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HELPFUL COMPUTER SKILLS
|by Candida Martinelli of Candida Martinelli's Italophile Site:|
These lessons in whole or in part, can be printed, reproduced and distributed, but not for profit!
Please understand that you follow these lessons at your own risk. I am not to be blamed for anything and everything that happens with your computer. If that sounds serious, sorry, but it has to, otherwise its not legal! Having said all that, If you follow these lessons you will no longer be a computer novice, and a whole new, wonderful world of books will be opened up to you, your family and friends.
[I update this periodically, but the technology is rushing along, with new readers, new formats, new everything. I try to update things only when they are available worldwide, but I will not feature specific readers. If you own one, it is best to consult their manual to understand which formats you can read, and how to download them from the sites I mention in these lessons. Ciao!
These lessons were designed to be printed out and referred to it as you perform the tasks described. To print this lesson, follow the instructions in the top left corner of this page.
When you download e-texts and e-books during the course of these lessons, I'm going to show you how to put them in a special LIBRARY folder on your computer for two reasons:
You do this, you need to have a good idea of what you have on your computer, and how those things are organized. Microsoft provides a program for just that purpose: WINDOWS EXPLORER.
To start WINDOWS EXPLORER, follow these simple instructions. Click on the START button at the bottom left corner of your screen. It looks like this:
This opens up the a menu that looks something like this (there may be some differences with your menu, but it shouldn't be serious):
Move the mouse arrow over PROGRAMS to open up a list of the programs installed on your computer. The image below is from my computer so it won't be just like yours, but it gives you an idea of what you should see. Move the mouse arrow over the program WINDOWS EXPLORER.
Click the mouse on WINDOWS EXPLORER to start the program. The main window of the program looks something like this.
When you have some time, you should study the HELP that appears on the main pull-down menu-bar. It looks like this:
For now I'll explain the basics. In the left box on the screen, you see how your computer contents are organized into DRIVES and DIRECTORIES (FOLDERS). You will certainly have a C: DRIVE, and may have more drives such as an A: or D: DRIVE for diskettes or CD-ROMS. Look at the C: DRIVE and you can see folders listed under it, most with plus signs preceding them. They look like this:
Click on the PLUS SIGN next to the directory/folder MY DOCUMENTS and you will see that it opens up to reveal the folder's contents, and the plus sign becomes a MINUS SIGN. It may look much like this, depending on what you have in your folder:
Now click on the MINUS SIGN to close the MY DOCUMENTS folder. Another way to see the contents of a folder is to double-click on the folder name. DOUBLE-CLICK on the folder name MY DOCUMENTS. Not only have you opened (expanded) the folder, but the contents of the folder now appear in the larger box on the right-hand side of the screen. Study it a moment to see what you have in your MY DOCUMENTS folder. Here is how a part of the list on the right might look:
You can use the two ways you've just used to look around your computer's contents: click on a plus/minus signs, or double-click on a folder to see inside it. Browse around your system a bit to get a feel for the buttons and boxes and contents.
To help organize your computer files, you can use WINDOWS EXPLORER to create new directories/folders, and move files in and out of them. There are buttons on the main tool-bar that let you DELETE, COPY, and PASTE files and directories. You can explore these on your own, but right now we'll make a new directory for your electronic library.
Open up the MY DOCUMENTS directory as explained in the previous part of this lesson. You want the contents of the MY DOCUMENTS directory to appear in the box on the right-hand side. The quickest way to do this is to DOUBLE-CLICK on the MY DOCUMENTS folder in the left-hand box.
Now move your mouse arrow into the right-hand box and RIGHT-CLICK the mouse. A menu appears that looks something like this:
Move the mouse cursor over the NEW option on the menu and hold it there. You don't have to click. A sub-menu appears automatically after a few seconds. The bottom part of the menu will vary depending on the contents of your computer. But the top of the sub-menu will always appear like this:
Click on FOLDER to create a new folder in MY DOCUMENTS. Immediately, the menu and sub-menu disappear and the new folder appears at the bottom of the right-hand box, after the last item in the MY DOCUMENTS folder. It looks like this:
Type LIBRARY, then press ENTER. You have just created the location for all the e-texts and e-books you will soon be collecting.
Note: If you pressed ENTER too soon, you may have just created a new folder called NEW FOLDER. If that happened, don't panic. Move the mouse cursor over the folder you just created and RIGHT-CLICK the mouse. From the menu that appears, click on RENAME. This gives you another chance to type in LIBRARY and press ENTER.
That's all I'm going to cover now on WINDOWS EXPLORER, so you can close the program with a CLICK on the CLOSE X in the top right corner. This is how you can close any Microsoft program. The icon bar looks like this.
The first icon means: minimize or temporarily close the program but leave it running on the bar at the bottom of your screen from where you can open it again with a click. The second icon makes the window a bit smaller, but when the window is smaller, clicking on the icon makes it bigger.
These may well be things you already know, but I want to cover them to make sure everyone following these lessons is at the same point when you begin the next lesson. So please be patient if this is too basic for you. We will progress quickly.
When you get e-texts and e-books, they are sent to you over the Internet. Just as your e-mails are transmitted electronically, so are the e-texts and e-books. You may notice that big e-mail messages take a while longer to receive, and that costs you more time, money, and space on you computer to store the big file.
There is a very popular program that can save you time, money, and disk-space: WinZip. WinZip is the industry standard for compressing files down to a more manageable size for sending over the Internet (and for making backups of your files for safe-keeping).
WinZip does not come with Microsoft Windows, so unless you've already installed it on your computer, it won't be there. It is a necessary program to have, as you'll discover when you start getting e-texts, so here's how you get it.
START UP you Internet Browser and TYPE this location into the ADDRESS line, http://www.winzip.com/ , then press ENTER.
Note: I'm assuming you're working on this lesson from a printout and you're not connected to the Internet. If you are connected, and you click on the link above, this lesson may disappear (which means you probably can't read this note - this is what is called a paradox)! It's easiest to print out the lesson and start from this point, again.
You can download a free trial copy of WinZip from the WinZip home page that appears. You can use the program for free to determine if you need it, want to keep it, want to get updates and user help.
Click on this item on the screen:
Then click on this item on the screen that appears (will have the latest version number which is 10 now, I believe):
The first thing that appears is the standard warning that shows up whenever you download a file from the Internet.
There are risky files and less risky files. Downloading from the software supplier in this way is a less risky affair. You are willing to take a few risks, or you wouldn't be considering getting e-text and e-books from the Internet! Most viruses come from e-mail attachments, not downloaded e-texts, e-books and software. But be careful, and take the precaution of installing a virus checker.
You can get virus checkers and pop-up ad washers for your computer. These are important programs to have, and to know how to run periodically to stay safe in this age of hackers and invasive marketing tactics. After you finish these lessons, downloading and installing the software should be no problem. But if you want to install them now, ask help from a computer savvy friend. Here are two sites that may be helpful:
Information on free software to remove marketers' privacy invading software from your computer: http://www.lavasoftusa.com/default.shtml.en
Information on free software to stop marketers putting privacy invading software on your computer: http://beam.to/spybotsd
Information on an anti-virus program (not free): http://www.grisoft.com/us/us_index.php
Information on a free anti-virus program: http://www.free-av.com/
Now, back to downloading: CLICK on the SAVE button.
Next you are asked how and where you want to save the file that will be downloaded. This process is the same whether you are downloading WinZip or an e-text or an e-book. That is why I had you look over the contents of your computer, opening and closing folders, and creating a new folder earlier in this lesson. You will use those skills now. This is the SAVE AS window as I see it on my PC.
Your window will be different, mainly because you have different files on your computer. What you see is what you saw in WINDOWS EXPLORER, but on a smaller scale. My computer automatically opened the MY DOCUMENTS folder.
That's not the best place to put a PROGRAM like WinZip, so I'll direct you to the PROGRAM FILES folder, a Windows standard folder, where we will create a folder WINZIP, and then we will tell the system to store the WinZip program there.
CLICK on the DOWN ARROW to the right of the SAVE IN box.
The down arrow gives you a view of what you saw in the left-hand box of WINDOWS EXPLORER: your computer's drives and folders. From the list that drops down, CLICK on the C: drive.
This puts C: in the SAVE IN box, and shows the contents of the C: drive in the window. One of the folders in your C: drive is PROGRAM FILES. This is a standard Windows folder so you should have it. DOUBLE-CLICK on the FOLDER NAME to open it up, just like you did in WINDOWS EXPLORER, to open a folder.
Now that you are in the right folder, you want to create a sub-folder to hold the WinZip program. You created a folder in WINDOWS EXPLORER, so you know how it works. The only thing different here is the way you tell the system to make the folder. Click on this icon that appears to the right of the SAVE IN box:
The new folder appears in the window. Type 'WinZip', then press ENTER.
You've just created the folder for the WinZip program. This is the same process you will go through when you get a new e-text or e-book from the Internet. It will be become old-hat very quickly!
Now you have to open up the WinZip folder and tell the system to store the program there. To do that, DOUBLE-CLICK on the new folder WinZip. Then CLICK on the SAVE button:
The download process begins and you see a progress box. It stays on the screen until the download is completed, displaying the percentage of the file that has been transmitted to your computer in the top bar of the box.
When the download is completed, all the boxes disappear and you are returned to the WinZip website where it all started. You can CLOSE your Internet BROWSER, because now we need to tell WinZip to complete it's installation on your computer.
This procedure is the same for all software you may get over the Internet, and for some e-books that come as stand-alone books. Those are books that don't need an E-book Reader. You have to locate the downloaded file in WINDOWS EXPLORER, and DOUBLE-CLICK on it. That's very simple once you understand how to use WINDOWS EXPLORER, as you learned at the beginning of this lesson.
Look back to that part of the lesson to help you start the WINDOWS EXPLORER program. Once it is started, look in the box on the left-hand of the screen. CLICK on the PLUS next to the C: drive to open that up. If it has opened automatically, a MINUS will be next to it and you're all set for the next step.
In the expanded C: drive, you will see the PROGRAM FILES folder. CLICK on the PLUS next to it to open it up.
In the expanded PROGRAM FILES folder, FIND the WinZip folder. You may have to scroll down the list using the scroll bar for the left-hand box if there are many programs stored there. DOUBLE-CLICK on the WinZip folder to open it up. The file you just downloaded appears in the right-hand box. That is what is in the WinZip folder.
DOUBLE-CLICK on the downloaded file. This opens up a THANK YOU BOX. They are very polite at WinZip.
CLICK on the SETUP button, as they instruct you to do. A Setup box appears.
You should feel very proud of yourself at this point. You have already created the correct sub-folder in the correct folder on your computer for the WinZip program installation. Programs often force you to use the directories they proscribe. And most programs are set to install into your PROGRAM FILES folder.
E-texts and e-books will let you decide where they are stored. That is why we went through the practice of locating the right folder and creating the sub-folder. In case you're wondering, the BROWSE button in the box above would show you the same mini-WINDOWS EXPLORER box you used earlier.
CLICK on the OK button to continue installing WinZip. From this point on, the WinZip Installation Program shows you a series of boxes asking you to give some input. I'll walk you through that.
You may have noticed that even the CLOSE did not finish things. You are prompted to decide if you want to buy the program now. Wait until you have used it a while to see if it is a program for which you want upgrades and help. Right now, CLICK on NO.
CLICK on CLOSE X to close WINDOWS EXPLORER.
Your computer's Desktop, is the main window you see after your computer is up and running. You probably start some programs directly from this window using what's called a SHORTCUT. This is a graphic icon that when double-clicked starts up a specific program. For example, this is the standard icon for MS-Word:
If you look closely, you should see a Shortcut that was created automatically for you when you installed the WinZip program. It probably looks something like this:
You can create Shortcuts to save time and effort when starting up programs. You can also create a Shortcut to start up a file in MS-Word or an e-book. You many want to do this for e-books you've downloaded for children. That way, all they have to do to open up an e-book to read, is click on the Shortcut you've created for them. We'll do that later. But right now, I'll walk you through making a Shortcut for WINDOWS EXPLORER, to save time in the later lessons.
From your computer's Desktop (not on top of an existing Shortcut!), RIGHT-CLICK the mouse to view this menu:
Rest the mouse cursor on NEW. There is no need to click because after a few seconds a sub-menu appears. You may recall this menu from your work with WINDOWS EXPLORER. The top of the sub-menu is what interests us.
This time you are not creating a Folder, you are creating a Shortcut. So CLICK on SHORTCUT. This box appears:
By this stage, some of the boxes and buttons should look familiar. Here you see the BROWSE button again. Like before, it opens up something like a mini-WINDOWS EXPLORER which you can use to locate drives and folders and sub-folders. What we want to do is find the WINDOWS EXPLORER program, and put it in the COMMAND LINE.
CLICK on the BROWSE button. The standard BROWSE box appears.
WINDOWS EXPLORER is in the WINDOWS folder. DOUBLE-CLICK on the WINDOWS folder to open it up.
Then use the horizontal scroll bar to go past all the folders, into the loose files and programs, to locate the EXPLORER program:
DOUBLE-CLICK on the EXPLORER program. This inserts it in the COMMAND LINE in the CREATE SHORTCUT BOX.
CLICK on the NEXT button. You are then asked to enter the name you want to appear on the Desktop window under the new Shortcut.
EXPLORER is fine, but if you don't like it, you can type in whatever you want, such as WINDOWS EXPLORER on the line provided. When you are satisfied with the name, CLICK on the FINISH button.
Your new Shortcut appears in the Desktop window.
From this point on, to start up the WINDOWS EXPLORER program, all you have to do is DOUBLE-CLICK on the Shortcut; much simpler than before.
Congratulations! You've completed the first lesson and are well on your way to gaining the few skills you need to get e-texts and e-books for your own electronic library!
In the Lesson 2 you will: