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Computing Help

This page is intended as a vehicle for self-help, in the sense that those who know things are encouraged to submit material to help out those learning.

Most current information comes from the websites of other U3A groups, for which we thank them. The links on this page that will take you to their material may not take you straight to the required topic. You may well need to look at their page and find a further link.

If you know of further useful information (courses, books, websites) that could be published here, for the benefit of members, please contact the System Administrator or Webmaster, through these email links.

Introduction

Like it or not computers (and 'mobile devices') are becoming an increasingly important part of our lives. There are very few organisations now (including the Government) who don't encourage, and in many cases require, you to use their 'online services' to do business with them. In many cases it is certainly difficult, if not nigh on impossible, to deal with some basic requirements without access to, and some familiarity with, the internet.

Within WPU3A we are conscious that we have members with a complete range of skills and abilities in this area. From those who have little (or no!) fear of getting 'stuck in', through to those who have no wish whatsoever to have anything to do with computers!

This page is set up to try to help those who wish to learn, and to enable them to develop their skills and understanding of computers and other devices. It is hoped that with time we will be able to build here a 'library' of items that will help us all to learn. By necessity I'm afraid, to get to be reading this you will have to have some ability to access the internet, or to know someone who has.

One of the first challenges to overcome is the sheer number of different types of devices and 'operating systems' that are in use today. Whilst once you have some familiarity with whatever device(s) you are using, it is actually not that difficult to switch to something else, when you are starting out it is a daunting prospect if you do not have something to refer to that is specific to your device. And of course nothing comes with any instructions, expecting us all to have the same fearless intuition as our grandchildren!

We will do our best here therefore to gather the information together under some headings, that will hopefully help you through the minefield.

Computing basics

Keyboard and Mouse

1. This document gives a general introduction to the use of a Keyboard and Mouse

Basic skills

1. See the Basic Skills page on the GCFGlobal website.

2. West Herts College offer two computing courses: Computing for Beginners, and Computing for Complete Beginners

3. CGP Books have a good school book (Functional Skills ICT) that provides a good introduction to computers and Microsoft Office software in particular Word, Excel etc). If you are interested in obtaining a copy please contact Jerry England.

Desktops and Laptops

Windows 10

1. Ravenshead U3A video introduction to W10

2. See the West Herts College courses and CGP books above under "Basic Skills".

Windows 7

1. Ravenshead U3A Windows 7 material     This will only be useful now if you are using an older Windows PC

Tablets

iPad devices (Apple)

1. Ravenshead U3A iPad material

Android devices  (e.g. Samsung, Google)

1. How-to Geek website and manual on Android

2. Ravenshead U3A Samsung guide

Smart phones

For example iPhone, Samsung Galaxy.  A smart phone is really just a Tablet device with a smaller screen, plus a SIM card and some phone apps. Much of the guidance referenced under Tablets is applicable to smart phones too.

Common software tools

Online meetings (Zoom, Skype, etc.)

1. See the Help Online Meetings page

Email

Probably you will not choose an email app, you will just use the default that is supplied with your chosen device or by your chosen email service provider. 

Some older email applications are proprietary in that they only work on one type of device. As an example Outlook is a Microsoft product that only runs on Windows devices. More recent email applications, such as Gmail, run within internet browsers and thus achieve the trick of being able to run on any device.

Fortunately it doesn't matter too much which email application you use (or which your correspondent uses) because they all work to common standards and can therefore exchange emails between each other.

Here is guidance on some common email applications :-

1. Ravenshead U3A Gmail guidance

2. Ravenshead U3A Outlook guidance

3. Ravenshead U3A Virgin email guidance

Internet browsers

If you are reading this page then you already know about Internet browsers. Probably you will not choose your Internet browser, you will just use the default that is supplied with your chosen device.

Commonly used products are  Internet Explorer (from Microsoft), Chrome (from Google), Safari (from Apple), Firefox (from Mozilla).

Word processors

The most widely used word processor product is Microsoft Word.

Ravenshead U3A material on Word 2010

Spreadsheets

The most widely used spreadsheet product is Microsoft Excel.

Ravenshead U3A material on Excel   They provide several links to cover different problems that Excel can be useful for.

Internet search engines

By far the most widely used search engine is Google.

Ravenshead U3A material on Google searches

Maps and Route finders

What a shame you paid all that money for the proprietary satnav system in your car. It's likely that Google Maps running on your smart phone would have been just as good. 

Ravenshead U3A material on Google Maps

Cloud storage

Ravenshead U3A material on Cloud storage