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Monday, September 26, 2011

Virus Anxiety and Internet Security

If you have ever thought you had a virus on your computer you understand the anxiety and confusion that it can bring. I will attempt in this post to make things a tiny bit clearer for you so that the next time this happens you will feel more confident dealing with it.

A virus is a computer illness that can be passed from computer to computer through the network. Sometimes viruses are malicious, someone created them to mess something up. Sometimes they get into your computer and use your information (Like sending email out to all of your friends in your name). The most important thing you can do is to have a VIRUS protection program running on every machine that you use, especially if you have a PC. But a virus protection program is no good if you have not set it up to download the new virus definitions regularly and to run through your computer on a regular basis. There are new viruses created every day and so it is impossible to install something one time and then be done with it.

There are several very common virus protection programs available. Some of the best known are Norton, McAfee, and AVG, but there are many others. They all work in similar ways. After you buy the software you continue to pay a smaller monthly or quarterly fee and every day at a time you set up, all of the new virus definitions are downloaded. The next time you run your virus protection it will find any problems. You can set it up to automatically get rid of the viruses it finds. It creates a report so that you can see what it has done. You can run it in the background and do other things, but it may slow down your computer. You can also run it at a certain time when you are not using your computer (midnight), but you have to leave the computer ON and connected to the Internet.

AVG has a free version which is simpler, but is often used by nonprofit organizations that do not have money to purchase a full protection program. Each of the other programs does many other things, so when you are looking for one to purchase you should compare them. Look at a comparison site like: the different programs are listed in a chart and you can see what is the same and different about them. They all work, so choose one that seems the most helpful and affordable to you.

1. Never click on links that are sent to you in email! The link on the email may actually take you somewhere different than it says because it just connects to code in the background which you do not see. You can go to the Internet and type the URL that you see into the Location bar.
2. REGULARLY back up everything that is on your computer so that if the worst happens and you lose everything on that computer you will have a back up and can start over.
3. Keep your virus protection program up to date.
4. If your computer gets a virus relax and expect that it will be a hassle and take some time, but it will be resolved. Hopefully you have Virus Protection installed and active, so you can just call the 800 number if you need help.
5. Do not pass on hoaxes (see below)

Once you have a Virus Protection program your best friend is the 800 number. There are so many different things that can happen that it is difficult to cover them all here. If you have the phone number handy you can call and get help when you need it. I was recently helping out a Child Development Center with a laptop that they had. I just could not figure out how to make the Virus Program (AVG) that I had downloaded work correctly. I used the 800 number and even though I did not understand every word that the person from the Philippines was telling me I was able to follow their direction and eventually it all worked!

What often happens in cases like this is that the help desk person uses vocabulary that is new to you and so it is very difficult to understand what they are trying to say. Additionally, customers often say things like "my computer is broken" and so the help desk person has very little to go on when trying to help. I am starting to keep a vocabulary sheet that I will post as an attachment on the right side of the blog. Here are today's words:

malware - short for malicious software. Software that gets onto your computer and does bad things. Malware is the larger term for virus, worm, trojans, and spyware.
virus - a small program or script that does something bad to your computer.
hacker - someone who "hacks" or gets into computers by getting passwords or creating programs
worm - a type of virus that replicates itself in your computer causing problems
trojan horse - viruses that masquerade as regular programs like games, but do damage.
system software or files - the programs that make your computer work.
operating system - They system that makes your program work. Examples are Mac OSX, Tiger, Lion, Windows XP, and Windows 2007.
version number - You may be asked what version you are using of the anti virus software or of the computer. The person helping you should be able to explain how to find this out.
firewall - A system designed to prevent unauthorized access to a private network. You probably do not need this for a home computer, but they are regularly used for public places. A firewall is just like a wall that keeps people from accessing things.
Internet Security vs. Virus Protection- Virus protection programs are  limited to keeping viruses from getting onto your computers, but there are also programs that offer Internet security. Internet security refers to protection from identity theft while using the internet and many other things. 

Start-Run - You may be asked to go to START and choose RUN. Run will open up a black window with white letters. This is programming language and you can type into this area and make things happen. The tech person helping you will tell you what to type. One example is cmd which means command and tells the computer what to do
spyware - a program put onto your computer without your knowledge that sends out information about what you do on your computer.
Phishing - The act of sending email to someone that looks legitimate and causes them to click on a link or reply to the message. This is used to get people to surrender private information that is used for Identity Theft.

If you are sure that your computer has a virus the first thing to do is to relax about it. There is nothing that anxiety will solve and it can make you prone to bad decision making. If you are very frustrated it is best to set your computer aside and do other things for a few hours and then go back to it. Most likely you will have to be on the phone with someone in the Philippines for hours trying to explain what is happening and maybe understanding only a fraction of what they say to you. You WILL succeed and things will clear up. Just do not expect it to be quick or easy.

If you are like me, you regularly get notes from friends telling you of urgent things that you need to do. Maybe it is sending a note to someone to cheer them up. Maybe it is clicking on a link. Maybe it is just warning you that something horrible will be happening in the next week.  Sometimes these are legitimate, but other times they are hoaxes which float around for years and years on the internet. You can find out by going to a website that keeps up with all of the hoaxes that are out there and researches them to find out what is true. Always make a point of going to one of these sites to be sure that what you have received is legitimate before doing what it says or sending it on to other friends. -

Hoax Slayer -

A fun place to learn about hoaxes through out history is the Museum of Hoaxes:

The Museum of Hoaxes has a Test to see if you can recognize a Hoax photo.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

So you want to make a webpage?

The coolest thing just happened. All day I have been planning on writing this blog post about creating your own website. I have been looking into iWeb and some other things and I decided to take a break and look at my Facebook. There was a message from my friend Sandy from Alaska!!  She needs help creating a web page for the Salmon Filet business that she and her husband run. So, now I have a REAL reason to research and write!  I love that!!

Sandy says that she does not want to put lots of time and money into a website, but needs one that will "mainly be just a place for people who hear word of mouth and want to be sure we are a real company to be trusted. Suspect all we will need to do is have up some pictures, contact and company information and a paypal link. (Maybe also a guestbook and "hit counter".)"

I was just at the Austin Women's Entrepreneurial Luncheon and the advice given there was to hire someone to design your site. The successful women that spoke to us said that a well designed website is worth every penny. It should be a content management system so that you can update and change it yourself after the design is done.  I am sure that this is great advice for most new businesses. A designer is an artist and it can make a huge difference in the impression that people have of your business.

However, I know there are lots of reasons for designing your own and it is easier than ever, so I am going to do a quick review of some website software and online possibilities and I hope it will answer that question and maybe more.

a server
Knowing just a little about how webpages work will help you with the decision of how you want to make one. A web page is just a bunch of files, including pictures that are on a SERVER.

A server is just a computer, like the one you have, but it probably has more memory and some software to make it act differently than yours.

When you make a webpage you usually work on your own computer to create the website and then when it is done put it on the server so that other people can see it. As long as it is on your own computer other people cannot see it at all. A webpage has a URL, or address that lets you know where to find it called a Domain Name.

So there are three things that you need to have a working webpage:
1. A program on your computer to help you design the page.
2. A server to put the webpage on so that other people can see it.
3. A Domain Name or address for the page.

Luckily NOW there are lots of ways that you can make your own webpage without having to have your own server or even your own domain name. The sites that I share about below all offer FREE versions, but if you want to put your own Domain Name onto the page there is a way to pay a little bit and do it. says that you can create a website with no programming, just drag and drop! There are lots of templates to choose from and examples of what others have done. All you have to do is to go to this page and choose "START NOW" and you can make your page. You can use Wix for free or pay for a Premium website. A premium website includes your own Domain Name, good support services and premier hosting. Even with the free site your site will be hosted on their servers. Your Domain Name will be at choice of name).
Sample site:

Google Sites was not as easy as for me. You go to and sign in and then you choose CREATE SITE. You can choose among the templates that they provide. After that there are LOTS of choices. I found that I was frustrated with how to do certain things. It was not clear to me and when I clicked on things they took me to unexpected places. I think that taking some time I will be able to make a page looking about what I want it to look like, but it will take more time than I want to spend right now. Here is a link to the little I was able to accomplish on this page. I am sure it could be much better.

Wordpress is what many new pages on the internet are made with. There are two versions of Wordpress. One is and it is the open source code so that you can create your own Wordpress site. I am sure that this is the best way to go, but it was intimidating to me. I went to and downloaded the files and then I was sort of stuck. For this version you need to have your own hosting space, so that after you create the page on your computer you can upload it to the web somewhere.

For a recent project I decided to use It is the version of Wordpress that is connected to webspace. You can create a page here for FREE. It will be named http://(your choice) and will be kept on the server. If you want to use your own Domain Name you can pay a little and Wordpress can use that name instead of the name with They can actually sell you the Domain Name. has templates that you can choose and then guides you through changing those templates so that they look how you want them to. Here is an example of a site using

There are other softwares for creating websites and even a free one (Kompozer) that I know of, but I am not going to take more time or space talking about them now. I just want to end with a little advice.

1. Think FIRST about what you want your page to look like and what you want to have on your page. Collect all of the graphics first.

2. Make sure that you put the most important information RIGHT on the front page because often people do not click beyond that and may miss what is really important to you.

3. Try things and then preview to see if you like them. NOTHING is permanent. If you don't like something you can change it. Some times I don't know what something does when I click on it, so I will click on it to see. If it changes something I don't like I know I can go back and fix it, but I have learned.

Finally, remember the advice from the beginning: A good website is worth paying for. Especially if you are in business your website should communicate with people so that they want your product. It is worth hiring a designer to create a page that will work for you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Starting a Business? Get a Digital Footprint. Today-Facebook Ads

Last Friday I attended the Women's Entrepreneurial Luncheon. There I heard about and met many women who are at different stages in starting businesses. The panel of speakers recommended several things that relate to technology use. They mentioned knowing both Excel and Powerpoint especially in terms of communicating with Lenders about the plans for the business. They talked about the importance of having a professional looking website and an online presence. Facebook, Twitter and reading blogs were mentioned. It really emphasized for me how much things have changed.

So, this post will focus on Facebook Ads step by step.

You all know what a footprint is, but you may not have thought about having a digital footprint. This is an imprint of what people can find out about you online. If you Google my name (Janice Friesen) you can find out a lot about me. Most of it is stuff that I have intentionally put online. I recently searched for one of my customers and found out wonderful things about his life and the things he has done.

Your company digital footprint should be something that shows you in a good light and lets your customers know what you want them to know about you. Facebook is just one part of that digital foot print. You do not even need to have a personal Facebook account in order to create a business page or ad.

There are very clear and helpful directions for how to do this in the Facebook Help Center. To get to that you go to and then at the bottom of the page click on HELP. You do NOT have to log in.

You can start with a Business Page OR an Ad. A Page is a place where you can communicate to your customers about what you are doing. People can "like" your page, but it does not give them access to your private information or information about others who like the page. When anyone clicks  "LIKE", a message about your business is posted to their wall stating that they like your business. You also receive an email about their connection to you and there is a number on the page that shows how many people "like" your business.

Facebook Ads is the next step. It allows you to narrow down where you want your ads to show up, what type of people should see them and how much you want to pay for them. You fill in the form for your Ad with a picture, some text and a link to your business webpage or email. The ad will show up on people's Facebook pages as many times as you have budgeted. I set my first one up saying that I would pay $3 a click for up to $12 a day. I targeted Austin, Texas and chose that it go to everyone who was had not indicated that they "like" I'm not a yet. Facebook regularly sent me information on how many "impressions" (how many times it showed up on a page) the Ad had and how much I was spending for clicks. I was surprised to have many people that I do not know LIKING I'm not a and actually clicking on the ad. Now I am able to adjust the number of clicks or total amount I want to spend a day so that it better meets the business goals. You can even create an ad with a coupon that people can get by clicking the ad. I am just at the beginning of using this, so I cannot say how effective it will be. There is a very similar Ad feature in Google which will bring your ad up to the top of the search results for Google. There is so much to explore and learn!

P.S. A free addition for my faithful readers. In
honor of Talk Like a Pirate day here is a podcast done last year by some cute First Grade student-pirates.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Setting up a Meeting - The Easy Way!!

Recently, I had to set up a meeting for five people who have very different life schedules and also ideas about how to spend time. Here in Austin, TX people live pretty far apart and so if a meeting includes some people who live far north and others who live far south it is best to find a time when everyone is already in a central location. Most of the time I have no idea where everyone lives, so I found a great solution. It is called DOODLE.COM.

Doodle is absolutely free! There is a premium version and other options that cost something, but to create a Doodle and send it out doesn't even require a login. All you need to do is to press the button on the front page that says "Schedule an Event".  Then you list all of the dates and times that are possible for the meeting and send the URL out to the participants.

When they get the email with the URL it takes them to the site where they can indicate which times work for them. As each one fills in their best times you get email notifying you who has responded. In a short time you can easily see what time is best for the majority of the people and send them a note with the final meeting information!  It is SO easy!

One other program that does something similar is EVITE.COM. Evite is a bit more formal and has more information included. On Evite you can create an invitation to an event and people can sign up on a calendar. The best use I have seen of Evite is coordination of meals for someone who has just had a baby or is ill. Without tons of phone calls you can create a calendar that shows what is needed and when it is needed. People can sign up and even indicate exactly what they are bringing or offering to do and so you don't have lots of overlap in people's help.

I think that these two programs are examples of some of the best uses of technology to make our lives easier. Often technology just complicates our lives. It can be frustrating. The learning curve can be steep OR things don't work when you need them to. These two online sites have been reliable and VERY easy to use and saved hundreds of hours.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Google Forms

Google has a whole suite of programs that you can use online called Google Docs. These are very similar to Microsoft Office that most of us are familiar with, but the saved documents are stored on their server (the cloud!) so that you can access them anywhere. They can also be shared so that more than one person can access, read and edit the document depending on how you set it up.

Today I am going to talk about something called Google Forms because it is so cool and easy to use. Google Forms is similar to Survey Monkey or any other type of survey software. You create a form that can be filled out by other people and then the results are collected in one place and you can manipulate them there.

You must have a Google Account to use Google Forms. Once you have one and have logged in you can choose to create a form.

A window will open up where you can design your own form. The form is fairly self explanatory to fill in. You put in each question or statement, directions for those who are filling it out. Choose a question type and put a check to indicate whether it is required.

Google offers 97 different themes so that you can change the way that your form looks.

Once you have designed your form you can choose to email it to the people who you want to fill it out. A window opens up where you can type in email addresses or choose from the contacts that you already have in your Google Docs account. You can also embed the form into your blog or website so that people who go there can fill it out (see the sample at the bottom of the blog and fill it out if you want to!)

When people fill out the form the results are automatically recorded on a Google Spreadsheet that is tied to the form. They see a window allowing them to go back to the form or to create their own form. The spreadsheet looks like this.

You can pull down the Form menu and choose "summary of responses" to see graphs that summarize your responses. You can also easily put formulas into the spreadsheet to average or sum up any numbers in the responses.

I used this for a contest where judges had to score pictures that students drew. Rather than trying to get everyone together at the same time I set up a form and then routed the pictures to each person. They could record their scores on the form and then I could just average the spreadsheet and get the responses right away!

This is an example of an embedded form. Feel free to fill it out. I will receive the feedback!:

Friday, September 9, 2011

HELP, I've lost my Facebook Password!!

I just got a note from my friend, Ruthie who has lost her Facebook password for some reason. She asked me to help her figure out how to get it.

She had already done the first step that a person should do when they forget a password. On the login page she clicked "forgot your password?" and entered her email address. Shortly after that she received email with a link to set a new password to get into her account. The problem is that when this happened it connected her to an OLD account that she had created by accident. This account was empty, while the other one had 209 friends, photos and lots of messages.

I was not sure how to help her, so I did what I always do and went to the HELP section of the program. I learned lots of things that might be helpful someday:

1. All accounts are connected to an email address. In your Account settings you can put in a back up email address which will allow Facebook to contact you even if your first email address is gone. Having a second email address here is important. I am adding one right now. Even if you have to create a free gmail, hotmail, or yahoo account in order to have a second add a second one do it!

2. Some times accounts are Disabled. There is a whole section on disabled accounts that might be helpful to look at.

3. In extreme cases Facebook has a way that you can Restore your Account through Friends. This still involves communicating with Facebook through a recognized email address. If you can not solve your problem any other way you may want to look at this section. I had a hard time finding it and learned that which words you use is really important. I kept looking for "restore" and could not find it, but when I used "recover" it worked.

4. You can get to the Facebook HELP CENTER even if you are not logged in by going to the bottom of the login page and looking for the small word "help" on the bottom right side.

5. You are not supposed to be able to make more than one account with the same email address. With my email address I made a business page, but it is tied to my Facebook page and acts a little differently. You can also create GROUPS with Facebook to have a password protected space that only certain people can access.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Saving your Photos from Fire Two-Picasa

Picture downloaded from Picasa from Jeremy King
Yesterday we talked about Flickr as one place that you can upload your pictures. Having all your precious photos online somewhere means that they will not be damaged if there is an earthquake, flood or a fire. Today I will talk a little about Picasa.

Picasa works a little differently than Flickr. It actually has two parts. One is a program on your computer and the other is online file space.

You start with Picasa by going to and downloading a copy of the free program. It puts a program on your computer that can automatically look for all of the pictures on your computer and display them into the one program. It does not actually move any of the pictures, but puts a pointer to them so that you can find them all in one place. So far all you have is a program that helps you organize what is already on your computer.

The thing I find most irritating thing about Picasa is that it automatically goes and finds all of your pictures, so when you open it up you see a scrolling window on the bottom left side that automatically finds and categorizes all of the graphics on your computer. You can set it up to only look in certain folders for pictures.

First go to Tools>Folder Manager
In the Folder Manager you can indicate which folders you want Picasa to look for new pictures. Now when you open the program it will only collect and display the new photos you wanted it to find.

Picasa always leaves the original of your photos the same as it was. It is a program for organizing and editing your photos. When you open a picture and do some editing of it the original is not changed and when you save it a second copy is saved so that the original stays the same.

The next thing that you can do with Picasa is to upload your pictures to a web album. This web album works like Flickr. You can choose to upload the pictures you want there and you can make them public or private. The photos that you have not uploaded yourself are NOT on the web and will be destroyed or lost if your computer is damaged.

In order to upload any pictures that you want to save find the picture or folder from the left side menu and at the top of the window that appears choose SHARE. You will be given a choice to share these pictures publicly or privately.

When you have uploaded them you will find them at From here you can either search everyone's public photos with the search at the top of the page or log into your own album. Your online web album also has privacy settings. Here you can allow people to see your images, but not download them or even keep them completely private so that only you can see them when you log in.

Picasa recommends that you make a back up copy of all of your pictures using TOOLS>BACK UP PICTURES in order to be sure that you are actually saving all of the originals. The program automatically resizes the photos when you upload them so that they do not take up too much space. You can set it up so that your original sizes are uploaded, but it will take a lot of room and you may use up space quickly. If you lose your external hard drive in a fire you will be happy to at least have the smaller versions saved.

Because Picasa is a Google program it has a connection to Blogger and so any images that are posted to a blog are also posted in Picasa online. All of the images from this blog can be found in the Picasa album from this blog.

There is some fantastic information here that goes more in depth.

There is so much more that you can do with either Picasa or Flickr, but this should give you a start saving your precious photos. Picasa is made for editing, organizing, sharing and creating things with your photos.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Save those Photos and other things from Fire

In Austin, Texas this week we are dealing with fires that are out of control. I read somewhere this morning that over 800 houses have burned down. That makes me sad and thoughtful. Two weeks ago my son's apartment in Chicago burned down ( page set up by his brother has links to news articles about the fire). When Dan's apartment burned I did not think about it much. I was concerned more about him and did not apply it to myself. Now that much of Bastrop right outside of Austin is burning I am starting to think about me, especially since it is so smokey outside. What have I done to think about dealing with fire?

There are lots of websites that offer help with what to do in general -, but this post is about how technology can help you.

As I write I am backing up my computer. I have a small hard drive that plugs into my computer and keeps a copy of everything I have on it. I think I may start carrying that in my purse. It is very small and has so much information on it. Even if I lose my computer I would still be able to get a new one and put back on it the things that I have stored. Even better much of what I have is actually saved on servers somewhere else. Any time I need to go to a website and log in I am usually saving things on "the cloud" (or actually some computer somewhere). Even if my house burns down and I lose my computer and my hard drive I can still get to those things.

That brings to mind two programs which are extremely helpful:  Flickr and Picasa. I will talk about Flickr today and Picasa tomorrow. Both of them are Photo saving websites where you can upload your photos for FREE. If there is a disaster you can still get your pictures back using any other computer. 
Flickr allows you to upload 300 mb each week for free. When you have gotten to that limit you must wait until the next week to upload or you can pay $25 annually for a pro account. When you upload a picture here the program automatically resizes the file to several different sizes so that it is not too large for the web.

One of the first things you want to do is to set up your privacy settings. After you have logged in you can find this by clicking on your name in the right top corner. You can choose to share your pictures or to make them private. If you make them private they will not show up when someone does a search. There are also very detailed settings in your account where you can allow some photos to show and others not, or maybe allow them to show, but not be copied or printed.

When you open up Flickr you see a greeting in a different language each time! The program starts out on the Home page where you can either go to your Photostream to see all of your pictures or to Upload Pictures or Video where you can do the uploading.

There is a lot you can do with your photos in Flickr which I could talk about on a different post. You can organize them into galleries and sets and you can mark them with lots of information like locations, names of people and tags.

Since the focus of this post is on saving important things in a fire the main thing is this: If you upload your pictures to a site like Flickr can be retrieved.

If something happened with all of your photos they will still be on Flickr. You may want to download another back up copy of all of them. This is not easy to do in the size of the original, but it is possible. If something like that would happen you may need to use a third party piece of software to do the whole download. If you want just a picture at a time it is not a problem.

Tomorrow I will look into Picasa and compare the two. There are other Photo saving and sharing sites so if you know about one that should be mentioned please comment.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Getting Help

Deleting an account in Facebook

I am not having success keeping up with Facebook week. It is Sunday and so far the "week" has been two weeks and I have not been regularly writing. So, this will be the last one for the Facebook series for right now.

There may be other things that you are curious about, so please feel free to give me ideas for future posts! Today I will be talking about getting rid of a Facebook account. What happens when you do not want your account anymore?

If you are thinking that you do not want to use your account any more go into the account settings and choose SECURITY. At the bottom you will see the words "DEACTIVATE YOUR ACCOUNT". When you click on it you have a second chance and Facebook does what it can to try to persuade you into keeping your account active. Even after deactivating your account you can choose to opt in or out of receiving email from Facebook from your friends.

Notice that they say "deactivate" rather than delete or totally shut down. When you do this Your profile is disabled (people cannot look you up) and your name and pictures are removed from anything you have shared. Your profile information and friend lists are saved in case you want to come back. This is often used for people temporarily. You can reactivate your account by logging back into it.

PERMANENT DELETION of your account is a different thing. In order to do this you have to send a request to Facebook to have it done. If you do this you cannot change your mind and come back to your account Information like your name, email address, mailing address, and IM screen name and other personal information is removed from their database. 

Another way of dealing with an inactive account is MEMORIALIZING the account. When someone passes away it is possible to leave their account up, but make it inactive as a memorial to that person.

True Confession: Most of this information has come from the Help documents available right at Facebook. You can easily find this type of thing out on your own, but maybe this summary is helpful.

p.s. Another place to look for information about Facebook is on their own Facebook page which can be found by clicking About Us at the bottom of the page or searching for Facebook in the search window. It is so full of information that I am not sure how you find what you want, but it is good to know about. I learned that Oprah is doing a live Facebook show!