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Friday, October 23, 2015

My Mailbox is Full - Now What?

Most email messages don't take up lots of space. What does take a lot of space is images which can be in advertisements or as attachments in messages from friends and family. 

One first step would be to create folders for the email that you want to keep and to delete the ones you do not want to keep. When you delete mail it goes into the TRASH folder of your email. Mine is set to empty automatically every 30 days, so that keeps space from filling up. 

Since every email program is set up a little differently here are a few tips to help you set up folders.

  • Look for the words "Manage Folders" 
  • In Gmail folders are called Labels and in order to make a new one you have to open an email message first. At the top of the screen next to the word "more" is a picture of a Label.
  •  When you click that it gives you an option of putting the message in a label already created or creating a new one. When you create a new one it shows up on the left side of the email page.
  • To check how often your trash empties or if it empties automatically look for a GEAR and click on it. Somewhere in the list that comes up you will see "settings"
  • Click on Settings and look for the trash settings. Change them to what you want them to be.
In Gmail folders are called Labels

This is a Gear. you can find Settings when you click the Gear.

One other thing you can do is to save email that you want to keep to your computer and delete it from your email. This is called Archiving your mail. In Gmail when you click to archive your mail you can find it again by searching or if you open All Mail. It is stored on the Google server and there is lots of space for it to go to.

In Outlook you can actually create a file to hold your archived mail. Right click on the "On My Computer" heading at the bottom of your folder list and choose New Folder. Name the folder Archived Mail or something like that. Now you can move messages into that folder or create a Rule that will automatically move messages to the archive after a certain time. 

Setting up a rule is also called filtering in Gmail. In some email setting up Rules is under the Tools menu. In others you will find the words "filter" or "rules" in the Settings. A rule is a sentence like  "When a new mail arrives"__________________ and then it gives you several choices for what to do with that message, like "move to archive folder" You also usually have to fill in a few more things like when it should be done (i.e. after 120 days) Once you have the rule created you usually have to click to enable it.

With Gmail archived messages can be found by clicking on All Mail. All Mail getspretty full, so you may have to search for the message that you archived using a word from the message or the email address of the sender. With Outlook you are moving your messages from the server to your own computer. You should be able to find the folder called Archive in your Documents folder.

If you have a lot of mail with photos that you want to keep it is better NOT to keep the photos in your email. When you get a picture in an email message you can right click on it and choose Save Image or Save Target. Your computer will open up a window and you can choose the Picture file for your photo to be saved in. Be sure to rename it because pictures are often named things like img566.jpg and you will not be able to tell by the name what it is later. 

Once you have saved all of the photos from your email, delete the messages and it will create more space.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

PC vs. Mac

This is an old debate. I know that there are many places that you can read about it in blogs and all over the Internet. I have tried to be neutral on the PC vs. Mac debate. My main opinion is that it is what you are used to that is the best. Some people have only used PC and swear by it as the best Operating System. They are frustrated when they even try to use a Mac. It happens the other way also.

I have had to use both at different times and can see the value of either both. However this morning I am leaning toward Mac for what I do. I will tell you why.

I help people to be successful using technology. The people I work with in my business are not computer lovers. They have something that they want to do and must do it on the computer. Either they never had much experience using technology or they had extensive experience, but only in one area (maybe word processing) and need to know something else (spreadsheets?, websites?, social media?, working with photos?). They are not people who tinker with their machines and want to add more memory or a better sound card. They just want the computer to work.

It is hard to choose to buy a Mac because they are so much more expensive to start with. They are also not easy to tinker with. There are people who like to really KNOW their computer inside-out. They want to be able to change components and make a computer that works for them. PC's are better for that person. If you want to understand your computer, change it and keep it up to date a PC can be an excellent choice.

Here are my personal reasons for choosing a Mac:

My Mac just works. Almost all of the time. The few times it has problems the error messages that I do get on my Mac are for the most part pretty understandable. They are written for users. On my PC and on the PCs of people I work with the errors are cryptic for us non-geeks. It helps to have lots of experience in order to figure out what they might mean, but they are scarey. Today I got a Runtime error on my PC. Because I use computers all of the time I could figure out that it had to do with a certain program and I had to write their help people with the error message to find out what to do with it, but I know that for many people I work with it would be the end. They would turn their computer off hoping not to hurt it and say that it was broken.

Technology turn-over. It seems to me that the PC items I have purchased have a shorter life-span than the Mac products I have purchased. I have the second generation iPad. Even though Apple has come out with 2 more since I got mine and the new ones are better, mine still works well. Lots of people bought the first version of the iPad. They still work. They do not have a camera, which makes the others much better, but they do work.

I went out and got a Surface as soon as they came out. I usually wait for the second generation, but I wanted to experience Windows 8. It is mostly sitting unused on my shelf. Even Windows 8 was a passing thing.

I know that technology changes constantly, but with Macs when I have upgraded it is because I want a newer, faster model. When I have upgraded my old one still works and I am glad to pass it on to someone who can use it. This is not true of the PCs I have had. When they get old they are so slow that they are not worth using. My surface is not of much use to anyone (or maybe there is something I don't know and someone can suggest in a comment what to do).

I do have a positive PC story to end with, so that you won't think I am a Mac snob. A client of mine just came to me with a PC (HP) that she had purchased on sale. It was a GREAT buy and a fantastic computer. I am glad she found a good deal. She is used to using a PC and so the move to Mac, which she tried, was frustrating. So I never tell my clients what type of computer to purchase. 

So, you see, my feelings are mixed. I am assuming that many people who read this will have comments. It is an issue that people feel strongly about. I wrote out of some frustration with my PC experience, but I am sure that there are people who have had similar experiences with Mac. Bring it on!  I am interested to read what people have to say.

Monday, October 5, 2015

HELP - Dealing with Photos!

I know that I have written on this before, but it just seems to keep changing and being difficult. Apple updated its system for dealing with Pictures from iPhoto to Photos and it has taken me quite a while to figure out what to recommend to people.

First of all, I think it is always good to follow directions to update a program whenever you get that message. It will keep your computer running faster and keep you up to date. One of my clients had an iPhone with the new Photos program and still had iPhoto on her iMac because she had not updated to Yosemite. That was confusing. It is a bit clearer when you are dealing with the same program both places.

We, older people, have an outdated way of thinking about photos. Computers and digital photo taking has totally changed how it all works. It used to be that you had film with your originals and paper copies of your photos. You could hold them in your hand. You could lose them or they could get mouldy in the basement. You could put them into albums or boxes. You could pass them on to your children.

Now, they seem sort of ephemeral. Where are they really? How can I organize them and keep from losing them? It is so easy now to take pictures that we all have SO many of everything and often there are multiples or pictures that we don't want to keep, but who has time to go through them all?


Use the 3, 2, 1 principle of saving pictures and videos that you really want to keep. Have 3 copies saved in two places and put one in a safe deposit box or offsite somewhere that you can access and update once a year, or on some regular basis.

Three copies of any picture that you really do not want to lose should be saved. One is your primary and two are back ups. 

Two copies should be on different media. Do you remember floppy disks?  Most computers today do not have floppy disk drives, so you cannot access them any more. The CD drive is going the way of the floppy drive, so it is possible that if all of your copies are saved ONLY on CD you may not be able to access them easily later. So, you could have one copy saved on a hard drive and one on a CD. Or you could save one on your computer and one in the cloud. I think I might keep one on my computer, but have two external drive backups. One of them would be my regular back up that I keep at home and one ONLY has photos and is kept in a safe deposit box at the bank or something.

One is kept offsite somewhere. If there is a disaster at your house and you lose your computer and your backup at least you will have a copy of everything that you last backed up in another location. tells more about this and explains it as a way that ALL important files should be backed up. DP stands for Digital Photograpy and this comes from the American Society of Media Photographers, so it may be overkill for us home picture takers, but it is helpful information.

Like I said above you should always keep all of your devices up to date so that they are using the same software, especially if you want to sync between devices.

The new software called Photos does something interesting. It will hold up to 1000 photos and as you add new photos after that it drops off the oldest ones and only keeps the newest. When a photo is deleted from your phone it is deleted from all devices that are syncing to it. You can turn on iCloud storage if you want to keep photos. This will give you 5G of storage space for free. If you want more you can pay for it

What if you want to store your images forever (or as long as possible)? On the Mac help page it says:

iCloud Photo Library stores all of your original photos and videos in iCloud, but we always recommend you keep back up copies of your Library. You can download your photos and videos from iCloud to your computer and store them as a separate library, transfer them to your computer with iTunes, or store them on a separate drive.
You can go to to see what photos are stored there. If you want to do something with those photos you can click on them. Once a picture is open you can share, delete or download it. If you want to do this to multiple pictures choose the word SELECT at the top right of the screen and you will be able to put a checkmark in the ones that you want to act on. 

If you don't want to spend more money on photo storage there are lots of options. You can download them to your computer and save them in the Pictures file. One thing lacking in the Pictures file is automatic organization. You have to put pictures in folders and organize them yourself. You can then save them to an external hard drive, or two. You can upload them to an online storage space. Amazon Prime offers unlimited storage space for free and so do many other places. See information on Picasa and Flickr below.

There are many programs that store photos. The one that comes with your PC is called Windows Photo Gallery. Photo Gallery can find all of the pictures in your Pictures file and automatically store them in folders by date. You can then go in and do all sorts of things with your pictures. You can reorganize them into different files, edit them, give them tags or keywords so that they are easy to find.

There are other programs online and that can be downloaded to your computer that do similar things. Picasa is owned by Google and now works with Google Photos. It has an online feature and you can download a program for your computer that will sync with it. It gives you the ability to organize and edit your photos. Shutterfly, SmugMug, Flickr (which is owned by Yahoo and requires a Yahoo login).

Helpful article on Photo Storage

So, what am I going to do?......  Someday when I have lots of time I am going to organize all my photos. I think I will get two hard drives. On both of them I will upload ALL of my photos. On my computer and my phone (and iPad) I will have the same set of the most current photos in the photo program so that I can look at them and easily use them. Then once a year... September?, January?, my birthday? I am going to get the second hard drive from the safe deposit box (or where ever I decide to save it) and update BOTH hard drives and keep just the current year on my computer, phone, and iPad. Someday..... but then I still have VCR tapes waiting to be converted and cassette tapes that need conversion. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

What Website Creator should I use?

This is just a quick outline of different website creators and what I think of them. I am adding links at the bottom that will let you know what others are saying also. I had not realized until I started writing this how many sites there are now for creating webpages! If I don't mention one that you would like to know more about go to the links below and most likely it will be there. Each list of top ten sites is different!  I am speaking here of my own experience, so I am leaving out any that I have not used.

When you make a website you need two main things. First you must have a Domain Name. Most of these sites will help you choose a domain name and it is free to use for one year. After that year there is a charge annually for the use of the name. Next you need a HOST or a place to put your website. When you sign up with these sites you are hosting your website on their server (a server is just a computer that puts things out on the internet). There is usually some sort of monthly charge for this service and there are different levels of price and benefits for using them. You will have to look at each site and compare the prices and value.

Know that when you create a website with one of these programs you are putting your files on their computer. It is good to make sure you know how to download an archive of your own files and have a sense of what access you have to them before paying money.

WORDPRESS - Wordpress is not mentioned in most lists as a website creator. I am not sure why. I have used it as a website creator. It may be that the learning curve for Wordpress is too steep and most people who are new to creating sites do not want to deal with it.

Wordpress is an open source web page tool. There are two ways to use it. You can sign up at and create a site there which will be stored on their server OR you can download all of the code to create your own site on your own computer and then upload it to a server.

  • Wordpress can grow with you. It is challenging to use at first, but it is deep. You can keep learning and improving your website. Many of the easier ones are limited and if you learn new things you may not be able to do them on your site.
  • There are tons of templates for Wordpress. Many of them are free and they have been designed by professionals, so they look polished. If you want to use a template that costs you pay one time and have the template to use.
  • Because it is open source there are many people creating 'widgets' which are small programs that you can use on your site. For example there are widgets that will report the local weather, run a slideshow of pictures, or flash the current news. 
  • Wordpress has a steep learning curve. I didn't find it to difficult, but I  have heard others say that it is too frustrating.
  • There are so many choices. Rather than 15-20 templates there are hundreds to choose from in Wordpress. There are also tons of widgets. You can spend your whole day just looking at templates and trying to make a decision. There is also an abundance of advice and support.
  • If you want to be totally in control of fonts, colors and sizes you need to sign up to use CSS and pay a bit extra. 
SQUARESPACE - This is the website creator that I chose to use for my website. Take a look at it at

  • Squarespace offers some beautiful templates which can be personalized so that they do not look like each other. I liked that on the site I could see what others had done using the same template.
  • It is fairly easy to use, although I did have one client who said she thought Wix was easier. 
  • Excellent and responsive support.
  • You have the ability to customize font size and color and other things that sometimes are not available in other builders
  • Try one theme, without changing content switch to another theme to see how it looks!
  • Not as many templates as Wix, but the ones that are available are beautiful


  • very easy to use
  • lots of customers
  • good phone support
  • on the low cost side

  • core business is selling domains. Website creation secondary.
  • frustration sometimes with resolving payment issues. 
  • maybe not as up to date as other providers in this area.
  • no free trial

  • one of the most popular website creation platforms
  • easy to use
  • lots of templates
  • comprehensive support and active user forum
  • You can try it for free
  • cannot change themes for the same website without rebuilding website

WEEBLY - I have actually not tried Weebly, so I do not feel like I should tell you its strengths and weaknesses. I am listing it here because it was rated high on most of the lists that review website builders. 

  • best free builder
  • easy to use
  • switch templates without changing content
  • does not have all of the bells and whistles of some builders
  • need to know code to do fine edits like font color


  • automatic save
  • part of Google Drive
  • always FREE
  • Ugly templates
All in all there are lots of choices out there. You can see that the samples I have collected here are all very different. That is not only because of the website maker, but also the purpose of the site. If you want a really professional site with things like shopping carts and analytics it might be worth paying someone who knows what they are doing. I know someone who will actually take a site done by a relative and redo it so that it is better.

If you want to do it yourself you can look over these choices and decide which works best for you. It all depends on what YOU think is easy, how you will be using your site and how much time you want to spend on it.

Take a look at these sites for more reviews and advice:

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Help I Have Two (or more) Accounts

I don't know about you, but I signed up for two Google accounts and then I used both of them at different times. It is confusing and I wanted to consolidate them into one account. I was able to do it, but it was a little complicated. In this post I will list the steps to use to consolidating Google Accounts.

1. Find out what is on the different accounts. 

  • In the top corner when you are logged in you will see your information. 
  • Click on the picture or your email address on the far right and choose MY ACCOUNT.

2.  A webpage opens up with all sorts of ways that you can work with your account. Choose Delete My Accounts or Services.
3. After you click again on Delete my Account this will give you a list of what is on your account. You will have to spend some time looking and thinking about what is on your different accounts, what you want to save, what you want to move to the combined account and what doesn't matter. It is a little scary to click on Delete My Account for the second time, but it really just gives you information. You are not deleteing your account yet. 

4. Once you have decided which account to keep and which to delete you will have to deal with all of the content that is in the account that you are going to delete. Some of the information will transfer to your other account, but some of it will have to be downloaded to your computer and then uploaded to the other account.

Google is clear about the fact that the data in your account belongs to you and you have the right to download that data. Here are some examples of ways I could deal with the data from my account. 

  • Blogger - I would need to download my blog and then recreate it with the address I want to use and upload it again.
  • Drive - I would share all of the documents and folders in my Drive account with the email address of the other account. Then when they are deleted in one place I will have them in the other.
  • Gmail - I would probably download my mail and have an archive on my computer rather than uploading it again to my other address. I could forward any mail that I want to be sure is in my other account.
  • Photos - I would need to download my photos from this account and add them to the other account.
  • YouTube - I would need to download any videos and upload them to my other account.
  • Calendar - Most likely I would just let this be deleted because I would be using the calendar on the other account. I suppose any appointments I need to show on my current calendar could just be added.
  • Chrome Sync - I wouldn't worry about this because it is just my bookmarks.
  • Contacts - I would need to export my contacts from one account and then import them into my other account.
There are a few other services that Google owns, so you will have to take each one individually and decide what you want to do with it. 

After looking at all of that you may think that it is not worth all of the work to combine the accounts. You can just leave them both up there and use only one of them from now on in order to make it less confusing. One will have current info and the other will be an archive. 

If you decide to do the transfer there are two choices once you have emptied out one of the accounts. You can DEACTIVATE or DELETE the account. When you delete an account you can NEVER use that username again. It is gone. When you deactivate the account the account and the information that is left in it is kept in an archive and if you ever want to use that account again you can activate it. 

If you are wanting to do this, but need a little comfort and a little walking through call (512)560-2609 or email me ( I can connect with your computer. It does not matter where you are I can help you out :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chip Credit Cards

While we were on our recent trip to Greece, Spain and Belgium there were several times that we could not use our Credit Cards because the store we were at did not have a Magnetic strip reader anymore. Most of the world has switched to credit cards that have a chip embedded in them. 

The Chips are called EMV which stands for Europay, Mastercard and Visa. They are more secure than the cards with the magnetic strips because they actually have an embedded computer chip in them. Every time an EMV card is used for payment, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again.

The transition to this type of card is expensive for banks and for all merchants who take credit cards. The cards are different and the equipment to take them is also different. What makes it worthwhile is that the technology used by the cards is much more secure. Each transaction creates a different number and that is used instead of your credit card number to keep track of the transaction. No one has access to your credit card number except you. Even the online records are connected to this one time number rather than your card. 

There are two ways to use the card. Instead of swiping a magnetic strip you will dip your card into a slot that will allow it to be read and approved. Some cards and some merchants have tapping technology and all you will need to do is to tap the card on a certain spot. This type of technology is more expensive, so it is possible that many places will only have the dipping technology.

By October 1, 2015 all credit card transactions are supposed to be upgraded to use chips, but it is likely that they will not all be ready. At first the card from your bank will have both a magnetic strip and a chip. If a merchant has not changed their equipment yet you can use the magnetic strip, but the big change is that the merchant is responsible if there is any hacking of the information. Merchants are hurrying to make the changes.

Read more: 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Technology Reviews

This morning as I was browsing through the paper and eating breakfast I came across a very interesting article. It was a review of the Real Pad by AARP. It turns out that it isn't as easy to use as it advertises, although the price is right.

I am often asked by people how to decide on what to purchase (what type of laptop, what type of tablet or phone, etc..) Through the article I learned about a site that reviews tech things from the point of view of a non-techie. It is called Tech50Plus. There are reviews organized on different topics with large buttons for navigation through the site and large font. The reviews are based on four questions. I highly recommend this site as a place to go to research technology before purchasing.

Take a look at a positive review of the AARP RealPad from