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Tech Tutorials

06/24/2014 - 9:58am
Stuck on the Web?
Getting stuck on the Web is a regular occurrence for pretty much everyone, from novices to experienced users. Some folks lack the experience to properly decode complex layouts; others have to slog through poor site design; and sometimes stuff just doesn't work. Here are some ideas for finding your way when this happens.
11/25/2013 - 9:02am
My Favorite Keyboard Shortcuts

Inspired by a recent computer training-on-demand session I instructed, here is a list of my favorite keyboard shortcuts.  A mouse and keyboard are a powerful combination, but with the proper keyboard shortcuts you can be a far more time-efficient user. 

11/15/2013 - 9:37am
Repurposing Your Old PC

Updated November 15, 2013: Your old computer is capable of one more major feat: helping to cure diseases.

08/30/2014 - 11:13am
Quick Tech Tip: Disabling Gmail's Category Tabs

Are you a Gmail user? Did you wake up a week or two ago to find that your new messages were now being automatically organized by Gmail into tabs of different, pre-determined categories? And, did you think, like me, that they were really ugly, stupid, and unnecessary?  Here’s a quick tip on how to rid yourself of them!

Here's how Gmail looks now with its category tabs:

06/27/2013 - 9:10am
Using Your Computer on Your Mobile Device

As handy as our mobile phones and tablets are, there are times when they fall short and we wish we had our desktop or laptop computers in front of us. With this free software and the power of the Internet, you can access your home Windows PC or Mac from your iPhone/iPad or Android mobile device wherever you are.

04/18/2013 - 11:36am
Avoiding and Removing Ransomeware

You’ve probably encountered them - big flashing warning boxes on websites that inform you that your computer is infected with hundreds of viruses or malware or some such.  Scary, right?  You don’t want your computer to be infected with anything!  And these nice people are offering to scan your computer to clean it with their free download - how thoughtful!  So you click yes, please clean my computer, and it all goes downhill from there.

03/19/2013 - 1:48pm
On Becoming a Fearless Computer User

From 2000-2003 I was a creative writing major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a university most well-known for its schools of engineering and computer science.  Guess I could have thought that decision through a little better, but I’m glad I didn’t.  I even lived in a private dorm adjacent to the engineering campus, Hendrick House, surrounded by some of the strangest, most intelligent and most wonderful people I’ve ever known, almost all of them engineers.  When I arrived at UIUC, I knew the bare bones of computering—how to type, how to use a Web browser, how to use a word processor, and play a few games, but not much else.  However, over the course of three years living with these technological elite, I picked up more than a few tricks not only about using computers, but about how to fearlessly teach myself more.  And now I pass that on to you.  

Attaining fearlessness in the face of learning more about the computer lies in the art of reversibility.  The most common fear my students express is that they will press the wrong keys or click the wrong thingies and destroy their computers.  I try to assure them this is highly unlikely, but that discomfort still remains. Certainly I felt that way 10 years ago.  I discovered over time that there are particular steps you need to take to ensure that, if the worst happens and your computer stops working, you can back out of your mistake or recover your computer.  With the following steps accomplished, you’ll find that you feel much less hesitant about stepping outside your comfort zone.

10/16/2012 - 3:31am
image of random password

Here’s the hard truth: your password, well, it’s no good.  Does it include a word found in the dictionary, a name, a date, or even numbers that look like letters (e=3, I-1, o=0, etc.)?  Yup, no good.  Do you use the same password for some or even all your websites?  Tsk, tsk.  The practice of password cracking has never been easier thanks to a number of landfall events for hackers, namely the release into the public of numerous huge password databases from hacked websites and the development of more advanced and specialized tools. What’s worse, the security of your password isn’t always wholly dependent on you but on the websites you use.  I know it’s hard; you have trouble remembering your passwords, etc., and I’m sorry, but in today’s world those excuses just aren’t acceptable.  Practicing good password hygiene isn’t a suggestion if you want to survive online, it is now a requirement.  Please read on!

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