Sunday, September 30, 2012

Big Calculator for Windows

If you're anything like me, you may have trouble seeing the numbers in the Calculator provided by Windows.  I love this calculator and use it daily - but with each passing year, it's getting harder and harder for me to read the results of the calculations I perform.

After searching the internet and trying out different calculators, I've found one I like.  It's called the, "Big Calculator" and you can download it for free by clicking here.

Once you get to the download web page, click the "DOWNLOAD" button (which will take you to another page).   Next, click the link that reads, "External Mirro 1" in order to start the actual download. 

If you're running Windows Vista or Windows 7, the downloaded program should be in your Download folder.  

Once the file is downloaded, just double-left click the icon to install the new calculator.  Once it's installed, you'll find it under ALL PROGRAMS in the SENSORY SOFTWARE folder.  You may also find a shortcut on your desktop (that looks like a green plus sign). 

The Big Calculator is a LOT easier for me to read and hopefully you'll find it easier too!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Beware of fake computer tech calls!

Tonight my cousin got a call from somebody claiming to be a computer tech who said there was a problem with their computer and he needed to fix it for them ... the guy had a heavy accent was barely understandable .. luckily my cousin had enough smarts to tell the guy no.

Another friend of mine who lives in the D.C. area said he also had been getting similar calls for 6 months.  His "tech" guy claimed to be from "the Windows Services Department".  My friend has a a lot of technical knowledge and so had some fun with his calls.  When told he had a problem with his computer, my friend asked the tech which one, and told him he had 6 computers.  The tech told my friend he'd have to connect to tell him which one was the problem.  Of course, my friend replied if you can tell me I have a problem now, why is it you can't tell me which one of the six computers is the problem. The tech hung up.  They had many more conversations like this over the course of the 6 months, each time with the sound of "click" as the tech hung up in frustration.  

This was obviously a scam and the guy was trying to gain remote access to the computer in order to steal important identity information or install viruses, etc.

Don't be fooled by this scam!  If anybody calls you out of the blue and tries to convince you have a computer problem, tell them this call is being monitored and that you're notifying the FBI and then goodbye!

Be sure to spread the word too so that others won't fall victim to this scam!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Learning to Use Excel 2007

Excel 2007 is very similar to Excel 2010.  Both use the "ribbon" which was a major change to Excel from earlier versions.  Below are some videos to help you learn Excel 2007 quickly!  Click on the links to watch videos on YouTube.

Excel 2007 - Get up to Speed Fast

Excel 2007 - Overview 

Excel 2007 - The Ribbon

Excel 2007 - Setup

Excel 2007 - Cells

Excel 2007 - Insert & Delete Rows and Columns

Excel 2007 - Creating Your First Spreadsheet

Excel 2007 - Use Simple Formulas to Do Math

Excel 2007 - Formulas

Excel 2007 - Create Charts

Excel 2007 - Create Gant Chart

Excel 2007 - Creating a Pivot Table 

Excel 2007 - VLookup  (Perfects for Teacheres)

Excel 2007 - Left, Mid and Find Function

Excel 2007 - Highlight Active Row

Exce; 2007 - Find and Replace Data

Excel 2007 - How to Sort Data

Excel 2007 - Filtering Data

There are hundreds of more video tutorials on YouTube teaching you how to do various things in Excel 2007.  The links above are designed to help you learn the basics of Excel 2007 quickly!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Upgrading to Windows 8

A lot of my clients have been anxious to buy a new computer but have been concerned about the upcoming release of Windows 8.  Why buy a computer with Windows 7, only to have Windows 8 come out shortly afterwards?  Good question!  Here's some information to help put your mind at ease!

First, if you've been wondering what's new about Windows 8, you can watch a preview video, by clicking here.   Watching the video preview, it appears that Windows 8 is geared more towards social networking (i.e., communicating with others through Instant Messaging, Facebook, etc.).   So if you're really into all the social networking, you'll love Windows 8!  For those who aren't - no doubt Windows 8 will be an interesting experience. 

The good thing is that Microsoft has FINALLY made it easier to upgrade your operating system if you're buying (or already own) a computer running Windows 7.  Here's the deal ....

If you buy a new computer with Windows 7 per-installed between June 2, 2012 and January 31, 2013, you can get Windows 8 Pro for about $14.99!  Of course, you still have to register before February 2013 and follow the instructions in order to take advantage of this offer ... but it really is a GOOD deal .... and you don't have to worry about buying a new computer with Windows 7 installed.

Microsoft is also offering Windows 8 to folks who have recently bought a new computer with Windows 7 installed.   And by recently, I mean you have to have bought your new computer on or after June 2, 2012. If you bought your computer prior to June 2, 2012, you're out of luck!  You'll have to go out and buy a retail copy of Windows 8 upgrade software if you want to upgrade. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tips for Labeling Photos

One of the questions I get asked a lot has to do with photos ... more specifically, "how do I keep in them in the order I want?"

The problem is that after scanning them into the computer, and arranging them in the order we want, the computer rearranges them in a different order.  The problem is the same for folders and actual images.   Many of my clients want to know how to fix this problem.

The first step in fixing the problem is understanding what causes it.  And the problem is caused by the name (or label) attached the photo.  For example, look at the image on the right.

It shows for folders (each containing photos).  If you look closely, you'll notice that all but the first folder are in alphabetical order.  The computer typically does this for me, but I can also arrange folders (and photos) alphabetically if I wish.

What this means, is that when you label a photo or scanned image, it doesn't matter how you arrange it in your computer, it will typically get rearranged alphabetically automatically.   So the first thing you can do to help combat the problem is to use care when naming your scanned images.  When you scan a group of images that are related to one another, make sure the name of the scanned image starts the same (e.g., family1, family2, family3, etc.).

But this only solves part of the problem.  It will keep all the "family" photos together, photos can still get out of order chronologically.   So for example, the photo named "family1" might have been taken in 1932, while the photo named "family2" might have been taken in 1925.  Yet, because of the name convention, the photo named "family1" will get placed before the photo named "family2".

So the next step in combating the rearrangement of photos problem, is to assign a number prefix to the folder or photo.  If you look at the image above again, you'll noticed that the first folder is named (or labeled), "1_Lehmans" .... and that even though "L" comes before "B", the "1_Lehmans" folder appears BEFORE the "Byers" folder.  Why?

The answer is in the "1_" prefix. By placing a number followed by an underscore before the actual filename, I force that folder into a specific position on my computer.  So in general, you rename your folders or photos using this naming convention to help force (and keep) them organized in a certain way on your computer.

However, while these two methods of naming files will help a lot in keeping photos organized a certain way, they're not full-proof.  Another thing you can do to help organize photos, is to keep them separated in folders.  For example, put each group of related photos into it's own folder.  This helps to keep them separated and easier to sort through.  You could even create a document to share more detailed information about the group of photos (such as when and where they were taken as well as who's in them).

Following the suggestions above for labeling your photos should help you keep them better organized.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

5 Ways to Reset Your Computer Password

Have a password set up to log into Windows and can't remember it?  Perhaps you inherited a computer with a password already set up and have no idea what it is.  These are common problems and can usually be solved pretty easily.

There are generally 5 ways to reset a password on computers running Windows:
  1. Remove the CMOS battery on the Motherboard for a few seconds and replace it
  2. Use a jumper to clear the CMOS settings
  3. Log into the Admin account (if there is one) and rest the password
  4. Restore the computer back to Factory Settings.  
  5. Use a 3rd party software program (which typically costs money)
The first four methods listed above are free.  The last method is generally a software program you have to buy.  So I would recommend using one of the first four methods if you have to rest a computer password.

If you're comfortable working inside a computer case, then options 1 and 2 are usually pretty easy and quick (though you may need to refer to a manual to use option #2).  Working inside a computer case can be hazardous to the computer  though, so if you've never done it, or aren't comfortable, I would recommend not doing it yourself.   The biggest danger when working inside a computer case is discharging static to critical parts which can render the computer inoperable. 

Option #3 is a safer method of resetting the computer password.  Most computers today create a Admin account and hide it - this way it's there if needed later but doesn't interfere with the normal day to day operation of the computer for the user.  The best way to get into the Admin account is to boot the computer to SAFEMODE.  And the to do this, you need to restart the computer.  Follow the instructions below to boot the computer to Safemode:
  1. Make sure the computer is powered down (hold the power button in until it shuts off it's running)
  2. Turn the computer on, than hit the F8 key on the keyboard repeatedly until you get to a menu
  3. Chose the SAFEMODE option using the arrows on the keyboard and hit ENTER
If there is a hidden admin account, you should see it when Windows boot.  If there is one, click it to log in. If you don't see an Admin account, then you will have to use options 1, 2 or 4 to reset the computer password.

Assuming you can log into the Admin account (option #3), then resetting the computer password is easy.  Just open the CONTROL PANEL and then USER ACCOUNTS.   Then select the account name you want to reset the password for.  Once on that account, click CHANGE  PASSWORD.

The 4th option listed above, is generally a last resort option for resetting your computer password.   This is because Option #4 will erase your hard drive (and any data you had stored on it).

Most computers sold in the last 5 years have a copy of the operating system hidden on a partition of the hard drive.  Getting to can be easy or tricky depending on who made your computer.   If you have the user guide that came with your computer, it should tell you how to restore the computer back to factory settings.  If you don't have the user guide (or can't find it), you may be able to find it online at your manufacturer's web site. 

Be sure to watch the screen too when you first turn your computer on.  You may see a note about hitting certain keys (like F10, F11 or F12) to restore the computer settings.   On some computers, you have to hit the CTRL key in addition to one of the F-keys previously mentioned.  When in doubt, try all of the F-keys listed (with and without the CTRL key.

Hopefully one of the methods listed above will help your reset your computer password.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Recycling Old Computers & Electronics

Looking to recycle old computers, TV's and other electronic equipment?  Give TFS Networks a call.  If you live in any of the Quad-city areas (Prescott, Prescott Valley, Dewey, and Chino Valley), they'll even come to your house to pick the stuff up.

I was pleasantly surprised by their quick response and willingness to come to my house so I didn't have to load my car up and take the equipment to them.

Their phone number is 928-925-0776.    You can even schedule a pickup on line.  If you're interested in recycling any old computer equipment or electronics, click here for more information and a list of acceptable items.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Video Editing Tips

People who know me, know I love to create videos. Although I have a mini-video camera, many of my videos are created using still photos. I generally use Sony Vegas to create my videos, but I have used Windows Movie Maker too. Sony Vegas is my favorite video creation/editing software though. 

While creating and editing videos is pretty straight forward, experience has taught me a few things and upon request, I decided to share those tips here. 

In a nutshell, here are my top video editing tips .....

  1. Create a new folder on your desktop for each video you create (one folder per video).  Give the folder a name that reflects the theme of your video (example, "Christmas 2011")
  2. Within this folder, create sub-folders .... one for pictures (if using still photos), one for video clips (if using video clips), one for music, etc.  The goal is to get all of the video, pictures, music, etc. used in your video into the same folder (away from everything else) so it's easy to find and manage.
  3. Copy the photos, video clips, music, etc that you intend to use in your video into their respective sub-folders which you created in step 2.
  4. Once you complete steps 1-3, open your favorite video editing software and IMPORT your video, photos and music from the subfolders you created in step 3.  
  5. When you save your movie, be sure to save it in the top level folder you created on your desktop (in step 1).  
  6. When you render (or make) your movie, be sure to save the created movie in the top level folder (step 1).
To some people, the six tips above may seem like overkill since it requires moving (and copying) your files into a new folder as opposed to leaving them where they are.  But believe me, there is a logical reason to this madness.  And here it is .....

By default, most people store their pictures in the PICTURE folder (or in their DOCUMENT folder) and their music in the MUSIC folder, etc.  While this is the preferred method for most everyday uses, it creates a problem for video editing. 

The first problem is that people tend to delete, move, or rename their photos, music, video clips, etc.   If that photo, song, etc. was already in your video timeline and you move, delete or rename the file, then the timeline can't find it anymore (your software will tell you it's "offline" or "missing").  This means you have to find the original file and reimport it into your video software so the timeline can see it.  This can be a major pain (not to mention time-consuming). 

But by COPYING these files (photos, video clips, music, etc) to a special folder (as described in steps 1-4 above), your video editing software will always know where to find them.  In this case, it doesn't matter if you move, delete or rename your original files ... your timeline will remain in tact because it will know where to find the copies you created in steps 1-4. 

The other big advantage in using the tips outlined above is that once the video is complete, you can copy this entire folder to your backup hard drive, flash drive or DVD and remove it from your desktop (to save disk space).  But then if you ever need to make changes to the video or make more copies, you can just COPY the entire folder back to your desktop, open your video editing software and you're good to go again.  The software will knows where to find everything. 

Everybody has their own system, but through experience, this is the best system I've discovered for creating and editing home videos.
Vegas Movie Studio Production Suite SPMSPSMS1100
Vegas Movie Studio Production Suite SPMSPSMS1100
Sony SPMSPSMS1100 Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11 Production Suite software has everything you need to produce professional-quality HD movies. Edit video in nearly any format, including HDV and AVCHD, as well as create breathtaking 3D video with innovative stereoscopic 3D tools. Included with this software suite are powerful features for video compositing, color correction and soundtrack creation for feature-film results. Choose from hundreds of professional 2D and 3D video effects, titles and filters. And best yet, exclusive Jump Start Tutorials help you get acquainted with the program fast.HighlightsVegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11Included Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11 software enables you to produce spectacular movies in nearly any format. Powerful tools for stereoscopic 3D, video compositing, color correction and surround-sound mixing help you get feature-film results in your home studio. You can also personalize your movies with text animations, title rolls and scrolling credits. DVD Architect Studio 5With the included DVD Architect Studio 5 software, you can choose from dozens of ready-made templates or create your own custom backgrounds and buttons. Create titles, multiple menus, scene selection menus, slideshows, music compilations and more. All of this can then be authored to standard-definition DVD or high-definition Blu-ray Disc.Sound Forge Audio Studio 10Sound Forge Audio Studio software is the easiest way to record, edit, encode and master audio on your home computer. Customize your creations with built-in effects such as EQ, reverb, delay and chorus, or restore old vinyl and cassette recordings. To share, simply burn your own CDs or convert audio to formats ideal for online streaming or portable music players like the PSP, Walkman, iPod or iPhone.Vocal Eraser ToolSound Forge Audio Studio 10 software includes the Vocal Eraser plug-in so you can easily remove vocals from most recordings. You can also use this plug-in to extract vocals from songs for remixing and to create custom karaoke tracks.Twelve Additional DVD ThemesDVD Architect Studio 5 includes 12 new DVD themes that are a great addition to the theme bundle. These exciting, pre-produced menus contain backgrounds and buttons that can be used with any DVD or Blu-ray Disc project.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Kindle Fire versus Laptop

Many of my clients only use the computer to read email, check facebook and surf the web a little. They don't do pictures, or music or even play many games.  If you fit into this category, you may want to consider getting a Kindle Fire  instead of a laptop.  Why???

The Kindle Fire lets you connect to the Internet so you can check email and surf the web, but also gives you the added advantages of a lightweight, easy to carry computer which you can also read books on.  So in essence, you kind of have the best of both worlds ... being able to read while still having a way to check email, facebook and surf the web. 

Kindle Fire's are especially useful when traveling!  You don't have to bulky books to read, and you can stay connected to friends and family at home with one handy easy to carry gadget!

To learn more about the Kindle Fire, click here!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Getting Help with Microsoft Word

A lot of my clients struggle using Microsoft Word, so I thought I'd offer some helpful links below. 
 Hopefully the links above will be helpful to you in figuring out how to use Word effectively! 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Understanding the New Facebook Timeline

Unfortunately for many of us, Facebook is about to roll out a new change on everybody called Timeline. You may have noticed that some of your friends have already voluntarily switched over. And in keeping with Facebook's "I don't care what the user wants" attitude .... we'll all be getting the time very soon.

This new change will be so different that it will take longer to learn and understand what's going on than previous changes to Facebook.   Here's a brief introduction of the new Timeline profile.

And should you decide to stay with Facebook after this new change, the links below should help you navigate the new timeline quicker.

Facebook Changes Again - Everything You Need to Know

Facebook Timeline - Old Profiles verses New Timeline Profiles

10 Things You Should Know About Facebook Timeline

Preps for Facebook's Timeline Layout - 6 Must Do Privacy Tweaks

How to Get Your Facebook in Order

Hopefully the links above will help you adjust to Facebook's new timeline profile quicker.   But just in case you're one of the many users who are ready to sever your relationship with Facebook, you can always cancel your Facebook Account by clicking here.