Smoot Tips (blog)

I am going to be sharing some of my favorite tips, tricks, routines for maintenance, or other related topics.


posted Jun 24, 2013, 10:38 AM by R. Kevin Smoot

There are a couple of different ways to get all those various symbols into one's documents and writing.  Using these symbols can enhance your ability to get something across in your writing, posts (using stuff like Facebook or Google+) or elsewhere.  And... they are often just fun to have, especially when others you interact with don't have a clue how to do it.

Windows has a little program installed called Character Map.  You can quickly run this program from the "run" command by typing "charmap" into the field and hitting return.  This lets you browse through each font's symbols and even tells you the shortcut codes one can used to access the character. However, easiest way is just click the code wanted to put it into the little text field given in the Character Map program, then using the old "copy/paste" functions.

The other way, is by using the shortcut codes directly (as mentioned above).  Press the Alt key (generally with the left hand) and then the code indicated via the 10-key portion of the keyboard (at least this is how I usually do it).  Here is a list of some of the most used one and some stuff can vary with the font you are currently using.  If you have trouble getting  a certain choice, then perhaps change fonts to one of the more standard fonts (at least to access these; you can always switch back after the symbol).

Keyboard Symbols:

Alt + 0153..... ™... trademark symbol
Alt + 0169.... ©.... copyright symbol
Alt + 0174..... ®....registered ­ trademark symbol
Alt + 0176 ...° symbol
Alt + 0177 ...± ­-minus sign
Alt + 0182 ...¶.....paragr­aph mark
Alt + 0190 ...¾....fractio­n, three-fourths
Alt + 0215 ....×.....multi­plication sign
Alt + 0162...¢....the ­ cent sign
Alt + 0161.....¡..... ­.upside down exclamation point
Alt + 0191.....¿..... ­upside down question mark
Alt + 1.......☺....smiley face
Alt + 2 ......☻ smiley face
Alt + 15.....☼.....sun
Alt + 12......♀.....female sign
Alt + 11.....♂......m­ale sign
Alt + 6.......♠.....spade
Alt + 5.......♣...... ­Club
Alt + 3.......♥...... ­Heart
Alt + 4.......♦...... ­Diamond
Alt + 13......♪.....e­ighth note
Alt + 14......♫...... ­beamed eighth note
Alt + 8721.... ∑.... N-ary summation (auto sum)
Alt + 251.....√.....square root check mark
Alt + 8236.....∞..... ­infinity
Alt + 24.......↑..... ­up arrow
Alt + 25......↓...... ­down arrow
Alt + 26.....→.....r­ght arrow
Alt + 27......←.....l­eft arrow
Alt + 18.....↕......u­p/down arrow
Alt + 29......↔...lef­t right arrow

Technology Needs

posted Jun 21, 2013, 8:28 AM by R. Kevin Smoot

It has been a while since posting anything, so sorry if you are following.  Today I am going to share a few thoughts about Technology Needs. 

To be honest, most people do not "Need" much technology in the sense of having the latest and greatest stuff.  First of all, it is just way too costly to try to keep up with changing technology, and secondly, nobody really even utilizes such stuff until several generations of new stuff have gone to market.  The way I see it, unless you are some sort of Tech Guru or get paid to do interesting things with technology (which usually includes getting test products to try out)... then I don't see the point of investing heavily in such products.  If you are running a business with or through your computer gear, there is even more reason to save those dollars for other more productive uses.

Another factor of Technology Needs, is that one seldom uses the potential of any and all computing products.  I service people who have bought the latest computer gear, only to find out that they are simply using their machines to read email, browse the web, or watch Netflix or Hulu upon it... !@%&? Whaaa?  Who pays thousands for a dvd or streaming download player... or a device for reading email???  If all you do is read email, eBooks, and watch videos, then just get a cheap Android Tablet.  The only people who need fancy-shmancy computers costing thousands are those who play the latest and greatest video games (ALL THE TIME). 

The culture of having the coolest product is rampant consumerism at its worst.  I blame Apple for making iStuff so absolutely necessary in people's minds.  The other technology companies are just trying to copy the marketing vibe Apple established.  It is time to grow up for most people, and simply make some conscious decisions about what one actually does with their tech and only get what is necessary to accomplish that.  Save that money for other stuff... heck, take me out for lunch instead every day for the next several months. 

If you run a business, and you are providing gear to your employees, then this is all so very worse.  Don't let them convince you to spend on new stuff when the older stuff can do the job.  And, allow me to show you the cheap or free alternatives one can utilize instead.

Need Help with Windows 8?

posted Dec 27, 2012, 7:33 AM by R. Kevin Smoot

Windows 8 is so substantially different than previous editions... some folks might need some help.
Windows 8 for tablet users may find the transition easier, but if you use standard laptop or desktop, you might find the whole thing really baffling. So much is awkward, weird or just non-intuitive.
Let me guide you to mastery of those things you thought you already knew how to do.  Contact me for some tutorial sessions to get by using your computer with all the new conventions. 

Windows 8 Experiences

posted Nov 30, 2012, 10:13 AM by R. Kevin Smoot

Have you had a chance to work with Windows 8?  Well let me tell you about my own limited experiences so far.

Number one.  It sure is different.  Now that has good and bad associated with it.  On one hand, the tiles and layout are fairly easy to understand, especially for those with limited computer skills and experience with computing.  On the other hand, if you are a somewhat advanced computer user, you will find that things are arranged differently.  There are a number of odd ways to get to various settings... but after taking a little time to actually learn the newer ways to navigate the system, one begins to appreciate the methods... I only wish they took the time to have some such settings be more apparent, perhaps an extra help feature to help navigate (but can be disabled once the learning curve is over).

Number two.  APPS.  I love to have various programs... and it is nice to be able to locate many such Free (or pay for) Applications to use.  Bad thing is that I just hate this model of marketing.  Everyone and their brother comes up with some CRAP application expecting to make a dollar for each loon that is tricked into purchasing it, or it is given away freely, only to find out that the bulk of the application is tied to a PREMIUM (and pay for) version, or even worse is built on this FREEMIUM model where you are nickel and dime'd out of everything.  HATE HATE HATE this whole copying of the iPhone Apps business model.

Number three. Did I mention that I hate the APP Business model???

Number four.  Otherwise, as far as the background system for running programs and such, I actually like the look and feel of it all.  I utilize an older laptop/tablet model of computer (a modified Fujitsu Lifebook), so the touch elements working are pretty cool.  I expect over time I will continue to like Windows 8... though I am still a fan of FREE.  Linux systems still continue to be my best friend unless I just have to use a Windows-only sort of program (be it a game or otherwise).  I would love to see Microsoft decide to go the route of FREE Operating System too and learn to earn from other functions of computing.

Happy Windowing!!

Slow Computing?!

posted Oct 26, 2012, 7:40 AM by R. Kevin Smoot

Is your computer running slow?  Does your browser look like this?

Well.  Here is my simple advice.  Get to the Control Panel, and start UN-INSTALLING all this non-useful crap.  Seriously. 
Almost none of this sort of toolbar stuff is useful for anything.  Often these may even be corridors for viruses and malware or even just big corporations tracking your every click for their marketing campaigns.

Just uninstall all of them.  And, if you install some random program, make certain you un-check any options that they include to "also install XYZ feature".  This is common even in some very useful programs.  They also manage to change your homepage, change your preferred choice of search engine, and who knows what else.

Avoid having to call somebody like me to TUNE-UP your machine.

iPad mini

posted Oct 23, 2012, 1:17 PM by R. Kevin Smoot   [ updated Oct 24, 2012, 6:10 AM ]

So much going on this week:

Apple unveils iPad Mini, new iPad, new iMac, 13-inch MacBook Pro and more

The fourth-generation iPad is an update to this spring's third-generation iPad with a Retina display, featuring a faster chip, the A6X — delivering faster performance. "I can't see the competition in the rear view mirror," says senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, who came on stage to show off all the new hardware.

There's improved Wi-Fi and, of course, a Lightning connector. The fourth-generation iPad (don't call it an iPad 4!) will cost the same amount as the current one. (No word on whether or not the third-generation iPad will be offered at discount, mind you.) This the first time, at least in recent memory, that Apple updated a core product twice in the same year.

In addition, Apple introduced the fourth generation iPad, a development that almost no one saw coming. The new iPad – Apple has stopped giving its tablets numerical designations – will look the same as the old iPad: same 9.7-inch Retina Display, same dimensions. Same price points, too. But unlike the third-generation iPad, which was released just six months ago, the latest device will get the small Lightning connector and an A6X processor. As Don Reisinger of CNET notes, that's "double the current CPU and graphics power of the A5X available in the third-generation iPad."...

...Time to pick up a older generation (iPad 2 or iPad 3) on clearance or discount. 

New Functions for Google Chrome/Drive

posted Oct 23, 2012, 10:47 AM by R. Kevin Smoot   [ updated Oct 23, 2012, 10:51 AM ]

Google Drive Stuff Functionality

Chrome Web Apps for Docs, Sheets, and Slides 

Now, it’s faster and easier to create, share, and collaborate in Google Drive. 

Starting today (Oct 23), Documents, Spreadsheets, and Presentations - now called Docs (, Sheets (, and Slides ( - are available as apps in the Chrome Web Store. Once you’ve installed them, you’ll have shortcuts to these apps every time you open a new tab in Chrome. 

In a few weeks, Chromebook users will see Docs, Sheets, and Slides in your apps list by default, too. 
You can also install apps for Drawings (, Forms (, Script (, and Fusion Tables (

Isn't Free Stuff Cool?

Windows 8 is here! Are you ready?

posted Oct 22, 2012, 12:38 PM by R. Kevin Smoot   [ updated Oct 23, 2012, 11:56 AM ]

Starting this weekend (October 26)... the new Windows 8 will roll out. 
New computers will have this pre-installed.  Are you ready for it?

One thing is for sure.  This is the most radical change in user-interface that Microsoft has ever attempted.  I have not played around with it much, but certainly it requires a substantial re-learning period.  It was built with touch interface in mind, using a system of 'tiles' (like buttons).  I am not thrilled so far, but perhaps after I take it for a real spin with an effort to learn about the features and settings then I may have new perspective.

Check out the preview here:

Update:  Here is a video of Bill Gates talking on the subject of the new Windows 8

Bill Gates on Windows 8

Political Posting

posted Sep 6, 2012, 4:12 PM by R. Kevin Smoot

No, I am not going to be sharing much in the way of personal views.  But as we approach this election season, I will just share this image that I find poignant.

Enough Said. -- smootrk

Desktop Publishing Software

posted Aug 13, 2012, 5:42 PM by R. Kevin Smoot

Serious desktop publishers use some heavy duty tools by Microsoft or Adobe... but why should you?  Especially when you are just making the occasional flyer or advertisement for your small business.  You need a solution that is in line with your budget and resources.

Enter Scribus.  Scribus is a FREE solution made by OpenSource folks who just cannot stand being chained to these mega-corporations.  For that reason I really like it... but on top of that, it just works great too.

Did I mention that it is completely FREE!  You really cannot afford not to take a look.  Save that couple of hundred dollars to do something fun instead.

Find the website here:

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