Converting Cassette Tapes to MP3

Recently, friends of mine wanted to convert tapes to play on a new iPod and asked me for advice. Well, it had been a while since I had done it and about all I could remember was that I used audacity and had to buy a cable; the rest was well down in archives.

I think I made some notes at the time, but if they were digital, they too are lost in archives – it seems these days it is faster to search and download information again than hunt for it on my hard drive (doesn’t say much for my filing system, I know, but it’s the truth)

Anyway, I went looking again and found a tutorial on a very good site I sometimes use that showed exactly what to do.  I thought I would share it with my senior readers as many of you, like me,  probably still have tapes in the cupboard that you haven’t played for ages, but don’t want to throw out.

The site is Top-Windows-Tutorials.com and the article can be found at http://www.top-windows-tutorials.com/tape-to-mp3.html

I’m not affiliated with this site in any way, but it has a number of  good tutorials & is well worth a visit if you’re after any other Windows training.

Best wishes
Trish

Keeping your Brain Active

Free Gift Membership to “Learning to Earn” see below.

If you’re approaching retirement age and wondering what you can do to enjoy a long and healthy life in your golden years then consider adopting the attitude of a lifelong learner. Most people think of lifelong learning as being confined to academic endeavors however the lifelong learning approach covers all areas of life including spiritual, social, academic and physical.

Lifelong learning is based on an attitude of constantly growing and evolving in various areas of your life. The old saying that whenever anything is not growing it is decaying could be just as true for us as humans. No matter what a person’s age there are great benefits to be gained by challenging yourself in the different areas of your life, physical, mental and self-deveopment.

Physical challenges must be appropriate for your level of fitness, but regular exercise of some kind will leep your body healthier and your brain healthier too. Mental challenges do not have to be academic study, they can be a new hobby or interest, a new caring or chrity venture, more involvement with family. The most growth in personal development will come when you take on something that is currently outside your comfort zone (nasty words those, aren’t they? How we love to stay in our comfort zone, even when it isn’t all that comfortable really).

Lifelong learners live by the motto “you’re never too old to learn” and this attitude is a big part of the reason that people who approach life with this mindset are seen to perhaps live longer but definitely enjoy a better quality of life – is the so-called law of nature known as the “use it or lose it” true?

It does seem to be the case that those who are considerably inactive develop mobility problems as they age, whereas those who are quite active do not develop these mobility problems. A similar effect takes place with anyone who takes no part in any mentally challenging activity or pursuit. After years of mental inactivity

Read moreKeeping your Brain Active

Bing Search Engine

Bing, Yahoo and Google

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 upload  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 for  </head>  something like this:

<?php wp_head(); ?>
</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.

Hope this helps someone.

Regards

Trish

A-Z of terms used in Windows XP

For computer beginners and other learners as well:

How many times do you read or hear a term used relating to computers and have no idea what it means? Still happens to me and I’ve been using them for more than 20 years.

Growth in this industry is so fast that it’s a real challenge to keep up with every development,

Read moreA-Z of terms used in Windows XP

Saving Downloads so you can Find Them

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.

Read moreSaving Downloads so you can Find Them

Software Crashes – Prevention & Recovery

These days, most of us have a lot of software on our PCs and we need to know how to take care of our system to minimize the possibility of a crash.

(For beginners, the following words  have a computer specific meaning)

1. Crash – When a program or your entire computer stops working and you cannot move the mouse or use the keyboard, and the screen is frozen.

2. Reboot – When you restart your computer after a crash.

3. Control Panel – A feature of Windows that will give you access to system utilities and settings.

4. PC – just another term for your computer (short for Personal Computer – from early computing days)

What should you do first if your PC crashes? Try to stop work, go away & leave it for a few minutes. Often, the computer is trying to process a whole string of commands and might just need to take a little more time. Pressing more keys will just add to the computer’s processing queue, maybe even forcing a crash.

Most of the time the hardware is OK, but the software has caused a problem. A good way to try to recover from a problem is to press the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys. In XP this will open the Task Manager and show you all the programs running. Note that at least one will probably have a non-responsive indication. Try clicking one at a time on the programs listed that are “Not Responding” and click “End Task”. After that, close the dialog box and see if your computer is working again.

This should solve about 98% of your crashes. If your computer is not responding after all this, you can try restarting. Switching off the entire power is the last resort and should not be done unless everything else has not worked.

To prevent computer crashes, it’s worthwhile to carry out ongoing file maintenance. Check that you have room on your hard drives. To do this, open My Computer and right click on the drive you want to check (e.g. C:) and then click “Properties”. You will get a pie chart showing how much used & free space is on the drive. Windows needs plenty of working space & the suggestion is not to go over 70% usage of your total hard drive space.

You may need to delete or move  any large audio or video files that are occupying too much space to another hard drive or a CD.  When you are short of space,  it is also advisable to remove software programs that you don’t use by going to “Start”, “Control Panel”,  “Add or Remove Programs”.

Make sure you have enough Memory or RAM (Random Access Memory).  If your RAM is low,  help out your computer by not opening too many programs at once.  To find out how much RAM your computer has, select Control Panel from the Start Menu, Double Click System Tools, and then open the System Information tab. The total and available memory is listed towards the bottom of the right panel when you click on System Summary.

Software programs that use the most RAM are those that include a lot of graphics, video or sound capabilities. If your system runs slowly and you use this type of program a lot, it might be worthwhile to upgrade your RAM

Back up your hard drive regularly. There are notes on how to do this online and it is very important and should be done consistently. This way you will not lose a lot of work should you have to turn off power or restart your computer due to a crash (or a power failure!). Losing work is never fun and can be avoided by a little preventive maintenance.

Best Wishes
Trish

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


Starting Your Own Blog

What is a blog and why would you want to start your own?

Firstly, a blog is often a mixture of what is happening in a person’s own life and what is happening on the web. It is usually in the form of  a  frequently updated, personal website featuring diary-type commentary and links to articles on other Web sites. Blogs range from the personal to the political, and can focus on one narrow subject or a whole range of subjects,  there are as many unique types of blogs as there are people.

Blogging is part of the general trend of putting everything on the web, regardless of whether we are talking about business, hobbies or personal stuff. It can just be a means of communicating with friends, with others who share your hobbies or interests, or it can be a business tool. Of course it can also be a combination of these things.

So perhaps instead of asking why you would want to have your own blog, ask instead if you want to, or have a need to communicate with others. The great advantage of social media is that you don’t need to know people personally to communicate with them and for this reason it is ideal for bringing interaction with others into the lives of folk who may otherwise feel isolated.

Is this you or somebody you know? Don’t think that it would be too hard to learn how to blog, because it is in fact quite simple and there are dozens of free videos and help pages to show you exactly what to do. There is no need to have fancy looking pages, but if that is what you would like, you could soon learn how to spice them up a bit.

Generally speaking blogs tend to have a few things in common:

  • A main content area with articles listed from the lates backwards.
  • Articles are usually organized into categories.
  • There is an archive of older articles.
  • There is a way for people to leave comments about the articles.
  • A list of links to other related sites, sometimes called a “blogroll” is often included.
  • There can also be one or more “feeds” like RSS, Atom or RDF files. (A Feedreader accesses other sites automatically looking for new content and then posts updates about that new content to another site).

Blogs can be stand-alone (self-hosted) or externally hosted. If you wish to host your own blog, you will be able to choose your own domain name, but you will be up for the cost of that domain name and your hosting at a minimum.

Externally hosted blogs are usually free but will often have limitations on what content and customisation you can have and perhaps also whether you can monetise it so if you want your blog to make some money, it is best to start out hosting your own. It is possible to change platforms later, but you would probably have to change the blog domain and that might lose you some readers. (For a more extensive discussion on the choice of blog platforms, go to  blogger.com

Some of the most popular free hosted blogs are listed below. All are very easy to set up and get you going quickly. Have a look at each one to see if it does what you want your blog to do, for example upload photos, videos, podcasts, run discussion boards etc.

wordpress.com
thoughts.com (as distinct from wordpress.org which supplies the platform for self-hosting)
weebly
yahoo 360
Windows Live

Problogger – Tips for Beginners

If you sign up to my blog this month you will get access to free ebooks about blogging (if you are already subscribed, you’ll be sent the link).

For more information, check outbecomeablogger.comProblogger – Tips for Beginners & becomeablogger.com for free video tutorials on how to create your own blog.

Blogging is an easy and economical way to share with family, friends and busuness associates alike. Make it fun!