Newbies need help to get started with:
how our meetings are organized
how to access the group contact list
how to access the googlegroups email group and private website
We use Google online communication tools for our contact list and our group email list. There is a learning curve for newbies using these tools for the first time. But once you have mastered their use, you will find these tools very helpful in participating in group activities and in joining in communication around the group.
To enjoy full access to the Google tools that we use in the nongeeks network, it is necessary to open a (free) Google account. The key account identifier is a Gmail (Google mail) webmail address; that is "your id"@gmail.com.
Getting a Google account does not require you to change your email address. But a gmail address is the key to signing in your Google account for the purpose of full access to the free Google tools.
There are also ways of accessing these Google tools to a certain extent without obtaining a Google account; but not as completely.
Below are some notes on how to get yourself a Google account by opening a Gmail account. Gmail is a form of webmail, like Yahoo mail and Hotmail. It is mainly an online tool, although you can now use a product called Google Gears to use Gmail offline as well. Webmail stores all your mail on a remote server instead of downloading it to your local PC. This is the preferred form of email for the younger generation. Your mail is with you wherever you go, including all previous correspondence and attachments. So if you are new to this, welcome to the world of webmail.
A word of warning, before you begin.
When dealing with a big webmail provider such as Google, remember that you are dealing with high speed robots. At the setup stage, it can be quite important not to make silly mistakes. For example, if you have decided on a particular user-id (the part of your email address in front of the @), and you make a spelling mistake - well, once you register the mispelling, you cannot undo it. You will need to restart the whole process.
So chill out. And take your time to go through the processes for getting your Google account established and getting yourself established with Googlegroups.
Group intro on Nongeeks public home page
Newcomers to the nongeeks group should be invited to read the public web page as an intro to the group at:
How to open a Google account
As soon as a newbie expresses definite interest in joining the group, we should help them to open a free Google account. The simplest way to arrange this is to send them an invitation from your gmail account (Invitations can be found at the bottom of the left hand column of the gmail screen.)
Explain to the newby that they will receive an email invitation to join gmail (which is in itself a simple way to open a Google account). Explain that they need to click on the weblink in the email and follow the instructions.
When you click on the weblink, there are 6 steps:
1. Choose a user-id, namely, the bit of your email address that goes before the @.
If someone has already taken the name of your choice, hang in there with other choices till you get one you are happy with. Try to make sure it is not too long and complicated. For example, if your name is John Smith and you find that one or other of the thousand John Smiths on the planet already has the email address JohnSmith@gmail.com, you could try a simple variant such as "JohnSmithCanberra" or "JohnSmithAranda" or "JohnSmithBiffinStreet" rather than some of the funny user ids with numbers in them or nonsense words.
2. Choosing a password. Keep it easy to remember. I suggest the same one you use with your ISP password or a very memorable variant of it. It can be a nuisance if you forget your password. You will need to ask a Google robot to reset your password so that you can re-access your account. These centralised large-scale webmail systems are subject to high levels of attack from hackers. So they have to put in place systems that screen out hackers.
3. The question and answer routine - so that Google can identify you if you forget or lose your password and you wish to authenticate yourself for issue of a new password. This bit seems to puzzle a lot of folks. You tell the robot what question you would like to be asked, a question to which you alone will know the answer. Then you give the robot the answer. This is the foolproof way of providing a way for the robot to know that you are you and you are not a hacker pretending to be you.
4. The squiggly characters routine - retype something that a computer robot pretending to be you could not read. Explain that this routine is put there so that hackers cannot set up robot computers so as to play havoc with gmail computer systems.
5. Blah blah about their free terms and conditions. Just say yes.
6. Accept and you're done.
Make sure you take careful note of your new Gmail address and password. Make them easy to find if you forget them. You can recover them from Google - but there is a process to go through. So with our remaining days on the planet closing in, why waste time needed to recover lost information.
How to minimise use of your Gmail email account
You can easily modify your Google Gmail account so that for any mail sent to your Google mail address, a copy is automatically sent to your traditional mail account.
How to do this? Open your Gmail account, Click on "Settings" at top right of opening page. This brings down some tabbed headings. Click on "POP and Forwarding" and follow the prompts to forward a copy of all mail to your preferred email address. I suggest you keep a copy in your gmail account but choose the drop down heading to get it to bypass the gmail inbox and go straight to Archive. This prevents getting a clogged Inbox in your gmail account.