January 2007, V6#1: Computer Tuesday, Dec 30 2008 

What software to use? (part 2)

If you are looking for a “desktop typewriter”, almost any word processing software will do. If you have a Microsoft Window based system, you have WordPad. This is a very basic program, but if you aren’t interested in any bells and whistles (such as spell check, etc.), it is fairly easy to learn and operate. If you don’t have a MS Windows based system, or want to look at something else, there are many shareware programs available at little or no cost.

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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 2005, V4#11: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

Organization – part 1

Having trouble finding anything on your computer?  Are you a “file dumper” into My Documents?  Consider that today’s hard drives have space to hold a room full of filing cabinet information.  Too many people don’t treat their hard drive like the filing system it is.  Many of those that do, start out with good intentions and then for some reason, over time, “just save it” with the intention of moving it later.  At best, this makes the file hard to find, at worst it results in different versions of the “same” files or even exact duplicate files (taking up usable space).

First thing to do when deciding on how your filing system should work is decide what level you (and others using the computer)  are at.  Realize that different types of software programs produce different types of computer files.  Can you look at an “open” directory and see the files you want to open and ignore the rest?  Example:  A novice is working in Word (word processor) and wishes to open a photo.  They will generally try File, Open – resulting in “gobilty gook”.  If this is your problem, I suggest start out segregating your types of files – in “My Documents” have a file for each type of program you use, i.e. Word, Works, Adobe Acrobat, Publisher, Draw, Family Tree Maker, Quark, Photoshop, etc.  From then on, never save a particular format file in a different programs area.  This cuts down on trying to open files the wrong way, but adds to your organization structure. 

One way to make all purpose files: click Start, from menu go to My Documents – this will open a window. From the left column you may choose “make a new folder”. If selection is not available, click in blank area to deselect any folders.  (If column is not there , click File, slide down to new, slide over and click Folder)  Name your folder next, and repeat as necessary.  When you are ready to build folders in any one of the folders you have made, double click it and begin.

More next month…

October 2005, V4#10: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

Don’t neglect your anti-virus program.  When prompted to download, don’t put it off, but make it a priority to get it complete before doing a lot of work online (or installing new software).  Also, do full disk scans periodically.  This is in case a new virus slipped paste before the anti-virus could identify it.  The sweep will pick it up, hopefully before it does too much damage.

August 2005, V4#8: Computer Friday, Dec 26 2008 

Software: Maintenance

A computer is a wonderful thing, but unless you change computers yearly (sometimes even then), a little simple maintenance may head off problems in the future.  We’ll take the time this issue, and future months to mention some of the “high points”.

It’s always a good idea, to start with general hard disk cleaning (XP: Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Clean Up) and “defragging” (XP: Start/All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk Defragmenter).  Of the two, run Disk Clean Up first.  It will empty your Recycle bin, delete many temporary files, etc. – nothing you have actually saved into your files, and compress some into smaller space.  Think of all the data you have saved, deleted, moved, etc.  They are all little chunks of data that can dot your hard drive.  Large files may even be stuck here and there, taking quite a bit of system resources to even open it.  With defragmenting, you are allowing your computer to bring all your bits together and order them in a much smaller block on the hard drive.

August 2003, V2#8: Computer Thursday, Dec 25 2008 

Almost all programs will allow you to adjust the font size to some extent or another.  Production programs such as Acrobat, FrontPage, Print Artist, Publisher, Excel, Corel Draw, etc. usually give the most control.  Internet programs (with the exception of outgoing html email) are a bit different.

The Rule of Thumb: always look at your pull down menus!  Most programs have a menu that has to do with viewing or formatting (many times both).  Click them to see if there are font changing options.

March 2003, V2#3: Computer Thursday, Dec 25 2008 

Microsoft products

Don’t discount the Microsoft website as a source for help and extra goodies.

http://www.microsoft.com

Almost every software program section can be accessed directly by adding a “/” and the software name such as

http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage

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