The Humble Computer Mouse

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.
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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.
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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!
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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

Tracking Technology

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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.
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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.
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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.

Wired Connectors

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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.
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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.

Wireless

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.

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wireless.
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.
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bluetooth.
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...
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RFIDRFID (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.
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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.
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I have a mouse collection on eBay, just for the fun of it – see some of my pics

See my Collection here http://www.ebay.com/cln/plfbus/Fun-Fancy-Mouse-Collection/66866785015

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Keeping in Touch at Xmas

Nearly Christmas time again and the end of another year – it's amazing how fast the time goes by.

Christmas is a time for family and friends, for catching up with those you haven't seen for a while and for telling others you appreciate them and how much they mean to you. What better way than to send them a greeting whether as a phone call, a letter, a card in the post or an e-card or perhaps a personal video greeting. 

 

Do not be daunted by some of these ideas as they can be fun to make and your sentiments are appreciated by the receiver. Let's start by examining the options: 

If you want to make your own greeting cards, or just want some festive icons to add to emails or web pages, you can get these great Xmas icons free from Mighty Deals – just click on their "Free Stuff" tab. They come in 3 sizes, 64 x 64, 128 x 128 &  256 x 256 so come in very handy for a variety of projects. Mighty Deals also have Xmas stickers free just now – they are on currently on page 2 of the Free Stuff. There's heaps of other graphics in the free stuff as well, so check them out.  

 

Xmas Icons For e-cards with a unique touch, you can't go past Ojolie.com  –  I first heard about Frederikke's cards way back in 2008 (see my earlier blog post for more information) and have renewed my very low priced membership ever since ($12 for one year and $18 for 2 years). I've lost count of how many cards there are available, but there's a wide selection for all sorts of occasions and the great thing is that the membership area keeps track of that cards you have previously sent to the people on your email list there. They have a nice selection of free cards as well for you to try for yourself. Many of my friends have commented on the delightful cards I've sent them, so check them out at Ojolie.com or on facebook.

 

If you'd like a video to share this Christmas, try Animoto – they make it easy to use your own photos, text & even videos to produce a professional looking video message.  You can make a free one of 30 seconds or less with some limitations on the number of your own photos you upload but the cost is reasonable if you want to a bigger project. The free one below was made in about 4 minutes just as a demo.

The compliments of the season to you all. Trish

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

Caring for Elderly Relatives

As I age myself I’m finding many of my friends are facing the problem of how best to care for elderly parents. Nothing is worse than the call from neighbours of your elderly mother or father to say that there has been an accident or illness and your parent has just gone off to hospital again.

When you are the only one of your siblings ineldercare_resource the same town as your mother, father or other relative, much of the care may fall to you and sometimes it just seems to get to be too much. Even unfair.

When it comes to eldercare, it is very important that you are prepared before you are facing critical decisions. Educating yourself about the options available to your parent before the fact will allow you, your siblings and your parent reach the plan of action for his or her situation.

The ebook “How to Take Care of Those Who Took Care of You” is an excellent Eldercare resource and will answer your questions and even some you hadn’t thought of yourself.

free_care_elders

If you don’t want to buy the book, you will find halfway down the page, an excellent free 80 page book titled “How to Take Care of Elders“.

7 Simple Ways To Speed Up Windows XP

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. It’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 won’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 “Automatically search for network folders and printers” option as follows:

Click Start, and then click Control Panel, Double-click Folder Options and on the View tab, de-select the “Automatically search for network folders and printers” 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 don’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.
Best wishes
Trish


Filezilla (ftp) listing problem

Recently I began to  get the error message “Failed to retrieve directory listing” at the point where I tried to list the files in the directory on some of my hosting accounts:

Command: MLSD
Error: Connection timed out
Error: Failed to retrieve directory listing

Filezilla was working fine until I updated to version 3.2.4.1 so this was very frustrating. After contacting the support desk of my hosting account, we worked out that this was either a Mozilla configuration error or my firewall was blocking ftp access.

I had Zone Alarm Security Suite running on my XP partition & initially turning this off allowed me to list. However, after a couple of days, the problem cropped up again. Note that I had the same problem using Windows7, even after allowing Filezilla to communicate through the Windows Firewall.

To cut a long story short, after a lot of trying different settings, we found a fix that worked for my situation so I’m passing it on in case it may help others, too.

This is for Filezilla:

Go to Edit, then Settings

1.Click on Connection – FTP &  Choose Active
2.Click on Connection – FTP – Active Mode & select “Ask your operating system for the external IP address”
3.Click on Connection – FTP – Passive Mode & Choose “Fall Back to Active Mode”
4.Click OK.

Now connect to your FTP site once again. This worked for me, as I got the result below:

Command: MLSD
Response: 150 Connecting to port 55410
Response:226-ASCII
Response:226-Options: -a -l
Response: 226 20 matches total
Status:Directory listing successful

Good luck!

Regards
Trish


Computer Crash! Prevent Loss of Your Valuable Data

Have you ever had a computer crash and all your data was lost?

Most likely your computer’s hard drive failed & this happens more frequently than we’d like and for all sorts of reasons. Another major risk to your data is fire, flood or theft. The following strategies will help you to protect and recover your data.

Although the software files for the programs that run on your computer is also data, you don’t need to back that up as it is easily recoverable from the installation disks you received when software is purchased.

The data that we will focus on is “user” data specifically, the data that you create from the software programs that run on your computer.

For example, if a word processor is used to create a document or a letter, the word processor provides functions to save this data. The data that is created and saved through the word processor is “user” data. Most programs will create and save data somewhere on the hard drive.

There are many kinds of user data that are usually stored on the hard drive, do you have some of these?

  • letters you write in a word processors
  • flyers / posters for your clubs
  • business cards
  • spreadsheets
  • greeting cards you’ve made
  • accounting data from a money management program
  • picture files
  • music files
  • video files
  • email and email addresess

This is not a complete list, but to give you an idea of what you might have created and could lose if your computer crashed or in a fire or theft. Most people do not pay enough attention to this basic fact about computer systems until it’s too late. Don’t let this happen to you!

Remember, the key is “prevention” and in order to prevent loss of valuable data you must be prepared, so let’s look at some basic backup plans.

Option 1: Save your data to CD or DVD disks
This is by far the cheapest option and a very good approach to securing user data, especially if you don’t have too much. All that is needed is a CD or DVD burner and some blank disks, which cost very little these days.

When using this option, make two copies so that one of the copies can be stored off site, to protect you against fire, flood & theft. Another reason is that a CD or DVD backup can also become corrupted & it’s better to have two or more copies.

Option 2: Use a memory stick (USB stick)
This will cost a bit more than option 1, but USB sticks are getting cheaper & cheaper all the time, and holding more data as well. One advantage is how small they are and easy to carry around. I bought a waterproof one when they first came out for my client’s data and was very glad I did so, as it went through the wash twice and still worked fine! (I did have other backups though & I still use that drive today!.)

Option 3: Consider having two internal hard drives, especially if you have a lot of user data, especially big pictures or music files.

Most home computers generally all come with only one internal hard drive, which stores both software and user data. This means that this one single hard drive is experiencing a lot of wear and tear. Every time a program is launched it’s being accessed. Every single function that the operating system invokes will likely hit the hard drive etc. This heavy wear and tear can eventually lead to physical failures.

Also, many viruses are designed to hit the operating system & if the user data is on the same physical drive as the operating system, then it can be severely impacted by viruses as well. The disadvantage of this method is that it doesn’t protect you from fire, flood or theft, etc, but it is probably the easiest way to automate backing up your files.

Option 4: Attach an external USB Hard Drive to the system

With the price of hard drives getting much cheaper, this is another really good option. By attaching an external USB hard drive to the system, special backup programs can be installed and scheduled to run over night. There are many cost effective backup programs available. Some will be built into your operating system and others are available free – search on the internet and you’ll find plenty of options. The advantage of the external drive is that your work is still physically separated from the main hard drive and can be taken off-site with you.

Option 5: Online backup service
The services are fairly inexpensive (typically about $5 a month), and the best ones won’t noticeably slow down your PC use or Web browsing (after the initial large upload, at least). They also encrypt your data before, during, and after it’s been sent to industrial-strength servers. There are no discs or USB drives to worry about, either. The service can start processing and uploading files automatically on a schedule or in the background when there are enough free cycles available.

How often should you make backups?

This really depends on what your data is. If you are only using your computer for emails and writing letters, perhaps once a week is sufficient. When you’re doing work for someone else, it’s wise to keep doing incremental backups as you go, every ten minutes, every hour perhaps. It’s a decision you need to make for your personal circumstances. I personally do my backups before I go away from my work area and every night. The main thing is, remember to DO IT!

Summary

  • You need to backup your user data in case of computer crash or fire or theft
  • Back-up frequently, as often as needed to make it easy to restore your work to where you were
  • Use at least two different methods
  • Keep one copy of your backup data away from the computer (prevent loss if fire or theft)

Hopefully this helped you become more aware of the importance of your data and the need to back it up.

The options presented here are the very same methods used by many highly experience data processing centers and can be easily adopted by the average computer user. The most important point to remember is that good planning for potential disasters is the best protection against loss of valuable user data. You may not think of it this way at first but the user data that you accumulate on your computer takes time to build up and acquire.

If you value your time then you’ll value your data. Your data has a lot of value. So why not take a few simple steps to protect it.

Review of ˜Planetsms Digital Monthly Mentorship”

Review of ˜Planetsms Digital Monthly Mentorship”
A low cost mentoring program with tremendous value.

Many new online marketers are joining programs and sites that claim to mentor people to success, so is ˜Planetsms Digital Monthly Mentorship” any different from so many that don’t provide value, or is is one of the few that do?

I may be slightly biased in favour of this program – because I have been a member of John’s mentoring program since it began and have also bought products from him in the past. I’ve found that he always over delivers and offers great support; you might want to check out a couple of his other products here to get an idea of their quality before commiting to a monthly fee…

Resale Rights Blueprint

Your Own eBook Business

John’s mentoring program is still going strong after many months in operation, so although a great many of his other followers obviously find it to be good value too, I will endeavour to be objective in discussing this mentoring program so you can decide for yourself.

Planetsms Digital Mentorship Monthly

John Thornhill, known on ebay as planetsms, isn’t just promoting it as another make money from ebay™ type of product. He uses his ebay id as part of his credentials as a person qualified to teach others, as well as the fact that he has authored some best selling ebooks, and is an ebay powerseller.

What he says about the secret to success is to follow someone who is successful at internet marketing can’t be argued with, (provided they are teaching what they know and do to make money on the internet)

His monthly membership goes a lot further than just selling on ebay though. John teaches exactly what he does himself to generate multiple streams of income from the internet marketing arena in general.

Each month you get an email announcing that the new Digital Newsletter has been posted on the members’ site. Each newsletter reveals methods John actually uses to make money, and many of them are not just from ebay. The Monthly Audio/Video Training walks you through what he does and the strategies he himself employs. He gives details of exactly how to set up for maximum profit, with a step by step follow along video that any new marketer could easily follow. Clear and simple and with a full explanation of where he did what he did, how to do the same etc.

As well as the monthly digital newsletter, you get bonus material, all the support you need, special offers and the opportunity to ‘Ask a Question’. All questions are answered and the most popular are included in subsequent newsletters.

Included in the package are the tools required to help you succeed, e.g. private label/ brandable material to help you start your own online income.

You can also earn a generous 50% commission by promoting the package to new members.

Finally his price for membership is set at $10 per month (there are also other longer period payment options). In this John’s program differs from many other mentoring programs – most cost much more than this – so all in all, I believe that Planetsms Digital Mentorship Monthly is great value for money.

My recommendation would be to join and try it out, with the 56 day money back guarantee the small $10 risk is removed.

See the sales page here Planetsms Digital Mentorship Monthly

Best wishes

Trish

Handy Hints 1

Beginner Level

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.