I have just been pointed to an excellent free resource for those of you who use spreadsheets or even those who don’t yet but would like to learn how to use them – a brand new website about Microsoft Excel!..
Now I’ve been using spreadsheets for many years, I love them, I even use excel as my calculator because my arthritic fingers often hit the wrong button on a calculator but I don’t realize so get an incorrect total, but with a spreadsheet, I can see the figures I enter and I just have a formula at the bottom that works out the total for me..
In my work with bookkeeping clients, I’ve created a spreadsheet to work out the split for invoices with a mixture of tax and no tax items that have to be split into several cost centers – this was a real pain to do each time, but now it’s a breeze, all I need to do is enter invoice total, tax amount and % breakups and presto, the figures to enter are sitting there for me!
Spreadsheeto is all about depth. That means each topic get thoroughly explained, in an easy-to-understand manner. All of their content is free and up to date. So even though you’re not an “Excel-nerd” (like they are), you can learn to do some pretty amazing things.
Even if this is not for you, if you know someone who has to use a spreadsheet, maybe for a club or organisation they belong to, pass on this link to this excellent Excel training resource..
The choice of computer mouse is a very individual thing and depends on many factors:
How many hours a day you work at your computer?
Is your primary computer a desktop, a laptop or notebook or even a tablet; but you won’t be needing a mouse if it is a tablet, will you?
How big your hands are.
Do you want/need to use wired, wireless or bluetooth?
Whether you use the scroll function or not.
Do you suffer from wrist pain?
In some of these instances, the cheaper type mouse that comes with your computer will serve your needs adequately, but if you, like me work for about eight hours every day, the comfort and functions of your mouse are particularly important. .
On the left below is a photo of the first mouse I paid in excess of $60 for and never regretted it at all. It was comfortable in my largish hands and I didn’t ever suffer any wrist pain even though I worked at my PC sometimes up to 12 hours in a day. The day I dropped it on the tiled floor and broke it was a very sad day for me. .
Luckily I was able to buy another different model but with the same profile within a couple of days. That one too has died lately so I’m looking for a new one, the Kensington mouse on the right below might well be the one since I have had a word in Santa’s ear! .
The logitech 2nd from left has served as my laptop mouse for a couple of years – it does look a bit battered, doesn’t it? Very similar profile and quite comfortable. The third photo shows my big hands – imagine my right hand wrapped around one of these tiny mobile models! However, I do carry a retractable one around in my laptop bag, as a backup and the occasions when an extra mouse is needed to test someone’s computer.
History of the computer mouse
Did you know that the name mouse is derived from “Manually Operated User Select Equipment”? This makes the argument about whether more than one computer mouse should be called computer mouses or computer mice (as we do for the rodent variety). It seems there has been no absolute ruling and generally computer companies avoid the issue by calling them mouse devices. Probably mouses is technically correct, but it sounds awkward and people tend to use mice for the plural form. .
The original design for a mouse was mechanical; the mouse had a ball in a compartment underneath and embedded around the edge were some little rollers. These would clog up from the dust and dirt from the user’s desk and needed cleaning to keep the mouse running smoothly (I did this countless times when clients or friends complained that their mouse wasn’t working properly). There were also four sliding type feet that clogged up as well, but these devices were a boon when the alternative was just keyboard shortcuts. .
Along came optical technology and made our lives so much easier. A small LED on the bottom of the mouse translates the movement of your hand into movement of the mouse pointer. Laser mouse devices work the same way, but using a laser instead af the LED. Laser mice have a higher dpi (dots per inch) which means they are more sensitive. For general users this extra sensitivity is not really needed, but graphic designers and gamers often appreciate the difference and make a laser mouse their choice.
The early mice (see above) had a serial connector plug, see picture below. Serial ports were the original standard for interfacing any device with any other device on a computer. Later, a smaller 6 pin Mini Din was introduced by IBM on their PS/2 personal computer and this led to the connector type being called PS/2. For many years PC’s had PS/2 connectors for both keyboard and mouse. .
Some computers still come with two PS/2 ports, but more commonly they just have one, the USB (Universal Serial Bus) being the most common type of interface on all computers, whether PC or Mac. All USB ports look the same, but there is the original USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 which allows much faster (almost 40x as fast) or increased delivery capabilities. The ports are backwards compatible, so you can plug an old USB 1.1 device into a 2.2 port and it will still go.
Originally the mouse device was connected to the computer by a cable using one of the technologies above, but nowadays you have the choice (an increasingly common one), to go with wireless. The early hassles of wireless connections seem to have been ironed out and wireless usually works very easily on any platform. Yay! So much more freedom.
Radio Frequency – this is the most common type of wireless interface. A generic mouse operates on th 27MHz frequency and the mouse is powered by batteries. More expensive models can come with rechargeable batteries or charging docks for the mouse. They may use higher frequencies and have a longer range. ..aa
Bluetooth was useful for lower speed devices like a mouse and was common on early laptops. They are also battery powered and use the 2.4GHz radio frequency to communicate with a receiver/charger supplied with the package or some other Bluetooth adapter... ..aa
RFID (Rapid Frequency Identification) technology uses radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data to automatically identify and track tags, which for a mouse is movement. Developed by a company called A4Tech, the mouse must be used in conjunction with the included mose pad, but the advantage is that it is wireless and no batteries are needed. .
Wheels and Buttons
Nearly all mouse devices nowadays have three buttons, with the middle button also being a scroll-wheel. This scroll wheel is essential in my opinion to navigate up and down your screen and on web pages. Any other buttons, typically on the left hand side for a right handed mouse or on the RHS for a left handed mouse, can be programmed by the user to carry out different functions.
Buying a computer mouse
A quick search on eBay will show just what a variety of choice there for buying a new mouse – some are fun, some are fancy, some for serious gamers and some ergonomic models for users like me. So how do you choose?
Narrow down the options with these requirements:
Do you want wired or wireless?
Do you need laser or will Optical suit your needs?
What size – full-sized, medium or small (also called compact, mini, mobile, laptop etc)
PS/2 or USB? USB is more common but if your computer does not have many USB ports, but does have PS/2 ports, using a PS/2 mouse (or keyboard) will leave an extra USB port available for other peripherals.
Scrolling – do you need left and right as well as up and down?
Buttons – does your work (or play) require advanced features?
A great place to see what is available is on eBay, even when you want to shop locally. The wide variety of mouse devices listed there will give you a good idea of all the functions and help you narrow down your choice. a .
I have a mouse collection on eBay, just for the fun of it – see some of my pics
I recently downloaded a free copy of Laughingbird Software's "The Logo Creator" and have already become a huge fan. It can be used for more than just logos because you can create the page to be almost any size you want.
The software is simple to use anf has many features not found on some expensive programs.
When you open a new logo, the default window size is 560×420 but you can drag any corner or side to make the size you want.
The new window opens with an Element Setter for Text or Images. Clicking "text" opens a box for you to type in and then you click the "Add New Text" button to add it to the page. To edit, click on the text in the logo and in the element setter, edit the text.
Text formatting is done from the buttons in the separate Text Menu and the buttons are Format, Color, Shadow, Blur, Outline and "More text effects…" Inside each of these areas are more options such as rotatable text, gradient colors, 3D, mirror and many more.
Choosing Images from the Element Setter brings up some fancy letters and a menu for more logo objects including banners & star, glass objects, arrows, orbs, swishes etc.
Instead of starting with your own design from scratch, you can load an existing logo from one of the two included Logo Libraries, make your own changes and then save it as a new template for later use or modification.
The example below was made fairly quickly, using a ready made logo, but inserted my own graphic and changed the text and fonts just to give you an idea. Your creations can be exported in a wide variety of graphic formats and various sizes, making it particularly useful for larger projects like book covers or web pages..
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If you would like a copy of this ebook but get an error message say you are already subscribed, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org & we will send you the download link.
This post is really for my Australian viewers, or for those with an interest in the weather in Australia. With all the rain, floods & cyclones recently, it’s good to have a place to go to see what might be coming up in a particular area, or in the country generally.
I’m not sure exactly how long these interactive weather and wave forecast maps have been available, but since I only found out about them recently from my daughter, I figured there are probably lots of others who don’t know either.
First of all, head for the Bureau of Metorology website http://www.bom.gov.au and look for the map under the page header, sort of top centre middle of the page and click on the map.
This will open a page with several headings in the middle panel, you want the one labelled “Weather Maps” and the third item under that heading is “Interactive Weather and Wave Forecasts“. Click on that link to open up the maps page.
Here there are lots of choices of what to show, the area, timezone and period, which can be 2, 3 or 7 days. With some “show” choices such as temperature and windspeed, you’ll also be able to select the level.
Once you’ve made your selections, click on the ‘Generate” button and go down to the grey bar to animate. You can press the regular play arrow to give you an automatic time-lapse forecast, or click the + or – play arrows to step through the time zones one at a time.
The map to the left is a Surface Pressure and Rainfall map, while the one below is a Wind Waves map.
Now, while Google still has by far the greatest amount of traffic at approx 62%, the agreement by Yahoo & Bing (Microsofts new search engine) to share resources, means that when their respective search shares of approx 19% & 13% is combined, it will provide much bigger opposition to google.
So should this concern you? Probably not unless your business uses search traffic to make sales. Lets assume for a moment that it does. And did you know that facebook search is powered by Bing?
What can you do to increase search traffic to your sites from Bing? Well first of all, you can submit your site to Bing here and submit a sitemap here.
Bing has just released their updated Webmaster tools, not as comprehensive yet as google’s webmaster tools, but definitely a step in the right direction. Open an account to access these tools using your Windows Live ID (or create one if you don’t already have one).
To see how Bing crawls and indexes your pages, you can add your sites to your account. How to do this is set out quite well in the section “Add a Site to Your Account” under “Sites List”. You can only add your own sites and you must verify ownership before they can be added – you don’t want other people looking at your results!
The only hitch I encountered was adding verification to a wordpress blog that didn’t reside in a public_html folder so meant I couldn’t just uploadÂ the xml file, as suggested in Option 1. Using Option 2, I had to search around my blog admin section to find the file containing the <head> tag. In fact, it didn’t have one just like that, but it did have an </head> in the file header.php, so placing the <meta> tag just before that worked fine .
If you need more details, proceed as follows:
In your wordpress admin area, click on Appearance, then on Editor. This will bring up an open file with the html code showing. Go to the list on the right hand side under Templates and find Header (header.php) & click on this file. Now, have a look in this file forÂ </head>Â something like this:
<?php wp_head(); ?>
Now paste the meta tag code copied from Bing in between these two lines and then click the Update File button at the bottom. Go back to Bing webmaster tools now and verify your site.
Newly added sites will take up to three days to begin showing data, assuming they are getting some traffic, of course.
This is a tip for beginners only! (If you’ve been using PCs for a while you’ll have worked out a method that suits you already).
Have you ever downloaded a piece of software from the internet and couldn’t find it later? It happens to thousands of people all over the world every day! An easy way to find it later is to first prepare a landing zone or a place where you know you can always find it.
I’m sure we have all complained that our PC is slowing down at some stage, so perhaps some of the tips here can help in your own particular case. They are all fairly simple, designed for beginners to implement if you follow the steps given.
1. Defrag Your Disks to Speed Up Access to Data
One of the factors that slow the performance of the computer is disk fragmentation. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when the file is opened to piece it back together. To speed up the response time, you should monthly run Disk Defragmenter, a Windows utility that defrags and consolidates fragmented files for quicker computer response.
* Follow Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter
* Click the drives you want to defrag and click Analyze
* Click Defragment
This may take some time, so perhaps leave a defrag running overnight or while you do something away from your PC.
2. Detect and Repair Disk Errors
Over time, your hard disk develops bad sectors. Bad sectors slow down hard disk performance and sometimes make data writing difficult or even impossible. To detect and repair disk errors, Windows has a built-in tool called the Error Checking utility. Itâ€™ll search the hard disk for bad sectors and system errors and repair them for faster performance.
* Follow Start > My Computer
* In My Computer right-click the hard disk you want to scan and click Properties
* Click the Tools tab
* Click Check Now
* Select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box
* Click Start
3. Disable Indexing Services
Indexing Services is a little application that uses a lot of CPU. By indexing and updating lists of all the files on the computer, it helps you to do a search for something faster as it scans the index list. But if you know where your files are, you can disable this system service. It wonâ€™t do any harm to you machine, whether you search often or not very often.
* Go to Start
* Click Settings
* Click Control Panel
* Double-click Add/Remove Programs
* Click the Add/Remove Window Components
* Uncheck the Indexing services
* Click Next
4. Optimize Display Settings
Windows XP has a nice visual appearance but it costs you system resources that are used to display all the visual items and effects. To customize your settings, right click My Computer, select Properties and then the Advanced tab and under Performance, click Settings. Windows looks fine if you disable most of the settings and leave the following:
* Show shadows under menus
* Show shadows under mouse pointer
* Show translucent selection rectangle
* Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
* Use visual styles on windows and buttons
5. Speedup Folder Browsing
You may have noticed that every time you open My Computer to browse folders that there is a little delay. This is because Windows XP automatically searches for network files and printers every time you open Windows Explorer. To fix this and to increase browsing speed, you can disable the â€œAutomatically search for network folders and printersâ€ option as follows:
Click Start, and then click Control Panel, Double-click Folder Options and on the View tab, de-select the â€œAutomatically search for network folders and printersâ€ check box.
6. Optimize Your Pagefile
You can optimize your pagefile. Setting a fixed size to your pagefile saves the operating system from the need to resize the pagefile.
* Right click on My Computer and select Properties
* Select the Advanced tab
* Under Performance choose the Settings button
* Select the Advanced tab again and under Virtual Memory select Change
* Highlight the drive containing your page file and make the initial Size of the file the same as the Maximum Size of the file.
Windows XP sizes the page file to about 1.5X the amount of actual physical memory by default. While this is good for systems with smaller amounts of memory (under 512MB) it is unlikely that a typical XP desktop system will ever need 1.5 X 512MB or more of virtual memory. If you have less than 512MB of memory, leave the page file at its default size. If you have 512MB or more, change the ratio to 1:1 page file size to physical memory size.
7. Remove Fonts for Speed
Fonts, especially TrueType fonts, use quite a bit of system resources. For optimal performance, trim your fonts down to just those that you need to use on a daily basis and fonts that applications may require.
* Open Control Panel
* Open Fonts folder
* Move fonts you donâ€™t need to a temporary directory (e.g. C:\FONTBKUP?) just in case you need or want to bring a few of them back. The more fonts you uninstall, the more system resources you will gain.
Hope you find these tips useful.
Yesterday I went to a friend’s house to help her add pictures to a Word project, but while showing her what to do first – oh the frustration of trying to use a mouse that needed surgery (all body parts removed & replaced I think). It reminded me how much we rely on the mouse these days and I was very thankful for my background in DOS, when we didn’t have a mouse at all!
Many of those old keyboard shortcuts are handy to know, even if you don’t use them often, so I thought I’d share the ones I find most useful with you today.
CTRL+C / CTRL+V: This one is obvious and probably the most used keyboard shortcut in the world. CTRL+C copies whatever is currently marked and CTRL+V pastes the contents again. (C for Copy, V for Verbose)
CTRL+X: Cut – Copies the text for pasting, but removes it from original place (for moving text)
CTRL+A: Select All – The copy and paste shortcuts work well with this one
CTRL+Z: Undo the last action
CTRL+ESC: Displays/hides the Windows Start Menu
ALT+F4: Closes the active window
ALT+TAB: Switches between open applications.
CTRL+P: Opens the Print Screen dialog.
F1: Help with the current program
F2: Rename the active item
F3: Opens the Windows Search
SHIFT+DEL: Deletes the item immediately without moving it into the trashbin
TAB: Move to the next control, excellent for forms.
Spacebar: Checks a checkbox, presses a button if on a button, selects an option if on an option
ESC: Cancels the current task.
The Windows Key (next to Ctrl and Alt keys, usually has the Windows logo on it) is very handy for shortcuts, pressing it will display/hide the Start menu.
Windows+E: Open My Computer
Windows+F: Search for a file or a folder
To Open Programs when you can’t click the start button
Press the Windows key or Ctrl+Esc then use your down arrow key to get to Programs, Enter, then use up, down, left & right arrow keys to navigate to the program you want, then press Enter.
No mouse – Moving Up and Down Directory Levels in Windows Explorer
To go one directory deeper, use the RIGHT Arrow. To back out one directory level, use the LEFT Arrow
Automatically Adjusting Right-Panel Column Widths in Windows Explorer
The column widths in the right hand panel of the Explorer might not be the correct sizes to display all the file information. To automatically adjust all the columns at once to show all the information, Click somewhere on the right-hand panel, then simply press Ctrl+ (Ctrl and the plus key). The Name, Size, Type and Modified columns will automatically adjust themselves to display all their information.
Browsers â€“ Firefox or Internet Explorer – Scroll Through Web Pages
The spacebar will scroll down a page; Shift+spacebar will scroll up a page.
The following are related to the work I was doing with my friend yesterday, so thought I might add them, too.
Windows – Getting Screen Shots
If you want to save what you have on your screen but you donâ€™t have a screen capture program, you can use Windows built-in capture as follows:
Hit the Print Screen key. This copies a bitmap of the full screen into the Windows clipboard. To capture only the active window, use Alt+Print Screen
Start up a graphics editor (or Word) and paste it in (Edit, paste OR Ctrl-V). If you only want a small part of the screen, use the programmeâ€™s cropping tool.
I prepared a small document to help my friend cropping her images in Word; if you’d like a copy, send an email to email@example.com with “Word Cropping file” in the subject line & I ‘ll email it to you.
MS Word – Selecting Columns
Selections in MS Word are usually lines or paragraphs. To make a selection for a column across lines or blocks just press Alt key while you select your text. You will see that the selection does not select all of the line. It just selects the block or the area. This is really useful sometimes.
How many times have you wondered how to do a particular task on your computer but didn’t know how? How about things like create a new folder or copy and paste some text into notepad? These are simple but often a lost skill with many of the computer users on and off line, so here’s a refresher.
Computer Tip #1
Copy and paste is one task that every computer user will find they are using many times per session for many useful tasks. Say you wish to copy a portion of text into a file in which you are creating a report or project, even an article or your website content? This too is a simple skill to learn with a little practice you will be an ace at it and wonder how you ever got along without it. To copy something you must first highlight it using your left mouse button with your index finger.
You will want to start at the beginning point of the text you wish to copy and place your mouse cursor then by clicking your left mouse button. Now when you do this DO NOT let go of the mouse button which you are holding with your index finger and while holding that mouse button down simply move your mouse over the text until you reach your stop point then let go of your index finger.
Now simply move your mouse into the center of the highlighted text and then using your ring finger to press the right mouse button. This will bring up a menu with the copy selection. Use your index finger, otherwise called the left mouse button; click on “COPY” from the menu that comes up. You have now successfully copied the text and are ready to paste it into your project or a new notepad text file.
Place your mouse cursor in the blank notepad or project and then using your ring finger press the right mouse button to bring up the menu. From the menu select “Paste”. If you successfully completed the copy process your text should appear in the new text file or your current project. If not go back and try again. With practice you will find it becomes second nature to you and your speed will increase as you use it more and more.
Once you have mastered the copy and paste process this way, there’s an another very good way to do it (and my preferred method). Once you have highlighted the text you wish to copy, hold down your control key (Ctrl) and the “C” key at the same time, very briefly. This is written as Ctrl-C and does the same function as the right mouse click ‘copy’. Now move to the new area as you did before and do Ctrl-V (hold down the control key and the “V” key at the same time).
With copy and paste you end up with your text in both places. Sometimes you won’t want that, what you really want is to move it from one place to another, so instead of using copy and paste, you use cut and paste. And yes, there is a shortcut key combination for ‘cut’ too – it is Ctrl-X.
There are times when the cut, copy & paste options are not available on the right mouse menus, but Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V & Ctrl-X will still work. Practice and see which method works best for you. There are always lots of ways to do everything with Windows, Office and other programs , so you just use the one that seems easiest for you. Good luck!
Computer Tip #2
Have you ever downloaded a piece of software from the internet and couldn’t find it later? It happens to thousands of people all over the world every day! An easy way to find it later is to first prepare a landing zone or a place where you know you can always find it.
Some people use the My Documents of Windows but after downloading many files you may find it hard to find the latest file. One simple fix is to create a new folder on your desktop. The definition of your desktop is where you see icons of folder; files and you’re able to see your favorite picture as the wallpaper for your desktop.
To create the new folder is easy. First find an un-crowded portion of your desktop and then using your ring finger click the right mouse button to bring up the context menu for the desktop. There in the menu you will find a selection called “New” Then Click on “Folder”.
This will create a new folder on your desktop. You can name it something that will help you find the downloaded files. The first time you create a new folder, you will notice that the folder naming text is highlighted. To rename the folder to something more to your liking simply start typing and the highlighted text will be replaced with what you wish to type in. A good folder name would be downloads or my new files or even the month and year which will make it much easier to find those files in the future.
Now once the folder is created simply remember when you download the next file to save it in that folder on your desktop for easy and fast access.
I hope you found these tips useful; there are others I think you’ll find handy that will appear as time goes on. If there is anything you want to know about or some topic you’d like to have covered in a post, leave a comment or send me an email.