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THE TGB ELDER GEEK: What Do You Want to Know?

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VirginiaDeBolt75x75Virginia DeBolt (bio) writes the bi-weekly Elder Geek column for Time Goes By in which she takes the mystery out of techie things all bloggers and internet users need to know to simplify computer use. She has written several books on technology and keeps two blogs herself, Web Teacher and First 50 Words. You will find links to Virginia's previous Time Goes By Elder Geek columns here.

The topics I've discussed in this TGB Elder Geek column have been those Ronni or I thought up. It's time to ask if I'm explaining what you want to know.

Before I turn you loose to ask questions, let me list a few caveats.

First, I don't know everything. I may not know the answer to your question. The general wisdom on this would be that if I didn't know what I was talking about, it would be a good idea to keep my mouth shut. In other words, I can't answer every question.

Second, the question needs to be about a topic of general interest to many elders who read Time Goes By. I won't take on a topic that will only hit one person's interests. General topics like "how can I crop a photo" or "how can I put my grandkids photo on my computer as wallpaper" or "where can I get good, free software" would be of widespread interest.

Third, nothing is too basic. I'm here to be basic. I've talked about very basic stuff like copy and paste in the past. The reason Ronni asked me to do this column is because many elders missed out on the basics of computer operation and browser functions. If something seems mysterious to you, chances are others find it a bit mysterious, too. So ask.

Enough with the caveats. What do you want to know?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today: Dani Ferguson: Mr. Hughes and Dad.


Hi Virginia: the topic that most often confuses the folks I know who are struggling with their computers amounts to "where's my file?" They know they were working on something -- and now it is has disappeared.

A list of possible steps to find whatever it was could be helpful. Actually such a list would probably have to be 2 lists -- one Mac, one PC.

The reasons people "lost their file" are legion; a structured search procedure might help. :-)

In my former life, before retirement, I used to teach computer skills to our staff and what I found most useful was 'file structure' to create folders and files and sub folders etc...and how to place them where they wanted and how to copy them and rename them. I know it is the basics, but I found staff that had been using their pc's for years and had no idea as how to create a folder and put it somewhere...

Hello Virginia,

I just learned something new from a friend the other day and I think it is something a lot of computer users would benefit from.

It concerns sending photos via Email to your friends.

If you have your pictures in MY DOCS/MY PICTURES and they in thumbnail form and you highlight one of them to send,if you select another one to also send the first highlight goes off . So, most people including me, thought you could only send one picture at a time.

Please explain to your readers about holding the ctrl button down and highlighting more pictures to send at one time.

Also, I'm a little mixed up on the cut and paste technique of ctrl/c and ctrl/v to move script from one place to another. If you could clear that up for us it would be very useful.

Thank You

I have found that various Internet browsers may work in posting comments or NOT to blog sites. I am now using 'Google Chrome' as that allows me to post to Blogger and other formats of bloggers. I currently (although didn't in the past) lose posts while browsing in Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explore. If the response involves too many variables I understand.

I think file structure is a good topic for many of us. I second that motion. I also second the motion for sending email photos. My problem is knowing how to make my pics a reasonable size. What is reasonable? I don't know how to resize easily, say 5 photos, and then send them in one email. I use Microsoft Vista and my email client is Google mail.

I have in the past used Picasa, which seemed intuitive, for posting large numbers of themed photos. But I have forgotten how I did it, and Picasa has changed. I would love to know how to use Picasa again.

Another idea is the use of feeds. I use Microsoft favorites feed list, but I don't really understand it. Is Google feeds better?

Hope some of this sounds good to you.

And thank you Virginia for seeking input!

I don't know if this falls into your bailiwick, but I want to know how to enter the MP3 world, on and off my computer. I have this fantasy of being able to download NPR podcasts and play them at my bedside in the middle of the night when I can't sleep, and I don't know how to start shopping.

BTW, I've used your tips in the past. I especially appreciated the "tabs" info. I was starting my browser whenever I wanted to have 2 Web sites on the screen at the same time. A belated Thanks.

These are great questions and I am taking notes! Keep them coming, please.

The question about cut and paste might be answered in Select, Cut, Paste, and Copy. If not, let me know.

The question about feeds might be answered in Blog Subscriptions. If not, let me know.

Tabor, I'm not sure I understand your question. Could you elaborate a bit?

I write a blog and would like to know how to put a quotation from a news source in a box. I am sure this would be helpful to other bloggers, as well.

I'm scared to discard the stuff on my desktop because I don't know if it also exists where I thought it was, in files.

Can you get books to read in text on your computer screen -- not on a Kindle, but right here -- other than buying them? Can you sort of rent them, or get them from libraries?

If I'm reading something in Safari, and then I want to check mail and I click on Mail at the top, am I opening another Mail window? And if so, is this a problem? Similar question applies with Safari.

Thanks so much. Love your columns.

The pros and cons of the various browsers might be worth looking at (although I am currently happily wedded to Firefox)

...and files yes - especially as it relates to My Documents and why where your file goes depends on who the computer thinks you are.

There are a lot of freeware and shareware items on TUCOWS.NET Those who feel capable of downloading and installing could look there for things of interest. I would also like to personally thank you for the Google Reader column. It has made my life much simpler and I even got up enough courage to join Facebook after 2 invitations. I was leery of the social network sites but decided after 40 years with computers I could manage it. So thanks again.

Can you recommend a free DVD player to down load that doesn't require accepting a "toolbar" installation from that company? Need one that has a decoder....

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