Tag Archives: Computer Basics

Some Things Never Change

Technology is constantly changing. We spend most of our time trying to keep up!

We’ve been supporting technology for a long time. Chris has been writing about technology over 30 years. She started when she was 5 or 6. Haha.

Here is an article from 1987 about the state of technology then. It was written by Chris Van Valkenburg, that was Chris’ name before she married me. She owned a computer training center called Computer Savvy Workshops back then. While reading it, I swear it could be written today with only a few name changes, and it would still be valid. The first article is titled “Nothing New for 1987 … please.” Let’s change the year to 2016 and just a couple of words, then the opening paragraph becomes …

Usually, in contemplating a new year, you can come up with a wish list of new computers smartphones, software apps, or new features for old software apps. This year my wish is for NOTHING new to happen. There are too many new things on my desk right now.

Click on the graphic to read the newsletter. It takes you to Evernote, but you can click the skip button in the lower right to go to the link. You don’t need an Evernote account.



Windows 10 Upgrade

by Jim Guld, GeeksOnTour.com

win10Windows has released their latest OS to the public. It started rolling out to computers via Windows Update on July 29. I don’t necessarily recommend everyone upgrade their computers right away. There is no hurry, especially if you are doing ok now. If you do decide to upgrade I recommend having a current backup of your important data and performing a disk cleanup to get rid of junk on the drive. A high capacity and stable Internet connection really makes a difference.  I can only be responsible for the safety and security of my own computers, not yours.

There are two main reasons for any update. Number one is to fix bugs. Number two is to add functionality. Bugs can include security holes in the software. Hardware is changing all the time and the OS needs to adapt to make use of the advances. New software is made for new hardware, and vice-versa. If you are running old or limited hardware, you may have problems upgrading.

They Like it!

I have been an early adopter of the latest and greatest(?) operating systems from Redmond going all the way back to DOS 2.1. This upgrade is most interesting in that I have heard very few complaints about it. Indeed, I have mostly heard acceptance and even some grudging praise about Windows 10 from the gurus I follow and trust.

I installed this upgrade on our ASUS laptop (just used for seminars) as soon as it showed up in the system tray. I did not need to do anything special and it worked fine. My Surface Pro computer did have a hiccup the first time through the upgrade. I was low on disk space on the C: drive. The install automatically rolled back to Win 8.1. I used the standard Disk Cleanup to free up some space and tried again. This time it upgraded just fine. I have heard some reports of device drivers not working initially, but there is usually a fix for those. My Bluetooth keyboard and external monitor only came to life after a couple of reboots.

We were in the middle of a rally where we rely heavily on the seminar laptop for our presentations and live demonstrations. I didn’t even notice much of a change. That’s the thing about operating systems. You don’t really use them. They are just the way to get to your programs so you can get your work done. All my programs work fine, even Photo Story 3, which was made for Windows XP.

I do appreciate that Microsoft listened to unhappy users and brought back the Start Button. The new IE replacement Edge Browser has some cool features that I will report on as I learn more. I am still using Google Chrome as my primary Internet browser.

Caution for those using Cellular Data

Mobile users and those using metered data plans need to be aware that the download can be quite large and can easily put you over your monthly data allotment. If that is you, I recommend connecting to a public WiFi at the library or such. In addition, there are some settings everyone should be aware of to lessen data usage.

The Windows Update Delivery Optimization (WUDO) is a new way to distribute important updates. But, if you are using a limited wireless connection to access the Internet, it will use large amounts of data. It is optional and you can save precious bandwidth by disabling it .

Here are the steps to disable WUDO on your Windows 10 machine:

  • Open your Start Menu
  • Go to “Settings”
  • Select “Update & security”
  • In the left-side pane, select “Windows Update”
  • In the right-side pane, select “Advanced options”
  • In the new pane, select “Choose how updates are delivered”
  • Move the slider under “Updates from more than one place” to “OFF”

Another potential data thief is WiFi Sense. It’s a reciprocal feature introduced in Windows 8 that can let your contacts share your WiFi network without knowing your network password. It in turn connects you to networks and hotspots that your contacts share with you. It is only for Internet access; they can’t see your passwords and stuff, and you can’t see theirs.

  • In the “Settings” window, click “Network & Internet”
  • Go to “Manage Wi-Fi Settings”
  • Turn off the connection sliders.

If you have upgraded to Windows 10, let us know how it went for you. If you are putting it off, let us know why. If you prefer Mac or Linux, or anything else, that is fine. Just please ignore this post.

Are you a Beginner with Technology?

We’ve had the opportunity this month to teach several seminars to small groups. This way we get to hear more of their questions and we were reminded that most people our age never had any basic instruction on these things. Most everything they know is self-taught. The most pressing questions were on files and folders. “Where ARE my files?!” “What IS a Folder?”

If that describes you, and you are using a computer – not just smartphones and tablets – we highly recommend you spend some time understanding Windows Basics. Here is a checklist to help you understand how much you already know. Find a computer club near you. If you’re in a senior community you may have a club available to residents. Many Community Colleges offer basic computer classes. You can also check with the Assoc. of Computer User Groups (APCUG) to see if there is a club near you.

A few years ago, we taught several sessions of a class we called “Camp Reboot.” One of our favorite comments from a student in that class was “Everything you taught us seemed so simple and basic, yet I didn’t know any of it!  I was doing everything the hard way.” We aren’t teaching that class any more because smartphones and tablets have taken over. We almost deleted the content thinking it was getting too old to be of use, but several people who teach computers told us they use these materials all the time. So we are making the workbook available to all Geeks on Tour members, and we’ve listed all the tutorial videos that go along with it. Click here to get your copy. You will need your username and password, if you need help with that, contact us.


Escapade Camp Reboot (hands-on computer class)

Fullscreen capture 8302011 105948 AM

We had our hands-on computer class here at the Escapade on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  It was SOO nice to have the time to present this class properly.  Each time we’ve taught it in the previous year, we’ve had to cut it down to 6 or even 4 hours.  This time we had 12 hours!

Friday afternoon we started with Search, the single most important command in Windows Vista or Windows 7.  After learning how easy it is to find *anything* on their computers several students exclaimed that they had already gotten their money’s worth out of the class!  We asked if anyone already knew this command before coming to class – not one raised their hand.  Now, that really is value.  It makes us feel good to be making such a difference for people using their computers.

We went on to teach the difference between RAM memory and Hard Disk space and they learned how to find out the specifications for their particular computer.  They also learned how to put their laptops to sleep when they close the lid, and how that makes booting up so much faster.  Several people took advantage of learning about the touchpad settings to disable the hotspots that keep making their mouse jump around.

We want power?  We GOT power!

On Saturday we started with Word Processing, and many students were happy to learn that there is a simple word processor that comes with Windows – they don’t need to buy Microsoft Office or even download something like Open Office, if all they need is simple typewriting capabilities.  They learned the difference between Save and Save As, and how to file the document in a folder where it belongs.  They also learned how to explore all the files on their computers and to move them into appropriate folders or even delete files and folders where necessary.  For important files, they learned how to copy them to a USB ‘thumb’ drive for safekeeping – a backup.

Sunday was the time to learn about Wi-Fi and the other ways to connect to the Internet, a little about email and web browsing, and plenty of Q&A time.

Comments we received after the class included:

I learned more in these past couple days than in the past ten years of using a computer.

Everything you taught us seemed so simple and basic, yet I didn’t know any of it!  I was doing everything the hard way.

I feel so empowered now!  I can understand what my kids are saying when they talk about computers.

Making money is certainly necessary, but it’s the comments like those that make us feel so good about our work.

If you’re interested in taking this Computer Boot Camp class, we are offering it one more time this season.  That is at the Gypsy Journal Rally in Celina, Ohio on September 23 and 24.  Click here to register for the Gypsy Journal Computer Boot Camp.

If you’d like to bring us to your RV park or community to give this class to your group, please contact us.  If you’re in Florida, and you want the class this winter – we’ll be there.

Geeks on Tour Newsletter: Jan/Feb 2011

Geeks on Tour
Florida Sunset at John Prince ParkAs the only state in the country without snow in January, we were quite pleased to spend the month in Florida! For the last 2 weeks of January and the first week of February, we were booked with several appearances in North Florida.  There was simply no time for newsletter writing – thus this special Jan/Feb issue.
Our next ‘gig’ will be the Family Motor Coach Ass’n International Convention in Perry, GA March 14-17.  In addition to our normal seminars on Picasa, Blogger, Streets & Trips etc., we will also be offering our hands-on Boot Camp and a new seminar on Facebook.

Bring the Geeks to your Park!

We so enjoyed all three of our gigs at RV parks!  We hope that more RV parks ask us to come.  We can present demonstration seminars, free-form Q&A sessions, or even hands-on classes.  Although we do need to make money at these events, we are usually able to work out something creative that makes everybody happy.  Contact Us.

imageimage Follow us on Facebook!


Other Articles this past month
So you don’t miss out on anything, here’s a list of other articles we wrote this past month.

Do you know your Computer Basics?

icon-bak2sklSince our age group never had computers in school, we tend to be self-taught.  That means, when we want to accomplish something on the computer, we figure out how to get it done.  You can actually be quite successful with computers that way.  We know many people that just keep clicking until they see their desired result!  But, they haven’t a clue how they did it, or how to fix it if something goes wrong!

As Geeks on Tour, we focus primarily on teaching free and/or inexpensive software for planning, preserving, and sharing your travels.  Some people who learn from us are new to computers, and some are geekier than us!  We find that people who know their basics are much more successful at the topics we teach than those who aren’t.

What do we mean by The Basics?

We’ve actually given quite a bit of thought to this, and we’ve come up with a list of items we think are ‘Essential’ to being successful with (windows) computers.  We’ve created a checklist that you can review.  Download the checklist and print it out.  For each item on the checklist:

  • If you don’t know what it means, don’t check it
  • If you know what it means, but would need help doing it, don’t check it.
  • If you know what it means, and you’re confident you can do it, then check it.

How many items did you check?

  • 1-20: Although you may know how to accomplish the one or two things that you use the computer for, you probably can’t venture outside of those things without feeling lost.
  • 21-30: You need to brush up on some basics.  You are probably often frustrated with your computer and need to ask for help.  Learning more about using your computer, and getting help by using your computer will make life much more pleasant!
  • 31-45: You are usually comfortable with your computer, but you don’t easily learn new things for fear of being out of your comfort zone.  This is where the majority of computer users fall.
  • >45: You are probably the one that others go to for help!  But you know there is still a lot more to learn and you’re ready, willing, and able to jump in and give it a go!

How do you Learn?

The number one ingredient to learning computer basics is TIME.  There is simply no substitute for spending time on your computer to get comfortable with how it works.  In order to spend quality imagetime, you need to have something that interests you.  We find that, once people discover something on the computer that excites them, there’s no end to their ability to spend time on it!  That may be a game, it may be digital photos or writing a blog, it may be genealogy.  Think about something you have a passion for, and ask around to see how the computer can help.  If you don’t have something you want to accomplish on the computer, then learning about using a computer will just be a chore.  The key is to make it fun.

After finding something you want to do on the computer, make sure to allocate time for learning basics.  Go thru the checklist again and pick out some items where you need work.  We recommend buying our Laptop Boot Camp Book and DVD.  It’s only $25 (plus shipping.)  It includes a 44 page workbook plus a DVD of Tutorial videos.  Watch a free sample video on Windows 7 & Vista: Navigating with the Addess Bar ‘Breadcrumbs’

Putting your Laptop Computer to Sleep

Do you know how to put your computer to sleep?  No, it’s not by reading the congressional budget aloud to it!  Most laptop computers will go to sleep when you press the on/off button once lightly.  But, every computer is different and you should explore a bit and be sure you know the procedure for your computer.  This topic is one of the first covered in our Boot Camp class.  The screenshots and specific instructions below are for Windows 7.

What exactly *is* sleep mode?  Straight from Microsoft’s website:

Sleep is a power-saving state that allows a computer to quickly resume full-power operation (typically within several seconds) when you want to start working again. Putting your computer into the sleep state is like pausing a DVD player—the computer immediately stops what it’s doing and is ready to start again when you want to resume working.

Some people don’t use the sleep setting at all.  They always shut down their computers.  Those people need to wait quite a while for their computers to boot up once they turn them back on again!  If, instead of Shut Down, you used Sleep mode, then when you turn it back on it comes right back to where you left off, and it does it very quickly.

You can always use the menu to put your computer to sleep: Click the Start button Picture of the Start button , and then click the arrow next to the Shut down button.

Picture of the Shut down button with menu expanded

Your computer monitor will go blank.  It will appear to be off, but every computer has some kind of indicator that it is asleep.  When it’s asleep, you should see some light that blinks, or pulses like  the machine is breathing to indicate that it’s not off. What does yours do?

To wake it up, some computers use any key, some use an arrow key, some require you to press the On button once, lightly. How do you wake yours up?

Closing the Lid

Most people like their laptops to go to sleep when they close the lid, but there are other choices as well. Check yours:


Click the Start button, type power (just type … your cursor will be blinking in the search box) , then click on Power Options. On menu at left, click “Choose what closing the Lid Does’ – review all options.

Also notice that you can choose what the power button does. If yours is set to put the computer to sleep, try it. Pressing the power button once should put the computer to sleep, pressing it again will wake it up.

So now, when you’re ready to call it a night and go to bed, you don’t need to shut your computer down.  You don’t even need to click the Sleep command.  Just close the lid!  When you open it next morning it will spring to action!  And, you can set all your updates and scans to happen in the middle of the night.

Free Seminar Handouts on Picasa, Blogger, Google Earth, Streets & Trips and Internet Connections

At RV parks and rallies all over the country, we present educational seminars on how travelers can use computers to Plan, Preserve and Share their travels.  We pride ourselves on providing handouts that are worth keeping for reference and learning.  Each handout is at least 4 pages and is crammed full of information and step-by-step instructions.  We’ve just updated our handouts and want to give you, our newsletter subscribers, a heads-up.  You can download any or all of these handouts, no strings attached.  They are in .pdf format.

  1. Every RVer Needs a Blog
  2. Using Google Earth
  3. Managing Digital Photos with Picasa
  4. High Speed Internet on the Road
  5. Trip Planning and Navigation with Streets & Trips, Garmin Nuvi, Droid

Discuss this in our forum.

imageWe’ve added a topic to our Forums specifically for this newsletter.  If you’re a Geeks on Tour paid member, please visit and leave your comments.  Even non-members can view the forum to see what’s going on.


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