Old becomes new again

Welcome to the computers with ease podcast recently while volunteering at one of my local senior centers I had an interesting experience, two individuals came into the senior center computer lab looking for assistance on how to use devices which they had purchased to transfer cassette tapes onto their computers and then on to DVDs so that they could listen to the old cassette tapes in their cars.

I had never seen either of the devices that the gentlemen brought in. They consisted of a cassette player with a mini USB connector as well as a standard mini USB connector cable.

As well as software for doing the audio recording, one of the gentlemen the software that he had was audacity which is free and coincidently is the software that I use for recording my podcasts such as the one that you’re listening to now.

I was able to help the gentleman sort out how to use the recording devices to transfer their cassettes to their computers. One of the key factors that I did learn well doing this process was to make sure that the volume on the tape deck that you are using is up reasonably high to a satisfactory listening level because that’s how you set the audio level for the program that you’re recording into.

But other than that the process went rather straightforward and so both these individuals will now be able to transfer their cassettes onto their computers. It started me thinking however about how things have changed and advanced and evolved.

When I was younger I listened to a lot of cassette tapes and in fact I probably have about 100 of them here somewhere in my office stored away that I haven’t listened to in I’m not sure how long but it is a shame when you think about how I enjoyed listening to that music when I was younger and it’s now sort of been put away.

Not listen to and I’ve moved on to newer, better types of recording and that material is more or less forgotten about. So I’m glad to see that there are ways to transfer it reuse it and once again begin to enjoy it. At some point now that I know there is a way to transfer it and how relatively easy it is to do I may indeed begin the transfer process myself.

What sort of things have you changed in the way you do what you do whether it’s for work or for pleasure? How have things changed for you and what would you like to go back to or be able to reuse?.

Let me know what your thoughts are, and if you have any questions, comments or any topics you’d like to see on this podcast please feel free to email me at darrell@computerswithease.com you may also want to visit my website which is http://www.computerswithease.com Thank you very much.

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I need a new computer,which one is right for me?

Hello this is Darrell Hyatt of computerswithease.com, one of the most frequent questions I get asked particularly by seniors and individuals new to computers is what type of computer should I buy?

There is so many different options available I don’t know where to start and how to decide what is best computer for me? That’s a very good question, one that I am going to try and give you a few tips on to help you decide so that you can make a better informed decision as to which type of computer is best for you.

One of the first questions that you have to ask yourself is “Do I want something to stay in one spot such as desktop, or do I want something that’s more mobile” and if you want something that is going to sit in one spot and that is what you are currently use to and you don’t have any plans of taking your computer with you then by all means a desktop a very good choice.

There are of course some questions that must be answered in terms of selecting the right desktop for you, but I will cover those in a future video.

Now if you want something more for mobile computing you have several options available to you today, you have a net book which is a very small, very light weight computer that will be useful for doing email.  Looking at pictures, watching videos and so on almost anywhere you go.

They are inexpensive and can be purchased for approximately $200-$400.  There are a few drawbacks however one of these is that they tend to be a slower processor so there not the fastest thing available.

The other issue is that they do not come with a dvd drive which means that anything you install on them has to be either installed from a usb flash drive, or you have to download the software to the hard drive and then install from the hard drive.

Another option that you got is a laptop computer, these are generally bigger than a netbook definitely more powerful.  You can get a laptop now that will rival the performance of a desktop.

The more performance that you get the laptop is generally a bit heavier so it really depends what size of screen you want on your laptop and how much weight you’re comfortable with carrying.

One of the other choices that you have now which is a more recent development is the  tablet type of computer, for example the Apple Ipad there are several others available from a great number of manufactures.

Now one of the advantages of a tablet computer is it’s much lighter and much smaller very easy to carry most of them come with Wi-Fi available and some can also purchased so they will work with your data plan from your cell phone.

So again depending on what needs you have, you can decide on whether a tablet pc is the item for you.  One of the main reasons that a tablet may be appropriate for you is if your into reading and want something a little more flexible, for example something you can check your email on when your away as well as use for an ebook reader.

A tablet may be a good choice for you.  I certainly hope these tips have been helpful and if you have any questions please feel free to email me at darrell@computerswithease.com Thank you very much.

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Shopping Online

Welcome to the computers with ease podcast, with Christmas fast approaching I wanted to talk about a subject that I get asked frequently. Many new computer users and seniors in particular are both curious and afraid of shopping online.

Shopping online has become very popular and in some cases is the only way to purchase the item that you want, for example music, e-books for the very popular e-readers. But shopping online does have some areas of concern for many people these include, is it safe? What happens if there’s a problem with my order or my product? How safe is giving other people my credit card information? and what can I do if my credit card information or other personal information gets used by someone other than those authorized? What sort of security features do I have available to me to make sure that nothing happens to my personal information?

There are several tips that I think will be helpful for those of you who are considering shopping online the first of which is shop at reputable stores online such as Sears any of the stores that you actually frequent in person. There is also stores like iTunes which is a music provider, Amazon which provides books and a lot of other products.

If you shop at large well-known reputable locations they will have not only a secure way to take your credit card information and keep it safe, but they will also have a return or exchange policy if you the customer are not happy with the end result of your transaction or purchase.

One of the other tips that I would have is, because you have to use a credit card to shop online use a separate credit card with a low purchasing limit for just your online purchases. This way it will be much easier for you to see if there’s a problem with your statement for example, if you’ve been billed twice for the same item.

Another tip I would have is make sure that you print out a copy of the transaction records that you get from your purchase. It will make things such as returns or any other issues much easier for you to track and help you with the purchaser if you’ve got that information.

You can confirm the amount of the purchase, the date of the purchase, the credit card number that you used etc. so it will speed up the entire return or exchange procedure.

Finally I would say start with small purchases, purchase something small on a regular basis so that you get comfortable with buying online. You begin to trust those stores that you purchase from and those stores also get to know you as a customer, and over time the process of buying online will get much easier and much more comfortable. I hope these tips have been helpful and informative when considering shopping online.

If you have any comments questions or concerns please feel free to email me darrell@computerswithease.com you may also want to visit my website which is www.computerswithease.com Thank you very much.

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Merry Christmas to all

It’s the holiday season again and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those readers and supporters of my blog and my website, for taking time to not only read my blog posts view my videos.

But also for commenting and making suggestions, to give me ideas on things that you would like to see on my blog and website, but for leaving comments about the things that you enjoyed over the year.

I would also take this opportunity to wish you all the very best in the holiday season, whatever that means for you.  Whether it is spending time and friends Having an opportunity to just relax and slow down from your hectic pace of work and everything else that you are involved in.

I want you to have a very good holiday season and may 2013 be a very wonderful year for you with everything you wish.

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Connect with families with Skype

Welcome to the computers with ease podcast. I wanted to talk about one of the programs I use on a regular basis, this program is called Skype and it allows for both audio and video communication between individuals.

I use this program with my family to stay in touch because like many of you my family is spread all over the place and staying in touch has become more and more difficult due to hectic schedules, and the distance apart, as well as potential issues with different time zones.

Skype is very good with audio communications and if you have a Webcam attached to your computer you can do video as well I have noticed however that with the video turned on if there’s a lot of people using Skype at the same time, and when I say a large number of people I mean in the range of 25 to 30,000,000 users at one time. The video may tend to be a little bit choppy and slow, however it does allow for a much more interesting conversation and much deeper connection when you can see the other person.

One of the other features that I enjoy about Skype is the fact that we can have a conference call with up to 25 people, however if you are using the conference call feature it is audio only but what this allows a person to do is to connect with several people at once.

What I have used it for and enjoy greatly is at Christmas time I can connect with my parents, my brother, and other family members at the same time and we can all talk together as if we were in the same room at the same time.

If you’re looking for a very good way to communicate with friends, family, colleagues Skype is one of the options that I would suggest and it’s very easy to set up go to www.skype.com download the particular version that’s appropriate for you weather it is Windows or Mac and then create a user account.

Once you have a Skype name which is part of your user account then you can look for other people and or give other people your Skype name and then you will be able to connect with them and talk is much as you like as often as you’d like at no charge. Skype is completely free so I intend to continue using it and would be interested in finding out how others are using it.

Please feel free to email me at darrell@computerswithease.com you may also visit my website which is www.computerswithease.com Thank you very much.

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No one can escape computer problems

Hello welcome to the computers with ease podcast. it’s been about 2 1/2 years since I bought my last computer and I was having difficulty with it so I thought to myself it’s time to get a new computer.  I had been thinking about several options in terms of either buying one off the shelf or building one myself , ever since myself and a friend had built my wife’s latest computer I thought it would be another interesting experience for me to build my own.

This I thought would also give me the opportunity to get exactly the equipment that I wanted being the geek that I am I thought I would go for a higher end processor with lots of RAM and definitely increased my hard drive space.

So I went ahead and purchased the kit from a distributor and once I got all the parts I found a wonderful colleague to help me put the system together thinking that once we built it the hard part was over. Well unfortunately boy was I wrong.  This computer has turned out to be nothing but problems from beginning to end.

The initial assembly went very well but within several hours I noticed there was a problem, the computer would freeze up unexpectedly or would restart unexpectedly.  Myself and my friend have spent numerous days, hours and even weeks trying to figure out what’s going on.

I’ve replaced multiple items within the computer and I’m still no farther ahead, the computer is still not running properly and as you can imagine it’s very frustrating.  You may be wondering why my telling you this particular story, well because we all have difficulties and frustrations and questions with our computers including those of us who work with them on a daily basis.

I myself have been working with computers for 35 years and so yes it even happens to me the best advice that I can give you is start slowly, be persistent and develop a plan to solve your problem or come up with a solution.  It may be to ask someone else to assist you as I’ve had to do during this computer build more than once.

it may be developing a plan to say I’m going to do step one then step two and then step three and then I’m going to reevaluate where I am.  What I’ve learned, what I need to do and then figure out how I get to the next step.

But no matter what you decide to do and how you decide to do it look upon it as a learning experience and you will do much better and have a much better or have a much more enjoyable experience in the long run.

If you have any questions, comments or things you’d like to see in this podcast please feel free to e-mail me at darrell@computerswithease.com you may also want to visit my website which is www.computers with ease.com Thank you very much.

P.S.  The computer is now fixed and working well.  The problem was a faulty memory chip which passed all memory tests.

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Backup failure! new strategy

Welcome to the computers with ease podcast. Today this podcast may be a little longer than usual because I want to talk about a very important subject, which most of us including me don’t like to have to talk about and I have a story to tell you.

What do you do when you’re backup for your computer doesn’t work? This is a question that none of us want to have to answer and hope that it doesn’t happen, however as I found out recently my main computer was doing unusual things freezing computer programs were acting unusual and things were generally not working as smoothly as possible.

I thought no big deal I’ve done a backup within the last couple of days why don’t I just use my backup and restore things to the way they were and hopefully this will resolve my issues. So I went ahead in use my backup and waited the three or four hours for the backup to supposedly put all my software-and all my data back the way it was two or three days prior.

But when this process completed I found that nothing had changed that the backup had not worked at all and now my computer was in an even worse state than it was previously, so the question then becomes what does that leave me with and unfortunately for me it left me with a completely non functional computer which meant the only option that I had was to restore things back to the way the computer was that it left the factory.

Having done that because it was a last resort this meant that once I had put things back to the way they were in the beginning I had to reinstall all my programs one at a time and then I had to put back all my data files which luckily I had backed up separately just in case the worst scenario happened.

Now at this point you can imagine how unhappy I was to find out that I had to do this it took me several days to not only reinstall all my programs but to find the usernames, passwords, key codes for all the software etc. Now it I am back up and running I have to look at what should be my backup strategy from now on so that this occurrence doesn’t happen again, cross my fingers.

Having used a software program for backup purposes up till now I’m not overly happy with using that approach again but the question becomes what am I comfortable well with and what will work for me. Upon doing further research and checking with several of my colleagues a majority of my collates as well as the research indicates that there best course of action is to backup your data (i.e. the things that you create) such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, photos etc. what ever you create back that up somewhere separately.

Keep your program disks for all your programs as well as usernames and passwords for websites etc. in like a Excel spreadsheet or Word document can back those up with your data and not to worry about backing up your programs. What that means for you and for me is that our data is backed up and if anything should happen to the computer you have to reinstall your programs using your disks and passwords but all your dating you would be up to copy back on your computer from say an external hard drive or flash drive whatever source you used to store your individual files.

This may seem like a long and tedious process that you would do on a regular basis but after having gone through this once and realizing how unpleasant it is to lose all this material and time, I have come to the conclusion that I would prefer to backup my data and then just reinstall the software would be the easiest and least stressful of my options and not have to worry about having backup software.

What I’ve done in my case is created an Excel spreadsheet that I’ve put in my usernames and passwords my key code’s for my software and I have saved that particular spreadsheet with the rest of my data files, and I have organized my program disks in a specific location in my office so that if anything happens again I’ve got all the disks in one place.

I know where all the passwords etc are and I can quickly and efficiently put my computer back to a running state with the necessary software and data relatively quickly and efficiently. I would be very interested in knowing what other people are doing for a backup solution. Please feel free to e-mail me and let me know what solution you have implemented at darrell@computerswithease.com you can also visit my website which is www.computerswithease.com. Thank you very much.

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Software for all computers

Welcome to the computers with ease podcast I have noticed recently that several of my clients have what I consider key pieces of software missing from their computers, whether it’s an existing machine or a new computer that they just purchased.

So I thought I’d take this opportunity to give you some ideas about what I consider to be essential pieces of software should be on every computer. The first piece of software that I recommend is an antivirus program, since most of us spend a great deal of time on the Internet and using e-mail which are two of the key ways that we can get a virus so I recommend having an antivirus program.

The one that I use is called AVG they have a free version of the program as well as paid options, I use the free version I have been using it for several years and it works just fine.

Another program that I recommend is called the K-lite codec pack, this particular software contains audio and video encoders and decoders which allow you as a computer user to view many different audio and video files your computer will know how to play them so that you can listen and watch your videos and music properly.

This is a free download and I recommend getting the full version of this particular software it comes in basic, standard and the full version.

Since many of us also read a lot of PDF files which are very prevalent on the Internet I recommend having the Adobe reader software. This will allow you to view PDF files from many sources, this particular software can be downloaded from the Adobe website which is www.adobe.com.

Another piece of important software is backup software I highly recommend computer users have a backup system in place to help recover from a major system error or hardware failure. So that you’re not having to reinstall all your software or even more importantly losing some valuable data that is irreplaceable and which would cause very great distress obviously if this material were lost.

If you install these four different programs the if you install these four different types of programs your computer will not only work more effectively but it will give you peace of mind knowing that you have a backup software package that’s working for you to keep your data and program safe.

You’ll also know that you’re protected when you are using your e-mail and searching on the Internet. I would like to hear from you if you have any favourite or key pieces of software that you would like to recommend to the rest of us I would like to hear what that software is for you please leave a comment below this podcast.

If you have comments questions or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at darrell@computerswithease.comyou may also visit my website which is http://www.computerswithease.com Thank you very much.

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Gmail–why I like it

Welcome to the computers with ease podcast. we are all very busy and on the go all the time one of the things that has become very for this to me as close many of you is e-mail.

I know I am lost when I am out of touch and don’t have my e-mail available to me. One of my favourite applications is Gmail, this is an e-mail program through Google and its free service that allows you to set up an e-mail account that can be accessed from anywhere.

Meaning any public computer you can access it anywhere you have an Internet connection and this makes it very useful when I travel for conferences or when I’m away teaching in location such as a library. I can login to my Gmail account and access my email, I can also send e-mail messages I have access to my contacts that are in Gmail. It’s very simple very straightforward to use looks similar to the majority of other e-mail programs.

One of the other features that I really like this fact that I can add other e-mail accounts to be forwarded to my Gmail account, so for example any of my other e-mail accounts for my business that may be hosted in other places can be forwarded to my Gmail. I can then receive as well send e-mails as if it I was accessing one of my regular e-mail accounts even though I am out and using my Gmail account.

One of the other features that I appreciate is the fact that using Gmail I am not downloading the e-mail on to my own computer or a public computer the e-mails themself stay on the Google servers and I can access them from anywhere and can then see them in multiple locations and the e-mails won’t disappear.

So if you’re looking for a second e-mail account I highly recommend using a Gmail account, and if you want something that you can use anywhere you go Gmail is a very good free option.

If you have any comments, questions or concerns please feel free to e-mail me at Darrell@computerswithease.com. Feel free to check on my website which is www. computerswithease.com. Thank you very much.

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Happy Holidays 2011

It’s the holiday time again and I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone the best of the holiday season whatever that means for you. In my case it means spending time relaxing, doing things with friends and family that I don’t get a chance to do as often as I would like.

This holiday season may indeed have a lot of hustle and bustle, things that we all think that we have to do but the thing that I always try to remember at this time of year when things get hectic is what’s the real meaning of this time of year.

For me it means being with those that I love and want to spend as much time as possible with. Once again I wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons and I hope you get the opportunity to do all the things that you like to do with the people who are most important to you.

I also hope that 2012 is a good year for you with everything you want and would wish for. Thank you very much.

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