07/25/12

Permalink 11:59:00 am by Brendan, Categories: Web Software, Free, Article

071Thanksgiving is more than anything, the holiday that's about family. And with people living so far apart, it's often tricky to keep in contact. However technology offers many options for keeping in touch.

First of all, the oldest and most basic option for keeping in touch is E-Mail. Every company that provides web access also provides you an e-mail address, plus you can get a free e-mail account from Hotmail or G-Mail to name a few.

So, what are some of e-mail's best tricks for keeping in touch with family? If you've got a large family, one time saving trick is to create groups Or lists as some programs call them. Go to the window for managing your e-mail address list (In Microsoft's products it's called Contacts, in many other it's called the Address Book.) Now find the Group or List button. In Live Mail, it's an option that drops down when you hit the New button, in Thunderbird there's a separate list button. Once you've created your list, you can either type in the addresses, or drag them from your main contact list.

The advantage of a group list is the fact you can just enter it into your e-mail program to send a separate copy of your e-mail to every address in the list. Better yet, since most e-mail programs try to anticipate your requests, just typing the first letters of your group name will bring it up as a suggestion, and pressing the enter key will complete it for you.

Other communications technologies offer other advantages in communicating online.

Instant messenger programs have the advantage of working real time, complete with detection options so you can see when someone you want to talk to is online. They can also send files like E-mail, and more importantly, most of the current generation of Instant messaging programs support Video Chat if you have a webcam hooked up.

Another option for video calling is Skype, accessible via Skype.com. This web based service supports video calls, and also voice only calls, with an option for calling real world phone numbers. Though only computer - computer calls are free.

Now, one thing E-mail and instant messaging do not do well is transfer large files or groups of files. There are however several online options to simplify sharing larger or more numerous files.

When you want to share a bunch of digital photo's, or a video or two, there are many options, but the most prominent are Yahoo's Flickr, Google's Picassa and Windows Live's photo album's. All of them offer options to upload pictures into a variety of files that you can then share with either specific groups or the whole web. Flickr and Picassa both have image editing software built in that Live lacks. On the other hand, Live makes the most space available in the free version, and has no restrictions on what sort of file you upload and share from it. Also Flickr allows limited video uploads, while Google handles videos via YouTube.

One more neat trick for using the web to share all sorts of things - Folder Synchronization. This is where you use a program to take one folder on your computer, and keep it identical to a folder online and other folders on other computers. So that for instance if you have synchronized a folder with one on a cousin's computer, whenever you save a picture to that folder, it will automatically be copied to their computer. If they add a picture of their own it will be copied to your computer (And website). If you save a document, then every time either one of you save changes, those changes will be copied to the other's computer.

There are a number of Sync programs available, but two prominent choices at the present are Live Mesh and Dropbox. They have a lot of similarities. You download and install their software (Mesh as part of Live Essentials, Dropbox from the Dropbox site), sign up an account with them, and then run the software and select a folder for sharing. Then after the initial synchronization, the website will offer an option to share with someone else, which they can set up from their own website after setting up their account. Both offer the service for free, with an online storage limit of 2 GB for Dropbox and 5GB for Mesh. If you need more storage, Dropbox offers monthly payment schemes for increasing storage to 50 or 100 GB while MS doesn't have any storage expansion options yet.

I hope this months article has helped you find better ways to stay connected to family, even if you're far apart. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for future articles, please e-mail me at brendan@wiltonnewyork.com. Happy Thanksgiving

04/12/12

Permalink 08:17:00 am by Brendan, Categories: Web Software, Report Site
Internet Explorer:
IE-PictureLinkMenu
Chrome:
ChromeImageLinkMenu
Firefox:
FirefoxPicLinkMenu

If you look at almost any story on our sites, you'll find that we like to put an emphasis on having plenty of pictures.  If you want to download a picture for non commercial use, please feel free to do so.  (For commercial applications, please e-mail us).

Also, all the pictures on our site are reduced in size for trafic/display reasons, if you want a full resolution picture to print, please e-mail us.

When designing wiltonnewyork.com and geysermilton.com, I tried to stay simple in a lot of ways, leaving open options for the predesigned browser options to be used.

From the collection of thumbnails, right click the thumbnail and in the context menu that opens, there will be a save option right by the open options- In Chrome and Firefox it's Save Link as, in Internet Explorer it's Save Target as.

When you blow up a picture, right click and select the save option among the picture options - It's Save Picture as in Internet Explorer and Save Image as in Chrome and Firefox.

If you want to set a particular picture as your computer's desktop wallpaper, there is the option in the picture options of Internet Explorer and Firefox, but not Chrome.

Another option in Internet Explorer and Firefox is to e-mail the picture. Though in Firefox clicking the Send option opens an e-mail message with a link to the picture, while in Internet Explorer, clicking the E-mail picture option opens an e-mail message with the picture as an attachment.

If you look through the options a little more, you'll see such options as setting a picture as your desktops wallpaper, directly printing the image, copying the image to paste into other programs and more.

Now, on a Macintosh, all of these options will actually work the same, assuming your mac has a mouse with a right button.  If you're using a non apple mouse with your Mac, it's probably got a right button, also right button functionality is one of the features that was quietly added to the Macintosh Mighty and Magic mice (The mouse with the little gray ball, and the mouse with a touch sensing surface.)

Even with an older one button only mouse, context menu functionality can still be accessed by holding down the control button on the keyboard while pressing the primary mouse button.

07/18/11

Permalink 06:09:00 pm by Brendan, Categories: Uncategorized

imageimage   image

Excel, Open Office Calc, Google Docs.  There are other spreadsheets of course, though the differences between them are either cosmetic, or involve things that only power users would really think about.  Excel is the Microsoft Office spreadsheet, which is the industry standard, and is part of every Office suite sold by MS.  Open Office is an alternate free office suite developed as an alternative to MS office.  And Google Docs are a "Cloud based" program, designed to run all the programs on Google's servers and let you use them from any web browser on any internet connected computer.

All three programs work very similarly.  At heart, spreadsheets are all about the cells.  Since it's tax time, one example would be to create a column, B for instance, where you would specifically record income received, or several columns for recording multiple types of income that might be seen differently when it's time to calculate your taxes.  I'm leaving Column A unmentioned, because that's almost always used to record the extra information- The month, the specific date, etc.

The real magic of spreadsheets however is functions.  You can use them to work pretty much any sort of mathematical calculation on the data in the various cells.  Indeed, in smaller countries, most of the economic analysis is done with spreadsheet programs.  But for most people, the Sum and Product functions are all you need.image

To put a function in a cell, click the cell to select it, then click the image in excel or open office, or image in google docs for the function wizard where you can work out you're full equations.Sum is the function that will add up all the numbers in a group of cells.  You can also subtract either static numbers or the contents of other cells by typing "-" in front of what you want subtracted.  The example here is excel which add the contents of cell B11 to 42, then add the contents of Cells C9 -C15.  I'm using a blank sheet to make the example, so naturally the result is 42.  If I wanted to subtract B11, or 42, or the group of cells, clicking in front of the number.

You can click any cell in the spreadsheet to add it to the numbers, to select a range, click the start, then click the end while holding down shift.  If you want to add up everything in a column, click the column's letter at the top of the screen.  If there are a few cells in a column you want excluded, hold down CTRL while clicking those cells.

The product function works the same, except in multiplies numbers together.  You can also put functions inside other functions, but that's something to pick up over time.

One other thing to remember about functions, when you cut and paste one, it will automatically adjust itself to it's new position.  For instance, if you've set up your spreadsheet so row 4 lists one type of data, and you put a function in cell B4 to sum up the totals in cells D4, F4, H4, J4, and so on however far, if you've got a similar set up on row 6, instead of repeating the setup for the function, if you select cell B4 and use Ctrl C to copy it, you can then click cell B6, and use Ctrl v to paste the function, and it will automatically adjust to sum up D6, F6, H6, J6, etc.

So, for tax season you can maintain a spreadsheet where you maintain predesigned column's and rows for specific income, expenses, deductions and other information.  When it's time to figure out the numbers for your forms, you can use the sum function to rapidly add up everything , and the product function to work out all the percentages and fractions at play.  Though if you do a bit of searching on your spreadsheets support site, you'll probably find a template that's already designed to have all the labeling and calculations worked out in advance for you.

A few other spreadsheet tips.  Odds are you've already had some advice on how you can adjust the size of columns by hovering your mouse cursor over the line between cells until it changes to a double headed arrow pointing to both sides, then clicking and dragging the mouse out to the size you want.  But if you want to resize a bunch of cells to the same size, you can select them by clicking the first then holding shift while clicking the last.  Then when you click and drag to resize one column, every selected column will resize the same way.

Also, if you consider the Sheet listing in the lower left, image multiple sheets is a very useful way to separate many different types of data, like different types of income, or specific car or medical expenses.  And because functions work across sheets, you can create a summary sheet where you set up cells to maintain the totals of the data in the other sheets.  In the sheet where you want to gather all the information, click the cell where you'll want that total, Click the Function button, and select Sum.  Then after clicking a box for numbers, click the name of the sheet where the data is in the lower left, select the cells with the data in that sheet, and either click OK, or select another number box if you want more numbers.

You can individually name each sheet by right clicking it's tab and selecting Rename from the pop up list it generates.

05/12/10

Permalink 04:15:44 pm by Brendan, Categories: Web Software, Free

My mother has wanted to put together a slide show for her blog, the ones where she has a lot of pictures she wants to upload anyway.  After a little checking I found the site authorSTREAM which offers free streaming of uploaded powerpoint slideshows, a function which seems perfect for this sort of application, since they not only allow pictures but voiceover as well.

So as a test, I?ve signed up, made a powerpoint slideshow of a few hardware pictures I?ve took a while back, and I?ve just uploaded it.

Now the site takes a few minutes to process the uploaded files for viewing, at which point I?ll confirm that the embedding process actually is as simple as it seems by trying the embed here.  If it works, that means I?ll have a complete set of simple options to go over with mom.

Ok, let?s try it now:

blockquote>

Now it?s just upload, and make sure it plays right.

Ok, had to mess with a few permissions, but it it seems to have embedded just fine.  It seems to be loading really slowly though, I?ll have to check to see if that?s the network or something else.

Curious, on chrome it isn?t finishing loading, but firefox loads it just fine.  Same with Internet Explorer.  Well, I?ll just delete and redo the upload and see if that changes things

10/26/09

Permalink 06:54:58 pm by Brendan, Categories: Web Software, security

There are a lot of ways to slip up and find your computer infested with Malware.  Well, whatever the circumstances, you?ll want to get rid of it once you know it?s there.

First off, you will want to figure out what?s on your machine.  Here?s a few of the online virus detection resources:BitDefender?s Online Malware Scanner, Kaspersky?s Online Malware Scanner, TrendMicro's Housecall, Mcafee?s Online Malware Scanner, Symatec?s Online Security Scanner.  You might want to use more than one of them, though not at the same time.

The first thing to do is download and install a legitimate antivirus-antimalware program with the latest updates.  After installation it will immediately run a scan of your system, give it time to work, and with luck it will find and with your permission remove all the malware.  Some good free antivirus programs with antimalware features too include AVG Free, Avira Antivir personal, and Avast Home edition.  There are also some standalone antimalware programs that can effectively supliment these, including Spybot ?Search and Destroy, Malwarebytes, and Ad-Aware Free.  The last two only have proactive functionality for their paid versions, but the free version offers plenty of power for Malware removal.

Even if your program can?t get rid of the malware, it should be able to identify it, and there?s a chance you could find a specially crafted tool to remove it with a google search.  Just double check the tool before downloading, to be sure it?s legitimate.

With a little luck, all you have to do is download the right cleaning program,and install and run it to clean out your computer.  Unfortunately, not all malware writers will make it that easy.  Many types of malware will prevent your system from installing antivirus software, or will make it crash when it tries to run, or will have been designed in a way that makes it hard for antivirus programs to get rid of them.

Time for the first escalation ? Reboot to Safe Mode.  Basically just shut down your computer, give it a few seconds to start booting up and start tapping the F8 key above your keyboard?s number keys.  This should offer the option to boot into safe mode, which boots your computer in the most bare bones almost nothing running setting as possible.  Which means that the malware you?re after is less likely to be able to interfere with your ability to install and/or run your antimalware program.

But if you can?t get rid of Malware even from Safe Mode, there?s another escalation to try ? System Restore.  There are a series of files and settings that control what programs work on your system and how they work together.  As a precaution against problems, your system periodically creates copies of these files and settings at various points.

Use the windows button to open the menu list, and go to accessories.  Then to System tools in the accessories submenu.  There you should see the icon to double click to open the System Restore option.  Open it, and assuming system restore was turned on (Which it is by default), you should have an assortment of restore points representing various moments when you installed different programs, changed settings, and generally made changes.  If you see one dated at a point when you?re pretty sure malware wasn?t installed on your system, select it and run the restoration.

After a few warning system restore will run and with luck erase all the connections the virus has to your systems.  Of course, it will also erase all the connections of any program you installed after that restore point was created so you may need to reinstall some of your programs to make them work again.  After running your antimalware program and hopefully getting rid of the now impotent malware file of course.

Sometimes though, even system restore will be compromised.  At this point, your pretty much stuck with the final option of reinstalling windows.  If possible, your goal should be to perform a Repair Install.  There?s slight differences for Windows XP and Vista.  A repair install will install the OS off the CD without getting rid of all the files on your disk.  Of course, it will remove most of the integrations between the programs and the OS and erase all the updates, so you?ll have to then invest a bit of time into updating the system and reinstalling all your programs.  I?d advise you to install your antivirus first, and let it take it?s time running it?s scans.  While the repair install should have rendered the malware impotent, it will still be there and should be eliminated promptly.

If every other option is lost, you can still run a clean install.  This will erase everything from your hard drive and reinstall the OS.  Naturally before you do this (And indeed before you try some of the earlier steps, just in case), you should download all your important documents and data off your current hard drive onto whatever sort of removable media you can use.  I myself would favor a portable hard drive, which are pretty affordable nowadays.  Just make sure not to try redownloading your data until after you?ve installed all your system?s updates and an antivirus.  And have that antivirus scan your portable drive for any virus?s that hitched a ride.

Of course, if you?re investigating Malware because it?s interfering with your systems performance, you may find it hard to extract your files and data.  Fortunately if you have any access to a clean computer with a working cd burner you?ve got a solution- Ubuntu.  I could talk a bit about Linux and Ubuntu, but all you need to know is that a Linux LiveCD is a freely available OS that can run off the cd, and can also access your disks just like your regular OS.  Just get whoever has the clean computer to download a recent Ubuntu Iso, burn it to a CD, and then you just have to load it into your PC?s optical drive and reboot.  At which point, I could go into the process of getting your data, but it?s been done with screenshots Here.

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