Littleborough Silver Surfers
Created and maintained by Jocelyn Lavin
Last updated: 24th September 2012
This course ran from September 2007 to September 2012. This website will not be removed now the course has ended, but I can't promise to update it as regularly. If you find a broken link, please let me know and I will fix it.
Session 1: Internet basics
Session 2 (double session): Google
Session 3: Wikipedia
Session 4: Google Maps and Guessing URLs
Session 5: Public transport
Session 6 (double session): Shopping, and online safety
Session 7 (double session): Email; file management; word processing; keyboard shortcuts
Session 8 (double session): Final session - podcasts; blogs; Facebook & Twitter; assorted websites (incl. Snopes and IMDB)
Extra: Mouse and keyboard practice
Extra: Christmas websites
Jocelyn's website (Vamp Till Ready)
Go On (government's computer training site for beginners)
Age UK website
Session 1: INTERNET BASICS
Session 1 handout
Broadband cable map (2012) - taken from TeleGeography's Submarine Cable Map
If you already know the website address, you don't need Google. Just type it directly into the address bar (the box at the top of the page). Before you can type anything in the address bar, you need to highlight it by clicking in it.
Be careful not to insert any spaces or capital letters - it won't work if you do. The dots are there instead of spaces.
When you've finished typing, press the ENTER (or RETURN) key - the large one with the crooked arrow on it.
Other useful internet tips
When using the mouse, it makes a difference which button you click. Usually it's the left one. Don't hold it down - just click and let go. Make sure you don't move the mouse while doing this.
You can't break the internet! If it doesn't work, it's probably not your fault.
To go onto the internet, you start by opening a browser (e.g. Internet Explorer or Firefox or Safari or Chrome). Replace Internet Explorer if you can (but you will probably have to use it at first).
You don't have to type the http:// at the start of the address, but you usually need to type everything else.
Some websites are set up so you can miss out the www, but not all. Not all websites start with www anyway!
Capital letters aren't used when you type website addresses or Google search words.
To delete what you've just typed (i.e. to the left), use the backspace key (near top right of keyboard, often has a left-pointing arrow on it). (The 'delete' key deletes what's to the right.) You can use the arrow keys at the bottom right of the keyboard to move along a line of text.
If a box pops up that you don't understand, you can usually make it go away by clicking "cancel".
If a website is taking a long time to load, click "stop" (if you like, you can try "refresh"). (These buttons are at the top of the page.)
On your own computer, you can save your favourite websites so that you don't always have to type their addresses - to do this, click "Favorites" (or "Bookmarks") and then "Add Favorite" or "Add Bookmark".
Most browsers have an auto-complete feature, which means that when you start typing an address that you've used before, the browser will guess the rest.
Mouse and keyboard practice
The only way to get better is to keep using the mouse and keyboard as much as you can (and don't worry if you find it difficult - everyone does at first) but there are games that will help. (Some of these games do need your computer to be fairly up to date in order to run, so if nothing seems to be happening, try updating your Flash plugin... and if you don't know how to do that, don't worry, just try a different game!)
Mouse practice games (note: make sure you wait for the game to load):
Palm Beach page (try "Concentration" first, then "Gopher" when you get confident enough to move faster)
Concentration (different to the one on the Palm Beach page, but works the same way)
Typing practice games (note: make sure you wait for the game to load):
Acronyms (you do NOT need to remember these):
www - world wide web (some say "world wide wait"!)
URL - uniform resource locator (i.e. website address)
ISP - internet service provider
http - hypertext transfer protocol
html - hypertext markup language
Some frequently-used terms
icons, window, cursor, menu, toolbar, desktop, link, browser, address bar, status bar, side bar, tab bar, forward slash, dialogue box
mouse: single click, left click, right click, double click, scroll, drag, highlight, hover
General computer tips (mainly for those who have a computer at home)
Patience is a virtue! Some computers (particularly older ones) take a very long time to start up, even if there is nothing wrong. If you see the hourglass/eggtimer, it means the computer is in the middle of trying to do something. Clicking on something new will just slow it down even further, in this case. Go and make a brew and come back in ten minutes!
If your computer freezes (i.e. the cursor won't move and nothing happens whatever you press), the first thing to do is to WAIT. If nothing has changed after five minutes, try holding down the CTRL, ALT and DELETE keys all at the same time - this usually gives you some options.
If that doesn't work, hold the power button down until the computer shuts down.
Only if all else fails should you switch the computer off at the wall or unplug it.
The proper way to shut down your computer - for a PC at least - is to click "Start" or the Windows icon (in the bottom left corner) and then "Shut Down" or "Turn Off Computer". If you often shut down improperly, you will soon have problems.
If your computer is behaving oddly - e.g. everything is very slow, or the mouse moves erratically - the first thing to try is restarting the computer. (To do this, you need to follow the instructions as for shutting down, and you will get an option to restart.) You should also restart the computer again as a precaution after any improper shutdown.
The settings for personalising your computer are in the Control Panel. You can safely ignore them until you are more comfortable with the machine.
Do not ignore Windows system updates. Your computer should be set up to download and install them automatically - don't change this.
PCs and Apple Macs are different types of computer. You can do everything on one that you can do on the other, but the method might be slightly different. The library computers are PCs, and so are the majority of home computers. (If your computer runs Windows, it's a PC.)
Get into the habit of doing regular backups of your personal stuff (e.g. photos). It's possible that your computer could develop problems that can only be fixed by wiping the entire hard drive, and if this happens you will lose anything that's not backed up. Every so often, copy important files to a CD or DVD or flash drive etc., or store them somewhere online.
Don't fall for scams - in particular, if someone contacts you out of the blue to tell you that your computer has a problem but they can fix it, TELL THEM "NO".
Session 2: Google
Session 2 handout
Session 2a handout (practice)
Basic Google facts
Google is a search engine. There are other search engines, but Google is the best.
Google is for finding websites if you don't already know the address.
New browsers have a Google search box in the top right hand corner of the screen - just type your search terms in there. On old browsers you have to go to the Google website and use the search box in the middle of the screen.
Once you are already in Google, you can use the search box at the top of the page for new searches - you don't have to go back to the start.
Google works if you only put one word in; use more words to narrow down the search.
When using Google, you DO need spaces between the words, but you don't need capital letters.
Don't worry about spelling. Google is good at guessing which word you meant.
Quote marks tell Google to search for a phrase rather than separate words.
Google has all sorts of features in addition to basic searching, and some of these (e.g. Google Maps) will be covered in future sessions. However, a particularly useful aspect is Google Images. If you are looking specifically for images, search as above, then click "images" in the top left corner to see image results only.
You can use Google to translate, too: Google Translate
Advanced Google users will find this page useful: Things you may not have realised you could do with Google
Beckham Google exercise
"david beckham" england
"david beckham" england old trafford
"david beckham" england old trafford greece
"david beckham" england old trafford greece free kick
Session 3 handout
Session 3 worksheet
Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia. It is very useful for finding out lots of information about one particular topic.
If you're not sure whether to use Google or Wikipedia in a specific case, use Google - if there is a relevant Wikipedia article, it will usually show up as the top Google search anyway. Think of Google as an entire library and Wikipedia as a shelf of encyclopaedias within that library.
Wikipedia can be updated by anyone (including you!) and this tends to mean that it is very up-to-date. Some people say that Wikipedia is untrustworthy and unreliable for the same reason, but my experience is that it's fine, although the depth (and length) and quality of articles varies widely.
You can search directly from the entry page (wikipedia.org), but once you are into the site itself, you can search from whichever page you're on - you don't have to keep going back to the starting page. The search box is at the top right-hand corner. Type your word(s) and press enter. (Remember you need to search for a particular TOPIC, not an individual fact.)
As usual, you don't need capital letters, but you need the correct spelling - Wikipedia is less forgiving than Google.
Sometimes you will get taken straight to the page you want; more often, you reach a "disambiguation page", which lists various pages that might be the one you want. Just click on the one that looks most relevant.
Most articles have some helpful category links at the very bottom of the page, which are often useful if you didn't find quite what you wanted.
Note: this is a general topic, but it usually becomes particularly relevant while looking at Wikipedia!
There are many different ways of scrolling (i.e. moving up and down the page). Some are much faster than others, but it's entirely up to you which one you use. The scroll bar is on the right-hand side of the window, and it usually has arrows at top and bottom, and a 'scroll box' in between. The position of the scroll box shows you how far through the entire document you are, and the size of it shows you how long the document is. The smaller the scroll box, the bigger the document. (See examples: scrollbar1, scrollbar2, scrollbar3)
Scrolling methods, roughly in order of speed:
1. Use scroll wheel on mouse
2. Use arrow keys on keyboard
3. Click repeatedly on arrows at ends of scroll bar
4. Click and HOLD on arrows at ends of scroll bar
5. Click on scroll bar BETWEEN arrows and scroll box - this moves up or down a whole page at a time
6. (on web only) Press space bar on keyboard - this moves down a whole page at a time (shift-space moves up)
7. Click and drag scroll box up or down - this is the fastest way of moving all the way to the top or bottom (some keyboards have keys that take you straight to the top or bottom, but not all keyboards do)
(or click "maps" from the top of any Google page)
Session 4 handout
Session 4 worksheet
There are many websites that display maps (including street maps) and give directions (both driving and walking). Google Maps probably has the most features, but other popular websites are Bing Maps (which used to be called Multimap) and the AA (theaa.com).
Generally you get quickest results by typing in a postcode, but you can put place names (and sometimes street names) in as well.
On the map, click "satellite" to see a satellite photo of the area instead of a map, and untick "labels" if you want to see the photo without the street names.
To get directions, find the place you're going on the map as above, then click "get directions" (on the left of the page) and put in the postcode of where you're travelling from. (If you don't know the postcode, or you just want general directions, put the town name. If you want to give someone directions to come to you, click the two-headed arrow to reverse everything.)
On the left of the map, the arrows at the top move the map in each direction (or you can just drag it with the mouse). The plus and minus buttons zoom in and out. Note that not all maps will let you zoom in all the way - it depends how detailed Google's photos are.
To start a new search, you don't have to go back to the start - just type your new postcode (or place name) into the search box at the top of the page.
Note: Google Maps shows fairly recent satellite photos, but if you want to see what a place looks like NOW, try a webcam. There are lots at earthcam.com, or you can just google!
Google Maps also has a Street View option available in most locations, although you need an up-to-date computer for this to work. This shows photos of what the street actually looks like when you're walking along it. To use this option, find the place you're interested in on the map as above, then click on the little yellow man in the top left of the map (above the + sign) and drag him over the map. (If the yellow man is grey, Street View is not available in that location.) Streets for which "street view" is available then become outlined in blue, and you can place the "yellow man" anywhere to get photos. Click on the arrows on the road to move along it; to change the direction of view, click and drag the "N" around the circle. Click the cross in the top right corner to go back to the map. (Try OL15 0DQ for an example.)
Guessing URLs (i.e. website addresses)
Note: this topic will not be covered during any session - this is just background info
You don't actually need to know how to do this - you can always use Google - but it often saves time. Website addresses often (but not always) start with www and end with .com or .co.uk (often either will work) e.g. www.tesco.com or www.tesco.co.uk
(Note that the full website address actually starts with http:// but you can ignore this...
http://www.tesco.com/ and www.tesco.com work exactly the same.)
You can often guess website addresses: for example....
There are different categories of website - it's not always "co" before "uk".... (and if the website is not based in the UK or USA, there are different country codes too)
Commercial (.co) e.g. www.bbc.co.uk, www.tesco.co.uk
Non-commercial organisations (usually charities) (.org) e.g. www.nspcc.org.uk, www.rspca.org.uk, www.greenpeace.org
Academic organisations (universities and colleges) (.ac) e.g. www.manchester.ac.uk, www.cam.ac.uk, www.open.ac.uk, www.hopwood.ac.uk
Government organisations (.gov) e.g. www.rochdale.gov.uk, www.number10.gov.uk, www.whitehouse.gov
Military (.mil or .mod) e.g. www.navy.mil, www.royalnavy.mod.uk
General use (.com or .net) e.g. www.tesco.com, www.manutd.com
Note that these are not hard and fast rules - not all websites follow them, and there are several other lesser-used options too!
Examples of a few country codes:
(note: there are often slightly different addresses that take you to the same page in English, but if you come across a page in a foreign language, look at the top of the page, where you'll often (but not always!) find an option to go to an English version)
www.taipei-101.com.tw (be patient while it loads!)
www.petronastwintowers.com.my (be patient while it loads!)
Session 5: Public transport websites
Session 5 handout
Session 5 worksheet
These are all fairly self-explanatory. Note that both train websites should give you the same information, but the National Rail site is usually quicker if you just need train times, whereas The Trainline is slightly clearer about fares. If you want to actually buy tickets online, use The Trainline.
The Greater Manchester journey planner is most useful for buses, but it does do trains and trams too.
There are many, many flight search websites - Skyscanner is one of the most straightforward. But remember you can always google, e.g. "seattle cheap flights"
Live train departure info for Littleborough (National Rail)
Ditto for Smithy Bridge & Rochdale
Train timetable enquiries (National Rail)
Train tickets (The Trainline)
The next four can all be accessed from the TfGM site
Bus timetable enquiries (TfGM)
Local public transport info (e.g. bus timetables you can print) (TfGM)
Bus stop finder (TfGM)
National Express coaches
Train travel abroad (The Man in Seat 61)
Oyster cards (to pay for all transport within London)
Cheap flight search (Skyscanner)
Manchester Airport flight arrivals
Session 6: Shopping, and internet safety
Session 6 handout
Scam email examples
Not all of the advice below relates directly to online shopping, but it seems useful to include it while we're on the subject.
Common sense is your most important weapon - don't trust websites that look unprofessional, unless you know them to be safe.
You should be safe buying from websites of well-known companies; for companies you haven't heard of before, use your common sense - if it looks professional and has a secure buying option (i.e. https - see below), you will probably be OK. Check that they say how to contact them - if they only list an email address and/or a mobile phone number, be suspicious. Similarly, they should say what your options are if you are dissatisfied with your purchase; if they don't mention how you can return goods, be suspicious. Finally, check to see what others have said about them - put the name of the company into Google and see what comes up!
Before typing in credit card/bank details, check that the URL starts with https rather than just http (usually the padlock icon will be visible too). Make sure no-one can see what you're typing.
If it's not your own computer, make sure you log out after you've finished, and don't tick any boxes saying "remember me" etc.
If you follow a link from an email which then asks you to type in personal details, DON'T DO IT. Real emails from banks etc. never ask you to do this, but there are many scam emails that do. The safest thing to do is to check the website of the company concerned, but don't do it by clicking the link in the email, do it by your normal method of typing in the URL etc.
Don't open email attachments unless: 1. you know the person who sent them; AND 2. you were expecting the attachment; AND 3. you have an up-to-date virus checker running. Most computer viruses are passed on in email attachments, and many of them can do so by appearing to be from someone you know. Download a free anti-virus application, preferably Microsoft Security Essentials. (AVG is a good alternative, but Microsoft Security Essentials is relatively new and is probably better.)
Be wary of giving personal information (e.g. surname, address, phone number) to people you meet online, at least until you've chatted to them for long enough to feel that you know them well. If you decide to meet them in real life, make sure your first meeting is in a public place; tell people where you are going, and don't go alone.
In most cases, you will need a valid email address and a credit (or debit) card to shop online. If you don't have an email address, don't worry - they are easy to get.
You usually have to fill in a few details the first time you buy from a particular website (see notes above re safety) but after the first time you can just log in.
I would recommend that you start with Amazon, Tesco, or I Want One Of Those. Between them, they sell just about everything, and they are safe and reliable, so they're a good way to introduce yourself to online shopping.
Save eBay until you're more experienced. (eBay itself is a very well-respected site, but it's not eBay itself that you're buying from - it's other eBay users like you, and some are more reliable than others.)
PayPal is a safe, reputable way to pay other individuals online.
Shopping websites are usually self-explanatory, but TAKE YOUR TIME until you are familiar with each one. It's possible to buy things by mistake if you don't!
Using the Tesco website (www.tesco.com) - other supermarkets are similar
It takes a while the first time you use it - be patient. After the first time it's very quick.
You will need an email address and a Tesco Clubcard before you start (if you don't have a clubcard, they will ask you to sign up for one before you can do anything). You also need a credit or debit card.
Click on "Groceries". Fill in the details on the right ("new customers register here") and click "Register". (Remember that when you enter your postcode it needs the space in the middle.)
Fill in the details on the next page and follow the instructions. You must fill in every line that has an asterisk - the others are optional. If an error comes up, you have to fix it before you can continue to the next page, but it should be self-explanatory how to do so.
Make a note of what password you used!
When you've signed in, click on "groceries". There is a search box at the top right of the page. Click in the box, type what you want (e.g. "soup", "heinz soup", "tomato soup", "heinz tomato soup" - you can be quite specific if you like) and press enter (or click "search").
To add something to your shopping basket, click "add" on the relevant line - if you want to buy more than one, use the + button to select the number. Your shopping basket, on the right, updates itself as you add items, with a running total at the bottom (you may need to scroll down to see this).
If you change your mind about an item that's in your shopping basket, use the minus (-) button to change its quantity to zero and it will be removed.
If you want to write a note to the person who'll be picking your items off the shelves for you, there is an option to "write a note" when you view the items in your basket. This could be anything, e.g. "green bananas preferred". You don't have to write any notes at all though.
When you're done, click "book a delivery slot" (you can do this before you start shopping if you like) and then click "checkout". (This is the point where you can enter details of vouchers if you have any.) Once you have paid, the order is confirmed and you will receive an email listing what you've bought, but your card won't actually be charged until after your groceries are delivered.
IMPORTANT: remember to log out, and if it's a public computer, "sign out completely".
AFTER THE FIRST TIME:
Click on "Groceries" and log in by filling in the boxes on the left with your email address and password.
Anything you've bought before will be stored under "My Favourites", so you don't have to search for it. Go down the list and click "add" for the items you want to buy. Then search for any new items as before (they'll be added to your list next time).
The rest of the process is as above.
Using the Amazon website (www.amazon.co.uk)
Note that this is related to www.amazon.com but the two sites are not the same - the latter is in the USA. You can get American items via www.amazon.co.uk.
Unlike Tesco, you can browse the Amazon site without registering - to search for something, click in the search box at the top (next to "search amazon.co.uk"), type what you want, then press enter. If you want to restrict your search to (for example) just DVDs, click the arrow in the box on "amazon.co.uk".
You'll get a page (or more) of search results. Click on the title of an item to get a page with LOTS more info, plus a link to add it to your shopping basket. (For the moment, ignore the "used and new" option.)
When you are ready to pay for what's in your shopping basket, click "proceed to checkout" (if you can't see a button that says that, click "basket" in the top right corner). You will be prompted to register if you haven't already done so - the process is similar to the Tesco one.
If you are prepared to wait a couple of extra days, most Amazon items can be bought with free delivery.
As with all online shopping, remember to check for the https and the padlock before entering any credit card details, and remember to sign out completely when you've finished.
Make sure you select the "free super saver delivery" option, unless you need your purchases to arrive in the next day or two.
A nice option with Amazon is that you can add things to your "wish list" if you see them but can't afford them at the moment. Then, you can either buy them yourself later, or friends and family can look at your wish list and buy things for you. (You can buy things for other people and have them sent direct to the recipient - makes Christmas shopping VERY easy!)
Session 7: Email
Session 7 handout
Email inbox screenshot
Email reply screenshot
Word processing cribsheet
Getting an email address
If you have your own computer at home, with an internet connection, you will have an email program installed on the computer, and this should be set up for you. If it isn't, ask your ISP to help you do it. (The three most common email programs are called Windows Mail, Outlook and Outlook Express. They are all quite similar.)
Even if you don't have your own computer, you can have your own email address. There are many companies that allow you to have a "webmail" account that you can check from any computer. The two most common are:
Google Mail (Gmail): go to Google, click "Mail" or "Gmail" (at top of page), click "create an account"
Hotmail: go to www.hotmail.co.uk and follow the links to sign up for a Hotmail account (this is now part of the Windows Live system).
The signing-up process is similar in both cases. You will be asked to suggest an ID - this is the bit of your email address before the @ symbol. For example, if your name was David Beckham you might choose david.beckham (note that email addresses are case-insensitive, so capital letters are ignored, and they can't have spaces, so you can either use a dot or just run the words together). Don't be surprised if the first few you come up with are already taken!
Once you have set up your email account, you can access your email via the same links as above.
Passwords (this advice applies to all passwords, not just for email)
You will also be asked to create a password. A good password should have a mixture of letters and numbers (and possibly other symbols too). It should not be guessable even by anyone who knows you very well... but it should be easy for YOU to remember! Don't use a name as a password (lots of people do, but it's not very safe). One useful method is to think of a phrase that consists of several words and (if possible) at least one number, and then make a password from the initial letters.
For example, if your favourite song is "That's Amore", you could think of "when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie" and this would remind you of a password: wtmhyelabpp
Even better would be something like "Heigh Ho" (heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work we go) because then you could have hhhhio2wwg
But if your mind has gone blank, you could just use the INITIAL letters of all your family in order of age, and add a number (e.g. the age of the youngest). For my family that would make a password of sjmsad17
New: write a new email
Reply: write an email in reply to one you've received
Reply to All: write an email reply that goes to EVERYONE who received the original email
Forward: send someone else's message (originally to you) on to a third person
Subject: the title of the email. Always try to put something useful.
Attachment: a file (e.g. photo or mp3) that's sent along with an email. Watch for the paper-clip icon. To attach a file, either click on the paper clip or click "insert". Be aware that if your attachment is too large the email might bounce.
From/To: should be obvious! Note that you can have more than one person in "To"
Cc: carbon copy. Does exactly the same thing as adding an extra name in "To"
Bcc: blind carbon copy. Use this in two situations: firstly, if you want someone to see an email you're sending, but you don't want the other recipient(s) to know they've seen it; secondly, if you're sending an email to several people, and you don't want them to know each other's email addresses. For privacy reasons, businesses always use bcc when emailing their customers (at least, they SHOULD!)
Read / unread / mailbox / inbox / outbox / sent items / drafts / deleted items: again, should all be obvious. Note that you usually won't have anything in your outbox - emails are only placed there temporarily while they're being sent, and then they get moved to "sent items".
Writing your email
You need to know the email address of the person you're emailing. If they've emailed you first, that's helpful, because then you know for sure that the address is correct (if emails don't work, by far the most common problem is that you (or they!) have written the address down incorrectly).
Remember that, like website addresses, email addresses don't have spaces - the dots are there instead.
You can add people to your email address book as contacts - this means you don't have to keep typing their details.
If you like, you can adjust the font etc. and make your writing a different colour, but be aware that your recipient may have their email set to ignore such things!
If you're writing a reply, usually the message you're replying to will appear at the bottom of the screen with a line above it, and you write your message above the line. If you like you can edit the "quoted message" (this is a good idea if the message is very long).
Remember to write a subject, even if it's just "hello"!
When you've finished, click "send", and your message will be sent immediately. (Note: if you have a dialup connection rather than broadband, this is the point at which you should go online - remember to disconnect afterwards.)
Sending website links to people
Go to the website you want to share.
Click in the address bar, to highlight the URL.
Copy the URL by doing ctrl-C (or click Edit -> Copy)
Log onto your email and open a new message.
In the message, paste the URL by doing ctrl-V (or click Edit -> Paste)
Send the email (you can write a message to go with the link if you like).
When the recipient opens the email, they will be able to click on the link to go straight to the website.
This method can be used to copy links to anywhere (e.g. word processing documents). Also, you can paste more than one link in one message.
Saving pictures from websites
Go to the website containing the picture you want to save. (Remember that if you are just looking for pictures, Google Images is very useful - use Google as usual, but click the "images" link in the top left corner.)
Hold your mouse over the picture. On many computers, you will find that this causes a small row of icons to appear, the first of which is a disk icon. If so, click this icon. You will get a dialogue box - see instructions below for what to do.
If no icons appear, right-click on the picture (on a Mac, hold down the CTRL key while clicking). This will probably cause a menu to appear, and one of the items will be "Save Image As..." or "Save Target As..." or something similar. Select this item. You will get a dialogue box - see instructions below for what to do.
If no icons appear AND no menu appears when you right-click, this probably means that the website is set up so that its pictures are not downloadable (this is often the case with sites that SELL their photos, for example). There are ways round this, but they're a bit fiddly, so for now I recommend that you go back to Google and choose a different picture!
You will get a dialogue box - see instructions above for what to do.
To send the picture to someone in an an email, see instructions below about attachments.
How to send attachments
You can send just about anything as an attachment - e.g. a word processing document, a spreadsheet, a photo, a slideshow, a song, a video. The process for sending it is the same each time, but be aware that some attachments are much larger than others, and many email accounts will not allow sending or receiving of emails that are above a certain size.
It is worth knowing that the file extension is very important. This is the three letters at the end of the file name, and it tells the recipient's computer what sort of file it is, and therefore how to open it. Usually your computer will sort out the file extension for you, but it's useful to be aware of it - in particular, don't delete it if you see it!
Some common file extensions: .doc (word processing document), .xls (spreadsheet), .jpg (photo), .ppt (slideshow), .mp3 (song), .avi (video) (there are MANY others in each of these categories - this is just a selection)
The exact procedure for adding an attachment to an email message will vary slightly according to your email software, but in general, here's what you do:
Click the paperclip icon, or do Insert -> File
Navigate (or browse) to the file in question (see below) and select it
Press Enter - you should see that the file has been added
Remember that you still need to write, address and send your email!
Using files - saving and opening
When you are saving anything to your own computer (e.g. a bit of typing, or a photo you're found on a website), the computer wants to know three things: where do you want to save it, what do you want to call it, and what sort of file is it? The third of these will usually be detected automatically by the computer, and it will set the file extension accordingly, but the first two are for you to decide. As soon as you select "save" for the first time, you will see a dialogue box which requires you to answer these questions. Note that there will be default settings in place, and it's perfectly possible to use these every time and just press "enter" (and many people do!) but it will save you time and frustration later if you do things properly.
Where do you want to save it?
For the time being, I suggest you save everything on the Desktop. (On public computers, you usually can't save anywhere else anyway, and you may not be able to save at all.) This makes it much easier to find. In the dialogue box, there should always be a "desktop" button visible on the left. Click this, and "desktop" will appear at the top of the box. Now anything you save will be saved on the desktop. (When you get used to your own computer, you will want to start saving things in different folders, but by then you'll have worked out how to do this.)
What do you want to call it?
Something helpful! Choose a name that will tell you what the file actually is, without you having to open it. "Document 1.doc" tells you nothing. "Letter to David.doc" is self-explanatory. Similarly, if you are saving a photo from the web, "_45680105_pitch_ap466_c.jpg" isn't very useful, but "Wembley pitch pic.jpg " is.
When you've told the computer where to save and what to call the file, press enter (or click "save"). When you need to get the file open again later, or to find it to attach it to an email etc., a very similar dialogue box will appear. Assuming you saved your file on the desktop, click "desktop" and you should see it in the list - then just click on it to select it, and press "enter".
Note: To insert a picture into a word processing document, do Insert -> File and navigate to the picture as above.
What's the difference between "save" and "save as"? The first time, nothing. But after the first time, "save" just saves the latest version of what you've already saved (i.e. it doesn't ask you the file name and location again, so it looks as if nothing's happened) whereas "save as" always asks you for the file name and location. Some people have been taught to ALWAYS use "save as", but that makes no sense! It's only useful if you want to save a copy of your file under a different name or in a different location.
There isn't time in this course to cover word processing skills, but this cribsheet will help to remind you of the main points. However, the two most important things to remember are:
SAVE AS SOON AS YOU START, and keep saving every few minutes (CTRL-S is your friend). DON'T wait until you've finished before you think about saving - if there's a power cut, or the computer crashes, you've lost all your work.
DON'T FAFF AROUND MAKING YOUR TEXT LOOK PRETTY until you've actually got some text! i.e. do the typing first (without worrying about what colour it is etc.) THEN fiddle with it. What many people do is this: spend ages deciding what font to use, what size etc.; then do their typing; then realise that it doesn't fit onto the page; then spend ages deciding what font to use, what size, etc. You can see how this wastes time!
It is well worth getting the hang of these, because they will save you lots of time. The one you are already familiar with is pressing "enter" rather than using the mouse to click things, but there are many others. Not only do they save time, they still work if you are having trouble with your mouse, and if you have to use a new version of some software that looks totally different, the keyboard shortcuts usually work exactly like they did in the old version!
The ones I use most often are on this list, but there are many others which you will discover as and when you need them.
Session 8: Final session
Session 8 handout
Social networking and podcasts
It would be possible to spend at least another twelve weeks exploring these topic, but here's a VERY brief introduction!
Podcasts don't fall under the heading of "social networking", but this is a convenient place to mention them. (The word comes from "iPod" and "broadcast", but you don't have to have an iPod to access them.) The simplest way to explain podcasts is that they are internet-based radio programmes. (There are video podcasts too, but most podcasts are audio only.) Sometimes it's just a one-off programme, but strictly to be called a podcast it needs to be a regular series. Unlike a normal radio programme, which you have to listen to at a specific time, podcast episodes are released regularly, but you can download them at any point after that (at least, until the creator removes the episode). You can listen to them directly from a website, but most people use iTunes or similar software, which retrieves new episodes automatically.
My favourite podcasts, by way of example:
Guardian Football Weekly
5 Live Football Daily
One definition of "social networking" is "the use of a website to connect with people who share personal or professional interests". Most websites do this to some extent, but there are several well-known websites whose primary purpose is social networking. The three examples I want to mention are:
Various blogs (see below)
A blog (a contraction of the term "weblog") is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as pictures or video. Entries are usually displayed in reverse-chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.
Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject (e.g. The Leaky Cauldron covers all things related to Harry Potter); others function as more personal online diaries. Most are a combination of both (i.e. an online diary with a theme). A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other web pages. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting), or other media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging, which consists of blogs with very short posts (Twitter is the best-known micro-blogging website - see below).
A few to try for starters....
2nd Altos Like the Bottom Parts (Jocelyn's choir blog)
The Leaky Cauldron
Republik of Mancunia
Baghdad Burning (not updated since 2007, but still worth reading)
To find blogs on subjects of interest to you, just do a Google search, e.g. "knitting blogs". To start your own blog, go to Blogger (also via Google) and follow the instructions. It's free!
This is extremely popular in the UK - so much so that it is banned at many workplaces because of employees spending too much time on it when they should be working! To see most Facebook content, you have to be a registered user yourself. It is a free service, but some people are wary of signing up because of concerns over privacy. Until recently, for example, it was impossible to delete your details from Facebook once you'd added them - Facebook would deactivate your account but not actually remove it. They also retained the right to use your personal information for their own purposes, and they frequently change their privacy policies.
However, fans of Facebook - and there are MANY of these (as of June 2012 they had over 955 million active users worldwide - more than 3 times the population of the USA) - like it because: Users can join groups organised by city, workplace, school, interest etc. to connect and interact with other people. (In many cases, joining groups organised by school has enabled people to get back in touch with schoolmates they haven't seen in many years.) People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves (some people do this every few minutes!) They can upload photos for their friends to see. They can search to see whether people they know are also on Facebook. They can view celebrities' Facebook pages and send them messages.
(There is a new (free) service recently launched by Google, called Google + - it remains to be seen how successful it will be, but it seems designed to become a direct competitor of Facebook.)
Twitter is newer than Facebook, and many people don't know anything about it, although its popularity has soared since 2009 due to many news stories. As of 2012 it has over 500 million active users.
Unlike Facebook, you can look at Twitter pages without actually signing up yourself (although it's still free). Twitter is much simpler than Facebook - users post very short updates (called "tweets") of what they're doing (the maximum length for a single update is 140 characters, i.e. the maximum length of a single phone text). These updates can include links to websites or pictures, but the actual update must always be text-only and no longer than 140 characters.
Because the updates are so short, many users tend to send lots of them! They can do so either from their computer or by sending a text from their phone. There are also many celebrity Twitter users, and many of these actually reply directly to their fans via the service.
(The other benefit of Twitter being so quick and easy to update is that news stories often break on Twitter before anywhere else. For example, in January 2009, the first photograph of the plane that landed in the Hudson River was on Twitter before any news reporters had arrived on scene.)
After signing up, users decide who to "follow". When a user looks at their own Twitter page, they see all the updates from everyone they are following, plus they see any updates from OTHER users (that they aren't following) if those updates include their own Twitter name preceded by an @ symbol. For example, Stephen Fry (one of the best-known users) will see any message from anyone, if it includes @stephenfry
Some Twitter users to look at:
Professor Brian Cox
Various websites to bring to your attention
Snopes (for checking validity of urban legends)
Hoax Slayer (similar to Snopes)
IMDB (Internet Movie Database)
BBC (well worth exploring - it has all sorts of information about EVERYTHING)
Amazon (useful for a lot more than just shopping!)
Royal Mail postcode finder
BT (online phone book)
CIA World Factbook
Radio Times (TV listings)
Ticketmaster (concert & theatre tickets)
Thompson & Morgan (gardening stuff e.g. seeds)
eBay (online marketplace)
YouTube (video clips)
Skype (for free telephone and video calls over the internet)
Say no to 0870 (alternative cheaper phone numbers)
Voucher Codes (special offers & vouchers)
Quidco (cashback & voucher site)
Top Cashback (ditto)
DEC (Disasters Emergency Committee)
Manchester Evening News
CNN (American TV news station)
Games and puzzles:
Free online solitaire (1)
Free online solitaire (2)
Free online solitaire (3)
The Daily Sudoku
Other sites that may be of interest:
10 Downing Street
The Queen's website
The Pope's website
White House (Washington)
And, last but not least, a silly one: Googlefight
Christmas websites handout
Is it Christmas?
Tacky Christmas Yards
NORAD Santa tracking (make sure you keep checking this one on Christmas Eve!)
North Pole (activities for kids)
The North Pole
All Things Christmas
Amazing Christmas Ideas
Activity Village: Christmas