Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Calculator Conversions

Every person in this world has strengths or talents.  Things they are really good at.  Things that just come naturally.  
And then on the flip side, everyone has weaknesses.  Things that don’t come naturally.

For example, I have a hard time with being able to envision the length or distance of things.  You can ask me how far away a tree is in the backyard, and I couldn’t give you a guess if my life depended on it.

That’s how I ended up with a 65″ tv that I thought was the same size as the 48″ tv that I admired at my parents house.
I have another problem along the same lines….and hopefully I’m not the only one in this boat.  I also have a hard time with conversions.  I know, stupid American who can’t do metric….but for some reason it’s just something that doesn’t click in my brain!
I can’t be the only one who has this problem.  And I feel validated in this because of the fact that a simple app in Windows makes it so easy.  So clearly they were targeting a specific group of people, right?
I’m gonna go with yes.

So hear’s the secret.  Here’s the news.  Here’s the word, bird.
Open up your calculator.  

Not on your phone.

In Windows.

(If you need help, click the Start menu and just type “calc” and it will pop up as the first option).

You should see the standard calculator like so:
Now prepare to have your mind blown.  See that hamburger menu to the left of the word Standard?

For those of you not in the know – those three lines are called a hamburger menu.  Sorry if I got too tech-y for you.

Anyway….click on those three lines, and you will see a whole menu of options.  Look-ey!
It will convert length, or weight, or CURRENCY.  Temperature?!  Do you see all these options?  My brain never will have to struggle again!

I hope that some of you find as much joy in this tid bit of information as I do.  Happy converting!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Christmas

This week we’re all about Christmas, so I’m going to give you a tip that will hopefully help you avoid Christmas morning headaches.
When you are gift giving this year, if you are giving any kind of technology whether it be tablets, computers, video games, or even just toys – it’s not just about remembering the batteries (though that is important). 
Pay attention to what is and isn’t included in your purchase.  A lot of monitors don’t come with cables anymore.  Sometimes laptops need different power adapters.  Video games sometimes need storage/memory cards.

So my tip is, pay attention to what is and isn’t included but is necessary to use your present Christmas morning and make sure you pick up what you need.  That way every one is happy once the present is opened!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Incognito Window

This week, I’m going to be sharing something that I use as a tool quite regularly in my day to day work experience.  It’s a very helpful tool, but most people apparently don’t even know about it!

I feel super sneaky when I use it.  And like no one can find out what I’m doing.  One might even say, where in the world is…..
Sorry for that 90’s tv show reference.  Anyway….

What I’m going to be talking about today is the incognito window.  This is something you use in your internet browser – and every browser has it (though it sometimes goes by different names – for example, Internet Explorer calls it InPrivate Browsing, and Firefox just calls it a Private Window).

It’s usually pretty easy to find.  In Chrome, you will click the three dots up in the right hand corner and select New Incognito Window.
You can also just right click on the Chrome icon in your task bar and select New Incognito Window.

Once you’ve done this, it opens up a new Window that looks…..a little different, but mostly the same.
It basically looks like a grayed out version of Chrome.  The wonderfulness comes in what it does – or doesn’t do.  It doesn’t keep track of your cookies and site data, or your browsing history.  It doesn’t keep you logged in on sites you visit. 

Alright, you might be thinking:  it looks different, it acts a little different, but why would you use this?  What’s the point?
The jokes don’t get any better from here folks.  Just keep moving.

There are several different reasons to use an incognito window.

For me at work, it’s a quick and easy way to try and narrow down the cause of a problem.  Have you ever had someone tell you, “you need to clear your cache” or “it’s a cookie issue”?
When you use an incognito window, it’s like you are using the browser for the very first time.  There are no saved cookies, no cached pages.  So if I’m having a problem with a website in my regular Chrome window and it works in incognito mode?  It probably is something to do with the cache or cookies (which, I can talk about how/when to clear those later).  

However, if it still doesn’t work in incognito mode, it is a different problem and I can move on to other things (like letting the websites mother company know that they have an issue on their end and they best fix it).
The other main reason I would use an incognito window is if you are using a public computer, or any computer that is not your own.

Have you ever used a friends computer to check your Facebook and forgotten to sign out?  And then had a very embarassing status posted to your wall?

Yeah….me neither.
If you forget to log out of all of your accounts, someone else can come along and have their way with whatever you left logged in.

If you use an incognito window, it doesn’t remember any of your log ins or history.  It’s a safe way to browse away from home without worrying about logging out of every site you use.

One last reason I use an incognito window is if you have multiple accounts at the same domain.- for example, at work we have Gmail account and I also have a personal Gmail account.  I can open one in a regular window and open the other in an incognito window – that way I don’t have to keep switching back and forth between sign ins.
So there you have it!  A few main reasons why I use my sneaky incognito window!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Hot Keys

It’s time for another simple tip!

I’m a sucker for a short cut.  Even when it’s something that doesn’t save a ton of time, sometimes there are short cuts that I just find fun and simple enough that – why NOT use it??

This is one of those.
A computer keyboard shortcut!!  We’re going to talk about hot keys!

Why are they called hot keys, you may wonder.

Well I am here to tell you – I don’t know.  Though I do know that it’s not because they are on fire.
Hot keys are key combinations that make short cuts to open up programs.  And the coolest thing about it is that you can make your own!  

For example, on my computer at home, if I type CTRL+ALT+C, Chrome opens up.  Or if I type CTRL+ALT+E I find a fresh window with Excel!

It’s like a secret menu at your favorite restaurant.  But on a computer.  And you get to create the menu.

So, how do you this you may ask.  It’s simple!

First locate the icon for the program that you would like to create a hot key for.  I will be setting one up for Word.  You right click on the icon and it pops up a menu where you will select Properties.
This will open the Properties box, as shown below.  You will place the cursor in the line that says “Shortcut key”.
Then you will select which keys you want to use as a combination.  So I want Word to open when I hit CTRL+ALT+W.  So I actually hit those buttons and……
Voila!  It now shows those buttons as the shortcut key.  I just hit okay and it will save the shortcut. 

Now no matter what I am doing on my computer, if I suddenly decide I need a Word window open and I don’t want to minimize my windows and tabs to get to my desktop, I use my new shortcut and up it pops!

Have fun creating your own shortcuts!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Snip & Sketch

If you use any sort of social media….Facebook, TikTok, Instagram…..MySpace……you might be familiar with the concept of TBT.  Throw back Thursday.

People have great fun revisiting posts and sharing pictures of themselves from days gone by.
Well this week, I’m doing a little TBT of my own.  I’m posting a tip this week that I originally posted years ago.  So if you’ve been a loyal reader all this time, feel free to move right along.
However, over the last few years we’ve added a lot more friends, followers, and clients – and this is something that may be helpful to them.  Plus the program has been updated a bit  So here it is.  The first.  EVER.  
 Throwback Tip Thursday
(or whatever day of the week you read this)!!!
If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “I swear, it wasn’t working when I called you!”, this would be me:
And sometimes when I hear that, the problem never happens again for the user.  There are times though where it happens five minutes after we hang up the phone.   

Rather than try to rush and call me while it’s still happening, sometimes it’s best to document what’s going on.  I’ve also found though that most people look at me like I’ve grown a second head out of my neck when I say, “just take a screen shot!”  Apparently this is a foreign concept to most people.  

In the original tip, I spoke of the Snipping Tool (which actually is still an option, but is going to disappear at some point).  This time however, I’m going to talk to you about the Snip & Sketch Tool.  And if I loved the Snipping Tool, I’m absolutely twitterpated and smitten over the Snip & Sketch Tool.  

It can be found by clicking on your start bar, type Snip, and you’ll see the Snip & Sketch icon pop up as an option.  
Your screen will kind of gray out and you will see a small box of options at the top of your screen:
Lemme zoom in on that for you.  One second.
Moving from left to right, you have the following options.

First, the Rectangular Snip.  If you click on this, you select some point of your screen and drag the rectangle around the portion you want to “snip” (don’t release the mouse button until you’ve completed your rectangle).  It basically cuts it out of your screen so you can then save it as an image.

The second option is the FreeForm Snip.  This allows you to select some point of your screen and you hold the mouse down as you draw whatever shape you want (again, don’t release the mouse button until you’ve completed your shape).  You may want a circle, or to highlight only certain people in a photo.  Whatever is within the section you draw will be your snip.

The third option is the Window Snip.  You may have Quickbooks open on the left side of your screen and Excel open on the right.  You want a snip of the entire Excel window.  When you choose the Window snip, you then select whichever window you want a snip of.  

The fourth option is the Fullscreen Snip.  You choose this option and it will automatically snip your full screen (even multiple screens if you have multiple monitors).  

At the end you see the X, which is just to exit out if you’ve changed your mind in the two seconds it takes to open the program.

Once you have your snippet, you can add writing, highlighting, or other edits, and then you can save it by clicking on the disk icon.
I highly recommend pinning this tool to your task bar so that whenever you have something you want to document – to show me, or just because you want to save and cherish it forever – it’s just a mouse click away from being able to do it’s job!  All you have to do is right click on the icon, and select Pin to Taskbar.
Even if you don’t use it to document something you called me about, it’s still a great tool to use anytime you need to send us an email because you can snip a specific error you’re getting, or show what your screen is looking like.  It’s always helpful for us to diagnose something when we can see it!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Phone/Email Safety

Ahhhh, technology.  It’s such a wonderful thing!  It allows us to be more productive.  It keeps us connected to family and friends across large distances.  It grants us access to practically any television series imaginable so that we can watch all 4,000 seasons in one weekend and not even feel a little bit guilty.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  As wonderful as technology is – it’s also very sneaky, and CANNOT be trusted!

“But Larilyn!” I hear you saying in your inner dialogue voice.  “What on earth do you mean by that?  My whole life is centered around my devices.”

I respond by saying this.  First of all, you are on earth so your life centers around the sun.
Second of all – as great as technology is, there is so much about it that can’t be trusted.

Take emails for example.  Think about what it takes for you to set up an email account.  You log onto your favorite email site – Hotmail, AOL, what have you.  You tell them what your name is and what you want your email address to be.

Think about that for a moment.  You tell them who you are.  You pick the name.  They don’t check your ID.  They don’t do any kind of verification.  They take you at your word.  

I could tell them that I am Snuffleupagus, and they wouldn’t bat an eye.  They would just wonder why I don’t write to Big Bird more often.
The same is true for phone numbers and caller ID.  I can set up a phone line through a VOIP provider (many companies use VOIP lines now instead of land lines).  Part of the set up process is I tell them what I want my caller ID to show up as.  So I could tell them that I am Phoebe Buffay, and that’s what will show up when I call people.
And now I hear your inner voice again.  “Okay Larilyn, that may be true…..but who cares?  Why does it matter?”

I will tell you why it matters.  Because as a people, we are too trusting.  We get an email that says it is from our childhood best friend and we get excited and will click on any link he has sent us because we fondly remember our childhood and think that he can be trusted. 

Or we get a phone call that says it is from Microsoft, and we will believe them when they tell us that our computer has been compromised and we have to give them $400 for them to run a scan and repair – they just need the money and access to our computer.
So please – always confirm the sender of an email if it seems phishy.  Or even if it doesn’t but it’s not someone you’re expecting something from – just confirm it with them!  

Pay little attention to the phone number or the caller ID.  If it’s a number you recognize but doesn’t sound like the person you know, it might not be legit.  If it says it is coming from a legit business but you don’t have any business with them, it might not be legit.  And if a legit business is calling you, they need to confirm who they are, they don’t need you to confirm who you are!

Don’t trust people saying they are from Microsoft or any other kind of tech support.  You know us in the office.  If it’s not Scott, Jose, or Larilyn, it’s probably not legit.  Shoot us a quick email or give us a call.  We’ll let you know if it’s a scam. 

Just be careful and everything will be alright!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Entire word backspace

I was trying to figure out some big life altering tip for this week, but nothing I was finding seemed right.  And as I looked and looked, a phrase kept popping into my head.
So…..I took a step back and thought – what is something simple that everyone can use? 

Well, I know I always love finding a new keyboard short cut.  When you spend all day on a computer, it’s the little things, right?
Sometimes, even though I type really fast – my brain goes faster than my fingers.  And so sometimes while I’m typing, I realize that the word I just typed – you know, the word practically – somehow came out looking like…..
The whole word has to go.  So I could do one of two things.  

Option A – I could furiously type the backspace key to the beat of Gloria Estefan’s absolutely appropriately titled hit…..

I could go with option B – the newest shortcut I am going to share with you.

Did you know that if you hold down the Ctrl button when you hit the backspace button, it will actually delete an entire word.  And bonus….this even works on a Mac!

With one simple hit (unlike Ms. Estefan’s discography), your mistake vanishes like it never even existed.

You just tested it, didn’t you?

Would I LIE to you?

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Character Map

Today I want to talk about something that has been a basic function of Windows since…..well…..
It’s a very handy thing to know about and to use, but most people I know don’t even know that it exists!

It makes typing much easier if you have to use symbols that you don’t see right on your keyboard.

If you’ve never found yourself in a situation such as this, keep moving.  Nothing to see here.  

However.  If I’ve piqued your interest…..
(If you haven’t already figured out that I’m a major nerd, I feel like this left no doubt in your mind….am I right?)

Let me introduce you to the Character Map.
As you can see, it shows you a plethora of characters and symbols.  It shows you every available character within a font – and you can pick all different fonts!

If you only need a symbol or character once, you can select a character and it will show up in the “Characters to copy” box.  You then copy it and paste it into whatever you need.

However, the real reason that I’m absolutely, devastatingly in love with the character map is what you can learn from it to make your life easier.  It makes my heart go pitter pat.
Say you do a lot of work where you type up copyrighted material, and you constantly have to put in the copyright symbol.  You could find the symbol and copy and paste it a million times.  You could even go into the Character Map and select it and put it in a million times.

Orrrrr… could pay attention to the lower right corner.
You see where it gives you a keystroke?  That is actually the secret combination of keys to hit in order to put the symbol that you want into your text without ever having to cut, paste, or open the character map again!

Let me tell you – this came so in handy during my many years of French class!  I just memorized the right key strokes for my cedilla and accent marks, and then I could type like the wind!  

One does not type 110 WPM without learning the shortcuts on the keyboard.  35+ years of piano playing probably doesn’t hurt either, but I digress…..

I hope this tip helps you shave minutes off your typing needs in the future!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: Search Google Function

Has this ever happened to you?

You are having a conversation with your family, or perhaps watching a show, or you are just a generally inquisitive mind and you want to Google something.

So you open up your web browser and start your search.  Along the way, you find an article, and then a link to another article, or another page…..and before you know it.  WHAM.  
You’re down a rabbit hole.

Yeah.  Me neither.

Anyway….what I wanted to talk about is actually when you are in said rabbit hole and are reading previously mentioned article and you come across a word, or a phrase, or perhaps a name or event title – and you have clue what it means.
Context is no help.  Shouting to my husband to ask if he knows what it means yields no results.  I don’t really want to go down a second rabbit hole.  I’m kind of busy here.  However, I need to know.  

I could open a new tab and start a new Google search.  However, do you know what’s even faster?
Don’t be silly.  Roadrunners may be fast, but they can’t use technology.

Did you know that if you highlight the word/phrase/whatever it is and right click on what you highlighted, you can select the option to “Search Google”?  Or if you are on your iPhone, you can highlight the word and hit “Look Up”.  Same thing!

Swear.  Cross my heart, hope to die.

Now, this may not be the most amazing tip I’ve ever posted.  Or the most time saving.  But it is a tip.  And I bet you’ll try it!  Hey – every second you save adds up in the end, right?

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week: File Tagging

I have a confession to make.

I’m a hoarder.  

But not really the kind you’re thinking of.
No, I’m not talking about that kind of hoarding.  I’m talking about the fact that when it comes to things on my computer, I like to save them.  Pictures, emails, memes galore.  Every paper I’ve written for most of the classes I’ve ever taken – you never know when I’ll need that essay on the many reasons why the chicken may have actually crossed the road.  You name it, I have it saved and ready for if the need for it ever arises again.

It’s great that we make folders and sub folders and organize files and such to our hearts content, but somtimes it’s hard to remember where the file I’m looking for can be, or maybe I actually have a topic that I want to review and I want to look at multiple files dealing with that topic – but they’re spread out all over creation.
Fortunately, there is a great feature that helps with this.  You know how online, people can tag things with key words or phrases that help to search for them?  Did you know that you can do this on your own computer with your files?

When you are saving a file in Microsoft Word or Excel for example, there is an option under the file name for More Options.
Once you click on that, it will open up another box where you can name the file, tell it where to save – just like normal.  However, at the bottom you will see the option for Add a Tag.
You can click and type whatever tags will help you stay organized.  For example, I might tag this blog as “Tips” or “Computers”.  

The great thing about Tags is that then when you are looking for something on a certain subject, you can find all of the files you have on the same topic without having to navigate across all different folders and subfolders.

All you have to do is open your File Explorer and in the Search This PC box at the top right, type tags: and the tag your’re searching for.  So for example, tags: tips.  You can whittle down as much or as little as you like of where the tag will search – searching your whole PC or just your Documents folder or perhaps your Desktop – but whatever you search, everything that has been tagged with that particular tag will show up for you.
Isn’t technology simply the best??