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Upcoming EventsWednesday FEBRUARY 11, 2015 Meeting
9:15 AM Set up your computer
9:30 AM Lesson
10:30 AM One on One help
Back to Basics, Tips for Using Your Keyboard and Entering Text
By Jim Cerny, 2nd Vice President, Sarasota PCUG, FL
July 2014 issue, Sarasota Technology Monitor www.spcug.org jimcerny123 (at) gmail.com
The keyboard is as old as the first typewriter and may very well be the oldest part of your computer. Although computer innovations such as the mouse, voice-recognition, and the touch-screen have saved us from much keyboard use, it still looks like the keyboard will be around for a good while yet. People buying touch-pads are also buying keyboards for them! In the old days, believe it or not, the rules you followed for entering text into your computer were different in each program you used. Think of it – each word processing program had different “rules” to learn in order to enter text into your computer. Today, thankfully, all programs follow the same rules when using a keyboard. So if you are using your keyboard to type an email, create a document, enter numbers in a spreadsheet, or fill in some data or text boxes on the internet, you will be following the same rules. Rather than bore you with a list of these rules, I thought I would just present a list of my most helpful keyboard tips and terms. Here they are:
Insertion point – the flashing vertical line or bar that indicates exactly where your next character will appear. This bar automatically moves as you hit keys and enter the text. Do not hit any keys on your keyboard until you know where the insertion point is. Note that if the text area is blank (that is if you are entering the first character in the text area) the insertion point can only be placed at the beginning of the text area, that is, on the far left and on the first line.
“I”-bar – a mouse cursor in an area where there is text or where text can be entered. Your mouse cursor will automatically change from an arrow to an “I-bar” in a text area. You can move this I-bar with your mouse, place it BETWEEN characters, click the left mouse button, and you will have placed your INSERTION POINT (see above) where you click.
The arrow keys (up, down, left, right) will move the insertion point in that direction IF there is text there.
You cannot move the insertion point beyond the last character entered in a text area. You can, however, enter blank characters, (by hitting the space bar), tab characters (by hitting the tab key), or go to a new line (by hitting the enter key), and the insertion point will move accordingly (see “control characters” below). This can be confusing. Some people wonder why they cannot just place the insertion point anywhere they want on a blank page any start typing. Sorry, but word processors do not work that way. A word processor does NOT see a blank page like a grid with positions everywhere on it for putting characters. If you think about it, a word processor has the capability to reformat the text to allow all the text to be printed on pages with narrow or wide margins. So the word processor sees only a single long string of text characters. Some of the characters in this long string are control characters. What’s a control character you ask? Well, let me tell you.
Control characters tell the printer (or the monitor screen) where to position for the next printed character on the paper and within the margins. These characters are part of your document but are not printed on the paper. For example, hitting the spacebar enters a space character and hitting the “tab” key enters a tab character. Entering a “tab” character will usually enter a blank space on the line about a half an inch long. In other words, hitting the “tab” key will move the insertion point one half inch to the right. Hitting the “Enter” key will go to a new line. Because of these characters your text will look nice whether it is printed between narrow or wide margins. The word processor formats the text to fit while obeying the control characters. The printed text will flow from one line to the next whether the margins are wide or narrow (text wrapping). Think about it – would you want to re-type your document every time the margins change? So a word processor will neatly flow the text from one line to the next.
Holding down any key on the keyboard will quickly repeat that character. Be careful, I said “quickly”!
On laptops, you may wish to turn off the “mouse pad” while you are typing. On many laptop keyboards, the mouse pad is positioned where the heel of your hand or bottom of your thumb may hit it and move your insertion point to someplace else while you are trying to type your text. Most mouse pads on laptops have different functions in different areas of the pad. For example, the right edge of a mouse pad may be used to scroll up or down. Thus, the base of your hand may hit the pad and have confusing effects on the screen. To turn off your mouse pad you will have to consult the instructions that came with your laptop. Most mouse pads are turned off and on using a function key (one of the “F” keys at the top of your keyboard), perhaps in combination with another key on your keyboard such as the “Ctrl” or “Alt” keys. Some laptop mouse pads are automatically turned off when you plug in a mouse.
The “Insert” key, if pressed, will put you into the “overtype” mode in which you are REPLACING characters as you type. Hit the Insert key again to turn this off. Many people find this “overtype” mode confusing, not noticing what is happening until they see characters have been DELETED while they are typing new characters. I never use the “insert” or “overtype” option.
The “Caps Lock” key, as on the old typewriters, will enter all upper case letters. Hit the Caps Lock key again to turn this option off. Notice if your keyboard has a light that comes on if a certain mode of typing has been activated. For example, when you hit the “Caps Lock” key, a light on your keyboard may be turned on to indicate that you are now in the “All caps” or all uppercase mode.
Almost all passwords are case sensitive. If there is an upper case (capital) letter in your password, then it ALWAYS must be entered in upper case.
Save your work often. If you do not, you could lose everything you have entered before your last save. Most emails may automatically save your work as a “draft” until you send your email. In Gmail, as I compose or write my email, it is automatically saved every ten or fifteen seconds to my email draft folder. When I send the email, the draft copy is automatically deleted and saved in the “sent mail” folder. Check your email program’s “help” instructions to understand about auto-saving your email as you type.
If your keyboard is not working, first check to make sure it is properly connected. If you have a wireless keyboard, make sure it is turned on and that the batteries are good.
Keyboards come in many styles and types (no pun intended), so find one that is comfortable for you. I even have a rubber keyboard that can be rolled up for easy storage or transport, but it certainly does not feel comfortable to use.
By the way, Windows 7 comes with “speech recognition” which you can try if you like. I gave it a try and found that it took some getting used to. It is nice to know it is there if you need it, but I went back to my keyboard – I guess I am just that “type” of guy.
There are many other keyboard tips and tricks. The keyboard will allow you to enter “shortcuts” or menu commands for many software programs. Check the “help” for each program you use to learn what keyboard commands are available. No matter what “type” of person you are, there are always keys to help.
Microsoft To Release Windows 10 - FREE for Many Windows 7 and 8.1 Users
by Ira Wilsker
Several of the online pundits have brought up theories about what happened to Windows 9, as the series numbering went from 7, to 8, to 10, bypassing an official release of Windows 9. Some pundits alleged that skipping a "9" series was to minimize any confusion with the old Windows 95 and 98, but that is not the official Microsoft line. In recent interviews, both Tony Prophet, head of marketing for Microsoft, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, responded to the question, "So, what happened to Windows 9?". The official Microsoft response about Windows 9 was "It came and it went." Tony Prophet also wanted to separate any public associations between Windows 8 and 10. Microsoft is building a totally new operating system with Windows 10, rather than simply upgrading the somewhat disastrous Windows 8 operating system. Prophet stated, "Windows 10 is not going to be an incremental step from Window 8.1. Windows 10 is going to be a material step. We're trying to create one platform, one eco-system that unites as many of the devices from the small embedded Internet of Things, through tablets, through phones, through PCs and, ultimately, into the Xbox."
While the new Windows 10 operating system may be totally new, and not just a rewrite of earlier operating systems, the way in which it will be marketed to the general public will also be new to Microsoft; the current plan for the first year, is to offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade for most Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 computers. While Microsoft has not officially announced the hardware requirements for Windows 10, over a million copies of the "public beta" or pre-release builds of Windows have been downloaded and installed on Windows 7 and 8 computers for the purposes of widespread testing and the gathering of performance issues and information. The completed "gold" or production release of Windows 10 is expected to be available later this year (2015).
Windows 10 is expected to be a revolutionary new operating system, rather than an evolutionary operating system. In addition to the many new features and enhancements built into Windows 10, including frequent updates and upgrades, it is also intended to combine the features of many Microsoft products and services into the operating system as well as provide a single "interface" to different products running Windows 10, including desktop computer, laptops, tablets, phones, game consoles, and nontraditional devices encompassed in the "IoT" or "Internet of Things."
Windows 10 has recreated the desktop icons in a manner that will look the same regardless of the device being used. Many users of Windows 8 hated the integral startup menu, with many Windows 8 users installing third party software that recreated the Windows 7 (or XP) startup menu; Windows 10 new startup menu will open to a full screen displaying programs and apps with a more traditional appearance, the view of which can easily be customized by the user. Another new desktop feature that will be a first for Windows PCs and other devices running Windows 10 will be familiar to users of Android devices; Windows 10 will have an "Action Center" which when opened, quickly displays icons and settings for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and the other common settings for the devices. Currently in development and testing for Windows 10 is "Continuum", which will allow the user to quickly switch between available input methods, such as a keyboard and mouse to a touch screen method of input.
Microsoft has been promoting its "Cortana", which it describes as an intelligent personal assistant, which was originally on smart phones running Windows 8.1, as a competitor to Apple's "Siri". Recent builds of the beta versions of Windows 10 include Cortana, named after the artificial intelligence character made famous in Microsoft's Halo game series. Cortana, as an intelligent application, can set reminders, interpret natural voice commands, and respond to spoken inquiries by accessing Microsoft's Bing search engine. Cortana can instantly respond to verbal questions about the weather conditions anywhere in the world, sports scores, stock quotes, traffic conditions, and most other information which can be located by Bing. This information such as stock quotes and sports scores can be displayed by Cortana on a popup if desired by the user. Cortana also has a "Concert Watch" feature which will recommend music genre's, bands, and musicians, which it learns by monitoring previous Bing searches. Cortana will also be integrated with other Microsoft apps which can track flights, or remember where a user parked his car by communicating with Microsoft's maps app; verbally saying, "Cortana, where did I park my car?" will display a local Bing map with the car location highlighted along with a route and directions to locate the car.
Old Microsoft utilities, such as Messenger and Internet Explorer will be replaced by newer, more efficient and powerful utilities providing enhanced functionality. Messenger, the popular instant messaging service, will be replaced by the much more capable Skype, which is already well established as a voice, telephone, remote presentation, and texting application, which can instantly be synched between devices. Internet Explorer will be replaced with a much more sophisticated and capable web browser currently code named "Spartan" along with a web rendering engine code named "Edge", which is backwardly compatible with older webpage designs and coding languages. The new "Spartan" web browser is also integrated with Cortana, and will display additional context sensitive information, such as airline flight information, or restaurant recommendations.
Gamers and multimedia enthusiasts will appreciate the Windows 10 integration with the Xbox entertainment system, with an integrated Xbox app. Gamers will be able to view their library of available games, including the PC and console versions, from within Windows 10. The Windows 10 Xbox One app will enable the PC user to engage in Xbox One activities including messages, friends lists, Xbox Live chat, and view some console content on the desktop. The Game DVR feature allows gamers to save the last 30 seconds of a game being played, which can readily be shared as desired. Xbox One games can be streamed over the local network in Windows 10. The implementation of DirectX12 will produce console game like performance on Windows 10, with reduced hardware, CPU, and graphics driver overhead. To support the advanced multimedia needs of modern computer aficionados, native graphics support (CODECS) will be added to a new Windows Media Player that supports Matroska, HEVC, and FLAC multimedia formats.
Since Windows 10 is intended to present a single interface on multiple device types, different builds of Windows 10 will be released for different devices, such as a build for smart devices with screen sizes of less than eight inches, which includes almost all of the smart phones. Major Microsoft apps, including Skype, will seamlessly integrate or "synch" between Windows 10 devices, such as a phone, desktop, and laptop. A new "unified" build of Microsoft Office, including Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint displays similar appearing screens and documents, regardless of the device used, with synchronization between the devices. The new Office also supports printing from a mobile device, while Microsoft's cloud based OneDrive storage service will automatically collect photos and images from all connected devices, remove duplicates, and organize them in albums that can be accessed by the authorized user from any compatible device.
Microsoft will be distributing and promoting Windows 10 more heavily than its predecessor operating systems. Microsoft has announced its intention to release automated frequent updates and upgrades to Windows 10, in order to keep all systems up to date with the latest features and security enhancements. Microsoft has also publically stated that with the current plan to keep Windows 10 updated to incorporate emerging technologies, there are no current plans for a Windows 11 or 12.
I decided to forgo Windows 8, and have Windows 7 on my primary desktop and laptop computers. While Windows 10 appears intriguing, I may wait a while before taking advantage of Microsoft's upcoming offer of a free upgrade to Windows 10, providing my hardware meets the new system requirements. Since the free Windows 10 offer is currently planned to be available for a year commencing the official release of 10, I will probably get a copy, but take a wait-and-see approach before giving up my proven Windows 7.
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