Friday, December 19, 2014

Class Summary 12-18-2014

We spent time today going over some real basics of using Windows desktop.

There are two buttons on a mouse--left and right. Whenever you are told to click it is expected that you click the left one, or left-click. When you are asked to right-click, click the right button. The left click is used to open what you are clicking; perhaps an application or file icon, a link on a webpage, or a button on a dialog box. Right-clicking opens a list of options regarding what you are pointing to with the mouse.

When trying to open an application icon on the desktop, double left-click is required. And the two clicks have to be on the exact same spot on the screen. You can also click once to select the item and then press the enter key on the keyboard. By going to the Control Panel > Mouse you can change the size of the mouse pointer (the arrow) and change other ways the mouse works like swapping left and right buttons for left handed users.

Right-click on the desktop and choose View to change the size of the icons on the screen. Choose sort to arrange them on the screen. Choose Screen Resolution to modify the “size” of the screen, the number of pixels and therefore the quality of the content. Choose Personalize to change the color scheme, add background pictures and slideshows, and include a screen saver image or slideshow.

Some shortcuts were discussed. When there are multiple keys on the keyboard to be pressed, they are not to be pressed at the same time. Hold down all but the last key, then tap the last key and release all.

Ctrl+Alt+Del opens a windows that allows you many options including Sign Out and Task Manager. You can also open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc. Win+Pause opens the System window. Alt+F4 closes the focused window. Ctrl+P open a print dialog window.

Was asked about the print screen key on the keyboard. It no longer sends what is on the desktop screen to the printer directly. That was under DOS man years ago. Today it stores the image of the desktop in the Windows clipboard. You cannot see it there, but know it is. Open an application like Paint, Word, etc. When you click Paste or press Ctrl+V the image appears in that program. And Alt+Print Screen only captures the focused window and not the entire screen.

And I know we talked about other things, but I cannot remember the details. Have a very Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year’s Eve. See you at the first meeting of 2015 on Tuesday evening, 1-6-2015 and at our next class on the 8th.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Greeting Cards

Another good question from a classmate:

I tried to do a search on your blog site but it didn't bring up our discussion on making your own greeting cards. I remember it from last year but I don't remember what month we covered that subject. I'm looking for suggestions on the best websites/programs to install. Would appreciate any help you can give me.

And my response:

Here is one handout on using Word 

And a newer one of sites to use

I am using Hallmark Cards -- $30 and does print cards and email cards with sound

WMA to MP3

Had a good question by email this morning from Bob, one of our classmates. He asked: Can you tell me how to convert wma files to mp3 files? 

Later I found that if I changed the settings in Windows Media Player all music that I ripped from DVDs would save as MP3 instead of WMA format. 

Open Windows Media Player
Open the Tools menu
Choose Options
Click the Rip Music tab
Under Rip settings, pull down the list and choose MP3

Now all future music you rip from DVD will be saved as MP3s

Friday, December 12, 2014

Class Summary 12-11-2014

Most of the class time was spent on the basics of Excel. It is a spreadsheet program from Microsoft. You could also use other programs such as Google docs or LibreOffice/OpenOffice. If you don't own a copy of Excel and have Vista or 7 you can download a free Starter Edition or use your Windows Live Account to use the free online version.

Get the handout at

We also looked at adblocker. We tried to install it in IE but there was not a version available. It is available in Chrome and Firefox. On the machine I am using right now it has blocked 29,321 in total. By blocking these unwanted ads I avoid clicking on the wrong button and getting software and often malware I did not know I was asking for.

Talked about speedtest and what the numbers mean--ping, download, and upload. The ping value should be fairly low like 10-30, but depends on how far you are from the server. Download should be what you are paying for or greater. If it is consistently much lower you need to call your service provider and have them fix it. Upload speeds are usually much lower than the download.

Discussed brands of computers to buy. I have used Dell, Acer, HP, and Toshiba without any serious issues. I look for the bargains and do not necessarily go with the fastest out there. All I do is office and Internet. I do not use my computer for gaming or downloading and watching movies. If I did I would want a fast processor, plenty of memory, a large hard disk drive, and a fast Internet connection. I like to buy online when I can, but prefer to use large stores like Staples or Wal-Mart. That way if I have a problem I can return it locally.

Last week we talked about Crypoprevent and ADWcleaner. Discussed these again today. See last weeks summary for more information and links.

The club is now suggesting another backup program called Macrium in addition to EaseUS. I have also been experimenting with one called Redo. They all work well and each one creates an image of your hard drive and allow you to recover your drive should it fail or become infected with rensonsare. I suggest you take one of Ron’s classes on backup.

And suggested a schedule for maintenance offered by a member last week:

Monday           ADWcleaner
Tuesday           Ccleaner
Wednesday      Glary Utilities
Thursday         MalwareBytes
Friday             SuperAntiSpyware
Weekend         Image Backup to an external drive

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Using Google Chrome

Great article called "20 Awesome Google Chrome Browser Tips and Tricks" can be found at:

Also one called "12 Most Useful Google Chrome Browser chrome:// Commands"

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Class Summary 12-4-2014

Only a few had been at the meeting on Tuesday evening, so many had not heard about the ransom ware that is out there. Scott spent a lot of time telling us about it. A number of his clients have been affected by it. Simply stated it is malware that encrypts all the files on your computer. You are locked out and a message on the screen tells you that you have 72 hours to pay them $xxx and they will send you the code needed to unlock your files. If you do not pay they throw away your code and you can never get your files back.

What can you do about it? Backup. Backup. Backup.

If you have an image backup of your computer using one of the programs recommended by the club like Acronis, EaseUS, etc, you can reformat your locked hard drive and get all your programs and files back. But they will only be as current as of the date of that backup. So it is very important to make a new image frequently.

You can go to the site and download cryptoprevent. It will work in the background attempting to prevent and of these crypto malware programs to get on your computer. However, it can only work to prevent what it knows about, so new variations of the malware could get by it.
What can you do about it? Backup. Backup. Backup.

Also, the programs suggested by the club to do maintenance on your computer work great. But they work after the fact. They find what you have already got and take it off. I am talking about CCleaner, MalwareBytes, SuperAntispyware, Glary Utilities as well as backing up your files.

If you spend the $20-30 dollars on programs such as MalwareBytes it will notice the malware that is trying to get on your computer and not allow it. You do not have to purchase them all, but it might be worthwhile to get one or two. And they work well with your antivirus program.

Here is another tool to add to your maintenance toolbox, adwcleaner. You can get it at and it is also free. Once again, this will check for issues already on your machine and will not prevent you from getting them.

One of our members had a good idea during class today. Schedule yourself to run one of these programs each day, Monday through Friday. Then run your image backup every weekend. In between image backups, copy your day to day files to your one drive, dropbox, or just off to a USB flash drive. Or use an online backup service like Mozy using the code GFBU22 to get and extra 250mb of free storage.. Then if you run into trouble you can get your system back from last weekend's image and your files back from wherever you saved them during the week.