DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

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.

October 29, 2013

Get Help, Join Me

Last week we looked at "Windows Remote Assistance" to see how you could give or receive help with your computer issues.  It works well but as I said there are drawbacks in that you need to be going from a Windows to a Windows computer and could not link with a Mac or Ubuntu (Linux) system.  Today we will look at "Join Me."

There are many programs which do pretty much the same thing.  Some of the more popular applications are "DameWare," "Go to Assist," "PC Anywhere," "LogMeIn" (the parent company of Join.me) and many, many others.  Some of these charge (a lot compared to free) for their services and others are free.  However, I do not believe any are as easy as Join.Me. 

First, the person who needs someone to log onto their computer for help needs to start the process.  It is easy since all you do is open your browser and type in "Join.me" in the address bar.  It will automatically add "https://" (the "s" means a Secure site) and take you to the site.

join.meNow, if this is the first time you have used it go to "Share," "Basic" and click the large orange arrow button.  This will start downloading the small executable file to your computer.  Once the download has finished, find the file and double click it to start "Join.me."  Your browser may also choose to "Run" the file if your browser allows it which is fine. 

 

join.meOnce installed and running you can click the "Share" button and a nine digit code will be generated for you.  It will show something similar to, "join.me/252-743-655." The nine digit number varies each time you use it.  Now give the helping person the nine digit number or email them the generated link.

If you email them the link they can click the link in the email and be instantly logged onto your desktop.  If you read them the number, via phone as most often happens, they log into Join.me just as you did.  But this time they choose the "Join" the meeting after they add the nine digits.  They finally click the green arrow and they are in.  They will go to your machine and you can both see what is going on with your computer.  Do not worry about anyone else using the code.  Once you end the session and close "Join.me" someone else would need a new code, generated only by you, to get into your computer.

You have full control and the "helper" can only view your computer unless you allow them further access.  If you wish to give them permission to actually "drive" your computer go to the meeting tools (pointer) button and click, "share mouse control."  When they are finished take it back.  Easy.

It includes many other neat features such as allowing the people you invite to have voice chats over the Internet using their free VOIP, text chat between all the members in the meeting, transferring files to each other and more. 

There are always updates and changes to this and every other app.  They recently added a couple you may find helpful…if you are a helper.  If you have an Android phone/tablet or an iPhone/iPad you can only view someone’s computer from them.  You cannot share your screen to get help.  It also depends on which version of either OS you have.  For Apple products it must be the latest version and depending on what you need to do it could cost you.  For Android, free…ah, my favorite word.

October 22, 2013

Get Help, Windows Remote Assistance

After the column last week about "Problem Steps Recorder" Andy emailed from Waynesboro, VA and asked an interesting question. 

He was wondering if there is a program that allows him to give a "fix it" person access to his computer to repair it from long-distance.  He had heard of large computer manufacturers logging into home computers to fix problems on computers they had sold.  Could he allow one of his more knowledgeable friends to log onto his computer to do the same thing?

Remote AssistanceWell sure, Andy, you can.  There are maybe two million ways of doing so.  I have a couple I recommend over the others.  Here are my favorites.  

The first one, already built into your computer by Microsoft, is known as, "Windows Remote Assistance."  This works very well and may bring your search to a close.  But read on. 

Easy ConnectFor WRA if both of you are using Windows 7 you can use, "Easy Connect."  To get there click your Windows start button, then type "Remote Assistance."  Now click on, "Invite someone you trust" then finally, "Use Easy Connect."  After it checks your network to make sure you have enough speed to share your screen it will give you a password.  The other person starts up Remote Assistance on their computer and clicks on, "Help someone who has invited you."  After it starts on their side give them the password.  Usually at this point you are on the phone with them so you can read it.  Do not fret, after you close this session of Easy Connect on your computer a new password would be needed to log on.  So you are immediately protected once you close the program.  

They will now be able to see your computer and guide you through your troubles.  You can also allow them to run your computer from their location by clicking, "Would you like to allow PERSON’S NAME to share control of your desktop?" 

Make sure they can see what you want them to see.  Remember they can see your windows screens so close other apps if you do not want them to see them.  If you suspect them of doing something evil (like looking for passwords, etc.) you can shut them down.  Chose, "Stop Sharing" or just close the applications window.

If you and the "helper" are using different versions of Windows you only need to do a couple of things differently.  So try this.

Use the same sequence you did originally by going to Start, Remote Assistance, Windows Remote Assistance but this time chose either, "Invite someone to help you" or "Save this invitation as a file."  I recommend the first over the second just for ease of use.  Finally click, "Use email to send an invitation."  Fill in their email address and send that info to them.  When they receive the email it explains what to do with a link to click.  Once the link is clicked they follow the instructions in the file and gain access to your system.

Next, week I will give you my absolute favorite way to connect.  The reason I value it is that you can help Mac, Windows or even Linux computer users – regardless of versions.

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