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PC Tech Tips - Vol. 10.1


Time For A Tune Up?

When was the last time your computer had a visit from your computer tech? Do you notice that it's running slowly? Are errors and messages popping up that force you to restart the machine? It may be time for a professional to take a look at it.

Your PC tech will check the system for unnecessary programs that load up as soon as you turn it on. Removing these programs will help to "clear the decks" and make your computer run more efficiently. He/she will perform maintenance tasks such as cleaning out temporary files that have built up from every day use. Your tech will also update the system with newly-released, Microsoft security updates for your version of Windows.

Be sure to have the tech verify that your anti-virus program is running and updating properly. If you are connected to a high-speed Internet service such as DSL or cable, he/she may recommend that you add a firewall program that provides security from hackers accessing your computer without your permission (this is becoming more common these days).

Don't forget to have your tech test your backup procedure to be sure it is being completed properly. The worst thing that can happen is to find out that the backup system is not working properly when you need it the most - AFTER your computer malfunctions.

Beyond Email

As we become more sophisticated email users, we find more tricks to make our email experience faster. After all, the idea behind this electronic communication is to save time by sending information over the Internet rather than waiting for the mail trucks. More and more, we hear, "Can you just email it to me?"

Understanding the tools will help us to understand how they help us to speed up the process. By now, we have a handle on how to send and read email messages. What are some programs that we need to use in order to view the attachments that are sent with those messages?

Zip and Un-zip
As far as photos go, most computers have software programs that automatically open when we open a photo in an email attachment. Sometimes if the sender includes multiple photos, their Internet provider (such as America Online) may automatically "zip" the photos up so they arrive as one file.

The process of zipping up a group of files is called compressing. It is done so that the size of the file(s) is smaller and it can, therefore, be transmitted faster. Download time is reduced.

When we receive a zipped (or mime, in the case of AOL) file, we must have a tool that will "un-zip" it, like opening a package that has been shipped to us. The most popular software programs are WinZip and PKZip. These programs are available as free downloads from websites such as cnet.com or directly from winzip.com.

Acrobat Reader (PDF)
Another way we receive files as attachments is as a PDF file. PDF (portable document format) files can be viewed and/or printed but cannot be edited or changed. The program required to view and print PDF's is called Acrobat Reader and is available as a free download from adobe.com.

More often now, people send slide shows as a marketing presentation or as a way to display a sequence of photos. Some of these slide shows are created with Microsoft's PowerPoint. However, not everyone has PowerPoint installed. It is not possible to view these shows without it. Microsoft provides a free utility that plays slideshows on machines that do not have PowerPoint installed. Download and install it by going to office.microsoft.com/downloads and put PowerPoint viewer in the search box.

Any other types of attachments you receive may require you to have installed the full version of the program used to create it such as Microsoft Word documents or Excel spreadsheets. As always when sending attachments, be courteous to your recipients. Include in your email message the name of the program you used to save your attachment and which program is required to open your attachment.

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