Friday, September 19th25.5°C
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Getting Along With Your Computer

Setting up your new computer

Are you setting up a new computer? I do that all the time, so I have a routine for setting up the new machine and transferring files from the old. If you decide to do this yourself, these tips should keep you from reaching for the Aleve. Better still, these same tips will save time --- and therefore money! --- when you pay someone to set up your new computer.


Know what you need to transfer

Files and programs are not the same thing. Documents, music, pictures, email, address books, and internet Favorites/Bookmarks are files, and can be transferred if you know what you’re doing.

Programs are the software that create and handle those files. Word is a program. It lets you read and create documents. Programs need to be installed, not transferred. You need a version of your program that is compatible with the version of Windows on the new computer.


Do you have a printer? Or do you have a multifunction machine?

Windows 7 and Windows 8 are really smart about printers. If you have one that is compatible with Windows 7/8, plug the printer in, follow the directions to install the ink and the paper, connect it to the computer, and turn it on. Windows will recognize it, install the drivers, and you’re good to go in under two minutes.

Connecting a printer/scanner/copier is not like connecting a printer. You have to install the software first. If you don’t, Windows will (probably…) recognize the printer function, but not the scanner or anything else. Install the software, and don’t even think about connecting the device until you’re prompted to do so!


Have your passwords handy

Please know your email address and password. Trust me. You DO have an email password. If you think you don’t, it’s probably because someone set up your email on your old computer and told it to remember your password. That’s worked out well for you … until now. You’re going to need that password. If you don’t know it, call your email provider and have them reset it.

That is also true for your wireless network. When you (or someone) set up that network, your old computer needed the password to connect to the network. It still does, but again, someone told the computer to remember it and it did. You have to know what it is to tell your new computer to remember it! If your wireless router is from Telus or Shaw, the information is on a sticker on the router.

 

Embrace a Microsoft Account

If you are going to be using Windows 8 (and whatever comes after Windows 8) you need a Microsoft Account (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/sign-in-what-is-microsoft-account ). You need it to sign on to your computer, to access the Microsoft Store (even the free apps in the Store), to make your OneDrive work, and for new versions of Microsoft Office.

You might already have a Microsoft Account. See this column for more: http://rlis.com/columns/column452.htm. If you already have a Microsoft Account, you need to know the password. If you don’t know it, you need to recover it (https://account.live.com/resetpassword.aspx).

If you don’t already have a Microsoft Account, you can save yourself time and aggravation by setting one up before you start setting up your new computer (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-live/sign-up-create-account-how). Why? Because there are a couple of steps in the process where you have to verify your identity. If you still have access to your email, this is a lot easier.

The final tip for this week: Write down your Microsoft Account user name and password!

 

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.



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Staying safe & secure in the cloud

“The Cloud” is a part of our lives now. You might already be using The Cloud and not even know it. This week, find out more about The Cloud and how you can keep your data safe.

 

What is “The Cloud” and why should I care?

The Cloud is a network of computers where you can store your data. It’s not just one place. If you’re using Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, GoogleDrive, Pinterest, or any of a number of other services you’re already using The Cloud.

Do you have an iPhone? When you take a picture, it’s stored in the phone’s Camera Roll. If you also have Photo Stream enabled, that picture is uploaded to your iCloud storage. Deleting the photo from your phone does just that. But it doesn’t delete it from your iCloud storage. Just ask some of the celebrities whose nude photos were obtained by someone who (allegedly) hacked into their iCloud accounts. You can delete iCloud photos and you can change some settings so photos don’t automatically go to The Cloud. There’s a good explanation of all that here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-to-protect-or-delete-your-photos-in-icloud/.


Is The Cloud a bad thing?

The answer to that question is: It depends.

When customers ask me about The Cloud, I tell them The Cloud is a great way to store information of all types that is not confidential, embarrassing, or your only copy of information.

It gets that stuff off your hard drive, tablet or phone. Information stored in The Cloud can be accessed from any place on any device with a working Internet Connection. This is the beauty of Evernote and Dropbox. I can make a note in Evernote on my Windows computer and look at it later on my Android phone. I can put an important file in Dropbox and get it on my phone or any of my computers or on anyone’s computer from a browser. And I can share that stuff with trusted friends.

But I also tell people my rule of thumb when it comes to cloud storage: Do not ever put anything in The Cloud you wouldn’t want your mother or the President of the United States to see.


How can I protect my stuff if I want to use The Cloud?

Encrypting files before they’re uploaded is one way to protect your data from criminals, inadvertent leaks due to unfortunate programming errors, and legal requests. Programs like Boxcryptor (https://www.boxcryptor.com/) let you encrypt your files on your computer before you upload them. Boxcryptor works on all major cloud services, including Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive and many more. You can get Android, iOS, Blackberry, MacOS and Google Chrome apps to access your encrypted files on just about any device. It’s free for personal use, and there are more robust plans for business use or if you need more features.

Cloudfogger (http://www.cloudfogger.com/en/) also encrypts files before you upload them. It’s a little different under the hood, so read and understand the benefits and limitations of any encryption software you use. Cloudfogger is also free and cross-platform, and there’s a handy Outlook add-in.

Gizmo Richards’ excellent TechSupportAlert website discusses more alternatives: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-encryption-utility-for-cloud-storage.

Want to know more about The Cloud? Take a look at this article from the folks at How Stuff Works: http://computer.howstuffworks.com/cloud-computing/cloud-storage.htm.

Photo credit: Kevin Dooley via photopin (http://photopin.com)
(Creative Commons License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

 

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.



Loose ends

The theme of this week’s column is: Things that didn’t fit any other theme recently. One more way of recovering a “missing” document, cool Google tricks, and an awesome website.

 

An even better way to find that “missing” document

Last week (http://rlis.com/columns/column470.htm) I mentioned a few ways to get back a Word document that I’d saved in the wrong place. Thanks to long-time reader Barb, who gently suggested that it would be pretty easy to open Word, click on File| Open | Recent and open it from there.

Well good grief. Yes! That would be way easier! I wish I’d thought of that. Thanks, Barb!

 

Google does things besides just search

Google is a search engine, but wait --- there’s more. You can make Google perform a few other useful functions.

If are working at your computer and need a little reminder that the tea is going to be ready in a few minutes, open your browser and go to the Google search page. Type set timer followed by how much time you want. For instance, set timer 5 minutes.

You’ll get search results as usual, but at the top of the search results will be a timer, set for 5 minutes. Make sure your speakers are on, then go on and do other things, just don’t close your browser. The timer will beep at you when it gets to zero.

If you’re using Firefox or Internet Explorer, you’ll have to type in the commands. But if you’re using Google Chrome or the Google Search app for Windows 8 (and if you have a microphone connected) you can simply say set timer 5 minutes and get the same results.

Here’s a short video demonstrating all that: http://youtu.be/IOAjeerGDIw?list=UUOAXThem70susrdb2wLwf-Q.


Time and Date are just the beginning

While I was fooling around with --- I mean TESTING--- the Google timer and calculator, I rediscovered the website called TimeAndDate.com (http://www.timeanddate.com/date/). I wrote about this site years ago, but hadn’t visited in a long time.

It took me forever to write this column because TimeAndDate.com has so much to offer. When you first arrive at the site, you’ll see the current time in your location along with a searchable World Clock. And then you’ll see links to a Date-to-Date calculator, countdown timers, and a stopwatch/time/alarm. Then there’s weather, sunrise/moonrise, time zone calculator and meeting planner and distance calculator. Want a printable calendar? No problem. Want holidays on it? No problem.

I clicked on Distance Calculator, and found the distance between Kelowna and Toledo, OH. From that result, I clicked on the “Find suitable time to call…” link and got a table that converted time, highlighted good times in green, bad in red, and marginal in yellow, always showing the time in both time zones.

This website has so much more going on. Check it out and let me know what you think!


Have a great Labour Day weekend, and maybe take a look at TimeAndDate.com and reflect on what Labour Day is all about: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/labour-day. Be safe!

 

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

 

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.



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How to recover from self-inflicted problems

When Windows asks me if I'm sure, I'm usually sure. Unfortunately, sometimes I am also wrong. Here's how you can recover in case you ever make a couple of the same silly mistakes I made recently.

 

Where did that file go?

Last week I finished writing my column (I use Microsoft Word) and saved it. But… where?

I have a folder in my Documents folder called Columns, and that’s where I keep my columns. But when I saved last week’s column and opened that folder later I didn’t see the column in there. Oh no! How can I find it?

When this happens to you (and at some point it probably will) the first thing to do is stop clicking on things, and calm down. There are several ways you can find a file you’ve recently worked with, and a couple of them are really quick and easy.

One way is to use Windows built in search function. I didn’t know where the file was, but I remembered that it had the word “tips” in the name. The bad news was that many of my documents have the word “tips” in the name! I could use the Advanced Search options to narrow the search to just Documents, and then sort the results by date so the most recent documents with “tips” come to the top of the list. That works but it’s a little tedious and would take some time to look through my stuff.

Another option is the excellent free search utility called Search Everything (http://www.voidtools.com/). In just seconds Everything can find your file and show you exactly where it is. It’s much faster than the built in search.

Both those methods required me to remember at least one of the words in the name of the file. But if you simply can’t remember what you called that file, there are two easy ways to find it. I knew it was a Word document. Opening Word and clicking on the top left corner displayed a list of recent documents, including the one I wanted. Clicking on that opened the column, and then clicking on "File | Save as" allowed me to save it to the correct folder, and showed me where I’d saved it in the first place.

Finally, I could have clicked on Start (because I was using a version of Windows that still has a Start Menu) then on Recent, and opened the file from there.

 

Wait. What?!? OneDrive has a Recycle Bin?

Sometimes when I write my column I start it on my main desktop computer and work on it using my netbook when I’m between customers. I save the work in progress/finished column to OneDrive because I write in Word, and my Windows 8.1 netbook makes it easy to use OneDrive. (OneDrive is Microsoft’s free online storage offering, similar to Dropbox or GoogleDrive. Check this tutorial for more: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-8/getting-started-onedrive-tutorial.)

While working on this very column, I managed to delete it from OneDrive before grabbing it to work on back at home. I logged onto OneDrive via the web, and noticed a Recycle Bin. It turns out the OneDrive Recycle Bin works just like the Recycle Bin on a computer. You can restore files from the bin to their original location! Click on Recycle Bin in the left panel, select the file(s) you want, and click on Restore along the top of the OneDrive window.

Not only that, OneDrive will show you previous versions of documents you’ve stored there. Right-click on a document, click on Version history, and select the version you want to revert to. It’s nice to have a second --- or third --- chance at undoing a mistake.


The best key combination in any version of Windows is…

CTRL+Z. Pressing those two keys simultaneously will UNDO the last thing you did. Sometimes I wish we had an Undo key for real life.

 

Do you need help with your computer? I'm here to help you and your home or business computer get along!

 

Cate Eales runs Computer Care Kelowna (http://computercarekelowna.com/) a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. To arrange an appointment phone her at 250-764-7043. Cate also welcomes your comments and suggestions. Send email to [email protected].

You can read previous columns here: http://rlis.com/column.htm . If you'd like to subscribe to this column by email, please visit this link: http://www.feedblitz.com/f/f.fbz?Sub=20618 . It's easy, and free. If you'd prefer the RSS Feed, click here: http://rlis.com/rlis.xml.



Read more Computers articles

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About the author...

Cate Eales has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible and fun for over 20 years. She lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric, and her dog, Sandy. Cate is a partner in Computer Care Kelowna, helping individuals and small businesses with virus, spyware and malware eradication; personal computer training and management; digital image management; music transfer; and website design, hosting and management.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with your comments, suggestions, or questions. To browse the column archives, visit the Real Life Internet Solutions website at www.rlis.com.




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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