Thursday, September 24, 2009

Simply Back Up! - the newest, secure method for backing up your data

As we find ourselves becoming more and more digital so do the things we cherish and love, such as our family photos. My daughter was born in October 2000. At that time digital camera were less popular having only reached the masses in 1998. Since her day of birth her photos are digital. Every footstep, every new accomplishment and every precious moment is held hostage at the mercy of the hard drive.

I have quite a few photos and now with most cameras including a video feature of course I have hours of video as well. You can only imagine that over the past almost 9 years and counting I have acquired a bit of data, too much to store on my daily use hard drive. Some years ago I discovered the external drive and it has been a wonderful tool but very expensive. I own one Terra Byte drive, that is equal to 1000 GB - your average home computer now has a 160 GB hard drive - so 1000 GB or 1 TB is a lot of storage. It's convenient and I can easily share my date across computers by plugging the USB cable into the computer.

You would now think that all of my photos are safe, they are on that drive so they must be safe right? Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me share with you a couple of 'stupid mistakes' I have made over the years and learn from these won't you?

I took all of my photos and placed them on my external drive. I (thankfully) left the originals on the computer so I could continue to view them. That drive was used on another computer, which is very common for me to swap the drive between computers (PCs). I left the drive plugged in and came back after about one hour to find the drive had sat and ran and ran without working properly to the point it burned itself up! Why? What could I have done differently? This was a normal daily task for this drive - nothing out of the norm. Now where are my 'backed up' pics? No longer backed up! That drive is dead and it's going to cost big bucks to have a clean room facility pull it apart to retrieve your data - can you afford that?

So, I thought I had learned a lesson there. To be truly backed up one must have 2 back up drives! Another lesson; it's one thing to have two drives, it's another to use them correctly. With your photos and files you are going to want to back both up at the same time so that they contain the same data. When you update one be sure to do so for the other because the one time you slip up is when the equipment will fail!

Here's another lesson. Never extend the electrical cord of the external hard drive while the drive is teetering on the very edge of your desk and your very excited 6 year old suddenly thinks she heard the Easter Bunny in the other room and must take off to investigate! This makes for a really bad situation. Because I made this mistake my daughters entire 2007 years worth of photos are now gone forever. Wait let me sadly say that again I MADE A MISTAKE AND NOW MY 2007 PHOTOS ARE GONE FOREVER - now lucky for me I have many digital relatives that were kind enough to save the photos I had sent through out the year and they returned copies to me. But that wasn't everything and that's disturbing.

So the moral of the story is ... things happen to your external drives. Cd's and DVD's are not the right way to preserve something. An external back up is great for here at your house but for long term security - you need an off site back up. I have solved this problem.

Simply Back UP! Is a new service of Simply Seniors Computer Tutor. This service is available to anyone in any location as the software is downloaded to your computer and installed. It runs quietly in the background up dating your back up daily. This service includes full technical support and assistance if a restoration is needed. Simply Seniors Computer Tutor will be here for you!

I will be debuting the software and the service on my web site next week. Visit

Please feel free to contact Simply Seniors Computer Tutor for more information on this Simple Service!

Stacey Kile
Owner - Simply Seniors Computer Tutors

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What is a 'driver'? Why do I need them? Where can I find them?

Today we're going to talk about 'drivers' - this issue comes up as I am reloading the OS (operating system - usually Windows XP or Vista) on a computer. First, to understand the 'why, and how' we need to understand the 'What' - this section is brought to us by Mircosoft.

A driver is software that allows your computer to communicate with hardware or devices. Without drivers, the hardware you connect to your computer—for example, a video card or a webcam—will not work properly.

In most cases, drivers come with Windows or can be found by going to Windows Update in Control Panel and checking for updates. If Windows doesn't have the driver you need, you can find it on the disc that came with the hardware or device you want to use, or on the manufacturer's website.
If you own an HP product, (this includes all Compaq products as well) computer or printer (hardware) or otherwise you will want to go to their web site and to the section called downloads and documents - this will ask for the make and model of the hardware and after entering it you will be given a chance to select the OS. Then download and run the software.
This works for other hardware like your Linksys Router, or other networking equipment.
These are some of the most common manufactures sites for driver downloads. It is very important to be sure the driver you are downloading is the correct one for your hardware item or the item will not work properly and you will receive error messages.
Now the thing you need to watch is downloading viruses while on your search. I have given you the links to the above web sites because it is very easy to get yourself mixed up and download something from a site that is a virus.
I did a little research to see if anyone else has written about the issues with searching for drivers and downloading malware - but no one has. So I feel it is important to note that it is VERY EASY to get yourself in the wrong place very quickly when searching for drivers and 'free downloads' So always make sure the web site you are heading to starts (most of the time) with the manufactures name - I did an article on checking the correct HTML address while surfing and how easy it is to make a little mistake that can be costly. just refer back a few articles to read it.
I hope you find these links helpful!
Happy Computing! Please feel free to leave a comment on the blog site to let me know you are reading these!
Simply Seniors Computer Tutor - 321-431-3866 is available to help with your computer issues. Keep checking our web site as we're looking forward to big exciting changes!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

SSCT - Ink Cartridges for a CURE!

I have become involved with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and their Relay for Life events. My brother-in-law and other family members have been directly affected by this illness not to mention many, many of my very close clients at Simply Seniors Computer Tutor (SSCT). This is a devastating illness that touches so many including the caregivers and other family members. I currently donate my time and talents to this organization as needed and wanted to do something more. With this - this idea came to life:

I am starting "Ink Cartridges for a Cure" it's really quite simple. You can donate your used printer ink cartridges to Simply Seniors Computer Tutor and we will turn each one into $3.00 which will be donated to the ACS for the Relay for Life events. Those ink cartridges will not only become money to be donated ACS they will also become recycled materials. These ink cartridges will not stuff our landfills with more electronic debris.

If you are local to Brevard County I am willing to come by your location to pick these cartridges up; however, I will plan those trips when I already have other clients in the area - to save resources (gas). You are encouraged to email: or call 321-431-3866 and leave a message - to schedule pick-up of your donated cartridges.

If you would like to help me with this GREAT idea I had - :-) and help the American Cancer Society find a CURE - then you can mail your cartridges to:

Simply Seniors Computer Tutor

430 Count Street

Melbourne, FL 32901

You can donated just about any style ink cartridges, including toner cartridges and drums. You may also include donations of new ink that is unneeded.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this and how we can make this idea work. Please feel free to share this information with your friends and family. You may want to cut and paste this post to share with them.

I have set a goal of $1000 - as I would like to make a donation in that amount. That's just 333 ink cartridges! Figure each printer uses at least 2 -That's only 166 different people I need to touch with this message (even less if you happen to have one of those 5 cartridge holding printers :-) I really think we can meet our goals. Likewise, I will keep you updated on the details and progress as we have a couple of months to collect the cartridges before the donations are due at the Relay for Life event.

To learn more about the Relay for Life event:

Happy Computing!

Stacey Kile

Owner - Simply Seniors Computer Tutor "The Computer service you refer Mom to!" (Keep checking our web site a new look is coming soon! Details to come)


Friday, September 11, 2009

Be AWARE of the FAKE Anti Virus & Anti Malware

This comes up all this time and here it is again this evening. I was downloading some of the tools I often use for cleaning and scanning a computer when I ran across a FAKE anti virus. I use a product named Smith Fraud Fix - it's some strange foreign product that really seems to get the job done. While looking for it I ran into: LOOK AT THE NAME to the unsuspecting person they may download this right away - sounds close enough right? Then you'll find yourself in a world of computer trouble.

The real web site address is: as you see VERY different - but a google search gave me the name that most closely matched and since this FAKE virus company bought the website address with the closest name match - they came in on top of the real web site. They even pay to be in google ad words, where they show at the top of the google search. WHY!?!

Here is another GREAT virus web site. While downloading OPEN OFFICE at I accidentally typed 3 FFF's and came to this web site: LOOK AT THE NAME again very close to the real web site with just a little difference. And this one contains images that look much like what you see on the real web site BUT you are directed to PAY (not on the real site - it's free there). Not only can you get stuck giving your credit card to who knows - you also will have a lovely little virus to show for your simple mistake.

While trying to go to the FREE web site for AVG anti virus I typed in the following URL into the address bar: LOOK AT THE NAME - this brought me to a web site trying to get me to sign up for more free things - guess what else was learking in the background, a pop up window that told me I was infected and I should download their product to fix my infection!

The correct web site for FREE AVG anti virus is see the difference in the address - very subtle but it means the difference between the real thing and being tricked into a dirty virus on your computer.

I hope this was interesting - please pay close attention while typing URLS - you never know where you'll end up!

Phone company wireless cards VS. home internet connection

Today's blog is going to be quick but interesting. Today a client for Simply Seniors Computer Tutor purchased a new laptop and was wondering which internet service provider she should choose. The client asked about the wireless cards that our cell phone carriers are offering and asked "how does that work" - Since I have only had a limited experience with these I decided to go a little research. Here is what I discovered.

I contacted my own cell carrier Att and asked about the AT&T USBConnect Quicksilver - a device that connects via USB to my laptop computer. The idea is that I plug in this device and now I can pick up the internet anywhere! Sounds really good, (especially to me as I am an avid camper). The cell company adds it as a device kind of like adding a second phone or line to my contract*. The monthly price for this device was $60 (plus an arm's long list of taxes and sir charges).

I discovered something VERY IMPORTANT - the $60 is only for a set amount of data transferring 5GB to be excact and he read it to me as 5000Mb (to make it sounds like a lot). Everything over that price was .48 cent per KILOBYTE!!! Why is this so alarming to me?

Knowing this is very helpful as well...
(1000 KB Kilobyte = 1mega byte + 1000 = 1GB gigabyte and 1000GB = 1 TB Terabyte).

I often download software from web sites. I download music, videos and other files that have bulk to them. For example, I just looked at a random song (mp3 file) and it was 4.90 MB
Then there's the 54MB software game I download (about 10 different ones so that's 54MB*10=540MB = almost 1GB and that is in just one session of me sitting down at my computer, I can transfer almost 1 GB of information very easily in just a few hours of sitting at my computer. Att Connect Card is going to allow me to download 5GB per month - you can see where that can become a problem for me very quickly and where I could ring up and Internet usage bill in the hundreds in a month...

So the bottom line on this one - if you have to travel - yes a great idea *but remember those contracts* these companies require. This isn't for the advanced user or gamer - it would cost too much! Sounds really great and i am all for being connected everywhere but I think the pricing is going to have to change before I will jump on the wagon.

I hope you've learned something today and if you know more about the topic please enlighten me as the ATT sales rep could not really tell me much. He INSISTED on sending me one (for all I know one is on the way) though I told him the item wouldn't work with my data usage.

Happy Computing!

Simply Seniors Computer Tutor

"The computer service you refer your own mother to!"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Google Documents - the next best thing!

What is Google Documents? Create documents, spreadsheets and presentations online!
Google Docs is a FREE (don't hear that word much anymore!), Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and form application offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. Google Docs combines the features of two services, Writely and Spreadsheets, which were merged into a single product on October 10, 2006. A third product for presentations, incorporating technology designed by Tonic Systems, was released on September 17, 2007.

According to Google, Google Documents is much like a web based (meaning the software lives on the Internet NOT on your PC) version of Microsoft Office software. The Google software allows you to create basic documents from scratch or start from a template. You can easily do all the basics, including making bulleted lists, sorting by columns, adding tables, images, comments, formulas, changing fonts and more. And again the best part is that "it's free" (and the average copy of Microsoft Office 2007 currently costs about $159).

So how does it work? Upload your existing files. Things you have already created using Microsoft Office can be opened and added to and saved as a google document on your Google account. Google Docs accepts most popular file formats, including DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, PPT, etc. So go ahead and upload your existing files.

Familiar desktop feel makes editing a breeze. In other words when you use the software the formatting tools are located in the same location, the saving tools are also located in the same location - this just makes it easier to learn and use. The over all interface with the software again, looks and feels just like Mircosoft Office 2003 software. (The Mircosoft Office 2007 software had a major face lift and the small companies like Open Office and Google documents have chosen to stick with the 15 year old style of the Mircosoft Office 2003 interface.
Share and collaborate in real time (what does this mean to me?) Recently, a client explained to me that he and another man who lived thousands of miles away were working on a book together. They were finding it very hard to keep up with all of the changes and had a major catastrophe when the 'currently editied' version of the book's file was lost. I suggested Google Documents, wherein both parties could work on the same document and the changes would take effect in real time. According to the google docs web site you can:
Choose who can access your documents.Just enter the email addresses of the people with whom you want to share a given document and send them an invitation.

Share instantly.Anyone you've invited to either edit or view your document, spreadsheet or presentation can access it as soon as they sign in.

Edit and present with others in real time.Multiple people can view and make changes at the same time. There's an on-screen chat window for spreadsheets, and document revisions show you exactly who changed what, and when. Viewing a presentation together is a breeze, as anyone joined in a presentation can automatically follow along with the presenter.
You can safely organize and store your documents with Google Documents (as I have mentioned) Edit and access from anywhere.There's nothing to download; you access your documents, spreadsheets and presentations from any computer with an Internet connection and a standard browser. And it's free.

Safely store your work.Online storage and auto-save mean you needn't fear local hard drive failures or power outages.

Easily save and export copies.You can save your documents and spreadsheets to your own computer in DOC, XLS, CSV, ODS, ODT, PDF, RTF and HTML formats.
Organize your documents. Easily find your documents by organizing them into folders. Drag and drop your documents into as many folders as you want.

Other highlights of using Google Documents include:

Publish your work as a web page.You can publish your documents online with one click, as normal-looking web pages, without having to learn anything new.

Control who can see your pages.You can publish to the entire world, just a few people or no one -- it's up to you. (You can also un-publish at any time.)

Post your documents to your blog.Once you've created a document, you can post it to your blog.
Publish within your company or group.With Google Apps, it's even easier to share important documents, spreadsheets and presentations within your company or group.
So WHO can benefit from using google documents?

If you do not have your own PC and you are using someone else's PC you may want to use Google Documents so that you can save your work and return to it at another computer at a later time. This makes google documents perfect for the student who may not have their own computer or may have to work on multiple PCs.

I work with senior citizens - many use the local library as their computer. This is another perfect example of someone who would find google documents (GD) useful.
As much as I would like to include the average business person in this I am not sure it is right as many large corperations do not want their information 'shared' as is possible with GD. However, the product again, is useful to any one who does not have their own copy of Microsoft Office or their own computer.
So now that you have decided that google documents is the right application (software tool) for your needs "How do I sign up for google documents?"
You will need to start with a google account:

This account will give you access to many other web sites as well (like the blogging web site that I am using to write this blog) it will also give you a new 'gmail' account (which can be set to send all mail to your Outlook box) and then of course you'll also have access to google documents. There will not be any software to download (maybe an active X ad on or something but nothing major). You can be creating in google documents within about 5 minutes - it's that simple.

I hope that you found this information helpful today! Please visit us on the web at or call 321-431-3866 if you have any computer needs! Simply Seniors Computer Tutor is here to help. We are the computer tech's you'd refer your own mother to! Stacey Kile is the owner of Simply Seniors Computer Tutor located in Melbourne Florida. SSCT is the owner of the content for this blog.
Thanks again for reading and please tell your friends!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

So How Does My Computer Work?

Simply Seniors Computer Tutor here.

You know when you sit back and think about it our computers are REALLY amazing! I was thinking about just how amazing they are and thought I would share a Blog on "How a computer works".

This information is not overly 'techie' but it does include a minimum amount of geek speak. So with that I will attempt to explain in easy to understand terms whenever possible.

The following information is brought to us by:

The brain of the computer is called the Central Processing Unit (CPU). It is located inside the main box on a printed electric circuit called a Motherboard; it is a 'micro-chip', a piece of ceramic-like material that has billions of microscopic electrical connections etched onto it. Any form of information (words, pictures, sounds, numbers) can be converted to electric signals that are 'input' to the chip. The electric connections on the chip allow these signals to be compared to one another and combined with one another according to a 'program' that 'processes' or manipulates the information into a new form, which becomes the 'output' electric signal from the chip. Everything else in a computer is designed to take human information and convert it to the input electric signals for the chip, or to take the chip's output signals and convert them back to a form that humans can recognize. These other components are called 'peripherals', or just input and output devices.

What you see when you look at a typical computer workstation is: OR (The parts of the computer)

  • a Monitor -- looks like and basically is a TV screen and controls (today these are very streamlined, in the past they were very large and heavy like TVs and took up a lot of desk space).
  • a Keyboard -- like a typewriter but with many useful extra keys
  • a Mouse -- a palm-size gadget that rolls on a ball and has buttons on it
  • a Printer -- inkjet or laser-xerox miniature printing machine a microphone and speakers --(of course not every computer has a printer but it's just as common as having speakers so I have included it here)
  • a pair of stereo Speakers (also sometimes a Microphone to speak into)
  • a miniature TV camera -- (possibly arched to your computer or bought as an extra, many new laptops come with this 'web cam' built into the LCD screen.
    the BOX -- (also called your tower, or to most 'the actual computer' ) contains the CPU microchip and all the really important components.
*Want to explorer a computer? contact our tutors... you just might learn something!

So then, what are the 'important' tiny little pieces inside the tower?

  • On the Front of the box:
  • On/Off switch (sometimes on the side)
  • Reset button -- only on some machines
  • Floppy-disk Drive -- you put in a square disk that contains information
  • CD-ROM drive -- you put in a digital CD platter that contains a lot of information
  • USB ports
  • Card reading ports (on some new models)
  • Other ports (places to plug stuff into) are located on laptops - standard to laptops but different from desktops.
  • On/off light, Hard Disk Operating light, miscellaneous lights and buttons

Inside the Box.

What you see on the front is just the opening slot of the actual drives. A 'drive' is a storage device. In addition to the CPU chip and the input and output devices, computers need places to store information either temporarily or more permanently (for reuse later), the short-term storage is called RAM (random-access memory) and is expensive. For longterm storage various kinds of disks are used; like CDs. The drives read the information off these storage media and pass it on to the CPU; some drives can also write new information onto the disk or CD or other media.

  • The CPU and RAM memory chips on the 'motherboard'
  • The HARD DRIVE -- the main longterm storage system for programs and info
  • The Disk and CD/DVD-ROM drives -- the main part of them is inside the box
  • The specialized 'Boards' -- these run the input and output devices
  • The Modem -- one of the boards; connects to the telephone line
  • Network Card (aka Ethernet Card) -- another board, connects to the LAN (see below)
  • Video Card -- connects to the monitor and mother board
  • An electic power supply, battery, and a lot of connecting cables called ribbon cables, SATA and more...

Every input device and output device is connected first to a specialized Board that has its own microchip to convert signals and pass them on to the CPU (on the main or Mother Board).
On the back of the Box. This is where all the input/output peripherals are connected to the Box, and the Box is connected to the electric outlet, the telephone system (for a modem), and the local area computer network (LAN) cable system. There are a lot of confusing cables back here. Sometimes they come lose. The specialized Boards (cards) stick out the back slightly, just like the drives stick out the front slightly. The Boards have connector sockets called Ports where the keyboard, mouse, printer, monitor, etc. are supposed to be plugged in.

The Operating System

The operating system is the master program that runs the computer behind the scenes while you work. It translates your instructions into actions by the machine. It also heads off conflicts between one part of the machine and another, making them all take turns. The most common operating systems are Windows, MacOS, and Unix. DOS is an older system that is now a small part of Windows.

So, what does happen when you hit the power button on your computer? The power supply gives power to the motherboard. The software connected to the processing chip, the BIOS goes through the task of checking all of the hardware components. If new hardware has been added since the last time you ran the computer, it can pick on that also and install the right type of drivers for the component. The BIOS* then starts loading all of the necessary components, such as the video card, sound card, keyboard, mouse and RAM before it initializes the operating system. It allows the operating system to take over once your computer passes the necessary amount of hardware and software checks.

The operating system has it own sets of tests and things to load before you are reading to start playing on the computer. It manages the processor, memory, devices, storage and other applications. Whenever you open another instance of software, such as Word or Internet Explorer, it is the operating system that checks for the program and loads it from memory.
From there your operating system provides your other software programs and you are able to progress as you normally would. Remember, while you are typing that email or shopping online, there are a lot of components inside the computer making it possible. Now I wanted more information on the BIOS and I have researched that for
you so you can understand what it is as it is spoke about in the tech world but not ever explained to the average computer user.

How BIOS Works: From

One of the most common uses of Flash memory is for the basic input/output system of your computer, commonly known as the BIOS (pronounced "bye-ose"). On virtually every computer available, the BIOS makes sure all the other chips, hard drives, ports and CPU function together.

Every desktop and laptop computer in common use today contains a microprocessor as its central processing unit. The microprocessor is the hardware component. To get its work done, the microprocessor executes a set of instructions known as software. You are probably very familiar with two different types of software:

The operating system - The operating system provides a set of services for the applications running on your computer, and it also provides the fundamental user interface for your computer. Windows 98 and Linux are examples of operating systems.

The applications - Applications are pieces of software that are programmed to perform specific tasks. On your computer right now you probably have a browser application, a word processing application, an e-mail application and so on. You can also buy new applications and install them.

­It turns out that the BIOS is the third type of software your computer needs to operate successfully.

I learned that I can tell you alot more about the BIOS but it really isn't necessary. Knowing that it is an important piece of software that acts like the glue of the computer making all of the parts work as one.

I hope you find all of this information as geekishly fun as I do! Thanks for reading the blog - I am always looking for topics so feel free to comment!

Simply Seniors Computer Tutor of Melbourne FL is proud to be the computer tutor you refer your own mother to time and time again!

Call today to schedule an appointment with our tutors! 321-431-3866