it’ll take more than that little tremor we just felt to lure us away from the coast here in Oregon. Woops, there’s another little tremor. Probably nothing to worry about.
Auto Backup Programs Slow Computers--Jep
"You only back up your stuff," said Jep. "Not the entire computer." When using an external hard drive such as the WD My Passport, he said, first format the drive, which will get rid of apps that you don't want or need . How often you back up is up to you, he said. He suggested opening the drive and giving the backup folder you make the date you're doing the backup. Select the files you want to back up and select Copy. Then go to the backup folder you've made, open it, and click on Paste. That's all there is to it, said Jep. His Computer Lessons web site has detailed instructions for backing up Windows 7.
He reminded everyone to save the disks when buying a new computer and to save serial numbers and passwords of anything they buy. Write things down, said Jep, and put the information in a safe place--not in your computer. Above all, he said, when installing a new program or device, go slow. "Remember, everybody is trying to sell you something."
Windows 10, Microsoft's latest operating system, should be installed on a Windows 8 computer as soon as possible, said Jep. He suggested that people with Windows 7 computers opt out of downloading and installing Windows 10. Most Windows 7 computers aren't going to last five more years, he said, and by that time, when you get yourself a new computer, Windows 10 will be on it.
Windows 10 works "okay," said Jep, who has used the new operating system in its betaconfiguration for several months. The trouble with it, he said, is that it wants to run on several different platforms--desktops, laptops, tablets, and X-boxes. His evaluation of Windows 10: "It's almost not terrible."
Club vice president Gene Fisher and Richard Cortezzo helped club members with tablets in a class preceding today's session with Jep Norwood.
Class Reviews Picasa, Learns How It Works
July 8, 2015. – Long-time Greentrees computer club member Collette Bailey showedher fellow club members this morning how she set up Picasa, a free program from Google, to organize and edit her pictures. Picasa, she pointed out, is a non-destructive picture editing program. By default, she said, pictures downloaded from a camera into one's computer will appear in the My Pictures folder in My Documents.
Also by default, said Collette, all of the pictures in My Pictures will appear in Picasa by date. They can then be relabeled, then dragged and dropped into folders one creates. If you want to be able to easily find a picture, said Collette, it's probably a good idea to tag it before moving it into a new folder.
There's no need to worry if one accidentally deletes a picture, said Collette. "Just go to the Recycle Bin and restore the picture." Pictures deleted from an album will still show up in a folder, she noted.
You have a choice as to how your pictures will be displayed
in Picasa, she said, adding that she prefers the flat rather than the tree
view. She also said that she doesn't like to use subfolders but showed everyone
how, in the Folder view, one can tell if a folder has a subfolder.
When emailing a picture, Collette said, she tries to keep it about 480 pixels. (In Picasa go to Tools/Options/Email to set size.) If someone wants you to send them a full-resolution picture that would make a good print, she said, then select Original size in the Email tab.
More Tips. If you want to use a picture in another program, she suggested first saving a copy of the original picture. -- To take a picture of something or someone in a video, first make sure Picasa is open. Then stop the video and press the PrintScreen key. The picture will appear in Picasa under Screen Captures.
Class Told Editing Photos in Picasa "A Snap"
July 1, 2015. -- How do you take a halfway decent picture then edit it in Picasa? This was the question posed today to members of the Greentrees Computer Club. We offered a few suggestions.
1. Download Picasa onto your computer. It's free and, after you've edited a few pictures, you'll find it not difficult to understand and use.
2. Take several shots. Folks raised on film used to take a picture then wonder how many more shots there are "left on the roll." With today's digital camera, which runs on a battery, the answer is until the compact flash or SD card is full or until the battery loses its power. (You might want to check your battery before picking up the camera or carry a spare battery with you.)
3. Fill the frame. It's usually good advice. Unless there is a good reason, get close to your subject. If it's a person, don't tell him or her to "back up so I can get all of you in."
4. Watch the background. Use a big aperture (small f-stop number) to blur the background, which calls attention to what is in the foreground. Only use your camera's automatic setting? Then put your subject against a plain background. Don't place your subject up too close to a wall or you'll get unflattering shadows.
5. Get your subject out of the sun. Unless you enjoy watching people crinkle up their faces to
6. Read your camera's manual. Sit down with the camera and go over the manual, page by page. Don't understand something? Read it again. This is painful, but might help you take better pictures.
7. Remember the Rule of Thirds. Don't put the horizon in the middle of your picture. Don't always put a person exactly in the middle of your picture.
8. Tag your pictures in Picasa. Put them in folders. This will make it easier to find your pictures.
9. Seek online help. The web's most popular photography site is DP Review. The forums cover all types of cameras. There's no cost to join or ask questions.
10. Remember that Picasa is a non-destructive editor. Whatever you do to a picture--except delete it--you can get your original back. Just right click on the picture and select Undo all Edits. Voila--you're back where you started.
Members Learn About Full Spectrum Computers
June 24, 2015. – Club members this morning learned about Full Spectrum, a computer business now in its third year here in Florence at 2970 Highway 101. In this morning's class, Full Spectrum Computers owner Neil Ecker and service manager Matthew Holland spoke of the services available at FullSpectrum and answered questions from computer club members.
Full Spectrum, they said, works on all kinds of electronics--PCs, Macs, tablets, and cell phones. They also sell PC computers, and, though not licensed by Apple to sell Apple products, can repair Apple devices and can point prospective Mac users to the best places to buy Apple products. Sometimes, they said, they are asked to repair a printer, but suggested that repairing an older printer that has quit working is usually not financially advantageous since a new printer can be bought today for less than a hundred dollars.
Some of their repair work, they said, can be done using a remote connection. They also echoed what Greentrees computer club members have been told about Windows 10, Microsoft's latest operating system. If one has a Windows 7 computer, the two men agreed that it's probably a good idea to reserve a copy of Windows 10 but then stick with Windows 7, which Microsoft has said it will continue providing security updates for until 2020. Windows 8 doesn't bother Neil Ecker, but he did admit there are some technicians at the Full Spectrum shop who don't care to work on Windows 8 computers.
Be careful, they said, if you suddenly get a box popping up telling you that your computer needs attention. If a box appears and you get a choice or clicking on Yes or No, they said, choose neither. Click on the X, generally in the top right hand corner of the box, and the threat will disappear. If you need new drivers for some of your devices, they said, ignore the pop-up boxes telling you where to get the necessary drivers. Instead, they said, go to the manufacturer's web site and seek out the drivers you need to update.
To illustrate the dangers of clicking on the first thing one sees in, say, Google's search page, Matthew Holland, searching for the latest version of Java, pointed out that the first few Google items listed were ads that would not only not update Java but might load up one's computer with unwanted programs. As club members watched, he found the authentic Java web site, downloaded the latest version of the program then, in Control Panel, removed several old and discontinued Java versions.
Update Windows 8 to Windows 10 Now -- Jep
Microsoft will continue supporting security updates for Windows 7 until 2020, said Jep, so there is little need for Windows 7 owners to install Windows 10 on their computers. "Windows 10 is actually not terrible," he said, and is supposedly the last operating system that Microsoft will make. All future upgrades will be in the form of MS updates, he said. Whether people with Windows 7 machines choose to install Windows 10 is up to them, said Jep. "If you decide to put it on your computer," he said, "you should also have Outlook.com email to take full advantage of the Windows 10 features."
For people who use multiple browsers, said Jep, there is a way to synchronize desktops, laptops, phones and tablets so that a favorite site in one browser, e.g. Internet Explorer, will also show up in Chrome and Firefox. His Computer Lessons web site spells out the steps one can take to get all of one's browsers in sync. While speaking of browsers, Jep reminded people who take their computers in for repairs to tell the technician if one is using the Chrome or Firefox browser.
Some folks, Jep noted, don't care for some of the sounds their computers make. Users can go to Control Panel and change sounds. What cannot be changed, he said, is the sound Windows makes when you turn on your computer.
For those who are definitely not beginners at computer, said Jep, there is a program called Tweaking.com that can "fix a whole bunch of stuff" on your computer but canprogram can be downloaded at the Major Geeks web site. It's free, said Jep, but it comes zipped, which means one must unzip it to use it. The best app for that, said Jep, is the original WinZip program he puts on all computers that he sets up or repairs. Do not, he said, update WinZip. Also, go slow, "really slow", when installing an application on your computer. Use the Custom Install feature so you can uncheck unwanted stuff. If you got hijacked in the past and think you are okay now, you're really not, said Jep, but this program, a free download, will help.
More. Microsoft will never send you email, said Jep. "They communicate through Windows updates. And they won't call you on the phone." -- Pet peeve from Jep: when putting thumb drive in, you get a box asking if you want to scan your drive. Just say no then go to Computer and open your jump drive there and take off what you want. -- "Remember that computers don't work right. And it's not your fault." Finally, suggested Jep, don't bother putting a password on your computer because, inevitably, you will forget it. The exception: when banking online, use a strong password and write it down and put it in a safe place. "Or tattoo it on your arm."
Club Learns How to Hook Up Streaming Devices
June 10, 2015. -- Richard Cortezzo showed his fellow computer club members this
morning how to hook up their Roku and Apple TV video streaming devices. CNET has a comparison of the most popular streaming devices.
After showing everyone the variety of channels available on his Roku device, Richard plugged in his Apple TV. which is a digital media player and a micro console developed and sold by Apple Inc. According to Wikipedia, "It's a small network appliance and entertainment device that can receive digital data from a number of sources and stream it to a television set for playing on the TV screen."
The Apple TV, which has gone through a few versions, starts at $69 with the most expensive device selling for $99. The Roku 2 sells for $49.99 at Best Buy while the Roku 3 is $79.99. Some of the channels available to those with an Apple TV or a Roku are free while others cost varying amounts.
Vice president Gene Fisher reminded everyone that he is doing his best to keep everyone in Greentrees aware of the activities happening in the park this summer. His Greentrees Events blog highlights future computer classes as well as other Greentrees activities.
Schools Seek Volunteers for ASPIRE Program
June 3, 2015. -- Computer Club members this morning played host to two women
ASPIRE , said Ms. Kilgore, is a state-run program and now in 150 Oregon schools. Most of the volunteers work with middle and high school students, she said. Students involved with the program are mostly those who don't feel they can afford to go on with their schooling once they graduate from high school. Volunteers who meet with these students encourage them to think about their future and show them opportunities--financial and otherwise--to help them make decisions, said Ms. DeCeault. Last year, noted Ms. Kilgore, $93,000 was raised in Florence to aid students seeking financial help.
Volunteers in the ASPIRE program are encouraged to submit their applications to work with the program and should be prepared for a background check. Parents must agree to let their children participate in the program. More information is available on the Web here.
May 28, 2015. -- Google today introduced Google Photos, a program that offers free storage of an unlimited number of photos and videos. For more see Google's blog.
A reviewer for The Verge compares Photos with Yahoo's Flickr and other backup programs here. Google Photos can be downloaded onto a PC, an Android device, or onto an iPhone or iPad.
Apple Phones, Pads, Pods Called Most Reliable
Printing from an Apple tablet isn't as easy as from a desktop computer, said Gene. "But it is possible." He pointed out that one can always transfer pictures from one's tablet to one's computer and then print them. One club member said that she often selects pictures that she gets on her tablet, emails them to herself, then downloads them onto her computer. Both Gene and Richard pointed out that pictures on a tablet can be backed up using one of the programs Apple makes available.
The two showed some of the apps they have downloaded onto their Apple tablets.
Richard, on his iPad, has Google Earth, which, he said, has a variety of uses. He also has a National Public Radio app that he can access, whether in Florence, on the road, or at his home in Arizona. He showed club members how to bookmark a Web page and helped one member bypass the necessity of using a Passcode to sign in when using his iPad.
More computer club classes on tablets, smart phones and Apple devices will be forthcoming.
Hold Off On Windows 10 Operating System -- Jep
May 20, 2015. – Jep Norwood had advice in his computer class this morning for those who are thinking of installing Microsoft's newest operating system--Windows 10--onto their computers. "Don't do it yet,"
said Jep. If you have Windows 10 on your computer, he said, you must upgrade all the time or it will quit working. Eventually everyone with Windows 7 will get a free copy of Windows 10, Jep noted. The trouble with Windows 10, he said, is that it tries to be the operating system not only for desktop PCs but for laptops, tablets, and Xboxes. Jep was an enthusiastic supporter of Windows 10 when it first came out but now, after fixing a few computers with the new OS, he has come to the conclusion that "Windows 7 is the last great computer you will own."
With more and more people traveling these days, Jep said, chances are they use a desktop computer for email while at home and then switch over to a laptop or a tablet while on the road. The result of using various devices in various places for email can, he said, sometimes lead to getting locked out of your email program. "If this happens to you," said Jep, "you'll need a code to get your email working again." To get that code, he said, it might be necessary to call your email program and give them your telephone number so that they can call you and give you the code you need to get your email going again. For more on recovering email, see Jep's web site.
Jep showed everyone how to ensure that web pages open full sized when clicked on.
The process involves stretching out one web page carefully so as to avoid Snap then opening a link on that page and going to Properties on the page just opened and specifying that the page be opened fully. Jep said he had once had directions on his older Computer Lessons web site and that he will think about spelling out the necessary steps in an update. Club president Pat Miller said she had discovered another way to open a web page full sized: Hold down the Windows key and press the up arrow.
Internet Explorer is Jep's favorite browser for one reason, he said. Only in IE can he open a web page then right click and go to Create Shortcut. He can then choose to put a shortcut onto his desktop then, later, when he is finished with the page, can delete the shortcut. "You can't do that in other browsers," he said.
Taking your computer to a technician for repair? Make sure, said Jep, that you tell the tech if you are using the Chrome or Fire Fox browser. If you don't, he said, your newly repaired computer might be missing your list of favorites or bookmarked links. -- Do not, said Jep, put a password onto your computer. "It doesn't always work and you might get locked out of your computer." -- Hankering to learn about the more esoteric side of computing? Jep recommended Bleeping Computer.
May 15, 2015. -- It's probably not a good idea to fall asleep the next time you're at a
meeting and the person doing the talking is your boss. In fact, it can be downright dangerous, which North Korea's sixty-six year old minister of defense Hyon Yong-chol discovered recently when he dozed off in the presence of the country's Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Un. Whether Hyon snored so loudly as to invoke Kim's wrath is not clear from one report of the incident. In any event, Kim had his old defense minister shot. By anti-aircraft guns.
Hyon is but one of many killed by Kim in the past few years. One of Kim's relatives was dragged from his seat and executed for "halfheartedly clapping” at one of Kim's speeches. Which reminded us of a Soviet official who was shipped off to the Gulag several years ago. His crime? Seems the poor fellow, while in attendance at one of Stalin's speeches, stopped applauding before others in the audience did. We knew one Austrian woman, now deceased, who was threatened with incarceration for complaining, too publically, that "stupid Hitler" was losing the war. You can't be too careful in the presence of people with power.
Members Compare Tablets, Share Favorite Apps
May 6, 2015. -- A wide variety of tablets were on display this morning as Greentrees Village computer club members came together to compare tablet features, talk about favorite apps and do a little troubleshooting. Club president Pat Miller handed out soft-tipped styluses to those in attendance. Following are a few photos from this morning's class.
May 4, 2015. -- Time for a quiz. Who invented the piano? If not for today's doodle on Google's search page we might never have known the answer: Bartolomeo Cristofori . Nor would we have downloaded a few tutorials that might help us master the electronic keyboard we bought many years ago but which has, of late, seen little use. Who knows, maybe we will one day get to Carnegie Hall. All it takes is practice. Well, that and a little talent.
May 1, 2015. -- The Greentrees Computer Club invites Greentrees folks who don't have
their own computers to use the Computer Lab, which is equipped with several desktop computers and a laptop. To use the lab, go to the Greentrees office during business hours and sign out a key to the lab. Unlock the lab, use one of the computers--they are connected to the Internet--then, when finished, lock up the lab and return the key to the office. The lab also has a scanner that permits those with slides to turn their slides into digital images, which can then be downloaded onto a CD or flash drive. All Greentrees residents are invited to attend free computer classes at 11 a.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Classes are held in the All-Purpose room at the north end of the Rec Hall.
In the July 2014 issue of the park's Village Voice newsletter, computer club president Pat Miller clarified how the computer lab might best be used by Greentrees residents:
The lab is there to enhance your learning experience. For instance, a few friends can get together to learn about Microsoft Office 2010. Or perhaps a small group wants to use a website in a learning experience. You can do that in the lab. For personal use, please use the computers in the coffee room.
We also have a printer which, like the computers, is part of the learning experience. Unfortunately, due to the expense of toner, maintenance, and repair, we must limit printer usage to the groups in a classroom setting. The printer should not be used for large print jobs and color printing should be limited. Personal printing is prohibited. If you don’t have a home printer, there are several places in town that can print for you. Just take your job to them on a disk or a flash drive.
April 24, 2015. -- If you're the owner of a new Apple Watch, you might want to check out this report by a Wall Street Journal columnist on how she tamed the app-laden gadget on her wrist that was driving her to distraction. -- A recent CNET article explains what the Apple Watch can and cannot do.
April 15, 2015. -- Jep Norwood answered questions this morning in his monthly
computer class here in Greentrees. Excerpts from his presentation can be seen on this video. Jep's web site, which is an ever-changing source of computer information, can be found at Computer Lessons.
April 14, 2015. -- Patch Tuesday (the second Tuesday of the month) is here again, which means it's time to go to Windows Update and install the latest security fixes from Microsoft. Many folks choose to update their computers automatically, something that How-to Geek recommends. As does Jep, our computer guru. -- For more on Windows, Flash and Java updates, see KrebsonSecurity.
April 7, 2015. – What would you do if you called the IRS
and told them your tax refund was overdue—only to be told that your refund had
already been sent to the Pennsylvania bank account that you specified the money be deposited
into? Trouble is, you live in New York. Brian Krebs (KrebsonSecutity) explains how scammers stole a New York man’s $8936.00 and suggests ways of preventing this from happening.
April 2, 2015. -- A small yet enthusiastic group of computer club members got together
yesterday morning and heard club president Pat Miller explain all the things one could do using a free download program called LibreOffice, an office suite similar to Microsoft's Office.
March 26, 2015. -- Two of our favorite pastimes have been converging the past three months as we follow, on our computer, the peregrinations of a young man on a quest to see five thousand different birds in one year. The pastimes are surfing the Internet and birding--trying to identify the birds outside our kitchen window and in the nearby fields and woodlands.
Noah Strycker is a 28-year-old author, photographer and adventurer who lives in Creswell, a small town about a dozen miles south of Eugene. His home is in Creswell because Jim and Pat Fleming, two Greentrees computer club members, sold the house where Noah grew up to Noah's parents. Our personal connection to Noah is one we're sure he is unaware of: about 15 years ago while birding along the shores of the Siltcoos river south of Florence, we ran into Noah and a couple of his friends--out birding, of course.
As of today, Noah was in Colombia. His daily reports and a list of the birds he has so far seen are on the Audubon Birding Without Borders web site. When Noah finishes his journey on December 31, 2015, he will have traveled to 35 countries and all seven continents. And we, thanks to the miracle of the Internet, will be enjoying every day of his adventure.
March 23, 2015. -- A Google search page doodle today honored Emmy Noether, a
woman called a mathematical genius by Einstein. For a short bio of the woman who altered the course of modern physics, see Vox.
March 18, 2015. -- Jep Norwood answered questions this morning in his monthly
Greentrees computer class. Some of his remarks were recorded in this video.
March 16, 2015. -- Facebook has clarified what may or may not be posted on its website. Today's NY Times article has the story and links that explore the subject.
March 12, 2015. -- Samantha answered questions about Facebook yesterday after concluding her two-class presentation on the social networking website. Snippets from a video of the class aren't always sharply focused. But then neither is the old fellow who made the video.
March 10, 2015. -- Patch Tuesday is here again, which means it's time to download and install Microsoft's security updates. KrebsonSecurity discusses the updates.
March 4, 2015. -- Club secretary Samantha Strausser today showed her fellow club
members how to sign up for and navigate Facebook, the world's most popular social networking website. Excerpts from the class video are here. Another Facebook class by Samantha is scheduled for 11a.m. Wednesday, March 11 in the rec hall's All-Purpose room.
Feb. 26, 2015. -- The FCC today approved of new net neutrality rules. What this means for Internet users is explained here by the Washington Post's Brian Fung.
Feb. 23, 2015. -- We were devastated last night when we learned that our latest video/movie had not only not won an Oscar from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Science but had not even won an honorable mention in the Best Documentary category. Someone buoyed us up by pointing out that the Oscars given last night were for work done in 2014--last year. This gave us hope that our recent video will at least be considered for distinguished movie-making at next year's Oscar presentation ceremonies.
Feb. 23, 2015. -- Lenovo laptop owners beware. The U.S. government on Friday advised Lenovo Group Ltd customers to remove a "Superfish," a program pre-installed on some Lenovo laptops, saying it makes users vulnerable to cyberattacks. More here.
Feb. 17, 2015. -- Filed for tax refund yet? The bad guys are switching from stealing federal tax refunds to easier pickings--state taxes. Krebs on Security has the story.
Feb. 15, 2015. -- The way we were. Club VP Gene Fisher recently reminded us that our park's original name was Greentrees Village Mobile Resort. To see a copy of an artist's conception of the park, go to the brochure on Collette Bailey's Greentrees Village web page.
Feb. 10, 2015. -- Microsoft today released nine update bundles to plug at least 55 distinct security vulnerabilities in its Windows operating system and other software. (From Krebs on Security.)
Feb. 6, 2015. -- Turbo Tax resumes online filing of state tax returns. See NY Times story.
Feb. 6, 2015. --Thinking of filing your taxes online? You might first want to read this article by Brian Krebs. We began reading Krebs several years ago when he wrote on computer and Internet security for the Washington Post. He now has his own business and has recently written Spam Nation--The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime.
Jan. 21, 2015. -- Jep Norwood touched on a variety of topics this morning in his monthly class at Greentrees. Click here to see a short video of Jep in action.
Class Watches Video, Trades Ideas at Workshop
Jan. 7, 2015. -- Following are a few photos taken at this morning's Computer Club Workshop.
Viruses Almost Gone, Malware Still Around --Jep
Dec. 17, 2014 – Jep Norwood had good and bad news for members of the Greentrees
Village Computer Club this morning. The good news? "Viruses are almost gone," he said "because all of the holes that let viruses in have been plugged by security updates." The bad news? "Malware--it's still around," said Jep. "And there's nothing anyone can do to stop it." At one time, he said, Macs were not affected too much by malware but now Apple products are just as susceptible as PCs.
Some of today's malware is nasty, said Jep. Cryptolocker is especially bad, he said, locking up one's computer so tight that it's almost impossible to get rid of it. One way to minimize one's chances of picking up malware, said Jep, is to take one's time when downloading anything from the Internet. Bleepingcomputer.com, which he recommends on his web site (ComputerLessons), has common-sense suggestions for keeping one's computer free of malware.
Every computer user, said Jep, should have four programs on his or her computer: MS Security Essentials, Malwarebytes, SuperAntiSpyware, and CC Cleaner. All of these programs are free, he said, though it's easy to install the paid versions of some of them if the computer user is not careful. Once installed, he said, the programs should be run after being updated. How often should you scan your computer with one of the programs? It depends on how much you use your computer, said Jep. Maybe once a week, he suggested.
There should not be any reason to run a scan on Security Essentials, he said. "If your computer detects something that needs the attention of Security Essentials, the little green house icon in the task bar at the bottom of the screen will turn orange or red." Jep suggested that people with a new computer run a complete Security Essentials scan once--this could take a while, he said--but thereafter run only quick scans. Windows newest operating system--Windows 10--has a built-in Windows Defender program, he said, and therefore does not have Security Essentials.
The FBI malware program is still around, said Jep. If the program appears on your screen, he said, immediately take your hand off the mouse then press the power off button of your computer and hold it in until the machine shuts down. Clicking anywhere on the page the malware is on will only download it onto your computer, he said.
More from Jep. Don't install the latest version of CC Cleaner; it will only complicate things. -- Don't ever buy programs you see advertised on TV or the Internet that promise to fix your computer. "They're scams or lies." -- Don't believe it if you get a phone call telling you that your computer needs repairing. Don't ever let anyone control your computer unless you have initiated the call and know that the person or company you are dealing with is legitimate.
Club Elects New Officers for the Coming Year
Dec. 3, 2014. -- Greentrees Village Computer Club president Pat Miller this morning
presided over a business meeting of the club. Nine members were in attendance while Club VP Gene Fisher attended via a tablet hookup. Club treasurer Connie Goddard presented the financial report, after which the minutes of the July 2, 2014 business meeting, prepared by club secretary Parker Kendall, were read and approved.
Under Old Business, Pat recommended to anyone wishing to have something printed Al Anderson of On The Coast Printing, which prints ads for the Greentrees Village monthly newsletter. He is both reasonable and extremely helpful, said Pat. She also said that the iPad that the club bought this year will be used in upcoming classes. Unfortunately, said Pat, one of the persons who is conversant with the iPad is, at the moment, undergoing health problems.
Under New Business, the club elected officers for 2015. Pat Miller will again serve as president, Gene Fisher as vice-president, and Connie Goddard as treasurer. Samantha Strausser will replace Parker Kendall as club secretary while Jack Branson again volunteered to act as the club's advertising coordinator. Samantha Strausser also signified a willingness to author a blog that will report on class and club happenings.
Pat made a motion--which was adopted--that the club set aside a thousand dollars in next year's budget to upgrade existing equipment and purchase a new computer with Windows 10 operating system. Connie Goddard went over the proposed 2015 budget item by item and answered questions about expenditures. The budget was unanimously approved.
One club member suggested that the next time Greentrees takes a census of its residents that each household be asked if they would like to have their email address listed so that the computer club might send them notices of club meetings.
Backing Up Is Not So Hard to Do--Jep Norwood
Nov. 19, 2014. -- Florence computer guru Jep Norwood, who has been teaching aGreentrees Computer Club class for several years, told club members this morning that he has discovered something else as inevitable as death and taxes. "If you use a computer long enough," he said, "the day will day arrive when your computer will stop working. The cause may be a hardware malfunction or you might be hijacked by malware or infected with a computer virus."
Once this happens, said Jep, you will probably lose all of the data you have on your computer. Unless, he emphasized, you have it backed up. Backing up is not something that's hard to do, he said, and proceeded to spend most of his time this morning showing everyone how to back up their computers. Before going into the particulars of backing up, he warned against using the backup features that come with some programs . "They don't work," said Jep. Another bad idea he said, is to use a continuous backup device. Again, "they just mess up your computer."
What Jep prefers for backing up a computer is a portable external hard drive such as My Passport .The first thing you do when you get the hard drive plugged into a USB port on
your computer, said Jep, is to format it. This removes from the drive all of the stuff that you don't want or need, he said. Once the drive has been formatted--and this need be done only once--it is ready to contain whatever it is on your computer that you want backed up, whether pictures, music or text. Just make a new folder, label it (Jep prefers the current date), and you're ready to back up.
For instructions on where to find the material you probably want to back up, Jep suggested going to his Computer Lessons web page and clicking on Back Up, which leads to How to Back Up Windows7. Once you have downloaded your data into your My Passport portable drive, said Jep, you should not forget to unplug it and store it in a safe place. How often you choose to back up, he said, is up to you. Just make a new folder the next time you back up.
In other matters, Jep emphasized that you should always get a disk whenever you get a new computer program, operating system, printer or other device. Save serial numbers and passwords, he said.
One class member said that Microsoft had called her and told her that her computer needed fixing. She told the caller that her computer was all right but that didn't stop still another call. Jep told everyone that Microsoft will never call anyone on the telephone. To stop calls from scam artists, he suggested the following: "Buy yourself a whistle--a loud one--and the next time you get an annoying call, blow the whistle as hard as you can into the phone. Chances are good that person won't call you again."
Art Case. Club members were recently saddened to learn of the passing of Art Case. Art was a one-time president of Greentrees Village and a long-time member of the computer club.
Class Hears Seldom-Used Windows Feature
Nov. 5, 2014. -- Most computer users are so busy surfing the Internet or sending
messages and photographs via email to friends that they are unaware of some features of Windows computers that seldom get talked about or used. At this morning's computer club workshop presided over by club president Pat Miller, more than one person was surprised to learn that you can open a document and then have the computer read it out loud to you. Want a man's voice or a woman's? You get to pick.
Begin by clicking on the Windows start icon in the lower left hand corner of the screen then, in the box, put in the word Narrator and start exploring. In a handout supplied by Pat were instructions for using Adobe Reader to read PDF documents. According to the handout: "Open the PDF file you'd like the computer to read to you then click on the View drop-down menu. Move your mouse over the Read Out Loud option then click on Activate Read Out Loud."
You can also, said Pat, click Ctrl+Shift+Y to activate this feature. Once it is activated you can click on a single paragraph to make Windows read it back to you. Another option would be to navigate to the View menu then click Read Out Loud and select an option. Adobe Reader can read a single page or an entire document. Need a break? Press Pause or Stop at any time.
If you don't have Adobe Reader or use PDF files, Pat pointed out, you can use Microsoft Word. For more information, see one these Google search suggestions.
Microsoft's Windows 10 "A Winner" -- Jep
Oct. 15, 2014. – Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 10, looks like a winner, Jep
Norwood told the Greentrees computer class this morning, though he cautioned club members against downloading and installing 10 in its present form. "It can mess up your computer and the Windows system that you're now using," said Jep. Windows 10 isn't as good as Windows 7, he said, but it "far surpasses" Windows 8, which he called "unusable and totally worthless."
Why would Microsoft come up with a new operating system when Windows 7 is proving to be so popular? According to Jep, MS wants one operating system that will work on all devices--desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. If you just can't wait until Microsoft has Windows 10 perfected, you can download and install it now in its trial version but, said Jep, you must first have outlook.com email installed on your computer. To ensure that Windows 10 runs securely, Microsoft insists that persons using it know that they are also downloading and installing a keylogger when they put the new operating system on their computers. The keylogger, said Jep, will make it easier for the Windows 10 team to find and correct errors and guard against malware.
One feature that Jep is not enamored of is that the search box on the lower left side of the desktop not only searches for data on the computer but also searches on the Internet. He showed the new Windows 10 system on a desktop computer that he brought to class. Windows 10 now has a store, similar to the Apple store, where users can go to spend money. Office 2003 still works on Windows 10, Jep noted, though he said that sometimes a box with "Continue" might appear. Jep's suggestion: just click on Continue and go on computing.
Someone asked why Microsoft skipped Windows 9 and went to 10. According to Jep, the number 9 kept coming up so often that the Microsoft Windows coders felt there might be confusion if there were too many 9's. In any event, said Jep, Windows 10 will start appearing on new computers in the spring or early summer of next year. One new feature that Jep likes is the accessibility of the command prompt, which, he said, he often uses when repairing computers. Windows 10 also has multiple desktops, he said, one, e.g. for work, another for when one is at home.
He doesn't like the fact that, as in its present configuration, Windows 10 doesn't allow a user to get into a computer via safe mode. This lack, he said, will probably be corrected before the finished version of the operating system is offered for sale. One feature that some might find helpful, said Jep, was Windows 10's ability to have four or five programs open at the same time on one's desktop.
Jep again emphasized the necessity of backing up one's computer. In next month's class he will show how this is done.
Microsoft Skips Windows 9 Operating System
Oct. 1, 2014. -- Club president Pat Miller told fellow computer users at this morning's
workshop not to expect Microsoft’s next operating system to be called Windows 9. Rather, she said, MS has decided to skip from the controversial Windows 8 to Windows 10, which reportedly keeps the best of Windows 8 and adds new features. Windows 10 will be available on new computers starting next year, according to word from Microsoft.
Some people, said Pat, are still confused about SUPER AntiSpyWare, which recently offered a new version of its free edition. A few people have, by mistake, downloaded the paid version of the program. This shouldn't be a problem, said Pat, who suggested those with the paid program just go to Control Panel and delete it. Then one can download and install the free version, she said.
Which anti-spyware program or programs one needs on one's computer was discussed. Someone suggested going to Jep Norwood's Computer Lessons web site and looking at the three programs Jep thinks should be on everyone's computer to protect it from viruses and malware.
For those who email pictures using Google's Picasa but don't get a choice of email programs to use, one club member suggested opening Picasa then going to the Tools menu then scrolling down to Options. In Options there is an E-Mail tab. Select "Let me choose each time I send pictures" and then, when the Email icon in Picasa is clicked on, one will get a choice of which email program one wishes to use.
Jep Norwood's class is scheduled for Oct. 15. Members are encouraged to bring up questions they would like answered. As usual, there is no charge for the Greentrees computer classes, which begin at 11:10 a.m.
Scheduled Computer Class Turns Into Impromptu Workshop
Sept. 17, 2014. -- The following were taken at this morning’s impromptu computer workshop.
Class Learns Finer Points of Photo Gallery
Sept. 3, 2014. – Paul and Becki Stymelski, two retired teachers who give free computer classes at the Florence library and the Florence Senior Center, this morning concluded their two-part presentation on Windows Photo Gallery. They spent much of today's class showing Greentrees computer club members how to rework and improve their images.
Using photos downloaded from CDs the two instructors provided, class members learned how to edit their pictures. In the previous lesson (last week), Paul and Becki showed how to crop, auto adjust, eliminate red eye and perform other basic edits. This morning they had the class create a panorama, crop it, then use the program to adjust color, exposure, and noise reduction.
Too shiny a nose on someone in one of your photos? No problem. In the Edit Tab go to Retouch and drag a rectangle around part of the nose that casts too bright a shine for your liking. As soon as you release the mouse the shine disappears. Imperfections can also be addressed in Windows Photo Gallery's Create tab. Under More Tools, open up Paint then erase/sample color/paint bucket will do just as good a job of retouching as does Retouch in the Edit Tab.
They again showed everyone how to create a panorama using three photos they had taken in Incheon Harbor in South Korea. After stitching three pictures together, they cropped it then, using Paint, created a text box with a description of what the viewer was seeing. This box can then be positioned anywhere on the photograph.
Want to combine your next email with pictures you have taken or with some clipart? Again, no problem if you have Microsoft Word or Open Office. Photo Gallery also lets you create a movie and upload it to YouTube or Vimeo. You can also download pictures onto your Face Book page or into your Flickr site using the program.
Members Get to Know Windows Photo Gallery
Aug. 27, 2014. -- Paul and Becki Stymelski, may be retired teachers-- Paul from
college, Becki from elementary school--but they still have the urge to impart knowledge to folks anxious to learn something new. This morning, they showed computer club members all about Microsoft's free photo editing program called Windows Photo Gallery. (Until recently, it was called Windows Live Photo Gallery.)
The husband and wife team teaches computer classes at the Florence library and the Senior Center. In years past they have taught classes on cruise ships. In this morning's class on Windows Photo Gallery, they handed out a three-page detailed outline of the topics they cover in Session #1 of a two-part presentation. (Their next class will be Sept. 3.) So that everyone was looking at the same picture--or pictures-- they gave everyone with a laptop a CD with the same photos, which, following instructions by Paul and Becki, class members edited.
In today's Session #1, the Stymelskis began by showing everyone different ways of downloading pictures from one's camera to one's computer. Most cameras, they said, come with a cable that connects the camera to the computer. If pictures are downloaded onto a computer this way, they said, there is no need to remove the photo card (usually an SD card), which, if not kept in the camera, can be lost or damaged by inserting it incorrectly. Still another way to download photos is by using a card reader.
People in today's class were shown the basic editing features of Photo Gallery: cropping, removing red eye, straightening, and revising color. The program has an Auto Adjust feature which, the two instructors said, usually improves the photo so that it needs only a bit of additional tweaking.
One feature that Windows Photo Gallery has that Picasa--also a free download--does not have is the ability to make a panorama. When making a panorama of two or three photos, there must be an "appropriate overlap" so that the computer can stitch them together. Once the program makes the panorama, it can be saved and cropped like any other photo.
Windows Photo Gallery often comes on PC computers running Windows 7 operating system. If it is not on one's computer, it can be downloaded here.
Jep Finds Another Reason to Dislike Windows 8
Aug. 20, 2014. – Jep Norwood told computer club members this morning that he
recently found still another reason to dislike Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. "It's almost impossible to put Linux on a Windows 8 computer." In previous classes, he has suggested that people with Windows 8 computers either disconnect from the Internet or buy a new computer with Windows 7 or Linux.
The latest version of Superantispyware can be downloaded from Jep's web site. As always, said Jep, read the download instructions carefully so you don't download programs onto your computer that you don't want. Jep suggested saving the program to one's desktop then, once the program is installed, dragging it into one's Tool Box. If Superantispyware is acting up, said Jep, uninstall the old version--or latest version--then reinstall it, paying attention to the boxes you check during the download and installation.
When running a scan in Malwarebytes, said Jep, you'll probably find that the program has detected PUPs (potentially unwanted programs). For most computer users, he said, there's no harm in deleting all the PUPs that turn up. If you find out later you deleted something that you like, you can always go back to the Internet and download it again.
One program you definitely do not want on your computer, he said, is Cryptolocker, malware that holds your computer for ransom. "It's the worst malware I've ever seen," he said. He referred those wanting to learn more about Cryptolocker to Bleeping Computer. There's no way to predict if Cryptolocker will end up on your computer, said Jep. He emphasized the importance of backing up one's computer. "Really nasty malware can lock up a computer and make it inoperable," he said. (Jep's instructions for backing up a computer.)
Jep showed everyone the "heart of the computer"--the BIOS--the program that tells the computer what to do once it is turned on. In the BIOS, he said, you can set the time, change the boot order or set a password. However, he cautioned, if you don't know what you're doing, stay out of the BIOS. This led to a mention of a TV series about computers' early days that Jep likes--"Halt and Catch Fire." Read more about the show here.
How do you clean up a computer that you intend to donate? If you want to make sure nobody ever sees anything that you've had on the computer, said Jep, "use a sledge hammer." Short of that, said Jep, you might want to put Linux on the computer; this would format the hard drive so that old files could never be retrieved. For more suggestions, he said, use Google.
Volunteers, anyone? Jim Fleming noted that Greentrees needs people to monitor equipment during the Sept. 13 emergency preparedness expo here in Greentrees. Volunteers are asked to get in touch with Jim or club president Pat Miller.
Partygoers Swap Computer Stuff, Eat Pizza
Aug. 13, 2014 -- Gourmet pizza and fresh fruit were on the menu today at the Greentrees Village Computer Club's annual party. This year's event also included a swap meet of sorts as club members looked over computer stuff no longer of use to the donors. Following are a few photos from this morning.
Club Looks at Mint 13 and 17 Operating Systems
Aug. 6, 2014. – Linux enthusiasts Dale and Trish DeRemer this morning showed their
fellow computer club members the differences between Mint 13 and Mint 17, two of the Linux operating system's most popular versions. Mint 13, said Dale, works on older computers whereas Mint 17, the latest upgrade, requires a newer computer. This morning he brought with him an older XP computer on which he had also downloaded Mint 13.
He showed a typical Mint 13 page and pointed out that it isn't too different from an XP page. The Mint 13 desktop, like the XP, has a task bar. Click on the Menu icon, he said, and you'll bring up a submenu that shows the programs you have on the computer. Dale, who has been using Linux for about a year, likes to keep the latest version of the operating system on a portable hard drive. This permits him to use Linux on any computer via one of the machine's USB ports.
Most programs popular on Windows machines can be downloaded onto Linux
computers, he said. Unfortunately Street and Trips, one of his favorite apps, can't yet be loaded onto a Linux computer. Neither, he said, can Netflix. However, he said, as Linux grows in popularity, chances are good that programs not now available to Linux users will one day be made compatible with Linux computers. Some Windows-compatible applications such as Open Office are similar to Linux's Libre Office.
One of the best introductions to Linux, both Dale and Trish said, is available as a PDF file that one can download and have on hand as a reference. "Introduction to Linux, a Hands on Guide" is available here.
Once you put Linux on your machine, said Dale, the first program you should download is Wine, which can tell you which programs are compatible with your Linux computer. If you can't get the answer you are looking for in Wine, said Dale, don't be reluctant to ask questions on the Internet, using either Google or your favorite search engine.
Party Time. The Computer Club's annual party will take place next Wednesday (Aug. 13) and start at 11 a.m. Pizza and soft drinks will be served. Place: All-Purpose room at north end of rec hall; in other words, the same place where we usually meet. Bring your old computer junk to swap or trade.
DeRemers Now Fans of Linux Operating System
July 30, 2014. – Computer club members Dale and Trish DeRemer like to spend
several months of year at their Baja, Mexico home. Trouble is--or was-- said Dale, that their computers were running Windows XP, an operating system that is no longer supported by Microsoft. They could have bought two new computers and kept their old XP computer but this, he said, would have run afoul of a Mexican law that forbids a foreigner from having more than one computer.
Their solution--put Linux on Dale's XP computer and get a new computer for Trish, a Dell with both Windows 7 and Linux Mint on it. The switch from Windows to Linux wasn't always easy, both Dale and Trish said. They had to learn a new vocabulary, ask a lot of questions, and sometimes rely on a friend in Mexico who was familiar with Linux. "Imagine yourself in a foreign country and you don't speak the language," said Dale. "That's what it was like."
Now that they have learned the language of Linux Mint, they have become fans of the operating system. Linux is a free download, said Dale, and every version that comes out has at least a five-year life of guaranteed support. The most popular version at the moment, he said, is Mint 17. It can be downloaded onto a computer's hard drive or can be put on a portable hard drive or thumb drive and connected to a computer's USB port. If run this way, he said, it will be slower than if it were installed on the computer's hard drive.
Some programs do not work on a Linux computer, said Dale. "But most do." He and Trish said they both use the Firefox browser, which, they pointed out, costs nothing. If you decide to use Linux, said Dale, make sure you first download a program called Wine, which interfaces with most Microsoft programs and allows a Linux Mint computer to run them.
Printing is easy with Linux, said Trish. "All you have to do is connect your Linux computer with your printer and you're ready to print." -- On a sheet handed out in class, they suggested people who are thinking of installing Linux on their computers look at the websites that they listed. Wonder which requirements are necessary to download Mint 17? Try this site. Want to know why Linux is better than Windows?
More. Don Douglas, who lives in Greentrees overlooking the Siuslaw River, has permitted Greentrees to install on his deck video cameras that gives the viewer looks both up and down stream. Now and then a wild animal wanders onto Don's deck.
Still More. The computer lab has Linux on one of its computers and any Greentrees resident may use it. -- This year's party/swap meet is scheduled for August 13, according to Party Planner Gene Fisher, who said the club will provide pizza and soft drinks. Attendees are asked to bring a pot luck dish of their choice. The stuff to swap will be" computer stuff," said Gene. More info will be forthcoming.
Members Pursue Variety of Topics in Workshop
July 23, 2014. -- A dozen computer club members met this morning under the
leadership of club president Pat Miller and broke up into groups that addressed topics ranging from downloading Picasa onto a Linux computer to mirroring one's tablet onto a TV screen. One member showed the steps he took to edit photos that he had downloaded into Picasa.
Pat handed out "Better searches- Better results," which outlined some modifiers one can type in the Google search box to refine searches. She also gave everyone a handout called "Google for Genealogists," which had suggestions for finding information about one's ancestors.
There was still no word on when the computer club will have its annual party. Gene Fisher has volunteered to organize the event but has so far kept mum on the party's date and the cuisine. One rumor has it that this year's party will feature exotic foods from a variety of countries.
JEP POOH-POOHS RUMOR WINDOWS 7 UPDATES TO END SOON
July 16, 2014. – Jep Norwood covered a wide range of topics in this morning's computer class. He warned people still running the XP operating system that bad
things are going to happen to their computers unless they toss out XP and either load Windows 7 or Linux onto their computers--if they are not too old--or buy themselves a new Windows 7 computer. He pooh-poohed the rumor going around that support for Windows 7 will be discontinued next year. Ain't gonna happen, said Jep, who reassured everyone with Windows 7 machines that Microsoft will keep updates going at least until 2020.
He referred people who want to put Linux on their computers to his web site. On the same web page, he explains how to move contacts between mail programs and browsers. If your computer seems to be running slower every time you use it, Jep suggested going to the Start-Up tab in msconfig (System Configuration) and removing programs that you do not need to load every time you turn on your computer. Another reason computers run slow, he said, is simply because they are old. A new computer should he good for about eight years, he said, but needs reloading after four years.
Backing up one's data is simple, said Jep. "It's simply a matter of copying and pasting."
Bits & Bytes. A smaller version of Linux will work on a USB drive. -- There are several versions of Linux; Version 17 has lots of drivers. -- RAM is now going onto video cards on new computers. -- A new version of Chrome added a malware filter that doesn't work. -- If you take your computer to Jep for repair, be sure to tell him if you have Firefox or Chrome as your browser.
To those who are anxious that their computer is not always working correctly, Jep had a message: "In ten years or so, computers will work perfectly--so stop worrying."
Club Members Learn All About Mexicanado
July 9, 2014. – Dale DeRemer introduced the Greentrees computer club this morning
to Mexicanado, a word that, in Mexico, means making something work a little better using a limited amount of money and a lot of ingenuity. Dale, who with wife Trish, spends several months every year at their Baja home, learned about Mexicanado when he brought a Wi-Fi signal to their San Bruno house.
Rule number one for those who want to improve their Wi-Fi reception, said Dale, is to remember that "a radio signal is never as good as a wire at moving intelligence." Wi-Fi is a radio signal, he said, with a frequency of about 2.4 gigahertz and "just about anything will interfere with its progress through space." A line of sight pathway is about as good as it gets, he said, except anything in its Fresnel zone will interfere.
If Greentrees computer users want to see if the Wi-Fi signal from their router-equipped room can reach to a back bedroom, Dale's suggests just trying it. But, he said, "it is safe to say that the signal will be degraded so the Internet performance will be slower."
Wi-Fi performance is measured in megabits per second (Mbps). The easiest way to determine the strength of one's Wi-Fi connection, he said, is to click on the taskbar icon the lower right hand corner of one's screen. If three, four or five green bars show, he said, your connection is probably as good as it's going to get. Only one or two bars lit up means you will probably be limited to simple computing tasks such as email.
Another way to assess one's Wi-Fi connection, said Dale, is to use speed test software such as ookla, which searches different places around the world one can get a signal. In his Baja home Dale gets one or two Mbps, "three on a really great day." Speeds in Greentrees vary, several class members noted, ranging from five or six Mbps to peaks as high as 30.
If you don't want to rely on your router's signal output, said Dale, you can always get yourself some wire, an Ethernet connection, and a router for the room you want to bring an additional Wi-Fi signal to. Sometimes, he said, a router with antennas in the back room will enable one to enjoy the Internet with very little falloff in performance.
Today's class concluded with a discussion of how to bring Wi-Fi to recreation vehicles in the Greentrees RV area.
Club Will Buy IPad, Schedules Summer Party
July 2, 2014. -- Club president Pat Miller this morning presided over a business
meeting of the Greentrees Village Computer Club in the park's All-Purpose Room. After the minutes of the last business meeting were read and approved, Treasurer Connie Goddard presented the club's treasury report.
After reminding members that the club has a need to spend some money, Pat pointed out that one member recently reported visiting Full Spectrum on Highway 101 and talking to an employee named Neil, who said that he repaired Apple computers.
Sally Daugherty made a presentation regarding the construction of a Multi-Purpose path on Rhododendron Drive between 9th Street and Wildwinds. She passed out literature outlining steps how people opposed to--or in favor of--the project could make themselves heard in person or in writing.
Pat said that the club intends to get a Charter digital box to connect to the club's television in the All-Purpose Room This, she said, will allow Greentrees groups to get together to watch TV presentations. Club member Robert Jones reminded everyone that they should get a black digital box to attach to their TVs. The silver boxes, he--and others--said, do not always work.
Pat noted that the club recently bought an Apple TV device for the park's Coffee Room. This will permit people to hook up their tablets and display the contents onto the room's television screen.
Vice president Gene Fisher made a motion that the club buy an iPad, the cost not to exceed $600. Club president Pat Miller seconded the motion, which was then approved by those present. Gene volunteered to organize this year's Computer Club party, a long-standing tradition to which all the members look forward.
Workshop Explores the Kindle, Other Tablets
June 25. 2014 – Club VP Gene Fisher this morning led a workshop that explored the Kindle and other tablets. He also introduced Key Krecker, who has offered to give classes about Apple computers, tablets, and other devices. Following are photos from the workshop.
Jep Shows Programs He Uses to Fix Computers
June 18, 2014. -- Jep Norwood cautioned this morning's computer class not to run the repair
programs he uses to fix computers unless one's computer has been hijacked. The programs he uses--Rouge Killer, Tweaking.com, Adw Cleaner, and Hitman Pro-- are reviewed on his web site. All of these apps, said Jep, can be downloaded to a flash drive then updated before they are used. Hitman Pro should, he said, be put on a separate drive.
Hitman Pro is the "best program ever for fixing a computer," said Jep. If you are hijacked, he said, make sure you have the latest version. Hitman Pro is free for the first 30 days, he said; after that it costs $24.95 a year. It can be downloaded here.
For people still using the Windows XP operating system, Jep's words of advice--"Keep your computer backed up." Sooner or later, he said, your XP computer is going to crash. More and more people, said Jep, are going to Linux or are using tablets. The cost of putting Linux on a computer, he said, is $185. "Linux works better than Windows ever did," he said and noted that more and more apps (e.g. Google Earth) can now be downloaded onto Linux computers. At the moment, said Jep, he has for sale several computers with Linux on them.
Tweaking.com, which is free, "is the strangest program you have ever seen in your life," according to Jep. It takes about a half hour to run, he said, and sometimes a computer will run slowly after using it. But, he said, after a while the computer will wake up and start acting normal. Tweaking.com often comes in a WinZip file, he said, adding that the old WinZip program that he put on many people's computers works better than the current version.
Bits --Windows 7 no longer comes with gadgets such as clocks. If people want to get rid of gadgets on their computer, said Jep, they should go to msconfig, then in the Startup tab, uncheck Gadgets. -- Apple has a new entry level desktop for $1199, he said. Only trouble with owning an Apple computer or tablet, he said, is that the closest repair facility is in Eugene. And Apple devices cost two or three times as much as other brands, he said.
Before this morning's class with Jep, Gary Bovee, a computer enthusiast and California friend of club vice president Gene Fisher, showed a group of Greentrees residents in the coffee room what they can expect if they buy an Apple TV, a digital media player that costs about $100. To read more about the Apple TV, go to this site.
Tablet Lovers Get Together in Workshop
June 11, 2014. – Club vice president Gene Fisher this morning presided over a workshop that
explored the popular Kindle tablet, versions of which--there are now ten--range in price from $69 to almost $400. Both Gene and club president Pat Miller, a longtime Kindle user, recommended two web sites to those who want to learn more about Kindles. Wondering which Kindle Fire you have? Go here. This site for a comprehensive tutorial.
Gene suggested recharging one's Kindle every night after someone pointed out that it is sometimes difficult to know when the tablet is on or off. Another club member keeps her Kindle plugged in all the time and this, she said, has had no deleterious effect on it.
Everything you can do with an iPad or a computer, said Gene, you can do with a Kindle. The higher-priced Kindles, he noted, come with both front and rear-facing cameras, which can come in handy when talking to someone using Skype.
Gene and other club members with Kindles pointed out some of the free apps and games available. Two people especially like the Candy Crush game.
An outline of all the subjects covered in this morning's workshop is available on the Greentrees Village web site.
Class Learns How to Hook Up Charter TV Boxes
June 4, 2014. – Computer tech wizards Gene Fisher and Richard Cortezzo this morning told their
fellow club members how to hook up their new Charter TV boxes so that their television viewing won't be interrupted after June 24th of this year, the date Charter TV is going 100% digital in Greentrees. Most residents have by now received a letter from Charter advising them that they may pick up a free box at Charter's temporary store at 1234 Rhodendron Drive here in Florence. The store's hours are Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 6 p.m., from May 23 to July 12, 2014. To get a free box, one must show a photo I.D.
Two different boxes are available--one for people with HD TV, the other for those with an analog TV set. When you go to the Charter store to pick up a box, said Gene, be prepared to tell them whether you have an HD or analog TV. To activate the box, he said, simply follow the directions that come with the box. This entails calling a toll-free Charter number that comes with the new box and following directions. If you can't get everything set up, said Gene, you might want to call Charter, which will, for $29.99, send a technician to your place to connect your box and TV.
Every TV set in your home will have to have a digital set-top box. When you pick up your box at the temporary Charter store, several club members said, the Charter rep will look up your account and answer any questions you might have. People with questions about the set-top box--as Charter calls it--can also go to this Charter site.
Although most of today's class was taken up with Charter's new digital boxes, Vice president Gene Fisher spent some time showing people how to use Lightscreen, which is free, to take screen shots and save them into folders. He also showed how to take pictures and make sound recordings on an iPad and a Kindle. So many of the club members have Kindles that a future class will be devoted to exploring all the things the tablet can do.
Someone Is After Your Money, Jep Warns
May 21, 2014. – Someone, somewhere is out to get you and your money, Jep Norwood warned
computer club members this morning in his monthly class. He said that despite being told numerous times that FedEx and UPS will never send you unsolicited email, people still open up email and attachments that they think are coming from either FedEx or UPS. The result of doing this, said Jep, is that your computer gets hijacked and you are out the cost of getting your computer reloaded. Hijackers often offer to remove their malware and restore your computer to its normal working order if you pay the ransom, but that rarely works, said Jep.
Before going into the specifics about AdwCleaner, RogueKiller and HitmanPro, Jep emphasized that these programs should only be used on computers that have been hijacked. His Advanced Repair site comes with the warning that using these programs might harm one's computer. AdwCleaner and RogueKiller, which can be downloaded onto a single flash drive from Jeb's web site, are free. HitmanPro, a program that Jep especially likes, needs its own flash drive. HitmanPro offers users a 30-day trial; after that it costs $24.95 a year.
It's a good idea to use a computer other than one's own, to download these programs, said Jep. All three are continually updated, he said. When using them on an infected computer, keep pressing the F8 key (on most computers) so that they load in safe mode. It almost goes without saying, said Jep, that people need to keep their computers backed up. Once a computer is so messed up that it needs to be reloaded, all of the data on it will be lost. When a computer is reloaded, said Jep, there will be lots of Windows updates that need downloading. If Windows Updates doesn't work, he said, then the computer is still not fixed.
Bytes. -- Oregonfast.net has changed spam filters and some people are having trouble sending out more than 25 emails at a time. -- Windows XP security support has ended, said Jep, so don't believe web sites that tell you that doing such-and-so will keep XP secure. -- PC Matic, he said, is a scam; don't download it.
Bits. -- Java has problems, said Jep. If the site you are looking at says you need Java, there probably isn't any harm in downloading it, he said, despite the fact that Java has been used to put Trojans on computers. -- Drivers do not need updating, he said, so just ignore the ads that keep popping up saying one needs to update one's drivers. If a driver does need updating, said Jep, the manufacturer will send this information to Windows and the updated driver will then be available for downloading in Windows Updates.
The free version of Malwarebytes is better than the paid version, said Jep. He reminded everyone to update Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware before scanning one's computer with them. -- If you have a laptop, check carefully to make sure it is off before putting it in a carrying bag. A melted computer is not, he said, a pretty sight.
Members Learn About Streaming Videos
May 7, 2014. -- Richard Cortezzo showed his fellow Greentrees Computer Club members this morning how to hook up their TVs to streaming videos of a Netflix movie, a PBS documentary or a football
game. What's needed? First of all, said Richard, a Wi-Fi connected router, something that almost all club members already have. Then, he said, you need a streaming device that connects your router to your TV via a HDMI cable. Richard's streaming device of choice is a Roku player, which costs fifty to a hundred dollars depending upon which version you buy.
Once you have the Roku box you want--there's something new called a Streaming Stick (for HDTVs only)--you can go to Settings and configure your Roku as you wish. You have a variety of channels to choose from, said
Richard. Want to see a movie via Netflix? It will cost you $7.99 a month, according to the Netflix web site. Other channels are free.
To toggle between channels, said Richard, you'll need a remote. Once your Roku device is connected to your router, the device will automatically detect your Wi-Fi signal, he said. Then you can go to Settings and set up your Roku, which, he said, has several help screens. He volunteered to help anyone having questions about their streaming video setup.
Jep To Class: Don't Worry about Heartbleed Bug
April 16, 2013. – Jep Norwood told Greentrees Computer Club members this morning not to
worry too much about the Heartbleed bug that is the talk of the Internet. He discusses the bug on his Computer Lessons web site, which is currently being rebuilt. If someone is concerned about the Heartbleed bug, he suggested changing one's email password or setting up a whole new email account (new name and password).
Be careful when downloading programs from the Internet, said Jep and showed what can happen if someone looking for a free program such as Google Earth downloads the program from the first site listed on one's browser. "If you're not careful, you'll be downloading all sorts of stuff you don't want on your computer," he said. To remove programs you don't want, he suggested going to Control Panel and uninstalling them.
If something goes wrong with your computer, don't, said Jep, use System Restore. It will, he said, only make things worse.
The first thing he does when preparing to repair a computer, he said, is to back up data onto a jump drive. It is also a good idea to know whether one's computer is a 32 or 64-bit machine, he said.
After making sure everyone knew how to format their jump drives, Jep invited the class to follow along as he went to his web site and showed how to download free programs such as RogueKiller, Tweaking.com, and AdwCleaner onto a single jump drive. Hitman Pro will need a separate flash (aka jump) drive, said Jep and that will be covered in a future class. The reason one wants these programs on a portable drive, he said, is because the programs are constantly being updated, something a person can do.
One class member told Jep he is constantly confronted with ads on the Internet to update his Windows 7 drivers. Jep's response: Don't bite. If a device needs a new driver, he said, the manufacturer will notify Microsoft, which will include any necessary driver update in Windows Updates.
Windows 8 "Cool. I love it." Samantha Strausser
April 2, 2014. -- Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system may have many critics but SamanthaStrausser isn't one of them. Samantha, who has been a Windows 8 user for almost a year, this morning set up her Toshiba laptop and showed fellow computer club members some of the reasons she likes the operating system. The original Windows 8 didn't have a start button, which confused many computer users, she said. But once Microsoft brought out Windows 8.1--with a Start button-- much of the confusion and criticism went away, she said.
With the new Windows 8.1, said Samantha, users can bring up a screen filled with tiles or a desktop that resembles the desktop in Windows XP and 7. Her computer, she noted, came with Windows Defender which is the next generation of MS Security Essentials. So that she doesn't have to remember which programs need updating, she has her laptop set on automatic updating.
First thing she did when she bought her Toshiba laptop--which came with Windows 8.1--was to customize the Start screen. She uses the Firefox browser and Microsoft's Bing search engine. Several programs come with Windows 8, she said, many of them free and some with trial versions so that users can, after trying them out, decide if they want to buy them. (One class member suggested using Open Office, which is a free download, instead of MS Office.)
Some Function keys on Windows 8 are different from the Function keys on XP and Windows 7, she noted. For editing photographs, she uses Zoner, which is a free download. Windows 8 comes with a program called Pictures, which permits some basic editing.
To sum up Samantha's opinion about Windows 8: " You don't have to think too much when using it." She even likes the touch screen, preferring it over a mouse which she still uses on occasion. "I've used Windows XP and Windows 7," she said. "But I prefer Windows 8. It's cool. I love it."
Hijackers Spread Schemes Via Email, Says Jep
March 19, 2014. – Jep Norwood cautioned computer class members this morning to think twice before opening suspicious email messages. “That’s how many, if not most, hijacking schemes are spread,” he said. Fixing a
computer that has downloaded a hijacker isn’t always easy, he said. Before doing anything else, he first takes out the computer’s hard drive and downloads all the data in the infected computer onto a flash drive.
If you don’t want to lose all of the contents of your hijacked computer, said Jep, you should get into the habit of regularly backing up your data. Detailed instructions for backing up are on Jep’s web site. He used a Western Digital Passport 1 TB portable hard drive to show how easy backing up could be. The drive needs no electrical outlet to run. Simply plug the drive into a USB port on your computer, said Jep, then, in My Computer, find the drive and format it. Follow the instructions on Jep’s web site. How often you should back up your data depends on how often you use your computer and what you put into it, he said.
If your computer is USB3 enabled, said Jep, the backup process will take little time. (The Passport drive is USB2 and USB3 enabled.) Do not, said Jep, use the Passport for continuous backup, otherwise, he said, you might well be downloading viruses and malware onto the drive. The Western Digital Passport is, someone pointed out, sometimes available at Fred Meyer. (One class member said he had just bought a WD My Passport Ultra Portable drive with a 1 TB capacity from B&H Video for about $80.00.)
If you don’t have all that much data on your computer, said Jep, you might want to use Google Drive for backing up. You can also use a flash drive, said Jep, though they aren’t always reliable and accidents can happen. He recounted ruining a 32 GB drive recently by not first going to Safely Remove Hardware in his task bar tray before removing the drive.
A few class members speculated as to what will happen to their XP computers after April 8, the last day Microsoft will offer XP support. Jep said that Windows 7 computers were still available and suggested that someone with an XP computer might want to buy one before support for XP stops. There’s also Linux, said Jep.
He touched briefly on repairing a hijacked computer and said that in subsequent classes he will show everyone how to use flash drives to download applications that will fix a computer infected with malware.
Pat Miller Suggests Ways to Deal with Windows XP Demise
March 5, 2014. – Computer Club president Pat Miller this morning suggested several ways to deal with the imminent demise of Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system. “Nobody knows for certain what will happen after April 8, when support for Windows XP expires,” said Pat. Office 2003 support will also expire on April 8th, she said. If you have XP on your computer, Pat suggested, you might want to switch your browser to Chrome—which automatically updates itself—or Firefox. Microsoft Security Essentials will be supported for another year but, said Pat, will only detect malware.
No matter which operating system you use, said Pat, make sure you have malware and antivirus programs on your computer (See Jep Norwood’s web site) and run them regularly. Also important, she said, is backing up one’s data. She showed everyone her Clickfree backup device, which automatically backs up her data. “And don’t forget to back up your email contacts." (Instructions for backing up an XP computer are on Jep’s web site.)
If you have an XP computer that isn’t too old, said Pat, you might want to put the Linux operating system on it. (The computer club lab has one machine with Linux.) For people who want to stick with Microsoft, she suggested putting Windows 7 update advisor into Google, downloading the app then running it to see if one’s XP computer could run Windows 7.
One class member said that he is planning on keeping his XP computer because it has several old programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe PageMaker that cannot be loaded onto a Windows 7 machine. He said he intends to disconnect his XP computer from the Internet and buy a new Windows 7 computer for Internet surfing. He will then get a KVM--keyboard, video, mouse—switch that will permit him to use his old keyboard, video monitor and mouse to operate both computers.
Some folks with an old XP might decide it’s time to switch to a Mac, said Pat. Or maybe they’ll opt for a tablet, the variety of which, she said, seems to grow bigger every day. “Do some research, think about what you want to do, then decide,” she said.
Jep Warns--Windows XP Days Are Numbered
Feb. 19, 2014. – Jep Norwood reminded Greentrees computer club members this morning that only 53 days remained before Microsoft stops supporting its Windows XP operating system. After April 8, said Jep, the only updates will be to prevent malware. “Microsoft will no longer provide security updates, nonsecurity hotfixes, free or paid assisted options and online technical content updates,” according to Jep’s Computer Lessons web site.
He reminded everyone to keep their computers up to date by downloading Windows Updates but cautioned about downloading Bing toolbars. “Do your best to keep any toolbars off your computer,” he said. “They only slow it down and are loaded with malware.”
In upcoming classes, said Jep, he will show everyone how to fix their computers, e.g., how to remove hijackers. Windows 9, which is due next year, will—unlike Windows 8—make running a computer in safe mode possible. (Safe mode makes getting rid of malware easier.) “Right now,” said Jep, “people who are having trouble with their computers are doing a factory reset.” This is okay, said Jep, as long as they first save all their data before the reset.
Jep reviewed questions emailed to him by Greentrees club members. Defraggler, a new program, can be fun to watch, said Jep, “but it does no better than the regular defragmenter program.” – Unfriend Check in Facebook is an advertising program that can be removed following directions from Jep’s web site. “About 99% of all the calls I get about slow computers are caused by browser add-ons,” said Jep. He then showed how to go to the Tools in the Microsoft’s Internet browser menu bar then go down to Manage Add-Ons. “Disable the plugins and add-ons you think are slowing you down,” he said. (You can, he added, enable those you feel you can’t do without.) – Unchecky, said Jep, has been removed from his site. “It just didn’t work consistently,” he said. – For those bothered by the occasional appearance of the Internet Explorer icon, Jep suggested looking at this site.
Club Members Share Favorite Apps, Gadgets
Feb. 5, 2014. -- Feb. 5, 2014 – President Pat Miller and a dozen Greentrees computer club members
spent today’s class sharing favorite apps, notes and gadgets. Sally Daugherty showed off a poster printed by On The Coast Printing Co here in Florence. “Their prices are very reasonable and they are very helpful,” said Sally.
Collette Bailey, who for several years has been making calendars featuring her fractal art, said she had found Lulu, which, she said, can make a calendar not only cheaper than a home-made one but one that has a professional look.
Richard Jones, who likes to put his photographs onto his Nook tablet, said that he has learned much about photography from Digital Photography School.
Pat Miller showed everyone her Halo mouse scanner. Halo also makes a “power cube” that plugs into a wall outlet or a car’s charging port (e.g. cigarette lighter) and can then, once unplugged, provide small electronic devices with additional power.
Parker Kendall reviewed some of the features of Google Earth, which has both a free and paid version One of his favorites is Street View, illustrated in this video. He also likes Digital Photography Review, where he regularly visits several of the site’s forums.
Keep Product Key in Safe Place, Suggests Jep
Jan. 15, 2014. – Jep Norwood reminded folks in today’s computer class that the day might well come when their machines—for whatever reason—break down and have to be reloaded. People with desktops, said Jep, generally don’t have to worry about finding their computer’s number (i.e., the product key); it’s usually out in the open and easily visible. Laptop computers, however, usually have their product keys on a sticker affixed to the bottom of the laptop. The number is easy to read when the computer is new, said Jep, but once the laptop has been scuffed up from shifting it around on a desk, the number can become illegible.
If you don’t have the product key, you can’t order a new Windows operating system disk, said Jep.No matter how you intend to repair your computer, said Jep, you must first save all of your files and pictures. A thumb drive big enough to hold all the data is one way of saving everything. Once your computer has been reloaded, the data can be put back onto the computer.
Should you need your product key but can’t find it—or where you once wrote it down—you might want to use Magical Jelly Bean KeyFinder, a free download.
Bits & Bytes. Want to change your computer’s default fonts or colors? Jep has this information on his web site. – Also on his web site is information about Hitman Pro and Rogue Killer, two “good virus repair programs,” according to Jep.—Security Essentials is still the best free anti virus software, he said. Jep also likes AVG but said that the program pesters people to buy it. He said that he sometimes uses Bitdefender, which has both a paid and a free version.
Everyone needs two email addresses, said Jep, one for corresponding with folks you trust, the other a throw-away address that you can use when the web site you are viewing insists that you put in your email address. – Finally, type in MSCONFIG in Run then go to the Startup tab and uncheck programs that slow down your computer when you turn it on, he said. “Before you mess around in any of the other tabs,” said Jep, “sit down and write me out a check for $185.”
Club Ends Year By Honoring President, Getting Advice From Jep
Dec. 18, 2013. – The Greentrees Village Computer Club today wound up its activities for the year byhonoring its president, Pat Miller. Club treasurer Connie Goddard presented Pat with an Amazon gift certificate and joined others in the class in thanking Pat for her leadership throughout the year.
Jep Norwood began his monthly class by cautioning everyone to be careful where they download updates to Java and Adobe—both Reader and Flash. If these programs need updating, said Jep, icons will appear at the bottom of one’s computer screen.
To those using Windows 8 operating system, Jep advised backing up one’s data. If something goes wrong with a Windows 8 computer, said Jep, just about every computer shop in town will charge $185 to reload a non-working computer. -- He emphasized that “Microsoft will never call you.” And, he said, don’t let anyone gain remote access to your computer unless you initiate the call.
Jep showed newcomers how to go to Florence Elks then click on the left side of the page on Computer Lessons. Click on File/Send/Shortcut to Desktop, he said, and you won’t have to go through several steps to view his Computer Lessons page. While on the Computer Lessons page, Jep clicked on Greentrees and discussed Combined Community Codec Pack (CCCP), a program that he installs on all of the computers that he sells or repairs. The program ensures that videos, e.g. in YouTube, run smoothly.
He also talked about Unchecky, a free program that helps prevent malware from loading when someone is downloading software. Unchecky, said Jep, looks at the program you are installing and warns you about bad stuff you don’t want on your computer. Unchecky is free at the moment, said Jep, but said it will probably be bought up by some larger company, which will then charge for it.
Jep reviewed the best way to download and install a program. Instead of clicking on Run, which would put the program on one’s desktop, he suggested downloading the program into a file (e.g., name it Downloads). Once the program has been completely downloaded, one can then click on Run to install it onto one’s computer.
Who’s the best computer teacher in the world? Jep’s answer: Leo Laporte, who demonstrated in a video from Jep’s Computer Lessons web site how to deal with a Norton anti-virus program. Don’t use Norton, said Jep.
Bytes. -- If you’re looking for a safe site from which to download programs, one of Jep’s favorites is File Hippo. – If your computer is slow starting up, said Jep, go to MSCONFIG then look in the Startup tab to see which programs are running when you turn on your computer. Uncheck those you think may be slowing down your computer, said Jep, who warned about looking at the other tabs.
Programs that protect one’s computer from viruses and malware (e.g., Security Essentials) may automatically update, said Jep, but it’s still necessary to open them and run a full scan at least once a month. For those running Windows 7, said Jep, it’s also necessary that updates to the operating system be downloaded and installed at least once a month. Microsoft issues security updates on the second Tuesday of the month.
Reminders. – If your computer has Windows XP operating system, be sure to unplug it from the Internet before April 8 of 2014, said Jep. That’s the date Microsoft stops supporting XP. – There will not be a computer class Jan. 1, 2014.
Computer Club Officers Will Serve Another Year
Dec.4, 2013. – Club president Pat Miller today presided over a business meeting of the Greentrees
Village Computer Club. She assured members that although 2013 advertising revenue was down a bit from the previous year, income was more than adequate to meet the club’s expenses.
Someone gave to the club a virus-infected computer that the club paid to have repaired by Jep Norwood, who then loaded Linux onto the machine. It is now in the computer lab, said Pat, and anyone interested in the Linux operating system may use the computer. The club also bought several HDMI adapters so that tablets can be displayed on the big screen in the multi-purpose room used by the club for classes.
Pat noted that the club bought the latest MS Publisher for the Greentrees office so that the editions of Publisher used by the office, the advertising coordinator, and the newsletter printer can be in sync. Another purchase in 2013, said Pat, was a wall mount for the TV in the Coffee Room. This, she said, will enable people in the room to better view presentations using the TV that the computer club bought and gave to Greentrees.
After the last business meeting minutes were read and approved, Pat encouraged club members to not only bring questions for Jep Norwood to class but to email Jep with questions and suggestions so that he might have time to prepare responses. Pat also asked members to suggest speakers and computer club class teachers.
Under new business, the club elected officers for 2014. Pat Miller will again be president; Gene Fisher, vice president; Connie Goddard, treasurer; Parker Kendall, secretary. Jack Branson volunteered to again serve as the club’s advertising coordinator.
After Pat reminded everyone that there will be no computer club class on January 1 of next year, today’s meeting concluded with a detailed examination of the 2014 budget. It was unanimously approved by the membership.
Windows 8 By Any Other Name "Still Crap"--Jep
Nov. 20, 2013. – Jep Norwood assured computer club members this morning that he has not changed his mind about Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. He projected onto the screen a list of the various names Microsoft has given Windows 8. New Windows is the latest. “No matter what they call it, it’s still crap. Don’t buy it,” said Jep.
Ever had so many tool bars on your screen that there’s little room for anything else? It’ll happen, said Jep, if you’re not careful when downloading a program off the Internet. If you’re ending up with unwanted tool bars, he said, it’s because you didn’t go slow enough when downloading free programs that offer to put a free tool bar on your computer even if you didn’t want it. “Just go slow,” he said and uncheck any box that promises a free tool bar as part of your download. One of Jep’s clients recently had 36 tool bars on her computer.
People with XP computers should remember, said Jep, that Microsoft will stop issuing XP security updates as of April 8, 2014. Those folks who want to stay with a Microsoft operating system, he said, should get Windows 7, which will be supported until 2020.
Jep noted that the Internet Explorer 11 browser is now available for Windows 7 computers. So far, he said, he has put IE 7 on a half dozen computers without any problems. XP computers, he reminded everyone, are limited to IE 8.
Ads on YouTube have increased since Google bought it, said Jep. If you want to comment on any of the videos on YouTube, he said, you’ll have to become a member of Google Plus.
Hijackers sometimes change the time and date on a computer they are trying to break into, said Jep, and this can make repairing their damage difficult. Instructions for resetting time and date are on Jep’s web site.
Two-factor authentication is coming in a few years, said Jep. His advice: “Stay away from it as long as you can.”
Finally, Jep warned everyone that Microsoft will never call you. “If anyone phones to tell you they can fix your computer if you send them user names and passwords, hang up. It’s a scam,” he said.
Brenda Norwood Shows Off Galaxy 10.1 Tablet
Nov. 6, 2013. – Brenda Norwood told Greentrees club members this morning why she is so
enthusiastic about her Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet. The tablet sells for about $400, she said and uses Android’s Jellybean operating system. She scrolled through the apps (applications) she has on her Galaxy and showed how to go to Google Play, where there are programs and games one can download onto a smart phone, tablet, or computer. Most of the apps are rated, she said and some are free.
The Kindle app can be put on the tablet, said Brenda, who noted the Galaxy comes in handy when she is out and about and needs to email someone or look at one of her programs that needs a Wi-Fi connection to use. “I just pull into the McDonald’s parking lot or some other hotspot and I’m ready to surf away,” she said. To show how easy downloading a game could be, she went to the APPS in Google Play and put a free game, Spades, onto her tablet. Then she showed how to remove it.
Wonder how many GBs are left on your tablet? Checking is no problem, she said. One of the smartest things she said she did after getting her tablet was going to Google and finding the Galaxy 10.1 manual in PDF file form. She then downloaded the manual onto her tablet, which lets her switch from the program she wants to better understand to the tablet screen with the manual. Finding the manual on the tablet, she said, is a simple as going to Settings, then About device. There, she said, the manual is listed.
Another feature of the Galaxy tablet she likes is its ability to
sync Picasa albums to the tablet. She showed several photo she had taken with her Android smart phone, then put into a Picasa album, then synched with her tablet.
Brenda said that one can also buy a docking station, a keyboard, and other accessories for the tablet. Finally, she mentioned that Wal-Mart sells something called Straight Talk, for about $45 a month and allows unlimited calling. She’ll investigate further, she said, when her current carrier’s contract expires.
Jep Finds Two More Reasons to Hate Windows 8
Oct. 16, 2013. -- Jep Norwood told computer club members at this morning’s class that he has found two more reasons to hate Windows 8 operating system: “It doesn’t have free games and is almost
impossible to use in safe mode.” Jep has had a hate-hate relationship with Windows 8 since Microsoft first came out with the operating system about a year ago.
He reminded everyone that they can go to his Computer Lessons web site, scroll down to Greentrees and look at some of the questions he has answered recently. He invited every member of the class to send him questions.
Jep squelched a rumor that Microsoft Security Essentials isn’t doing a good job getting rid of computer viruses. There was, he said, one Security Essentials update that caused some trouble for Dell computers running an Intel wireless 2230 card. More on this on his web site.
He again suggested that every computer user have on one’s computer three programs that are essential at preventing one’s computer from becoming infected with malware. Malware is the Internet’s biggest problem, said Jep, and nobody knows how to prevent it. Security Essentials, Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware can help, however, he said. A good site to go to for free downloads, he said, is FileHippo.
The three programs don’t run themselves, Jep noted and suggested that folks who spend lots of time on the Internet update and scan their computers once a week, not as often if not on the Net as much. How do you know if you've been infected with malware? “Your computer will be slow to load or you’ll have trouble getting on the Internet.” Jep again warned about attempts to hijack one’s computer. Don’t click on email links that you can’t trust, he cautioned. “If you think you are being hijacked, just press the Power Off button on your computer. It will eventually shut down.”
Don’t, said Jep, have more than one antivirus program at a time on your computer. Go to Control Panel and uninstall the old program before installing a new program, he said.
When one class member said he was thinking of switching from PCs to an Apple computer, Jep made a confession: that if he had to do it all over again he’d have gone with Apple. Unfortunately, he said, there are drawbacks to living in Florence and owning an Apple. "There are very few people in town who can help you if you own an Apple; you’ll end up going to Eugene." He also noted that everything in the Apple product line is twice as expensive.
Security updates for Windows XP will cease in April of 2014, Jep reminded everyone and said that if one continues running XP and connecting to the Internet after that date, “there’s nothing but trouble ahead.” XP has been Microsoft’s most popular operating system, said Jep and nobody wants to give it up. You can connect your old XP computer to your current monitor, keyboard and mouse, he said; just make sure you don’t connect it to the Internet.
Most XP computers, he noted, are getting along in age. The average computer has a life of about eight years, he said; it’s internal heat that eventually kills it.
AMAZON DROPS KINDLE FIRE HD PRICE, INTRODUCES NEW KINDLE
Sept. 25, 2013. – Club vice president Gene Fisher showed his fellow club members some of thethings they could do with their tablets, especially the Kindle Fire HD, which only this morning Amazon announced that the HD price is now $139. At the same time, Amazon introduced the Kindle Fire HDX, which will cost $229 for the 16 GB model.
For those with Kindles who want to explore the tablet’s possibilities, Gene recommended a web site called Love My Fire, which has up-to- date information about the tablet as well as tricks, tips, and tutorials as well as games, books and accessories. Prices for Kindles start at $139 and can go to $379. The tablet is available at retail sites or from the Amazon site.
Amazon’s Kindle has become popular, said Gene, because it is sold almost at cost with the hope that users will buy apps for it in the Kindle store. For those who prefer a tablet other than a Kindle, Gene noted that hardly a day goes by when a new device is not introduced into the tablet market. If you are looking for a new tablet, Gene suggested that you might want one with front and back-facing cameras. He also prefers Google’s Chrome browser. How big a tablet should be, he said, is a personal preference. “It would be nice to have an external feed so that you can plug your tablet into a TV,” he said.
Nook in trouble. Bookseller Barnes and Noble will soon stop making Nook tablets in-house and will look around for manufacturing partners for the devices, according to a June 25, 2013 Washington Post article.
Club Asked to Think About Setting up Web Cam Overlooking River
Sept. 4, 2013. – Greentrees resident Diane Freburg lives close to the Siuslaw River and believes that
“the tranquility of the view of the river is one of the main attractions in the Greentrees community.” Unfortunately, she said, the view can only been observed on a daily basis by the houses that directly front the water.
To remedy this, she has proposed to the Greentrees board of directors that a web cam with a 24-hour feed be installed so that everyone in the park can see the river. Diane and board of directors member Bill Johnson came before the computer club this morning to discuss the feasibility of installing such a camera and linking it to the Greentrees Village web site. If the Properties Committee and the board of directors approve of Diane’s proposal, Bill said that the computer club might be asked for help in defraying the expense of buying and maintaining the camera.
Most of the morning was taken up with an electronics swap meet that offered cables, devices, Internet devices, books and manuals. “Take what you want, leave what you do not want,” said Gene Fisher, club vice president.
The club’s lab now has an older Dell computer that has been loaded, by Jep Norwood, with the Linux operating system. For those not familiar with Linux, Jep will demonstrate in his next class (Sept. 18) some of the things one can and cannot do with Linux. In a previous class, Jep has suggested that a person with an old XP machine—no longer to be supported after April of next year—might want to load the old computer with Linux.
Apple Products on This Morning's Class Menu
Aug. 28, 2013. – Richard Cortezzo explained to his fellow computer class members this morning why he prefers doing
his computing on an Apple product rather than on a PC (personal computer). Richard, a retired Wyoming postmaster, said that in the 13 or 14 years since he has been using Apple he has only once had a computing mishap. And that, he said, was when lightning hit his house.
After briefly recapping the history of Apple, Richard used his Mac Mini to illustrate many of the features of the Apple operating system. A new Mac Mini, he said, costs about $600; in addition, one needs a monitor and keyboard.
The Mac operating system, said Richard, is easier to use and for the most part freer of viruses than many popular PC operating systems. Security updates can be automatically updated to one’s Apple device, he said. The Mac Mini computer he used has a CD slot. Apple products can be purchased refurbished as well as new, said Richard.
Data generated on a Mac can be loaded onto a PC, he said; likewise, PC information can be put on a Mac. He said that he uses Yahoo for searches though one could also use Google. Safari is the default browser for Macs, he noted.
One of Richard's favorite companies is Roku, which makes a variety of digital media receivers that permit customers to access Internet streamed video or audio services through their television sets.
Richard capped off his presentation with a short video from David Pogue, the electronics guru from the New York Times newspaper. The video showed time-saving tips that every computer owner would profit from knowing.
Kindle Fire HD Owners Trade Tips at Workshop
Aug. 26, 2013. – Club vice president Gene Fisher and fellow Kindle Fire HD owners traded tips about their
favorite tablet this morning at a Monday-morning workshop. Much of the discussion centered around Skype , a low-cost way for two people to communicate using audio and video. Two class members said they had given up their land line phones and now use Skype exclusively.
The question as to whether Skype can be used on a Kindle Fire—not an HD—was discussed but not resolved. Someone suggested goggling the problem. Many of the programs that one can download onto their Kindle Fire HDs are free while others must be paid for, Gene pointed out.
For those people who are thinking of getting a tablet, Gene suggested talking to owners of tablets other than Kindle Fires and using the Internet to look into the plusses and minuses of owning various tablets. He showed several of the applications he has on his Kindle Fire HD.
For those looking for Charter TV listings, Gene recommended Zap2it. He also noted that some 85 universities around the world offer free college-level classes, many of them downloadable onto a Kindle Fire HD. If someone is interested in learning a language, one class member suggested looking at Duolingo.
SuperAntispyware Needs Occasional Reload
Aug. 21, 2013. – Jep Norwood reminded computer club members at this morning’s class that Super antispyware needs to be reloaded now and then, not just updated. The program’s paid version tries to do too much and is not as good as free version, said Jep. When you use Super antispyware or similar program, always check for updates before running the program, he said. “And always run a full scan, even though it may take an hour or two.”
After April 8, 2014, Microsoft will retire its XP operating system and stop issuing security updates. If you are running XP and have a relatively new computer, said Jep, you might think about putting Windows 7 on it. One class member asked Jep what he should do with his XP computer that is eight years old. Jep said the old XP machine should be disconnected from the Internet. Perhaps, said Jep, Linux could be put on the old machine. The latest Linux, he said, is not much different from Windows. One reason many are switching over to Linux, said Jep, is because Linux computers rarely get viruses or malware. You can also put a program called Wine on a Linux computer, which will then allow you to install some Windows programs, he said.
One class member said he had heard of two people in Florence being scammed after they turned control of their computers over to a phone caller who said he was from Microsoft. “Microsoft will never call you on the phone,” said Jep. “Don’t let anybody into your computer unless you have initiated the call,” he said. “If Microsoft wants to communicate with you, it will use Windows updates to do so.”
Several club members reported that they keep getting messages saying that Adobe flash needs updating. “Be careful,” said Jep. “Do not download Flash Player from any site other than Adobe.com.” Fake adobe flash update installs ransom ware, said Jep.
More. “Don’t run your computer using Century Link,” said Jep. “It just won’t work.” -- If you have Oregonfast as your Internet Service Provider, he said, give them a call if your download speed goes under 5 mps. To test a computer’s speed, go here. -- Jep closed today’s class with a confession. If he had to do it all over again, he said, he’d have gone with Apple products. (Next Wednesday’s class will explore Macs, iPads and other Apple devices.)
Members Share Information at Workshop
Aug. 14, 2013. – Greentrees computer club members shared information at this morning’s workshop. Jim and
Pat Fleming showed everyone some of the features of Zap2it, a free program that has TV listings, news, photos and previews of upcoming TV shows. Jim also showed how he could bring up data on his computer screen using voice recognition in his Google Chrome browser.
Collette Bailey demonstrated how to download an ebook from the Siuslaw Public Library here in Florence using the web site. Books can be downloaded to a desktop or tablet and the borrower has so many days in which to read them. There’s a waiting list for books that are popular. Once the library notifies a patron that a book is available online, the reader has three days to download the book.
Collette also showed everyone a free program called Calibre, which can convert formats and permit downloads onto different brands of tablets. She also projected Flowpaper onto the club’s screen and showed how to make fractal-like images.
Club vice president Gene Fisher showed a recent Fred Meyer purchase—an HDMI cable that can be used to connect an iPad to a TV set. He also showed several of the applications he has on his Kindle Fire and the book that Collette Bailey had, a few minutes ago, downloaded onto his device.
Dale DeRemer Brings Internet to Home in Mexico
Aug. 7, 2013. – Greentrees residents Dale and Trish DeRemer like to spend several months of the year—the cool and wet ones here in coastal Oregon—at their home in San Bruno, a village in Baja California on the
western shore of the Sea of Cortez. One big problem, they discovered, was that the little town of San Bruno had no Internet Service Provider that could connect them to the Internet.
In this morning’s computer class, Dale, who is a Professor Emeritus of Aviation from the University of North Dakota, explained how he went about getting Wi-Fi and the Internet to his Baja home. One of the components he used was a router, a generally small device that joins multiple networks together. “Actually,” said Dale, “it can distribute messages using either radios (Wi-Fi) or cables to receive and transmit signals.”
Another device Dale used was a microwave bridge, which, he said, is similar to a router but is used to transmit data over longer distances than a router does. There are different ways of sending data using routers and bridges, an Ethernet cable being the best way, he said. A signal can also be transmitted using Wi-Fi, but this, he said, is not as reliable or fast, especially if the signal has to go some distance or through walls. Most Greentrees homes have metal siding, he said, which means that many computers in the park should be connected via an Ethernet cable, at least through the wall if Internet speed is low.
Routers are generally very reliable, said Dale. “If a router stops working, try a quick reboot by unplugging it for at least ten seconds, then plug it back in.” If your router has a reset button that hasn’t been disabled, he said, you can use this reset feature. You can, if necessary, get into a router, enter your password, then program it to your liking, he said.
Using photos and diagrams, Dale showed how he went to a neighboring town that had Internet access then, using routers and bridges, succeeded in bringing Wi-Fi and high speed Internet to his San Bruno home.
To illustrate some of the pleasures of living in Baja, Dale began today’s class with a slide show that featured several people in small boats petting gray whales and their calves. The slide show, featuring both stills and videos, was put together by Collette Bailey using Windows Movie Maker.
Calculator Plus, Firefox Get Close Look
July 24, 2013. – Dale DeRemer showed computer club members this morning some of the things they can do
using Calculator Plus, a free program from Microsoft that can be downloaded from Jep Norwood’s web site or from the Microsoft site. “I use it practically every day,” said Dale, who projected the calculator on the club’s big screen and pointed out some of the program’s conversion features, e.g. length, area, temperature, speed, volume, weights. With the click of a button, the program can become a scientific calculator, he said.
Computer users today have a choice of Internet browsers , said Dale—Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Mozilla’s Firefox. All three are far from perfect but they all keep getting better, said Dale, who decided several years ago to try Firefox. “And I’ve never looked back.” One reason he likes Firefox is because it was developed by users all over the world and is free. (More on Firefox .) He said that he continues to find features in Firefox that he has yet to use and likes the program’s emphasis on privacy.
It’s a good idea to have at least two browsers on your computer, said Dale. To those who pick Firefox as their first or second browser choice, Dale suggested opening up the program and going through the browser’s Help topics.
Class Learns How to Clean Computers
July 17, 2013. – Jep Norwood took this morning’s computer class outside and showed them how he goes about
blowing dust and debris out of a computer. Using two of the club’s desktop computers, Jep opened both up, pointed out the various parts then, using an electric blower, gave each computer a thorough cleaning. This is something everyone with a computer should do regularly, especially if the owner has cats or dogs, he said.
Back inside, Jep told people who are using Windows Live Mail that forwarding pictures could prove impossible and, so far, he has yet to see how this can be fixed – One class member said that he has been unable to remove an unwanted tool bar. Jep recommended running msconfig then looking to see if the toolbar is set to appear when the computer starts up. If you see the tool bar listed, said Jep, you can uncheck it. If that doesn’t work, he said, Google the problem and look for possible solutions.
Charter, said one class member, has been telling people that they can’t get a combination Wi-Fi/modem but Jep said that this isn’t true as far as he knows. Perhaps, said Pat Miller, Charter temporarily ran out of the wireless modems.
During much of today’s class, Internet service was down. In order to get any Internet connection, said Jep, you must be running at least three or four mbs.(More here.) While on the subject of Internet providers, Jep warned against using Century Link. “It does not work,” he said. If you are on Century Link and want to change to another provider, said Jep, make sure you check your contract before dropping Century Link, else you might end up paying more than you think.
Other business. Jep said that he will soon have to rebuild his web site since the program he now uses will shortly stop providing support. He will, he said, have to use Dreamweaver. -- Internet Explorer 11 is coming by the end of summer, he said. – "If you’re thinking of getting a new computer, make sure it doesn’t have the
Windows 8 operating system." All of Dell’s business computers—available to anyone—come with Windows 7, he said. – "If your computer has Linux [a free operating system] and you are thinking of getting a printer, make sure it’s an HP."
More. Jep still has a dislike of most printers. But, he said, if you have one and don’t use it often, remove the ink cartridge from the printer, put a drop of water and the cartridge in a baggie, seal it up, then put it in the fridge. – If you are thinking of buying a tablet, Jep suggested getting a Samsung android device. Although he said he admired Apple products, "the bridge between PCs and Apple computers continues to widen." The drawback of buying an Apple, he said, is the initial cost and the unavailability in Florence of help should the machine need repairs. – Finally, Jep said: “Don’t worry, nothing works right all the time, and it’s not your fault."
Club Takes Look at Tablets and Their Apps
July 10, 2013. – The scene: a medical clinic and several people are waiting to see their doctor. What do the people do while waiting? If this were asked a few years ago the answer would be simple: the
people would be reading a magazine or newspaper. Ask the question today and the answer gets a bit more complicated. One woman is reading on her Kindle tablet, another is using a smart phone. A man is checking his email on his iPod or his iPad or on his Galaxy tablet while another man is playing games on his Le Pen.
Gene Fisher, the computer club’s vice president, spent most of today’s class time reviewing tablets and answering question about them. Gene brought with him his Kindle Fire HD, which sells at Fred Meyer for $199 (on sale for $170 until July 17), and compared it to an iPad mini, which costs $329, again at the local Fred Meyer store. Tablets have varying amounts of storage, said Gene, and the more storage a tablet has the higher the price. Apple products, he noted, generally cost more than tablets from other manufacturers. And, he added, if you choose to use an Apple tablet you’ll have to buy your applications (apps) at an Apple online store. (More on Kindle vs iPad Mini.)
He explained how to connect tablets to one’s television set using a cable and also showed everyone his new Apple TV, ($100 at Fred Meyer), which connects tablets to TV wirelessly. (More on the device.) He showed several of the applications, many of them free, that one could download onto a Kindle.
Google Docs—a free download-- are becoming more and more popular, said Gene, especially since the price for Microsoft Office keeps going up. Google Docs has apps for presentations, spreadsheets, documents, forms and drawing. Pat Miller, computer club president and resident Microsoft Office expert, suggested that if anyone wanted to stick with Office it would be cheaper to use Office 2010 rather than the latest version.
Today’s class wound up with a discussion of which Internet Service Provider is the best. All but one person in today’s class use Charter.
Google Desktop, Gmail Get Close Look in Class
July 3, 2013. – Computer club vice-president Gene Fisher showed everyone in this morning’s class how to find anything on their computers, whether filed away seven days or seven
years ago. Gene’s solution—Google Desktop, a free search program that Google no longer supports but one that can still be downloaded from a number of sites (Suggestion: put Google Desktop in Google and download sites are listed.)
Once Google Desktop is installed in your computer, said Gene, just press the Control key twice and a search box will appear in the upper left of your screen. The search feature will work on both XP and Windows 7 operating systems, he said, adding that he likes it better than the built-in search features that the operating systems have. Once you have Google Desktop installed, he said, the program will index your hard drive, which could take “quite a while” if you have lots of data on your computer.
Turning to Gmail, Gene confessed that he almost never deletes any email. This, he said, makes it easy for him to search for email both sent and received years ago. Google currently gives a Gmail user 15 free GB of storage space. None of the email saved, Gene pointed out, is saved on one’s computer but rather “in the Cloud,” which is another name for servers run by Google, Yahoo, Microsoft or whatever other email provider one uses.
Gene reminded everyone to make sure they scan their computers regularly with Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, and Superantispyware, links to which can be found on Jep Norwood’s web site. It would also be a good idea to defrag one’s computer now and then and also run CCleaner, said Gene.
For those folks who don’t want a computer with all the bells and whistles, Gene suggested looking at Chrome books. The devices are designed to be used while connected to the Internet and support applications that reside on the Web rather than on the machine itself. Several companies now make them and prices range from $200 on up. More information on Chrome books here. And of course, said Gene, you can always "Google" Chrome book and see if you like what you come up with.
Jep Keeps Club Members Busy Scribbling
June 19, 2013. – Jep Norwood kept computer club members busy taking notes in this morning’s class on subjects as diverse as routers, updates, backups, and Windows 8. “Don’t buy a computer
with Windows 8 on it,” warned Jep. Even the long-promised update called Blue due for release later this year can’t fix Windows 8, he said. Businesses all over the world are protesting against Windows 8, said Jep, and refusing to use Microsoft’s latest operating system. For those thinking of buying a new computer, Jep suggested going to a company’s business web site, which still sell computers with Windows 7.
Jep also chastised Microsoft for “messing up” the transfer of data from MS’s former Hot Mail to Outlook.com, the company’s free email program and cloud storage program. For some reason, said Jep, Outlook.com won’t load contacts or people.
After warning people that Belkin routers won’t work if they’re thinking of hooking a router up to an iPad, Jep suggested Linksys routers. Belkins are sometimes on sale but that doesn’t make them a good buy, said Jep. “Stick with Linksys.”
Because someone says in an advertisement that such-and-such a program will help you update or fix your computer, this doesn’t make it so, said Jep. Secunia Personal Software Inspector, said Jep, is “junk.” -- There are only three programs—all free-- that can take care of your computer, said Jep: Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, and SuperAntispyware. Run these programs regularly, first checking for updates, and you’ll be doing fine, he said. In addition, he recommended keeping Java Flash and Adobe Reader updated. A big Java update is coming, said Jep. “Just do it.” When you do update, said Jep, go slow, else you’ll be downloading and installing toolbars that you don’t want or need.
When someone asked what the difference was between a desktop app and a web app, Jep referred her to his web site, where he has a detailed explanation. -- The best way to back up your data, said Jep, is to get yourself an external hard drive and set up a regular backup schedule. If you don’t have too much data on your computer, he said, you could use a thumb drive. Google and Microsoft have free programs that allow data storage of a few GBs. Users can also purchase more space..
If a computer user needs to reinstall his operating system, said Jep, Microsoft suggests going to the MS website on a different computer, downloading the iso file then burning it onto a disk, which can then be inserted into the original computer. Just make sure, he said, that the computer you are using to burn the disk is configured to download iso files. If you want to make sure you get the operating system disk when you buy a new computer, Jep said, go to the company’s web site and look at business computers. Most computers bought at retail outlets don’t come with a disk, he said.
Jep talked about Malwarebytes—“the most important program you will have on your computer.” Make sure to update it before scanning your computer with it, he said. “Always run a full, rather than a quick, scan. If you get message saying you need to install a new version, make sure you uncheck trial version.” The free version of Malwarebytes, he said, works better than the paid version. To those who by accident downloaded the paid version, Jep has a removal tool on his web site.
Jep’s handy hint of the day: If your computer won’t start you might have a thumb drive in it. Take it out and your computer will load.
Members Learn How to Capture Images and Text
June 5, 2013. – It was Screen Capture Workshop Day this morning with club president Pat Miller
leading the group in a discussion of ways to capture text and images on a computer screen. After briefly reviewing several screen capture programs such as Lightscreen, PrintScreen, Snipping Tool, and Awesome Screenshot in Chrome, Pat passed out a handout that went into detail on several of the programs.
Snipping Tool, said Pat, comes with Windows 7 and 8 operating systems and offers several types of “snips.” The Free-form snip allows you to draw a shape around your selection using a mouse of stylus. The Rectangular snip lets you create a rectangular selection around a portion of the screen. The Window Snip captures the contents of the entire window you select and the Full-screen Snip will capture the entire screen on your computer.
One of Pat’s recent acquisitions elicited a few ahs and ohs from the class. It was the Halo Scanner Mouse, which can scan just about anything. “Then,” said Pat, “it can be saved in Word or Excel and edited.” You can also save what you scan as a pdf file, she said. “I just got it and don’t know much about it,” Pat confessed but promised an update once she has had more time to use it. The Halo Scanner Mouse is reviewed on several sites.
NOT ALL UPDATES HARMLESS, JEP WARNS
May 15, 2013. – Computer club members let out sighs of relief this morning after Jep Norwood told them they had they had survived “eight minutes of terror” because of a nasty update from
Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware. “If you had been using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware during the time it was infected, your computer would have been destroyed,” said Jep, who reminded everyone that not all updates are harmless. Even the best companies such as Malwarebytes sometimes make mistakes that endanger users of their programs, he said.
He reminded everyone to update and run Microsoft Security Essentials, Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware, Super Antispyware, and CCleaner about once a month unless one spends hours every day on the Internet, in which case “running these programs twice a month might be a good idea.” It would also be a good idea to run Disk Cleanup regularly, he said.
Jep went to his web site and showed everyone a relatively new addition to his site: “If you wonder what some file extension is that you’ve never heard of,” said Jep, “just click on the extension and you’ll get information about it.” This site, he said, comes in handy when you get an email with a link you feel is questionable. “Those little letters and figures after the dot are what makes the link do what it does,” he said.
In other matters, Jep suggested that people who have a computer that he loaded should not update WinZip, now a paid program. He said he had an old, free WinZip version that continues to work just as good as the new, paid version does.
People still running XP operating system computers should put Chrome, Firefox or Opera onto their machines, said Jep. Microsoft support for XP won’t end until April of next year, but in the meantime more and more programs have stopped working on XP computers. Jep said that Chrome would probably work better than Firefox, which is, he said, is not making an effort to keep itself updated.
If someone has an XP computer less than five years old with at least two GBs of RAM, he suggested the owner might want to load the Linux operating system, which is a free download. He said that Linux is becoming popular as an alternative to Windows with some of his clients.
Looking ahead to next month’s Blue update of Windows 8, Jep said he wasn’t optimistic that it would be much good. The anticipated update is coming because of a backlash of people who dislike Windows 8, he said. Because of the unpopularity of Windows 8, he said, Microsoft is letting computer makers offer Windows 7 on their business division machines.
When someone in class suggested people might want to think of going to Apple computers, Jep pointed out two drawbacks—“Nobody in Florence can fix Apples and Apple computers cost twice as much as Windows machines.” Despite what you hear, said Jep, Macs do get viruses.
When downloading a program to your computer, said Jep, it is always better to save it first. Then, after it has been completely downloaded, it can be installed. One site Jep likes to download apps from is File Hippo.
The FBI MoneyPak malware, which has infected the computers of at least two computer class members, has become more difficult to remove, said Jep. He referred those who fear their computers might become infected to his web site.
TUTOR TENDERS TIMELY TABLET TIPS TODAY
May 13, 2013. – Tablets were front and center this Monday morning as club vice president Gene Fisher and his fellow computer club members again explored the popular devices and some of the
applications that can be downloaded and used on them. If you’re using an iPad or iPod, said Gene, you’ll need to remember your user name and your Apple password before you can install any new apps.
Two popular programs that allow the user to make either free or low-cost phone calls, he said, are Magic Jack and Skype. FaceTime, he noted, is an Apple application and comes with a new iPad or iPod. All three apps, he said, need a Wi-Fi connection.
Gene showed how to update Mac devices and demonstrated a Bluetooth earphone called Blue Ant. (Review and video on Cnet.) -- Using an iPad, he then showed how to capture and edit web images.
He reminded everyone that the data one has on tablets—especially photographs—need to be backed up in case one’s tablet is lost or stolen. A PC Magazine review of backup programs is here.
Printing from one’s tablet will be a topic for future discussion, said Gene. In the meantime, he said, most people with tablets first download their data to their computers and then print from their computers. Perhaps later this year the computer club will buy a wireless printer, said club president Pat Miller. The laser printer in the computer lab is not wireless, she said, but rather on a network.
Kindle Fire HD Gets a Close Look by Members
May 8, 2013. – Gene Fisher and a dozen club members this morning explored some of the features
of tablets. Using a Kindle Fire HD, which is currently on sale at Fred Meyer for $160 (regular price $199), the club’s vice president showed what the popular Amazon tablet can do and compared its features to those in similar devices.
Gene demonstrated how to download and use Magic Jack, an application that costs $30 a year and allows the user to make a phone call anywhere in the U.S. The Kindle Fire, he noted, has only a front-facing camera. If you want to put Google’s email on your Kindle, said Gene, you must use googlemail rather than gmail. He suggested googling tablets or compare kindles before deciding which tablet to buy. (This TechRadar web site has reviews of several tablets.)
When you get a new Kindle Fire, said Gene, you will be asked to register it with Amazon. This will necessitate entering a user name and a password, he said, adding that one should write down all passwords and keep the list in a safe place.
Projecting Kindle Fire pages onto the club’s large screen, Collette Bailey showed how she uses the
features on her tablet. It would be a good idea to read the instructions that came with the Kindle Fire tablet, said Collette, else one could easily run up charges when downloading or using some games.
Collette also had an advisory for those who use MovieMaker. "I recently found out that MovieMaker has some serious drawbacks. It's a file that cannot be converted to mp4, avi, wmv, etc. So it will only open in MM." MovieMaker is a free Microsoft download.
Club Members Learn About Tablets in Class
May 1, 2013 – Computer Club Vice President Gene Fisher presided over this morning’s workshop on tablets. Using an Apple iPad, Gene showed how to make free phone calls, how to subscribe to newspapers and magazines (some are free, others cost), and how to take pictures (the iPad has both front and rear-facing cameras). He also demonstrated how to copy anything one can see on a web site page. Before deciding whether one needs a tablet, said Gene, a prospective buyer should first ask: what do I want to do with this tablet? The following pictures were taken at the workshop.
JEP SHOWS HOW TO REMOVE VIRUS Apr. 17, 2013. – Jep Norwood told computer class members this morning that he has found a way for someone without advanced computing expertise to remove the dreaded FBI Moneypak virus, malware that suddenly appears on your monitor and promises that the FBI won’t arrest you if you send money to a certain address. Once the malware shows up on your screen, said Jep, it locks up your computer. Nobody knows where the virus comes from or knows what he or she was doing when it suddenly appeared, he said. Instructions for removing the FBI Moneypak virus are on Jep’s web site. He suggested getting a one GB thumb drive, watching two videos about the virus and reading the instructions carefully before attempting to remove it.
Jep cautioned about downloading unwanted programs onto one’s computer when updating such programs as Adobe Flash Drive. “Even some of the good free programs are trying to put stuff on your computer to make money,” he said.
For those with Windows 8 operating system, Jep said this summer users can expect a large update called Blue. This, he said, will supposedly fix all of the “bad stuff” in the present version of Windows 8.
People who want to fine tune their computers might want to look at this page to find out some of the things they can do with system icons and notifications, Jep said. Also on Jep’s web site is a link to get Malwarebytes back on one’s computer if one has inadvertently downloaded the program’s paid version.
Jep spent some time discussing the Linux operating system. There are advantages and disadvantages to using Linux, said Jep—almost no viruses definitely being the good. Some Windows programs will work on Linux, he said while others will not. The biggest drawback to using it, he said, is its steep learning curve. “If you have an old XP computer you might want to load Linux onto it. You’ll have a blast,” he said. He also said that he would load Linux onto a computer for $100 but only if he didn’t have to transfer personal files onto the newly-loaded machine.
Will we soon be paying for Internet things and services in bitcoins and ripples? More on the virtual online currencies on Jep’s web site here.
Fred Meyer Reps Show Club Store's Tablets
April 3, 2013 – Two representatives from Florence’s Fred Meyer’s electronics department this morning showed computer club members samples of tablets that the store sells. Robert Romero and Bruce Loomis explained the functions of the half dozen tablets they brought with them. When introducing the two men, club president Pat Miller pointed out that if club members buy their new tablets from Fred Meyer the two would be available to answer any questions new tablet owners might have.
Most of today’s touch screen devices—tablets—are used for entertainment purposes and checking email said Robert Romero. The tablets, he said, have up to 16 GB of storage, are made by a half dozen companies and vary in price from under $100 to almost $700 for the latest version of Apple’s iPad with 64 GB. Bruce Loomis noted that Kindle’s newest version called the Paperwhite can not
only store thousands of books but has better resolution than previous versions and can be read in the dark. The Paperwhite he said, costs $119. The Kindle Fire, which sells for $159, now has a LED screen, can play audio books and music. The new Kindle Fire HD ( $199) has a camera for video chats, a digital keyboard and can be used with an external keyboard.
One of the best selling tablets, said Robert Romero, is the Samsung Galaxy, which uses the Android operating system. The Galaxy can download a lot more programming than Kindles, which are mostly for people just getting started with tablets, he said. When one class member asked if tablets can be used for printing, Bruce Loomis said they could be but suggested making sure that the printer is configured to be used with the tablet.
Apple’s iPad, the two men pointed out, works like other devices except that Apple has its own operating system. Apple users can buy apps at the iStore, which has thousands of apps, they said. An iPad with 16 GB costs $499, with 32 GB $599, and with 64 GB $699.
Before buying a tablet, Bruce Loomis suggested a prospective buyer ask: What am I going to be
using the table for? Do I want one that I can read at night? How many hours a day will I be using the tablet? Battery life differs, he said. Do a lot of surfing and you might get 10 hours out of your iPad before having to recharge the battery, he said. A smaller tablet might go for a month between recharges, he said.
All of the tablets, the two men said, have a one year parts and labor warranty. Fred Meyer has an additional plan, they said. Amazon, both men agreed, is good at replacing defective tablets, most of which are wi-fi enabled. Registering when you get your tablet is generally not a problem, they said, noting that those with an Apple device must first set up an iTunes account before they can get on with web surfing and emailing.
Tablets are for the most part free of malware, the two men said, but suggested this might change as they become more and more popular.
Jep Warns XP Users: Your Days Are Numbered
March 20, 2013. – Jep Norwood this morning reminded computer club members using Windows XP that they have only one more year before they will be forced to update their browsers to Chrome or Firefox. For those with Windows 7, he said, Microsoft will soon automatically update their Internet Explorer 9 browsers to IE 10. Updating to IE 10 should be no trouble except for people who have “high-end” video cards, he said. “If you find that IE 10 isn’t working,” said Jep, “go to Control Panel, click on See Updates in the upper left of your screen, then scroll down to find the IE 10 update. Delete it and you’ll be back with IE 9.” (More on Jep's Computer Lessons.)
Ever now and then, said Jep, you won’t be able to see a video because you don’t have the latest Flash Player. In Tools, go to Manage Add-ons and check the appropriate box, he said. Most add-ons, however, are worthless, he said.
One class member concerned about cookies was assured by Jep that most cookies simply make returning to a favorite web site easier than typing in the URL. Advertising cookies on the other hand, said Jep, can be annoying and can be gotten rid of by scanning one’s computer with Super Antispyware. “Everyone should also scan their computers on a regular basis with Microsoft Essentials and Malwarebytes,” he said. He also reminded everyone to download and install Microsoft’s security updates, which are issued on a regular basis by Microsoft on the second Tuesday of the month.
Jep thanked club president Pat Miller for calling to everyone’s attention a fake MS Security Essentials message that contains an .exe download. Microsoft will never send you a pop-up with a suggestion that you run a file, he said and added that legitimate messages from Microsoft will generally appear in the lower right hand corner of the screen.
Hotmail will upgrade to Outlook.com email, said Jep. “The changeover will be automatic but make sure you write down your password.” He suggested that giving the program your cell phone number would be a good idea in case you forget your password.
Club Members Come Together at Workshop
March 6, 2013. It was workshop time this morning as computer club members came together, traded favorite websites, and helped each other find answers to their computing questions.
MS Outlook Express Email to Replace Hotmail
Feb. 19, 2013. Jep Norwood told this morning’s computer club class that Microsoft’s Hotmail will
soon be replaced by a new version of Outlook Express and that he will have more on the switch on his web site as soon as he had time to evaluate the new program. While on the subject of Microsoft, he predicted that it will one day be “done in” by Apple and Google. “Why would I pay $1100 for a MS Surface tablet when I could get a LePen tablet for $240?” he asked.
One club member in this morning’s class recounted how his computer had fallen victim to the FBI Moneypak virus, which necessitated Jep’s reloading of the computer. Jep told about all of the steps he had taken to rescue the computer before deciding that the only solution was a reload. On his web site is more about hijacking. Jep cautioned about opening Fedex or UPS attachments in emails that appear to come from the two companies.
He suggested disabling Internet Explorer 9 add-ons and said that people should load only those add-ons they want.—He then showed how to create a restore point on Windows 7 computers. Said Jep: go to Control panel and click on System, then System Protection; then go down to Create. Setting a restore point of a day or two before downloading a program that might do some damage to one’s computer could be a good idea, he said. For detailed instructions see his web site.
Some people like to explore the Access Center in Control Panel, said Jep. His advice: "Don’t mess with it.” If you truly are handicapped, e.g. if you have trouble hearing or seeing, there are features in Access Center that can help, he said
Just got yourself a new thumb drive? Don’t forget to format it before loading it with data, Jep said. “New drives come with all sorts of stuff that you don’t need,” he said. – If you are buying a new computer, said Jep, make sure it has a USB 3 drive, which is much faster than USB 2. – Finally, he reminded everyone to keep their computers running smoothly by scanning them regularly with Security Essentials, Malwarebytes, and Super antispyware.
Having Backup Browser a Good Idea Says Pat
Feb. 6, 2013 – Club president Pat Miller told people in this morning’s computer class that it would be a good idea to have a backup browser on their machines. Otherwise, she said, “if for some reason your regular browser stopped working there would be no way to get onto the Internet and download another browser.”
Learning how a new browser operates isn’t always easy, she said. Pat prefers to use Google’s
Chrome as her backup browser and showed some of the ways it differs from Internet Explorer, which she uses as the default on her computers. Both Chrome and Firefox are quick and easy downloads, she said. “Just be careful you don’t install toolbars and other features that you probably will seldom use," she cautioned.
Getting familiar with a new browser can take a little time, she said and suggested using the browser’s Help feature or Goggling questions in—what else—Google. (Chrome, Firefox and Opera are compared in this YouTube video.)
You can import your Internet Explorer Favorites into Chrome’s Bookmarks, said Pat. Or not. She showed how to configure Chrome and brought up the Chrome web store, where one can download apps. “Just go to Settings to configure the browser the way you want it,” she said.
People who still have computers with the XP operating system might want to make Chrome or Firefox their default browser, she said, since more and more programs no longer run smoothly on XP. She reminded everyone with an XP computer that Microsoft will no longer offer security downloads for the XP system after sometime next year
Making shortcuts is a bit more complicated in Chrome than it is with Internet Explorer, said Pat. But there are other features that might come in handy, she said and cited voice recognition on the Google search page.
Security Essentials Best Free Antivirus -- Jep ____
Jan. 16, 2013 – Jep Norwood this morning told computer class members that Microsoft's Security Essentials is the best free antivirus program that they can put on their computer. (For another opinion, see this Washington Post article.)Two other programs everyone should have on their computer, said Jep, are Malwarebytes and SuperAntispyware, both of which have free versions that anyone can download and use. For more on these programs, go to Jep’s website.
He still dislikes Windows 8 operating system but said if one is intent on using it he recommended first looking at a video on his website.
Oracle has finally released a security update to Java, said Jep but it’s not necessary for all computers, e.g. Windows 7 with Internet Explorer 9. His website has a link to the Java update. If you’re wondering whether your system is 32 or 64 bits, said Jep, look in Control Panel/System.
For those with XP computers, Jep warned that there is only a year and a half left before Microsoft stops supporting them entirely. If you get hijacked, he said, there’s no way to unhijack it. Got a virus on your XP computer? You can no longer get a removal tool, he said. He noted that more and more programs on XP computers are working less and less efficiently.
To people with Windows Live Mail and having problems, Jep suggested they go to Google’s Gmail. – He showed how to scan using the Irfanview program (Red Cat) and mentioned that Windows has a Fax and Scan program. – People are sometimes annoyed by a Windows 7 box that keeps appearing asking whether one wants to make changes in one’s computer, said Jep, who then showed how to disable the box.
One class member said that her printer kept churning out 8 x 10 colored prints before she could get it to stop. Suggested Jep: “If you click on Print and your printer doesn’t print, do not click on Print again." Printers take a while to warm up, he said.
Finally, he suggested going into one’s email program, selecting all the messages in one’s Sent file, then deleting them. If you’re using Google’s Gmail, he said, this might not be necessary because of the large email capacity Gmail gives to its users.
Class Looks at Picasa's Editing Features
Jan. 2, 2013. – (Today’s class on photography and Picasa was led by club secretary Parker Kendall, who is also the editor of this web site. Hence the personal tone of what follows.)
Someone called Picasa the poor man’s Photo Shop and that it is since it costs nothing
to download onto one’s computer. Although Picasa is free, it has many of the photo editing features of programs costing up to several hundred dollars such as Light Room or Photo Shop, which I have but use only to make 13 x 19-inch prints.
Once photos are transferred from your camera to your computer, they appear in the My Pictures folder. If you have Picasa on your computer, the photos will automatically show up in Picasa, which is a non-destructive editing program. This means that if you don’t like the edits you make in a photo in Picasa you can erase them. (Right-click on the photo and select Undo all Edits.)
When taking a photo there are a few unwritten rules which, if followed (at least most of the time), will improve your pictures. 1. Fill the frame. Get in close. If you’re taking a picture of a person, make the person’s face the most prominent part of the picture. 2. Rule of thirds. Superimpose—if only in your mind’s eye—a tic-tac-toe grid on the scene you’re looking at. Then place what you wish to emphasize in your photograph close to one of the four intersecting lines of the grid. If this seems difficult to do while taking the picture, crop the picture so that its most prominent feature is near one of these intersections.
Be careful of the background when you’re taking a picture. Make sure things aren’t growing out of your subject’s head. Leave more room in the direction your subject is looking. Don’t have all of your pictures with the person—or main thing—right in the middle of the picture. Don’t be afraid to delete bad pictures.
Whenever you download pictures from your camera into Picasa (click on Import), the pictures will appear in folders by date. This is the default name given to folders and can easily be changed. It’s a good idea to tag every image you put into Picasa. That way you can go to the upper right and use the search feature to find what you are looking for.
One great feature of Picasa is its ability to capture any picture you can see on your computer screen. First, open the Picasa program. Then go to a web site where there’s a picture you’d like to keep. Once you have the picture from the web site more-or-less centered on your screen, press Print Screen. The picture will show up in Picasa in the Recently Updated album in the upper left hand corner of the screen. Crop the picture (select Manual) then put a frame around it using Museum Matt or Borders. Then you can email the image or just put it in an appropriate folder by dragging it.
Jep Gives Up on Windows 8 Computers
Dec. 19, 2012, -- Jep Norwood covered a variety of topics this morning in his monthly
computer class at Greentrees. He said that he now considers himself semi-retired and has decided not to try to repair computers with Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system. He will, however, continue to service Windows 7 computers. Updates for Windows 7, he said, will continue to be issued by Microsoft until about 2020.
Jep suggested people running XP with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser switch to either Google’s Chrome or Firefox. For those with Windows 7, Jep said he is looking forward to an IE 10 browser. He doesn’t particularly like Chrome and “hates Firefox worse.” Browsers are big business, he said since there’s lots of money to be made from advertising.
Don’t buy a computer with Windows 8 operating system, said Jep, especially the RT version that comes with the Surface tablet. – As for Office 2013, he said that Microsoft charges $349 a year to lease its latest version while the student edition costs $149 a year. As for Office 2003, it can still be used, said Jep, but “you won’t be able to use it for Internet business."
Microsoft’s Surface tablet can’t be used without a cover, said Jep, and noted that the cover costs another $100. -- He said he had recently talked to people in the electronics department of the local Fred Meyer store and was told that many of the Windows 8 computers sold are being returned, especially if they have the RT version of Windows 8 on them. – And don’t believe the TV ads that promise to fix one’s computers, said Jep
“We’re still on Day Two of computers,” he said and suggested that perhaps in a dozen years or so computing will be easier than it now is. As for tablets, he is “not crazy” about touch screen tablets but does have a Kindle Fire, which, he said, he would take on a trip. The Fire's keyboard, however, is too small for his fingers to navigate while typing, he said.
For anyone thinking of putting Windows 8 on a personal computer to try it out, Jep has one word of advice: “Don’t.” It’s difficult getting Windows 8 off a computer, he said—and costly. As to why so many versions of operating systems, Jep suggested it was all about greed. He recited the lineage of Microsoft operating systems starting with DOS (for which he had a fondness) through Windows 95, ME, Vista, up to Windows 8. Microsoft just decides every few years that the world needs a new operating system, he said.
To those plagued with pop up boxes saying one needs Adobe Flash Player, Jep said the author of the program one is viewing "just messed up." If the box comes up, he said, just check it and download the latest version of Flash Player. The app is necessary to view YouTube and other sites.
What are some programs that Jep dislikes? Norton or MacAfee antivirus programs, he said; they try to do too much. They put so much on one’s computer, he said, that they slow it down.-- When updating programs like Security Essentials, Malwarebytes, and Super antispyware, he said, pay attention so that you don’t buy the paid version of the program.
He showed how he configured the Chrome browser. It takes a little work to get it set up the way you want it, he said. He cautioned about clicking on anything labeled EXPRESS INSTALL. If you do, he said, you’ll get “all sorts of crap.” And don’t, he said, ever click on START TRIAL because if you do you’ll get getting the paid version of some program. – Finally, Jep referred people who want to get rid of viruses or malware to view his web site.
COMPUTER CLUB ELECTS 2013 OFFICERS
Dec. 5, 2012. Greentrees Village Computer Club president Pat Miller presided over a business meeting of the group this morning. In her opening remarks, Pat noted that the club had a “good year” and was able to buy a new laptop for use by instructors in computer classes.
After the minutes of two previous business meetings (6-6-12 and 8-29-12) were read and approved, club treasurer Connie Goddard presented a financial report that showed a November 2012 ending balance of $2478 and an anticipated balance of approximately $2,000 as of the end of December 2012. Under old business, Pat said that the club had not only bought a new laptop but was able to spend about $800 for a new television for the Greentrees Coffee Room.
New business. The club elected the following officers for 2013: Pat Miller, president; Gene Fisher, vice-president; Connie Goddard, treasurer; Parker Kendall, secretary; Jack Branson, advertising coordinator. Jack noted that he had taken on the club’s advertising duties on a temporary basis two years ago and expressed a hope that someone in the club would come forward to replace him. Pat Miller said that if the club could not find one person to handle the advertising that the work could be done by committee. More than one member expressed a willingness to help.
Treasurer Connie Goddard presented a proposed budget for 2013 and noted that though the revenues and expenses could only be estimated that she anticipated the figures would be similar to those of 2012. The club voted to approve the 2013 budget and Pat thanked Connie for all the work she has done keeping track of the club’s finances.
Before adjourning the meeting, Pat asked members present what they would like to see discussed in forthcoming classes. She said that there were about 65 people on the club’s email list but that, when asked, very few came up with suggestions for classes. She, and others at today’s meeting, agreed that there was a need for more beginning classes. She asked those present to get in touch with her should they think of any classes Greentrees computer users might enjoy.
Windows 8 Still a Nightmare According to Jep Norwood
Nov 21, 2012. – Jep Norwood told his Greentrees computer club’s monthly class this
morning that he still thinks Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system is “a nightmare.” He suggested that those wanting to get the benefits of Windows 8 should get themselves a touch screen device. Jep referred those who want to learn Windows 8 to his web site.
You can still get a new computer with Windows 7, he said, “but it ain’t easy.” When you get a Windows 7 machine, he said, you’ll be lucky to find it a 32 bit version, which he favors over a 64 bit system. Unfortunately, 32 bit machines are almost impossible to find, he said. If you have a chance to download Internet Explorer 10, do so, he said.
For those still using an XP computer, he suggested changing browsers from Internet Explorer to Chrome or Firefox. Be careful when you do so, however, said Jep, because Favorites in IE don’t automatically get transferred to Chrome or Firefox. XP’s Internet Explorer 8, he said, will one day soon no longer be supported by Microsoft.
A person who wants Windows 8 removed from his computer and Windows 7 installed should be prepared to pay $300, said Jep. This isn’t always easy, he said, because of the difficulty to getting drivers for Windows 7. He confessed to liking Windows 7 but cautioned that as with anything new, it takes time to get used to it.
In other matters, Jep recommended using the national weather service for weather reports. Other weather programs, he said, often have spyware or malware on them. --
He showed how to put shortcuts of often used sites on the desktop. – Office 365 is here, he said and added that it’s all “in the cloud,” which means that when someone buys an app on the Microsoft store site a disk will no longer come with the purchase.
It’s a good idea to pay one’s utility bills, said Jep and explained why, a couple of days ago, nobody in Florence could connect to the Internet for several hours. The fiber optic cable that brings the Internet into Florence has its terminus in a building close to the airport. Seems someone forget to pay the building’s electric bill, said Jep.
Thinking of buying a new or used computer? Make sure it has an I5 processor and four to six gigs of RAM, said Jep. Some big box stores are selling laptops with I3 processors, he said, which limits what one can do with one’s computer.
Jep turned philosophical as he told about watching a recent Charlie Rose interview with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who suggested that computing was still in its infancy. “We’re just getting started,” said Jep and assured everyone that computing will, with time, get easier.
Club Learns How to Use Windows Movie Maker
Nov. 7, 2012 – Computer club members not only went to the movies this morning but,
with the help of Collette Bailey, learned how to make their own cinematic productions using Windows Movie Maker. The program is a “piece of junk,” said Collette, but it’s a free download, and popular with people who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a more sophisticated movie editing program. The versions of Movie Maker differ in XP and in Windows 7, she noted.
“You might want to get a different program if you’re serious about making movies,” said Collette. She said that projects made in Movie Maker won’t open in Windows Media Player. Plus, she said the program often crashes.
Despite all these caveats, she showed everyone how to create a movie in class using clips she had previously taken. You can combine stills with your movie clips, she said and showed how to drag video clips down onto the time-line then make a title for one’s movie. You have a choice of fonts for your title and credits—usually inserted at the end of the clips—and can choose from different colors and font sizes, she said. She noted that the program offers several transition features, e.g. page curl.
Collette showed how to insert music into the movie and have it play over the audio on the video clips, setting the volume to suit one’s taste. One class member who has been using Movie Maker for several years said that she likes the program and suggested trying out its various features. Others class members suggested using a tripod and, when panning, going slowly.
If you want the clips trimmed, said Collette, this can be done. You can also split up the movie, she said, editing out parts you don’t want shown. If your finished movie won’t show on the program you’d like to see it on, said Collette, you might want to get a video converter. Once you’re satisfied with your movie, she said, you can save it then, if you wish, put it on YouTube for all the world to see. Or, she said, you can send the YouTube link to someone via email.
Class Learns How to Put Links into Email, Word
Oct. 17, 2012. – Jep Norwood began his monthly computer class this morning by
reviewing how to insert a link into a Gmail message, a Word document, or a web site. It’s something often asked, he said, and after showing how he would insert a link into Email and Word, he referred those with more questions to his web page.
Every web site on the Internet, said Jep, has an address, a URL. To make this URL address shorter—some take up more than one line across the page—Jep suggested using TinyURL.com. Shortening of a web site, he said, is often used to disguise the fact that someone is trying to sell you something.
Another question Jep said he often gets asked is how to set, or reset, one’s default programs in Windows 7. When you right click on a document or photo, he said, you’ll get a list of programs that will open it. What most people want, he said, is for the computer to use the same program every time, in other words, the default program. A YouTube video explains this. An additional explanation is on this Microsoft site.
Jep referred those getting stack overflow messages on their XP computer to a web site that explains the reason for the messages. There’s no way to prevent stack overflow errors, Jep added.
Sometimes people buy computer programs (often on a CD), download them onto their computers, then can't find the disks when they want to download the programs onto another computer. (In some cases, said Jep, the computer was sold without any program disks.) You can burn the program onto a CD or a flash drive, said Jep. To read more on ISO files (mirror images of program disks), see here.
Given a choice between buying a 32-bit or 64 bit computer, Jep suggested one buy the 64 bit version since drivers will then be more available. The only advantage a Windows 7 64 bit computer has is that it will let you use a touch screen. – He reminded everyone that in about a week they won’t be able to buy a new computer with a Windows 7 operating system. Jep still believes that Windows 8 is “a disaster” and explained that the only way to turn a Windows 8 computer off is to press Ctrl-Alt-Delete then go hunting for the icon that will turn off the machine. Windows 8 works just fine on a tablet, he said but is “a pain” to use on a desktop.
What will happen to XP when Microsoft stops issuing security patches on April 8, 2014? Someone will “burn it down” with a virus, predicted Jep. (Support for Office 2003 also ends on that date.) -- He cautioned about using System Restore. It’s not the answer to all of your problems, he said, adding that if you do use it don’t go back more than two weeks. – For those wanting to buy computer-related products, Jep lists several of his favorite places on his web site.
Class Explores Windows 7 Operating System
Oct. 3, 2012 – Club president Pat Miller this morning led fellow computer club members on
an exploration of the Windows 7 operating system, pointing out similarities and differences Windows 7 has with Windows XP. She began her presentation by passing out several hand-outs about Windows 7 and noted that more information is available on Jep Norwood’s web site at http://www.gcflearnfree.org/windows7 and at http://www.top-windows-tutorials.com/index.html. She reminded everyone that new computers bought after October 26 of this year are supposed to come with Windows 8.
Clicking on the Windows 7 start icon in the lower left hand corner of the screen, said Pat, opens up a list of features and programs on one’s computer, including “Getting Started on Windows 7,” which has written tutorials and a video showing the basics of the operating system. The Control Panel in Windows 7 is different from XP’s, she pointed out. Add or Remove Programs in XP has become Uninstall and Change in Windows 7.
Whether Windows 7 is radically different from Widows XP, she said, depends upon who you talk to. Some people find that Windows 7 is basically not much different from XP while some, she said, find the changes a challenge to learn.
Pat likes the search bar in the lower left hand corner of the screen. Most shortcuts in XP haven’t changed in Windows 7, she said. (Ctrl+C is still copy; Ctrl+V is still paste.) The only way to find out the differences between Windows 7 and XP, she said, is to explore. She recommended using Google to find answers to questions not in the Windows 7 tutorials.
Got a program you like and use often? Pin it to the task bar at the bottom of the screen, suggested Pat. – In other matters, she suggested trying out different Internet browsers. Gmail works much better with the Chrome browser, she said, probably because Chrome is a Google product. – For those looking for a convenient way to back up the data on one’s computer, Pat showed everyone her portable hard drive with a terabyte of capacity. A new one costs about a hundred dollars, she said. With a USB3 connection, she said, "you’d be amazed how quickly you can download or upload your data."
Windows 8 "A Total Disaster," Says Jep
Sept. 19, 2012. – Jep Norwood reminded computer class members this morning that Microsoft will end support for Windows XP and Office 2003 on April 8, 2014.
He also said that starting October 26 of this year all new PC computers will come with Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system, which, according to Jep, “is a total and complete disaster.” Windows 7, on the other hand, “is wonderful—it works just fine.” People running XP computers have a choice, said Jep. They can have Windows 7 installed on their XP machines or, he said, buy themselves Windows 7 computers.
Jep noted that Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser has a security hole that has made headlines lately. Microsoft will probably try to plug it with a security update, he said, but then added that perhaps Microsoft isn’t too concerned about fixing it because the company’s new operating system (Windows 8) is almost here. If you’re worried, said Jep, go ahead and change browsers to Firefox or Chrome. Just be aware, he said, that Favorites in one browser don’t automatically show up in a new browser. Jep discusses browsers on his web site (Link).
To those who are worried about security while using Java, Jep referred them to his web site (Link), where he spells out the reasons why Java should come or go. Take it off your computer, he said, and some of your apps, especially games, just won’t work.
People with HP printers often complain that their printer takes a long time to load. To cure this, said Jep, go to Control Panel then Administrative Tools/Services, then scroll down to Hpcue and Workstation; double click then disable. This is in either an XP or Windows 7 computer, he said.
Jep touched briefly on Windows Azure (Link), which is Microsoft’s version of cloud computing. It’s not free, said Jep. – Google Drive, another cloud service, he said, is free for the first 5 GB. The only trouble with most cloud backups, said Jep, is that the bandwidth in Florence isn’t very fast, which means that uploads can take a long time.
When someone asked how data on an XP machine might be transferred to a Windows 7 computer, Jep suggested using an external drive. If there’s not too much data on the machine a thumb drive will do, he said. If the XP computer has lots of data, however, he suggested using an external hard drive. Then, he said, the external drive could be connected to the Windows 7 computer. Cables don’t work very well for transferring data, he said.
Backing up one’s computer is always a good thing to do, he said. (More on backing up on his web site (Link) His photographs, he said, he puts on a jump drive.
Phone Bill High? Try Skype, Says Dale DeRemer
Sept. 12, 2012. -- Dale DeRemer showed his fellow computer club members this morning how to save money on their telephone bills. His solution? Use Skype, a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) program from Microsoft that already has some 600 million users worldwide. Skype used to be
simple, said Dale, but keeps adding new features as it grows more and more popular.
Skype is a free download (http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/home). For unlimited calls to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada the cost is $2.99 a month for Skype’s basic service, according to Skype’s web site. (A premium version, which has more features, costs $4.99 monthly.) If you want to restrict your phone calls only to someone who also has Skype, said Dale, there is no charge. If you want to be able to call both persons who also have Skype and those who do not have the program, the fee varies, according to the Skype web site.
In order to use Skype on your computer, said Dale, you must be connected to the Internet by wire or by Wi-Fi, i.e., wirelessly. Also necessary are a microphone and a speaker. You can also, he said, use an iPod, iPad or similar device if it has a Wi-Fi signal. If you wish, you can use a webcam so that the person you are talking to can see you, he said. Gene Fisher said he has found that his Skype connection is better when hard-wired to the Internet. "So, when you are in the Greentrees Coffee Room you can plug your computer into the network or use a Wi-Fi connection. Of course if you're at McDonald's or in the park in Old Town, you have to use Wi-Fi."
There are two ways to pay for Skype, said Dale, credit and subscription. To use a credit account you authorize Skype to charge your credit card—or PayPal—account an amount of your choosing. If you have a subscription account, he said, you will be billed a fixed amount every month or pay period. "This method is usually a lot cheaper," he added.
When you sign up with Skype, said Dale, you can get a Skype land line phone number so others can call you, and you can decide where—in what country—you want your number. "Try it for a while and if you like it you can get rid of your expensive land line," he suggested. If you have a Skype subscription, he said, you get your online number for $30 a year. To set up a Skype account, he said, go to the Skype web site (see above) and chose a Skype name (this appears on your Skype page and is public) and, for your account, a user name and password.
In this morning’s class, Dale—and the other club members present—video-chatted using Skype with club vice president Gene Fisher, who was in California. Computer club members can now, using Skype, "attend" computer club classes from remote locations around the world. If you want to talk to one of your contacts and know the person’s Skype name, said Dale, you can, once you bring that person’s name up on the screen, tell whether he is available online to talk by the green color of the phone icon next to his name. You can if you wish, send a fellow Skype caller a picture or a file, he said.
One thing you can’t do when using Skype, said Dale, is to call an emergency number and have that number automatically recorded by the emergency service. When calling in an emergency, he said, make sure you tell the person responding where you are calling from. It would be a good idea, he said, to put one's local police and other emergency services numbers into one's Skype contact list.
Whenever you are talking with someone on the phone, Dale said, it’s a good idea to ask the person if she or he has a Skype name. If they do, he said, it won’t cost you anything if the next time you call the person you both use Skype.
When someone calls you on Skype, said Dale, you have the choice to answer with or without video. All in all, said Dale, “Skype is a pretty darn good way to communicate, even if one has only dialup Internet access.”
Se Habla Espanol? Parlez vous Francais? Deutsh?
Sept. 5, 2012. – Dale DeRemer showed his fellow computer club members this morning some of the Internet resources he uses when translating English into Spanish—and vice versa. His favorite program is imTranslator ( http://imtranslator.net/), which need not be downloaded but whose web site affords the user an opportunity to translate some 50 languages into English.
Translating one language into another is not, said Dale, an exact science since words have a variety of meanings that cannot always be translate into one’s native language. One advantage of using imTranslator, he said, is that one has a choice of four translations of the phrase or sentence one has entered. Dale said he has had the most success using the translations by Google and Microsoft.
An added feature of imTranslator, said Dale, is the ability to hear what one has chosen to translate. Listening to a native speaker isn’t always that easy, he said. “I find it relatively easy to express myself in Spanish,” he said, “but when a native starts speaking I often have to slow him down if I’m going to understand him.”
For those who want a basic language dictionary, Dale suggested dictionaries from freelang.net (http://www.freelang.net/), which is a free download. It’s simple and doesn’t have a lot of choices, he said but added that this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Club Members Share Some Favorite Web Sites
Aug. 29, 2012. – After a brief business meeting this morning, computer club members shared some
of their favorite web sites. Collette Bailey suggested Giveaway of the Day (http://www.giveawayoftheday.com/), which every day offers computer users a new free program. The reason Giveaway does this, said Collette, is so developers of new programs can get feedback on their software. On weekends, Giveaway offers free games. “Some of them are really neat,” she said. She especially likes the comment section, where users say what they like or dislike about the programs.
Collette also likes The Font Thing (http://the-font-thing.en.softonic.com/), a free download which displays all of the fonts on one’s computer. This comes in handy, she said, when trying to decide which font to use in greeting cards. – If you’re curious where a dollar bill you have has been, said Collette, you can track it on Where’s George http://www.wheresgeorge.com/).
Gene Fischer said he likes Woot.com (http://www.woot.com/), which offers new and refurbished items for sale. Today’s offering on Woot is a refurbished Samsung Galaxy Tab 27.0 for $179.99. – Another place to buy things, said Gene, is on Yugster (http://www.yugster.com/), which today is selling a refurbished Dell laptop for $329.97. – Lifehacker (http://lifehacker.com/), another of Gene’s favorites, has tips and downloads for those with technical interests. When buying anything on line, Gene suggested, it’s a good idea to use PayPal (https://www.paypal.com/) rather than use a credit card.
Another club member said he likes to read his home-town newspaper, which he finds on News Link (http://www.newslink.org/). When he has questions about his camera or photography he turns to Digital Photography Review, which has forums for almost every type of camera, whether point-and-shoot or single lens reflex.
Many Sources Available for Ancestor Search Aug. 22, 2012. – Marge Bonds, president of the Siuslaw Genealogical Society, told computer club members this morning that the Internet is not necessarily the best source of information about one’s ancestors. If you want to know more than simple statistics, she said, there are many sources of information if you’re willing to do a little detective work.
She gave everyone a booklet (How to Begin Your Family History Research), on one page of which are listed dozens of sources one might turn to. The booklet is published by the Siuslaw Genealogical Society, whose website is: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orsgs/index.html. The group meets the third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Bromley Room of the Florence library. Not all of the information one finds, e.g. in a death certificate, is trustworthy, she said, and hunting down its authenticity can be a long process. Marriage certificates, legal or not, she said, can also be a good source of information. e.g. the date someone got married and witnesses to the marriage.
Another source, she said, was obituaries, generally from newspapers. Even a World War II ration book might contain information one would not otherwise find, either in a book or on the Internet. Most cities and towns have historical societies, she said and cited a book published by the Eureka, California historical society that listed and pictured old houses in the town.
You can also find out a lot about your relatives and ancestors by talking to people, she said and suggested setting up a time to talk to people who might have desired information. She sometimes, she said, tape records the interview so she can later go back and review the material.
Kevin Mittge, Adult Services librarian at the Florence library and vice president of the local genealogical society attended this morning’s presentation. Thanks to the Internet, he said, genealogy research today is a “hundred times easier” than it used to be. He called everyone’s attention to two TV programs on genealogy scheduled for sometime this fall.
Organizing one’s search into one’s past isn’t always easy, said Ms. Bonds, and showed everyone how she printed all the information she found on the Internet and then filed it in color-coded folders. For those who would like to begin tracing their ancestry but are put off by the enormity of the task, she recommended a book from Legacy (about $30 from http://genealogy-software-review.toptenreviews.com/). And, she added, don’t forget the local library, which would be a good place to begin one’s search.
Aug. 17, 2012. – It was party time today for the Greentrees Village Computer Club as members came together in the park’s Fireplace Room for an elaborate buffet. Club president Pat Miller thanked everyone for helping to make the club so successful. (Ed. Note. The following photos were edited in Picasa.)
TIME RUNNING OUT TO BUY WINDOWS 7 COMPUTER, SAYS JEP
Aug. 15, 2012. – Jep Norwood reminded computer club members this morning that after October 26
of this year they won’t be able to buy a new computer with Windows 7 on it. Windows 8 is almost here, said Jep, and all new computers will come with it. “Unfortunately,” he said, “the new operating system can’t make up its mind if it’s for desktops and laptops or for tablets.” Windows 8 looks to Jep like “an unmitigated disaster.”
For more on Windows 8, see Jep’s Computer Lessons website: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/PAGE_COMPUTER_LESSONS_INDEX.htm. He also warned everyone that Microsoft’s support and updates for Windows XP and Office 2003 would expire April 8, 2014. More information is available on Jep’s site at: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/XP%20END/XPCOUNTDOWN.htm.
Microsoft’s new tablet, said Jep, will probably sell for around two hundred dollars, which he said is considerably less than it takes to manufacture the tablet. MS is doing this, he said, to “hook you up” to Microsoft’s app store.
Malwarebytes and SuperantiSpyware, he noted, are making it more difficult to use their free version. “Free versions are always better than the paid versions,” said Jep because the latter are almost always loaded with features that most people will never use. He showed everyone how to install Malwarebytes and avoid clicking on boxes and links that would install the paid rather than the free version of the program. “Just be careful when downloading and installing any program,” he said. He cautioned against clicking on the words “Express Install” or “Start Trial.” Doing this, he said, would download the paid version. In the Preferences box, he said, one should turn off all the options.
When using Malwarebytes and SuperantiSpyware, said Jep, he prefers to run a regular rather than a quick scan. “Unless you spend your life on the Internet,” he said, a monthly scan will probably protect your computer. He didn’t say what program would work if a cat ran over the keyboard and downloaded a program—something that, Jep said, happened to him recently.
Odds and Ends. It may seem hard to believe, said Jep, but fumes from a new computer might possibly make one sick. If you buy a new computer, said Jep, make sure that it has an I5 processor and at least 6 GB of RAM. – If you have a MSN or a Hotmail email account, he said, Microsoft will soon change this over to an Outlook.com email program. – If you don’t want your significant other wondering why all those ads for, say, new golf clubs or other expensive items keep turning up on your computer when you go web surfing, said Jep, be careful of the websites you open.
Computer Club Back on Trail of Their Ancestors
Aug. 8, 2012. – Genealogy aficionado Suzanne Smith showed computer club members this morning some of the earliest American census results and told them how to go about searching for their old and not-so-old relatives. She was assisted in her presentation by Kevin Mittge, Florence Adult Services librarian. To aid those searching old records, she handed out several pages of cautions, e.g. Frequently Misread Letters and Phonetic Substitutes. Not all census takers were all that conversant with the English language, she noted, which sometimes led to bizarre spellings.
The release of the results of the 1940 federal census, she said, has fostered a renewed interest in genealogy. One of her handouts this morning was A Checklist of Census Substitutes, which listed dozens of sources other than the federal census where one searching for lost relatives might find the information he or she is looking for. Tax rolls, land records and court records can be excellent sources of information, she said, as can county records, militia records, church records and school lists. In addition, many states also take a census every five years.
She showed everyone samples of the 1810 federal census, which were, not surprisingly, difficult to read. In 1830, she said, more categories were added and by 1850 date of birth had been added, often with the letters ab (about) preceding the date of birth or age listings. By 1930, census takers were recording how many radios a household had. In the 1940 census, enumerators (i.e. census takers) were listing not only occupation but how much people earned in a year.
The Florence library, said Kevin Mittge, has several genealogy resources as well as three computer work stations devoted to the subject. Just don’t try to research the results of the 1890 census, he and Ms. Smith cautioned—the data was destroyed in a fire. One of the most popular genealogical search sites on the Internet, they said, is www.familysearch.org, which is free. Another oft-used site, they noted, is www.ancestry.com, which charges for information.
Those who are serious about their research, said Ms. Smith, might to go to a meeting of the Siuslaw Genealogical Society (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orsgs/index.html.), which meets the third Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Bromley Room of the Florence Library. In addition to American records, she said, many foreign records are available, usually for a fee. Genealogy research, she said, can be addicting. As to whether it costs a lot of money, that, she said, is up to each person. “It can be as expensive or inexpensive a pursuit as you choose to make it,” she said.
Members Share Tips and Sites at Workshop
Aug. 1, 2012. – Computer club members came together this morning at a workshop where they shared tips and opinions. Group facilitator Gene Fisher, club VP, suggested that XP computers could still be used for many years as long as one is careful not to put online information that one doesn’t want made public, e.g. online banking data. You can, said Gene, still buy a new computer with Windows 7 for the next two months but after that all new computers will come with Windows 8. According to Jep Norwood, local computer guru who conducts a monthly class at Greentrees, Windows 8 “is a disaster.” One class member this morning noted that a copy of Windows XP can be purchased on eBay, should one need to reinstal
Gene showed how to back up one’s computer. Most people don’t have more than 8 GB of data in one’s My Documents folder, he said, which means that a thumb drive with 8 GB will handle the download. He showed everyone his new Kingston 8 GB thumb drive that he recently bought for $7.00 at Fred Meyer. Another class member said she had a 16 GB drive that cost her only $15.00. Jep’s backup tutorial on backing up: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/BACK_UP_PC/BACKUPPC.htm.
Gene reminded everyone that Collette Bailey’s new Greentrees Village web site can be viewed at: http://greentreesvillage.com . One can read the latest Greentrees Village Voice newsletter on the site as well as keep up on what’s happening around the park on the Greentrees blog: http://www.gtevents.blogspot.com/.
Folks Learn How to Trace Ancestors
July 25, 2012 - Florence librarian Kevin Mittge this morning showed computer club members how to go about getting started in genealogy. He said that although genealogy and family history are often used interchangeably, the former is a bare bones listing of who one’s ancestors are whereas family history delves into people’s personal lives. He was assisted in his presentation by Marge Bonds and Suzanne Smith, local genealogy buffs who will present two more programs in the weeks ahead. “The three of us are genealogy fanatics,” said Mr. Mittge.
Much of his presentation today centered around the 1940 census, which only this year became public. Several web sites, he said, are competing to digitize the information “census enumerators” collected back in 1940 on paper and which was then put on microfilm. Eventually all of the census information will lend itself to a computer search, he said, and noted that some states have been indexed but are not yet searchable.
One handout he gave everyone listed genealogy websites. Two popular ones, he said, are available through the Siuslaw public Library: Heritage Quest at www.siuslawlibrary.org, and Ancestry Library Edition at www.ancestry.com. He also noted that www.familysearch.org and www.findagrave.com are also popular sources of information. Those who think their ancestors might have entered the country via Ellis Island might want to look at http://www.ellisisland.org/, he said.
The local library would be a good place to start looking for information, Mr. Mittge said. The library has three computers dedicated to researching genealogy, he noted. “People can search the library’s resources at home,” he said “as long as they have a PIN number.” He gave everyone a handout that showed how to enter information on a family tree or Ancestral Chart. The library has a small collection of books on county histories, revolutionary and civil war records, he said. The Florence library, he said, is affiliated with Latter Day Saints church data on microfilm in Salt Lake City.
How to get started looking for lost ancestors? One of the handouts listed several genealogy blogs, another software that one can download. This information is available from the Siuslaw Genealogical Society, which meets at 7 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month in the Florence library’s Bromley Room. The group’s web page is at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~orsgs/index.html.
Jep Warns that XP's Days Are Numbered
July 18, 2012. – Jep Norwood told computer club members this morning that they might want to act within the next few months if they are thinking of buying a new computer with Windows 7. Even though Microsoft support for XP won’t stop until April of 2014, Jep said that after September of this year all new computers will have the Windows 8 operating system on them. And, he warned, “Windows 8 is a disaster..” He showed a video of Chris Pirillo—a computer guru admired by Jep—trying to show his father how to figure out Windows 8. (Links to Windows 7 tutorials: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/GCF/GCF.htm.
If your XP computer is more than two years old, said Jep, it probably won’t be worthwhile trying to load Windows 7 onto it yourself. If you do buy a Windows 7 upgrade, he said, good luck trying to install it without expert guidance. Jep showed everyone some Windows 7 features, including Aero Snap, Shake and Flip. Using the club’s new Dell laptop, he showed similarities between XP and Windows 7. “They’re not all that much different,” he said.
To those who use Outlook Express, Jep warned that should the program somehow disappear from one’s computer it’s gone for good. As of yesterday, he said, Outlook Express can no longer be downloaded. He suggested those with Outlook Express get themselves a Gmail or Yahoo email account. He also reminded everyone that after April of 2014 Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for Office 2003. Office 2013 is the latest Microsoft Office version he said. The club's new Dell desktop that Jep used in class today had a truncated version of Microsoft Office but how much longer new computers will be sold with a basic MS Office program he couldn’t say.
If your XP computer is over three years old, Jep suggested that you buy a new computer with Windows 7 rather than upgrading. Any new computer bought today, he said, should have a minimum of two GB of RAM, a hard drive of 500 MB, USB 3, and an I5 processor if you want Windows 7 to run smoothly. New Windows 7 computers are now selling for about $599, he said.
“The free version of IncrediMail is a disaster,” said Jep but added that the paid version works “pretty good.” – Finally, Jep said he is trying to make Windows 8 look like Windows 7 and promised to let club members know if and when he is successful.
Veep Explains How to Improve Wi-Fi Connection June 27, 2012. – Gene Fisher, computer club vice president, this morning explained all about Wi-Fi and showed or described a variety of devices that can be used to improve one’s Wi-Fi connection. He also noted that more and more Greentrees computer users are changing their Wi-Fi connection (i.e., their Internet Service Provider) from Oregonfast.net to Charter because of the frequent interruptions in connectivity and slow download speeds of Oregonfast.
Gene brought with him to class an iPad, and an iPod and demonstrated how amplifiers, antennas, repeaters, routers, modems and adapters work One way to cut down on one’s phone bill, said Gene, is to use Magic Jack (cnet.com review at http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-19512_7-20113914-233/magicjack-app-brings-totally-free-calling-to-ios/). He showed how to take a photo using his iPad then transfer it via email to his email account so that the photo can be uploaded into one’s desktop or laptop computer at home.
Most tablets, Gene noted, can be used to send email but to do so must be able to receive a Wi-Fi signal. One way to ensure a constant signal, he said, is to get a Mi-Fi device, a portable connection that one can carry in a shirt pocket and use almost anywhere. More and more hotels and motels—even ocean cruise liners—charge these days for a Wi-Fi connection, he said. Gene said he sometimes uses his Virgin Mobil Mi-Fi device when on a trip. The cost is $10 for 10 days, $20 for a month’s service. Club member Richard Schultz uses a Verizon Mi-Fi when traveling.
“Fortunately,” said Gene, “there are lots of Wi-Fi connections around Florence.” One place, he said, was in the small park in Old Town overlooking the Siuslaw river. McDonald’s—and many other fast food outlets—also offer Wi-Fi to their customers. For about $30, said Gene, you can buy an Alfa Wifi Antenna, which detects a Wi-Fi signal (http://www.amazon.com/Alfa-Wireless-Original-Screw-On-9dBi/dp/B001O9X9EU). The Alfa's range, said Gene, is about two to three miles.
Gene showed one device that caught the eye of photographers—the Eye-Fi, which wirelessly transfers the contents of a camera’s SD card to a computer, tablet or smartphone. (More at: http://www.eye.fi/.)
Ed. Note. As though there aren’t enough tablets on the market, Google today released their Nexus 7, designed by Google and manufactured by Asus of Taiwan. The tablet, loaded with Google apps and about the size of a paperback book, will cost about $199 and become available in July.
Jep Keeps Computer Members Busy Scribbling
June 20, 2012 . -- Jep Norwood kept computer club members busy scribbling notes on a variety of subjects in this morning’s class. He began by sympathizing with
Greentrees folks who have decided to switch their Internet service provider from Oregonfast to Charter after getting frustrated with the former’s on-again off-again service. One club member said she had switched not only her ISP to Charter but her telephone service. She could, she said, keep her old phone number.
Asked about removing user names and passwords, Jep said this was easier in Windows 7 than in XP. – He spoke briefly about Microsoft’s new tablet, Surface, which was recently announced. When it will become available and how much it will cost has not yet been revealed. The new tablet, said Jep, will use Microsoft’s Windows 8, which he called “worthless” for notebooks and desktops because it was made primarily for tablets.
Since XP will no longer be supported after April of 2014, Jep suggested that anyone thinking of getting a new computer might do well to buy it now since Microsoft will throw in for free a basic version of MS Office. New computers, he said, should also have an I5 processor, six GB of RAM and USB 3, which makes downloading dramatically faster. If you just want to upgrade your present XP computer to Windows 7, said Jep, he will do this for $185.
In other matters, Jep likes the Le Pan tablet, which is only slightly smaller than Apple’s iPad. The Le Pan costs $256 at Amazon according to a class member who has the tablet. – For those looking for free storage, Jep pointed out that Google Drive now offers 5 GB to anyone with a Google account. Other sites offer free cloud storage, also, he said.
If you have no reason to have Dial-up on your computer, take it off, advised Jep. One club member suggested Dial-up might still be necessary if one is living in a place with intermittent Internet service, a sentiment with which Jep agreed. – If your computer is loading slowly, said Jep, it might be a good idea to look in your System Configuration Utility and, under the Start-up tab, uncheck those programs that slow down your computer. Be careful if you decide to configure anything in the other tabs, however, he warned.
One class member told how his cat had at least temporarily messed up his computer by walking across the keyboard, a contretemps that resonated with other cat owners in the class. – Jep reminded everyone that Bernie Cunningham, who had a Florence Ink store on Route 101, now works out of his home in Florence. Cunningham’s phone number and email address are on Jep’s web site at: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/FLORENCE-INK/FLORENCEINK.htm.
Finally, Jep cautioned about using System Restore, especially to try to counter the effects of a computer that has been hijacked. (More on his web site: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/SYSTEMRESTORE/PAGE_RESTORE.htm.)
Club Votes to Buy New Laptop Computer
June 6, 2012 – Computer club president Pat Miller this morning presided over the club’s business meeting. After Pat read the minutes of the Dec. 14, 2011 business meeting—the club at the time had no secretary—members approved Pat’s account of the meeting. Connie Goddard, club treasurer, then presented the financial report. Cash on hand as of the end of May 2012, Connie reported, was $3758.98.
In old business, Pat noted that the club had spent about $300 for a new TV for the park’s exercise room. The gift, she said, has been welcomed by several of the people who use the room.
Under new business, Pat suggested that the club buy a new Dell 15-inch laptop with the Windows 7 operating system. Microsoft will no longer support XP after April 2014, said Pat, whereas support for Windows 7 will undoubtedly continue for another ten or twelve years. The laptop Pat has in mind has Windows 7 Home Premium, 6 GBs of RAM, a 500 GB hard drive, an I5 processor, USB 3 and USB 2 slots and a DVD player and burner.
The laptop, said Pat, would be used for classes and workshops and eventually will be wirelessly connected to the Sharp TV in the all-purpose room. She said that until security for theft prevention could be worked out that would allow the laptop to be stored in the lab, she would keep it at her home when not in use. The club authorized Pat to buy such a laptop, the cost not to exceed $700.
Two club members announced this morning that they have switched their Internet Service Provider service from Oregonfast.net to Charter. Almost all members present who subscribe to Oregonfast said their connection to the Internet has often been interrupted. According to Greentrees general manager Louis Deshofy, the park has rejected one Oregonfast proposal for installing fiber optic cable into the park and is waiting for another proposal before committing to any arrangement.
Jep Norwood Covers Broad Range of Topics May 16, 2012. – Jep Norwood covered a broad range of topics this morning in his monthly Greentrees computer club class. He began by cautioning members not to download Windows updates that deal with Microsoft Office. “There are a million of these updates and all they do is slow your computer down,” he said. When you do check for updates, said Jep, click on Custom so that you can see what you might be downloading.
“Lots of phony emails are still out there,” said Jep. He said that they should not be opened since some of them contain programs that will hijack one’s computer. For more on hijackers, see: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/HIJACKERS/EXAMPLES/Examples.htm.
Jep also said everyone should be wary of phone calls from people who claim they represent Google or Microsoft—or some other well-known company—and then ask you to make adjustments on your computer. “All they want,” he said, “is to hijack your computer.” (See: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/topic453721.html.)
Another way of hijacking a computer, said Jep, is to have the user click on a message box that suddenly appears saying that one’s computer might be hijacked. “Take your hand off the mouse then turn off your computer by holding in the on/off button until the computer turns off,” said Jep. As soon as you click anywhere on these messages, he said, it’s too late and someone else has control of your computer. (For more see: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/PAGE_COMPUTER_LESSONS_INDEX.htm.)
Jep reminded everyone that Microsoft will stop updating its XP operating system April 8, 2014. “That may seem like a long time from now,” he said, “but maybe we should all be thinking of saving up for a new computer.” He does not think that much of Windows 8 and said it was configured mainly for tablets. He said there is a way—or shortly will be—to get rid of the Windows 8 desktop with its tiles and return to the Windows 7 look, which he likes.
New computers are coming with six or eight Gigs of RAM, said Jep and I5 processors. You can still get by with a computer with an I3 processor, he said, if the computer is used only for email and simple Internet browsing. Some programs, however, he noted (Computer Assisted Drawing, Photoshop), require more power. “A computer with an I3 processor may be a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than one with an I5,” he said but probably won’t be worth it in the long run.
If you bought a Windows 7 computer today, said Jep, the operating system will probably be around 10 or 11 years, about the same amount of time XP has been maintained by Microsoft. A new computer might well have USB3 slots, which, he said, increase loading speeds dramatically. (USB2 devices will still work in such a computer, he said.)
For those thinking of switching Internet service providers to Charter, he suggested making sure the cables under one’s place are in good working order. Get it in writing that Charter will provide 10 to 15 mps download speed before you sign up, he said.
Before wrapping up, Jep reminded everyone that all computers sold today are Wi-Fi enabled. He also suggested that everyone defrag their computers at least once a month. _______________________________
Club Members Learn All About Kindle Fire
May 2, 2012. – “You can do a million things on it.” That was Brenda Norwood’s
assessment this morning of Kindle Fire, the popular Amazon tablet that sells for $199, less than half the price of Apple’s iPad. The Kindle Fire doesn’t have all of the extras that the iPad has, said Brenda, but the combination of a relatively cheap price coupled with its many proven features has made it increasingly popular.
The 7.5 x 4.7 inch display and its 14.6 ounce heft make it small enough to slip into a purse and light enough to hold with one hand. It comes with a built-in browser and, said Brenda, is handy for checking email. Tap on the bottom of the tablet and there’s a keyboard that can be used for email or text messaging.
You can download Netflix movies on the Kindle Fire, said Brenda. You can also download ebooks, either from Amazon (some are free) or from the Florence library. If you download an ebook from the local library, Brenda said, you have 21 days in which to read it. If the book you want to read is being used by someone else, she said, you can put your name on a waiting list and the library will notify you when it’s ready to be downloaded. Once you have downloaded the book, you don’t have to connect to the Internet to read it, she said.
Don’t like the font used? You can change it, said Brenda. Screen too bright? That too can be changed. You can even change the background, she said. If you have questions about how to use your Kindle Fire, said Brenda, you can download the user manual onto either the tablet or onto your computer at home. (Pat Miller downloaded the user manual for her Kindle and printed it out.).
A movie for the Kindle Fire is about $2.99, said Brenda. Battery life is about eight hours. You can, she said, download games—many of them free. Brenda concluded her presentation by going to the Florence library web site and downloading Elmore Leonard’s The Switch onto her Kindle Fire.
For Kindle tablets other than the Kindle Fire, see: http://www.amazon.com/kindle-store-ebooks-newspapers-blogs/b?ie=UTF8&node=133141011http://www.amazon.com/kindle-store-ebooks-newspapers-blogs/b?ie=UTF8&node=133141011
Unplug Computer When Power Quits,Says Jep
Apr. 18, 2012 – Jep Norwood told computer class members this morning that they should unplug their
computers from the wall socket whenever electrical power goes off. “It’s not the power going off that damages your computer,” he said. “It’s the
surge in power that sometimes fries the motherboard when the power comes back on. So wait until you have electricty again then you can plug in your computer.” He said he had 14 computers in his car that were headed for the Florence dump where, he said broken or non-functioning electronics can be disposed of for no charge. Surge protectors are supposed to guard against sudden spikes in power but don’t always work—even the best ones, he said.
After April 2014 Microsoft will no longer offer support for windows XP and Office 2003. ( See Jep’s web site: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/XP%20END/XPCOUNTDOWN.htm .) Since there won’t be any more security updates after that time, said Jep, it’s probably a good idea to start thinking of getting a new operating system since hackers will take advantage of loosened security to concoct viruses that will make a mess of old computers. Jep still likes Windows 7 but said he is not impressed with Windows 8, which he said was configured mostly for tablets and touch screens.
If you’re concerned about being tracked, said Jep, you might want to download and try a new program called DNT+ (http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/DoNotTrackPlus/DoNotTrackPlus.htm). Jep downloaded the program, put it in a folder on the desktop, then showed how it worked. “If you’re interested in which programs are tracking you, it’s sort of fun to look at,” he said. And if you don’t like the program, he said, you can always go to Control Panel/Add Remove Programs and remove it.
One club member said he received an email from a friend but when he clicked on the link in the email he realized he had been spammed. Spammers are always trying to hijack people’s email accounts, said Jep. His advice if it happens to someone: either try using a new password or get yourself a new email address then notify your friends of the new address. Oregonfast, he noted, was trying hard to stop email address thefts.
Jep said he is enjoying his Kindle Fire and always looking for sites where he can download books. Amazon sells the Kindle Fire for about $200, he said, which is less than the cost of making it but makes its money from downloads, mostly of ebooks.
If you decide to switch your ISP to Charter, said Jep, make sure you ask Charter how many megabytes of download speed you will get. The wiring in some of the places in Greentrees isn’t in great condition, he said. You can tell how good your cable connection is, he said, by looking at the reception you get on your TV.
Picasa--Free and Easy to Use, Members Told
April 4, 2012. – (Parker Kendall, who edits this web site, again talked about Picasa in
this morning’s class.) Don’t tell a professional photographer that you use Google’s Picasa to edit your pictures unless you’re ready to endure a possible sneer. Most of the pros use Adobe’s Photoshop or Lightroom, both of which cost big bucks.
Picasa, however, is not only free but an excellent program to use for organizing your
photos. Once organized (tagged and put into folders) the photos can be sharpened, straightened, cropped, darkened, lightened or otherwise edited to suit your fancy. I especially like the Borders and Museum Matte features to put frames around my pictures. Using Borders, I can make room at the bottom of a photo for a caption that will stay with the photo if it’s emailed to someone.
You can be sure you have the latest version of Picasa by clicking on Help in the menu then going down and clicking on Check for Updates. Picasa is constantly adding new features to the program. Most of the recent editing updates come from Picnik, which Google bought and incorporated into Picasa. As of the middle of April, however, Picnik will no longer be available in Picasa. Picnik users will, says Google, have to sign up for Google Plus to use it. Meanwhile, the people who created Picnik have a new program called PicMonkey. (See: http://www.picmonkey.com/) Whether this will become part of Picasa, only Google knows.
You can make a collage in Picasa or make a CD and mail it to someone. You can make a movie from the contents of a folder or you can select however many photos you want, add music and let Picasa make a movie for you. Whichever photo editing program you use, chances are that you’ll have to spend at least a little time getting to know it. I think that people who choose to learn the basic editing features of Picasa will, once they’ve used the program, decide they’ve made a wise choice.
Storms Slow Internet Reception in Town-- Jep
March 21, 2012 – A dozen Greentrees computer club members braved rain and
hypothermia-inducing temperatures this morning to hear Jep Norwood again remind everyone that Internet service in Florence is slow. Recent storms, he said, have twisted antennas south of Florence and slowed down reception even more. “Even some of the house antennas set up by Oregonfast got twisted,” said Jep, which means that until technicians have retuned the antennas Internet service will not get better.
Jep said that Charter ISP service is available in Florence but that after an introductory offer expires the monthly cost of Charter would be about 89 dollars. Fiber optic cable "would make all the difference in the world," said Jep but said he had not yet heard how soon it might be installed in Greentrees. In the meantime, he said, “you can run Netflix with a download speed of 15 mps.” Otherwise, he suggested get programs you want on disk.
Jep warned everyone away from an Internet connection using Century Link. “Do not do it,” he said. “Phone lines in Florence are worn out.” He also cautioned against believing the ads one sees on television that promise to correct one’s computer troubles.
If you’re buying a new computer, said Jep, the Windows 7 Starter edition is not the best choice but, he said, “you can live with it.” If you have an old program that worked on Windows XP but won’t work on Windows 7, said Jep, it’s probably a good idea to simply upgrade the program rather than buy the most advanced version of Windows 7. Changing back to the old XP mode, he said, is usually more trouble than it’s worth.
As for Windows 8, which is slated to come out later this year: “It’s a pain in the butt.” Version 8 is built around touch screens, said Jep. Except for the desktop covered with tiles, he said, the new Windows 8 is basically the same as Windows 7.
Jep explained how to download cell phone photos into one’s computer. All phones, he said, come with a cable. One end plugs into the phone, the other is a USB connection that plugs into the computer. Once connected, the phone automatically downloads photos into the computer into which it is plugged. Another way of getting cell phone photos into one’s computer, said Jep, is simply to email them. If your phone won’t let you download a photo someone has sent you, said Jep, just change the photo’s name. Brenda, he noted, is the cell phone expert in the family.
After explaining how to network a printer, desktop and laptop in one’s home, Jep reminded everyone that his Norwoods web site will soon be history. Computer lessons will still be available, however, on the Florence Elks web site at: http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/PAGE_COMPUTER_LESSONS_INDEX.htm. No Internet connection was available for this morning’s class even though some club members reported they had no trouble getting connected earlier in the day.
Latest Picasa Offers New Editing Features
March 7, 2012. – (The person who presided at today’s computer club class on Picasa is the same person who edits this web site—Parker Kendall, hence the personal tone of what follows.)
Picasa is a free image organizing and editing program that can be downloaded onto
a PC or Mac and is one of the most popular photo editing programs used by digital photographers. It can’t do all the photo manipulating that Adobe’s Photoshop can do but for most point-and-shoot photographers, Picasa is all they need. I use Photoshop when making 13 x 19 prints but for almost all of my photo editing I use Picasa.
Anyone who has several hundred photos knows the necessity of a good system of organization and that Picasa provides. Whenever you download a photo onto your computer, it goes by default into your My Pictures folder and then appears in Picasa in a folder with a date on it. Since it’s almost impossible to remember what photos are in the folder called 4-20-06, the first order of business when downloading photos into a folder in Picasa is to rename the folder. (Right click. Click on Edit Folder Description and rename the folder.)
Once renamed, the folders line up alphabetically. Half of the organizing is now done. Next comes tagging photos. A tag is just another name for—well, a name. Select a photo and go to the Show-Hide Tags Panel icon in the lower right of your screen. Click on the icon then put a Tag on your photo. Then press the plus sign. Then get out of the panel by clicking on the x to the right of the word TAGS. (Shortcut to panel: Ctrl+T)
Once you have put a tag on a photo you can easily find it. Go to the search box in the upper right (there’s a little magnifying glass icon), type in the tag and the photo will
magically appear. If you have not bothered to tag your photos, now—before you accumulate a few thousand more—would be a good time to go back and tag them all. You can put the same tag on several photos at once by holding down the Control key while you select those photos you want to have the same tag.
Now that you’re organized you can have fun editing your photos. Once you double left click on a thumbnail you’ll open up an enlargement of the photo. In the upper left are five tabs. This is where you do your editing. Look in all of the tabs and try out a few. You’ll see the photo undergo changes—some of them drastic. But fear not. Picasa is a non-destructive editing program. Right click on the photo and you will see Undo all Edits. Click on this and voila!—you’re back to where you started before you began editing the photo.
What else can you do in Picasa? You can make sure you have the latest version of the program. (Go to the Help menu then click on Check for Updates.) You can email photos to friends and relatives. You can make a poster or collage, make a CD, make a slideshow, make a movie. You can go through your photos and star your best ones then play them back in a slideshow. You can make a movie and put it on YouTube.
You can make an album and publish it online. Show only pictures with faces. You can remove blemishes and wrinkles from people’s faces. You can edit a picture two different ways then choose the one you want to save. Put a frame around your sweetheart.
Remember: there’s always Help. And Picasa forums, where you can ask a question and probably get it answered. Unfortunately, some of the answers one gets in the Picasa Help pages aren’t always easy to fathom. Another way to get a question answered is to just put it into Google’s search box and see if that provides an answer.
Club Gets Look at New Computer Devices
Feb. 29, 2012 – Computer club vice president Gene Fisher this morning showed
fellow club members some of the new computer devices that are becoming more and more popular. He demonstrated how to download apps on his iPad and iPod Touch , two of Apple’s best selling portable computers. The iPad, said Gene, starts at about $500 and goes up, depending upon how much storage one wants. The iPod Touch, which is smaller and thinner than a pack of cigarettes, costs $200 for the basic 8 GB device. Add more storage and the price goes up, he said.
Some of apps for the tablets are free while some cost anywhere from a dollar to several dollars, Gene said. One popular competitor to the iPad, he said, is the Kindle Fire, which costs $200. The iPad Gene used for his demonstration has front and back facing cameras. The resolution on iPad and iPod Touch is not what one would get with most digital cameras, he said but noted that the resolution on the tablets keeps getting better with every new version of the device.
Ten of the most popular mobile devices are pictured and described on: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/top-10-tablets-for-the-holidays/2011/11/07/gIQA0tYqRN_gallery.html#photo=1
“You can even subscribe to magazines,” said Gene, “then read them at your leisure on your tablet.” He showed the app that allowed him to download a subscription to Sunset Magazine. He also showed how to take a photo then save it or send it to someone via email. If your device doesn’t have as much storage as you’d like, he said, you can always buy more. Apple’s iCloud offers iPad and iPod Touch users some free storage.
With the right app, said Gene, iPad and iPod Touch users can use their tablets to call people who have Magic Jack or Skype phones. – He also showed club members his MiFi from Virgin Mobile http://goo.gl/hK0Ub , which costs about $100 but is sometimes on sale. MiFi is a portable hotspot packed into about the same size as an Apple iPod Touch and has five access points. One advantage of having the Virgin Mobile MiFi, said Gene, is that one doesn’t have to sign up for a year’s service. Going on a ten-day trip and want Wi-Fi connectivity? That costs ten dollars. For twenty dollars, Gene said, you’ll get 30 days of service.
Club president Pat Miller reminded everyone the Florence library offers free checkout of ebooks for Kindle devices. To take advantage of this service, said Pat, “you will need a library card and pin number plus an Amazon Kindle account.” She gave everyone a two-page handout with detailed instructions on how to get library books on a Kindle.
Stay Away from Dot Net Warns Jep Norwood
Feb. 15,2012. -- Jep Norwood warned computer club members in this morning’s class to beware of Dot Net-4 (.NET). “Dot Net never has worked and is just a way for Microsoft to make money,” said Jep. When you go to Windows Updates/Custom you
will probably see Dot Net as one of the updates and, he said, it should not be downloaded. One of the drawbacks of having Dot Net installed on your computer, said Jep, is that it slows down your machine when you turn it on. In the Updates box, go to Change Settings and you will probably see a gray box, he said. “Put a check in this box,” said Jep and added that most of the updates are for MS Office, which most people do not need.
Windows 8 is on the way, said Jep, and the latest MS operating system is coming with “lots of apps.” You will pay for these apps through Dot Net, said Jep. If your network adapter is taking ages to load, Jep suggested looking at the link on his web site at http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/Networkadapterload/Networkadaptload.htm. Sometimes, he said, people download an update by mistake and correcting this can be a pain. He cautioned against using System Restore, which, he said, is like relying on a Hail Mary pass. Sometimes it works but more often does not. Don’t, he said, use System Restore to go back more than two weeks.
For those people who don’t have WinZip on their computers, Jep suggested downloading a free program called Peazip (http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/GREENTREES/QUESTIONS2012.htm). – He answered questions about Clipboard and suggested those wanting a fuller explanation go to his web site (http://www.florenceelks.com/COMPUTER%20LESSONS/GREENTREES/QUESTIONS2012.htm). Collette Bailey said she had been using a free program called Yankee Clipper.
Jep explained that recent windstorms had moved antennas enough so that recent download (and upload) speeds have suffered. He said that Oregonfast.net has been busy restoring Internet service to homes affected by the winds, which, in Florence were clocked at close to 100 miles an hour. That, said Jep, coupled with the fact that Florence is "up a dirt road off the Information Highway" means that folks here in Florence will never have computer download speeds that people in big cities have.
Fiber optic cable is in the offing, said Jep, but there are several problems that must be resolved before it is installed, for example, in Greentrees. The Greentrees office, said club president Pat Miller, is currently looking into the legal ramifications of putting fiber optic in the park.
For those whose download speeds are painfully slow, Jep suggested running a speed test (http://www.oregonfast.net/internetservices/speedtest.php?m=199-88), then, using Lightscreen to take a picture of the speed shown on one’s monitor and then emailing it to Oregonfast.net at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s okay to complain, he said. “Just remember, though. The windstorms messed up reception for almost everyone else using Oregonfast.net.”
Members Continue Exploring Google's Gmail
Feb. 1, 2012. – Pat Miller, club president, this morning continued her presentation on Google’s Gmail. Using a seven-page handout as a guide, she led club members through an exploration of the free email program. After briefly reviewing last month’s class on Gmail basic features, she reminded everyone that the program’s Help menu is always there for detailed instructions.
Pat spelled out the steps one takes to add an attachment to an email message. It’s also possible, she said, to add multiple attachments. She then showed how to archive and delete messages by clicking on the appropriate icon. “And you can also move what’s in your spam folder into your inbox,” she said.
An important part of using Gmail is learning how to set up one’s contacts, she said. If you delete one of your contacts by mistake, she said, you have 30 days to restore it. To get to Contacts, click Mail at the top-left corner of your Gmail page, then choose Contacts. You can create a contact group, she said, which makes it easier to email a specific set of people. Deleted a contact by mistake? It can be restored, she said.
Want to liven up your email by using a font you especially like? Or want to change the font’s color? Maybe add an emoticon? It’s all possible in Gmail, said Pat, and pointed out how one goes about making these changes in Settings.
Pat suggested opening Labs and looking over some of the cutting edge features of Gmail. To open Labs, click on the gear symbol in the top right corner of the Gmail page then click on Mail Settings then again on Labs. She suggested playing around with the various applets people have made and sent to Google. One example: Message Sneak Peek, which lets you peek into a conversation without opening it by right-clicking on a message in your inbox.
She then delved into Labels, which some people think of as folders. You can control which labels appear in your list on the left hand side of the Gmail page, she said, and spelled out the steps one takes. Before running out of time, she touched briefly on Gmail’s Call Phone program, which lets anyone with a computer make a phone call to any person in the U.S. or Canada. The person called does not have to have a computer and the Call Phone program is free. Just like Google’s Gmail.
Storm Forces Cancellation of Wednesday Class
Jan. 20, 2012. – Hurricane force winds knocked out electricity in Greentrees
Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of Jep Norwood’s monthly class. Power was restored Wednesday afternoon but then went out again—this time only for a few minutes—on Thursday morning.
After consulting with Jep, club president Pat Miller announced that there will not be any more classes this month. She said that the computers in the computer lab went off during Wednesday’s storm. “I’m leaving them off until this storm is over,” she said.
Backup Email Account a Must Members Told
Jan. 4, 2012. -- President Pat Miller this morning showed fellow computer club members how to go about setting up a Gmail account, whether as an original account or a backup. No matter which email provider you use, she said, a backup—whether Gmail, Oregonfast, or Hot Mail—is necessary should you forget the password to your primary account. Gmail needs the backup account so that it can send you your primary account’s password, she said.
To open a Gmail account, she said, you can go to your browser’s address bar and enter “mail.google.com/mail/signup.” An easier way, she suggested, is to go to the search feature in Google or whatever search engine you use and enter “open Gmail account.” You will need a user name of from six to 30 characters, said Pat, and a name that has not been used by any Gmail user. If your first choice gets rejected, she said, keep trying until you come up with a unique name, which, she said, does not distinguish between small and capital letters.
Your password, she said, must have a minimum of eight characters and can be all letters, all numbers, all symbols or—probably the most secure-a combination of all three. Once you have chosen your user name, Gmail will let you know if it’s weak or strong. “Write down your user name and password,” said Pat, “and keep it in a secure place.”
Gmail now has a new format, Pat pointed out, so it may take a while for those new to the latest Gmail format to get accustomed to new interface. Most of the icons are obvious and there’s always the Help feature should anyone get stuck, she said. She then opened the gear icon (Settings) and went over how a client could configure his or her Gmail.
After covering the basics and answering questions, Pat suggested continuing the discussion of Gmail in the first Wednesday of February class, a suggestion everyone agreed to. At that time Gmail’s Call Phone feature will be examined. This allows anyone with a Gmail account—and a microphone plugged into one’s computer—to make free phone calls anywhere in the U.S. or Canada.
Club Looks Forward to Another Busy Year
Dec 14, 2011. – President Pat Miller this morning presided over a business meeting of the Greentrees Village computer club and thanked everyone for making 2011 oneof the busiest and most successful years in the club’s existence. She encouraged all of the members to stay involved with the club, whether by attending classes or by volunteering to share their computer knowledge with fellow members.
After the reading and approval of the last business meeting’s minutes, Pat reviewed some of the items the club has been involved in. The club authorized Greentrees general manager Louis Deshofy to buy a new monitor for one of the computers in the clubhouse’s Coffee Room. The club also voted to give Greentrees $400 toward the purchase of a new television set for the Exercise Room.
In Treasurer Connie Goddard’s absence, Pat reported that the club’s treasury had a balance of $2132.08 as of Nov. 30, 2011. She passed around a sheet showing projected income and expenditures for 2012, figures that were approved unanimously by those present.
The club then voted for officers for the coming year. Pat Miller, Gene Fisher andConnie Goddard will continue as president, vice president and treasurer. Parker Kendall will replace Connie DeGray as secretary and Jack Branson will continue as advertising coordinator for the club.
In other business, the club thanked Connie DeGray for her service as secretary and also gave a thank you to Barbara Prisbe-Sutton for planning this year’s club party. Pat said she was still working on a list of places that will accept discarded electronic devices and, when it is ready, will publicize the information so that everyone in Greentrees will know how to safely discard their broken-down electronics. One member suggested the Humane Society Thrift Store in Old Town might accept such items. Pat also pointed out that Florence Ink has a bin for used ink cartridges. She also thanked On The Coast Printing, which does the park’s newsletter, for their assistance in printing the newsletter advertising.