Friday, November 18, 2011

Tip of the Week - Mouse Buttons

People often come to me and ask ... why don’t Macs have a right-click button on the mouse.

Truth is...Macs have always had a right click. So why don’t you see the button? Well, Apple loves to design things to look and feel sleek, smooth, elegant. So putting cracks in the mouse so that there were two distinct buttons just never appealed to Apple. But the buttons are still there! The mouse on your iMac or eMac can tell where you click with your finger. If you click on the left side, one thing happens. Click on the right, a different thing.

However, you can control what that thing is! If you go into your System Preferences and look for the Mouse preferences, you’ll see a window that includes this...

As you can tell, this mouse actually has FOUR buttons. And each button can be controlled here with a pop-up menu. You can select what each button does.

So don’t hesitate to customize your mouse and take full advantage of your mouse button options.

By the way...on some mice, there really are not multiple buttons. On all the ones made by Apple in the last few years...yes. But sometimes we buy less expensive replacements that really are single button mice. And on some older Apple mice, there was only one button on the mouse. But does that mean those folks did not have a right click??

Fear not! You still have access to both a left click and a right click. When you click the mouse button, that is your left click. If you hold down the CONTROL key while clicking the mouse button, you get a right click. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Tip of the Week

Okay, the first 6 tips were pretty straightforward. But today I’m giving you one that will let you dig just a bit.


Well, as we’ve moved to the new version of Office, we have more e-mail attachments showing up on our desktops that are compressed files. Those are called Archives. And they look like this....

Little icons with a zipper. This means something has been compressed in some way for delivery to you. It can be an e-mail attachment. It can also be a file or application that we’ve downloaded. Either way, when you double-click on it, the files or applications are decompressed.


While the file is now there for you to work on, the Archive is still sitting on your desktop. And unless you do a lot of housekeeping, you soon end up with a bunch of those little things all over the place.

Seems like some smart person would have figured out an easy to way to avoid that, huh?

Well they did.

And here is what you can do to solve this problem.

Double-click on your Hard Drive. Now look for your System folder. It will be a folder with a little X on it, like this...

Now let’s dig deeper. Inside the System folder is a Library folder. And inside that Library folder is a folder called CoreServices. Once you get that far, look for Archive Utility. Here is the path you’ve followed...

Double-click on Archive Utility to open it up. Looks like nothing happened, right? But it did. The only thing that changes are your menu options, so look to the top of your screen...

Pull down the Archive Utility menu and select Preferences. When the  Preferences open, look for the pop-up menu for After Expanding. This is where you can tell your computer what to do with all those Archives.

The default setting is Leave Archive Alone. You want to change that to Move Archive To Trash. (That red arrow isn’t on your computer...I added that just to point the way)

Now when you open up one of those compressed files, you’ll still have your file to work with, but you’ll be automatically cleaning up the debris that is left behind!

Note...if you are working on an older version of OS, you might not find this option. But this is a good solution for most of us using any of the recent versions of OS X.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tips of the Week

This year, I'm trying to send out a weekly tip via e-mail to all our staff. Just short, quick things that might help them with their technology. It isn't all limited to work stuff...but I just try to make it all fairly current stuff.

And I decided I might as well share them here, as well. Today will be Tip #5 in our below, you can get caught up with all of the first five.

Tip #1 - E-mail Attachments
When you receive an e-mail with an attachment, many folks highlight the attachment and hit Open. Oour experience with this has been mixed. For that reason, I've always encouraged folks to hit "Save" and save the attached document to their Desktop. Then go and open the document. That has always been more reliable.

Tip #2 - AccountKiller
We all create lots of accounts around the web...facebook, flickr, skype, ebay, amazon, iTunes, Windows Live, etc, etc, etc. Many of them we use – but some we create and then realize we don’t want or need. And we would like to get rid of the account rather than just go away and leave it hanging.

But how?

Sites don’t always make it easy to figure out how to delete an account. They like to add up users...not eliminate them.

If you have an account you would like to delete as effectively as possible, visit AccountKiller ( ). This site gives you direct links to instructions for deleting accounts on many of the most popular sites.

And if you are considering creating an account, it is sometimes fun to check out AccountKiller first. They list sites by color code...with the “black” sites being those that are nearly impossible to actually delete without calling upon super powers and counting on a lot of luck.

Tip #3 - facebook help
There have been lots of new changes going on with facebook.

If you are trying to figure out the basics of the new changes that are in place, here are a few resources to help you sort out Lists, the Ticker, the Top Stories and Recent Stories breakdown, and some of the things you can do to manage what shows up on your wall and what you share with others.
(scroll down and watch the video at the end of the post)

Tip #4 - VLC
We all watch videos online. We all get videos sent to us via e-mail. And we’ve all had videos that we could not play. But there is a simple solution that Mac-lovers have relied on for many years now...VLC.

VLC will play almost any video or audio. If VLC doesn’t play it, you can usually just give up.

Here is a quick review of VLC...

And here is the site to download it. It is a free and safe download.

Tip #5 - Screenshots
There are lots of times you may want to share what you see on your screen. Grabbing a quick screenshot is amazingly quick and simple. It can be a quick way to grab a section of a web page and share with another person as an e-mail attachment. It can be a great way to save an error message to share with the tech folks when you ask for help.

Here are the instructions for the Mac folks...

To get a photo of your entire desktop, press Command-Shift-3 (all at the same time). If your volume is turned up, you'll hear a snapshot sound. And a document named "screen shot" with the date and time as part of the name will appear on your desktop. 

To get a photo of a specific area of your screen, press Command-Shift-4. Your cursor will turn into a crosshair. Click and drag to highlight the area of the screen you want to capture. When you release the mouse button, you'll hear the snapshot sound and the image file will be saved to your desktop.

Lastly, if you do a lot of screen captures...or if you want to take that shot of your desktop and then label items, draw arrows to highlight certain features, Skitch. It is a great free tool for capturing and working with screenshots.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs

I was having dinner last night when my daughter sent me a text telling me that Steve Jobs had passed away. As the technology coordinator for a school that is dedicated to Apple products and personally, a true fan of Apple technology, it was a sad moment. We all knew he had been fighting cancer for a long time. But I'm not sure we thought it would end so soon.

The vision of this man changed our world. Through Apple and Pixar, he changed how we interact with each other, how we engage in creative pursuits, how we enjoy movies and music, and much more. In fact, I wonder just how many people found out about his death on a device that he created and brought to the world - an iMac, a MacBook, an iPad, an iPhone, or an iPod Touch? No doubt, the products he gave us were the source for this sad news for millions.

And in our school, his vision and his products have made life better for our students. At this moment, our classrooms are using their new iPads in ways that give our students opportunities for skill development, communication, and leisure in ways we've never been able to provide in the past.

While I'm sure Apple will continue to flourish as a company, we've all lost something with the passing of Steve Jobs.

May he rest in peace.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Word versus Google Docs

At work, we have stuck almost exclusively to Microsoft Office as the tools of choice. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage are the backbone of our program. But let's not kid ourselves, not everyone is happy about that. And it is a very costly program to maintain.

So what are the options?

I've written in the past about the beauties of Google Docs and Open Office - both of which offer free versions of comparable programs. And in my own personal work, I've slowly started to migrate more and more toward Google Docs. I love the fact that I don't have to worry about updating software. Google does that for me. I love that it is free. And I love that I can access my documents from work, from home, and from my phone.

But Jeff Utecht says it far better than I could. So check out his recent blog post on 10 Reasons To Trash Word For Google Docs.

I don't think our program will make the change anytime soon. But for personal work, Microsoft Office makes less and less sense.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Brand New Year

The title makes it sound like Day One. Actually we are already into Week #2. But getting time to blog has taken a back seat to helping other folks get up and running with new versions of Microsoft Office, working to help update our database, trying to be supportive to staff who want to implement new things, etc.

And trust me, I get very excited by staff who want to implement new things! I've got a couple of teachers working on a new journaling activity using the iPad. Another teacher wanted to incorporate music into the classroom via iPad and iPod. And one teacher setting up a new classroom blog. I have a lot of fun helping those folks!

And I've organized my staff learning opportunities for the year. In the course of this year I'll be doing workshops on blogging for families, using video in the classroom, using powerpoint in the classroom, ways to incorporate the iPad into the curriculum, using social media with the students, and much more.

I think it will be a very exciting year!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Twitter - A Learning Process

I recently posted about Why I Love Twitter. But it hasn't always been that way. And even today, it isn't a 24/7 kind of feeling.

I learn a lot from Twitter. I have the app open and the little stream of tweets runs down the side of my desktop most of the day. I find lots of resources. I get links to really great articles. So what was the problem with Twitter early on?

It was overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time. Twitter isn't just about going to the web site and creating an account. It involves a lot of searching and seeking to find people to follow. It involves learning an entirely new "language" as you figure out tweets, retweets, hashtags, Tweedle, Twitter Search, DM's, etc, etc. And then there is the search for the best desktop application for following along. Which also means finding the best iPhone app for following along. And then keeping an eye out all the time as apps come and go, get upgraded, etc. In other words, Twitter can be a lot of work!

And the result of all that? Initially, not much. At conferences, speakers routinely sent out a tweet and we all watched as dozens of responses poured in. And they illustrated how this expansive network could answer all your questions as they tweeted a question and got numerous answers. But for the typical user, it is a long time before that happens. And it can very quickly become one of those things where it feels like...sure, you can do it cause you're well known and you write books and you have thousands of followers. I have six. And if those aren't online when I ask the question, I get no answer at all.

Fortunately, times have changed. I've been on Twitter for more than a year now. I've got enough followers that I sometimes actually get one answer when I ask a question. Sometimes even two! And that, along with all the other resources I gather makes Twitter worthwhile. I love what I get from it now. But it did take time.