Category: Computer

WordPress and CSS for Beginners

css-featuredA lot of people use WordPress these days to build websites. It makes it fairly easy for people to do it themselves, but sometimes when these people are adding content, such as new pages or posts, they have difficulty formatting the look of the page. This is where a little knowledge of CSS can come in handy. CSS is an acronym for Cascading Style Sheets. It controls the presentation of the HTML elements and tags.

What this knowledge does, is it frees you from the confines of the markup, that is already established in the  theme you are using. You may want to change the color of the text, add some highlights, adjust a link, or move images to different locations on the page. You may wish to have a border around the image, more space, or have it aligned differently so the text flows around it a little better.

Dr. Andy Williams book, CSS for Beginners, walks you through learning to use CSS. It's a good starting point. The book is being offered for free today as part of an Amazon promotion. If you don't get it today, you can buy it later. It's only $3.84, so it won't break the bank.

There is something I'd like to discuss, that wasn't referenced in the book and that's inline styles. Dr. Williams talks about editing an external stylesheet. While it's quite possible to do this in WordPress, there may be times you don't need to edit the stylesheet. You can add the CSS to various elements and tags using inline styles. You would want to use this method for a specific page of content that you're trying to format better. If you edit the main theme stylesheet, then there is a good chance that whatever changes you make will have a global effect on the theme and affect other pages and posts too.

Of course, you could always add new classes and selectors to the external sheet, but if you're new to all of this, you might just want to leave it alone. There is the potential to do a lot of damage to your WordPress installation, and if you aren't sure of what you're doing, you may have to hire someone to fix it later on.

Using inline styles takes priority over other styles that have already been set for an element or tag. You add the CSS directly to the tag or element itself. After you have read CSS for Beginners, have a look at this page on W3Schools.com to understand how you can apply what you learned in the book, to the page or post you're trying to format a little better.

Now let's switch gears here. Suppose you wanted all of the pages and posts in WordPress to have a different color for headlines. It is possible to load the external styles sheet into a window to edit by choosing appearance/editor from your dashboard. But, sometimes the permissions don't get set properly when the external stylesheet has been installed. In order to save the changes, the permissions on the file have to be set so that you are allowed to write to it. If these permission haven't been set properly, any changes you make in the editor window won't be saved. Of course you can test whether this is the case or not, by making a minor change to one of the elements, saving it, and then viewing a page or post that would reflect the changes.

Still, even if the file does have the proper permissions set and you can make changes, you would be well advised to FTP into the blog and download a copy of the stylesheet so you have a backup should things go horribly wrong. FTP is an acronym for File Transfer Protocol which is how actual files are uploaded and downloaded from your website.

A good, free FTP client software for Windows, is Core FTP LE  -- and there is a free PDF file you can download from here, that will show you how to install and use it. If you decide to do this, I can't reiterate enough how important it is, to always make sure you have a backup of the file(s) you are going to work with.

If you don’t want to miss any of these posts: on the right-hand side of the blog is a place where you can enter your email address, and I’ll send you any new posts by email. You’re not going to get spammed — I respect your privacy. All you will get is the new posts only. Note: any posts that contain video or other website technologies won’t be available in the email version of the posts.

You’re welcome to comment below.

While you’re here, don’t forget to check out our rebel mouse page, to see what else you might be missing.


Share

Windows 7 Explorer Secrets

windows7-featuredOne of the biggest problems a lot of Windows 7 users have, is not understanding how Windows Explorer works, and what can be done with it. No, I'm not talking about a web browser. I've known people who get this mixed up too. The Microsoft browser is called Internet Explorer, not Windows Explorer. Windows Explorer is where you can tap into the power of your computer's file system. RULE #1 -- if you don't know what the file you're looking at is, don't move it, delete or rename it -- just leave it alone.

One of the things even some advanced users have problems when setting up their home office, is working with network drives so you can share files with other computers on the network. Windows 7 Explorer Secrets (Windows Tips and Tricks) by Jack Dunning will show you how to do this as well as a ton of other tricks you may not know are even possible.

For example, in "Chapter Seven: Syncing Files without Windows Professional “Windows Briefcase for taking your work to another computer; SyncToy for easy synchronization.” Windows Briefcase is a file-synchronization system that is helpful not only for Windows 7, but for all versions of Windows since 95." This works great is you're using a Flash Drive, but if you have to use a lot of your files on another computer, there isn't any discussion about an external drive. They are very handy to have.

For those of you who might not be familiar with what an external drive is, it's a portable drive that plugs into a USB port on your computer, and then you can manage the drive's content through Windows Explorer. I use one to keep my clients websites on that I work on. Then if I have to go someplace, I can take along my laptop and plug the drive into it. This way I can work when I'm at the cottage, or staying at a friend's place.

This book is only about Windows Explorer. If you are a novice with computers, you might not get much out of it. For example, if you often download things, and then can't find them afterwards, or if you're still struggling trying to send attachments through email -- this book isn't going to help you with things like that.

The Kindle version of the book is being offered for free for the next 24-48 hours as part of an Amazon promotion. It was just published this month; there aren't any reviews for it yet, but on the page where you can download it, it gives you a description of what you'll discover in each chapter of the book. This should give you some idea of whether you can benefit from it or not.

If you don’t want to miss any of these posts: on the right-hand side of the blog is a place where you can enter your email address, and I’ll send you any new posts by email. You’re not going to get spammed — I respect your privacy. All you will get is the new posts only. Note: any posts that contain video or other website technologies won’t be available in the email version of the posts.

You’re also welcome to share your comments below.

While you’re here, don’t forget to check out our rebel mouse page, to see what else you might be missing.


Share

Over Fifty and Scared of Technology

ready-featuredComputers and technology have come a long way the last few years. People are wondering, and asking the question, "Are we ready for this?" For example, the computer built by IBM which was named Watson, and competed against humans on the TV show Jeopardy, has had its performance abilities increased by 240 percent, and is now being used to help diagnose and treat lung cancer and to help manage health insurance decisions and claims.

It's been fed 1500 lung patient studies and 2 million pages of text from journals, textbooks and treatment guidelines. Doctors can plug in the data using a computer of a specific case, and the computer will analyze it and suggest what treatment is most like to be successful for the patient. Of course, the article from the CTV website is quick to point out, that the computer is not making a decision on the patients' treatment -- just saving the doctors a lot of leg-work. Are we supposed to accept this as the truth?

Another article from The Wall Street Journal, Letting the Machines Decide, is using artificial intelligence to help decide stock market investments. Again, they say the machine doesn't make decisions, just suggestions. Every morning it recommends a list of stocks to buy or sell.

being-human-ebookIn 2008, Microsoft Research published Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the year 2020, and it's about Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and how it should be in the year 2020. It asks, " What will our world be like in 2020? Digital technologies will continue to proliferate, enabling ever more ways of changing how we live. But will such developments improve the quality of life, empower us, and make us feel safer, happier and more connected? Or will living with technology make it more tiresome, frustrating, angstridden, and security-driven? What will it mean to be human when everything we do is supported or augmented by technology?"

Much of the book talks about how technology needs to be developed by keeping human values in the forefront of new products. But I'm not sure this is the case. For example, a new law that allows driverless cars on California roads. How would you feel, if the school bus picking up your grandchildren to take them to school, didn't have a driver. Microsoft's book says, " These developments raise fundamental questions about how we should live with them [computers], what our relationships should be, together with larger social and ethical issues of responsibility and accountability." Granted the idea behind driverless vehicles is to make the roads safer. Apparently the reaction speed of the driverless car can be as small as 40 milliseconds, while human beings will take at least 500 milliseconds. And... of course they are eliminating human conditions such as fatigue or distraction -- which they say is the blame of most accidents. But if the bus crashes, who do we hold accountable?

What about discipline on the bus?

That's what drones are for! Most people see drones as a controversial weapon prowling over foreign battlegrounds. But as America's military campaigns wind down, these machines are coming home and set to change civilian lives forever. We have all heard the United States government has made hundreds of attacks on targets in northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan since 2004 using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) controlled by the Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division. But drones are set to be employed at home, on a smaller scale, and for various purposes. There isn't any reason why these couldn't be on a school bus and programmed to intervene if the children should become unruly. Drones are becoming accessible to the general public, and in another couple of years, they expect there will be thousands of them in the air. Watch the video below to learn more about it.

If you watched the video, you will see how the theme of non-violence is promoted; similar sentiments prevail in "Being Human"  -- but it isn't convincing enough. There are a couple of comments in the video that imply the same technology could be used against us, by people less ethical. Perhaps even by countries who are tired of having the United States impose their will upon them.

And what happens then?

US Drone Strike statistic based on research by a team of journalists of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism:

(As of 10 January 2013)

  • Total strikes: 362
  • Total reported killed: 2,629 – 3,461
  • Civilians reported killed: 475 – 891
  • Children reported killed: 176
  • Total reported injured: 1,267 – 1,431

Moore's law is the observation that over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. The period often quoted as "18 months" is due to Intel executive David House, who predicted that period for a doubling in chip performance (being a combination of the effect of more transistors and their being faster)

Although Moore's law was initially made in the form of an observation and forecast, the more widely it became accepted, the more it served as a goal for an entire industry. This drove both marketing and engineering departments of semiconductor manufacturers to focus enormous energy aiming for the specified increase in processing power that it was presumed one or more of their competitors would soon actually attain. In this regard, it can be viewed as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If it really is a self-fulfilling prophecy, could the video clip below become our new reality?

Some might say the above video clip is nothing more than fantasy. But there are countries racing right now to build the most life-like android, and if you take into account Moore's law, we are pretty close to it right now. What do you think would be a good guess? Fifteen years? Twenty? Fantasy can become reality. If you look at the 1966 television series, Star Trek --  scientists have pushed to develop some of the technologies portrayed in that show.

Two days ago, Canadian actor William Shatner, best known as Star Trek's Captain Kirk, hailed the International Space Station and chatted with Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield about the risks faced in space and rumours that Hadfield has volunteered to go to Mars.

The Huffington Post, in a recent article said:

An image posted by Nasa on 30 January and taken with the right Mastcam on Curiosity shows what appears to be a 0.5cm metal spoke protruding out of a rock.

The strange sight - which looks a bit like a robotic arm - was noticed by imaging editor Elisabetta Bonora from Italy.

Technology is developing at such a rapid speed, one can't help but wonder if we're ready for this. It would seem that some of those behind these developments missed reading Being Human, and although it might be a little out-dated now, I think the concepts presented in the book are fundamentally sound. If you have children working in the field technology advancements, you could share this free pdf book with them. We want to make sure the future is about people, not machines or computers. They are only tools to assist us.

If you don’t want to miss any of these posts: on the right-hand side of the blog is a place where you can enter your email address, and I’ll send you any new posts by email. You’re not going to get spammed — I respect your privacy. All you will get is the new posts only. Note: any posts that contain video or other website technologies won’t be available in the email version of the posts.

You’re also welcome to share your comments below.


Share

Spyware and Malware Removal

malware-featuredMost people have virus protection software installed on their computers. This does a reasonable job protecting them from viruses, but it doesn't do much in the way of protecting them from other malware programs. A virus is a program that can replicate itself and spread to other machines across the Internet.. I can do things like delete file sand reformat your hard drive.

Adware, is a program that gets downloaded onto your computer and starts displaying ads when you are connected to the Internet.

Spyware collects information about you and transmits it to interested parties.

Browser hijacking software, which is one many have been accustomed to being infected with installs toolbars and ads in your browser and changes your default search provider.

All of these programs are malware, but in most cases it's only viruses that get quarantined by your virus protection software. And while these others types aren't as serious, if you don't get rid of them they compromise your security and suck the memory out of your computer. Eventually, you see your computer taking longer to do certain tasks. It takes longer to boot up programs, browsers, and the computer becomes sluggish. Worse yet, errors start cropping up in programs you're running, all due to the fact that your computer is struggling to find enough memory to complete the operations, but the malware is using to much of your systems memory.

spy-ebookPeople will often take their computers into a tech shop every so often to have it cleaned out. But in most cases you can do this yourself and save yourself some money. A book being offered free today as an Amazon promotion is called DIY: Spyware Removal. It shows you how to install the 3 most popular anti-malware programs and gives you step-by-step instructions, with screenshots for every step. It's a very useful guide for anyone who finds it difficult to install programs.

The book provides links where you can download Spybot, Ad-aware Antivirus, and MalwareBytes. But do not download the programs from those links. The links all lead to the popular software repository called Cnet, and it isn't safe to download the programs from there. When you click on a link to download the program you want at Cnet, you are actually installing their installer program. It installs its own malware on your computer, so you're defeating the purpose. You're better off to the download the programs from here:

MalwareBytes requires you to register before you download their program, but it's safe enough to do so. They don't fill up your inbox with a lot of useless spam.

If you need the step-by-step instructions, get DIY: Spyware Removal while it's free today. But use it for a reference only. Download the programs from the links above.

If you don’t want to miss any of these posts: on the right-hand side of the blog is a place where you can enter your email address, and I’ll send you any new posts by email. You’re not going to get spammed — I respect your privacy. All you will get is the new posts only. Note: any posts that contain video or other website technologies won’t be available in the email version of the posts.

You’re also welcome to share your comments below.


Share

New Outlook for those over fifty

outlook-featuredThere is a new email service offered from Microsoft called Outlook.com. I think it especially handy for anyone over fifty, because it pulls everything you need into one place. I've had my account for a while, and I like how it works on an iPad as well as a desktop. Haven't see too many people using it yet. I wonder why it isn't catching on.

It has a number of great features, including integration with SkyDrive so you can view, edit and share Microsoft Office files. That can come in real handy if you're on the road. It comes with 7 GB of free storage space: That's enough for approximately 20,000 Office documents or 7,000 photos.

Another feature I like, is it can pull in all of your contacts from LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, and you can enable a chat right in the program if you want to. Open an email from a contact, and instantly view their latest update and profile picture in the right pane. When you connect Facebook or Twitter to Outlook.com, you'll be able to see your friends' status updates and Tweets right from your inbox.

In the video below, the young man compares Outlook to Gmail. The video is six months old; shortly after Outlook was launched.

You can also upgrade from Hotmail, or Gmail or just setup an account and play around with it for a few days to see how you like it.

If you don’t want to miss any of these posts: on the right-hand side of the blog is a place where you can enter your email address, and I’ll send you any new posts by email. You’re not going to get spammed — I respect your privacy. All you will get is the new posts only. Note: any posts that contain video or other website technologies won’t be available in the email version of the posts.

You’re also welcome to share your comments below.


Share