Trails End Computer Club

Bulletin for the week of JANUARY 4, 2015

WEEKLY MEETINGS
EACH Wednesday 

Program or Lesson 9:30 - 10:30 AM
One on One Help 10:30-?
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SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS:

If you would like to meet in a small group to discuss special computer related subjects or form a Special Interest Group lets discuss it.

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Our weekly program or lesson is intended
to be of interest to all computer users.
Following the program an allotment of time will
be available for one on one help to those
who want a better understanding of something done
 during the presentation.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday JANUARY 7, 2015 Meeting
 9:15 AM Set up your computer
 9:30 AM Lesson
10:30 AM One on One help

Back to Basics

JimWindows 7: Turning Your Computer Off or On and Power Options

Jim Cerny, 2nd Vice President, Sarasota PCUG, FL

June 2014 issue, Sarasota Technology Monitor       www.spcug.org          jimcerny123 (at) gmail.com

 
It sounds like it should be easy – turning your computer on or off but, unfortunately, there is just a bit more to your computer than a light switch. I hope this article will make this most basic choice a lot clearer to you as well as tell you a little about the power options you have for your computer or tablet.

 
I have to admit that turning your computer on is pretty easy. You press the “on” button on your computer, a light or two may come on, and then you wait. What’s going on when your computer is going through all the steps to start itself up?  Well, the computer is checking itself, making sure the main disk (the “C” drive) is working, and then it must load the “operating system” or main program before you can do anything. In other words, it must start the Windows program on a windows computer or the Apple operating system on an Apple computer, etc. Only when it completes all these “startup” steps will the screen brighten up with your familiar desktop. You may also see a message or two that your computer wants you to know about – such as a new update available for one or more of your programs. If you do get such messages it is always wise to download and install the latest updates for any programs (or apps) that you have. There, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

 
Now how about turning your computer off?  Many businesses tell their employees not to turn their computers off at all, but I always turn my computer completely off if I am not going to use it for a half hour or longer. I don’t want it connected to the internet when I am not using it and I just don’t want to use the electricity to keep it on even in a low power state. It is just my personal choice, but I just feel better knowing my computer is completely off when I am not using it.

 You probably know that you do NOT turn your computer off by pressing the “on” button. For a Windows computer prior to Windows 8, you should close all your windows first. This lets you see if you forgot to save something that you have been working on. Once all your windows are closed, then click on the “start button” or the “start orb” to get the start menu at the lower left corner of your desktop screen. On the start menu will be the command “shut down” at the bottom – click on it and wait until your screen goes blank and the lights on your computer go off. If you have a laptop computer, a light may stay on to show you that your laptop is connected to your electrical outlet. Now you may close your laptop and, if you are going to be away for a while, unplug the power cord (and phone cord if you have it connected to your computer). During the time your computer is shutting down, it is checking itself, making sure all is neat and tidy inside.

 You do have other “power down” options available to you on the Start menu. If you click on the little white triangle just to the right of “Shut down” you will get a list of these options. Some of these options are Switch user, Lock, Sleep, and Hibernate.  Hovering your mouse over them will tell you briefly, in a small text box, what each one does. If you want to learn about these different options and perhaps use them, go to Google and enter the exact phrase of the option and you can get many detailed explanations. I almost never use these options.

When not using your computer for a day or longer, it is usually wise to disconnect the power cord. A lightning strike near your home may get in and damage your computer, even with a good surge protector connected. (This is a good idea for your TVs too). I had one client that had a surge protector in place but their phone cord was connected directly to the computer. A lightning bolt hit the utility pole outside their home and the surge came in through the phone line and destroyed their “C” drive completely even though, in this case, the surge protector worked fine.

Here are some helpful things to consider about turning your computer on or off:

If your computer is not working (i.e. is “stuck”) and you cannot use the mouse at all, you can force a shutdown by holding down the “on” button for one or two seconds. Your computer will almost immediately “go blank” and shut down, but it will NOT do all the checking that it would do in a normal shut down. Then when you turn on your computer again, it will do all kinds of additional checks before it starts up. You should not do this “improper shut down” unless you have no other choice, but it should not harm your computer if you do.

If your computer takes a long time to start up, it could be due to a virus or something else wrong – it could be a hardware or a software problem. It would be wise to have it checked out by someone who knows what they are doing and getting it “cleaned up” so that it starts quickly and cleanly. Always do a good backup of all your important files first.

Laptops have even more power options than desktops because they use a battery. Even if you do not have a laptop, checkout the “Control panel” – then click on “Hardware and sound”, and then “Power options”. You will be amazed. There are options to control how much battery your laptop or tablet uses under various conditions (an important consideration if you are using the battery). Some of these conditions may include how long the computer should stay on when it is not being used and what power options happen when you close your laptop. You should at least view these options so that you know what settings you may wish to change. Note that some settings affect the screen brightness and if passwords are required when “waking up” your computer from a “sleep” or “hibernate” mode.

If you have a tablet device, you will also have several power settings and options. Most people only use tablets when they are NOT connected to external power – that is, they are used after the battery has been charged. If you are going to use a tablet (or a laptop) on its battery, you should know and adjust the power settings. These settings determine how long your battery will last.

Also, for tablet devices (such as iPads), pressing the power button briefly does not really turn your device completely off. The screen goes blank and your device is in a very low power state, but it is not completely off. To turn my iPad completely off, I hold down the power button for a couple of seconds and then I see a “finger swipe” box which will completely shut down the device. To turn it back on after this requires me to hold down the on button for a couple of seconds as well. In normal use you do not need to completely turn your iPad off.

It seems that technology has taken over the simple “on” and “off” functions of our devices so that even these very basic steps have many options and settings to consider. And I think even more options will come in the future, more than we will ever need to use. Remember when TVs had two knobs? – One to turn the set on and adjust the volume, and the other to select the station?  Now my living room has four remote controls each with fifty buttons. Welcome to the future.




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