Archive for the ‘Misc.’ Category

Know your Computer?

February 2, 2011

Think you’ve heard of all the ways that hackers try to get at your info? Well the folks over at LifeHacker have an interesting article today on attacks you’ve never hear of. Check it out, it’s an interesting read.

A Picture is Worth….

November 4, 2010

I like taking pictures. Not as many as some people I’m sure and I’m not by any means a “pro” at it either. I am, however, an avid Facebooker. I like to share my photos either on FB itself or via Flickr.

Now MacWorld had a great article today about knowing and protecting your photo rights. Who wants their great vacation trip photo on some smucky companies advertising campaign? It’s a great read that I recommend for anyone who shares photos or video online.

You can check it out here.

Along the same lines, being careful about how much information you share with your photos can be important too. Many cameras, especially cell phone cameras, can tag your location. Do you really want people to know your address along with that great photo you just took of your brand new Picasso painting?

How Are Your Phishing Skills?

May 3, 2010

phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. “Definition: Wikipedia.org”

Phishing is a major problem now a days. In my email trainings I stress how important it is to be a savvy internet user and various best practices on how to avoid becoming a victim of phishing and spammers. So how good are you at detecting phishing emails? Want to find out? The folks over at SonicWALL have created a Phishing IQ test. You can try it out on their site.

And if it makes you feel better about your score, I got a 90%. Yep that’s right, I missed one. But in my defense the one I got wrong was legitimate but I marked it as phishing. Better safe than sorry I always say!


Microsoft Office & Help

April 29, 2010

OK so for the most part I *love* Office 2007. I find it to be so much more user friendly now that I’ve gotten over the initial hump that was the new interface. But one of the things I did not (and do not) like is the Help button. I mean really, why make it this tiny tiny little question mark button in the upper right of the program?

That said, one of the things that I think Microsoft (for once) did a good job of was the flash tool they created for users of the previous versions. It brought up the old 2003 menu & toolbars, you clicked on the command you were looking for, and then it would show you the new Ribbon and where that command was. They just keep making that tool better! First is was only available on their website, then they created a down loadable version and now…wait for it…. an integrated version!

This is where we go back to the Help button. Thanks to the upcoming release of Office 2010, Microsoft has created an “add in” for the Ribbon that will add a new tab for Help. It will let you search help, bring up the flash tool with the old 2003 interface, and a lot more. So much better than that tiny button. It works with Office 2007 (Word, PowerPoint and Excel).

You can find it here.

Need Fonts?

April 26, 2010

So today I was reminded of a site that I like a lot but haven’t really needed lately. MyFonts.com is a great place to buy fonts, look at fonts or even find out what a font is (they have a cool search feature). They recently released a list of their top 10 fonts of 2009, based on sales (unfortunately I couldn’t find that list or I would link to it).

Still it’s a great place to find some really cool fonts! BE WARNED! It can be overwhelming. There are, after all, thousands of fonts out in the world. And my one recommendation, when buying fonts, is to always try to get the OpenType version is possible.

Do You Change Your Passwords?

April 14, 2010

I don’t know about you but my IT department makes me change my computer password on the regular basis. And generally it’s been a standard practice to do so in many organizations. Computer experts for years have been recommending it also. It’s a security thing, right?

Well not so fast. Turns out that in a study by Microsoft, they found that changing your password regularly didn’t make any difference in thwarting cyberattacks.

Huh? you might ask. Well think about it. If someone hacks your “account” they’re not going to sit on it, waiting for you to change your password. They’ll use it immediately, probably changing your password first so you can’t access your account. And it looks like changing your password on a regular basis may have a detrimental effect in that more people will write down their passwords if they have to change them frequently. Makes sense, it can be harder to remember them if you’re constantly changing them.

I’ll be honest, I don’t change mine unless I have too. I have gotten a little smarter about it over the last couple of years.

  1. I steer away from easy to guess passwords, using a combination of letters, symbols and numbers that don’t mean anything
  2. Use a program to keep track of my passwords instead of writing them down. Yes this means that I used to do that, I had a printed sheet right next to my computer with all my login’s & passwords.

#2 has been fantastic! I have a Mac at home and an iPhone. So I use 1Password, it can keep track of all my information but requires that I type in a Master password before it’ll give me that information. The desktop version integrates with my browser, so it will automatically put my login and password into a site I’m logging into. After I put in my Master password that is. Nice, huh?

I highly recommend looking into a similar program for your use if you don’t already have one.

For more information on the study and it’s results, check out the article on Yahoo! News http://news.yahoo.com/s/ytech_wguy/20100413/tc_ytech_wguy/ytech_wguy_tc1590

Appropriate Use of Graphics

March 23, 2010

I see this all the time:

Questions from friends, former & current students, random strangers (well ok maybe not the last one); “I’m creating this *printed piece of choice* and it looks ok on the screen but it *prints horrible, came from the printer horrible, etc*.”

What’s the deal? Let’s talk about the appropriate use of graphics here. I know it’s confusing, I know it’s not intuitive; don’t worry, I’ll hold your hand.

There are a lot of different types of graphics out in the world. Most people just don’t pay attention to that. It’s either a photo, a graphic, a logo, whatever. But the type of graphic it is makes a huge difference!

So let me break it down in simple terms. If you want more information, check out this post over at the Digital Photography School website.

When it comes to types of graphic files it all comes down to 2 things – Resolution and File Type (or extension). The first is the most important but the second can tell you something about the first is. Confused yet?

Resolution means, in the simplest of terms, how good the quality of your graphic is. You want high resolution for printing and lower resolution for “on screen” viewing (I’ll explain this later).

How do we measure resolution? There are 2 ways that are interconnected, very similar, but completely different. For the sake of simplicity we’re consider them the same thing (yes yes you professionals, I hear you screaming at your monitors. Now pipe down, this post is for beginners and it’s a start. You can further their education later).

Where was I? Oh yeah, staring at your screen. That screen shows all those wonderful images, text, whatever; through tiny blocks of color called pixels. So resolution is measured by the number of pixels that can be crammed into an inch. Thus we get the measurement PPI (pixels per inch) or DPI (dots per inch).

*pause* Ok I know I was trying to make it simple but I can already hear some of your scratching your heads in confusion. “Wait, I thought he was talking about pixels? What’s with the dots all of a sudden?” While your screen uses those squares, most printers use dots to print. There’s a correlation between the 2. OK?

So resolution is measured as either DPI or PPI. The more you have the better the quality. This is where the file format comes in (remember, the extension part I mentioned above). Certain file types limit the resolution of the file itself. For example the typical resolution of a .GIF file is 72 ppi/dpi. That’s because screens can only display 72 pixels per inch. You can have more pixels in your graphic but it doesn’t do anything for your graphic except to add to the file size. Which will then annoy those who are looking at that graphic as it cause their computer to take longer to load the file.

So you’re probably asking yourself “what does this have to do the the appropriate use of graphics?”

Good question. They type of file you use and the resolution of that file are important to your use of the file. Resolution is tied heavily to use. Low resolution graphics are ok for onscreen viewing but not necessarily for printing out. High resolution graphics are great for printing but are overkill for onscreen viewing (they just take longer to load and do nothing to the view).

So picking the right file type can be a challenge.  In my next post I’ll tackle files types and their uses.

Do You Use Salesforce?

February 19, 2010

Salesforce has been picking up a lot of steam (and customers) in the last year or so. I know it’s incredibly popular in the nonprofit world since they give the Enterprise edition to nonprofits for free (up to 10 licenses). It sounds like they just made it better.

Currently I’m working a lot with SharePoint, Microsoft’s collaboration & file sharing tool. It can do some amazing things but it definitely has some limitations. And it’s not known to be “fun” to use. The learning curve can be steep.  So what does this have to do with Salesforce? It looks like they’re taking aim at SharePoint with their new collaboration too, Chatter. And it sounds like it’s much more user friendly.

You can check out their demo video on YouTube here.

Is Your File Corrupt

February 4, 2010

I was helping a co-worker the other day with a Word document. She was experiencing all sorts of problems. It would look just fine on the screen but when she went to print it, all of the text on one line would be condensed into a tiny little square. This would happen throughout the document in random places. It would also do it if she converted it to a PDF.

Sounded like corruption to me. Unfortunately there is no “sure” way to test for this. You have to start over. And by that I really do mean START OVER. Do not copy one little character from that file into a new file or you could copy the corruption. Yuck!

So how does this happen and what can you do to minimize your risk? Files can become corrupt for a variety of reasons but one of the most common is because of how we do our work. Here’s what I mean:

I need to create a letter. I already have a old letter document that I want to use ‘most’ of the text from.

  • So I open it
  • go Save As
  • give it a new name
  • delete a bunch of text that I don’t need
  • type in new text that I want to replace the old text with
  • done

One the surface this doesn’t seem so bad. It’s a real time saver and I don’t have to re-type a bunch on information that I already have in an older document. Right?

Here’s the problem. The more times you go through the steps above, the move likely that your end document will start to get sloppy. What I mean by this is that “pieces” of computer code can get left behind when you delete and replace existing text with new text. That can cause corruption.

How many times has that document been copied? Your letter may be a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy …

That’s a lot of copies!

The better way is to create your base document and save it as a template. This format minimizes your risk of corruption as long as you use the template each time, not a previously saved copy of the document.

By using a template, you’re starting out with a relatively clean copy; reducing the risk of corruption. This applies to ALL file formats.

Hello world!

January 25, 2010

I’m baaaccckk! Well for some of you anyway. Once upon a time I was the Training Manager at NPower Seattle, a great nonprofit that helps other nonprofits with technology. Then I was lured away by an exciting opportunity that was sure to challenge me with our Judicial system (which it has).

But I miss the opportunity to share with the world all the things I’m learning, stumbling upon, or just plain know about technology that can make working with applications/software/programs/justplainoltechnology easier.

So I finally got off my duff and started this blog. You can still find my old posts over on my original blog at NPower or the updated NPower Seattle blog.

In the meantime, stay tuned here for all kinds of posts that I hope will make your work easier.

Jon