Thursday, January 31, 2008

Save the Trees, Use eDocuments

You know there's no such thing as a paperless meeting, but you can at least avoid printing 15 copies of a handout and then having only 8 people show up. Simply attach any documents (handouts, agenda, etc) to your Meeting Request using Outlook. Then if the participants plan to attend, invite them to bring their own copy. An even better solution is to use a SharePoint site, in which case you can place the document on the SharePoint site in the Shared Documents area and provide all attendees with a URL to the document. The latter method avoids creating digital duplicate copies of the same document (one attached to each message you send) which adds to the workload of the mail server.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Get Up to Speed Fast with Word 2007 Tutorial

JCCC will be moving to Office 2007 this Spring (dates yet to be announced) which includes Word 2007. If you’re already using Word 2007 at home, there’s a nice little tutorial demo that you might find helpful. Otherwise, bookmark it and use it later when you want to get up to speed on Word 2007’s basic features:

Thanks to Tracy Newman for pointing out this online tutorial.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

How Do You Pronounce That?

Are you not part of the “Hooked on Phonics” generation and sometimes unsure of the correct pronunciation of specific words? Try utilizing As an example:
  1. Type (in the Merriam-Webster Online Search text box at the top of the screen): Nevada
  2. Press Enter or click the Search button.
  3. When the word and its definition appears, click the speaker icon that follows the word. Nevada has two icons, meaning there are two acceptable pronunciations, except in Nevada.
  4. Be sure to turn on your speakers.
  5. Click one of the speaker icons and a pop-up window appears. You’ll hear one of the acceptable pronunciations of the word spoken.
  6. Next, click the other speaker icon to hear an alternative pronunciation.

While you’re exploring, select the Medical radio button and type a medical term…for a definition. You’ll also see additional links to related resources.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What Did You Change?

Have you ever received a document from someone and needed to suggest a few changes but were not sure how to highlight the changes for them? In Microsoft Word, you can select the Tools --> Track Changes command (Ctrl+Shift+E). That command works like a toggle. If Track Changes is turned on (Office 2003), you'll see TRK on the status bar at the bottom of the Word window.

Once you've turned on this feature, any changes made to the document are highlighted in a different color (by default red for the first reviewer, blue for the second). So changes you send to others are obvious. Or changes they send to you, if they turn on the Track Revisions feature, are equally obvious.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Know Your "Subject" Line

When you receive a piece of mail at home, you can usually make some basic assumptions in the blink of an eye about its value and importance. Based on past experience, you can tell if it’s a piece of junk mail or a personal note; a solicitation for yet another credit card or an important bill.

People make those same assumptions when they open their email box and scan all the new arrivals. That’s why, if you want your message to be read, you should effectively use the subject line to clearly identify the topic. Your subject line should be informative and should not be left blank. In fact, if you send or receive a message without a subject line, it’s a prime candidate for deletion. It's always best to make your subject line descriptive of the content of your message.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Keyboard Shortcuts

If there are actions you perform repeatedly in one of the Microsoft Office applications or in Microsoft Windows, you can often save considerable time by using a keyboard shortcut, rather than re-positioning the mouse pointer and clicking. Microsoft offers a nice web site with all of the shortcuts listed. Check out:

Some of the more common and helpful short cuts include:

  • Ctrl+C to copy selected text
  • Ctrl+X to cut selected text
  • Ctrl+V to paste selected text
  • Ctrl+S to save

Mac users can substitute the Command (Open Apple) key for Ctrl.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Accessing a Visual Dictionary

Need to find the right word but don't know where to begin? Try the Visual Dictionary.

"The Visual Dictionary is designed to help you find the right word at a glance. Filled with stunning illustrations labeled with accurate terminology in up to six languages, it is the ideal language-learning and vocabulary dictionary for use at school, at home or at work. When you know what something looks like but not what it’s called, or when you know the word but can’t picture the object, The Visual Dictionary has the answer. In a quick look, you can match the word to the image."

Thanks to Nick Greenup for this tip.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Transfering Files From One Mac to Another Using Firewire

It is easy to transfer information between 2 Macintosh computers using only a firewire connection/cable. To start the connection, boot the first computer (with information you want to transfer or access) by holding down the T key. This boots the computer into firewire transfer mode and flashes a firewire symbol on its screen (to indicate the system is ready to operate in firewire transfer mode). Connect this Macintosh computer using a firewire cable to a second Mac computer. The first Mac computer’s hard drive (e.g., the one in T mode) will show up on the desktop of the second Mac just like any connected drive. Now you can drag and drop files from one Mac to the other. You can also use this procedure to restore a hard drive using a previously saved backup disk image.

Thanks to Bob Epp for this tip.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Creating Quizzes & Tests or Educational Games

You don't have to be a Blackboard user to benefit from Respondus (a quiz/test generator) or StudyMate (an educational game generator). JCCC has a campus license for both applications, so the software is available for JCCC faculty & staff use.

If you want to find out more about Respondus and StudyMate, try the following site--maintained by the application developers:

Are You Using Google Alerts

Did you know that you can have the Google search engine automatically notify you when new information appears on the web? Google Alerts tracks the entire web for the topics you’re personally selected and sends you new results daily by email. For instance, if you are researching "instructional technology" & "mind mapping," you can enter those terms, get an immediate email listing of top sites and then daily receive additional updates by email. Without charge, you can track three different searches terms or topics. If you need additional searches and and more indepth results, there is a subscription fee.

Just go to and sign up.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Response to: Backing Up Your iTunes Library

Just a couple additions from Michael D. Culey - Systems Programmer/Analyst, Johnson County Community College:
  1. Apple supports re-downloading your purchases after a hard drive failure. Go here: and select the category Purchase(s) – missing and the sub-category My hard drive crashed / all of my purchases were erased and then fill out the form. Supposedly they’ll get your music back for you.
  2. iTunes has a built in backup method that’s much easier than doing the whole library folder. Personally, I only backup my iTunes purchases as I can re-rip anything else. If you create a smart playlist that specifies only purchased music, you can then burn that playlist to CD/DVD. (Before you burn, make sure you set iTunes to burn a data disc). You can also put a tag on it that only pulls music added to the library after a specific date. This allows you to backup as you go without having to re-backup your entire library. Of course, this method isn’t a true backup of the iTunes library. You’re merely saving the music files. If you do need to recover this way, you’ll have to import the music off your CDs/DVDs back into iTunes but you won’t lose any important information (unless you care about how many times you’ve played the song or you have spent days and days rating all your music).
  3. In Windows, you do not need third party software to get your music off your iPod back onto your computer (I don’t know about Macs). Basic steps are:
    a. Verify you have double the size of your iPod’s content in free space on your computer.
    b. Turn on the feature that allows you to use your iPod as a portable hard drive.
    c. Allow Windows to see hidden folders.
    d. Browse through the hidden folders on your iPod. There’s once called Music Library or something similar. Just drag that folder to your desktop.
    e. Set iTunes to copy your music to its folders. This places all imported music in the My Music folder.
    f. Set iTunes to keep your music folder organized. This renames all the folders and songs from things like XTYRGRE to whatever the album/artist/song name is.
    g. Disconnect your iPod and then drag that folder into iTunes. This takes a while so be patient.
    h. Once the import is done, delete the folder from your desktop and you should be good to go.

I’ve done this many times and never had any issues with it. Of course, you’ll have to follow this tip at your own risk.

Backing Up Your iTunes Library

If you are using iTunes, you need to be aware that if your hard drive crashes or other catastrophic error occurs, you could lose everything in your iTunes library. While free content can be downloaded again (if it is still available) with only a loss of time and effort, any purchased content from iTunes will be lost. iTunes and Apple are not responsible for your purchased content, and there is no way to replace this content other than re-purchasing it.

As a safeguard against this disaster, you can back up your iTunes library. The process is similar, whether you are using a Mac or a PC. Your iTunes library is simply a folder that contains more folders which in turn contain the files you have downloaded and/or purchased. In a typical installation, there is a folder called iTunes which contains another folder called iTunes Music and a file called iTunes Library. The iTunes Library file is simply a database that stores information about where your music files are located and how you have organized your playlists. Backing up this file will NOT back up your music files! You need to back up the whole iTunes folder to retain all the information currently in iTunes.

Unless you have changed the default location of your iTunes folder, on a PC it should be located within My Documents > My Music. To back up this folder, simply copy the folder called iTunes and either save it to another computer, an external hard drive, or burn it to a DVD if it is small enough to fit. Any time you make new purchases, you should back up these new files as well.

On a Mac, double-click the hard drive icon and go to Music (under Places on the left side of the window). The iTunes folder should default to this location. Back up the iTunes folder to a secure location.

It is also possible to transfer music from your iPod or mp3 device back to iTunes, depending on what device you are using. If you are using an iPod, you will need to purchase third-party software to do this. If you are using an mp3 player, you will need to consult the manual to see if it is possible to move your files back onto your computer. Using your portable device as the sole means of back up, however, is NOT recommended!

Thanks to Tracy Newman for this tip.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Free Online Classes on Digital Photography

Many vendors offer free online training for home and office users. One example is HP Online ( If you go to the HP site, select the Home & Home Office tab (first tab on the left side under the ad banner at the top of the web page) and then select Free Online Classes on the drop-down menu, you’ll end up at

Among the offerings are courses on Digital Photography, PC Security Solutions, Digital Entertainment and Home office.

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