Friday, April 13, 2012

Document Version Control

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When I look in my documents folder I am often overwhelmed at the amount of files that have been added over the years. The problem is that often when I am writing a letter or document, I save a copy, maybe revise it and it could be multiple versions all in the document folder.

So, what is the best way to keep these files straight? Well, the professionals find a consistent system to maintain their files. When saving a file, don't overwrite an existing file but use the "Save As". You can name it (preferably something that makes sense) with a backup copy (Document.old.txt) or even use a version number or date (Document_V1.txt, DocumentMarch2012.txt) Sometimes it is easier to keep all the versions in a separate folder.

Right-click on a blank spot and left-click to select "New" and "Folder".  Keeping your files organized can make things so much easier.. but that's another article! ☺

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What You REALLY need to know

So, when a computer person (or company) is helping you with a computer problem, what do you think we wish you had known?  The truth is, you have probably been told these things over and over, so today, I am going to reiterate the obvious.
  1. Make sure you have recovery disks - These are disks that contain your operating system.  When you first get your computer, you are usually given the option to backup the system which includes all the essential items for your computer. This option is free and highly recommended. You can also order them from the manufacturer (HP, Dell etc.) but it will cost anywhere from $15 to $50. If your computer needs a clean install, which happens occasionally, and you don't have the disks,  you will have to go out and purchase a new copy. Windows 7 is running at about $100 at the time of this article.  If it is another operating system, it actually could be even more.

  2. Make sure you have one (and only one) antivirus program on your computer - Make sure it is turned on, up to-date and scheduled to scan regularly. Any decent antivirus program will work, I prefer Microsoft Security Essentials because it doesn't slow down the computer, does a good job against malware, viruses and spyware and is free.. Free is good.  

  3. Computers don't last forever - No, they are not immortal and as such may not be able to be repaired or upgraded.  Did you know that the average life span is 2-3 years for a laptop or closer to 4 years for a desktop. This, of course, depends on how you are using your computer (laptops take a lot more abuse) and the changes in technology may have an impact on your needs.  A ten year old computer just cannot be upgraded to stream movies off the Internet and the cost would far exceed buying a newer system that can easily handle the task.

  4. Proud of downloading those programs, music and movies for free from torrent sites or browsing porn sites? Well you often get more than you wanted as these are prime locations for picking up computer viruses. I have also heard of keylogger issues from torrent sites. Keylogging tracks what you type on your keyboard (including usernames and passwords) without you being aware of it happening. If you download things to your computer, your antivirus can't help you. It isn't covered by any warranty.  Not to mention, porn and pirating is just plain wrong. ☺

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cleaning your Monitor

CRT Monitor
Ever wonder how to clean your monitor?  Well, these days, you need to know what type of monitor you have!  The old large CRT monitors have glass screens and can be cleaned with a paper towel moistened lightly with glass cleaner.

But these days, monitors (and laptops) are LCD, LED, or plasma. These have to be handled differently than the old days.

You will need a dry soft cloth. Do not use paper towels or even facial tissues as they can damage the surface.  You can use a microfiber cloth, a cloth for cleaning glasses or  an old, soft, cotton handkerchief, it must be ultra-soft.

This one needs cleaning!
You will need some distilled water or a mixture with an equal ratio of distilled water to white vinegar.  You don't want to have mineral deposits that can leave white streaks so don't use tap water.  Or purchase a special monitor cleaner such as the Screen Clean LCD Screen Cleaning Kit.  If you are considering your household cleaners, read the ingredients! Don's use cleaning products that contain ammonia (such as many major brand glass cleaners), ethyl alcohol, acetone, toluene, ethyl acid, or methyl chloride. All of these can permanently damage your monitor.
  1. Now turn off the monitor. Yes, that makes the smudges easier to see.
  2. Wipe with a dry cloth first. That may do the job. 
  3. If not, wipe the screen very softly with your damp cloth (just a little bit.. spray the liquid on the cloth, not the screen as spraying on the screen may have it drip into the circuitry)
  4. Do not press hard on the screen. Pressing hard can cause damage to the screen causing pixels to burn out.
  5. Wipe the monitor down gently in a horizontal sweep and not circular (I don't know why.. I just read that somewhere.)
  6. That is it.. be gentle, careful and be diligent not to touch your monitor. If you don't touch it, it is much easier to dust occasionally without doing damage.☺

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Desktop II: Capturing Backgrounds

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Maybe you don't have any cool images or family pictures you want to use for your desktop background.  Well, don't worry. You have an incredible world of image resources at your fingertips. 

There are many, many sites that have wallpaper backgrounds. A recent article in the TechRepublic had some beautiful pictures on the northern lights, and some others of public domain images (meaning can be used without any copyright infringement) from the U.S. National Parks.

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It is easy.. just right-click over the large image (the larger the better for the best picture) and left-click on "Set as Desktop Background". A dialog box will pop up to give you a couple of options such as stretching your image or setting the background color.

Want to create "theme" or a variety of desktop backgrounds in Vista or Windows 7?  When you right click on the image, left click on "save image as",  then create your own theme.

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In Windows 7, you can put together your own by right-clicking on the desktop and click on "Personalize" once with your left mouse button. then clicking the "Desktop Background" near the bottom left. Browse and select your images and save your changes.

Now you have more images than you could ever imagine at your fingertips and a great way to create a little bit of variety to your desktop. ☺

Monday, April 9, 2012

Changing your Desktop Background

This may be a simple thing to some, but to others, it probably is just one of those features that you never thought to change.  But this customizing really personalizes your computer and it just might bring a smile to your face each time you face the monitor!

So, you have a picture you would like to have as your background? How about a series of pictures, like some of your animals, friends, kids or grandkids?  I have a theme (a series of pictures) of horses that changes every thirty minutes.  How cool is that?

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In Windows 7, right click on the desktop and click on "Personalize" once with your left mouse button. [The box that pops up is called a dialogue box.]  You can personalize your screen by selecting preset themes or you can put together your own by clicking the "Desktop Background" near the bottom left.

At that point you can browse your files to find the picture(s) you would like to add to the desktop. You may need to play around with the picture position to fill, fit, stretch or center the image depending on the size of the image your are using.

XP Desktop Dialog Box
With Vista, this is a little bit different as you don't have the "themes".  So when you right click on the desktop to personalize, left click the Desktop Background link to display the Desktop Background. You can now browse the Windows pictures (called "wallpaper") or your own picture.

In Windows XP, changing your desktop background looks different but has many of the same features.  Right click on the desktop, Click on "Properties", once with your left mouse button.  Click on the desktop tab at the top. Here you can select the windows preselected options or browse your images to add one of your own.  It also have options on the side such as stretching your image, tile it or have it fixed. You can also change the surrounding color.

Once you customize your desktop background, you will find the computer just a little bit more inviting. ☺