Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Lost Word toolbars

Another computer class this morning. I've hired a set of laptops for this course. When we turned them on this morning, several of the students found that their toolbars in Word had disappeared. Well - we're using Word 2007, so they aren't called toolbars anymore - it's the ribbon (new version of Office, new jargon to learn. Why??)

Whether you are using Office 2007 or an earlier version or Open Office, or many other programs, the problem is similar. The toolbars disappear. Now what do you do. You need to get them back.

I've just added a page to my website, with screenshots, to show you how. It's hard to explain here as I'd have to add all the pics. Head on over to my site for the illustrated answer.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Treat very urgently - DHL Delivery Company

Today we're in Romania or Southern Illinois. Possibly a Romanian national living in Illinois. S/he sent me an email, claiming to come from Nigeria, telling me to contact the delivery company urgently as "Mrs Stella Johnson" of "Zenith Bank PLC" has sent me an ATM card worth $2m. I guess she has more money in her bank account than I do. My ATM card is worth a few hundred dollars at the most.

"The DHL Delivery Service Company are hereby passing an essential massageto all our valuable customers to be very careful while presenting theirreceivers residential address to avoid wrong delivery. This is the DHL courier service company mailing you as per your parcelthat was brought to this company to be delivered to you by oneMiss.Stella Johnson of ZENITH BANK PLC, along the delivery process therecame a misunderstanding between you and the nicon insurance company inregard of their request as per their insurance certificate which happensto be course of your parcel pending for the past One Year.Meanwhile weare hereby happy to inform you that the DHL Company has finalizedeverything with the nicon insurance company of Nigeria as the companyorganization has also listed 24 valuable parcels to be intact in theiroffice after the released of the parcels from the nicon insurancecompany. We are happy to inform you once again that your parcel thatcontain ATM CARD worth the sum of $2 million dollars is among the 24parcels listed which is now in our office and also with your name as thereceiver despite that we lost your private residential addresss ............."

It rambles on at great length. I haven't read the rest and don't intend to. I will delete it and so should you.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

PowerBall Email Promotion

Mrs Maria Johnson has written to tell me I've won a "a cash award of 500.000.00 GBP ".

She urges me to contact the claims unit of PowerBall London, who have a gmail address. Strangely her original email comes from a courier company in the Czech Republic.

As ever, don't be taken in by her. You cannot win a lottery you haven't entered. Delete the email.

The origins of my scam emails this week are truly international. So far I've had them from Chile, Portugal and now the Czech Republic. A tour of the world without leaving home.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Lady Dorothy Livingstone

My lucky week for money continues. Now it's the sad tale of Lady Dorothy Livingstone. Who wants to leave me all her money.

"Here writes LADY DOROTHY LIVINGSTONE suffering from cancerous ailment.Whenmy late husband was alive he deposited the sum of Twenty-Three MillionPounds......"

She tells me she is suffering from a "cancerous problem". I'm sure many thousands have received the same email.

It's yet another scam, of course. Delete it.

Strangely this poor lady, claims to be in the UK, sends her emails under the name of Jose Monteiro from a college in Portugal!!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Free lottery company

I see retirement and a villa in the South of France looming. My "lucky" week continues. Apparently I've now won £1m from the free lottery company. Here is an extract from their email:

"Dear Selected winner,This is to inform you that you have been selected for a cash Prize of £1,000,000 (One Million Pounds Sterling) in cash from International programme held on the 30th of August 2008 in United Kingdom.You are advised to contact the verification department through our assigned claims agent by providing your Reference Number Ref: UK/4061X2/08.You are also advised to provide him with the underlisted information."

It's another scam, of course. As I said in a previous post - you can't win a lottery you haven't entered. I'll delete the email, and so should you if you receive it. Don't be taken in by the scammers who are after your bank account details and/or your identity. If you want the chance to win all that dosh, buy some premium bonds.

Mrs Rita Petrov

It seems to be my lucky week. Everyone wants to send me money. I've just received an email from "Mrs Rita Petrov". I won't bore you with most of the contents. She is, apparently, the heir to $18million following the untimely death of her husband and daughter and she herself is now dying of cancer. She is a born again Christian and so is keen to release all her money to me.

She claims she lives in Russia. As with all scammers the email came from a Hotmail email address. A little digging told me it was actually sent from Chile.

Whoever and whatever Mrs Petrov is, she certainly isn't Christian. She's a scammer.

If you receive one of these emails, delete it. She doesn't exist and she certainly isn't going to send you $18million. What s/he really wants is your bank account details so s/he can help herself to your money.

Delete the email. Don't reply to it. It's a scam, pure and simple

Paragraph Indents

My new beginners' class started this morning. One student managed to type a few paragraphs of text with a hanging indent.

What is a hanging indent? It's when the first line of the paragraph is longer than the subsequent lines. The underneath lines are all indented. If you've never seen it before and don't mean to do it, it can look a bit odd.

Not surprisingly the student was rather alarmed about what she'd done and wanted her paragraphs to look like everyone elses.

I love it when my students manage to do odd little things like that. It's the perfect opportunity for a class demonstration. This time on first line indents and hanging indents.

I can't demonstrate the different type of paragraph indents here on the blog, but if you'd like to know more about the different types of paragraph indents, head on over to this page of my website. I'll show you all you ever wanted to know about indented paragraphs but were afraid to ask!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Mailing List

It's time to send out my monthly newsletter. Until now I've just had a mailing list subscription form on my main site and not here on the blog. I decided it was time to change that - so I've added the mailing list subscription box to the righthand column. Being a cheepskate it's a free list and I can't adapt the size of the box. It's a bit too wide for the column but it works.

If you join the mailing list I promise not to bombard you with spam emails (I'm too lazy) and you can unsubscribe at any time. As I said at the start of this post I send out the newsletter about once a month.

If you fancy a little light relief, my cat has decided to start her own blog. You can find her here.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Fake bank emails

The phishers are working hard. This morning I received an email (supposedly) from Lloyds TSB who cheerfully informed me "We have updated the Internet Banking Terms and Conditions to reflect changes to the cut off times for transactions.".

Now I don't have an account with them. I do use online banking with my bank and I have my account set so that they don't send me emails. So I know that any bank email I receive must be a fake.

How else can I tell it's a fake? If I point my mouse at the link in the email which is supposed to take me to the bank website, this is what I see at the bottom left of my computer screen. Not the address of the real bank website.

If I try to click on the link and open it in any of my web browsers I receive a warning message that this is a reported phishing site.

This phishing filter feature (try saying that in a hurry!!) is built into all new web browsers. If you are using an outdated browser, please update to the latest version with the latest security features.

What do I mean by a web browser? Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and others. If you use a Mac computer you are just as vulnerable to phishing attempts as Windows users. Make sure you are using the latest version of your browser. If you're not sure which version you are using, try clicking on the help button. Then go to the manufacturer's website and see if there is a later version to download.

Meanwhile, stay alert and be safe.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Fake lottery, grant or inheritance emails

It is sad but true that some people still fall victim to the scam emails offering thousands or even millions of dollars. Please don't get taken in by them. You can't win a lottery you haven't entered, or a grant you haven't applied for. Nobody that you haven't met is really going to send you £10million just for supplying your email address.

These scammers are all after one or maybe two things. Your bank account details and your ID. They don't want to add money to your account, they want to remove it.

Here is one scam I received just a few days ago:

"We are giving out a yearly donation of US$850,000.00 each to 100 lucky recipients. These specific Donations/Grants will be awarded to 100 lucky international recipients worldwide; in different categories for their personal business development and enhancement of their educational plans."

There is a lot more fluff and then a Hotmail email address. They even include the bona fide website address of a French charitable foundation. If you visit their website even my GCSE level French can tell that there is a message on there telling you about the scam and saying they only send communications in French!

It's sad but true that these scams continue. I guess they continue because every so often someone falls for them. Please don't be taken in.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Digital Photography Secrets

Back to the theme of digital photography! I'm due to start a new beginners' computer course next week and already some of the students are asking me if I can show them how to use a digital camera. We might have time for a session or two on the basics of using a digital camera. I still haven't written a digital camera course of my own. Guess I'm too lazy. I love using my digi camera - I'm often to be seen with it snapping away at butterflies, flowers, cats, my pony (she's cute).

I've had a hunt around and found this digital camera secrets book. This book shows you how to take better photos with your camera, not how to enhance them with software afterwards. (If you want to learn how to enhance photos take a look at my previous post on Photoshop.)

I was particularly attracted by this quote from the author's website: "This book is concise, to-the-point and practical. If you want a book filled with philosophical discussions, theoretical musings, and page after page of fluff on the "art" vs. the "science" of photography…please do NOT order this book. "

Check it out and let me know what you think of the book.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Importance of Backups

Anyone that knows me will know that I am paranoid about telling my clients to make sure they have a backup copy of all the important data on their computers. By backup copy I mean a copy on CD or DVD or a memory stick or another computer or an external hardrive or an online backup service or simply a printed copy.

How you backup depends on how many photos, emails, addresses, documents etc you have. But I can't stress too much the importance of making sure you have a copy of everything somewhere, just in case. If you are running a business or have photos or documents you really don't want to lose, then have at least 2 backup copies, with one being stored away from the computer.

I had yet another example yesterday of why backups are important. I was called to a computer that wouldn't start up, but was just going round in an endless loop of trying to start, turning off and turning back on again. It might be a problem with the RAM, it might be that the hard disc has failed. I sent the computer, and its distraught owner, back to the shop it came from. The physical problem can be fixed. But if the hardrive has failed and needs to be replaced the data will be lost - and the last backup copy was from January.

One day I've a feeling I will be able to write a book on 101 ways to lose your data and why you should back up. Meanwhile, If you're still not convinced I have written some of the real situations that happened to my clients on my main website. You can find them here. Cautionary tales for everyone. Don't let it happen to you - please.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Learn to use the internet

Most people who want to learn to use a computer really want to learn to use the internet. If you can't use the internet these days you seem to be at a disadvantage in my areas of life. Why should you learn to use the internet? Here are a few reasons:

If you have young relatives or friends they are unlikely to want to write a letter or postcard these days. In order to keep in touch they will expect you to use email. Don't be afraid of the internet. It really is a quick and easy way to keep in touch with friends and relatives all over the world. If you use broadband you can also use your computer to talk to people using internet telephony and even see and be seen by your friends using a webcam. Webcams only cost a few pounds and are fantastic for helping you to keep in touch with distant grandchildren.

For many people, being able to order goods and groceries online is a real boon. If you are older, or disabled or ill, it is so easy to order online. Buy presents for friends/relatives this way and they can be delivered directly to the recipient. I have ME and when I'm in a relapse I find it really helpful to be able to order my groceries online. No need to struggle to the shops - the groceries are delivered to your door.

If you want to book a holiday, being able to do your research into prices, times and destinations is a real help.

If you are travelling by train or plane, you can usually check online to see if the service is on time (or cancelled) before leaving home.

If you have any special interests the internet is a wonderful tool for researching. There are also some wonderful online game sites if you play bridge or chess.

If you find it difficult to get out for any reason the internet can be a source of new friends. Of course you need to be careful about giving personal information to people you don't know, but there are many legitimate penfriend, dating and forum sites where you can chat to like minded people.

Many people would like to learn to use the internet but are afraid of attending a course, or have asked someone to show them how and not understood. Don't worry. I have been teaching older students how to the internet for several years. I have written an easy to follow course to help you to use the internet. It comes in two versions. One for Windows XP (or earlier) and one for Windows Vista. Just purchase whichever version is right for you and enjoy your journey to becoming a member of the internet age.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Learn Photoshop

Many people own digital cameras and I'm often asked if I run "digital camera courses". I have run a few sessions on the basics of using a digital camera. But all makes of camera are different. That makes it hard to run a class on how to use any particular camera, as most of the students will have a different make or model. Not all the buttons will be in the same place anddifferent functions will be available on different cameras.

Many of the people who ask about digital camera courses don't really want to learn to use theie camera. They want to learn to manipulate digital images using software. As with digital cameras, there are lots of different digital image manipulation software packages. Some basic ones are free. If you want to be able to carry out more extensive manipulation of your images, you will probably want some paid for software. One very popular package is Photoshop. There are lots of beginners' courses for Photoshop, but I have found this one which is aimed specifically at people who want to improve their portrait photos. The author is a portrait photographer - weddings, children, birthdays. In this course for newbies he specifically teaches you the techniques that he uses to enhance and improve portraits. Take a look.

The author is so confident that you will like his product that he offers a 60 day money back guarantee. So if you own Photoshop (and this product is for the full version of Photoshop, not Photoshop Elements) take a look. You have nothing to lose.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Highlighting Text - triple clicking

Just a quickie post. Most people know that if you use the mouse to double click on a word you will highlight the whole word. I can't demonstrate here.

But - did you know - if you TRIPLE click you will highlight the whole paragraph? It's the only use I know of for a triple click - unless someone can tell me another one.

I'll throw that open as a challenge to all readers of this blog - and my website. A free copy of any of my computer courses to anyone that can tell me another use for a triple click.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Learn how to use a computer

Autumn is here (did we ever have summer?). This is the time of year when people start to think about learning a new skill and making new friends. Many people will look at the brochures offered by their local providers of adult education to see if any courses take their fancy. You might be one of the people who would like to learn how to use a computer. Many colleges offer a variety of introductory computer courses. Don't be afraid to sign up.

Why should you learn how to use a computer? The most important reason is that it's fun! Yes - really. There's no need to be afraid of a computer. They don't bite and I've never known anyone be mauled by a computer yet. Go for it - sign up. You will make new friends amongst your fellow students. Don't worry if you are older, most students who want to learn how to use a computer are older. You will be in good company. Joining a class will help motivate you to use the computer between classes. This is the best way to learn. If you don't have access to a computer to practice between lessons you will find you learn more slowly. If you don't have a computer at home, try using one of the computers at your local library or internet cafe, or ask at your local council offices to see if they have a public computer facility. Many do.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Learn to use a computer

Autumn's nearly here and it's time to work on setting up my new courses. If you want to learn to use a computer this is a great time to enrol on a local course. The nights are drawing in and most courses will finish in plenty of time to allow you to do the Christmas shopping. My learn to use a computer courses are 10 weeks long and will finish at the beginning of December.

I've been running beginner computer courses for 10 years and it amazes me that there are still lots of people out there who want to learn to use a computer for the first time, or to improve their computing skills. These days I find it is best to run courses in village halls or more rural locations. People will come to something local but won't drive into the nearest time.

That's great for me, I get to run my courses in a wide range of beautiful locations.

It's interesting to me to know why people want to learn to use a computer. Most of my students are older - usually 50+, although I do occasionally get some younger students. These are the most common reasons why people come on my courses:

a) Keeping up with the grandchildren - and some of my students have grandchildren living with them.
b) Wanting to improve skills to help their business - probably about half of my students these days run some kind of small business from home.
c) They've been given a computer by their children. It amazes me how many people will pass on a computer to their parents and just expect them to use it!
d) Wanting to use the internet for shopping.

If you can't find a course local to your, don't worry. You can purchase my courses from my website. I have 4 courses:
1) Learn to use a computer with Word 2003/XP/2000
2) Learn to use a computer with Word 2007 and Windows Vista
3) Learn to use a computer with Open Office
4) Learn to use the internet Windows XP

You can learn to use a computer at your own pace. My courses have been tried and tested by my students. They all contain step by step instructions. You can work at your own pace. They all start at the beginning and are suitable for complete beginners and improvers. Go for it.
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