The library is launching a series of talks, called Cyber Smarts, to help you safely navigate the Internet. The first talk will be presented by cybersecurity professional Brian Thompson at Salem Church Branch on September 5, 6:00-7:30.
The rise of digital media in our daily lives can easily leave you feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes, it just seems easier to not worry about taking all the steps needed to stay safe online. Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be daunting. The National Cyber Security Alliance, with the Department of Homeland Security, has created an online safety awareness campaign to help everyone to stay safer online. The steps are easy to remember, just:
- Stop: make sure security measures are in place.
- Think: about the consequences of your online actions.
- Connect: and enjoy the Internet.
If you have children or teens in your life, you know that computer coding and coding for kids has been gaining popularity. With electronic devices used in nearly every area of our lives, there is great interest in teaching kids how to go from being simply users of technology to becoming creators of technology, and learning to code is one way to do that. Computers, smartphones, websites and apps all run on code.
Learning to code teaches children and teens problem-solving skills and also gives them the opportunity to “look under the hood” of the technology all around them and understand how it works. Coding has been taught at the high school level for decades (I took a computer programming class when I was in high school), but today there are several platforms which have been created for younger children, so children as young as early elementary (or younger!) can enjoy coding, and there are many fun ways to encourage interest in coding for children and teens.
Retail software is expensive, sometimes running you hundreds of dollars. The good news is that there are some great, free alternatives that aren’t awful. The hard part is discerning the good from the bad and knowing the safe places to get it from. That is what I aim to do with this blog post!
- LibreOffice: http://www.libreoffice.org/
Anything Microsoft Office can do, the LibreOffice suite can do at least as well. With quality programs to answer almost every component of Microsoft Office, LibreOffice will cost you a whopping nothing.
- Notepad++: https://notepad-plus-plus.org/
Notepad++ is a free code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages.
Nobody I’ve met likes Windows 8 or 8.1. One of my most frequently requested services at the Headquarters branch is to make customers’ Windows 8 laptops act like Windows 7. Are you in the market for a new PC but want to avoid Windows 8? It’s all but impossible to find Windows 7 PCs in stores these days, but you’ve got lots of choices if you shop online.
First let’s start with buying directly from the PC manufacturers. The best three I could find that still sell Windows 7 machines from their own sites are Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Why might you wish to buy directly from the manufacturer?
2012 saw the debut of the latest version of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8. Windows 8 debuted in an unusually tense atmosphere for a Windows device, as “Wintel” (Windows PCs powered by Intel processors) faced unprecedented threats from tablets and smartphones in the marketplace. Windows 8 PCs faced sales declines over the 2012 holiday period, and the changes in the interface of Windows 8 from Windows 7 have been a major cause of concern for many consumers. Questions such as, “How can I find my old files if I upgrade to Windows 8?” and “Will Steam run in Windows 8?” are extremely common. Another common topic for questions is the difference between Windows 8—the operating system for conventional Windows desktop and laptop PCs, and Windows RT—the operating system for Windows tablets. In this article, let’s take a look at how compatibility in Windows 8 works and what the differences between Windows 8 and Windows RT mean.
I see it all the time: PCs choking on gobs of uninvited software to the point where they barely function. They may be Web browser toolbars or antivirus utilities or programs that promise to speed up your computer, when in fact they do exactly the opposite. It enrages me to see programs like these on my customers’ computers because I know that they did not knowingly install these programs--these programs waltzed in with another that the customer did want. This sort of software is referred to as “sneakware.” Here are some strategies to prevent this from happening to you!
Sometimes catastrophe rains down on our PCs. We turn them on and . . . nothing happens. Could be any number of factors: virus; aging hardware; broken software update. And, of course, sometimes things just go bad. Sad thing is, we're never ready for these events when they happen. Our files aren't backed up to any external media, and, with our PCs not running properly, we don’t have any easy way of retrieving them. Sure, you could take the computer to a repair shop or run the factory recovery discs that may have come with the machine, but you run a very real chance either way, especially the latter way, of losing your files. So, I'm going to tell you how you how you might be able to salvage your files, if not your computer, for free using Linux.
I've bemoaned the existence and use of digital rights management, or DRM as it's more commonly known, in previous Librarypoint articles, but I'm not certain that I've gone point-by-point over what it means for you, the library user, and us, the consumers. DRM is a means by which music, videos, eBooks, documents, software, and just about anything else digital are restricted from being copied, transferred, or used on unapproved hardware. The American Library Association's Digital Content Working Group has recently put out a wonderful tip sheet regarding DRM that I can’t recommend more enthusiastically. It goes over what DRM is, some of its consequences and legal ramifications, and what you can do to help work against it. Reading through it is one of the best ways to arm yourself as a digital consumer against some of the more consumer-unfriendly tactics of today’s content providers.
In the spirit of our Cultivating Community effort for this year, I thought I would share with you some of the computing resources that the library and the community both have to offer. There’s more help available to you than you think!
First off let me start by telling you about the Fredericksburg PC Users Group. Their website is http://fpcug.org/. They can also be found on Facebook and Meetup.com. The FPCUG provides a variety of meetings and speakers for beginners and veterans alike. If you want to learn more about your new PC or are having difficulties with it, there’s a good chance somebody at the FPCUG can help!
TV Is Dead. Long Live TV
In these lean times, we’re all looking for ways to cut household costs. You may be pondering whether you should ditch the cable TV or the broadband Internet to free up $50 a month. Take my advice and lose the cable. Heck, even if you aren’t in a financial pickle, go ahead and dump it. Your life will be better for it. Here’s why.