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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Watching TV and Movies with your computer

Do you remember when you got your first TV?  Remember how you had to get up every time you wanted to change the channel because no one had invented the remote yet? There weren't that many channels to choose from. Now we have remotes and too many channels, but I find that often when I want to watch there is nothing "good" on.

Things are changing! Now it is easy to watch what you want, when you want to watch it. If you have DVR you can record your favorite shows and watch them at a convenient time.

So, why I am I writing about TV and DVR when this blog is about technology tips? It is because I never have gotten a DVR and I am even thinking of getting rid of cable. I have learned that I can easily watch shows from my computer on my TV. The following gives you a step by step guide of how to do it and then several places you can go online to find free or paid shows. 

Hooking your computer up to your TV

Do not be afraid of this!  It involves cables that you may not have seen  before, but you can get them at a Radio Shack or Best Buy with the help of the sales person. This is easiest to do if you have a laptop or even an iPad or other tablet, but it can be done with a desktop computer. The computer will need to be near the TV or have really long cords.

1.  Check on the back of your TV to see what ports you have on it. You will need to plug in BOTH the sound and the picture.

2. The sound will be going out of your computer and then needs to be plugged into some sort of speaker. For mine I just use speakers that I use for my computer to play music.


3. The picture can come through either VGA or HDMI cords. Check to see what you have on the back of your computer. Newer TVs will have both choices. HDMI is high definition, so it should be your first choice. VGA will also work well.


So, you will need two cords and maybe an adapter depending on your computer. For a Mac either VGA or HDMI will require an extra piece of connector to go between the HDMI or VGA cord an the Mac. Newer PCs will have both an HDMI port and a VGA port. There are different adapters for iPads and other devices. Look at the ports on your computer to see which ones you have


Now your TV is hooked up to your computer. You will need to let your TV know which input you want it to look for. I have to change mine to PC. It then looks for the PC and displays the screen that is on my computer.

The next thing is to find shows that you want to watch. The following links will take you to lots of possible places to find TV shows. You can skip the TV and watch them on your computer or tablet. It is much more fun though to run them through your TV and watch them on the big screen.


Netflix and Hulu are two of the most popular sites for subscribing to TV shows or Movies. With both of them you pay a certain amount each month and then you can watch as much as you want from their sites. When you set it up you get a login and a password that you must enter in order to access your account.

Netflix has two different plans. One is streaming video. All of the shows and movies that are available can be used right away. The other plan is borrowing CDs. I will not go into that since it is not the subject of the blog post.


Crackle by Sony is limited. There may not be full seasons for some shows, but there are many that are free. You will have to watch some ads and it does not seem to be something you can avoid.
Reviews, discussion forums leads to full episodes that reside other places like Hulu or Netflix
International channels, less popular programming
This sounds like an interesting new idea. It is sort of a pay as you go system where you pay by watching ads. 

Television networks (FOX, NBC, ABC, PBS)

Amazon Prime


If your have an iPhone you are in luck.  There is an app called Mobile Mouse which allows you to manipulate your computer using your iPhone. It also works with an iPad or iPod. You download the app to your iPhone and then another app onto your computer that makes it into a server for the app. Your iPhone uses WiFi and works just like a mouse with your computer!

There are other options for the Android. I have not tried them, so I cannot speak to them though.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Using YouTube to Learn

Last week I worked with several people who wanted to know more about Excel. I know the basics of Excel and use Spreadsheets regularly. I use the basic formulas and often use it as a fancy table.

I am comfortable using Excel 2003, but it has changed quite a bit.  It still does the same things that it did before, but it has a new ribbon menu that is confusing to me.  I could get used to it. I just need to take time to practice and use it.

So, I decided to learn on YouTube. YouTube has short videos on about anything that you would want to learn as well as lots of entertainment videos. Here is what I did:

1. I opened up Excel to a blank page.

2. I opened up a browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, or some other program that will get me to the Internet) and went to YouTube

3. I right clicked on the task bar (the bar across the bottom of the screen) and chose to show the windows side by side so that  I could see both of them at the same time. You can set up the windows to cascade,
show stacked or side by side.

4. I searched on YouTube for what I wanted to learn. I started out by just typing Excel in the search window and then selected videos that seemed like they might be helpful.

5.  I ran the video and paused it to try things out using the Excel program that was open on the other side of the screen.

6.  If there were things that I already knew in the video I fast forwarded past them by dragging the scrubber to the next point in the video that had something of interest.

My Favorite was How to Demystify the Ribbon because it went over using the ribbon in an organized and helpful way.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Fun with Photos

Today I thought I would share with you something that is just for fun.  I started by doing a search for "fun with photos". I chose the first result since it matched what I was looking for.

The one I chose is called Photo Funia. I like this site because there are a lot of effects to choose from and I like the way it is organized.

First you choose an effect that you want to use on your picture. You can either choose an effect from the samples or you can go to the list to get specific types of effects. 

Next find a picture that you want to work with. Here is the picture that I chose. It was in iPhoto and so I exported it to the desktop using FILE>EXPORT. This makes the picture smaller so that it can be used easily.

Click on the Choose Photo Button and upload the photo you chose and change the title underneath the picture. 

Depending on the effect that you have chosen a different part of the picture will need to be selected.


Thanks to the Hongkiat blog for leading me to this site. This is a great place to look if you are interested in more sites like this one.