Browse on to find a collection of articles on a range of topics to help you have more fun and get more done with technology. Is there a topic we haven't covered? Shoot us an email at askgizmo@gizmo.com.au and we'll be sure to cover it for you!

A network is two or more computers that are connected which allows for things like sharing files, printers or Internet connections. A wireless network simply uses high-frequency radio waves rather than cables to make the connections. This can be helpful in cases where wiring may be difficult, and also gives you the freedom to be online from just about anywhere in your home. Gizmo offers a complete wireless network solution.

As Microsoft becomes aware of new vulnerabilities in Windows they releases pieces of software called Updates that remove the vulnerabilities that your computer was previously exposed to. Windows Update – available at http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com/ – should be run at least once a month. If this is not done, your computer could be vulnerable to attack from hackers or virus infection, despite the presence of a virus detection program.

VoIP lets you make phone calls using the Internet. Because all you pay for is your broadband connection (which you are probably paying for anyway), this can be a very cheap way to make long distance or local phone calls. All it requires is a broadband connection, microphone and headphones. Some VoIP technology even makes it possible to use your existing phone handsets to call via the Internet saving lots of money. The only limitation with VoIP is that it cannot make emergency calls and does not function in a power blackout. A common VoIP program is www.skype.com.

What is a virus?

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A virus is a self-replicating program that spreads by inserting copies of itself into other code or documents on your computer. Viruses can be caught from documents, attach themselves to emails and spread through networks. Viruses usually attempt to hide and disrupt your system as much as possible.

Using Windows XP you can create separate accounts for each person who will be using the computer. This allows each user to log onto the same computer yet have their own personalised document folders and settings such as wallpapers, start menu items, visual styles and so on. You can create and configure user accounts with the User Accounts tool in the Control Panel.

A UPS keeps your computer running for several minutes after a power outage. That means if there is a power failure you have time to save your important work and shut down your computer properly to avoid any problems of a sudden shut down.

What is Streaming?

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Unlike downloading, where you receive the full file on your computer before you can play it, streaming allows you to play a file as it is being downloaded. This means that the file starts playing much faster and continues to download in the background as you are watching or listening. Also, the file is usually not stored on your computer permanently.

Spyware is the name for programs that contain hidden nasties which can be used to send your private information across the Internet and destabilise your computer. Some can even cause your modem to dial overseas pay numbers leading to high phone bills. Spyware applications are typically bundled as a hidden component of freeware or shareware programs that can be downloaded from the Internet. Malware is software that is designed to cause problems on your computer and like spyware is downloaded with other programs and runs without your knowledge.

What is Spam?

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Spam is basically any email message that is sent to you without your permission. These can include unwanted advertising or online scams requesting your bank details or similar. Note: banks don’t ask for personal information over email, so always check with your bank before you give out any details.

What is Satellite?

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Satellite is a way of connecting to the Internet via satellites. It is quite expensive to use and set up so is usually only used in regional areas where regular dial-up or broadband Internet access is unavailable. This cost is subsidised by the government in some rural areas.

What is a Router?

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A router is a device that determines where data should be sent and is used to create a network of computers sharing information. Routers also provide security preventing non-requested data from entering the network – for example stopping intruders from remotely connecting to your computer).

What is Ripping?

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CDs can be copied onto your computer via a process known as ‘ripping’. It is called this because all of the information on the CD is effectively ripped off the disk and copied onto your computer. The information still remains on your CD so you can play the songs (or access the files) using the CD or on your computer.

A refresh rate is the speed at which your monitor’s picture is redrawn or flashed in front of your eyes. Slower refresh rates provide a noticeable flicker. Higher refresh rates create a steady picture. The maximum refresh rate changes depending on your monitor. A minimum of 75 Hertz is recommended for computer monitors. Television refresh rates are 30 Hertz which is why there is a noticeable flicker.

RAM, or more simply referred to as memory, is the space you need to run the programs and files you are currently working on. If the hard disk is like a filing cabinet, then RAM is like the desk where all your current projects are running. The more RAM you have, the more things you can work on at once – like email programs, design software, word processing and games etc. Larger amounts of RAM are useful in situations where you do lots of things on your computer at once.

A power supply converts power from standard electrical outlets into a steady stream of power which your computer can use. A 300 Watt power supply is generally sufficient for home users, but power users may need a 400 or 500 Watt version if they have multiple hard drives or other components. The quality of power supply can be very important and may make the difference between a stable computer and a computer that crashes often. Most good power supplies are designed to be self-sacrificing (like a fuse) in the event of a power surge to protect the components in your computer. It is worth investing in a power supply unit with surge protection.

Your operating system is the main software your computer uses to run everything from editing documents and listening to music to playing games and browsing the Internet. Lots of different programs can be run on top of the operating system, but the operating system brings everything together.

What is a Network?

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A network is two or more computers that are connected which allows for things like sharing files, printers or Internet connections. For example a home with three computers might have a network that lets them all print using the one printer, or all access the same family music library.

The motherboard is the central skeleton of the computer, all parts connect into it. Therefore if it breaks most parts of the computer need to be replaced, especially if it is an older motherboard as replacing the motherboard can be tricky.

What is a Monitor?

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A monitor is the screen of your computer that displays programs, games, websites, documents and pretty much everything else that happens on your computer. It plugs into your computer.

What is a Modem?

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A modem is a device that allows computers to connect to their Internet service provider and the Internet. All Internet connections (dial-up, cable, ADSL, ADSL2+ and wireless) need a modem to work.

LCD’s are a type of display used in digital watches, desktop monitors and many portable computers. They use two sheets of polarizing material with a liquid crystal solution between them. An electric current passed through the liquid causes the crystals to align so that light cannot pass through them. Each crystal, therefore, is like a shutter, either allowing light to pass through or blocking the light. This generates the colours and images needed to use a computer.

An ISP is the company that connects you to the Internet – they’re the people that you pay each month in return for a certain amount of Internet usage. In many cases, your ISP also provides you with your email address.

A hard drive is like the filing cabinet of your computer. It is used to store files – like word documents, spreadsheets, music and images – when they are not being worked on. The larger the filing cabinet (or hard disk) the more files that can be stored.

Dial-up Internet connects you to the Internet using a standard phone line. It transmits information by converting data into ‘noise’ that is sent along your phone line just like the way voices are transmitted. Dial-up is quite slow (not great for accessing online music, video or large images) and you cannot talk on the phone and surf the Internet at the same time.

Invented in 1897, CRT’s are still the most common display technology for televisions. The tube uses an electron beam to scan lines on the screen coated with phosphor, which glows when struck by the beam. The other display technology being used more and more often nowadays in television sets is LCD.

The CPU is the brain of the computer; it does the majority of the calculations and processing. The faster your CPU the quicker programs will open and the more things that can be done at the same time.

What is a Computer?

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The computer is the box that is connected to your monitor (screen). It is like the engine of your system and holds all the hardware components needed to run all your programs.

A CD burner lets you create (or burn) CDs by writing information to blank CDs using a powerful laser – these are good for data backups or storing music. CD burners and blank CDs are inexpensive to install and easy use.

Cable Internet is a very high-speed connection to the Internet that connects to your house using fibre optic cables (not the telephone line). Due to the scarcity of cable networks (i.e. only Telstra and Optus have cable networks) cable Internet plans are relatively expensive at this stage.

What is Broadband?

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Broadband is a high speed connection to the Internet so you can view websites, and download music, videos and pictures very easily.

Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line

Like dial-up Internet, ADSL uses a regular phone line to connect your computer to the Internet, but it works at much higher speeds. One of the main advantages of ADSL over dial-up is that you can use your telephone line at the same time as you are on the Internet. As there are many providers of ADSL there is high competition for business ensuring low prices. ADSL 2+ is a newer and much faster version of ADSL. It uses similar technology and also uses existing phone lines.

What is Bluetooth?

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The technology ‘Bluetooth’ was named after the late 10th century King of Denmark and Norway, ‘Harald Bluetooth’. King Bluetooth was known for his efforts to unite warring tribes from Denmark and Norway. In much the same way Bluetooth, the communications technology, provides a means for your digital devices to communicate with each other. Like the wireless technology found in your average home wireless network, Bluetooth devices communicate using radio waves in order to remove the need for a physical wired connection.

Bluetooth allows for the communication of small amounts of information (such as audio, key strokes etc) between two “paired” devices in close proximity to each other. As it has been designed to only work over small distances, it doesn’t use much power. This low power consumption makes the technology well suited to battery powered devices such as mobile phones, headsets and keyboards. If you would like more technical information on Bluetooth and how it works, there is an excellent Wikipedia entry on the subject at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluetooth.

What is Facebook?

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Facebook is an internet phenomenon which is currently sweeping the globe. Like instant messaging and sites such as YouTube, Facebook is a website which allows you to find and communicate with friends, share photographs and compare your likes and dislikes.

Facebook has become so popular because it is uniquely viral in that you need to find “friends” before you can communicate with anyone. This means that almost everyone who joins Facebook tries to get as many of their contacts as possible to join up. This process means that large numbers of people join up very quickly.

People either have a love or hate relationship with Facebook as it gets to know an inordinate amount of information about you very quickly – not scary information like your credit card or bank details but information about who dated who and when and what you like and dislike. If providing your friends with this sort of personal information doesn’t sound too scary head over to facebook.com and sign up for a new account.

There are actually two ways in which you can link cells between worksheets:   

 

HOW TO LINK A SINGLE CELL

Use this first option if you only need to link a single cell:

Step 1  Determine the cells that you’d like to link in each worksheet.  In this example we’re linking the data in Sheet A, cell A2 with the same cell in Sheet B.

Option 1_Step 1

 

Step 2  In the worksheet with the empty cell, select the cell and enter an equal sign (=). Using our example, this is Sheet B, cell A2.

Option 1_Step 2 

 

Step 3  Go to worksheet containing the data that you’d like to link, select your cell and hit <Enter>.  In our example, this is Sheet A, cell A2.

Option 1_Step 3

The cells are now linked and the data will show up in both sheets.  If you change the data in the original sheet, it will also change in the linked sheet.

 

HOW TO LINK A RANGE OF CELLS

Use this second option if you need to link a range of cells:

Step 1  Determine the range of cells that you’d like to link in each worksheet.  In this example we’re linking the data in Sheet A, cells A2 to A13 with the same cells in Sheet B.

 Option 2_Step 1
 

Step 2  In the worksheet with the data, highlight the range of cells that you’d like to link then right click and select ‘Copy’.  Using our example, we’re in Sheet A, highlighting cells A2 to A13.

Option 2_Step 2 

 

Step 3  Go to the worksheet with the empty cells and highlight the range of cells where you’d like to link the data.  Note, this should be the same number of cells.  Then right click and select the ‘Link’ icon.  This icon looks like a link in a chain. In our example we’re in Sheet B and have highlighted cells A2 to A13.

Option 2_Step 3        

The entire range of cells is now linked and the data will show up in both sheets.  If you change the data in the original sheet, it will also change in the linked sheet.

Option 2_Step 4 

What are PUPs?

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When we talk about PUP’s in tech land we’re definitely not talking about the cute kind.  In fact, they could be seen as the complete opposite. PUPs are Potentially Unwanted Programs, unwelcome programs or software that hang around on a computer, slowing it down and/or taking up valuable space.  Common PUPs include:

Trial software – which may be handy initially but as soon as it expires its useless.  For example, most companies offering Antivirus software will allow you to trial it for a set period of time.  Once this free trial period is up the software will no longer protect your computer but it will continue to start-up and run in the background and occasionally pop-up and remind you that you’re computer is unprotected. 

Web browser toolbars – attach themselves to the top of your internet browser, often slowing it down.  Some of them may be familiar and some not.   Be careful as some of these ‘tools’ may be doing things that you’re unaware of (like gathering information on the web pages that you visit), or popping up unwelcome information.  One of the most common ‘unwanted’ web browser toolbars is news.net

Computer optimisers – scan your computer searching for problems that don’t exist.  They then suggest ‘solutions’ for these problems which, more often than not, you have to pay for to implement.  If your computer is new then it doesn’t need to be ‘optimised’ and you should steer clear of this type of software.  If your computer is getting a little old and tired then it may be worthwhile getting it professionally cleaned instead.

PUPs can really affect the performance of your computer so, where possible, try to avoid them.   If you’ve noticed your computer already being impacted by one or more unwanted programs then it’s best to find a way to remove/delete them.

 

With over 50 million ‘snaps’ per day worldwide and counting, Snapchat certainly has become a hit with teens at the moment, and many adults too! While both platforms originated from university students and are all about ‘sharing’, Snapchat focuses on ‘moments’; literally. Snaps are taken of a particular moment, shared as a photo or video, and then bam, they vanish.

How does it vanish? Once the recipient has viewed the snap, it’ll disappear after 1-10 seconds (Snapchat Stories, however will vanish 24 hours after they’re first posted).

Snapchat endeavours to identify ages before allowing an account to be set up. Children aged 13-17 are required to obtain permission from a guardian, and anyone under the age of 13 will only be able to access ‘SnapKidz’ (currently only available for iOS), which is a version of Snapchat that includes all of it’s features for snapping, adding captions, drawings etc and saving them, but there is no ability to send anything.

Important:  There are ways around saving copies of ‘snaps’: prior to sending a message, the sender has the option to save a copy of the message. However, once sent, the sender can no longer view it via the app. The receiver won’t be able to save the message via the app either, but there is nothing to stop them taking a ‘screenshot’ if they’re quick enough. Snapchat says that it does attempt to detect if a recipient takes a screenshot and send a notification to the sender where possible, but this is not guaranteed.

Hard disk drives (or HDD’s), known simply as ‘hard drives’, used to be the only type of computer storage available to everyday users.  Since the introduction of solid state drives (or SSD’s) however, consumers now have a choice.  

There are advantages and disadvantages of each.  In terms of capacity hard drives have the edge, with up to 4TB of storage available in comparison to SSD’s where the maximum size on the market is 2TB.  When talking about capacity you also need to talk about cost.  The average cost of a 500GB hard drive is $50-$100 whereas an entry-level 500GB SSD will set you back over $350.

Here’s a summary of the ‘good’ and the ‘not-so-good’ of each option: 

HDD

Advantages:
Maturity – hard drive technology has been around for a long time; over the years it’s been perfected and as a result, it’s reliable and doesn’t require any additional software to work with today’s operating systems.
Cost – hard drives are budget-friendly.  They cost only around 10c or less per GB.
Capacity – as mentioned above, hard drives are spacious and available in large capacities, up to 4TB.

Disadvantages:
Speed/performance – in comparison to SSD’s the hard drive runs at a snails pace.  A fast hard drive can process data at about 200MB per second whereas a fast SSD can do more than double that.
Durability – a hard drive works with a lot of moving parts so if you drop your computer those parts are more likely to either move around or get damaged.

SSD

Advantages:
Speed/performance – SSD’s are the fastest storage option available.  Computers containing an SSD will start-up faster, run quicker and simply outperform computers containing a hard drive.  A fast SSD will process data at around 550MB per second.  
Durability – a solid state drive is just that – solid – it has no moving parts.  Drop a computer containing an SSD and you’re less likely to damage it’s data.

Disadvantages:
Cost – because the technology is quite young it’s expensive.  Entry level SSD’s cost around 70c per GB and range up to $2 per GB.
Capacity – other than cost, capacity is a major downfall of the SSD.  Affordable SSD’s are limited to a capacity of around 256GB, with the maximum available at 2TB.

To put it simply, a modem transfers data between your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and your home or business.  The router then takes this data and passes it onto all of the devices in your network, ie, smartphones, tablets, computers.

A modem can only connect a single device (PC or router) to the internet.  A router can connect to a number of devices but it needs a modem to be able to connect to the internet.

Modem-vs-Router

Image source: www.diffen.com

Modems and routers are available as separate devices or you can purchase one device that does both jobs, called a Modem Router.

The answer is yes, but only after you download the Microsoft Office ‘compatibility pack’.   This download is free and can be found in the Microsoft Download Centre.

Microsoft suggest to ‘’Install this compatibility pack if you would like to open, edit, and save documents, workbooks, and presentations that were created in the newer versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. ‘’

When downloading be sure to follow the instructions carefully as you may need to install additional updates before you can download the compatibility pack.

Q: Faxing seems so ancient now so why is it still a feature of printers that can also scan?

A: Oh good question! While it might seem a little ancient and sending a scan in it’s place seems logical – you still need a couple of things when using a fax vs a scanner: internet access and the recipients email address. Even if you have these, does the recipient have Acrobat Reader for example to open a PDF? If not, then it’s back to the fax. It’s easy and it’s universal.

Downloading Apps

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Q: I’ve just got myself a tablet (which I’m very excited about). Anything I need to be aware of before downloading an App?

A: With anything you’re about to download, always check the source. Is it trusted? Having a look at the user ratings is a good place to start. If you’re looking at an Apple App via iTunes, then their screening process is pretty top notch, so less things to worry about. If you’re on Android, it’s kind of a free environment so while a virus on a phone is unlikely at this stage, it’s still better to be aware of what you’re doing.

Q: Why do I need a mobile number to enter competitions online?

A: Aussies love their mobile phones, well over 90% of us own a mobile. And, with plans getting cheaper, there’s often no need for a land line.

Companies holding competitions ask for a mobile number so they can contact you at anytime via SMS (if you opt in) to provide updates and offers but also to let you know if you’ve won!

If you don’t own a mobile and a mobile number is the only option just enter your land line number with your STD code, as they both have 10 digits.

Q: I have recently put together a family newsletter using Microsoft Word. I’m going to have to do Christmas cards in a few months and I’d love to know if there was an easy way to print out 100+ envelopes.

A: It sounds like you need to learn to do what’s known as a mail merge. Performing a mail merge allows you to print off a large number of individually addressed envelopes, stickers, letters or emails by pulling your contact details directly from a database such your Outlook contact list or an excel spreadsheet. As well as allowing you to create labels for envelopes, it can help you add a more personalised touch to each letter by addressing it to “Dear Bill” rather than using a generic “Hi All” salutation.

Unless you’re one of those organized people who meticulously store your contact details a mail merge will take a little time to set up, but once you have your contact details in order, printing and labelling becomes a breeze.

Performing a mail merge involves quite a few steps so rather than reinventing the wheel, we’ve provided a link to a tutorial on the Microsoft Office website. This tutorial will walk you through the steps required to do a Mail Merge. The whole thing will take about 45 minutes to complete, but if you are already familiar with certain parts feel free to skip ahead until you see something which looks unfamiliar.

http://office.microsoft.com/training/training.aspx?AssetID=RC011205671033

Q: I keep seeing these odd looking black & white images of dots in a square. What are they for and what do they mean?

A: Called ‘Quick Response Codes’ or QR codes for short,  these are codes which Tech junkies (like our gizmotechs), have loved for years (this  isn’t new technology, as it was originally developed for the car manufacturing  industry), as what you can put on them is endless and you may never know where  they may take you.

Now that the adoption of Smartphones is so high, it has  made these QR codes very quick and easy to read, so they are starting to become  very common on magazine advertising and shop fronts.

What exactly are  they used for?

These black  modules which are arranged in a square pattern on a white background contain  messages that the creator of it has encoded. What can be encoded includes a  simple message such as a phone number, a company logo or a website. It can also  contain special promotional offers, or even a map leading you somewhere. It’s  endless.

How do you read it?

If you have data enabled on your smartphone, along with a  built in camera, then you’re almost there. The camera is what will actually  scan the image, but you will need an app in order for your camera to recognise  it.

Open your phones app store such as the App Store on the  iPhone or Android Market on an Android-based phone and look up ‘QR reader’ –  you should be able to find one for free. Then scan away. Try this one…

Q: I am getting a constant pop up from Microsoft about their Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program and Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) program which is telling me that my software is not genuine and I need to download genuine Microsoft – at a cost. Is this ‘genuine’ and what happens If I don’t download their genuine software? Also how do I get rid of the constant pop up that opens every time I open any windows program?

A: The messages you are seeing are usually displayed when the Microsoft software on your computer is not genuine and are part of their efforts to combat software piracy (see http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/downloads/FAQ.aspx for more info).

The best way to find out if you have legitimate software installed is to call Microsoft on the number provided by clicking the pop up bubble and asking them to check for you. Depending on where you bought the computer and operating system from, you may also want to ask them to explain the situation.

In some cases, the message is shown if you have reformatted your computer or significantly changed its configuration (for example, if you’ve upgraded your hard drive or CPU). In this case, calling Microsoft and explaining the situation will allow them to walk you through re-validating your copy of Windows and/or Office. If everything is above board, the process only takes about 5 minutes in most cases.

If you do need a hand buying and setting up a fresh legitimate copy of Windows a gizmo Upgrade Me service and a new copy of Windows will get rid of the error messages.

Q: I’m trying to download some ABC TV programs from the following link http://www.abc.net.au/tv/fora/rss.htm#podcasts I essentially want to just download and save the program to my computer in a windows media format that i can watch later through windows media player. Can you help me by putting the process into simple English for me?

A: Looking at the link you’ve provided, you can indeed download videos of the ABC Fora TV show, however it comes in podcast format. Podcasts are a great way of keeping up-to-date with news in your own time. Video podcasts like the one you have mentioned here are fantastic, but it’s important to keep in mind that, depending on the video’s length and quality, they can be very large to download. The ABC videos you’ve mentioned here are about 200-300MB each so they may take a few minutes to download if you have an ADSL2+ connection.

For simplicity, we would recommend downloading iTunes and using that to manage your podcasts.

Once you’ve installed it, return to the ABC page and down the bottom you will see two rather long addresses that end with “.xml”. These are links to what’s known as a podcast subscription feed (more info on this at http://tinyurl.com/699sor). Subscription feeds are updated each time a new podcast or vodcast (video-on-demand podcast) is released. Copy the video podcast URL by selecting it all (starting at the http://) and pressing CTRL + C.

Open iTunes and click on Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast.

Press CTRL + V to paste the copied URL into the box that pops up and press OK.

iTunes will take you into the podcast directory where you can see and download any of the past episodes released. By default, iTunes will download only the most recent episode, but you can change this by clicking on the Settings button inside the podcast directory. If you just want specific episodes you can download these by clicking on the Get button next to each.

To watch or listen to a podcast, simply download it and then double click it and it will start to play.

Picture editing

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Q: I need to re-size an image and make some colour corrections, but I can’t afford Photoshop, nor do I want to spend the time learning how to use it. Is there another option?

A: Sure is. Preview has the ability to re-size images and adjust colours. Simply open up the image in Preview, select ‘tools’, and ‘adjust size’ or ‘adjust colour’.

Q: My friends keep talking about people hacking into their wireless connection and “stealing” their Internet service. What does this mean and how can I make sure it doesn’t happen to me?

A: Your friends are dead right! If your wireless Internet connection isn’t secure, people can hack in and use your Internet service for free. And with all new laptops and smart phones offering built-in Wi-Fi, wireless security becomes even more crucial. Most older modems have WEP (Wired-Equivalent Privacy) security, which to be honest, is pretty darn easy for those in the know to hack into. WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) on the other hand, is more modern and significantly more secure. It’s the best way to keep less-than-honest people away from your Internet service.

Product Keys

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Q: I bought my new computer in January from a local computer retailer, and was wondering why my Word 2007 won’t work. It’s saying that I need a “Product number”? Can you please help me?

A: It sounds like you’re using a Trial Version of Microsoft Office. Quite often, new PC’s will come with trial software for a range of applications that will contain a Trial License. This license allows you to use the software for a set time frame, or set number of operations. If a notification has popped up saying you need a Product number, it means your trial is up.

You can purchase a full version of the Microsoft office software at your local computer retailer.

Q: My laptop has recently started telling me it has failed a SMART test, does this mean my laptop is dumb? Can you please help me?

A: Not at all, modern Hard Drives contain a Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology Hard Drive Monitoring system, also known as SMART. This Monitoring System is used to detect and report on various indicators of reliability of a hard drive and can often anticipate Hard Drive Failures. If your Laptop is indicating it is failing a SMART test, something has changed on your hard drive and it is going to fail, this could be tomorrow or 6 months from now, but you need to address it now.

Given all of your data is saved here make sure you have a back up and get a Tech out to replace the Hard Drive before it fails for good.

Blocking websites

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Q: Can I get a list of inappropriate/explicit websites so I can block these and stop my children accidentally accessing them when they are online?

A: Unfortunately there is no single list of all the ‘adult entertainment‘ websites in the world which makes blocking them on your website difficult!  But, there are several ways you can protect your children from these websites whilst online. gizmo recommends the use of a free Internet Filtering service known as K9 from BlueCoat which is available for both Windows and Mac that allows you to specify ‘allowed’ content based on a filter. Using this in conjunction with the Parental Controls web security system that comes with the latest edition of both the Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, is quite effective in protecting your child whilst online. If you need help setting them up, contact us and ask for our Kids Safe Online service.

 

Q: I’m getting hundreds of spam emails from Nigeria. How do I get out of this situation?

A: Large email providers like Gmail and Hotmail  provide a good level of spam filtering and should block those emails automatically.  If your provider doesn’t do this, then the easiest way out is to delete the  spam emails as soon as they arrive. You may also like to look at getting spam  protection for your computer; we recommend McAfee Internet Security. Whatever you do, don’t reply or click any links in the email, even the  unsubscribe link! Any replies or interaction with the email aside from deletion  can alert the spammers that your account is active; prompting them to increase  the amount of junk they send to you.

Q: I’m working on a report in Word, and I have some images that are too large for the portrait layout. Can I mix portrait and landscape layouts in the one document?

A: You can combine the 2 layouts within Word via a few easy steps.

Highlight the text or images on the page that you wish to  change to Landscape. Then:

  1. Go to the Page Layout tab
  2. Select Margins
  3. Click on Custom  Margins
  4. Change the Orientation to Landscape, then in the Apply to drop  down box, select whole document
  5. Your document will now appear with the various layouts.

Wireless connection

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Q: I have 2 laptops, one picks up my wireless internet signal in seconds, the other can take up to 10 minutes (even if I’m next to the router). Why?

A: Every computer contains a NIC (Network Interface Card) which essentially is the hardware that ‘talks’ in order to connect a computer and a network. Different computer brands will ‘talk’ a little differently, some taking a little longer to make that connection.

If this has only happened recently or is affecting all connected devices, chances are another wireless network is using the same channel as you and is causing some interference. Your router will support a number of different channels specifically for this reason. If you want to give changing the channel a go yourself, there is an app that will tell you what wireless networks are broadcasting in your area and their channel, called inSSIDer. Otherwise, best to get it looked at by a professional.

Facebook

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Q: Why are more and more sites asking if I want to sign in with my Facebook log in?

A: Consider all the work and play you do online, and all the different passwords that accompany them. Then consider that there are over 9.7million active Facebook (FB) users over the age of 18 in Australia alone – so why not use this one password for a variety of things you frequently access online? There are settings that allow you to keep your postings off your FB wall should you wish (they’ll be part of the settings of the program your using your FB login for). Even the St George Bank announced recently that they’ll soon have an app that will only require your mobile phone number to make payments. All of this is aimed at making our lives simpler, faster and easier.

Media Centres

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Media Centre PCs are quite the hot topic at the moment – at least amongst tech enthusiasts. But what on earth are they, why will they transform your lounge room forever and should you get one?

A tiny history of the media centre

The concept of a media centre began years ago with the advent of the ‘home cinema’, and the ongoing battle to keep up with the Joneses. In those days it usually involved a projector and a huge screen. The nerve centre of the operation was a large, cable-filled glass cabinet bursting with expensive and shiny equipment.

The problem was that only the teenage children knew how to turn the TV on and the budgets ran well into the tens of thousands and more – not ideal for most of us.

But how times have changed. Today prices have plummeted and technology has improved. So much so that the glass cabinet has been reduced to a size and a cost comparable to that of a standard desktop computer.

So what is a media centre?

A media centre is basically a computer that can be controlled from your armchair and performs the functions of your high definition television, DVD player, home stereo and video recorder. It can also play your MP3 music files or display your digital photographs. Put simply, it brings together all your media into a centrally-managed system.

A media centre uses a specialised operating system such as Microsoft Windows Media Centre 2005 that allows it to be controlled using a remote control or wireless keyboard. It is much simpler than a regular desktop computer and is designed specifically to display well on a TV or projector.

What’s so good about a media centre?

Today, many people own a suite of digital devices such as iPods, laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones and more. As a result they store a vast number of photos, videos and songs on their computers. However, the only way to access it all is crouched over their computer screens or plugged into headphones.

The primary advantage of a media centre is that it allows you to access and share all this content from the comfort of your couch. You can get the crew together to watch videos or check out the holiday snaps on a large screen or projector, and play your music on a home stereo rather than through your tinny computer speakers.

Another great feature of media centres is their recording capabilities. Instead of using VHS tapes or blank DVDs, a media centre can record television shows directly onto your hard drive. Recording TV show is as easy as selecting the show you want and clicking. Once shows are recorded you can browse through your recordings and select which ones you want to keep. Recording onto your hard disk makes it really easy to skip ads and watch programs when it suits you.

Where can I get a media centre PC?

A wide range of media centre PCs are available at most good technology retailers. If you need help selecting the right unit to suit your requirements, give us a call and we can run you through some of the key things to look out for.

For more help please contact 1300 275 449 or help@gizmo.com.au

 

The best thing about digital photography is that it makes taking lots of happy snaps really easy. Once you’ve taken all those photos though, how do you get them off your camera? With Vista it’s easy! We show you how.

1. Connect your digital camera to your PC using the cables or dock which came with the camera (usually the USB cable). Most computers have an easily accessible USB port on the front of the case. If you have a USB Card reader then you can use that if you like.

2. Make sure your camera has plenty of battery power, switch it to PC or “connect” mode (if applicable) and turn it on. If your camera does not have one of these modes, please read the manual for instructions on how to connect it to your computer.

3. When you plug in your camera a selection window will appear. Click on Import Pictures from the available options.

Note: By “importing” your pictures, you computer will take a copy of the photos on your camera and place them in a folder called “Pictures”. This folder is usually located under C:Usersyour_usernamePictures.

In this example, it’s C:UsersGizmoPictures.

4. The next window will ask if you want to “tag” your images. Tagging lets you group your images around key words of your choice. For example, if you were importing photos from a holiday in France, you might want tag the images with the word “France”. This means that in the future, you can view all images with the Tag “France” without having to sort through them. You can have multiple tags attached to an image and can add, remove and edit tags after you have imported your images. This is one of the coolest new features of Vista!

5. Click on Import. Your photos will start downloading to the Pictures folder in your user folder.

6. If you would like to have the pictures erased from your camera after you have imported them, tick the Erase after importing option as your pictures are imported.

7. Once your photos have finished downloading, you will be taken to your pictures folder and can sort, view, add tags and fix up your images.

Have more questions or need help? Contact Gizmo on 1300 275 449 or help@gizmo.com.au

One of the simplest and most useful features of Windows Vista we have found to date is the ability to create a DVD slideshow of your home photos and videos using Windows DVD maker.

Creating a DVD slideshow of your favourite photos and videos is a great way to get your images out of the study and into the lounge room where your friends and family can enjoy them.

1) Click Start > All Programs > Windows DVD Maker

2) Click on Choose Photos and Videos

3) Click on Add Items

4) Navigate your computer for your favourite photographs and videos and click Add. You can do this more than once if your photos and images are stored in different places on your computer.

5) The next screen will show you the duration of the clips you have added and also give you the ability to move clips and images up or down to change the order in which they are displayed on your DVD.

6) Clicking the Options menu in the bottom right will allow you to customise some of the more technical aspects of your DVD. If you have a widescreen television, you may want to select 16:9 to fit your project to your screen.

7) Although the next screen tells you that you are “Ready to burn disk”, take a minute to have a look through the other options available to you.

Firstly, select a theme for the menu of your DVD from the options on the right hand side (which will be displayed when you first turn it on). You can also click on Customize Menu and Menu text to change different components of your menu.

If you are creating a slide show of still images, clicking the Slide Show button will allow you to customise the transition effects used to swap between the different images in your slide show. You can also change the length of time each image is displayed for (slide duration). You can also choose your favourite songs to play while your slideshow is going.

8) When you are happy with the previewed result….insert a blank DVD and click Burn.

Once it is finished burning, take your new DVD to your television and give it a go!

With so many of us using digital cameras to take our happy snaps, having a cheap and inexpensive way to share these photos with friends and relatives becomes really important.

In this article, we introduce you to our favourite web based photo sharing sites so you can share your photos with your loved ones this holidays.

Before we begin, however, it is important to understand that there are many photo sharing sites out there, and which one you use depends primarily on personal taste.

How photo sharing sites work

All the sites we have listed here make it possible to share photos using a similar process: 1.You register an account 2.You upload your photos 3.If required, you can organize and tag your photos to make it easier for others to understand what they are looking at. On some sites, you are able to specify where in the world each photo was taken 4.You share your albums with your friends via email links or by sending a URL 5.They are usually able to comment and give you feedback on your shots

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com

Facebook is an excellent choice for photo sharing simply because so many people use it. It is the largest photo sharing site in the world. As Facebook specialises in pushing you information about your friends, when you sign into Facebook, you will see any photos your friends have recently uploaded. Uploading photos to Facebook is easy once you have an account.

One of the best features of sharing photos on Facebook is that you can tag individuals in your photos with their names so that viewers can understand who they are looking at. If you tag another Facebook user, they are told to check it out.

Facebook makes it easy to share photos with people who aren’t Facebook members. All you have to do is enter the email addresses of the friends you want to share your photos with and they will be sent a link to your photo album.

Picasa Web Albumshttp://picasaweb.google.com

If you use Gmail for email or Picasa to organize your photos then Picasa Web Albums is probably the site you want to use. Like the competiton, Picasa Web Albums makes it easy for you to upload and share photos. It also includes a really cool feature that lets you specify where in the world you took the photos. We thought this was kind of nifty especially if you’ve just been globe trotting.

Flickrhttp://www.flickr.com

Another huge photo sharing site, Flickr makes storing, sharing and organising your photos as easy as possible. Flickr makes it very easy for you to upload files (you can even email them). Like Facebook, it also makes it really easy to share photos either with the whole world or a small group of invite only participants.   Quick Tip:

If you need help getting that new digital camera working, or would like a gizmotech to show you how to share your photos over the web, give us a call on 1300 275 449 or make a booking.

Photo books could be considered the new photo albums of the digital age. Essentially, a photo book is like a coffee table book which you create using your own images and text. They can come in all shapes and sizes and, usually, you choose the design, binding and fonts used.

In the past it tended to be too expensive for individuals to print books one-at-a-time. Today, thanks to the internet and digital printing, photo books have taken off in a big way. Now it is relatively inexpensive to take your own photos, arrange them any way you like and receive a lovely book a few weeks later.

Why make a photo book?

A few of the reasons people create photo books are for holiday snapshots, wedding photos, special events or just so they can get their photos off the computer and into the lounge room. They also make great gifts for things like Valentines’ or Mothers’ day.

Where can you get a photo book made?

There are lots of places you can buy photo books. Retailers like Harvey Norman can make them as well as websites like Snapfish, Photo book Australia and Blurb. The process for making your books is always similar. You first download the appropriate layout software from the website, import your images, decide where you want them to go and add any captions or headings you’d like. Next, once you’re happy with the finished product, you upload the book file, enter your payment details and the printing starts.

Give it a go, and remember that if you need a hand installing the software or downloading your photos from your camera, give gizmo a call on 1300 275 449.

Most Aussie families with children now in their 20’s or 30’s will have a box of old photos and negatives lying around the house somewhere.

Old Kodak envelopes full of photos shot on 35mm in an age before digital cameras, Facebook and email. Back when wearing flairs and fluro was cool and social networking involved having friends over for a slide-show which used real, mounted slides and a projector not connected to a computer. The audio accompaniment, if there was one, would undoubtedly be original vinyl. Times have changed since then and not many people still have a slide projector stashed away in the garage, let alone one that works.

Like digital photographs hidden away on a computer hard drive, photo albums kept on a bookshelf in the spare room or in the shed are almost as inaccessible now that the kids have left home and old friends have moved apart. As well, time may be taking its toll on your memories. Those photos you took twenty or thirty years ago might be starting to fade, or get a bit tattered.

In this article, we look at how you can take those old photographs or negatives and bring them into the digital age to preserve and share them for and with the next generation. By scanning (or digitising) your old photos, you’ll be able to keep them as long as you have a computer and storage space. You’ll be able to share them with friends and family using email, and, who knows, you might even decide you’d like to use Facebook to find old friends and share photos you took but have probably never shown them. It’s easier than you might think.

Step 1: Buying a scanner

Buying a decent scanner is the first step. Dig out your old photos and see if you have negatives for the majority of your images. If you do, scanning negatives (as opposed to developed photos) can be a much more efficient way of digitising, because you can scan 6-12 (depending on your scanner) images at a time and you don’t have to pull apart carefully constructed photo albums. This is especially the case if your photos are stuck rather than slotted into photo albums.

Not all scanners can handle negatives so check the specs first. Most mid-level scanners come with the ability to scan 6 frames and some slightly more expensive models will do 12. If you’ve got lots of negatives it may be worth investing in a 12 frame scanner, as it will allow you to scan more before swapping negatives. Regardless of what you’re scanning, you want to get a scanner that can scan at least 2400dpi (which most can do). You also want one which has software to automatically straighten your images and save each as an individual file. Newer scanners use white LEDs and these can start scanning instantly without having to warm up like older lamp based models.

Step 2: Installing it all

Once you’ve picked a scanner and taken it home, follow the instructions provided to set it up. If you need a bit of help getting it all ready to go, a gizmo Install Me service is just the thing. You may even want to back it up with a Show Me How service so we can show you how to use the scanners software and other photo editing tools like Picasa.

Step 3: Start your scanners

This is going to be the long part. We tested these steps on a Canon 5600F scanner, which does an excellent job. The steps we’ve listed here might vary depending on the scanner brand and model you end up with.

Setting up to scan from negatives

First up, look through the negatives you had hidden away, and, holding them up to a window, try to find the shots that look like they have faces in them. If you have, literally, boxes of negatives to scan in, you might not want to scan absolutely every shot.

Once you decided which negatives you wanted to scan, carefully put them into the negative caddy and remove the white, photo scanning plate off the scanner. Slide scanners have an illuminated strip built into the lid (as well as the scanning element) and this lights up the negative from behind. It doesn’t really matter which way up the negative is unless there are signs or writing in the image. In these cases, you will get a mirror image of the shots. Play around with the negative until you get it round the right way. Many image manipulation programs will let you flip images if you get through a stack and then realise they are up the wrong way.

After you have placed the negative on the scanner, opened up the bundled software package (MP Navigator EX), select “Scan/Import” and then chose “Film”.

If you’re not sure what you are going to do with the finished images, it is worth scanning them in at slightly higher resolution. By default, the scanner tries to scan film in at 1200dpi, but you can increase it to 2400dpi by clicking on “Specify” and changing the value selected. This should give you enough extra quality in case you decide at some point that you want to print the images in a photo book or as an enlargement. If you know for sure this is what you’ll be doing, then we’d suggest increasing the resolution even further up to 3600 or 4800dpi. Scanning will take ages and create huge files, but they’ll be as sharp as possible.

Setting up to scan photos

Scanning from photos is slightly easier than scanning from film, but you won’t be able to fit as many images on to the scanning glass.

Lay as many photos as you can onto the scanning glass, leaving a small gap between the images. The gap helps the scanner detect the boundaries of each image so it can slice them up into individual files for you.

Choose the resolution you’d like to scan the image in at, and then press the Scan button.

Scanning

After you’ve changed your settings for film or photos, press the Scan button. After you press Scan the scanner takes a quick snapshot of the negatives, cuts them up and asks you which you’d like to scan in higher resolution. This is useful if you don’t want to scan all the images on a negative. Pick the images you want and press Scan again.

The scanner will do its thing and your images will appear in the program.

Once your images have been scanned, you’ll need to save them by clicking on the “Save” button at the bottom left. Give your pictures a descriptive file name hit Ok.

Step 4: Sorting and filing your photos

Once you’ve scanned all your images, you can use an image viewing program like Google’s Picasa (free) or Adobe Photoshop Elements (paid) to put pictures up the right way, flip them over and make small touch ups. You can even get rid of red eyes from pictures you took twenty years ago.

Once you’ve touched up all of your images, make a full copy of all of your digital files. This is essential. There is nothing worse than completing a massive project, only to have it all lost by a power surge, burglary or accidental coffee spill. Gizmo recommends buying a removable hard drive which you can copy both your photos and other important files to. Remember to store it somewhere safe (and not with your computer). We’d suggest a friend’s house or a locked drawer at work as this keeps you protected against theft and fire. Alternatively, if you have a fast internet connect you might want to look into an online backup service.

Burning CDs is a great way to save data as a back-up, share files with friends and to store music. This article explains how to burn a CD using Windows XP (you will need a CD burner and a blank CD).

Burning CDs is a great way to keep backups, share files with friends and make CDs from your MP3s. To do this you need to have a CD burner and a blank CD. To check whether or not you have a CD burner look on the front of your CD drive on you computer and see if there is a little “Compact Disk Recordable” or “Compact Disk Rewritable” logo (shown below). If there isn’t, Gizmo can install a CD burner for you.

To burn a CD:

1) Firstly, put a blank CD into your CD burner. Ignore or cancel any boxes that popup asking you what to do.

2) To burn a CD in Windows XP, find the files or folders you would like to burn and right click on the file or folder (with all the files in it) which you would like to burn to CD.

3) Left click Send To then left click DVD-RW or CD-RW Drive depending on whether you have a CD or DVD burner. In this case DVD-RW Drive (F:).

4) If there are other files you would like to add to the same CD, find these and repeat steps 2 and 3 until they have all been added.

5) You should get a prompt saying there are files waiting to be burnt to CD. Click this prompt balloon.

6) In the pane on the left hand side of the screen left click ‘Write these files to CD’.

7) Follow the prompts that come up allowing you to name your CD and left click burn. Hey presto, you’ve just learnt how to burn a CD! This can be especially useful for backing up important work or photos from your digital camera. Get in touch with us if you need a hand.

You may have heard the word being thrown around, but what is podcasting and more importantly how can you listen to a podcast?

As a bit of background most people know that it is relatively easy to listen to music and other sound recordings on your computer. These sound files are stored on your hard disk and accessed when you open them in a program like iTunes. Audio files can then be copied onto a device like an iPod or burnt onto a CD.

Podcasting is a technology which makes use of many of the same tricks but has a few main exceptions. Podcasts are pre-recorded radio shows which are recorded by people all around the world. These recordings are saved into an audio file in the same way as a song ripped from a CD. This audio file is then made publicly available over the internet. When you setup a program like i-Tunes to download a podcast, it regularly checks the internet site where that podcast is stored to see if there are any newly released episodes of the show. If there are, it automatically downloads them onto your computer. Once downloaded you can either listen to them on your computer, burn them to CD or copy them onto an iPod to listen to while you are out and about.

The revolutionary feature of podcasting and its main advantage – or disadvantage, depending on how you look at it – is that is allows people all over the world to have their say on a wide range of issues. Anyone can make a podcast – all you need is a microphone, computer and something to talk about. As a result the quality and content of podcasts varies immensely – this is part of the fun! You have to find podcasts that interest and entertain you. You can subscribe to podcasts that you like and every time a new one is made available it is delivered to your computer in a similar way to an email.

There are quite a few ways to find podcasts but for the purposes of this tutorial we’ll just cover how to find them in iTunes as most people are comfortable using it.

How to use Podcasts in i-Tunes:

Firstly open iTunes and then click on the ‘Music Store’ icon in the top left. Once the Music Store opens click on the Podcasts link which will come up in the music store (not the one in the very top left). Doing this will take you to a page where you can browse a large number of podcasts.

To subscribe to a podcast click on the name of the podcast you are interested in and then click on the ‘SUBSCRIBE’ button.

The podcast feed is now in your Podcast directory which is found below your Library icon. Simply click the ‘Get’ button to get new files or change the download settings in your iTunes options section (Edit > Preferences > Podcasts).

As with anything online you will have to use your discretion when subscribing to podcasts (or when allowing your children to use them). There are podcasts on literally every subject. Using iTunes allows you to police this better than using Google or other sites to find podcasts because most podcasts you will find through the iTunes Music Store will be labeled with an “Explicit” label if they contain swearing or adult themes. These are relatively easy to guard against.

Whether sitting at work, going through holiday pictures, or shopping online, any computer experience is richer while listening to your favorite music. If you enjoy listening to music on your computer but don’t have a vast library of mp3 files, internet radio is the answer.

Websites like yahoo.com offer radio services that put millions of free songs a few mouse clicks away. Yahoo radio access is free, and although that does mean that there are occasional commercials, the interruptions are minimal. The stations are classified by genre, and each plays songs randomly according to the genre selected. The neatest feature of the Yahoo radio is that you can use your Yahoo account to create your own radio station. Here’s how it all works.

Start by going to yahoo.com and scroll down the list of Yahoo features to where it says “music.” After clicking on the “music” link, you will need to log in. At the top of the screen, click on the “sign in” link, and enter your Yahoo ID. If you have a Yahoo email address, then that counts as your Yahoo ID. If you do not have a registered account with Yahoo, click on the “sign up” option and follow the simple steps. It only takes a minute and it’s free. After registering and signing in, at the top of the screen, find where it says “LAUNCHcast Radio” and click on it.

At this point you can either begin to design your own station or pick one of the existing genre stations. To get to the existing stations, scroll down to the stations. Click on any of the genres to see the stations offered. Soft Rock or 1980’s Hair Bands? You will see that each genre has a wide variety of more specific stations, totaling more than 300 stations in all. From there you can click on different stations at your own leisure. In the unlikely case that you can’t find a genre that suits you, you can also use the search option at the top of the screen to find individual artists. Most artists have their own stations that play their music and other singers like them.

Creating your own station is just as easy as picking a station. After logging onto Yahoo radio for the first time, the homepage will ask you about your musical preferences and create a station based on your responses. After creating your basic station, you can further customize it by rating songs as your listen to them. Whether you are listening to your own station or a Yahoo station, as each song plays you can rate the song, artist, and album on a scale from “never play again” to “can’t get enough.” Whatever ratings you give are automatically saved to further customize your own station. Anytime you want to listen to your station, simply click on your own station after logging in.

Internet radio gives you free access to millions of songs, and can make the time you spend on your computer much more enjoyable. Most of your favorite free-to-air radio stations will also have an online streaming version which you can access from their website. Have at it!

Once you’ve installed it, iTunes is easy to use and comes with lots of easy to follow instructions on how to do things. To access both an overview of how iTunes works as well as detailed instructions on how to rip CD’s or organize your imported music:

Open iTunes > Click on Help > Click on iTunes and Music Store Help > Select the topic that interests you.

WinAmp is another tried and true favorite for playing music files. More basic than iTunes, it does not have a built in importing function. Its appearance is a little bit leaner to improve speed and provide a no frills music playing experience. It is free (in its basic version) and can be downloaded at www.winamp.com.

Computer sound systems and the differences between them

If you don’t already have a sound card and speakers this section will give you an understanding of what to look for.

Most computers built these days come with a sound card. A sound card is the piece of hardware in your computer which lets you play music files. If you have an older computer that cannot play sounds, or if you have problems playing sound files you may want to call Gizmo on 1300 275 449 so we can determine whether a sound card can be put into your computer. Sound cards are quite cheap and most can be picked up for under $100.

Sound cards come in several different varieties. These include simple stereo sound cards, which will produce normal stereo sound (which means there is a left and a right channel sound). More complex models can produce 2.1, 5.1 and 7.1 channel sound. In these instances the first number indicates the number of speakers you can plug in and the number after the period indicates that a subwoofer can be attached. Additionally, if you buy a sound card that has a 5.1 channel output then you will also need to buy some 5.1 channel speakers to make use of all those channels. 5.1 Channel sound is also known as surround sound as there are 5 speakers; centre, front-left, front-right, left-rear, right-rear and a subwoofer.

For most music listeners a 2 or 2.1 speaker sound system is good enough however for DVD viewing and game playing you can really benefit from additional speakers. As a rule of thumb for computer speakers, the more speakers you have the louder the noise that can be produced.

Taking your music on the road

One of the best things about digital music is that if you buy a portable player such as an iPod or Creative Zen, you can download your music onto this device and listen to it through headphones wherever you go. There are many inexpensive devices available and choosing one over another can be a daunting task for anyone.

Rather than take you through all the digital media players available out there, it is more practical to explain all the features these devices have and what to look for if you’re in the market for one.

All music devices have certain features.

These include: 1. Storage space 2. Battery life 3. Screen size (either color or black and white) 4. Supported file formats

Storage Space: When looking at storage space you have to consider how many songs you want to be able to take with you. Once they are imported onto your computer most audio CD’s take up about 80-100mb depending on the file format that you choose to use. Given that the average song will occupy about 5 megabytes of space, a music player that has 1 gigabyte of space can hold roughly 200 songs. A 4 gigabyte version can hold 800 songs and so forth. The question you have to ask yourself is how many songs will I actually listen to? Another thing to consider (and do some research into if you’re interested) is whether or not you want the added ability to watch videos on the move through a device which can play both music and videos such as an iPod video).

Battery life: This is an easy one. How long will the batteries last when you are using the device and can they be easily replaced? We have found this to be one of the worst features of an iPod. Once the battery becomes a bit old its performance decreases rapidly. This can be a problem if you need a device for long trips.

Screen size: If your device has one then it should be big enough to let you easily see what song you’re listening to and allow you to make up play lists while you’re on the move. Keep in mind that although big screens are pretty, the larger the screen the more power it uses up.

Supported file formats: Last but not least it is important to consider what file formats your device supports (and can therefore play) as if your entire music collection is in an unsupported format then it will have to be converted before you can use it on your device. In addition, if you have used iTunes to sort all of your music into carefully constructed play lists and then go out and buy a Creative Zen player, you may not be able copy songs onto the Zen straight from iTunes which would be very annoying and time consuming.

Q: I’m trying to download some ABC TV programs from the following link http://www.abc.net.au/tv/fora/rss.htm#podcasts I essentially want to just download and save the program to my computer in a windows media format that i can watch later through windows media player. Can you help me by putting the process into simple English for me?

A: Looking at the link you’ve provided, you can indeed download videos of the ABC Fora TV show, however it comes in podcast format. Podcasts are a great way of keeping up-to-date with news in your own time. Video podcasts like the one you have mentioned here are fantastic, but it’s important to keep in mind that, depending on the video’s length and quality, they can be very large to download. The ABC videos you’ve mentioned here are about 200-300MB each so they may take a few minutes to download if you have an ADSL2+ connection.

For simplicity, we would recommend downloading iTunes and using that to manage your podcasts.

Once you’ve installed it, return to the ABC page and down the bottom you will see two rather long addresses that end with “.xml”. These are links to what’s known as a podcast subscription feed (more info on this at http://tinyurl.com/699sor). Subscription feeds are updated each time a new podcast or vodcast (video-on-demand podcast) is released. Copy the video podcast URL by selecting it all (starting at the http://) and pressing CTRL + C.

Open iTunes and click on Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast.

Press CTRL + V to paste the copied URL into the box that pops up and press OK.

iTunes will take you into the podcast directory where you can see and download any of the past episodes released. By default, iTunes will download only the most recent episode, but you can change this by clicking on the Settings button inside the podcast directory. If you just want specific episodes you can download these by clicking on the Get button next to each.

To watch or listen to a podcast, simply download it and then double click it and it will start to play.

If you’re about to travel for work or personal reasons and are trying to plan ahead by scheduling appointments for your trip, Microsoft Outlook has a handy ‘time zone’ feature that will help you set these up in your destination’s time rather than your local time. Here’s how:

 

Step 1 Open Outlook, then create a new appointment in your Calender for the required date.

Step 1

 

Step 2 Go to the ‘Appointment’ tab, then under Options click on ‘Time Zones’.

Step 2

 

Step 3 You’ll notice next to the Start time and End time there is now an additional drop down menu.  Scroll down until you find your destination.  Do this for both the start and end times.  (Note: if you’re scheduling travel time in your calender then your start destination may differ to your end destination).

Step 3

 

Step 4 ‘Save & Close’ your appointment.

 

Tip
Outlook uses your Windows clock to schedule appointment times.  To avoid any confusion when you arrive at your destination, keep your computer’s clock set to your home time zone rather than changing it to the local time.  Then use an alternative, such as a traditional watch, to keep track of local time. 

If you’re creating a long, professional document using Microsoft Word, you’ll more than likely need to use headers and/or footers throughout.  Headers & footers are the top and bottom margins of a document where you generally place details such as the document title, page numbers, logos, contact details and references.

Here we show you how you can create headers and footers for selected pages only.

Step 1  Place your cursor in the margin at the top (header) or bottom (footer) of your page then double-click.  In the example below we’ve double clicked in the header, where you can see the red X;

Step 2  Enter your content. 
We’re inserting the page number.

 

Once you’ve entered your content, return to the main document by clicking on the ‘Close Header & Footer’ button, which can be found on the far right-hand side of your toolbar. 

 

Step 3  To create a different header or footer on the next page you first need to create a ‘section break’.
To do this, select the ‘Page Layout’ tab, and then click on ‘Breaks’

In the drop down menu go to Section Breaks and select ‘Next Page’

You’ll notice that the cursor has now moved to the next page and your original header or footer is in place.

 

Step 4  Double click on the header or footer that you’d like to change (in your new section), then unselect ‘Link to Previous’.  You’ll find this in the navigation section of your toolbar.

 

Step 5  You can now edit your content.
 

Step 6 Click the ‘Close Header & Footer’ button to finish editing and return to the main document. 

 

To repeat, simply follow steps 3-5.

 

A lot of the time when we are working in Microsoft Word, we find that blocks of text in paragraph form just aren’t interesting enough to convey ideas, timelines or lists of information. SmartArt is one of the excellent new features in Microsoft Office 2007 which makes it easy to present information in an attractive format. We’ve found it really useful and quick to use so in this article we show you how to use it.

For a video on using SmartArt visit: http://tinyurl.com/2ajcyb

 

1) Firstly click on the Insert tab then click on the icon for SmartArt.

2) A box full of options will appear. Have a browse through the different variations available and select the one you think is most appropriate for the information you are trying to convey. For our example, we have used a staggered process SmartArt diagram because it represents the process customers go through when having their problems fixed by gizmo. To insert SmartArt, select the type you would like and then click OK.

3) The next step is to insert the information you want to convey using your SmartArt diagram. To do this click on the SmartArt item you have inserted and then type the text you would like displayed into the text bar that appears on the left hand side of the SmartArt. Depending on the type of SmartArt you have chosen there may be different levels of information for you to enter.

4) Once you have entered all of your data, you may want to change the appearance of your SmartArt to make it a little more interesting. To do this, click on the SmartArt Tools button at the top of the screen and click on the Design tab. Use the options in SmartArt Styles and also the different colour schemes available under Change Colors to change the appearance of your diagram.

5) So there you have it. You should now be able to quickly insert high-impact diagrams into your next document.

One of the best new features of Microsoft Word 2007 is its ability to quickly frame and present your images using attractive Picture Styles. This is a new feature that is not available in previous versions.
Picture Styles are of great benefit to people who are looking to jazz up documents and give them a professional looking finish quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

Applying Picture Styles to images

1) Insert the image you would like to feature into your document by clicking the Insert tab at the top of the screen then clicking on the Picture button. Find and select the image file you would like to insert and press the Insert button.

2) Move your image to the location you would like it to appear in your document. You can do this by cutting and pasting it or by using some of the more advanced positioning features available. You can get to these by clicking once on the image once and then clicking on the Picture Tools button that appears at the very top of the screen. Using the various options in the Arrange section of the toolbar you should be able to make the image move to where you would like it.

3) With the image in place, select it and click on the Picture Tools button. Once you have clicked it, the toolbar will change and you will see a variety of different picture styles appear in the middle of the toolbar. Moving your mouse to hover over each of these picture styles will give you a preview of your image displayed with the desired effect. Click the effect once you are happy with your choice and it will be applied to your image. You can always change the effect you have used by repeating this step at a later time.

4) So there you have it. A simple and easy way to make your documents look flashy in a few easy steps. Give it a go and if you need any further instructions you can always visit Microsoft’s online tutorial at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/HA102393591033.aspx#4 or arrange for a gizmotech to give you a hand in an Advise Me session.

 

Uninstalling programs you don’t need any more is a great way of speeding up your computer. This is because many programs automatically run at start-up and often sit in your taskbar chewing up valuable memory. This causes your computer to take longer to start and also reduces the amount of memory available to the applications you actually want to use.

Which programs can I uninstall?

Only remove a program if you know what it is! This is very important as there are some you may not recognise which are important and should be left alone. If you need a hand, a gizmo Optimise Me service can help you get your computer in top performance and gizmotechs know which programs are safe to remove and which should be left alone.

How do I uninstall programs?

Uninstalling a program in Windows Vista

In Windows Vista, to uninstall a program, click on Start > type “Programs and Features” and press Enter. A list of all the programs currently installed on your computer will appear. By selecting a program you no longer need then clicking the Uninstall button (which appears on the top strip), you will be able to remove it from your computer. Follow any steps required and re-start your computer once your done.

Uninstalling a program in Windows XP

In Windows XP, to uninstall a program, click on Start > Click on Control Panel > Double click Add or Remove Programs. In the currently installed programs list, choose the program you want to get rid of and click on Change/Remove. Follow the instructions that appear. Once you’re done, restart your computer.

Did you know that you can change the website that first appears when you open up your browser to surf the internet (this is your default home page)? Here, we show you how.

Lots of computer users are happy to leave their internet homepage set to the default NineMSN.com.au website which displays news, videos and a variety of other information. Many people simply assume that this cannot be changed, but fortunately it can be set to anything you want!

Changing your home page can save you time and also make using the internet a much more interesting experience through things such as customisable homepages. This article explains how to change your homepage using Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox and also suggests a few sites which make good homepages.

Changing your home page using Internet Explorer.  Open the Internet Explorer web browser  Navigate to the site that you would like to use as your home page. Some suggestions are listed below.  Click on Tools  Click on Internet Options  Under the tab called General (opened automatically by default) you will see a section called Home Page.  All you need to do now is click Use Current and your home page will be set.  Click OK

Changing your home page using Mozilla Firefox Open the Mozilla Firefox web browser Navigate to the site that you would like to use as your home page. Some suggestions are listed below. Click on Tools Click on Options Under the tab called General (opened automatically by default) you will see a section called Home Page. All you need to do now is click Use Current and your home page will be set. Click OK

Below is a list of some home pages which our Gizmotechs like:

http://www.aldaily.com

Academic articles on a wide range of subjects which are regularly updated. Also reviews of books and essays.

http://news.google.com.au

Australian news and events which change rapidly to display up-to-date content. This site makes it easy to do Google web searches as well.

http://www.imdb.com

Internet Movie Database which has fantastic information on movies, actors and directors.

http://www.news.com.au

Up-to-date news and information from Australia

http://www.gizmo.com.au

Find out the latest gizmo gossip.

Lots of us can write documents, save pictures and send emails, but how can we make everything easy to find again. This article explains how to create your own folders in Windows XP.

Lots of people know how to write documents, create spreadsheets and save pictures on their computers but many also find that everything ends jumbled up together in their My Documents folder.

If you like to keep your files organised, making folders to put things in can be one way of organising all the clutter. You can make folders to store any type of file you like. Windows XP comes with some preset folders which can be found inside your My Documents. These are called My Pictures and My Music and make a good place to store any pictures or music files you might have. Windows will automatically look in those folders before other places.

How to make a new folder in Windows XP:

1) To make a new folder, right click on any white space inside your My Documents folder (or any folder or hard disk on your computer). You will be presented with a menu which gives you options such as View, Arrange icons by etc…

2) Put your mouse over the “New>” section and out will pop a new menu. Left click “Folder” in that pop out window.

3) Type a name for the new folder you have created and press enter.

4) Now you can drag and drop or save appropriate files into the folder you have created.

With some perseverance and logical thinking you will soon have a nicely ordered My Documents folder.

Burning CDs is a great way to save data as a back-up, share files with friends and to store music. This article explains how to burn a CD using Windows XP (you will need a CD burner and a blank CD).

Burning CDs is a great way to keep backups, share files with friends and make CDs from your MP3s. To do this you need to have a CD burner and a blank CD. To check whether or not you have a CD burner look on the front of your CD drive on you computer and see if there is a little “Compact Disk Recordable” or “Compact Disk Rewritable” logo (shown below). If there isn’t, Gizmo can install a CD burner for you.

To burn a CD:

1) Firstly, put a blank CD into your CD burner. Ignore or cancel any boxes that popup asking you what to do.

2) To burn a CD in Windows XP, find the files or folders you would like to burn and right click on the file or folder (with all the files in it) which you would like to burn to CD.

3) Left click Send To then left click DVD-RW or CD-RW Drive depending on whether you have a CD or DVD burner. In this case DVD-RW Drive (F:).

4) If there are other files you would like to add to the same CD, find these and repeat steps 2 and 3 until they have all been added.

5) You should get a prompt saying there are files waiting to be burnt to CD. Click this prompt balloon.

6) In the pane on the left hand side of the screen left click ‘Write these files to CD’.

7) Follow the prompts that come up allowing you to name your CD and left click burn. Hey presto, you’ve just learnt how to burn a CD! This can be especially useful for backing up important work or photos from your digital camera. Get in touch with us if you need a hand.

Shortcut keys such as Cut (Ctrl+V), Copy (Ctrl+C) and Paste (Ctrl +P) all help you use your computer quickly and efficiently without having to continually shuffle between the mouse and keyboard. In this article we teach you how to make your own Shortcut Keys to open your most commonly used programs.

You can use Shortcut Keys to open any program you can create a shortcut icon to (this includes any icon in the start menu). We would suggest that the best way to get started is to open programs that are already on your start menu. After you have set up the shortcut key, all you will need to do is press CTRL + ALT + [Your Assigned Key] and your program will open

To set up a shortcut key to open Microsoft Word:

1) Open your Start menu and find the icon you want to create a shortcut key for (don’t click it just yet).

2) Right click on the icon and click “Properties”

3) In the Shortcut tab, left click your mouse in the white box to the right of “Shortcut Key” – if you have not assigned a shortcut key yet it will say “None”.

4) One after the other (and keeping them all pressed), press the keys which you would like to use to open Word. “CTRL” and “ALT” are essential, but the last key is up to you. We would suggest “W” for Word.

5) Press “Ok”.

From now on, whenever you press “CRTL + ALT + W” your computer will open Microsoft Word for you. You don’t have to use your mouse at all and it will work regardless of where you are in Windows.

You can set up as many different Shortcut Keys as you would like by repeating these steps for other program shortcuts. After a while you get used to them and they really speed you up.

Do you want quick and easy access to the documents and programs you use most often? This article explains how you can by easily creating desktop shortcuts.

Are you sick of having to dig through My Documents for a file you use often or having to always go through the Start Menu to run a program? Well why not place a shortcut to it on your desktop to make it easier to access?

To make a shortcut to a program: Find the icon for the program you want via the Start menu. When you find it right click once on the program name. On the menu that pops up hover the cursor over Send To and left click once on Desktop (create shortcut). If you go to your desktop you will see there is now a shortcut to the program. You can double click this shortcut and the program will open.

To make a shortcut to a file or folder: Browse to the file/folder using My Computer and then do the same as above. Right click once on the file or folder. On the menu that pops up hover the cursor over Send To and left click once on Desktop (create shortcut).

Another useful tip is that if the icons on your desktop seem to move of their own accord perhaps you have a feature called Auto Arrange turned on. To check this, right click on the desktop (any area of free space) and hover the mouse over Arrange Icons By. If Auto Arrange has a little tick next to it then it is turned on, left click Auto Arrange to turn it on or off depending on which you prefer.

Creating a secure password is not as easy as using of the name of your first goldfish. Password crackers are getting more and more powerful and the best way to protect yourself is to understand how password crackers work. In this article, we teach you how to invent yourself a more secure password than “Martha” the goldfish.

How do password crackers work?

If someone wants to crack your password unfortunately they are not going to sit in front of your computer and try to guess it one word at a time (unless they already have a pretty good idea of what it might be). It is likely that they will use a piece of password cracking software to look at millions of possible combinations a second. Password cracking software usually starts by going through every word in the dictionary and after that will try different combinations of words, numbers, letters and symbols until they find your password.

How do I make my password secure?

Simple maths dictates that the longer and more random the combinations of letters, numbers and symbols you use, the longer it will take to crack and unless your criminal has until the end of the universe to wait, chances are they will get bored and move on. So next time you are asked to dream up a password, try and make it something the gods of mathematics would be proud of. Remember though that your password is only useful if you can remember it – writing it down on a piece of paper is not an option!

Creating a secure password

There are a few easy tips to make a secure password. Your password should contain 8 or more characters, at least one digit (0-9), one capital letter and one symbol. It should not contain any dictionary words. An example of a good password would be:

TrStMa1*

To help remember this password, it is constructed out of things which I would remember. (Tr)ain (St)ation (Ma)lvern is the (1)first station I get onto in the (*)morning.

Have a play with your own passwords and see what you can come up with.

In this article we teach you the basics of Microsoft Excel in the hope that this usually scary program can become that little bit friendlier.

When you first open Microsoft Excel you are confronted with a daunting scene. Row upon row of endless cells that keep going as far as you can scroll (we know, we tried).

Relax…  Take a deep breath…

You can do this!

Excel is actually not as scary as you may think. Given a bit of basic knowledge and a desire to learn, Excel can help you do an almost endless variety of tasks that would otherwise take ages.

Primarily, Excel is a great way of storing and analysing numerical data. Whether this data is your home finances, a weight loss chart or a financial plan, the basic skills you require are the same.

 

The Basics

The faded little rectangles filling your screen when you start Excel are called ‘cells’. Each cell is designed to store an individual pieces of information. For example, you may want to store information about your weight in cells.

To enter information into a cell, simply click it (a black border will surround the cell you have clicked) and enter a information such as a date or a weight. You can also type text into heading cells to keep everything organised.

Once your information is in cells, it is easy to manipulate it. For example, one thing you might like to do with the information about your weight is to create a line graph of it.

To create a graph, simply click and hold your mouse on the top left cell and then drag the cursor to the bottom right cell. This will highlight that ‘range’ of cells. Next click on the “Charts” button which can be found in the “Insert” tab and choose the type of chart you want to use. Your chart will be displayed on the screen. More detailed instructions for your specific version of Excel can be found on the Microsoft Office website.

 

Formulas

Once you get your head around the basics, its time to move onto formulas. Formulas let you perform calculations on individual or multiple cells within an excel workbook.

All formulas in Excel begin with the Equals (=) sign. As formulas need to be created in their own cells a good way to think about it is that “This cell will EQUAL the formula I put in it”.

So if you type:

=15+2

into a cell, when you press enter, it will display the result of 17.

As well as performing calculations using formulas like the one above, Excel can also reference cells. Referencing cells means that you can type a formula like the following into a cell and still get the same result:

=A3+B3

The formula =A3+B3 will still display the result of 17 as cell A3 has a value of 15 and cell B3 has a value of 2. The advantage of referencing cells as opposed to using numbers is that if you change the values of the referenced cells, your result will be updated automatically. For example, below the formula =A3+B3 gives the result of 27 as cell A3 has changed.

 

Learn more about Excel

We’ve only explained a few really basic elements of Excel in this tutorial but there is a lot more to learn. The best place to go to find easy to follow tutorials is the Microsoft Office website.

Depending on the version of Microsoft Office you have the tutorials you need will be slightly different.

To learn more about Microsoft Excel 2003 or 2007 visit the Microsoft Office website at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/FX100485361033.aspx?pid=CL100605171033.

Personalised homepages are not new, but they are definitely starting to come of age. Some of you may have already heard of iGoogle or my.Live.com, or seen the links to click for a “Personalised Page” or “iGoogle” at the top of each search you make.

Personalised homepages are not new, but they are definitely starting to come of age. Some of you may have already heard of iGoogle or my.Live.com, or seen the links to click for a “Personalised Page” or “iGoogle” at the top of each search you make.

In this article we are going to explore some of the reasons why you should personalise your homepage.

Your favourite content, home delivered

One of the most useful features personalised homepages offer is that they use devices called “RSS” feeds to grab headlines and articles from your favourite web pages and pull them to your homepage. This means that when you turn on your computer in the morning, instead of heading up the address bar and typing lots of addresses to get to all your favourite sites, you will see all the latest headlines displayed without needing to make a single mouse click.

You may be thinking, “What’s the difference? I could just set my homepage to news.com.au and be done with it”. The difference is that by using a personalised homepage you can pull the headlines from ALL of your favourite sites to a single webpage. Rather than just reading the headlines from news.com.au, you are also reading news from the Sydney Morning Herald (www.smh.com.au), the New York Times (www.nytimes.com.au) and your favourite 3 blogs.

How do I set up a personalised home page?

The first step to setting up a personalised homepage is to decide which one you want to use. This really comes down to personal preference. I use Google for email and creating documents a lot of the time, so iGoogle (www.google.com.au/ig) was perfect for me. If you find you use Live.com for searches, my.live.com is probably the way to go.

Once you’ve decided which you are going to use visit the page and sign in or sign up. Once you’ve signed in you should see a starter home page like the one you see below.

For this to work properly, you’ll need to set either www.google.com.au/ig  or my.live.com as your homepage so it is the first thing that loads when you fire up your web browser. For instructions on doing this read this article how to change your homepage.

Begin customising your home page to your interests by clicking the “Add Stuff” button (top right for iGoogle, top left for My.Live) to start adding content that interests you. Both providers will give you a list of available Gadgets to add.

Most people like to know what the weather will be like for the next few days, so be sure to add a weather gadget if this interests you. In most cases, this is pre-populated when you sign up. Both sites also give you a collection of news gadgets to choose from so you can start to pull content to your site.  Have a look through the options available and see if you can find your favourite sites there. Once you added a gadget it will show up on your homepage each time you visit. You can drag them around to position them in a way that works for you.

If you can’t find your favourite sites in the options provided, never fear. Read our article on RSS feeds for examples of how you can use them to pump in the fresh, interesting and inspiring content you choose straight to your homepage.

If you are a single-finger pigeon typist or someone who would rather talk than type out an email, Windows Vista has a built-in speech recognition tool that can make getting your thoughts onto a document a whole lot easier. This article gives you information about Speech Recognition in Windows Vista and how to enable it.

Accessible through the control panel, Speech Recognition allows you to control your computer using only a microphone and your voice. Believe it or not, the speech recognition built into Windows Vista is actually really useful once it has been set up and trained. Best of all, it’s completely free. If you’re a slow typist it can really speed up the process of drafting documents. Unlike many speech recognition programs of days gone by, we gave the Windows Vista offering a test run and found that so long as you spoke clearly, enunciated your words and were prepared to correct the occasionally misunderstood word, it was fantastic.

What do you need?

To use Speech Recognition in Windows Vista you will need: A microphone (a headset that sits close to your mouth will work best) The sort of patience you would need to train a dog to perform a new trick (more on that later)

Turning it on

To turn Speech Recognition on, visit your control panel by clicking on the Start button typing “Control Panel” and pressing Enter. Double click on the icon for Speech Recognition.

Windows will take you through a tutorial which configures your microphone and shows you the different voice commands available when the program is running. Take the time to do the tutorial as it will help you understand how to use the program for typing and even navigating your computer.

Once you’ve completed  the tutorial we’d recommend going through the optional fine-tuning exercises designed to help your computer recognize how you pronounce different words. This is required because every voice and accent is slightly different, meaning that your computer takes a bit of time to get to know all of your vocal idiosyncrasies. Like a dog, the speech recognition tool learns through a process of correction. For example, if you said the word “Free” and the speech recognition writes “three” instead of “free”, it has a better chance of getting it right next time if you take the time to correct it.

Conclusion

If your prepared to commit to using speech recognition on a regular basis, and can do so without driving your office or home co-habitants crazy, we’d suggest that doing so is a great way to change the way you interact with your computer and potentially increase your typing speed.

If you’d like a helping hand setting up speech recognition on your Windows Vista computer a gizmo Show Me service will get you started. If you don’t already have one, make sure you ask a gizmotech to sell you a headset (we’d recommend a Logitech headset) so you can get talking straight away.

If you have Windows XP, unfortunately speech recognition doesn’t come bundled with your operating system, however, if you would like to upgrade to windows Vista. A gizmo Upgrade Me service can get you there.

If you’ve had a computer for a few years, you might be at the stage where you feel the need for an upgrade. Whether it’s because you can make a cup of tea in the time it takes for it to turn on, or if you go green with envy at the speed of a friends computer, buying a new PC is an inevitable part of being a citizen of the computer age.

At gizmo, we help lots of people set up their new computers and know the ins and outs of swapping to a new computer. One of the things that stops people from upgrading their computer is that, despite their frustration, they fear they won’t be able to get their new machine working the same way. Many people are comfortable with the way things work on their computer now and even though it runs slowly they don’t want to leave that familiarity. They are sometimes worried that Windows Vista will be difficult to use.

This feeling of dread is understandable, but the good news is that with a little time and preparation it is quite easy to get things set up almost exactly the same way. Yes, Windows Vista is a little bit different and may take a few hours to get used to, but there is nothing to be afraid of. Most of the changes actually make things easier than they would have been in an earlier version of Windows. If you need a bit of help finding your feet, a one-on-one Show Me training session with a gizmotech can be a great start.

This article aims to reassure you that buying a new computer and getting everything set up doesn’t need to be all that scary. One simple fact to put your mind at ease is that if you don’t delete anything off your old computer you can always switch back to it until you get your new one sorted out and working just right.

Preparation is key

Making your computer look and feel the same (i.e. desktop background and icons) is relatively easy. The challenging thing about buying a new computer is getting all of your programs set up and data transferred. Don’t worry though; some special built-in tools in Windows Vista make it easier than you think.

The first thing to do once you decide you are going to buy a new computer is to start writing a list of all the programs you use on a day-to-day basis. This list should detail the programs names and some basic information about what you do with them. Make sure you include the programs you don’t use very often as well as those you use all the time.

For example: Microsoft Outlook – Send emails to contacts, keep my calendar organised Windows Media Player – Play music, create playlists

As you make your list take the time to find the installation disks for the programs you mention. You will need these disks to re-install your programs onto your new computer. If you use any particularly old programs you should do some research at this point to find out if they will be compatible with Windows Vista (or if an upgrade can be purchased) to avoid any nasty surprises after you have made your purchase.

After the purchase

When you finally go out and buy your new computer keep your old one plugged in and working for just a bit longer as you will need it to get everything transferred across.

Unpack and set up your new computer and connect it to your home network if you have one. You will know you’re on the internet if you can get to google.com and make a search. If you don’t have a home network you may need to purchase a USB Easy Transfer cable or removable hard drive to transfer your files and settings.

Using the list of programs you created earlier, install all of the programs you used on your old computer using the set up disks you found earlier and stored neatly to one side. We are assuming that your new computer will be running Windows Vista. Click on Start and type “Windows Easy Transfer” and press Enter. This will start up a program designed to walk you through copying your files from your old computer to new so make sure you follow the instructions carefully as they are given. For an overview of how it works, view this video from the Microsoft Website. If you’re after a little bit more of an explanation of what is transferred and how it all works, read this FAQ article on Windows Easy Transfer.

Windows Easy Transfer will walk you through the different ways it is possible to transfer your files and settings. If you have a home network already set up, we would recommend using this option as you won’t need to purchase an Easy Transfer Cable. Transferring your data can take a while if you have large video or music files so if you have a wireless network and lots of data, connecting to your network using a cable is advisable as it will speed up the process. It’s safe to begin the transfer process and walk away if you have other things to do.

Once you have completed the wizard, your files and settings should be transferred and set up. Even your desktop background should be the same as it was. Just to be safe, we’d recommend leaving your old computer close by for a few weeks so you can turn it on again if you find that something has been missed. Once everything is working make sure you run Microsoft Update to install the latest updates and service packs.

Rather take the hassle out of it?

Remember, you’re not alone. If you think this all sounds too hard and you’d rather have a gizmotech come and do it for you, we’re only a phone call away.

For most people, setting up a home office can be quite daunting. It’s important to get it right though, because it’s going to be somewhere you end up spending a lot of time. Although gizmotechs aren’t able to help you pick the right ergonomic chairs, pot plants and lighting, we can definitely help you get your technology set up and working with the reliability you need to run a business.

Backup

In all the other guides we’ve found, having a backup listed as important, but is also always the last thing mentioned. To make it even harder to forget, we’ve put it first.

Although having an office at home is incredibly convenient, it also means you don’t have the luxury of being able to rely on an IT department to safely back up your work for you. The buck stops with you as far as the safety of your data is concerned.

There are two ways to establish a back-up regime. We would recommend you do both. You can go out and buy a decent sized external hard drive which is at least as big as the hard drive on your computer. Alternatively, you can sign up for an online backup service.  Whichever you choose set it up so that all of your work files, emails and important documents are backed up at the end of each day. This is especially important if you have a laptop, as these can be dropped, stolen or lost easily.

As gizmotechs, we see far too many people lose important files simply because they didn’t have a backup. If you need help making sure this is working properly, a gizmo Back Me Up service will get it set up properly from the get-go.

Good foundations

If you’re serious about getting a home office set up properly, make sure the room you want to use has enough power-points. Depending on the size of your room and whether you have an existing network at home, you probably also want to have network cables run through your walls. This avoids the clutter of cables snaking round the room and you’ll be glad you did it later. Make sure you have network and power sockets coming out of the wall where you will set up your computer (and any future desks you intend to install as your business grows).

When it comes to power points, more is always better. You will most likely need sockets for: A computer A printer, scanner and fax machine Your telephone (if you’re going to use a cordless handset) Your mobile phone A computer monitor Your wireless router Anything else you need to plug in

Networking

A good network is essential. gizmotechs always recommend a high-speed broadband connection for your office. ADSL 2+ or Cable Internet are the two best options, but if you can only get ADSL 1, make sure you get a 1500kbps or faster connection. When it comes to download limits, sign up for a plan which has double the capacity you think you’ll need. Windows updates, streaming video and radio all add-up really quickly and going over your download quota for the month will either cost you money or slow your business to a snail’s pace. If you intend to use an online backup service, make sure you either sign up for a plan where uploads don’t count towards your usage, or factor this into your quota. If you intend to share your internet connection with others in the house, that’s fine, just make sure that you keep an eye on how much they are downloading so you can allow for it. It is painful to use a capped internet connection when you’re under pressure to meet deadlines.

Even though we’ve recommended you use a wired network if possible, if you’re buying a router anyway its worth getting one with wireless built into it. Having it there means that if you buy a phone with WiFi built-in (like an iPhone) or if someone else comes to work in your office with a  laptop, they will be able to get on the net quickly, efficiently and without needing to string cables everywhere.

For a top 10 of wireless routers, check out http://www.cnet.com.au/wireless/0,239029920,210000020c-1r-10s,00.htm. Alternatively, give gizmo a call and book a gizmo Network Me service and we can sell you the right hardware on the day.

The Computer

When you’re buying a computer for use in a home office, it is important you consider you will be using it a lot of the time. As such, it’s worth spending a little bit more to get the fastest computer you can afford. A gizmo Shop with Me service can get you the advice you need to make the right choice, but you also need to consider whether you need a laptop or a desktop.

Desktops are great if you don’t ever need to travel for business, but if travel is essential then a laptop is often a good way to go. One set up that works really well is using a laptop with an external monitor, keyboard, mouse and a docking station (alternatively a PCMCIA USB Hub can do the same thing and usually costs much less). Having this set up, it’s really easy to hook your laptop up to a larger external screen and keyboard and mouse when you’re in the office. If you choose to go down this route, buy a relatively large screen as more desktop real-estate is always a good thing. If you’re investing in a desktop research has shown that dual-monitors are a great way of significantly improving your productivity on the computer.

If you decide to get a laptop, a second power adapter is always a good idea if you travel frequently. That way you can leave one plugged in at your desk and the other in your bag. Getting on your hands and knees under the desk isn’t that fun if you have to do it every day and a second adapter is usually quite inexpensive.

Software

Lots of people don’t factor the cost of software into their home office set up but without it you won’t be able to do very much. The most important piece of software you’ll need to buy is Microsoft Office. Depending on which individual programs you need (e.g. Word, Power Point and Outlook), you might be able to get away with purchasing the less expensive Small Business Edition. To see what is included with each version visit http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/products/FX101635841033.aspx. Remember, if you still have your disks and product keys from an earlier version of Office, you might be able to get away with purchasing the Upgrade version.

We’d definitely recommend doing the upgrade to the 2007 version of Office, as its features (see our article on its Picture Styles and Smart Art capabilities) make it a breeze to create professional looking documents.

Peripherals

Most people will find they need at least a printer for their home office. Fortunately, the frustrating days of the fax machine are almost over, however, if you find you still need a fax machine, consider investing in an all-in-one unit that lets you print, scan and fax. For business purposes, I would suggest a unit that uses a laser printer as opposed to an inkjet printer. Laser printers are more economical for volume printing even though they tend to cost more to buy. Also, try and get a scanner which has an ADF or Automatic document feeder as they let you scan or photocopy a stack of papers at a time. Scanners also make a convenient way of scanning bills, tax records and everything else you don’t want to keep stashed away in filing cabinets. Many scanners give you the option to scan to PDF which means that instead of faxing documents, you can scan and email them. No more blurry faxes for you.

If you will have more than one person working in your office, or if you would like to share your printer with others, consider purchasing a printer which can be connected to your network instead of your computer. Networked printers let any computer print to it even when your computer isn’t turned on. This is especially useful if you have a laptop and are likely to disconnect your computer often.

Putting it all together

Getting all this wondrous gadgetry hooked up and working together properly can be a fair bit of work for even the most confident DIYer. Fortunately, if you need a hand, gizmo can help. We offer a range of services to help you get your home office set up and read to work. For more information about our services, visit our website at www.gizmo.com.au or give us a call for an obligation free quote on 1300 275 449.

Why you should upgrade your browser?

Upgrading to the latest version of Internet explorer (or any browser) is usually a good idea. The two main reasons you should upgrade are security and performance

Security benefits

Newer browsers incorporate new security features designed to keep you safe when you’re browsing online. These feature include anti-phishing protection to identify suspicious websites, domains highlighting and more. When it comes to security, there is only so much “patching” that can be done to improve the performance of older browsers, so getting a newer browser is essential for your continued online security in the same way that updating your Windows installation is important.

Performance benefits

The other, more aesthetic reason to upgrade your browser is to allow web pages to display as they were intended by their designers. While in the past, each browser had its own way of interpreting a website’s code, today, browsers are better at confirming to what are known as Web Standards. This makes it much easier for designers to produce web pages that will display the same to everyone, regardless of which browser they are using. So, if you’re a home user who uses internet banking, or who buys things online, make sure you update to the latest version of your browser ASAP.

Remember, if you need a hand, give gizmo a call on 1300 275 449. Our gizmotechs can help you remotely or on-site.

The styles feature in Microsoft Word is a great way to organize and structure Word documents. By assigning styles to different sections of your text it is really easy to change the formatting of large sections of your text without needing to select each one at a time.

Despite this, as it takes some time to do, many of us don’t use styles as diligently as we could. We show you how to make it easier and faster to format your documents properly.

Why assign keyboard shortcuts to styles?

One of the most useful things you can do to customize your Microsoft Word installation is to assign some shortcut keys to commonly used paragraph styles like Heading 1, Heading 2, Body Text etc. Assigning keyboard shortcuts makes you significantly faster, as you can simply hit your shortcut key and then start to type. This is faster than typing a paragraph then trying to find the correct style in the word control ribbon. For example, to make something a “Heading 1”, you can simply hit ALT+1 and then start typing.

Setting up keyboard shortcuts for word styles.

1.Right click on the Style entry for Heading 1 (or any other style) in the top ribbon of Word and select Modify Style from the menu that appears

2.The window that appears next allows you to customize the appearance and properties of all the Heading 1’s across your entire document (which can be very useful). To assign a keyboard shortcut, select Shortcut key from the drop down list in the bottom left corner.

3.Next, press the shortcut keys you would like to use (in our case we assigned Alt+1). If the combination of keys you’ve selected is available and not currently assigned to another program or shortcut, Unassigned will appear.

4.Click Assign.

5.Rinse and repeat for the other styles you’d like easy access to. Each time you start Word these will be available.

 

Excel is a fantastic tool, but there is a lot to learn for the uninitiated. There are two ways you can format your cells to fit more text in. The first is to automatically expand the width of the cells that are too small so that they fit their contents.

To do this, click and drag the mouse over the column headings (A, B, C etc) and then, on the Home tab, in the area called Cells, click Format and select Autofit Column Width.

The second way to do it is to expand the height of your cells, and then wrap your text so it appears on two or more lines. To wrap text select the cell (or cells) you want to change, right click on them, select Format > Alignment > Wrap Text and then click OK.

 

Ever since it launched as the first free webmail service in 1996, Hotmail has always been on the cutting edge of email. This probably explains its popularity amongst readers of the Gizmo Guide for whom Hotmail is the email client of choice.

Recently, an upgrade called Windows Live Hotmail (WLH) has been released. WLH takes advantage of the increasing speed of many home broadband connections to incorporate some of the best features from the ultra-popular Microsoft Outlook program.

If you don’t already have a Hotmail account you will need to sign up for one at www.hotmail.com. The service is free and signing up takes no time at all.

Once you have a standard account all you need to do is click on the big green button at the top left of the screen and follow the prompts choosing either the “Classic” or “Full” version.

The Classic Version

If you have a slower internet connection, you will want to use the “Classic” version of WLH. Although some features are left out of the “Classic” version, it still offers the best features of the new version without requiring a super-fast internet connection. One of the best features on offer is a powerful search option which will quickly scour your Inbox for those lost emails.

You also have the option of customizing the way your Hotmail looks. To do this, simply click where it says “Options” at the top right of the screen and a range of different background color options will pop down below it.

The Classic version also has advanced security options for your safety. Each message you open is color-coded depending on how safe the sender is. If a message is definitely dangerous, WLH tries to let you know so you don’t open any virus filled messages.

Need-for-speed email

The “Full” version of Windows Live Hotmail is better suited for computers with broadband connections. It has all the features of the Classic version as well as a few extras. The most prominent feature is a reading pane which shows the contents of your messages without actually having to open them. If you’ve ever used Microsoft Outlook you’ll know how useful this feature can be. To run through your received messages quickly, you can preview the heading and first few lines of messages. If you want to see the Full message all you have to do is click on it once. Either way, it is much easier to check your email this way rather than having to open each message individually.

The reading pane also shows the different folders in your email. You can add as many folders as you wish to the list and they make it easy to organize your emails. Using the “Full” version you can drag and drop emails into the required folder allowing you to organize your messages in a flash.

Another handy feature in WLH allows messages to be handled by simply right clicking and choosing to either delete, forward, or reply to the message. The Full version also has an auto-complete feature, which automatically completes the email address of recipients if you’ve sent a message to them before. This saves time as you won’t need to shuffle through through your address book or past messages to find that pesky email address.

If you make the swap and then decide that you prefer the old version changing back is very simple. Just find where it says “Switch to Classic” at the bottom left of your screen and click on it. If you decide afterwards that you liked the Full version, you can switch back to it by doing the exact same thing.

The Bottom Line

If you’ve had trouble finding a worthwhile email service that is easy to use, go to Hotmail.com and try out the edgy new features. Whether you choose to use the Classic or Full version of WLH, it’s sure to improve your email experience.

A bit about twitter

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Twitter.com is a simple website which allows users to answer one question and one question alone, “What are you doing?” using 140 characters or less.

It’s designed to work using mobile phones or your computer so you can update your twitter stream throughout the day. It’s similar to the status update feature on Facebook where you can say things like “Ian is on the train going to work now”.

How does Twitter work?

The whole point of Twitter is that you can set your twitter account to follow others and let others follow you. By following the ‘twits’ posted by your friends, businesses, or even the Prime Minister, you can see what they’re up to at that point in time. For example, Kevin Rudd’s last few twits are:

  • “Just tossed the coin for the PM’s XI game. Ozzies won the toss. Good omen I hope.” 10:20 AM yesterday from web
  • “Looking forward to watching the PM’s XI take on NZ. We’ve played them 4 times and lost. Hope Justin Langer can lead the team to victory.” 8:53 AM yesterday from web
  • “I’m off to have a pre-match drink with the PM’s XI before they take on New Zealand tomorrow. Wish them luck!” 6:02 PM Jan 28th from web

Who uses Twitter?

Twitter isn’t for everyone, but it does make a useful tool for those who want to keep up-to-date and let others know what they’re doing minute by minute. A recent Twitter claim to fame came when it beat major news outlets in reporting that there had been a plane crash into the Hudson.

Although it’s not all that big in Australia yet, Twitter is taking much of the rest of the world by storm and is expected to play a much larger role in Australia soon.  Its ability to communicate and update thousands of people instantaneously makes it a great tool for businesses and politicians as well as individuals.

 

Many people put off joining facebook because they worry that once they join their information will be visible to the entire world. This is a legitimate concern as more and more people (especially employers) are using facebook to do background checks and see what people are up to. It’s understandable that people don’t want details of their social life on show for everyone to see.

This article is designed to show you how you can use the excellent privacy features built into facebook to restrict the information your facebook account displays so you are back in control of your online facebook identity.

Choose your friends wisely

Probably the most important step to ensuring your online privacy on facebook is to restrict who you allow to become your friend. facebook works primarily by allowing people to ‘find you’ and then request to be your friend. Once you have accepted them, with default privacy settings enabled, they are able to view your photos, write on your wall and more. People can only become your friend once you confirm their request so this lets you control who can see more detailed information about you.

It sounds bad, but the best way to make sure people can’t access that much information about you is to simply ignore their friend requests. It’s ok – they won’t be told that you ignored them. The request just drops off the radar, and, hopefully, they won’t send it again. If you wouldn’t normally share that sort of information with them in the real world, why would you share it online?

First things first

When you sign up for a facebook account by default most of your information is shared with your friends. This includes stuff like your birthday, email address as well as any other information you decide to feed into facebook during the sign up process. Remember, facebook only knows what you tell it, so if you don’t want it to know something, don’t put it in – Simple.

Hide from the search engines

The first thing you want to do in order to keep your information off the wider internet outside of facebook is to disable the ability for people to find your facebook profile using search engines like Google or Yahoo.

Turning off your Public Search Listing is easy. Sign into your facebook account and then mouse over Settings in the top right corner and select Privacy Settings from the drop down list.

Click on the link to Search.

Now, un-check the checkbox for Public Search Listing. There are a few other options on this page which you may want to consider deactivating. Remember that people still need to be able to find you if they are to request to be your friend. Once you’re done remember to press Save Changes to apply the settings.

Control your private information

The next step to limiting who can see what on your facebook profile is to return to the Privacy Settings page and click the Profile link.

On the profile page you will see lots of options which allow you to control who can see the different parts of your facebook account. The information is broken down to give you a granular level of control. You can find out what information is included in each category by clicking on the small grey question mark on the right of each entry.

Most items give you three levels of privacy

  • Friends of Friends
  • Only Friends
  • Customise…

Friends of Friends and Only Friends are self-explanatory and are used by most people. Only Friends is probably a good setting for all of these options, however if you want more control the Customise… option allows you to include or exclude specific people from your friends list. This is a great way, for example, of excluding work colleagues or including just a few of your closest friends.

Photo albums

Each photo album you create lets you specify who is allowed to view it. Each time you create a new photo album you will be given the option shown below which allows you to specify whether your photos are fit for general consumption or whether only a few select people can view photos of your latest big night on the town.

If you’re just getting started on facebook chances are that lots of your friends might not be part of the club yet either so if you want to share photos with them there is a great Share feature built into each photo album. To use it, open your photo album; click the Share button in the bottom right corner and type in your friends email address. They will be sent a link which only allows them to access the album you have chosen.

With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us will take the time to get in contact with friends and family. We’ve put together a brief overview of different technologies to help make getting in contact using some of the convenient and affordable internet technologies available. Give it a go…in most cases you probably already have everything you need.

Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging (IM) programs such as Windows Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and ICQ (pronounced, “I Seek You”) allow you to quickly ‘chat’ online. All you need to do to get started is download your program of choice, “add” your friends and away you go. If your friends use the same program as you, notifications will pop up when they come online letting you know they are available for chat. Lots of fun and simple to use.

Some popular Instant Messaging Programs are:  MSN / Windows Live Messenger – http://messenger.live.com/ Yahoo Messenger – http://messenger.yahoo.com/ ICQ – http://www.icq.com Google Talk – http://talk.google.com

Internet Phone Calls (VOIP)

Now that high-speed broadband is becoming more commonplace, many Internet Service Providers and online companies are offering the ability to make phone calls using your internet connection instead of your phone line. The advantage of this is that your call does not use the standard telephone network and can pop-out of the internet anywhere in the world. This means that in most cases you only pay for the cost of a local call and avoid STD and international calling rates.

When you sign up for VOIP (which stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol) with your I.S.P., they sell you a special device called an analogue telephone adapter (or ATA). This device lets you use a normal telephone handset to make calls so that there is no mucking around with your computer. In most cases there is only a tiny (and barely noticeable) difference in the quality of your phone call, however, the cost of your call is significantly lower (around 10 cents for an un-timed conversation anywhere in Australia at any time of day).

Online providers such as Skype are similar to your ISP in that they allow you to make phone calls through the internet. The advantage of online providers is that you don’t need an ATA and the software is usually simple to download and install.

More information about the services offered by internet telephony service providers can be found here: Primus – http://www.iprimus.com.au/PrimusWeb/HomeSolutions/TalkBroadband TPG – http://www.tpg.com.au/voip/ Skype – http://www.skype.com Engin – http://www.engin.com.au

Getting set up to make phone calls over the net can be a bit tricky sometimes, so if you’re stuck let us know – 1300 275 449 – a Gizmotech is only a phone call away.

Sharing Memories

One of latest crazes to hit the net are photo sharing sites such as Windows Live Spaces and MySpace. These sites allow you to create an online photo album where you can upload photos and share them with family and friends.

These sites aim to remove the need to print and mail photos out to friends and family. Instead you can upload them and email your friends the website address. When coupled with the popularity of digital cameras, it really makes sense to give these sites a try.

To get started with your very own Windows Live Spaces page, simply visit http://spaces.live.com/ and sign up using your email address. Once you’ve signed up, it’s simple to upload your photos and get an online album started. Give it a try and if you need any help give Gizmo a call.

Blogging

A blog is essentially an online diary which lets you make entries using text and pictures. These entries are then available for everyone to read, comment on and share. Although blogs are not for everyone, blogging is an immensely popular activity with up to 100 million blogs tipped to be in existence sometime in the first half of 2007 (Source: http://english.people.com.cn/200612/15/eng20061215_332679.html)

Some popular blogging sites are: http://www.blogger.com/ http://www.blog.com/

To get started, visit the site, login and start writing your blog today.

As with anything tech related, if you have issues or get stuck, give us a call and we can help you out.

One of the best things about having a wired or wireless network set up by Gizmo is that you can share folders between computers on your network. This lets you do things such as listen to music stored on another computer. This article shows you how.

Sharing folders is a little complex, so if you’re not comfortable with the steps below it might be worth hiring a Gizmotech to set up shared folders for you. That said, if you feel like learning more about your network, have a play and see what you can accomplish.

Folders which you may want to share over your home network include: * Music files (or the My Music Folder) * Video files * Work files

To share a folder on the network

1. Open Windows Explorer (by clicking Start, pointing to All Programs, Accessories, and then clicking Windows Explorer). Locate the folder you want to share. Remember that when you share a folder anyone on your network can access its contents.

2. Right click the folder you want to share and click Sharing and Security.

3. Look for the Share this folder on the network check box and select it.

4. To allow other users to have complete control over the files in this folder, select the Allow network users to change my files check box. If this is selected other users will be able to add, delete and modify your files.

5. To change the name of your folder on the network, in the Share name text box, type a new name for your folder. This will not change the name of the folder on your computer.

6. Click Ok. The folder is now shared on your network.

Accessing your shared folders

Now you have shared a folder you can access it from another computer on your network.

1. Open My Computer (by clicking on Start then clicking My Computer).

2. Under Other Places on the left hand pane, click My Network Places.

3. The name of your shared folder should be present under Local Network. If it is not, then you will need to find it manually. To do this, click on the Entire Network link under the Other Places pane on the left hand side.

4. Double Click on the icon to Microsoft Windows Network

5. Double click on the icon that appears next. This is usually named MSHOME or WORKGROUP.

6. An icon should exist for the computer which has the shared file on it, double click it. Your shared directory should be in here. You can access files by opening the folder and can now use them as if they were on your local computer.

Remember, you will only be able to save changes to this location if you ticked the “allow network users to change my files” check box.

Connecting an additional computer to your wireless network is relatively easy. If Gizmo set up your wireless network for you then we will have left you with a “Wireless/Wired Network Settings Form”. This form has your “Network Key” on it which you will need if you do not already know your security settings.

To connect to an available wireless network

1. Open Network Connections by clicking Start, Control Panel, Network and Internet Connections, and then clicking Network Connections.

2. Click the Wireless Network Connection icon, and then, under Network Tasks, click View available wireless networks.

3. Choose the wireless network from the list that appears, and then click Connect. If Gizmo set up your network, its name will be written on your “Network Settings” form.

4. If the network you choose is security-enabled, you will need to type in the key (on your Gizmo “Wireless/Wired Network Settings Form” this is referred to as your “Network Key”).

5. Your computer should connect to the wireless network. If you have any shared files and folders you will also be able to access them over your network.

Notes: This document only covers how to connect to a standard wireless network. For more complicated set ups you may need a Gizmotech to help you. For help, call 1300 275 449.

One of the best things about having a home network is that you can share a single printer between all the computers on your network.

Being able to print over a network is especially useful when: * The kids have laptops but the printer is connected to the desktop. You’re tired of having to plug the printer back in again after they’ve used it. * Your printer cable is plugged into the back of your computer which is hidden away in a cupboard. It is incredibly difficult to get to when you want to print from another computer. * To share a printer over your network, you need to have: * A stable home network (wired or wireless) * A desktop computer (which must be turned on whenever you want to print) * Any number of networked computers which you wish to print from

Part 1: Sharing your printer

To network your printer you must first share it from the computer it is connected to. This allows other computers on your network to connect to it. 1. Click on Start > Control Panel > Printers and Faxes. 2. Right click on the icon for your printer and then left click on Sharing.

3.If you have not shared a printer before you may receive a warning message on the sharing tab. Click “If you understand the security risks but want to share printers without running the Wizard, click here”. If prompted, click “Just enable printer sharing”.

4. On the Sharing tab, you will see an option to “Share this printer”. Check this button and specify a name for your printer in the Share name field. 5. Click OK and your printer is now shared!

Part 2: Connecting to your shared printer

To access your shared printer from another computer on your network simply follow the steps below. You only need to do this once on each computer you want to print from. 1. Click on Start > Control Panel > Printers and Faxes 2. Click on Add a Printer in the top left hand side menu

3.Select “A network printer, or a printer attached to another computer” then click Next. 4. Click the Browse for a printer check box and click Next. 5. Browse your workgroup for your printer and highlight the one you would like to use by left clicking it. Press the Next button.

6. If you are prompted to install a printer driver, click Yes and then Finish. 7. You’re done. When you are trying to print a document, simply select the shared printer from the list of printers in your Print menu and away you go.

Wireless connection

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Q: I have 2 laptops, one picks up my wireless internet signal in seconds, the other can take up to 10 minutes (even if I’m next to the router). Why?

A: Every computer contains a NIC (Network Interface Card) which essentially is the hardware that ‘talks’ in order to connect a computer and a network. Different computer brands will ‘talk’ a little differently, some taking a little longer to make that connection.

If this has only happened recently or is affecting all connected devices, chances are another wireless network is using the same channel as you and is causing some interference. Your router will support a number of different channels specifically for this reason. If you want to give changing the channel a go yourself, there is an app that will tell you what wireless networks are broadcasting in your area and their channel, called inSSIDer. Otherwise, best to get it looked at by a professional.

A bit about twitter

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Twitter.com is a simple website which allows users to answer one question and one question alone, “What are you doing?” using 140 characters or less.

It’s designed to work using mobile phones or your computer so you can update your twitter stream throughout the day. It’s similar to the status update feature on Facebook where you can say things like “Ian is on the train going to work now”.

How does Twitter work?

The whole point of Twitter is that you can set your twitter account to follow others and let others follow you. By following the ‘twits’ posted by your friends, businesses, or even the Prime Minister, you can see what they’re up to at that point in time. For example, Kevin Rudd’s last few twits are:

  • “Just tossed the coin for the PM’s XI game. Ozzies won the toss. Good omen I hope.” 10:20 AM yesterday from web
  • “Looking forward to watching the PM’s XI take on NZ. We’ve played them 4 times and lost. Hope Justin Langer can lead the team to victory.” 8:53 AM yesterday from web
  • “I’m off to have a pre-match drink with the PM’s XI before they take on New Zealand tomorrow. Wish them luck!” 6:02 PM Jan 28th from web

Who uses Twitter?

Twitter isn’t for everyone, but it does make a useful tool for those who want to keep up-to-date and let others know what they’re doing minute by minute. A recent Twitter claim to fame came when it beat major news outlets in reporting that there had been a plane crash into the Hudson.

Although it’s not all that big in Australia yet, Twitter is taking much of the rest of the world by storm and is expected to play a much larger role in Australia soon.  Its ability to communicate and update thousands of people instantaneously makes it a great tool for businesses and politicians as well as individuals.

 

Most of us sign off all of our emails exactly the same way each time we send one. Given that we are likely to use the same computer for three, four or even five years, it makes sense to set up your email program to save as much time as possible.

Setting up your email with a signature is a great way to shave a few seconds off sending each email and make sure that you always include the right information.  Also, if you run a small business an email signature is a great way of helping to make your business look professional and up-to-date.

Depending on what email program you use, you will need to follow different steps to set up your email signature. For the purposes of this tutorial we will look at how to set up your signature using Outlook 2007, however, if you have a different program, we’ve also included links to instructions for a few of them as well. Steps for Microsoft Outlook 2003 are almost identical so it’s worth reading this if you have that program as well. If you would prefer to watch than read, click to watch a video tutorial on setting up email signatures.

Microsoft Outlook 2007

  • Open Microsoft Outlook 2007.
  • Click on Tools, click on Options then click on the Mail Format tab.
  • Once the Signatures and Stationary window opens click on the New button to create a new email signatur
  • Enter a name for your signature when prompte
  • Once you’ve entered a name you will need to enter your business details exactly as you would like them to appear on each email you send. If you want to include a link to your website, make sure you include ‘http://’ before your websites address or the link may not work in some email programs.
  • Once you’ve entered your details and you’re happy with the way they look, press OK
  • Now that you’ve set up your email signature, the next time you create an email, your signature will be conveniently located in each email saving you the time and hassle of typing it out each time.

Many people put off joining facebook because they worry that once they join their information will be visible to the entire world. This is a legitimate concern as more and more people (especially employers) are using facebook to do background checks and see what people are up to. It’s understandable that people don’t want details of their social life on show for everyone to see.

This article is designed to show you how you can use the excellent privacy features built into facebook to restrict the information your facebook account displays so you are back in control of your online facebook identity.

Choose your friends wisely

Probably the most important step to ensuring your online privacy on facebook is to restrict who you allow to become your friend. facebook works primarily by allowing people to ‘find you’ and then request to be your friend. Once you have accepted them, with default privacy settings enabled, they are able to view your photos, write on your wall and more. People can only become your friend once you confirm their request so this lets you control who can see more detailed information about you.

It sounds bad, but the best way to make sure people can’t access that much information about you is to simply ignore their friend requests. It’s ok – they won’t be told that you ignored them. The request just drops off the radar, and, hopefully, they won’t send it again. If you wouldn’t normally share that sort of information with them in the real world, why would you share it online?

First things first

When you sign up for a facebook account by default most of your information is shared with your friends. This includes stuff like your birthday, email address as well as any other information you decide to feed into facebook during the sign up process. Remember, facebook only knows what you tell it, so if you don’t want it to know something, don’t put it in – Simple.

Hide from the search engines

The first thing you want to do in order to keep your information off the wider internet outside of facebook is to disable the ability for people to find your facebook profile using search engines like Google or Yahoo.

Turning off your Public Search Listing is easy. Sign into your facebook account and then mouse over Settings in the top right corner and select Privacy Settings from the drop down list.

Click on the link to Search.

Now, un-check the checkbox for Public Search Listing. There are a few other options on this page which you may want to consider deactivating. Remember that people still need to be able to find you if they are to request to be your friend. Once you’re done remember to press Save Changes to apply the settings.

Control your private information

The next step to limiting who can see what on your facebook profile is to return to the Privacy Settings page and click the Profile link.

On the profile page you will see lots of options which allow you to control who can see the different parts of your facebook account. The information is broken down to give you a granular level of control. You can find out what information is included in each category by clicking on the small grey question mark on the right of each entry.

Most items give you three levels of privacy

  • Friends of Friends
  • Only Friends
  • Customise…

Friends of Friends and Only Friends are self-explanatory and are used by most people. Only Friends is probably a good setting for all of these options, however if you want more control the Customise… option allows you to include or exclude specific people from your friends list. This is a great way, for example, of excluding work colleagues or including just a few of your closest friends.

Photo albums

Each photo album you create lets you specify who is allowed to view it. Each time you create a new photo album you will be given the option shown below which allows you to specify whether your photos are fit for general consumption or whether only a few select people can view photos of your latest big night on the town.

If you’re just getting started on facebook chances are that lots of your friends might not be part of the club yet either so if you want to share photos with them there is a great Share feature built into each photo album. To use it, open your photo album; click the Share button in the bottom right corner and type in your friends email address. They will be sent a link which only allows them to access the album you have chosen.

If there is a single feature that most content web sites (like news sites, blogs etc) on the web have in common, it’s that somewhere they will give you the ability to subscribe to an information feed for their site (or RSS feed as they are known). Once you start looking you will notice them everywhere.

In much the same way as you subscribe to a paper magazine subscription, internet subscription feeds are designed to give you regular updates on content as it is released. This is great if you find you want to stay on-top of content from many websites, but don’t have the time to visit lots of sites on a regular basis. Subscription feeds grab the latest content for you and suck it to a centralised point where you can decide from the title and introductory blurb whether or not you are going to invest the time required to read the entire article.

Where can I read RSS feeds?

The best way to read your RSS feeds is to use a web based news reader like reader.google.com or gregarius.net.  As an alternative, many personalised home pages allow you to add RSS feeds straight onto your homepage. Google reader is the most popular web based RSS reader out there so this tutorial focuses on showing you how to add an RSS feed to Google Reader.

Google Reader.

Firstly, visit reader.google.com and either sign in using your existing Google account or sign up for a new one.

We’d recommend “taking the tour” to learn a little more about Google reader but you can jump straight to the next steps if you’re pressed for time.

Let’s say, for example, that today you wanted to subscribe to a specific feed from the New York Times (www.nytimes.com). To do this, open a new browsing window or tab (leaving Google Reader where it is) and visit www.nytimes.com. Once there, look around the web page for a Subscribe or RSS icon. We found it all the way down the bottom of the site in the footer. Left click on the icon.

As the New York Times is such a large website with content on so many topics, subscribing to all of them could get overwhelming. To prevent this they have conveniently broken up the site into categories such as news, features, additional feeds and opinion pieces. As you can see, within each category there are subsets to break the information down even further.

To subscribe to a feed, right click on the RSS icon next to the topic that interests you. Once you have right clicked, select Copy Shortcut if you are using Internet Explorer or Copy Link Location if you are using Mozilla Firefox. Next, swap over to your Google Reader browser window or tab.

Once you have Google reader in front of you, left click on the text Add Subscription link on the left of the window. Click in the text box that appears and press CTRL+V (or right click in the text box and left click “Paste”). Click Add.

You will see that a NY Times feed is added to the list and you will start to see unread items in the main viewing window. You can repeat this step as many times as you require to add feeds for your favourite websites.

Reading the full thing

Depending on what has been set up by the content creator, the RSS feeds you subscribe to will display part of an item or sometimes even the whole thing. Regardless, you may want to view an item on the host’s website. Each item displayed in Google Reader is linked back to a page on the content provider’s website and left clicking on the blue heading of an item will take you to the original item.

Adding an RSS feed to your personalised homepage

Adding an RSS feed to your personalised homepage is a great way to juice it up a little. If you use iGoogle, adding an RSS feed is as easy as clicking on Add Stuff and then using the link to Add Feed or Gadget on the left hand side of the page.

Lots of us can write documents, save pictures and send emails, but how can we make everything easy to find again. This article explains how to create your own folders in Windows XP.

Lots of people know how to write documents, create spreadsheets and save pictures on their computers but many also find that everything ends jumbled up together in their My Documents folder.

If you like to keep your files organised, making folders to put things in can be one way of organising all the clutter. You can make folders to store any type of file you like. Windows XP comes with some preset folders which can be found inside your My Documents. These are called My Pictures and My Music and make a good place to store any pictures or music files you might have. Windows will automatically look in those folders before other places.

How to make a new folder in Windows XP:
1) To make a new folder, right click on any white space inside your My Documents folder (or any folder or hard disk on your computer). You will be presented with a menu which gives you options such as View, Arrange icons by etc…
2) Put your mouse over the “New>” section and out will pop a new menu. Left click “Folder” in that pop out window.
3) Type a name for the new folder you have created and press enter.
4) Now you can drag and drop or save appropriate files into the folder you have created.

With some perseverance and logical thinking you will soon have a nicely ordered My Documents folder.

For more help please contact 1300 275 449 or help@gizmo.com.au

LightScribe CD burners are a new way of creating labels for your CD’s. This article explains what they are and how they can be beneficial to you.

By now most computers out there have either a CD or DVD burner as they are relatively inexpensive and also provide an excellent way to backup your valuable information in the short-medium term.

One problem with making your own DVD’s and CD’s is that writing on it with a permanent marker (if you can fine one) produces messy and unprofessional results. LightScribe technology looks to change this.

Essentially the technology lets you ‘burn’ black and white images or text onto the top side of a DVD or CD, saving you the hassle of having to find a pen.

LightScribe technology works on recordable CDs or DVDs. They are coated with a reactive dye which changes colour when it is hit by the infrared laser light produced normally by your DVD or CD drive in the burning process. This reaction causes the dye to appear differing shades of grey and can make up one of the designs you see below.

The LightScribe burner creates designs on your disks in exactly the same way as it burns data – it causes the reaction to occur as it burns outwards in concentric circles always moving further and further away from the centre of the media. To burn images onto your CD you first burn your normal data content onto the recordable side of a special LightScribe compatible disk. Once this is done you take it out, flip it over and put it back in again to burn a second time onto the coated surface of the disk.

While at present it is only possible to burn shades of grey onto disks there are plans on the drawing board to add colour. Another drawback with the technology is that the images fade over time when exposed to light so it’s best to store them in a dark place where they are not exposed to direct sun or indoor lighting for long periods of time. Doing this should increase the life of the image.

Despite these drawbacks this is definitely something that we find attractive and want to play with.

To make it work you will need: 1.A LightScribe Burner (approximately $150) 2.LightScribe Disks (which have the reactive coating on them).(approximately  10 DVD’s for $27) 3.LightScribe burning software (which lets you create images to burn onto the CD) (usually included with the burner).

Gizmo can supply all these items for you including installation and setup – If you’d like a Gizmotech to set you up with a LightScribe burner call 1300 275 449.

We’d definitely recommend it if you’re printing out holiday photos for friends or anything special that would benefit from the professional presentation.

We’ve included some of the designs lightscribe.com has included as demonstrations.  For more information about LightScribe burning visit www.lightscribe.com.

Gizmotechs in the field get to see a lot of computers in all sorts of conditions. Recently we’ve come across a number of really dirty computers. Sometimes we open them up and stare in amazement – we cannot work out how the computer has continued to function covered in so much dust.

Gizmo does not recommend opening up your computer unless you’re confident in doing so and we are definitely not suggesting that you should get out the Mr Muscle spray and give your capacitors a squeaky clean – that would be a very very bad idea. The best we can suggest is keeping the room that your computer lives in clean and dust free.

Computers usually have a minimum of two or three fans. As a result they are constantly sucking in and spitting out air to cool down components. If that air is filled with dust then eventually – as you can see in the pictures below – the computer gets covered in a grimy layer of sticky green dust which can cause shorts and overheating.

While dust is not necessarily bad for your computer in small doses, when it piles up to chronic levels it can start to cause problems. Dust mites may even eat up your silicon chips and layers of dust can cause components to overheat and fail. Ok, so we’ve never had a microscope lying around to see if these little dudes actually exist, but we’re told they do and they look quite nasty.

If your worried about your computer being overly dirty give us a call on 1300 275 449.

This article runs through why computers can sometimes be really noisy and makes some suggestions to get them running quietly.

Computers make noise because they are filled with cooling fans which stop the computer from overheating. Computer components like the Central Processing Unit (CPU) run at very high temperatures and without cooling your CPU would fizzle and die within seconds of turning it on.

Like house fans, computer fans can be noisy and when they become old or worn they can get worse. This sometimes leads to a groaning noise not unlike that made by your neighborhood zombie. Don’t despair. This can be fixed!

By upgrading or replacing the fans which cool your components you can dramatically reduce the amount of noise your computer makes.

Fans are usually found on your CPU, Graphics Card (if you have one), North Bridge and Power Supply. Most of these fans can be replaced by what is know as a heat-sink, which is designed to dissipate heat away from these devices either by using special metal lattices or a quiet and more efficient fan.

As well as fans, you can make your computer quieter by getting a better case. Most computer stores will sell you cheaper cases which are badly designed and do not get rid of heat efficiently. This puts pressure onto the fans as they have to work harder to keep your parts cool.

Quiet computing can be achieved, it just depends on how much noise you are willing to put up with and how much you are willing to spend to get noise reduced. For most people, a new Antec case (with a quiet power supply) and a quiet CPU heat sink will reduce noise to a much more bearable level.

Keep in mind that these items are fairly specific to each computer and so it would be best to get a Gizmotech around to check out your setup before going out and buying anything.

If more than one person will be using your computer, a good way of organising it can be to create user accounts.

User accounts let each user of the computer have their own User Folder which stores their files and also allows them to set up their desktop just the way they like it.

Windows Vista allows people to create two types of user accounts, Standard or Administrator. It is important to understand the difference between the two.

Standard accounts

A standard account allows you to access files inside your User Folder and use programs already installed on your computer. While using a standard account you will be unable to install new programs or view files in other user’s folders without an administrator password. This has been implemented on purpose by Microsoft to make users consider what programs they install in order to prevent spyware.

Administrator accounts

An administrator account allows you to access all files on your computer and install programs.

Gizmo recommends that you create an administrator account in order to get your computers programs set up and working. Once you have your programs installed, we would suggest using a Standard Account for day-to-day computing.

Creating a new user account:

1. Click on Start then click on Control Panel. If you are prompted for an administrator password, type it in and continue.

2. Click Create a new account.

3. Give your new account a name and then select whether you would like to make the account standard or administrator. Click Create Account when you are done.

4. After you have created your account, you are given the option to customise it by adding a passwords, changing your account picture etc.

5. Next time you turn on your computer you will be given the option to select which account you would like to log in as. Select the new account you have created and away you go.

 

For more help please contact 1300 275 449 or help@gizmo.com.au

 

Learning how to use the built-in “Help and Support” feature of Windows Vista is one of the most important steps you can take when getting acquainted with your new computer. Once you’ve learnt how to use “Help”, you will have developed a valuable skill which you can use to find answers to any future questions you might have.

Using Help

To use “Help” in Windows Vista, simply click on “Start” and then on the “Help and Support” button which is located at the bottom right of the start menu.

Windows Help works much the same way as a web browser, so clicking on items usually takes you to a new page. At the top of the page there are “back”, “forward” and “home” buttons as well as a search bar. There is also a printer icon which lets you print out any useful pages you would like to keep or use as a reference.

In the middle of the help window there are links to commonly used issue groups such as “Windows Basics”, “Security and Maintenance”, “Troubleshooting” and more. Most help articles can be accessed by simply clicking on one of these icons and drilling down to the issue you need help with.

Searching for help

Another way to find help is to type what you are looking for into the search bar at the top of the screen. This searches all available help articles for the term you enter. For example, if you wanted to learn how to change your desktop background, you could type “change background” and press enter (or click the magnifying glass).

The results of your search are presented as a list and are ordered from most to least relevant. If the issue you require is not listed, try altering the words you used to search.

In this instance, to view instructions on changing your desktop background, simply click on the text and you will be taken to a page explaining the process. If you decide that the article you have clicked is not relevant, you can click the back button (in the top left corner) to return to the list of search results where you can see if any of the others are more relevant.

Have more questions or need help? Contact gizmo on 1300 275 449 or help@gizmo.com.au

In this article we take a look at Google Sky, a free program that can help you learn about the cosmos.

The recent lunar eclipse was a special not just because it turned the moon red but also because it was an event that made it clear that the Earth we live on is only a small part of a solar system and a universe that is much, much larger. A universe that only astronomers have much of an idea about. Amature astronomy has always been considered a nerdy hobby which consisted of old men heading out to the middle of nowhere to sit alone in the dark and focus a telescope on the sky. Understandably, to the majority of us this doesn’t make astronomy sound all that appealing and you can therefore understand why we were excited when Google recently announced a new and comfortable alternative. The alternative is called Google Sky and is a recent addition to Google Earth. In this article we run you through how it works and how to install it.

How does Google Sky Work

Google Earth gives you a bird’s eye view of almost any location on the planet and Google Sky does exactly the opposite. Google Sky works by stitching together millions of images taken by ground and space based telescopes and gives you access to images from the world’s top observatories. This in itself makes the tool amazing as you can see far more than you could hope to accomplish with any backyard telescope.

Running and Installing Google Sky

In order to run Google Earth you most definitely need a broadband connection Sky(ADSL, ADSL2+ or Cable) as it is a very bandwidth intensive program. This may also make it unsuitable if you have a low download limit. Some slower ADSL plans may struggle to download images fast enough for you to enjoy the experience. Google Earth also prefers your computer to have a graphics card installed. If your computer does not have a graphics card, you may need a Gizmotech to install one for you. To use Google Sky you will need to download and install version 4.2 of Google Earth from http://earth.google.com. Save the installation file to your desktop and then double click it to install the program. Once you’ve finished installing, Google Earth should open. If you do not have a graphics card you will need to click the start menu, find “Google Earth” under All Programs and click “Start Google Earth in OpenGL mode”.

Using Google Sky

When you open Google Earth a globe of the world will appear. If you haven’t used Google Earth before you might want to have a play with the planet before you go any further. To spin the globe simple click and drag using your mouse. Double click on a location to zoom in on it. You can also zoom in and out using the scroll wheel on your mouse or the + and – buttons on your keyboard. Once you’ve had a play with the controls and you feel like you know how to drive navigate to your location in the world. You can do this by either typing your location in the “Fly To” box found in the top left hand corner or by scrolling and zooming. Specifying your location on the planet determines what the start look like in the sky above you. Once you are in your location click the little icon of Saturn in the toolbar running along the top of the screen. Google Sky will open displaying constellation, stars, planets, gaseous nebula, stellar nurseries and even whole distant galaxies.

Once you are in Google Sky have some fun zooming through the cosmos. If you want some structure, try adding and removing the “Layers” in the bottom left hand side. These layers allow you to show and hide different stellar objects. Some layers even allow you to take tours of different types of objects which can be useful if you are a little overwhelmed. Both Google Earth and Google Sky you will see little icons floating around the screen. Clicking on these icons gives you to access to more in-depth information about the object you are viewing. There is a mind boggling amount of information to be explored in Google Sky and we believe it is set to turn amateur astronomy on its head.

If you need assistance getting it set up and installed, please don’t hesitate to call Gizmo on 1300 275 449. As mentioned before, Google Sky will work best on a speedy computer with a broadband connection and graphics card so if it’s time for an upgrade give us a call.

One of the most common shortcuts computer manufacturers take so that they can shave $100 off the purchase price of a new budget laptop or desktop computer is to put a small amount of memory (RAM) into the machine. While these computers seem like a bargain buy at the time, many of them do not have enough memory to run smoothly. In this article we look at how you can tell if your computer would benefit from a RAM upgrade.

Most people buying lower cost computers usually want something they will only use for surfing the web, downloading digital photos and sending the occasional email. As such, a lower cost machine is appealing. The problem is that many find that their computer is frustratingly slow or even suffers from error messages caused when too many programs compete for the same scarse system resources. The unhappy computer owners find themselves wishing they had spent that extra $100 at the time of purchase.

Fortunately, upgrading the memory in your computer is one of the most cost effective ways to boost performance. Breathe a sigh of relief and read on to see if you will benefit from a RAM upgrade.

Check your memory

The first step required to work out whether or not a memory upgrade is worthwhile, is to do a bit of investigation.

Once your computer has booted up, right click on the My Computer icon, click on Properties and look for the number indicated in the picture (note: this screen is different in windows XP and Vista). This tells you how much RAM you have in your computer.

If you have Windows XP, gizmo recommends that you have a minimum of 512MB of RAM and suggests that if you use more than one program at a time, you may want to consider upgrading to 1GB or above.

If you have Windows Vista a minimum of 2GB is recommended, however you may wish to consider upgrade to more if you play games or use resource intensive applications.

Can you upgrade or not?

Most computers have the physical space to install 2 “sticks” of RAM. Desktops can sometimes fit up-to 4. In most laptops, both of these sticks are usually present meaning that in order to upgrade the amount of memory you have, you will need to discard one, or both, of your sticks in favour of a higher capacity replacement. Unfortunately the only way to tell what size memory chip you have is to open up your computer and physically inspect each stick – something we’d definitely recommend you get a gizmotech to do for you. In most cases, both chips will have the same amount of memory, but if one is larger, you would discard the smaller one and replace it with a nice big new chip.

Something to remember about memory

It is important to know that memory chips come in different types and capacities. If you have an older computer, you will probably have what is known as “DDR” memory which comes in the following sizes: 128MB 256MB 512MB 1024MB (or 1GB)

If you have a newer laptop, you will probably have “DDR2” memory which comes in sizes including: 512MB 1024MB (1GB) 2048 (2GB)

Note: DDR RAM cannot be combined with DDR2 RAM as the chips will not physically fit.

The goal of your memory upgrade is to get the most RAM possible using the sticks you already have and the sticks you can afford to buy. It is always a good idea to have your memory replaced by a professional as memory has a few more technical specifications that can influence compatibility.

Making the upgrade

If your research uncovers that you could indeed benefit from a memory upgrade and you would like to make it happen, give gizmo a call on 1300 275 449 and book an Optimise Me service. An Optimise Me service includes a computer tune up as well as memory installation. A gizmotech will come to your place, work out what sort of RAM is required, sell and install it for you.

What are Netbooks?

Netbooks are laptops, with the major exception that they are cheap, small and usually much less powerful than their bigger, more expensive cousins. For most people, Netbooks are an affordable second or third computer they can use to browse the web or send emails when they’re on the move.

Why are they so cheap?

While historically, smaller laptops have always been at the higher end of the price scale, Netbooks are able to reverse this trend by using only the most basic of components and sacrificing grunt for portability at low cost. Today, your average Netbook like the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, costs about $550, has a 9” screen, an Intel Atom processor, 1gigabyte of RAM and a tiny 16GB hard drive. By way of comparison, pocket-rockets like the Studio XPS 13 cost $1999+ and have 4GB of RAM, a graphics card, a much faster processor and a 320 gigabyte hard drive. It’s easy to see that you are not getting the fastest machine out there. Lots of power squashed into a small package is still expensive.

Why are they so popular?

Although they won’t run the latest and greatest games or play high definition video, when coupled with a mobile broadband connection, Netbooks are great for surfing the web or shooting off emails on the way to work. Younger school children are also benefiting from Netbooks as they can be an affordable way for parents to buy their kids that all-important first computer without breaking the bank. That said, keep in mind that they will need something more powerful very quickly. If you’ve recently bought a Netbook and would like a hand setting it up, copying your files or hooking it up to your home or mobile wireless network, give gizmo a call on 1300 275 449.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

With hot days baking many cities around Australia, it’s never been more useful to find out just how hot it really is outside.

If you have Windows Vista, having the current temperature delivered to your desktop can be as easy as 1,2, 3 (4) using the built in Windows Sidebar and temperature gadget.

What’s more, once you learn how to do this for the temperature, there are lots of other goodies you can have delivered to your desktop.

Click on Start, type ‘Windows Sidebar’ and hit Enter Click on the small ‘+’ sign that appears in the top right corner of your screen

Drag the ‘Weather’ icon from the box that appears to the greyed area on the right of your screen and release

Move your mouse over the icon weather box that appears, click the spanner and type in your location (e.g. “Melbourne, Australia”) and press OK.

Have more questions or need help? Contact Gizmo on 1300 275 449 or help@gizmo.com.au

Why bother?

E-waste is a massive problem. As we buy the latest and greatest we leave behind a mountain of old parts nobody wants to deal with. By recycling your computer, monitor and cables you help reduce the amount of e-waste sent to landfill. For more information about e-waste read this article on Wikipedia.   Where can I find an e-waste recycler?

Clean up Australia has put together an excellent fact sheet and a national list of e-waste recyclers at Clean Up Australia. There is also an excellent tool at www.recyclingnearyou.com.au  which lets you search for a nearby recycler by postcode or suburb.

Important: ERASE YOUR DATA

Before you recycle or donate your computer make sure you securely wipe the data from your hard drives. A recent study found that up to 40% of second-hand hard drives still had retrievable personal data on them. Unfortunately, pressing ‘Delete’ isn’t enough to prevent recovery of your data, so we’d recommend a gizmo Erase Me service before you take your computer to the recyclers. Using an Erase Me service gives you the option of exactly how squeaky clean you’d like a gizmotech to make your hard drive.

Uninstalling programs you don’t need any more is a great way of speeding up your computer. This is because many programs automatically run at start-up and often sit in your taskbar chewing up valuable memory. This causes your computer to take longer to start and also reduces the amount of memory available to the applications you actually want to use.

Which programs can I uninstall?

Only remove a program if you know what it is! This is very important as there are some you may not recognise which are important and should be left alone. If you need a hand, a gizmo Optimise Me service can help you get your computer in top performance and gizmotechs know which programs are safe to remove and which should be left alone.

How do I uninstall programs?

Uninstalling a program in Windows Vista

In Windows Vista, to uninstall a program, click on Start > type “Programs and Features” and press Enter. A list of all the programs currently installed on your computer will appear. By selecting a program you no longer need then clicking the Uninstall button (which appears on the top strip), you will be able to remove it from your computer. Follow any steps required and re-start your computer once your done.

Uninstalling a program in Windows XP

In Windows XP, to uninstall a program, click on Start > Click on Control Panel > Double click Add or Remove Programs. In the currently installed programs list, choose the program you want to get rid of and click on Change/Remove. Follow the instructions that appear. Once you’re done, restart your computer.

Thinking of buying a Mac?

According to many accounts, Macs are becoming increasingly popular despite their generally higher cost. While the vast majority of computer users still have PCs, Macs are excellent machines that are built very well and are worth considering if you are thinking of adding another computer to your home. OS X, the current Apple operating system, has some excellent features and software which many find make using a computer easy.  Like buying a PC, the most important thing to consider when buying a Mac is what you’ll use it for.

Buying a Mac laptop, or Macbook

If you need the portability of a laptop, a MacBook is the Apple product you should look into. These come in three major flavours, Macbook Pro, Macbook and Macbook Air.

Macbook Pro

Macbook Pro’s are the most powerful and expensive version of the Mac you can buy and they include a built in graphics card great for playing games or performing more graphically intensive tasks.

Macbook

Little brother to the Macbook Pro, a Macbook is less powerful but also less expensive. Most people who need something to surf the net, pay bills and browse photos will be happy with a Macbook.

Macbook Air

The Macbook Air is super light and super thin, however, is not all that powerful when compared to the other computers in the range. You will pay a premium for the Macbook Air but they are great for those who travel and don’t want the extra weight of a fully sized laptop.

Choosing a Mac desktop

If you don’t need portability, then a Mac Pro, iMac or Mac mini may suit you better.

Mac Pro

As with the Macbook’s, Mac Pro’s are more powerful and are usually used by hardcore designers and video editors.

iMac

The all-in-one iMac will suit most users as it has a relatively powerful computer contained entirely within the screen. This tight packaging means that it takes up much less space on your desktop than a separate monitor and tower would require.

Mac Mini

Mac Mini’s are small, but have less grunt than the iMac or Mac Pro. They also have a lower price point so may be suitable for people who want to perform basic tasks like web browsing and checking emails.

More info on choosing a Mac

For more info on choosing a Mac, visit the Apple website. Also consider heading into your local retailer to have a play with the different models and make up your own mind.

Moving your documents and files

If you do make the switch from a PC to Mac, getting everything set up and transferred across can be a bit daunting. Fortunately, gizmo offers two excellent services to help you make the most of your new Mac. Translate Me – If you’ve bought a Mac for the first time, this service is designed specifically for you. Our gizmotechs will help you learn how to do things you used to do on your PC on a Mac as well as showing you other fantastic features available on your new Mac. Shift Me – When you buy a new Mac you still want access to your old files stored on the PC you used to use. Book this service and a gizmotech will come to your place and transfer 8GB of your precious data from your old PC to your new Mac.

Most people can send an email to one person, but sending messages to multiple friends or colleagues at once is not so well known. This article explains how to do this.

Sending emails to many people at once is a really useful way of staying in touch with a group of people, and it saves sending lots of individual messages. It is great for things like:  Sending all your friends and family an update about your recent holiday  Mailing out invitations to a party  Updating a team about news or project progress

It is really easy to do!

If you use Microsoft Outlook, open it up and create a new email. You will probably see a screen similar to the one below. There are To…, Cc… and Subject: boxes.

To send an email to more than one person you just have to put in more than one address and separate each one with a semicolon (;) and a single space.

For example to send a message to both paul@gizmo.com.au and michael@gizmo.com.au all I would do is put the following into my To… or Cc… box: paul@gizmo.com.au; michael@gizmo.com.au

This will send your email to both Michael and Paul. You can send emails to as many email addresses as you like this way. Be careful though! If you are using this method to send an update to clients or business associates, everyone who you send the message to will be able to see the addresses of everyone else. Unless people know everyone on the list, they may not want their email addresses broadcast to a group of people.

To make sure that your recipients can only see their own email address, you need to use the Bcc area. Bcc stands for Blind Carbon Copy. To bring this up, click the To.. icon and you will see the Bcc option located at the bottom of the box.

With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us will take the time to get in contact with friends and family. We’ve put together a brief overview of different technologies to help make getting in contact using some of the convenient and affordable internet technologies available. Give it a go…in most cases you probably already have everything you need.

Instant Messaging

Instant Messaging (IM) programs such as Windows Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and ICQ (pronounced, “I Seek You”) allow you to quickly ‘chat’ online. All you need to do to get started is download your program of choice, “add” your friends and away you go. If your friends use the same program as you, notifications will pop up when they come online letting you know they are available for chat. Lots of fun and simple to use.

Some popular Instant Messaging Programs are:  MSN / Windows Live Messenger – http://messenger.live.com/ Yahoo Messenger – http://messenger.yahoo.com/ ICQ – http://www.icq.com Google Talk – http://talk.google.com

Internet Phone Calls (VOIP)

Now that high-speed broadband is becoming more commonplace, many Internet Service Providers and online companies are offering the ability to make phone calls using your internet connection instead of your phone line. The advantage of this is that your call does not use the standard telephone network and can pop-out of the internet anywhere in the world. This means that in most cases you only pay for the cost of a local call and avoid STD and international calling rates.

When you sign up for VOIP (which stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol) with your I.S.P., they sell you a special device called an analogue telephone adapter (or ATA). This device lets you use a normal telephone handset to make calls so that there is no mucking around with your computer. In most cases there is only a tiny (and barely noticeable) difference in the quality of your phone call, however, the cost of your call is significantly lower (around 10 cents for an un-timed conversation anywhere in Australia at any time of day).

Online providers such as Skype are similar to your ISP in that they allow you to make phone calls through the internet. The advantage of online providers is that you don’t need an ATA and the software is usually simple to download and install.

More information about the services offered by internet telephony service providers can be found here: Primus – http://www.iprimus.com.au/PrimusWeb/HomeSolutions/TalkBroadband TPG – http://www.tpg.com.au/voip/ Skype – http://www.skype.com Engin – http://www.engin.com.au

Getting set up to make phone calls over the net can be a bit tricky sometimes, so if you’re stuck let us know – 1300 275 449 – a Gizmotech is only a phone call away.

Sharing Memories

One of latest crazes to hit the net are photo sharing sites such as Windows Live Spaces and MySpace. These sites allow you to create an online photo album where you can upload photos and share them with family and friends.

These sites aim to remove the need to print and mail photos out to friends and family. Instead you can upload them and email your friends the website address. When coupled with the popularity of digital cameras, it really makes sense to give these sites a try.

To get started with your very own Windows Live Spaces page, simply visit http://spaces.live.com/ and sign up using your email address. Once you’ve signed up, it’s simple to upload your photos and get an online album started. Give it a try and if you need any help give Gizmo a call.

Blogging

A blog is essentially an online diary which lets you make entries using text and pictures. These entries are then available for everyone to read, comment on and share. Although blogs are not for everyone, blogging is an immensely popular activity with up to 100 million blogs tipped to be in existence sometime in the first half of 2007 (Source: http://english.people.com.cn/200612/15/eng20061215_332679.html)

Some popular blogging sites are: http://www.blogger.com/ http://www.blog.com/

To get started, visit the site, login and start writing your blog today.

As with anything tech related, if you have issues or get stuck, give us a call and we can help you out.

So you bought an amazing new phone and supposedly it can send and receive emails! Now it’s just after midnight on New Years Eve, you have some incredible photos, and you want to share them but how do you do it?

You can already send picture messages (MMS) to other phones, so why learn how to send an email? Well, what about your sister who lives overseas and can’t receive pictures on her phone? Or your Dad who never turns his phone on but is always on the internet? Maybe you just want a way of getting the photo off your phone before you accidentally delete the picture forever. Once you email an image you have effectively copied it to another location so it’s backed up for you!

Before 01 January 2007, it’s probably a good idea to get things set up so you don’t have to worry about it when you’re in party mode!

Step 1:

Make sure your phone is actually able to send emails and that your mobile network supports the feature. If you’re not sure, your mobile service provider will be able to confirm this for you.

Step 2:

Now you need to make sure your phone has all the email settings entered correctly. If you feel like doing it yourself, look up your mobile service provider’s website. They should have step by step instructions for your particular phone.

Step 3:

The next thing to do is check out how much sending each email will cost. Most mobile service providers charge less to send an email than an SMS, but unlike SMS you may be charged to receive as well as send. Check the details on your mobile plan for prices (it may be in very small print!).

Step 4:

Now go have some fun taking photos! Most mobile phones have built-in cameras with picture quality comparable to regular digital cameras. One of the benefits of using email instead of sending Picture Messages is that you are not limited to sending one small, low quality picture. A warning though: emails are usually charged per kilobyte of data used. The bigger the picture you send, the more expensive it will be.

Step 5:

Go to your “Messages” menu, select “Write New” then select “Email”. Your particular phone may name the folders differently, but the basic steps will be the same.

There are four main sections which need to be filled in when sending an email:

To: Who the email will be sent to. You can send the same email to more than one person at a time, but be aware you will be charged the price of sending one email for each recipient in the “To” field. “To” is the only mandatory field, everything else can be left blank if you want.

Subject: The title of your email. For example “Dad vs the new BBQ”

Text: The body of the email is where you explain exactly why Dad has very singed eyebrows

Attachments: Press “Add attachment” and select the best picture you have of Dad minus his facial hair!

Once you are happy with your email, press send. Remember, you need to be in mobile coverage for the email to go through and be aware that it can take longer to transmit than a text message due to the size of your picture.

If you’re looking to buy a new printer the first question you’ll be faced with is ‘laser or inkjet?’.   A laser printer uses a cartridge filled with toner (a fine powder), static electricity and a laser to create all of your printed documents. An inkjet printer however uses liquid ink which is sprayed through tiny nozzles onto the paper.  Here we take a look at the pros and cons of each, based on price, print quality and function.

Price
When buying a printer, it’s important to understand both the upfront cost (for the printer itself) and the ongoing costs.  Inkjet printers are relatively inexpensive with basic models starting from as a little as A$30.  However, these printers often come with test cartridges that need to be replaced after the first few prints. Laser printers start from around A$130 but the initial toner will last much longer. 

The ongoing costs are relative too. Inkjet cartridges are cheaper than laser toners however they’ll print fewer pages before they need replacing.  To compare the ongoing cost of a printer, calculate the cost per page.  To do this simply divide the number of pages a cartridge will print before running out (called ‘page yield’) by the cost of the cartridge.   

Print qualityColour banding (2)
The next thing to consider is the quality of printing. As a general rule of thumb, regardless of whether you choose an inkjet or laser printer, a more expensive printer will print at a higher quality.  Inkjet printers are known to print higher quality colour images & text, as they have the ability to pick up colour graduation or fine differences in colour. You’re also less likely to experience the colour ‘banding’ (see image) that is often associated with laser printers.  However, when it comes to black and white printing, laser printers take out the ‘quality’ prize hands down. 

Function
Finally, and of most importance, you need to be clear about what you’re going to use it for on a day-to-day basis.  Laser printers are highly efficient and will print at around speeds of at least 20 pages per minute, compared with around 6-10 pages per minute for an inkjet printer.  So, if you’re going to print a lot of documents, and mostly in black and white, then a laser printer would be the right choice.  However, if you’re more likely to be printing full colour documents or images, then an inkjet printer may be the better option.  Once you’ve determined which type of printer is right for you, also think about the following:

  • Space – where you’re going to put the printer and, as such, what sized printer will fit
  • Portability – will it stay in the one spot or do you need it to move around with you
  • Multifunction or not? -  would you like your printer to do other things, like scan photos or photocopy documents

There are actually two ways in which you can link cells between worksheets:   

 

HOW TO LINK A SINGLE CELL

Use this first option if you only need to link a single cell:

Step 1  Determine the cells that you’d like to link in each worksheet.  In this example we’re linking the data in Sheet A, cell A2 with the same cell in Sheet B.

Option 1_Step 1

 

Step 2  In the worksheet with the empty cell, select the cell and enter an equal sign (=). Using our example, this is Sheet B, cell A2.

Option 1_Step 2 

 

Step 3  Go to worksheet containing the data that you’d like to link, select your cell and hit <Enter>.  In our example, this is Sheet A, cell A2.

Option 1_Step 3

The cells are now linked and the data will show up in both sheets.  If you change the data in the original sheet, it will also change in the linked sheet.

 

HOW TO LINK A RANGE OF CELLS

Use this second option if you need to link a range of cells:

Step 1  Determine the range of cells that you’d like to link in each worksheet.  In this example we’re linking the data in Sheet A, cells A2 to A13 with the same cells in Sheet B.

 Option 2_Step 1
 

Step 2  In the worksheet with the data, highlight the range of cells that you’d like to link then right click and select ‘Copy’.  Using our example, we’re in Sheet A, highlighting cells A2 to A13.

Option 2_Step 2 

 

Step 3  Go to the worksheet with the empty cells and highlight the range of cells where you’d like to link the data.  Note, this should be the same number of cells.  Then right click and select the ‘Link’ icon.  This icon looks like a link in a chain. In our example we’re in Sheet B and have highlighted cells A2 to A13.

Option 2_Step 3        

The entire range of cells is now linked and the data will show up in both sheets.  If you change the data in the original sheet, it will also change in the linked sheet.

Option 2_Step 4 

If you’re about to travel for work or personal reasons and are trying to plan ahead by scheduling appointments for your trip, Microsoft Outlook has a handy ‘time zone’ feature that will help you set these up in your destination’s time rather than your local time. Here’s how:

 

Step 1 Open Outlook, then create a new appointment in your Calender for the required date.

Step 1

 

Step 2 Go to the ‘Appointment’ tab, then under Options click on ‘Time Zones’.

Step 2

 

Step 3 You’ll notice next to the Start time and End time there is now an additional drop down menu.  Scroll down until you find your destination.  Do this for both the start and end times.  (Note: if you’re scheduling travel time in your calender then your start destination may differ to your end destination).

Step 3

 

Step 4 ‘Save & Close’ your appointment.

 

Tip
Outlook uses your Windows clock to schedule appointment times.  To avoid any confusion when you arrive at your destination, keep your computer’s clock set to your home time zone rather than changing it to the local time.  Then use an alternative, such as a traditional watch, to keep track of local time. 

Get, and keep, your finances in order with these great budgeting apps.  

Pocketbook
iOS – free
Android – free

This app was developed by Aussies and works with Australian bank accounts. A highly rated budgeting app, Pocketbook does it all!

Features:

  • Sync your bank account(s) securely and the app will automatically categorise your income & expenses
  • Budget categories based on your spending history so they make sense
  • Enter and sort cash transactions manually
  • Add photo’s of receipts, bills or invoices to organise & track expenses
  • Bill tracking/alerts and reminders

 

TrackMySpend
iOS – free
Android - free

TrackMySpend was developed as a part of MoneySmart, a website created and managed by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission that offers guidance on all things financial ‘to help people make the most of their money’. As the name suggests TrackMySpend is more of a spend tracker than a complete budgeting app. However, if a spend tracker is what you’re after, then TrackMySpend does the trick.

Features:

  • Set a total weekly, fortnightly or monthly ‘budget’ and keep track of how you’re going
  • Create categories for your expenses & set ‘budgets’ for each category
  • Record expenses as either ‘needs’ or ‘wants’ so you can quickly see where you can ‘save’
  • Sync’s across all of your devices so you can manage your spend no matter where you are
  • Free backup

Track my spend (1)  Track my spend (2)

 

Spendee
iOS – $2.49
Android - free

Again, more of an expense tracker than a complete budgeting app, the beauty of Spendee lies in its simplicity and well-designed interface.

Features:

  • Easy to use manual entry – add transactions quickly & as they happen
  • Customise spend categories to suit your needs
  • Set reoccurring income and expenses such as monthly bills
  • Graphs & charts that visually identify where your money is going
  • Store photo’s of bills and/or receipts

 

HomeBudget
iOS – $6.49 (Lite version, free)
Android – $6.72 (Lite version, free)

HomeBudget is aptly named – it’s a fully fledged budgeting app perfect for managing your day-to-day household finances. Its key feature is ‘Family Sync’ which gives you the ability to sync your budget across various devices so that each person is working off the same ‘budget’.

Features:

  • Create & customise your own budget categories and sub-categories
  • Track against your budget in each category
  • Link your income & expenses with specific ‘accounts’ to keep track of account balances
  • Set reoccurring income and expenses & bill payment alerts
  • Search expenses at a later date

HomeBudget (1)  HomeBudget (2)  HomeBudget (3)

Note: These screenshots show US transactions, however HomeBudget is available in AUD, simply changing the currency in the settings.

 

MoneyWiz
iOS – $6.49
Android - $5.40

Similar to HomeBudget, MoneyWiz offers complete budget management. The key? You can keep track of all of your accounts in the one app. Create accounts then import your bank statements into those accounts; you can even create a cash account to keep track of the money you have in your wallet.

Features:

  • Record income and expenses and even move money between accounts
  • Enter transactions faster with auto-complete
  • Sort, filter and search transactions
  • Set budgets and receive alerts when you’re getting close to going over
  • Bill scheduling and reminders

When you’re looking for a new computer it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by all of the jargon.  Right from the start it’s there – desktop, laptop, notebook, tablet! We help get you past that starting point by explaining the differences between 3 types of portable computers that share the same general design, that is, they have a screen with an attached keyboard:

  • Laptops
  • Netbooks
  • Chromebooks

Laptops
The original portable computer, laptops are generally solid built and offer high quality specs and performance. They’re a great choice if you use your portable computer like a desktop or you’re after a computer with a high quality HD screen.  Laptops offer the widest range of manufacturers and models.  Another thing to consider when choosing a portable PC is the size, if you plan to leave your laptop on a desk then go for the bigger screen (e.g. 17″), otherwise stick to a mid-sized screen (e.g. 13-15″).
Best suited for:  all-around computer use
Price range:  $500-$2000+

 Laptop

Netbooks
Netbooks are very similar to a traditional laptop except they sacrifice computing power in favour of a smaller form, lighter weight, and increased portability.  They typically offer less features than a laptop and, as such, are a little cheaper.  This isn’t a downside though, most netbooks these days come with a solid state hard drive which make them very fast to boot.
Best suited for: basic computer use; students.
Price range: $200-$600

Netbook

Chromebooks
Chromebooks are the new kids on the block, powered by Google’s ‘Chrome’ operating system and designed specifically to run Google apps.  They are lightning fast, incredibly light weight and, at the same time, offer great value for money.  They’re also not limited to web browsing and downloading apps, you can use programs such as Google Docs, Calender & Gmail to work. The downside, if you’ve mainly used Microsoft Office and the Windows operating system, it may take a bit of getting used to.  Chromebooks are perfect if you’re looking for something in between a tablet and a laptop and, with more manufacturers’ producing them, you’re bound to find one that suits.  
Best suited for: Google fans
Price range: from around $379

Chromebook

 

What are PUPs?

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When we talk about PUP’s in tech land we’re definitely not talking about the cute kind.  In fact, they could be seen as the complete opposite. PUPs are Potentially Unwanted Programs, unwelcome programs or software that hang around on a computer, slowing it down and/or taking up valuable space.  Common PUPs include:

Trial software – which may be handy initially but as soon as it expires its useless.  For example, most companies offering Antivirus software will allow you to trial it for a set period of time.  Once this free trial period is up the software will no longer protect your computer but it will continue to start-up and run in the background and occasionally pop-up and remind you that you’re computer is unprotected. 

Web browser toolbars – attach themselves to the top of your internet browser, often slowing it down.  Some of them may be familiar and some not.   Be careful as some of these ‘tools’ may be doing things that you’re unaware of (like gathering information on the web pages that you visit), or popping up unwelcome information.  One of the most common ‘unwanted’ web browser toolbars is news.net