CTPC User Group

 

  1. Preview of the Next CTPC Meeting
  2. Windows 8 – What You Need to Know - Sandy Berger
  3. Good Enough - Terry Currier
  4. Tablet PC vs. Traditional PC - Which one to buy? - Phil Sorrentino
  5. Two Useful Tools for Improving Documents - Nancy DeMarte
  6. The Tip Corner - Bill Sheff
  7. POyNT - George Harding
  8. Mac Tips of the Month - Ernie Cox, Jr.
  9. Knoppix Live CD - Cal Esneault
  10. Maps, Maps and More Maps - Mary Stewart
  11. Get Your Photography on the Web - Donna Kamper
  12. Tuning Windows 7 - Dick Maybach
  13. Some Web Sites I have Seen Recommended - Lynn Page
 

Preview of the Next CTPC Meeting - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 6:30 p.m.

Take it from a one-time CTPC program co-ordinator. It can be awfully hard to develop topics of interest and then find knowledgeable speakers who can appear on our meeting dates. Sometimes, things just don't work out. It seems January, 2013 is one of those times.

We've canceled the January meeting though I can report that plans for programs for the next few months do seem to be falling into place nicely. We will keep you posted in future newsletters.

And, that leads to another topic. CTPC dues of $25.00 for 2013 were due as of January 1st. If you've already paid, we thank you greatly for your continued support. Elsewhere in this newsletter I suggested you could bring your check to the January meeting. Since this is no longer an option, why not send it off now to ensure that these newsletters keep coming.

Our address is:

CTPC
PO Box 291
New Canaan, CT 06840

Mike Alcorn,
CTPC Newsletter Editor

The club's next meeting will be on February 26th at the Silver Star diner at 6:30 p.m. Hope to see you there.

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Sandy Berger, CompuKISS, www.compukiss.com, sandy (at) compukiss.com

Windows 8 – What You Need to Know

(Approx. 1,045 words) Recently Microsoft released a new version of its operating system. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve already heard about Windows 8. So today I’m going to give you the facts – just the facts….focusing on what you will need to know about Windows 8.

First, all versions of Windows 8 have a new interface, which is radically different from any previous versions of Windows. The traditional start menu is gone. Now when you start your device you see a colorful conglomeration of squares and rectangle called “tiles.” These are not small squares like you might see on an iPhone or iPad, but are rather large. You touch or click on these tiles to launch programs and/or apps. Some of the tiles are “live” meaning that you can set them up to see real-time information like the weather, stocks, email, or news.

I can assure you that when you start using Windows 8 you will be stymied as to how it all works. So be sure to allow yourself a little time to investigate the new operating system. It may take a few weeks before you feel comfortable with the new interface. Yet, after using Windows 8 for a few months, I can also tell you that that this version is far superior to Windows XP or even to Windows 7.

The second thing that you need to know about Windows 8 has an underlying interface that is very similar to the Windows 7 desktop. In Windows 8, it is simply called “Desktop.” You can switch to this Desktop at your discretion (just click on or touch the Desktop tile). You will be switched to the Desktop automatically if you start a program like Notepad, Word, Excel, etc.

You might have heard that Windows 8 is made for touch screens and that is true. Yet every finger motion has a corresponding mouse and a corresponding keyboard motion. So it can also be used on a regular computer. I have used Windows 8 on a computer with touch screen and also on a computer with only a keyboard and mouse. It is very workable on both.

The third thing that you need to know is that Windows 8 comes in four flavors: Windows 8 Phone, Windows 8 (called RT) for tablets, Windows 8 (standard), and Windows 8 Pro. The Windows 8 Phone works only on smartphones and will come preinstalled. The Window 8 Pro offers extra data protection, remote desktop, and the ability to join corporate domains. It will mainly be used for businesses. So you, as an average consumer, only have to worry about two versions, RT and the standard version, which is referred to simply as Windows 8.

The RT version will come preinstalled on certain tablets. You won’t be able to upgrade to it. Windows 8 will come on almost all new computers and, if you have a newer computer or laptop, you will be able to upgrade your computer to Windows 8. Windows 8, however, will also come on some tablets and laptop-like computers. That’s where the confusion lies.

If you purchase a tablet you will have to know if you are purchasing a tablet with Windows 8 RT or Windows 8 because there is a big difference between the two. The colorful new interface is the same on both and both can run the apps that can be found in the Microsoft app store. The biggest difference is that RT can run only Apps. It cannot run desktop applications like Photoshop, Quicken, and Family Tree Maker. Yet Microsoft has been very smart about this. They have developed their main Microsoft Office 2013 programs as Apps. In fact when you purchase an RT tablet, Microsoft Office Home and Student Preview Edition comes preinstalled. When the Final version is released, it will automatically be downloaded and installed at no cost. So while the RT version can’t run full-blown programs, it can run Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote and actually comes with all of these. The Office Apps automatically appear in the Desktop interface that looks like Windows 7. If you have used any of these Office programs on your Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 computer, they will look and feel pretty much the same. Of course there will be some new features, but most of the features of the older desktop versions of these Office programs are available in the Apps. The two exceptions that I found were that the App versions of Office don’t support macros or add-ons.

If you purchase a new computer with Windows 8 or the Windows 8 upgrade, which is currently available online through Microsoft for $49, you will not get Office for free. You will either have to make that a separate purchase or use an older version of Office that you already own. (Microsoft says older versions, even those as old as Office 2002 will work fine with Windows 8.)

Besides the new interface, Windows 8 boasts some key improvements including longer battery life for portable devices, faster boot times, and a smaller memory footprint. Most full-blown programs that run well in Windows 7 will also work with Windows 8 (not with Windows 8 RT). Once you are used to Windows 8, you will probably find it easier to navigate than previous versions of Windows. So there are many reasons to upgrade or to purchase a new computer with Windows 8 preinstalled.

Making the move to Windows 8 will be beneficial, but there is a learning curve, especially on a non-touch desktop or laptop computer. Also, with Windows 8 RT completely based on Apps, the number of Apps available in the Microsoft App store is very important. Right now their store has only about 7,000 Apps in the Microsoft store compared to 100,000 in the Apple App Store. While some of the major Apps like Evernote and Kindle are already available, others like Words with Friends and Angry Birds are not. Of course, if Windows 8 is popular, the number of Apps is sure to increase dramatically and quickly. Because of the learning curve and the wait for Apps, I expect that acceptance of Windows 8 may be slower than expected.

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Terry Currier, President, WINNERS – WINdows usERS, CA, September 2012 issue, The Notepad, , ww.windowsusers.org, winnersug (at) aol.com

Good Enough

I have an iPad and it’s great to help keep the grandkids’ interest when we go out to eat, or on long drives in the car. But, for long trips such as when we go to San Diego’s Sea World I really did not want to take it. It is big to carry and there is the danger of breakage with such trips. So I have been looking at some of the smaller (and cheaper) tablets. I basically just wanted something I could put some movies on for them and a few games would also help. I saw what I thought would be just right from Buy.com -- a 7” AGPTEK TP10A for $84. It had the Android 4.0 operating system. The processing speed I knew would not be fast, but it could take a micro-SD card up to 32GB. With that I could put lots of movies and kids TV shows on it.

So I brought it and have been pretty happy with it so far. I made having this tablet into a show and tell by asking members to bring their tablets for the September meeting. I got to see the Google’s Nexus 7” tablet and the Asus with keyboard set up, and one other.

Some of the other things about mine - 1080P HD high definition video display, support for AVI,WMV,MP4,MKV,RM, RMVB, FLV, MOV, and 3GP. It even has HDMI output ability. I brought an HDMI mini cable, hooked it up, and son-of-a-gun it looked great on a 24” TV.

There is not a lot of volume coming from the little speaker in the back so I bought a portable speaker that plugs into the headphone port. It works well and, of course, the tablet can play the usual music formats. With one front 0.3 Mega pixel camera and MIC you can make video calls.

It’s listed as having 8GB, but I did look before buying it and knew it would only have about 512MB of free space with the operating system and apps they put on it. First thing of course was to get Angry Birds on it. The grandson loves it.

There is Wi-Fi built-in it, and I’ve always said the iPad’s Wi-Fi is not very good. I took it to a restaurant with free Wi-Fi and the iPad found three available connections. The AGPTEK found eight, including the coffee house across the street.

Remember the low cost of $84. I bought the warranty (it will cover me when I take it on trips) for $13, the Micro-SD card cost $28, a holder cost $30 (a very good padded one), the speaker $9, and finally a HDMI cable was $9. So I’ve doubled the initial cost, but it is still far cheaper than other tablets, and it suits my needs. And, most important, the grandkids love it!

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Phil Sorrentino, Member, Sarasota PCUG, FL, October 2012 issue, PC Monitor, www.spcug.org, pcugedit (at) verizon.net

Tablet PC vs. Traditional PC - Which one to buy?

This is a really great question or contest. So, first let’s define the two contenders. We’ll consider a notebook, or laptop, as the traditional PC. (The contest between laptop and desktop has already been had and for most users, the laptop seems to have come out on top.) And as to the tablet, let’s consider only the 10 inch variety. Currently, tablets are available in two sizes, 7 and 10 inches, but as a replacement for a notebook (with screen sized between 14 and 17 inches), a 10 inch tablet seems to be the only real contender. Actually, we could even consider a smartphone as a very small tablet, but in this contest, size counts.

If you need a quick answer to the question, that answer might be: if you are only going to “consume” data, then the tablet will work fine; but if you intend to “produce” data, then the laptop with its keyboard and large hard drive is the better choice. Consuming data implies playing music, showing pictures, watching videos, checking email, light game playing, and maybe minimal web surfing. Producing data is more like creating well formatted text documents, developing spreadsheets, editing pictures and videos, creating lengthy emails, heavy game playing, and spending a good deal of time navigating the internet.

Tablets are similar to notebooks in many ways, because they are both built for mobility. They both are small and light weight (especially the newer Ultrabooks), and they both are battery powered. But that’s about where the similarities end and the differences begin. Tablets have no moving parts, no hard drive or optical (CD/DVD) drive; whereas notebooks typically have a hard drive and an optical drive. Tablets, with their smaller screens, are typically smaller and thinner than laptops. Tablets, typically, do not have a keyboard or a mouse; data input comes from touching the display screen. (Today’s improved touchscreens employ a capacitive effect, which responds to fingers, as opposed to yesterday’s touchscreens, that used a resistive effect, and required a stylus for operation.) Laptops and tablets both have USB connections. However, on the Laptop the USB is used to connect peripheral devices, but on the tablet the USB is used to connect the tablet to a laptop (or desktop) as a peripheral device. Laptops and tablets both have video output connections. Typically, on the tablet the connection will be a micro-HDMI connector, while on the laptop it will be probably be either VGA or HDMI.

Today’s tablets use a different Operating System than traditional computers, although this may change with the advent of Windows 8, which is being advertised as able to run on tablets and traditional computers. Windows 8 is scheduled to be released October 26th, so for today, practically speaking, the choices for Operating System are iOS from Apple, and Android from Google. iOS will be found on all Apple iPad tablets (and iPhones), and Android will be found on all Android style tablets, from manufacturers such as Motorola, LG, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, HTC, Acer, etc.

Advantages and disadvantages of tablets vs. traditional computers are highly subjective. An “advantage” that appeals to one user may be exactly what disappoints another, but here are some commonly cited advantages and disadvantages. Some of the tablet’s advantages may be: smaller size, lower weight, lower power usage, and the use of the touch environment. While some of the tablet’s disadvantages may be: smaller screen size, and slower input speed due to the use of the touch environment.

The Touch environment is a basic difference, until Touch comes to the laptop. Touch on a tablet is similar to the mouse environment on a traditional computer. If one is familiar with using a mouse, the Touch motions needed for computer input are very intuitive. A Tap on a touchscreen is similar to a click on a mouse. A “Touch and Hold” on a touchscreen is similar to a Double-click using a mouse. Drag and Drop is done with a finger on a touchscreen similar to that done with a mouse. A “Finger Scroll” on a touchscreen is similar to a Mouse scroll with a scroll bar on a computer screen. A Pinch (using two fingers), on a touchscreen is similar to a Zoom on a computer screen. As far as text data input goes, typically, a virtual keyboard is presented on the touchscreen whenever text data entry is required. The virtual keyboard is large enough to be comfortable on a 10 inch screen, but it lacks mechanical movement and feedback. (Typically there is audible feedback and some provide haptic feedback, which is a brief, gentle vibration.)

So, after you’ve seen the obvious size, weight, and cost differences and appreciate the different input techniques, it all comes down to what you want to accomplish with this piece of technology. After all, you’re buying this device to accomplish something, aren’t you? Or, is this just another toy?

Assuming it is not just another toy, then let’s look at what it might be used for. A tablet is ideal for showing pictures to your family and friends, listening to your favorite music, and watching relatively short videos, like Youtube videos. (Probably best to leave the full length movies for your big screen TV in the living room). (When it comes to listening to music, the smaller the device the better, because listening to music doesn’t require much of a display, so an MP3 player (iPod) is probably the best device for listening to music; but if you have a laptop or tablet around it can certainly do the job.) A tablet is also good for casual internet access where there is a minimum of data entry and easy web page navigation. A tablet is fine for getting your email, as long as you don’t have to create any lengthy replies. A tablet is great for quickly checking into your social networking sites to keep up with your family and friends, as long as you intend to leave only short messages. (A tablet would probably not be good for you if you intend to “blog” a lot.)

For those familiar with the Windows File and Folder organization, a laptop with Windows provides a familiar interface. The tablet’s interface is similar but not the same. There is no “Windows Explorer” that is common to all the tablets, although there are some good file management Apps available. So, file management is easier on a laptop, making it a better choice if you are going to create and organize many files, be they text, pictures, or videos. The laptop is probably a better choice if you intend to do anything that requires a lot of data entry (keyboarding) such as preparing lengthy spreadsheets. The laptop is better for producing slideshows combining pictures and videos, or creating any digital video. (In fact, video projects are probably better performed on a desktop where you have a larger display screen, lots of hard drive space, a very fast processor and a lot of memory.)

Networking can be a major consideration. If you have a home network, the laptop (running Windows) will be able to become a Workgroup or Homegroup member and it will be able to transfer files to and from the other network members, once the proper sharing parameters and permissions are set up. The tablet (running Android or iOS) will not be able to participate in the home network without a good amount of effort and special Apps running on the tablet. So if you intend to share files on the network, the laptop would probably be a better choice.

Even after you appreciate the advantages and disadvantages of each, specifically to you, and you have struggled with all the differences, it is still a difficult decision. So, maybe it is not really a contest at all, but rather just a separation of capabilities, needs and/or desires. There are probably many good reasons for having both. It is just a matter of what you want to accomplish and how soon you can justify the additional cost of having both. (Good luck with that justification and decision.) Have both and leave the tablet on the coffee table for easy access and bring out the laptop only when needed.

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Nancy DeMarte, Regular Columnist (Office Talk), Sarasota PCUG, Florida, November 2012 issue, Sarasota PC Monitor, www.spcug.org, ndemarte (at) Verizon.net

Two Useful Tools for Improving Documents

Word provides good tools for correcting mechanical errors in documents, but sometimes I find I want to improve the writing quality of the document, which I do in the revising stage. Here are a couple of tools that I use to clarify meaning and eliminate redundancy. These tools are available in many versions of Word, although my descriptions here are based on Word 2010.

Thesaurus

When I can’t think of a word which says precisely what I mean, I turn to Word’s Thesaurus. It is located on the Review tab in the Proofing group on the Word 2007/ 2010 ribbon. I prefer to open it by highlighting the word I want to improve, then using the keyboard shortcut, Shift+F7 (Hold Shift while pressing F7). This opens the Thesaurus in the Research pane as a sidebar of the document window, and shows my word’s synonyms arranged by context.

For example, when I select the word, “press,” and press Shift+F7, the US English Thesaurus opens and reveals eight context categories: media, crowd, surge, pressure, pursue, iron, push, and pursue (legal), each with a list of 6-8 synonyms below it. Almost always, I can find a word among those listed that fits my need.



If the English Thesaurus doesn’t satisfy my search, I can click the arrow next to Thesaurus and choose another of several reference books, such as dictionaries, translators, and Thesauruses for other languages. I can also add new reference books to my research choices by clicking “Research options” at the bottom of the Research pane and putting checkmarks next to those I want available. These include specialized books, such as the Foreign Word Spelling Look-up, Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary, and Thomson Gale Company Profiles.

Find and Replace

Another bad habit writers have is redundancy; we tend to repeat words or restate ideas. My favorite tools for fixing this problem are Word’s Find and Replace commands, located on the Home tab in the Editing group. Click Find (the binoculars icon) to open the Navigation pane or use the shortcut Ctrl+F (hold the Ctrl key and press the F key). Because I use this tool so often, I have pinned the Find tool to the Quick Access toolbar above the ribbon. Any command I use often is on that toolbar.

The Navigation pane offers a quick way to find out how many times I’ve used the same word in a piece I’m writing. For instance, I just searched this article for the word, “word”, and was blinded by all the yellow highlighted “words” in the document. Besides locating and highlighting each instance, the Navigation pane also displays the sentence portion surrounding it. I realized that I needed to reword (oops, I mean rephrase) some sentences to eliminate those annoying repetitions.



Searching using the Navigation pane is a simple way to find repeated words, but it has limitations. What about the situation where “Word” is capitalized because I’m referring to the computer program? I may not want to include these in my search. Here’s where I need to open the “Advanced Search” so I can set some parameters. To do this, I can click the arrow next to Find on the Home tab or the arrow next to the search box on the Navigation pane and select Advanced Search. What opens is the traditional Find and Replace dialogue box, which offers some interesting filters for searching. Here I can set some rules for my search by clicking “More.” I put a checkmark next to “Match case” so that my lower case “word” search would not target upper case “Word.” Another helpful filter is, “Find all word forms (English),” which would have highlighted “words” and “worded,” along with “word,” in my earlier search.

The Replace tool is a natural complement to Find, although in my writing I rarely use it. It has its own icon on the Home tab and its own tab behind Find in the Find and Replace dialogue box. What it does is let me find all the instances of a word, and then replace all of them with another word. If my goal is to vary my word choices, replacing all instances of a repeated word with another isn’t something I want to do. However, if I had a long document with, for example, a misspelled unusual proper name like Abernathy, and I had spelled it Abernethy, then using Replace makes sense.

Newer versions of these tools allow us to find and replace graphical elements, tables, punctuation, formatting features, and font properties, such as changing all instances of a word in text to bold or italicized. These two tools not only save time, but can actually improve the quality of writing. That’s not a bad thing in this age of texting. FWIW IMHO

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Bill Sheff, Novice SIG Coordinator, Lehigh Valley Computer Group, PA, September 2012 issue, The LVCG Journal, www.lvcg.org, nsheff (at) aol.com

The Tip Corner

If you notice that your laptop is starting to run sluggishly and pages load slower, along with other general slowness it could be the battery. So before you run out and replace your laptop battery try this trick first. First, charge your laptop’s battery all the way to 100%. After being fully charged, unplug it and let the battery drain. Using the laptop during this period will help it drain more quickly. Once you see that the battery is almost empty, save your work and close any open pages. Then let the laptop shut itself off. Let the dead battery sit for about 5 or 6 hours, or overnight. This will help eliminate any leftover charge the battery may have, and lets the battery start over from zero. After you’ve let your laptop sit, plug it back in and let it charge all the way to 100% before using it again. This can extend battery life and possibly postpone purchasing a new battery Energy Consumption Since we started with the battery lets continue with some energy consumption hints for both laptops and PCs.

Conserving laptop battery power or simply managing the energy consumption of any PC can easily be accomplished by making adjustments in Windows Power Options. To access the Power Options you can use Run and type in powercfg.cpt. However in Vista and Win7 run can be skipped by just typing in power options in the Start search. In the Power Options dialog box, the three choices are; Balanced, Power saver, and High performance.

Power saver offers the most conservative use of energy; Balanced combines the Power saver plan and High performance. High performance is the gas guzzler of the three. Other settings options are available at the left. Clicking the Change plan settings link opens the Edit Plan Settings dialog box for the selected plan. There, settings can be tweaked to provide the desired mix of effectiveness and efficiency.

In Power Options, you can also control what happens when the lid on a laptop is closed. Just click the Choose what closing the lid does link.

Settings can be individually adjusted for when the laptop is running on battery, or for when it’s plugged in. The choices are Do nothing, Sleep, Hibernate, or Shut down. (We discussed these choices in our July 2012 Tip Column). Clicking the ‘Change settings that are currently unavailable’ link offers the opportunity to change what happens when the computer wakes up.

It is also possible to make more advanced power settings. Be a little cautious here since it is for the more advanced user. Any changes made, can be undone by clicking the Restore default settings for this plan link.

What does a smart phone replace?

I am going to end this month’s Tip Corner with a small list. Since tablets are now appearing like rabbits in a hutch, ready to replace laptops and smart phones with a plethora of apps and lots of battery life, let’s take a nostalgic look back at the many things smart phones have replaced.

According to Snopes.com from October 2010, U.S. consumers were still placing about 6 billion calls to 411 services per year, even though phone companies had switched to charging $1 or more per call. Nevertheless, the directory assistance of the future seems likely to be automated, online, and (maybe) free. And the prologue: All of this will be included in the tablets coming out today. Will we have to widen our pockets or start carrying man-purses?

But one more thing you might want to carry with your smart phone. A spare battery. I have just finished testing how long my extra battery lasts since last charging. Well, it has been over a two weeks now and the battery is still over 60% charged.

So if you listen to a lot of music on your smart phone, it might not be a bad idea to have a charged battery in your pocket just in case. And yes they are very cheap on ebay.com. Play a lot of music, make a lot of calls and then switch. A really good assist when you are on the road and can’t plug in to a charger.

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George Harding, Treasurer, Tucson Computer Society, AZ, April 2012 issue, eJournal, www.aztcs.org, georgehardingsbd (at) earthlink.net

POyNT

This is a nifty app for your iPhone or Blackberry. It points you to various services or places of business.

The choices are Businesses, People, Movies, Restaurants, Gas, Events and Offers.

For Businesses, you can enter a business name, such as “Wendy’s” which produces a list of Wendy’s restaurants sequenced by distance from your position. The list also includes other entries which include the name Wendy, such as a dentist, a veterinarian and a hospital! But it does show the fast-food restaurants you wanted to find. When you touch one of them, you get location information, including a map and directions.

If you choose People, you can search by name, phone or address. I tried the search by phone, using my phone number and got my name and address, along with directions and a map for location. The search by name works very efficiently, producing a list of people with the name you entered and their phone and location info.

For Movies, you can search by theaters nearby, movies, top 10 and genres. You get a list of theaters with the movies currently being shown, times, phone, location and the availability of a trailer.

You can search nearby Restaurants or by cuisine. You get a list of restaurants sequenced by increasing distance from your location, with info about location, phone, map and website.

Searching for Gas or Events gives the same sort of information, in a helpful and easy-to-use format.

I recommend this app highly. It’s fun to use and very helpful in finding the sort of item you’re looking for without having to resort to the Yellow Pages books. You can even use your mobile phone to download the app from m.poynt.com (but not with a browser).

About: POYNT
Vendor: Poynt
www.poynt.com
Price: Free

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Ernie Cox, Jr., Member, Computer Club of Green Valley, AZ, September, October & November 2012 issues, Green Bytes, www.ccgvaz.org, ecoxjr (at) cox.net

Mac Tips of the Month

Stuck DVD or CD

Perhaps your DVD or CD is stuck in the drive and won’t come out after pushing the "eject" button. Try holding down the "E" Key and "Command/Apple" key to eject the disc. If that doesn’t work, shut down the computer, restart and hold down the "Ejection" key (top right), on startup of your computer.

Changing colors and size of a photo can be done in either iPhoto or Preview. Also can be used to put titles, type and other art into your pictures.

If you are having trouble sending large files (10, 12, 15 MB size), you might try using programs such as YouSendIt (https://www.yousendit.com), Box (https://www.box.com), or Dropbox (https://www.dropbox.com)all with small amounts of free space. There is a fee if you need additional space.

Save As Function

As many have noticed, in the new OS X Mountain the "Save As" function has disappeared. These are instructions to return this feature to your Mountain Lion.

The keystroke shortcut will also work in all apps where it's useable.

The Dock

The Dock is the bar of icons that sits at the bottom or side of your screen. It provides easy access to some of the applications on your Mac (such as Mail, Safari, Address Book and QuickTime Player). It's also the place to find the Trash (icon looks like a waste basket). You can add your own applications, files and folders to the Dock, too.

To select an item in the Dock, just click its icon. For example, if you want to listen to some music, click the iTunes icon (the icon with music notes) to open iTunes. When an application is running, the Dock displays a blue dot beneath the application's icon. If you minimize a window (click the round, yellow button in the upper-left corner of any window), the window gets pulled down into the Dock and waits until you click this icon to bring up the window again.

When you move your arrow over a docked icon, the icon grows bigger. But you can choose how big or small the magnification can grow, and how big or small the Dock should appear in its normal state. From the Apple menu, choose Dock, then Dock Preferences (or open System Preferences and click Dock) to open the preferences.

To adjust the size of the Dock, move the Dock Size slider left to make it smaller, or right to make it bigger. To control how big the icons will grow (when you move your arrow over the icon), move the Magnification slider left to make the icon magnification smaller, or right to make it bigger. Move your arrow over the Dock to test your setting. If you prefer not to have the icons magnify, deselect the Magnification checkbox.

Move the Dock

If you don't like having the Dock at the bottom of your screen, you can move it to the left or right side. To do this, do one of the following:

In Dock preferences, locate the "Position on screen" section, and select the Left button to place the Dock on the left side, or Right to move it to the right. Select Bottom to place it back in its default location at the bottom of your screen. From the Apple menu, choose Dock, then either Position on Left to place the Dock on the left side, or Position on Right to move it to the right.

When you minimize a window, your Mac animates the process using the Genie Effect to suck the window into the Dock. Same thing goes for when you click a minimized window to bring it back to its normal state. But you can change the effect by doing the following:

From the Apple menu, choose Dock, then Dock Preferences or open System Preferences then click Dock to open the preferences. From the Minimize using pop-upmenu, choose Scale Effect. If you want to switch back to the default setting, choose Genie Effect.

Hide the Dock

The Dock will sit idly on whatever side of the screen you tell it to, but if you prefer, you can hide the Dock so that it only appears when you move the arrow to that side of the screen. To hide the Dock, do one of the following:

In Dock preferences, select the "Automatically hide and show the Dock" checkbox.

From the Apple menu, choose Dock, then Turn Hiding On.

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Cal Esneault, President, Cajun Clickers Computer Club, LA and leader of many Open Source Workshops & SIGs, April 2012 issue, Cajun Clickers Computer News, http://cccclinuxsig.pbwiki.com, www.clickers.org, ccnewsletter (at) cox.net

Knoppix Live CD

About seven years ago I was introduced to Xandros GNU/Linux by the Cajun Clickers. Like most distro’s then, it required a full installation onto the hard drive, a step for which I was not ready. Knoppix, a GNU/Linux system developed by Klaus Knopper of Germany, was then a rare version in that it could run from a CD without modifying the hard drive (known as a “live” CD). Knoppix allowed me to explore and appreciate Linux without having to jeopardize my existing system.

Since then, almost all major distro’s offer downloads with “live” media choices that allow you to preview the OS and optionally install the OS directly from that media.

The strength of Knoppix is the excellent hardware detection and minimal configuration to get a working system. It shines as a system rescue and maintenance tool for working with other systems. For example, it can mount and access most other Linux or Windows partitions automatically. While it can be permanently installed, it is typically used with “live” media (CD, DVD, USB, …). Advanced methods exist to modify or give “permanence” to Knoppix, and many experts remaster their own customized versions.

I downloaded and burned a copy of the latest CD (iso Knoppix 6.7.1). A screenshot of the desktop menu and 3 open applications is shown below.



Currently Knoppix uses a lightweight 32-bit LXDE desktop (see my November 2011 article on LXDE). PCManFM is the file manager, and Iceweasel is the Internet browser. With this configuration, Knoppix hardware specs should allow it to run on older systems. Surprisingly, it includes the powerful (and bulky) GIMP and LibreOffice programs. My biggest surprise was that it included Compiz compositing manager which gives tremendous graphics effects for screen “eye candy.” See below an intermediate screen as an application window dynamically explodes into squares during application exit.



While this is interesting for those with modern graphic cards, my experience was that it made less powerful systems hang-up and require reboot. I solved this by using the cheat-code “knoppix no3d” at the boot prompt to restrict Compiz and give a working desktop.

Knoppix is an example of the unique combination of software that can be assembled when the distro is the work of a single developer. For example, there are tools for system and network administrators, applications for system rescue and repair, and a version for blind users (based on ADRIANE). Since my first encounter, Knoppix has introduced over a dozen versions with use of many new concepts (early to use KDE 4.x, early to use LibreOffice, etc.). This distro is a utilitarian system suited for experienced Linux users who want to learn more about their systems. Learn more by visiting www.knopper.net/knoppix, or look for Knoppix in the top search boxes at www.distrowatch.com.

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Mary Stewart, Member, ICON Computer Users Group, MO, October 2012 issue, The ICON Newsletter, www.iconusersgroup.org, macstew8 (at) sbcglobal.net

Maps, Maps and More Maps

Patti Hobbs, from the Ozark Genealogical Society, recently demonstrated Google Maps as an aide to locating and pinpointing places our ancestors lived. It is another helpful tool to unraveling our past.

For more help in locating our ancestors, or if you just like maps, try The David Rumsey Map Collection. This collection contains more than 150,000 maps. The collection focuses on rare 18th and 19th century maps of North and South America, although it also has maps of the World, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. The collection includes atlases, wall maps, globes, school geographies, pocket maps, books of exploration, maritime charts, and a variety of cartographic materials including pocket, wall, children's, and manuscript maps. Items range in date from about 1700 to 1950s.

There are now over 33,000 items online, with new additions added regularly. The site is free and open to the public. Here viewers have access not only to high resolution images of maps that are extensively cataloged, but also to a variety of tools that allow to users to compare, analyze, and view items in new and experimental ways.

The website is http://www.davidrumsey.com/about 

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Donna Kamper, Member, Tucson Computer Society, AZ, April 2012 issue, TCS eJournal, www.aztcs.org, donna (at) kamper.com

Get Your Photography on the Web

About: Get Your Photography on the Web
Author: Rafael “RC” Conceptión
Publisher: Kelby Media/Peachpit Press
www.kelbytraining.com, www.peachpit.com
ISBN-10: 978-0-321-75393-9
ISBN-13: 0-321-75393-3
Price: $39.99, $23.99 @ Amazon

The only reason you need this book is if you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive and easy way for people to see your photos on the Internet. If you prefer time-consuming, difficult and costly you need to keep looking. This book was a complete revelation to me and inspired me to revamp our long-neglected (cob)web site kamper.com. Instead of working in HTML and Dreamweaver, I simply downloaded and installed a free program – WordPress. Following the guidelines in the book, I literally had my new site up and running in minutes.

Completely finished? No! No website is ever “finished,” they’re always (read: should be) in transition. But was it ready for viewing? Yes. Get Your Photography on the Web targets photographers who want to showcase their work. While WordPress is primarily a blogging software, as the author, Raphael (RC) Conceptión shows you, it can be so much more.

With this book, an Internet connection and basic computer skills you can literally create a showcase website in a matter of hours for next to no cost – totally free, if you don’t want a domain name and in less than an hour if you have all your ducks in a row ahead of time. And RC tells you exactly what those ducks are and how to line them up.

He quickly discusses that all-important “Getting a Domain Name,” and then moves into hosting. He recommends GoDaddy.com and walks you through the procedure. As with most Kelby Training books, this is done very clearly with screen-shots on the outside margins and brief descriptive text to the inside.

Since our website has been active since 1992, hosted locally through dakotacom.net (with whom we’re incredibly pleased), I skipped this chapter. However, from reading I did outside this book I discovered a WordPress site must be hosted on servers supporting PHP and MySQL. So if you have your own domain and are thinking about revamping it using WordPress, check that first.

What good is a website without content? The next chapters are “Getting Your Images Ready” which encompasses a lot more than retouching. Color Space, Sharpening, Size, Watermarks, Copyright – all in 27 pages.

Then we really start to rock, setting up your first pages and adding content. More than images, even slide shows, right off the bat! Then RC moves us into how to get our site looking the way we want it to. After all, it’s important that it be the proper frame for our work. To that end, he introduces us to Themes and Plugins.

It turns out WordPress is a bit of a blank slate, ready for anyone to write over it. “Themes” are overlays, if you will, for the basic WordPress installation. By changing the Theme the entire look of a site can change just by clicking “Activate.”

If a global rework isn’t sufficient there are Plugins, little applets that nestle inside your WordPress installation ready to spring to action. These can do anything from popping out an image in a shadowbox to creating custom menus for your site navigation. There are literally hundreds of these, and the list keeps growing. Oh, and they’re all free. See my WordPress note at end of this review.*

The more I read the more I was inspired by what could be done. Then I discovered WordPress can be used for more than blogging. That’s when I really snapped to attention. Blogging is not for me. I was never a diarist, I never kept a journal, and I will not keep to a blogging schedule.

But WordPress is so plastic, so malleable, so pliable that it can be used as a content management system (CMS), meaning it can hold static pages that don’t change regularly if at all, and pages with other content. In fact, with a little judicious juggling and a friendly Plugin, it’s even possible to run an e-store right out of my website. Oh really!?

All those years of writing materials for front-of-class instruction have left me with manuals and workbooks. Coupling that with Camtasia’s on-screen recording, and I just may create a little business niche for myself. All I have to do is get it done.

This is a great book. Clearly written, visually-assisted step-by-step instructions and an attainable result. What’s not to like. Now, back to my WordPress Dashboard. There are edits to be made!

*What’s this about free? WordPress is Open Source Software, as are its Themes and Plugins. These are created by users and uploaded for people to use. WordPress itself is free for the download. Thousands of Themes are also freely available, and there are also multiple sites devoted to custom or for-pay Themes. As of the writing of this review there are 19,064 free Plugins available at WordPress.org.

There are two WordPress sites: WordPress.org is where you download the WordPress software, its Themes and Plugins and learn how to use the software. WordPress.com is a free hosting service begun by some of the original WordPress developers. It’s “a hosted version of the open source package where you can start a blog in seconds without any technical knowledge.” [http://en.WordPress.com/about/] It is “financially supported via paid upgrades, “VIP” services and advertising.” [Wikipedia.com]

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Dick Maybach, November 2012 issue, BUG Bytes, Brookdale Computer Users’ Group, NJ, www.bcug.com, n2nd (at) charter.net

Tuning Windows 7

Recognize first that there is little to be gained by tweaking Windows 7, as it quite effectively tunes itself to your hardware. Most likely, the major benefit of doing this is that you will be better educated about your PC. Pressing on regardless, you first should run Windows Update to insure that your software and device drivers are up to date: tap the Windows key, type “update”, select Windows Update, and follow the instructions. Not all hardware manufacturers coordinate their driver updates with Microsoft, so you may have to check through them. While you're cleaning up, check for available updates for your applications. Finally, you should run a malware scan using your favorite virus checker. It makes no sense to optimize a PC unless it's clean and its software is current. In my October 2012 newsletter article (available at http://www.bcug.com in the Newsletter section), I introduced some Windows 7 utilities that facilitate exploring your PC hardware and its performance. It would be worthwhile to read this if you're unfamiliar with these, as you must know what you have before you can optimize it.

Obtain a system health report with the following sequence: tap the Windows key, type “perf”, select Performance Information and Tools, select Advanced tools, and select Generate a system health report. (You will need administrator privileges.) After running a short test, the program will present a wealth of information, probably far more than you can use. A useful section is Diagnostic Results; a portion of which appears in the screen-shot below.



The top item is in the Warnings section. It complains that I have no anti-virus program, even though Microsoft Security Essentials is present. I consider this adequate protection, and so I will ignore the message. As you can see, this PC passed all the basic system checks. The performance section shows that there are plenty of resources for the current load. While it is interesting to browse the other sections, the information they present is quite technical and unlikely to mean much unless you are an experienced professional.

It may be helpful to review any recent problems using the Reliability Monitor; tap the Windows key, type “rel”, select View reliability history, and you will see something like the screen-shot below.



Note the problem on 8/24, when Skype failed and I had to kill Windows with the power switch. Since I don't use Skype on this PC, the solution was to disable Skype's auto-starting at boot-up. (Hopefully, a future Skype update will correct this.) Before you begin reconfiguring Windows, be sure you correct any problems.

It's most important that you have enough RAM, which you can check by running the Resource Monitor: tap the Windows key, type “resource”, and select Resource Monitor. Its memory display shows how much RAM you are using. Put a load on the machine by starting several programs, as many as you normally run at once, and check that you are using substantially less than 100 per cent of your physical memory. If you are running out of memory, the most effective remedy is to increase RAM, but there are limits. 32-bit versions of Windows are limited to 4 Gbytes. The RAM limit for 64-bit versions depend on the edition: 8 Gbytes for Starter and Home Basic, 16 Gbytes for Home Premium, and 192 Gbytes for Professional and Enterprise/Ultimate. If increasing RAM isn't practical, you must limit how many procedures run simultaneously, especially those that start themselves automatically at boot-up. Check this with the System Configuration Tool: tap the Windows key, type “sys”, and select System Configuration. (You will need administrator privileges.) The startup tab shows the programs that start themselves. As shown below, I've disabled two instances of Skype from auto-starting.



A similar, but much more comprehensive tool, Autoruns, is available from the publisher of Windows 7 Inside Out, at http://wyio.com/2001. For an article on its use see http://www.windowsitpro.com/article/registry2/autoruns. Finally, you might try to compensate for too little RAM by tweaking virtual memory, but this is unlikely to help much.

Another thing to try is to reduce visual effects with the following: tap the Windows key, type “per”, select Performance Information and Tools, and select Adjust Visual Effects. You will see the Window below.



Here the Visual Effects are set to let Windows choose the options. If instead, you select Adjust for best performance, all the check marks will disappear, or you can select Custom to choose which particular affects you want to retain.

If your PC is a laptop, you may wish to adjust the power settings. Tap the Windows key, type “power”, and select Power Options to see the Window below. (You probably won't see the bottom option unless you tap the down-arrow to the right of Show additional plans.)



Just choose the plan you like. You can fine-tune your choice by clicking on the appropriate Change plan settings string.

Again, Windows 7 does a fine job of tuning a PC, making it unlikely that you will realize a large performance gain, regardless of what you do. For this reason, I haven't gone into the more elaborate procedures. If you wish to explore these, buy a good book such as Windows 7 Inside Out by Bott, Siechert, and Stinson, or Windows 7 Bible by Boyce.

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Lynn Page, Editor/Webmaster, Crystal River Users Group, FL, October 2012 newsletter, www.crug.org, lpage46 (at) tampabay.rr.com

Some Web Sites I have Seen Recommended

This is a list of sites that I have seen recommended. Some I have visited and the others have been recommended by people I trust.

Vocabulary
The Test Your Vocab is a website provides statistical data about people's vocabulary. It's designed to estimate how many words you know while collecting valuable research. In the three part check the box next to each word you can define. The site needs to know how old you are, how much you read and whether English is your first language. The site then estimates how many words you know!

www.testyourvocab.com   

Books
Open Library is a wonderful site for those who like to read. It is attempting to catalog every book. A book's page has information on the book, the author and relevant links. Even better many of the books on Open Library are available for free download or you can borrow e-books from an electronic lending library.

www.openlibrary.org  

Games for the Brain
Counterfeit from Games for the Brain a simple spot-the-difference game. Just spot and point out the difference between two classic paintings before time runs out.

www.gamesforthebrain.com 

Capitol Flags The United States Capitol accepts requests for the flags that fly over the Capitol. The program has expanded to include flags of different sizes. Each one is issued a Certificate of Authenticity by the Architect of the Capitol after it has flown. To own a Capitol flag contact your congressman, who can make the request on your behalf.

Prices range from $13.25 to $22.55 depending on the size. Plus you have to pay for shipping.

www.capitolflags.gov 

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