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Tuesday, March 5, 2019


At the end of our session last Thursday morning the question came up of why people use spreadsheets. Of course, the first thought is about work. We think of them as charts of numbers and so it is difficult to think of other uses. I suggested having some sessions on it because it is one of the most requested subjects for me. Often it is from people who are returning to work, but I am thinking that somehow people don't feel smart enough to use a spreadsheet. I want to challenge that idea!  They can be VERY complicated and difficult to use, but they can also be pretty straight forward and helpful. Here is a list that I came up with as uses for spreadsheets. I hope it will help you think about how useful they are.
  • Template for anything that has rows and columns - I have example spreadsheetoften used spreadsheets to make lists for printing. One example from life would be a list of names of people in a group I am in that can be used as a checklist for attendance. The example here is a list of activities for the year.
  • List of people - For this business I keep a spreadsheet of clients I work with. The list has first name, last name, address, phone, email. It helps me because I can search the list to find someone from the past.
  • Record Keeping - I also keep a spreadsheet for each week that lists who I see, how much I earn, and what we worked on. I add the amounts up each week and then make a total at the end of the year for taxes.
  • Scheduling - a spreadsheet could be used to create a table that can be printed and edited to schedule tasks and who is assigned to each task. 
  • spreadsheet chartCharts - One of the greatest things about spreadsheets is that you can easily create a chart from the data that is on the spreadsheet. You can create a bar chart, a pie chart, or many other kinds. This is great for comparisons of different things or for demonstrating change over time. I love looking at charts from my financial advisor rather than a table with a bunch of numbers! 
  • Keeping track of your stuff - You could make a list of things you own with items listed, their value, and where to find them. This might be a record for your family.  
  • Making lists of Christmas gifts - This has been helpful to me because I tend to think of the same gifts for the same people and cannot remember if I already gave it to them last year. In the past I have also kept a list of what gifts I received in order to remember to write thank you notes.
  • Planning a trip (comparing prices) - My sister is the spreadsheet queen. She makes a spreadsheet when planning a trip. It lists the different options for flights, and hotels. You could also do this for planning anything like a wedding or any other event.
  • Budgeting - Most of us have a finite amount of money coming in during the month. A spreadsheet is a great way to budget your funds. You can make a list of all of the bills that you have and how much each of them costs. A spreadsheet will allow you to adjust the amounts and the sum will change depending on what the numbers are. 
  • Shared List of Donations for an organization - Many of us volunteer for organizations. One that I am involved with has an event where we collect items for a silent auction. We have a Google Spreadsheet where everyone can collaborate on putting in what is donated and what value it has. We have used it for many years, so it has given us a record of what was donated in the past.
  • Record of physical exercise - Keep track of what weights you lifted on which dates or how many miles you ran or rode your bike.

Spreadsheets can become a written record for something that occurs regularly. Since they are saved you can have records for many years in the same format. They can also be sorted by column.
temperature chart

If you have a spreadsheet of names and dates they can be sorted either way so that you can find out certain information. Once you create a spreadsheet and put in formulas you can change different numbers in the sheet and the totals (and even the charts) will adjust to the new numbers. You can also make spreadsheets pretty by coloring the backgrounds of cells, including pictures, changing fonts, etc...

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Finding Wifi Anywhere

I probably should have written this article before the holidays because that is often when you are in new locations and maybe need to find WIFI. The information is very helpful though, so it is still worth writing.

I like to listen to podcasts using my phone, so I learned, the expensive way, that if I am not on WiFi with my phone it is using the cell towers for connecting to the podcast. My cell plan (ATT) charges for a certain number of minutes of data. If I go over they automatically add more time and charge me for it. When I use WiFi it does not cost me anything. Although I could do anything on my phone even when not on WiFi, now I always try to connect to WiFi as often as possible. If you travel with a laptop you already may feel the need for WiFi.

Here are some suggestions from an article linked below:

1. Find a Chain Establishment
The article has a list of places that might be helpful for you. I usually look for a coffee shop. Almost all of them have free WiFi now and they have tea and other things, so you don't have to drink coffee.  There is one important thing to remember - connections at chain establishments are NOT secure. Everyone is using the same free wifi or the same password. Anyone in that place can connect to your computer.

The article suggests that when you use free WiFi you use VPN (virtual private network) for security.  It will allow you to use the free WiFi, but also to be protected. There is more explanation of VPN in the links below.

2. Use WiFi Hotspot Apps
There are several apps that will find WiFi hotspots for you. If you don't know where a public WiFi is you can download an app that will locate them for you. Wiffinity, Wifimapper, Facebook, and Wefi are described in this article.

3.  Go to a Public Shared Space
More and more of these are offering free WiFi. Think of public libraries, metro locations, museums, airports.

4.  Rent a travel WiFi device
You can look companies that do this up online. Some names in the article are RoamingMan, KeepGo, and Skyroam. There are many others. If you have an iPhone compare the cost with using your iPhone as a hotspot.If you use your iPhone it will drain the charge and use Data, but it may be good for some things.

5. Use your Internet Service Provider's (ISP) Hotspots
I looked up the AT&T hotspots from this article at!/wireless/KM1103818. They do not have a map of locations, but I know I have seen ATTWIFI when I have looked down the list of what networks were available near me. I never tried connecting, but It seems like a great thing! You will need to know your username and password in order to connect to them.

6. Sign Up for a Loyalty Program
Some hotels and stores charge for WiFi, but if you join their Loyalty program you can get WiFi as a benefit. Check it out.

wifi Kansas City7. Find WiFi in your city
Many cities are setting up free wifi in central locations. Here is a link to what they are doing in New York. The article also lists Seoul, South Korea; London UK; Paris, France and others. When you travel you can go to Google and type in the name of the city and Wifi and Google should find it if they have it. For example, I just learned that Kansas City has "smart" streetlights!

8.  Join a Community
The article talked about something called Instabridge. This is an app that will connect you to crowdsourced WiFi. These are WiFi services that are shared with the community. They are available to anyone who joins the Instabridge community. The app also allows you to "share your home WiFi with friends and family without giving out your password."

This article also mentioned some solutions which I decided apply more to the Geeks among us, so if you are one you may want to look at the article itself. I did not rewrite them here because I don't think they are particularly user-friendly.

How to find WiFi anywhere

Learn about VPN

How does VPN work on an iPhone

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Is your Mac Running Slowly?


Maybe it needs a clean up of large files.  If you have the Operating System called Sierra there are several features to do that for you!
  1. To find out what operating system your computer has click on the black apple in the top left corner and choose About this Mac. The window will tell you what operating system you are using.Mac storage
  2. Now click the storage tab. Wait a second and this will tell you how much storage you are using. 
  3. Now choose Manage.  This will show you things you can set up that will maximize your storage space.
manage storage
  1. Store in iCloud -  This will save some space on your computer, but you may have to pay for extra space on iCloud.  5G comes free with you iCloud account and it is about $1 a month for more 50G more.
  2. Optimize - This dumps iTunes videos you have already watched and deals with email attachments differently.
  3. Empty trash automatically - permanently deletes anything in the trash more than 30 days.
  4. To me the most interesting was Reduce Clutter -  It goes through your machine and gives you a list to review all of the large files on your computer. You can the keep, delete, or transfer them to a CD or Thumbdrive. I think I could spend hours on this, but I won't because I am not short on space!
list of files
If you have an older mac there are programs that you can download that will do similar things. Some names are: CleanMyMac 3Gemini 2Disk Cleanup Pro and Dr. Cleaner . It is a good idea to type the name of the program with the word review in you browser and read the reviews before you download. Always back up your Mac before using software intended to automatically delete files on your computer — just in case.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018


I keep running into times where I am told to create an account for CloudHQ. I tend to be skeptical at first of creating accounts for things that are new. So, I decided I needed to do a little look into what CloudHQ is and decide if I really need an account.

I now understand that CloudHQ is a cloud to cloud management service. I know that is a lot of tech talk. What it means is that since every company has their own cloud service (One Drive for Windows, iCloud for Mac, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc...), it allows them to talk to each other so that you can get all of your "stuff" in one place.

For example, I have a Dropbox account, use Google Drive and iCloud. I also use Gmail. I think it was with Gmail that I was required to sign up for CloudHQ. AHA!  I was trying to learn about Gmail Templates!

The Research
When I want to learn more about something I just go to Google and type a question into the search box. For this I just typed "review CloudHQ" and got 29,100 results. I almost never go beyond the first page of results.

What I learned is that there are other management systems that do what CloudHQ does, but it is the most used. It is a completely web-based app meaning that you do not have to download anything to your computer to make it work. If you want to sync multiple services (let's say Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud) you will have to pay for it, but if you are just pairing two services (Google Drive and Dropbox) you can use the free version.

The free version is enough for the average user. They make money especially by working with companies who use it so that their employees can be more effective at their jobs. I guess signing up for a free service is OK for me.

This review from 2013 is where I learned most of this information:

Another article that was helpful was from 2018

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The End of Windows 2017

windows 2007 will no longer be supported by Microsoft after January 14, 2020. This sounds like a long time from now, but it will sneak up on you. Many people that I know kept Windows 7 because they did not want to switch to Windows 10.

Here are some things to think about:
1. Your budget - start now to save money for a new computer ($500-$1000) or the upgrade to Windows 10 ($119 for the home version). You can stick with Windows 7 for a while, but since it is not updated you will be more likely to get a virus or have problems.
2. Which software you use often - It is possible that software that works on Windows 7 will not work on Windows 10. If you just use email and a browser, like Chrome or Edge that is no problem, but if you have any special software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom you might have to upgrade your software also.
3. Mac or PC - If you are thinking of getting a new computer this is the age old question. Often people who use Macs are totally convinced that they are the best and people who use PCs ( any computer that runs Windows) are convinced that they are the best. Now is the time for you to start exploring and trying different computers at Best Buy or wherever.

Now you have time to think about all of it and decide what you want to do. In 2020 you will be getting reminders and risking a virus. Your computer will still work and maybe you will be OK, but it is better to be safe.

To find out what Operating System you have now click on the Windows Icon in the bottom left corner of the screen (the start button). Type Computer into the search box. When it comes up Right Click on Computer. Then click Properties. Look for Windows Edition for the version of Windows that your computer is running.

This article was inspired by this article:

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Track changes is helpful, but what I am really amazed with lately is Google Drive. I am on several boards and on committees that use it. It is a GREAT way to share documents so that multiple people can comment or edit a document without messing up what someone else has done.

When you go to you have to sign in with a Google account. You can get one even if you do not want to use gmail. Go to and either get a gmail account or sign up with your own email address.
signing up for a Google Accountsigning up with your own email

New Google Doc

Once you have a Google account and sign in to Google Drive you can start a new document or go to a document that has been SHARED with you.

shared documents
The person who creates the document is the owner. They can share it and set the permissions for each person who it is shared with.

If you choose File - Version History you will see who revised the document, what they did and when it was done. If you don't like the revision you can return to a previous version!

It is even great when you just want to share documents, but you don't want anyone to change them. When you share the document you just mark that everyone should VIEW only. They will not have the rights to change anything, but can view the document at any time.

This is becoming a very popular way to share documents on a committee or board.

Sunday, November 11, 2018


overflowing mailboxEmail is a curse of our society. It is totally necessary, sometimes we like it, other times it takes WAY too much of our time and energy.  This article has a few recommendations for making the use of email smoother. 

When you are in a hurry glance through your messages and mark those that are important and need to be dealt with by putting a flag or star on them. It depends on which email program you are using if it is a flag or a star. Gmail uses stars and many others use flags. Later you can easily sort your mail by the flags or stars and go through the important messages when you have more time. 

When you are doing your sort if there is a message that you can answer with a quick reply do it!  That way it gets out of your inbox and is dealt with. If you get advertisements that you don't want to see immediately scroll down to the bottom of the message, find the tiny print that says UNSUBSCRIBE and unsubscribe from their list. Most vendors want you to be happy and will immediately take you off of their list if you only ask. If you do it right away you can keep your inbox from filling up with unsolicited ads. You will have to keep up with it since there are always new ones, but it is easy if you do one at a time. 

After writing a message in Outlook  go to File > Save As… > Outlook template, or search for preset Outlook templates that cover the most common ones. Then, click on Items > Choose Form… > User Templates when you’re ready to put that pre-saved form to use. 

screenshotIn Gmail there are two ways to do this. The older one is called Canned responses. If you want to use this first you need to enable it. To do that go to Settings (the Gear icon) and choose Advanced. Then find Canned Response and enable.

settings menu

To use it you compose an email message and after you have written everything except the "to" line (also delete your signature, so it does not appear twice) then go to the three dots in the bottom right corner of the window. Choose Canned Response and then new canned response. It will be saved and ready for the next time you choose Compose and have a new message. Then you can click on the three dots and choose Canned Responses and you will see the email you wrote in the list.

There is a second possibility, but it involves signing into another service and I am a little wary of that. It may be just fine, but I want to do a bit of research first. Here is how it works. In Gmail start to compose a message. Then click on the little icon at the bottom of the compose window that looks like a document. This will connect you to something called CloudHQ. It is more than I can write about here, but if you sign up for it you will have access to lots of templates and be able to create your own and access them right from a message. I will write more about CloudHQ in another post.

There are two ways to make finding past email messages easier. You need to find the best way for you, but once you have set it up and use it you can save huge amounts of time. 

  • Create folders and for the messages that you may want to find again have a good system of saving them. Archive or delete all the rest of your mail so that your inbox can be fairly empty after it has been read.  In most programs when you create a new folder it is on the left side and you can just drag messages from the right and drop them into the correct folder.
  • If you use Gmail I have found that the search function works really well. What I do is to archive almost all of my read messages. They are compressed then and saved in a very small format, so my mailbox does not get jammed. When I need something I just do a search and so far it is finding what I need!
Sometimes you have time to write something, but do not want to send it right away.  In Outlook you can choose Options > Delay Delivery > Do not deliver before. In Gmail there is an add on called Boomerang that allows you to designate when you want a certain email sent.