About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

May 14, 2013

Real Final Thoughts on Office 2013 & Internet Explorer 8, 9 or 10


received several emails last week after my final Office 2013 article.  They asked if I would use it or not.  They wanted to know what I really thought, so this should be the absolutely, positively last Office 2013 column.  I am also including a reminder about Microsoft Internet Explorer. 

Office 2013 has several revamped and new features which make it a better suite, particularly with Excel.  I also like Word, PowerPoint, OneNote (which I did not write much about since few people use it…hmm, future article?) and all the others with my least favorite being Outlook.  However, most home users will not use Outlook anyway since it is mostly used in the corporate environs.

Since I do not like to spend much money, would I buy it?  Nope, I thought Office 97 was one of the best ever and with recent versions you get some neat features.  You also get a lot of "fluff" that the large percentage of users will never see.  Once MS added OneNote in 2003 I had all the extras I needed.  If you are going to college or are a high end user I would without doubt recommend the upgrade since you may need more than the older versions have to offer.

imageI do have 2013 for my computers but I get it at a very much reduced price so I think it is worth the cost.  At full price I would personally wait until I had to have it.  Also, remember if you are not that excited by the price or Microsoft (yes, I know some of you are haters) you can get "Libre Office" for free.  It comes highly recommended by me and more geeks farther up the nerd-food chain than I.

Now, let us move on to Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE for short).  On May 3rd there was security issue regarding MSIE 8.  There was a coding exploit that led to the U.S. Department of Labor Web site being hacked along with some others. It was reported there was no major damage or security issue from this attack.

Microsoft also came out with a fix to download a couple of days after the problem was discovered.  But come on folks, just update your software like you are supposed to and you most likely will not have problems like this.  At least, you would have avoided that one.

Even if you are on a dialup connection (I hope you are not) you need to update your antivirus and windows software at the very least.  It is very easy to do and will only take a short period of time…if you do it monthly.

Many people complain that windows updates take too long.  The reason is they do it once every 6-12 months and they have hundreds of updates they have to get done.  MS releases regular updates on the second Tuesday of every month so sometime during that week I suggest you update.  You can also set your computer to update automatically but I like to do it manually to make sure I get all of the updates possible.

imageAlso, MSIE 8 came out in March, 2009 which is ancient in terms of computer programs.  Since MSIE 10 was released February 26, 2013 I suggest you get it along with all of your other updates.  It is a very easy way to help stay safe online, so just do it!

March 15, 2011

Protection from the Internet, Part 1

I get emails from people quite often wondering how they can go about protecting people (especially kids & teens) from the darker side of the internet.  I did write about this several years ago but from the number of changes in the e-world, software and number of emails I get; I feel it is time for an update.

I have a very good and free recommendation called OpenDNS.  At the bottom of the main page choose, "For Households" to get directions.  OpenDNS does many things but basically provides a fairly simple method for home users to block objectionable content from their computers.  This works whether it is pornography, alcohol, file sharing networks, video sites, podcasts, or chat rooms, etc.

Filtering LevelYou can choose "High," "Moderate," "Low," "None," or "Custom" as your default setting. These have been created by OpenDNS for you.  My favorite option is, "Custom." Using the custom setting you may choose from over 50 categories to block from your computer.  These include, "Academic Fraud," "Adult Themes," "Photo Sharing," "Games," and "Instant Messaging" just to name just a few.

Custom Filter ChoicesYou also have the option of blocking individual sites.  So if you didn’t want your spouse spending all day long reading the great articles at you could block that site alone…but I know you would not do so…please?!.

OpenDNS is controlled by one password and account. You cannot control it by creating separate accounts for individual users.  This means if you block "weapons" from your computer because you don’t want your kids buying grenade launchers, it will also block you from browsing for a new pocket knife.

They threw in another neat feature.  It is cosmetic but still worth mentioning.  If you try to log into a blocked site you will get a reference page telling you which category blocked it, i.e. "weapons".  The page can be customized by you, the administrator of your network.  Mine has a picture of me glaring at the user and a sentence telling them that they shouldn’t try this site again or I will come after them.  Of course, my wife has a better glare than me (the mom look) and this probably won’t have much effect since the kids are grown and gone.

Also, if you get blocked the reference page has an email form which allows the user to notify the administrator.  They can say that they don’t believe that particular site should be blocked.  Then you may allow its use if you agree.  There are other features you can discover on your own.

I think this is a very useful tool for keeping your kids safe online.  I forgot to mention the price…free!  Next week we will take a look at how Microsoft provides this type of help too.

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