DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 8, 2017

Read to Me

Over several of the past weeks we have talked about talking to your devices.  Whether asking for them to give you directions, the temperature, local movies playing, the time, etc.  We also spoke about dictating to some of your devices and word processors.  For some it could, and does, make it much easier to type documents.  Those articles generated many emails, which I appreciate so keep them coming.  So today we move on to something similar but different.  

Today we look at the other side of the spectrum…getting them to "start" and complete the conversation, sort of.

Microsoft Office online and Office 365 (online) have both come out with a recent addition, "Immersive Reader."  It is also available for the local office clients if you have joined the Office Insider program and have the Windows 10 operating system.  Personally, I have not joined because you get software that is not ready for primetime and may have some issues.  Since I use my computer for day-to-day work I do not want to take any chances.  Although, thinking about it does sound interesting!?

Immersive Reader is part of Microsoft’s Learning Tools for Education.  They are looking for ways to help students who need help in particular areas to get it.  So far it is all free too, thanks MS!  

Immersive Reader has several fascinating features built in. 

You must first get into your Office online account, which is also free.  If you have not created an account it is quite easy.  You can get there via several different URLs but to keep it simple I would use "office.com."  You can use a new or existing MS free email account (outlook.com or live.com) or create one with any email address you already have.  I use an Outlook.com account to keep things straight between MS and my Google accounts. 

Once there open an existing Word (or OneNote so far at this time) and click the "View" button in the ribbon.  A new ribbon will open and one of the first few on the left is the "Immersive Reader" button, so click it.  It will open the file in a different view.  The letters will be larger, to assist people who are vision impaired and they are spaced farther apart than you may be used to which is for those who are dyslexic. 

Immersive Reader button

At the bottom of the screen you will have a Play/Pause button with very short instructions and three icons in the upper right corner, see below.  They are letters, books and a face.  Once you click the play button a pleasant slightly computerized sounding lady will start reading the document and highlighting the words read as it proceeds.  This can help significantly improve many peoples’ reading skills in various areas. 

View of Immersive Reader screen

The icon with letters allows you to increase or decrease the size of fonts and spacing between letters or lines.  The icon of books will let you look at syllables and highlight different parts of speech as it reads…I need this one.  The last icon, the face allows the reader to control the speed of the voice reading back the words.

If you wish to start reading at a different location in the document click the word with your mouse and start it playing again.  The reader will start there and continue. 

Neat addition to office and they will be improving it as time goes by.

March 3, 2015

Google Tricks, Part 3

Google Logo

For the last couple of weeks I have told you about some interesting Google tricks you can do, some helpful, others fun.  Your interest in emails has shown me that you would like a couple more of their tricks, so here we go.  Remember always start on the main Google.com page for these to work.  Most will anyway but they will definitely work from the main page.

Pretend that you are researching some item on Google, say bananas.  You search using Google.com as usual with, "banana farms" and find many links with information.  Many of the sites reference, "Chiquita" but you do not want any more information on that company.  To weed out that company type, "banana farms -Chiquita".  The results will have removed, "Chiquita" from most all of the searches.  The use of a minus sign filters your searches by removing the following word.

You may want to get information is a particular format, say a Microsoft PowerPoint slide show which contains the phrase you are looking for.  Search Google this way.  Type, " ‘space the final frontier’ filetype:ppt" in the search box.  Two things to remember.  First thing is that you need to put regular quotes around the phrase you are searching and no space between the colon and the file type after it.  You could also search for graphics using, "jpg" extension; however, it is better to use the Google image search for that.  Other extensions you may search for are Word files (doc and docx), Excel (xls and xlsx), Portable Document Format (pdf), PowerPoint as stated previously (ppt), Text (txt), Open Document Format (odf) and many more from various programs.  

What can you do if you remember reading an article on a site in the past and need to "refind" that article?  Google allows you to search a site for keywords.  For instance you remember an app I wrote about called "Ninite" and want to find it.  You could go directly to my site and search for it or you could go to Google.  In Google type, "ninite site: www.doubleclicks.info" search and you will find several times I have mentioned it online.  Capitalization does not matter; however, spacing is very important.  You must have a space between the term you are searching for and after the colon or you search may fail. 

Two last items are more of a set up and not a trick.  First, if you like the "I’m Feeling Lucky" link in Google and now it is gone most likely you have somehow turned on "Instant predictions."  To go back to the "old" way go to Google.com page, look in the lower right corner and click, "Settings," "Search settings." Finally under "Google Instant predictions" click the "Never show instant results" button.  While there you can also try, "Advanced search."

Try searching with your voice if you have not before.  From Google.com click the gray microphone to the right of the search box.  You will see when it is ready, then just talk away.  This will only work if you have a mic on your computer and it is on/working.

February 16, 2015

2015-02-16 Show Notes

Here are the Monday morning links and podcast if you missed it live.

Have a great day and see you next time.

Tech News
Windows 10 is a free upgrade for all 7 and 8.1 users
Engadget.com

Wondering how much Windows 10 will set you back? In most cases, nothing. Microsoft has announced that the new operating system will be a free upgrade in the first year for everyone using Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1. The company sees Windows as a service rather than a product, Terry Myerson explains. Yes, Microsoft is partly following in Apple’s footsteps (OS X upgrades have been free since Maverick), but it’s hard to complain about getting a big update for free.


This sounds too good to be true and I’ve read where this is only for OEM (short for original equipment manufacturer, which is a misleading term for a company that has a special relationship with computer producers. OEMs are manufacturers who resell another company’s product under their own name and branding.) or for everyone.  Only time will tell for sure.
 
Worst passwords of 2014… …are just as awful as you can imagine

Please sit down. We need to have a talk. It seems some important points about computer safety and security have completely gone over the heads of a certain portion of the population. If you’re one of those people whose passwords look like "9$RxkU#55zx!%winning1," you can go ahead and leave. If your password looks like "1234567890" or "qwerty," it’s time to repent and change your ways.

    Here are the top 10 worst:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345
  4. 12345678
  5. qwerty
  6. 1234567890
  7. 1234
  8. baseball
  9. dragon
  10. football

 
Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
WPS Office
VIEW ANY FILE TYPE
WPS Office can open almost any document including PDF, TXT and Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. This means when you use WPS Office to open a document from email or your favorite cloud service, you can be sure it will look exactly the way it would on your PC.

CREATE AMAZING DOCUMENTS
WPS Office comes loaded with features similar to what you’d find on a PC office solution. This includes advanced text and paragraph formatting options as well as the ability to add and edit images, shapes, tables and charts directly into your presentation or document.

EASY FILE SHARING
With WPS Office you can share your files through email, Evernote and more. You can also share presentations with others over WIFI or directly to other DLNA compatible devices.

CONNECT TO YOUR CLOUD
Using WPS Office you can access and edit documents from your favorite cloud drive. When you are done editing, WPS Office will automatically save them back online.


Quad Core Android PC in a Keyboard Computer in a Keyboard
An entire Android computer in a keyboard?!

Hook up your monitor and a mouse, if needed, and you have a computer. $299 is a bit high but if you think you need one, wait a few months.


See you next month, listen online on WSVA, March 16, Monday from 9-10 am.  If you miss the live broadcast come back here and listen a little later in the day…or next depending on my workload.

Ron

October 21, 2014

What To Do With That Screenshot

Last week I told you about several applications which would enable you to take screenshots from your computer.  They were SnagIt, Snipping Tool and Screenshot Captor.  Those reviews led to several emails I received from readers so we will take a look at a couple of their questions.

Someone asked why they would need a screenshot.  Well, many people may not; however, many others would desire this ability.  It basically allows you to take a picture of anything you see on your computer.

I will pretend that you are looking at a new piece of furniture online that you would like to show your spouse.  You could email them the link to the site but you could also just send a picture (that way the price is hidden…you sneak).  Once you take the "picture" of the chair or whatever you can save it or edit it in your screenshot program.  When you are ready you can insert it into an email and send it on its way.

Say you are going to do a presentation using a paper handout.  You can include screenshots of anything which appears on your computer and is related to what you are promoting.  You can add text, pointers and other graphics to make it more professional.  Also, the same can be done with any slideshow software like Microsoft PowerPoint.  You can make some very good looking and professional "shows." 

Next, I received an email asking about which file type should be used for saving pictures. In many cases it is not vital to the average presentation.  That being said there are a basic few to pick from.  Basically today the standard is JPG which is a lossy format.  This means that it cuts some of the pixels out when edited or losses resolution to some extent.  A lossy format is not as clear and sharp the more you enlarge them.  For finer resolution you can use a lossless format type. 

The most common lossless formats are PNG or TIF which have better resolution but larger file sizes.  You may see GIF occasionally but this is a very lossy format and not good except when you need a small graphic.  Since GIFs have such a small file size they are often used on websites so the sites will load faster…less information to download to your computer.

My opinion is that if I plan to print it or enlarge it I prefer JPG or PNG.  Yes, JPG is lossy but unless you make them very large or edit them a lot they will look very good.  For emailing to friends and presentations go with any format; however, JPG is usually the winner for me.  With a JPG containing up to 16.7 million individual colors it looks pretty good most of the time.

It is different for photography as RAW and TIF (or TIFF) are the highest color quality and resolution.  But we are not looking at that.

According to research, January, 2014 marked the first time that mobile internet usage exceeded PC usage by approximately five percent.  So friends you send screenshots and photos to, could very likely be looking at them on their phones or tablets, and resolution may not matter at all.

April 29, 2014

Online Docs May Be the Answer

Last week we looked at the confusion regarding the many choices with Microsoft Office.  I said I would have another solution for Lindsey and you this week.   

imageHere are two more good options.  Office Live or OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) depending on where you read about it or Google Drive (drive.google.com or just get there from any Google product you are logged into.)  Either of these are very good online solutions.  There are many ways to get Office Live.  I suggest using Live.com.  There you can sign up for a free Outlook.com email account which gives you access to everything you need.  You can also sign up with Yahoo! or Gmail accounts; although I have not experimented with those.  If you already signed in to other MS devices like a Windows PC, tablet, phone, Xbox Live, Outlook.com, or OneDrive, use that account to sign in.  Once there you can view and use your email, address book, calendar, online drive Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. To get to these click the labeled down arrow in the upper-left corner of the window.  Any of the files created can be stored in OneDrive so that you can retrieve them from any online computer.  They are all saved in the default MS Office formats so you can easily share them via email, etc.

imageVery similar products are available with a Google/Gmail account.  Setup a free account or you can use one you already have. Once logged in click the "Apps" button in the upper-right corner that looks like a small tic-tac-toe pattern, and then select "Drive."  You have a create button on this screen where you may choose from Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form and several others depending on what you normally use with Google.  The files you create here are saved on your Google Drive for later retrieval just as in Live.com.

Even though I am a Google fan boy, Google is not quite friendly to Microsoft Office file types.  That being said they work with MS products; they just take an extra step or two.  There are several ways to do this but they all require you to download the file to your local computer.  I suggest finding your file in the file list, right click on it and choose download.  You will be presented with a choice of what file type you want to use, so choose "Microsoft Word. (.docx) You will then have it in your downloaded files to share as a standard Word doc.

Another note regarding Google docs.  When right clicked you may also choose to "Share" the file.  If you choose email as an attachment you once again can choose the file format and MS Word is one of the choices.

Now the final note.  OneNote is a terrific app available only with the Microsoft suite.  If you are interested let me know via email and I will share that with you in the future.

There are many other options and features in both Microsoft and Google online offerings.  Lindsey chose to try both and make a final decision later.  How about you?

April 22, 2014

2013 or 365 That is the Question

As time goes by I realize that many companies, unfortunately Microsoft included, strive to keep the customer confused.  I received a question last week from Lindsey saying she had just gotten a new computer and wanted to know which MS Office to get.  She had Office 97 on her previous computer and yes, Windows XP.  Now she has Windows 8.1 and no Office Suite yet.

She wanted to make sure the old documents would still work with the rest of the world.  She does some occasional consulting work and needs to make sure her work is MS Office compatible.  First off, congratulations to her for switching to a new computer with 8.1.  Secondly, congrats on wanting to upgrade the office suite.

My first suggestion was Libre Office (libreoffice.org) since that is free and fully compatible with all MS Office modules.  Libre Office is quite compatible with Office 97 as far as the mechanics of how it works.  However, she, as many, is more comfortable spending the money and staying in the Microsoft world.image Now comes the confusion.  As she read online she found out there are basically three versions of MS Office now available in the world.  All of which will present her with a learning curve since her old version and the new ones are not similar.  I am going to be very general from here on out since I do not want to write about the versioning for the next year.  Visit office.microsoft.com for all the details.

image First there is the standard of the line, MS Office 2013 which is installed locally on a computer.  This is essentially the original Office that has evolved over the e-years.  There are also a couple of versions there from around $140 to $450.  The price depends on what you get with it.  The base model for Students has Word, Excel PowerPoint and OneNote.  The high end one, 2013 Professional Plus is mainly for larger businesses.  It has all of the above plus Outlook, Publisher, Access, Infopath, Lync and Office Web Apps.  Most of these the normal home and office user will never need.  These are onetime prices and included upgrades within the 2013 version.  Then you need to buy the next version if you want to stay on top.  You will be licensed to install 2013 on one computer.

image Next is MS Office 365, a cloud version.  Wow!  Let more confusion roll.  Two versions are available, Personal and Home.  These both have monthly fees (yes, you can also pay annually).  Personal is currently $6.99/month and can be used on one PC or Mac, plus one iPad or Windows tablet.  Home is $9.99/month and can be run on up to five PCs or Macs plus five iPads or Windows tablets.  They both include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, Publisher, 20 GB of OneDrive storage (formerly SkyDrive) and 60 minutes per month of Skype calls.  There are a few other items that are not that significant.  The Home version is basically for your home if you have multiple computers or a small office.

Stay tuned for next week when I come up with a better answer…the one Lindsey decided on…which includes none of the above.

January 28, 2014

Chromebook

Last time we looked at some of the neat features in Google’s newer device called "Chromecast."  I liked the column so much I went out and bought one for my household.  (Wow, I am easily persuaded.)  It works as described with new features and applications being added all the time.  I did have several reader questions about it and the main one was, "I want one but how hard is it to install?"  I have to tell you it was very simple.  All you do is follow the 4-5 steps in the installation paper which comes in the box.  It worked flawlessly for me. 

After the install completed (which took less than ten minutes with the longest portion being the update of the device itself) we were watching streamed shows immediately. 

Unfortunately when I went to the local big-box store to purchase it another, "Chrome" item struck my eye.  More unfortunately, I bought that also.

This item is another Google product named, "Chromebook."  Are you starting to get the picture with Google and their naming conventions?  By-the-way, their browser is named "Chrome."  I guess they like chrome since it is bright and shiny.  The Chromebook runs the Chrome browser as its operating system hence the name.

The Chromebook looks a lot like a notebook computer.  It is slimmer and lighter (about 2 pounds) than a regular windows notebook and mine has an 11" monitor.  So it is basically smaller all around.

imageWith it I can surf the internet, use email, play some games and do many other things online.  One big difference with a Chromebook is that one word in the last sentence, "online."  You can perform some of the functions without being connected to the internet; however, for everything to operate properly you need the net.  It is a cloud based device meaning that everything it does is stored on or taken from the web. 

Another difference is they do not have an internal hard drive.  They do have a small internal SSD, solid state drive.  The one I bought has only a 16 GB drive – the same as my phone.  Well then, where do you put stuff?  The storage for documents you create is in the cloud. 

Since Google created the Chromebook they also have the storage.  Called Google Drive, where you get 15 GB of storage.  To give you an idea, all of the columns I have written since January, 2002 (OVER 1,100) take up only 109 MB of room.  That is less than 1% of 15 gb, so there is really plenty of room for documentation.  You can also store photographs and any other types of files.  Google now offers a deal where for two years you get 100 gb of free cloud storage.  After that you get to purchase it at $4.99/month, currently.  I can also plug in a thumb drive and store files there.  I would not choose to buy the online storage but I could save a lot of documents on the SSD provided very easily.

imageSince the Chromebook runs on the Chrome browser it has a very, "internet feel" to it which most everyone is familiar with so it is easy to use.  Google Docs is your online replacement for Microsoft Office and does a pretty good job of emulating all of its features and capabilities, especially for normal, non-geek types of people.

I will be writing most of my columns on it for the foreseeable future — like this one.  Since I usual write while not at home and "on the road" I will be using it for quite a while.  As long as I have wi-fi I can do most everything I need to do.  However, for my business use I have to stick with a "real" computer due to the programs specific to my job which will not run in the Chrome browser.

December 24, 2013

Office – Which Office?

I received a great question today from one of my regular readers and writers, so thanks Ivan for turning me around.  I was going to have an entirely different theme today but it will have to wait.

Ivan asked, "What choices do I have beside Microsoft Office to install on my computer?" 

I thought that I would send him to one of my previous articles and then I realized I had mentioned this before but never specifically addressed it.  So, the answer is, "Yes, there are two freebies which are excellent replacements for MS Office. I have tested both and I do have a preference.

image First, off let me state that Microsoft Office is the "King of the World" when it comes to office suites being used by people all over the world.  However, I will also state that OpenOffice and LibreOffice are excellent and mimic most of the functionality of the "King."  Please, note that they both merge the two names. That is not my typo. 

There are people who swear by both of them and both are excellent.  However, my personal opinion is that LibreOffice is slightly better.  The main reason is the same people were originally working on this application and it was only known as "OpenOffice."  Apparently there was a developer/designer conflict.  Some of the folks wanted to move in a slightly new direction and others wanted to remain on course.  A "spilt" resulted with the new group forming LibreOffice.

I believe LibreOffice is slightly better mainly because they provide updates to the entire office suite as well as individual features a little more often than OpenOffice. 

image imageLet me share more good news.  Either OO or LO have suite members which do most of the same things found in MSO.  You can create and edit text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and more.  Another very nice feature is the ability to open and save in the Microsoft formats.  That way if you use one of these two to create a file (or edit one you received from a MS Office user) it can be saved in the MSO format.  You can even set the default document types the same as MS types.      

If you want to take them for a spin, do as I did and install both.  Try them out and decide for yourself if one is better than the other.

Be warned that when you download either they are very large files.  This means that it could take quite a while to download them depending on your internet speed.  There are also many online tutorials for them so you will not be at a loss as to how to do tasks with either.  

November 22, 2011

Thrive, Even in the Cold

This should be the final time I write about my Toshiba Thrive.  Here are the 1st and 2nd articles.  (Well, OK most likely the last one.) But two more questions about it need to be answered. These were the most common questions I received about it from my readers.

First, it has Android Honeycomb as its operating system and it has been upgraded once since I got it six to eight weeks ago. Next, I run Nook software on it and it also has Kindle and other book reader apps for it. PDFs can also be read on it. If you do not know what a PDF is, do not worry, just skip that last part.

imageFinally about the Thrive; yes, you can work with Microsoft Word documents on the tablet. However, you will need to purchase an application to do it. I bought one called “OfficeSuite Pro 5” (market.android.com) from the Android Market, for a whopping $4.99. Yes, the prices for the applications range from free to (I believe the highest I have seen was $19.99.) They are reasonably priced to say the least. With OfficeSuite you can create, edit and save (online or on your tablet) Word, Excel and PowerPoint files along with other neat features.

OK, I think I am done. Be advised; I left a lot out but you will have to read more, email me or buy your own tablet PC and let me know what you think. I always like to hear from you folks.

Here is something you may want to consider purchasing for your tablet, smart phone, iPad or any touch screen using friends for Christmas this year.

Picture this, it is winter time, cold, snowing, icy rain, whatever the case may be ands you have on your nice warm mittens. Then your phone rings, you pick up your phone and see it is someone you really need to talk to. By the time you take off your gloves they have hung up. You then call them back, while your fingers are getting numb. Is there a better solution? You betcha!

imageLook for some touch screen gloves. I have had a pair for a couple of years and they are great. I am not talking about gloves with the finger tips cut off so you can use your touch screen device. These are gloves which actually have a special material built into the finger tips which reacts to your devices just like you were using your bare finger.

Some of them have finger tips that fold up out of the way, but I like the ones mentioned above much better. The special material finger tips work very well without having to do anything that takes more time.

You can find them online anywhere from $15 to over $100. My comment on that is the old, “Let the buyer beware.” My wife found two pairs this week in a local store for less than $5 for both!

November 23, 2010

Office Tricks, again

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:59 am

Today we will continue on with our last week’s discussion about tricks and tips for Office, which generated a lot of email, thanks!

Try this.

Open up a blank Word document and type the following sentence on a new blank line (without quotes) exactly as it appears here, without edits for spelling or capitalization. "teh cta adn teh hta cmoes bcak." Now press enter to go to the next line.

I bet you ended up with something similar to, "The cta and the hta comes back." Word automatically corrects most of the words for you. It also left two of them with red squiggly lines under them. Also, you may have one “comes” with a green squiggle. The red squiggles mean that Word could not find the word in its built-in auto-correcting dictionary. The MS dictionary has thousands of words and checks each word you type against the massive list. If the word isn’t present in the dictionary it marks it with the squiggle.

The green squiggle means that grammatically Word has an issue with the word. You handle the green ones the same as the reds. This green is unwarranted, so you must use your own brain on occasion.

To correct the spelling/grammar, use your mouse and touch (hover is the geek term) the offending word, then right click. Doing so will bring up a list of words that are close. Find the one that is correct and click it…presto, the spelling is corrected. You can easily correct the two above as "cat" and "hat." Even though Word’s grammar suggests “come” and not “comes” that is not correct.

What about the auto-corrected words? If you noticed Word also capitalized the first word in the sentence. You have just experienced another facet of Microsoft’s "Autocorrect" feature.

Go to another new line and type "(r)" with a space after it and you get the registered symbol. Try typing "(c)" and see it change to copyright symbol. Last but not least try, “:)”. Cool isn’t it?

There are many more autocorrects. Take a look at them in Word using:

Office 2010: File, Options, Proofing and then click, “AutoCorrect Options.”

Version 2007: Click the Office Orb, Word Options, Proofing and then click, “AutoCorrect Options.”

Versions 2003 and earlier: Click on Tools, “AutoCorrect Options.”

SNAGHTML20d3a9d2

No matter which version you have you will now be at the same screen and may scroll down the list. You can play with the checked items, but be careful. None of them can destroy you, but they may make Word operate differently than you are used to.

You can add your own items to AutoCorrect. Let’s say that you always type "dog" as "dgo." In the AutoCorrect window type "dgo" in the left box under, "Replace" and then type "dog" under "With" then click the “Add” button. To finish, click OK at the bottom of the window and try it out on a document. Next time you type “dgo” it will autocorrect to “dog.”

If you wish to remove one of the items from the list just scroll down the list, select it and click the “Remove” button.

WARNING: I had an adult student once who decided to try this out at his office. The name of the company was "Arnold’s Road Equipment" (actual name of the company was changed to protect the innocent). He wanted to speed up his typing so he added "are" to be replaced by his company name. Think about that one for a couple of seconds. True story!

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