December 2006, V5#12: Computer Saturday, Dec 27 2008 

99.9% of the books we produce are from Microsoft Word. However, it will depend on what the focus of your book is, as well as what software you are familiar with, and how much work you want the software to do for you. For instance, if the book is to contain many charts, a program that is geared toward generating these charts would be important. If you are working toward mainly fact oriented and are hoping the program will organize a manuscript, a program such as Family Tree Maker might be best. If you are looking for word processing and are familiar with the Corel family of products, you may not want to learn Microsoft Office. If you are wanting to go with fancy margins, clip art, photos, charts, tables, graphic elements on each page, etc., Microsoft Publisher may be the way to go. The bottom line, like so many other decisions comes down to you. It’s hard to beat making a wish list (I want the program to be able to…) and then looking for a product that fits best. Other factors, besides current software knowledge may be cost for new software, compatibility (if looking toward a hybrid or e-book).

Overall software we utilize most (remember, this doesn’t mean they are the best for you):

Manuscript: Microsoft Word (other Office programs such as Excel, Access, Publisher, and FrontPage can be helpful or used with Word, depending on project.)

Photographs: Adobe Photoshop

“Genealogy” Program (Charts, etc.): Family Tree Maker

November 2006, V5#11: Computer Saturday, Dec 27 2008 

Do you find yourself typing (or modifying) the same kind of letter over and over? Reduce the chance of mix ups through cut and paste or saving over old file copies by making a template. In many Windows based programs it is fairly simple. Make the “cookie cutter” basis that you will be using over and over again. This even works well for non raised letterhead! Next, choose “save as”. When you have the save as dialog box up, go to the bottom boxes and click the down arrow (right side) for the file type. From the pull down list that just came up, choose template, or .tmp, check the file name (change it if you want), then OK. Now, next time you want to use the text, click the “file” pull down menu and choose new. Selections may come up on the right side of your screen, or you will get a box that allows you to choose from templates. Choose the template and off you go! When you open a template, modify it and are ready to save, it automatically assumes you are not modifying the template, but producing a file in the default format – such as .doc for Word.

September 2006, V5#9: Computer Saturday, Dec 27 2008 

(Mis)Spelling with Microsoft

While this trick may work with other programs, it seems to work like a dream in most MS Office programs. Do you have a word that seems misspelled but you don’t want to run the spell check? Right click the word, a option menu will pop up with several alternatives. Just click the correct on and the word will be fixed without having to run spell check.

August 2006, V5#8: Computer Saturday, Dec 27 2008 

Does it seem like every document or web page you open has smaller text then the last? If your mouse of choice has a wheel (“wheel mouse”), you may be in luck. In at least Microsoft Word and Internet Explorer, this trick works like a dream (most of the time): When you want to see the text larger on a page or document you are viewing, be sure your mouse pointer is somewhere on the “page” in question, hold down your control key and move your wheel away from you (while holding the mouse still). This should zoom the text in direct relation to how far you move the wheel. The reverse is true if moving the wheel toward you. Try this in your favorite program – it might work there too!

June 2006, V5#6: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

Are you one of those folks who can’t seem to get the mouse clicking on the right button? Lots of times, it can be as simple as being left handed – yes, a mouse is by default right handed. Do you continually click the right button, instead of the left? If you don’t share your computer with many others, you can change your mouse to respond too your right clicks (just remember that if you do, all instructions to left click will be right, etc. instead):

(XP instructions) Access your computer’s control panel (double click the “my computer” icon on the desktop; in that window, click “control panel”  in “other places” from the left column). In the control panel, double click “mouse” – this will bring up a mouse dialog box. Under the buttons tab, click the check box for “switch primary and secondary buttons” – the graphic to the right will then change buttons. Don’t forget to click “Apply” (right button now) at the bottom of the box to close it. If you don’t click the Apply button, the buttons may not remember the switch.

May 2006, V5#5: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

MS Word Templates

Do you have a file that you use over and over again – such as letterhead layout or basic query? If so, an easy way not to have to retype it all each time is to save a generic file. If there is changing information in the text, replace it with a line of symbols you eye is drawn to (*************). When you want to use the saved file, open it and automatically save as with the new file name, then compose. If you want to, a real template can be made, but they are opened differently then regular files. Get  the file ready, then when you save as, change the program type from “word document” to “document template” – save as usual but where the computer wants you to. Then, to use the template, from the pull down menus choose file, then new. This will bring up the right hand pane or a window. If the template you want isn’t shown in the right hand pane, choose general templates which will bring up the window – choose the template you wish to use and it will open as a new document.

(For reversal of mouse see June)

April 2006, V5#4: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

Does your mouse never seem to do what the instructions say it is supposed to do? Double check to see if the instructions were for right or left click. Many times we can get the mouse to do something, even if we click the wrong button.

Mouse backwards? Do you have to right click even if it says left? Tune in next month or email us for the instructions…

February 2006, V5#2: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

Organization – part 4

Do you have a lot of photos that have been given to you, you’ve taken, or scanned?  If so, they could be slowing your computer down.  Additionally, if the only copy of a photo you have is on your hard drive, we really don’t want to think what will happen if the computer crashes.  If you have the budget and don’t mind new hardware, there are several excellent back up systems you can purchase and install to take care of knowing your photos are safe.  But what about those of us with less than 40% hard drive space open?  It’s time to file your photos!  One of the easiest ways with today’s technology is with a USB drive (starting at $20).  Once you have tamed the photos and put them into file folders, simply plug the drive into your computer, open up its’ window and a window that shows your photos and drag and drop.  It is suggested that you keep the drive with a general table of contents to make retreval/enjoyment fairly easy.  Another excellent way to file photos is by CD. Once you have your photos on removable storage media (drives or disks), it is up to you whether to keep them on your computer.

While you can use this filing tactic with any type of files, currently photos are the universal memory hog.  If you do digital video; have your genealogy back to the 1600 (including lots of collateral lines) in GEDCOM, etc.; have all your audio collection in the hard drive; etc. all of these may be filed similar to the photo example above.

Old School Tip: Were you computing at home in the 1980s?  Still have those large floppy boxes?  If so, they make excellent CD storage – with or without the jewel cases!

Please Note: Due to the newness of digital storage, it is important to keep your storage up to date.  Some of us still have large floppy disks with data on them – and no where to use them!

January 2006, V5#1: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

Organization – part 3

As you begin wholesale organization, you may find more than one copy of a file that is similar, if not apparently an exact duplicate.  There is no reason (other than personal preference and convenience) to have more than one file with the same information in it on your hard drive.  Back up copies may be made on any number of types of removable media (CDs, flash drives, memory cards or sticks, etc.) or even a dedicated back up hard drive.

So, how do you select what to keep and what to pitch without extensive proofing to be sure you don’t delete the best one?  Here are a few suggestions:

In Windows Explorer (or even just an “open” window), find the “Views” button near the top, just under the title bar.  This button will look similar to an index card with dots and/or dashes on it and may have a down arrow to the right of it.  Clicking the main button will “scroll” through the types of views the computer allows you to see for the contents of the file.  If a down arrow is showing, clicking it will give you a list of the views.  For this, select the “details” – it will show file name, save date, file size, etc. in columns.  Next, locate your apparently duplicate files – were they saved on the same date, are they the same size, etc.  Use this information to help you decide which may be the best to keep and what is outdated.

Still not sure what to keep?  Choose one to keep on the hard drive and make a backup media copy of all other versions – in case they are ever needed.

More next month…

December 2005, V4#12: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

Organization – part 2

Once you have decided whether to have one main organization structure, or divide files by type and then organize, it’s time to do some serious directory making and/or “moving in”.

Don’t start moving your files until you have your main directory structure thought out.  For instance, don’t make “photo” and “graphic” file folders in My Documents/My Pictures and the move all your graphics, then decide to make folders in photo for subjects, dates, etc. – this would make you more work by having to move the same file every time you choose do divide it more.  First take a look at your overall structure you have decided, think about the type of files you have and/or may be making – plan a structure and file folders that will make items easy to find.  Once the structure is in place, you can start moving in.

One easy way to move files follows: click Start, then click My Documents.  From there, double click a file folder you wish to move into.  Continue double clicking into sub folders until you get to a folder you plan on moving files into.  Next go back and click Start then My Documents again.  If files need to be moved from here just place the mouse on the item, hold down the left mouse button and drag it to the other file folder window and release.

Continue repeating steps until files are in correct folders.  Don’t worry if you find as you move you need more folders, just make them :o)

Note – if you find you’ve placed a file folder in the wrong place, the whole folder can be moved just like a single file: drag and drop.

More next month…

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