07/25/12

Permalink 02:22:00 pm by Brendan, Categories: Uncategorized, Article

217The oldest and most basic computer input devices is the qwerty keyboard. In the decades of its existence programmers have incorporated all lot of keyboards functionality into all the different program, or at least most of them. But this functionality is often shared across so many different programs that programmers can forget the need to tell you about it.

The first un-secret to reveal is the special keys at the bottom of the keyboard. The oldest special key is the Shift key, dating back to the typewriter. When you hold down shift, it will capitalize any letter typed, or swap any number with the alternate character shown above it on the key - like 2 becomes @ when the shift key is pressed.

The extra keys Ctrl, Alt, and also have the ability to function like this. Indeed, whenever any instruction/tutorial/ FAQ uses a term like Ctrl+C, it means hold down the Ctrl button then press the C key to activate it's alternative function, Copy.

The three keys X C and V are the almost universal clipboard shortcuts. The clipboard is basically like a space where any one thing can be stored at any time. Pressing Ctrl and X will remove whatever you've selected and while copying it to the clipboard, while Ctrl and C will copy it to the clipboard without removing the original.

Then control plus V will put a copy of whatever's in the clipboard wherever your computer is focused. Together these functions are known as Cut (Ctrl+X), Copy (Ctrl+C), and Paste (Ctrl+V).

Less well known is the shortcut one key to the right, Undo (Ctrl+Z). Almost every program supports this function to some degree. It reverses the last action you've takes, restoring deleted content, erasing inserted content, moving moved content back where it had been, etc. A lot of programs record multiple undo steps so that you can press undo several times to backtrack multiple steps, but a few programs only record one undo step, thus limiting undo to one step.

Some programs also allow Ctrl+Y undo the undo command.

Other common control shortcuts include Ctrl+P - the Print command, Ctrl+S the Save Command, and Ctrl+F the Find command. Ctrl+F works in most web browsers and is a good way to quickly search for a specific name or term on a long webpage.

They Alt key has far fewer standard commands associated with it. The most common usage is that by holding down both Alt and Ctrl and pressing the Delete key, the computer will open an options dialog including the task manager. This is a very useful if the program you open it is not working right because the task manager can close programs that aren't shutting down properly.

Also the Alt key is frequently used for special keyboard shortcuts in programs with a lot of functions. And besides the usual shortcut Alt+ approach, if you just tap the Alt key, it will prep the menu for keyboard manipulation. So for instance, instead of using the mouse to click File then Print to print a page, (Or just hitting Ctrl+P), you can hit the alt key, then File to open the file drop down and P because that's the underlined letter for Print in said drop down menu.

Finally there's the Windows key, or the Start key. On keyboards for windows based computers it usually has either the word Start or a slightly curvy diagonal square divided in 4 parts. It's primary purpose is to open the start menu, which shows programs, settings and folders for you to open. In Windows Vista and 7, it also opens with a cursor in the main system search menu, so if you want to search for something on your computer you can just hit Start and then type it in.

Since the search includes all the programs installed on your system, this also acts as a way to quickly open any program installed on your computer, just type in the name, and hit enter when it comes up.

Recent Windows versions have also added more uses for the windows key. In 7 for instance, you can rearrange windows by holding down the windows key then tapping the arrow keys.

With over 30 years of development, the keyboard has a lot more it can do. Search keyboard shortcuts on google to learn more, identifying specific programs because many have unique keyboard tricks.

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

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