Trails End Computer Club

Bulletin for the week of NOVEMBER 27, 2016

EACH Wednesday 

Program or Lesson 9:30 - 10:30 AM
One on One Help 10:30-?
In the Library


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.

Our bulletin is also available on line by visiting and clicking on bulletin.

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 NOVEMBER 30, 2016 Weekly Meeting in the LIBRARY at 9:00 AM
LindaWednesday DECEMBER 7, 2016 Weekly Meeting in the LIBRARY at 9:00 AM.  Special guest speaker, our own Linda Stainer will share her knowledge and experiences with us on using the I-Pad / I-Phone. December 7 will be the first session followed by December 14, January 11 and 18.

PDF File Type – What and Why?

By Phil Sorrentino, Contributing Writer, The Computer Club, Florida /        philsorr (at)

The Portable Document File (.pdf) file type has been around since 1993 when Adobe Systems made the specification available to all, free of charge. However, PDF was initially a proprietary format, controlled by Adobe, until it was officially released as an Open Standard in 2008. Since then it has been controlled by a committee of volunteer experts who are part of the International Organization for Standardization. The .pdf file type was developed as a way to share documents that would include text, formatting, and inline images, among computer users of different types of computers from different companies. (PCs, Apple, IBM, Sun, anyone remember DEC?). The PDF standard endeavors to present documents in a consistent manner that is independent of application software, hardware and operating system. The .pdf file type, by its very nature, and name - Portable, was intended to be a file that could be a complex of text, graphics and so on, and be easily shared by people that didn’t have the same hardware or software. So, the real benefit was that the file would look exactly the same when displayed on all different types of computer systems.

 Each .pdf file encapsulates a complete description of a document, including text, fonts, graphics, forms, annotations, outlines, and other information needed to display the file. .pdf files can also contain links, buttons, audio, video, and business logic; and where security is important, they can be password protected. So a .pdf file can end up as a pretty big file. (When I was almost finished with this article I saved it as a .doc and a .pdf. The .doc was 36KB, and the .pdf was 106KB. I also looked at a PowerPoint presentation, 127 slides with lots of graphics; it was 11.5MB saved as .ppt, and 32.4MB saved as .pdf. Finally, I saved a fairly large Excel spreadsheet (125 rows, with columns that went out to column AT, with quite a few calculations within the spreadsheet), which was 157K saved as .xls and 475 KB as .pdf. So from that limited testing it looks like the .pdf will be about 3 times the native applications size.)

 .pdf files can easily be viewed on your computer using a free PDF Reader from Adobe called “Acrobat Reader DC”. A mobile “Acrobat Reader DC” App is also available, free, for your Smartphone or Tablet. And for Windows 10 users, who are also Microsoft Office owners, PDFs can now be created from the Office Apps, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. (By the way, you may have seen a reference to an .xps file type along with .pdf. The .xps file type is Microsoft’s alternative to .pdf. It was introduced with Windows Vista but never attracted much of a following. Of the two, the .pdf format is the preferred choice.)

 At this point in computer evolution, .pdf files can be opened by just about every major operating system (Windows 7, 10, OS X, iOS, Android) and can be used by many different applications. In addition, the majority of modern web browsers (Chrome, Edge, and Firefox) allow .pdf files to be read without the use of an external application, making them easy to use in web applications. (Though the literature doesn’t give these internal PDF readers much of a good review; and advice on how to replace the internal PDF reader is easily found.)  Also, Mobile Operating Systems (Android, iOS) are including PDF readers, making the PDF format almost universally useable. (This can’t be said of any other file type; even though we all may be familiar with Microsoft’s Word format (.doc), this format can only be used by a limited number of applications.)

 Those of you who have been to our File Explorer class know that there are hundreds of file types on a typical computer, and that you can inspect and change the association between a file type and the program that uses that file type, using the Control Panel. (Remember, “Default Programs”, followed by “associate a file type or protocol with a program”?)  So, you have to have a program on your computer that knows how to use the .pdf file type. If you are having trouble opening a .pdf document, you probably don’t have a program that knows how to use the .pdf file type, on your machine. If this is your situation, consider getting the free Adobe Reader, from the Adobe website,

 Normally, .pdf files cannot be modified by the user, making these files perfect for use by an “end user”, i.e., someone who needs the content of the file without being able to modify the file contents. In other words the file was not intended to be changed, once it was created or “published”. So, originally there was no way to change a .pdf file without using the very expensive PDF Creator software from Adobe (or lesser expensive PDF creation software from Foxit).   However, there are situations where it makes sense to change the contents of a received .pdf file, like “if you need to fill in some information on a PDF form”.

 “PDF to Word” conversion websites like “PDF Converter”, “PDF to Word” or “PDF Online” are websites that advertise that will do the conversion for free. (Google “free pdf to word” and you’ll see many possibilities.)  Also, you could try “free document converter” found at I haven’t any experience with these, but the literature claims they work as indicated. And, for those of you who need to do a lot of these conversions, Adobe offers “Adobe Acrobat DC” for about $15/month or you could buy it for around $200. There must be a large enough number of people who need to convert .pdf files to .doc files because when I Googled “pdf to word”, I was pointed to many websites that could supposedly help me in my quest. There even was a YouTube video that indicated that you could upload a .pdf file to Google drive, (yes, you’ll probably need a Google Drive account), and then download it as a word (.doc) document. When I tried it on a pretty simple PDF, the conversion didn’t seem to preserve a lot of the formatting, so it didn’t look like it would be acceptable, at all, on a more complex document. I haven’t had the occasion to need to convert a document, but if the situation ever arises I’m sure I’ll be able to get it done, though I just might have to go to the lab and get some help from one of the very able and helpful Monitors. So, when all is said and done, the PDF standard is deeply ingrained in modern computing because it allows a single file to provide a display that looks the same on all different types of computers. 

Back to Basics,     Your Internet Connection

By Jim Cerny, Chairman, Forums Committee, Sarasota Technology UG, Florida          jimcerny123 (at)

 Today most people have and use more than one computer device that can connect to the internet. Smart phones (such as the iPhone), tablets, laptops, and desktops all LOVE the internet. In fact, most of these devices try to connect to the internet automatically. In this article we will look at how you can easily determine the answer to that all important question: Am I connected to the internet?

 In the old days of ancient history, people connected their computers to a network (which could have been a private network) with a wire connection (telephone or private lines) perhaps using a telephone modem. Do you remember those telephone modems with the two rubber cups to hold the handset? Ah, those were the days when carrier pigeons were faster! But enough of days gone by.

 Today the access to the internet is mostly wireless and devices can be connected to it in different ways. One easy way to see if you have internet access regardless of the device you are using is to try to go to a web page. If you can, the web page will display and you know you have access. If not, you should see a message on your screen that tells you there was a problem.

 If you are using a smart phone or a tablet device, you may have a model that can use the cellular phone network to access the internet. This may work just fine, but be aware that you will be using your “minutes” or “bits” which will be billed to your cellular phone bill. I recommend that you only use the cellular network to access the internet when no other means are available.

 There are two icons that seem to be universal for indicating that you are connected to the internet – a small bar graph or an “eyebrow” icon. In either case, the more “bars” you have on the bar graph or the more “eyebrows” you have, the stronger the internet signal. You should know where to find these small icons on the screen of your device, usually in a corner. You should know how to get to the “settings” option on your device and there will probably be a setting option that deals with the internet and will show you if you are connected.

 Many portable devices (laptops, tablets, smart-phones) are constantly searching for a wireless internet connection. Say you went to a restaurant and wanted to get on the internet. You would look at your device’s icon and see that you had no internet signal or a “not connected” message. So you would ask an employee of the restaurant for instructions on how to get connected. They would reply with the NAME of their Wi-Fi network and a PASSWORD (if required). Go to the “settings” option on your device and select the wireless network option. You will probably see a list of all the Wi-Fi networks within range of your device. Although you could try to connect using any of the networks found, you probably want to use the network name given to you by the employee.

 Naturally that network should have the strongest signal and be at the top of your list. Select that network and you will be prompted for the password (if needed). Entering the password should get your connection. The nice thing about this is that the next time you return to that restaurant your device may connect automatically without you having to do anything. That is unless, of course, they changed their password.

 If you have a problem understanding this for your device, go to Google (on the internet, of course) and ask Google “How do I connect my iPhone to a Wi-Fi network”, or “How do I know I am connected to the internet on my Toshiba laptop?” etc. Try to be as specific with your device name as possible. It’s nice to know if you are connected and what to do if you are not.

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