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Welcome to this week's edition of the Computer Kindergarten Newsletter.
Today is Sunday, March 24, 2013

We will not be publishing this newsletter next week so that we can celebrate the holidays with our families and friends. We wish all of our readers a Happy Passover and Happy Easter.

In this Issue:
Special Feature: Ways to Detect an Email Virus Hoax
Tips & Tricks: Ergonomics
Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: Synchronizing the Browser
This Week's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Registry Cleaner
Special Feature: iPad Basics - Siri
Websites of Interest: Palm Sunday; Passover; Easter

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Special Feature: Ways to Detect an Email Virus Hoax

We periodically get emails from subscribers of this newsletter telling us about how they’ve been tricked into believing a virus hoax that they received by email, sometimes to the detriment of their computer (as in they just deleted a needed file). Since we’ve gotten several in the past few days, we’re re-posting the following article:

- Beware of warnings that claim a virus is undetectable. In general, if you keep your antivirus software up-to-date, your system will nab the latest viruses.

- If the e-mail message's subject line includes words such as Urgent, Warning, or even Virus Alert, it's often a good indication that you're dealing with a hoax.

- Look out for pseudo-technical discussions on the dangers of the virus.

- To create an impression of credibility, a hoax often quotes a well-known company or agency, such as Microsoft, the Federal Communications Commission, or an antivirus company. Check the Web sites of the sources quoted (or see your antivirus vendor's site). Remember also that Microsoft never posts virus alerts via e-mail.

- Beware of messages that insist you delete a file manually.

- False alerts always urge you to tell everyone you know. Genuine alerts never do.

- New viruses almost always make the news. More than likely you’d hear about a new, groundbreaking virus there first, way before the email that your brother-in-law forwards to you.

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Tips & Tricks: Ergonomics

Ergonomic input devices are the current trend. Typing away at a computer may not look like an activity that could cause much physical damage, but gazing at a monitor for hours, pounding a keyboard thousands of times, sitting hunched over a desk all day - these stresses can cause fatigue and, in some cases, even long-term debilitating injury.

Which brings us to ergonomics - the science of fitting the job to the worker. Researchers now know the position, lighting, technique and routine that can help computer users avoid injury.

Follow these tips for safe keyboarding:

Adjust the height of your chair and desk so forearms are parallel with the floor and wrists are level with keyboard.

Keep your wrists straight and aligned with your forearms - don't bend them sideways or arch your fingers up to hit the keys. Don't type with your wrists resting on the desktop.

Don't pound the keyboard or clutch the mouse - use a light touch.

Don't look up at the screen. The top of the monitor should be no higher than eye level.

Avoid glare and reflection on the screen. Use curtains or shades, or reposition the monitor at a better angle.

Posture counts. Sit upright, with your feet on the floor.

Take breaks. Looking away from the monitor for a couple of seconds every few minutes can help prevent eye-strain. Stand up and stretch periodically.

Be Comfortable when you’re keyboarding!

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Special Series: Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web: Synchronizing the Browser

Many of us these days depend on the World Wide Web to bring the world’s information to our fingertips, and put us in touch with people and events across the globe instantaneously.

These powerful online experiences are possible thanks to an open web that can be accessed by anyone through a web browser, on any Internet-connected device in the world.

But how do our browsers and the web actually work? How has the World Wide Web evolved into what we know and love today? And what do we need to know to navigate the web safely and efficiently?

“20 Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web” is a short guide for anyone who’s curious about the basics of browsers and the web. Here’s what you’ll find here:

First we’ll look at the Internet, the very backbone that allows the web to exist. We’ll also take a look at how the web is used today, through cloud computing and web apps.

Then, we’ll introduce the building blocks of web pages like HTML and JavaScript, and review how their invention and evolution have changed the websites you visit every day. We’ll also take a look at the modern browser and how it helps users browse the web more safely and securely.

Finally, we’ll look ahead to the exciting innovations in browsers and web technologies that we believe will give us all even faster and more immersive online experiences in the future.

Life as citizens of the web can be liberating and empowering, but also deserves some self-education. Just as we’d want to know various basic facts as citizens of our physical neighborhoods -- water safety, key services, local businesses -- it’s increasingly important to understand a similar set of information about our online lives. That’s the spirit in which we wrote this guide. Many of the examples used to illustrate the features and functionality of the browser often refer back to Chrome, the open-source browser that we know well. We hope you find this guide as enjoyable to read as we did to create.
Happy browsing!
The Google Chrome Team
http://www.20thingsilearned.com
http://www.google.com/chrome

Synchronizing the Browser

So you’re living in “the cloud”: congratulations! You use web apps for email, music, and almost everything. You save critical documents, photos, and files online where you can reach them from any Internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world.

If an 18-wheel truck comes roaring down the road and crushes your laptop to bits, all is not lost. You just find another Internet-connected device and get back to working with all that vital information you so smartly saved online.

But wait: What about all the bookmarks, browser extensions, and browser preferences that you use daily? Did they get crunched into oblivion along with your laptop?

The answer used to be “yes.” You’d have to forage for your favorite extensions all over again and gather all the websites you had painstakingly bookmarked. But no more! Many of today’s browsers, such as Firefox and Chrome, have begun building in a feature known as synchronization (“sync” for short). Sync lets you save your browser settings online, in the cloud, so they aren’t lost even if your computer melts down.

Sync functionality also makes life simpler if you use multiple computers, say, a laptop at work and a family desktop at home. You don’t have to manually recreate bookmarks of your favorite websites or reconfigure the browser settings on every computer you own. Any changes you make to your sync-enabled browser on one computer will automatically appear in all other synced computers within seconds.

In Chrome, for example, sync saves all bookmarks, extensions, preferences and themes to your Google Account. Use any other Internet-connected computer, and all you need to do is fire up Chrome and log in to your Google Account through the browser’s sync feature. Voila! All your favorite browser settings are ready to use on the new machine.

Regardless of how many computers you need to juggle, as long as you have an Internet connection and a modern browser that’s synced to the cloud, you’re all set to go. Even if every one of them gets hit by the proverbial truck.

In our next edition: Browser Cookies

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Today's Topic: Speed Up a Slow Computer – Registry Cleaner

As your Windows computer ages, its speed can decrease. You will notice an increase in response time when you give commands to open programs, files or folders, use the Internet and other tasks. There are several things you can do to speed up your computer.

In our ongoing series, Speed Up a Slow Computer, we will present articles discussing some of the steps you can take to speed up your slow computer.

Important: Before making any changes to your system, always create a Restore Point. If anything goes wrong with the changes you make, this will allow you to revert back to a point when the computer was operating correctly. Please visit our Newsletter Archives to read our article, All About Restore Points:
http://computerkindergarten.com/021311.html

Registry Cleaner

A registry cleaner is a program designed for the Microsoft Windows operating system whose purpose is to remove redundant or unwanted items from the Windows registry. The registry stores configuration settings and options for the computer, so excess files and items in there can significantly slow the computer down.

CCleaner is a free program for computers running Windows. It removes unnecessary items that accumulate over time, slow down your computer and can cause problems. It deletes excess files, removes programs that you no longer need, and cleans junk entries in the Windows registry.

What is CCleaner?

The following article is by Kefa Olang, eHow Contributing Writer
http://www.ehow.com/members/ds_kefaol28083.html

A computer's performance diminishes over time if steps are not taken to maintain it. As programs and files are downloaded and installed, they can cause system errors. CCleaner is a simple software program that manages and improves a computer's performance.
Benefits

CCleaner is an system optimization program designed to improve the registry and system folders. It scans the computer for unnecessary files that use system resources with no added benefit. It also allows you to uninstall programs and is especially beneficial if you are having trouble uninstalling from the Control Panel. CCleaner also allows you to clean browser cache and history to not only remove clutter which causes browser problems but also protect personal information from falling into the wrong hands.

How Much?

CCleaner, unlike other reputable registry cleaning software, is 100 percent free. While the company asks you to make a donation of about $20 if you can, it is not mandatory and does not restrict you from downloading the program. Whether you donate or not, you can still download a full version without any restrictions. If you decide to donate, you can do so using PayPal. CCleaner developers come up with new updates frequently; therefore, donators get access to the latest downloads before others receive them.

Installation

Before installing Ccleaner, make sure that your computer has the necessary requirements needed to run it. For example, CCleaner can only be installed on Windows operating systems. Currently there isn't a Macintosh and Linux version. Your computer also requires a minimum of 64MB RAM to handle its processes. To install it, your computer also has to be logged on the administrative account. If your computer meets the requirements, simply download and run the installation file to install CCleaner on your computer.
Usage

CCleaner is very easy to use even for novice computer user because its controls are easy to navigate through. When you launch CCleaner, all the controls are on the left panel. You can select from many different tools, such as registry cleaner, disk cleanup and program uninstall. The wizards guide you on on using the tool you select. As for registry cleaning, CCleaner scans the registry automatically for missing DLL and ActiveX files as well as left over entries for uninstalled programs and allows you to delete them.

Expert Insight

Run CCleaner frequently, especially if you download files from the Internet. Cleaning the registry and removing useless files will not only free hard disk space, but also improve your computer's ability to manage resources. Because CCleaner cleans the system safely, you should not try to do it manually because you risk deleting vital system files and folders necessary on the computer

How to Install CCleaner

This website provides graphical instruction on downloading and installing CCleaner:
http://tinyurl.com/yzsnzr8

How to Use CCleaner

Please visit this site for graphical instruction on using CCleaner:
http://opcug.ca/public/Reviews/ccleaner.htm

In our next edition, Speed Up a Slow Computer – Windows Prefetch

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Special Feature: iPad Basics - Siri

From gcflearnfree.org

Siri is an extremely useful feature that comes with the most recent version of the iPad (but not the iPad 2 or earlier). Sometimes referred to as a virtual assistant, it can help you with all kinds of things. For example, you can use Siri to send messages, schedule meetings, and search for nearby restaurants—all without having to perform the task yourself.

Powered by the sound of your voice rather than gestures or your keyboard, Siri can understand and respond to complex questions like, "Remind me that I have a doctor's appointment on the 18th." Or, "What's the weather going to be like today?"

To use Siri, just press and hold the Home button on your device. Then tell Siri what you need. The more you use Siri, the better it will understand you (as it grows accustomed to your voice).

Voice Dictation

Another useful feature of Siri is voice dictation, which allows you to enter text without having to use the keyboard. This can help you with all kinds of tasks; for example, searching the web, taking notes, posting an update to Facebook, and more.

To use voice dictation, tap the microphone icon on your keyboard. Then start talking. The same technology that powers Siri will listen to what you say, and try to transcribe it. You can even add punctuation by saying words like "period" or "question mark" when you reach the end of a sentence.

When you're done, tap the microphone icon again—and your words will be converted to text. If Siri thinks it made a mistake, certain words may be underlined in blue. You can tap those words to view suggestions, and then correct the dictation before you finalize it.

 

In our next edition:
Syncing

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Websites of Interest:

Palm Sunday
Today is Palm Sunday, the sixth and last Sunday of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week. To learn more, take a look at this website:
http://www.gotquestions.org/Palm-Sunday.html

Passover
Passover begins this week. Learn more about the celebration of the Jewish holiday of Pesach.
www.passover.net/

The Story of Passover
http://holidays.kaboose.com/passover/history/passover-about.html

Take a look at koshercooking.com for Passover recipes.
www.koshercooking.com/recipes/passover/

Easter
Visit this website for information about the religious traditions and history of Easter.
wilstar.com/holidays/easter.htm

Easter brunch, dinner and desert ideas and recipes
http://allrecipes.com/recipes/holidays-and-events/easter/